Monday, June 30, 2008

do you like fresh figs?

i love fresh figs..for many reasons..the obvious reason..taste..and the memories they evoke for me... i have written about the love i had (have) for my grandparents..the love i had for their home..and the memories of summers from my childhood spending vacation time with them. my grandparents had two massive fig trees in their back yard. those trees produced enormous quantities of fruit..actually, did you know that figs are not actually a fruit? they are an inverted flower that includes both the male and female flower parts...the fig seeds are technically the fruit..ok, i just learned this..and i may be off a bit with this any "fig" experts out there..feel free to correct me in the comments section..but, as usual, i digress... so back to my sisters and i spent hours each day playing in their back yard..we would climb the fig trees..and eat tons of figs all day long...the days were really hot in southern california..the figs really warm straight off the tree..and i was in heaven.

fast forward many years...when my husband and i saw our farmhouse for the first time, i immediately noticed there was a fig tree in the yard. this was one of the reasons i feel in love with our house..the fig tree, the other fruit trees, and all of the herbs reminded me of both of my grandmothers...they both loved to garden..and peter's grandmothers also always had big the house felt like home from the beginning. we moved into the farmhouse the month of september and that first year we had a bumper crop in september and october...more than i could eat straight off the tree. i began experimenting with fig recipes..and to be honest..went a bit overboard..we had fresh fig cakes, cookies, tarts, bread, poached figs, baked figs, roasted figs, stuffed figs, caramelized figs, figs in salads, figs with pork, with chicken, fig salsa, fig jam, fig you see where i am going? peter finally said.."enough! i cannot eat another fig this year!" well, i think he put a hex on my tree.... the next june our tree was fully leafed out with tons of fruit (or inverted flowers if you guys call me on my "fun fact"). who knew fig trees in napa had two harvests? june and sept/oct.... one morning around 6:00 am, we were still in bed and were awakened by a very loud crash..the ground was shaking...i almost thought it was an earthquake. we got up..walked through the house..didn't see anything..went outside and saw our fig tree split in half. my heart sank...peter took one look and said "it's gone..we will need to have it pulled up and hauled away. " i burst into tears..said there must be something we could do and so we called an arborist. happily, he said he thought the tree could be saved..told us to prune it way back..and to not let it get too full for a few years... he was right..four years later, our tree is producing as many figs as before..although we are much better at pruning..and despite an ugly gash in the middle of the trunk...the tree looks really good.

see the gash?

so it is the end of june today..we have a ton of figs..and are ready to begin the fig recipe onslaught once again..however, i do make much more jam and marmalade..and less daily fig more hexes from my darling husband!

here are a couple of really easy fig "recipes"... so easy..not sure they count as recipes...

fresh fig appetizer..determine quantities based on the number of people..and how much you love figs...

fresh figs
prosciutto, thinly sliced
parmigiano reggiano cheese

slice figs in half lengthwise and arrange on a platter. mound up the prosciutto and cut the parmesan into small chunks..add to platter. drizzle with the aged balsamic vinegar and serve with bread..i serve this with bruschetta.

my sister susan and i wanted to create a not-too-sweet fig jam or marmalade..we read tons of recipes and decided to keep it really simple..just figs, a bit of sugar and meyer lemon zest(cause i have a meyer lemon tree) . some recipes suggest adding rum or brandy to this..i keep mine straight.. also, i do like to can so i make large quantities of this recipe, can it and keep on hand all year. if you want to do this..and have not canned before..i recommend using the process described on the bell or kerr mason jar boxes...otherwise..just keep in your refrigerator.
fresh fig marmalade
2 1/4 pounds figs
2 cups sugar
zest from one meyer lemon

wash the figs, cut them in half and combine them with the sugar in a large pot. not peel! cook over medium heat until they come to a boil.( stir frequently).. add the lemon zest, reduce the heat and simmer, skimming away the foam occasionally until thick (about 25-30 minutes). you will know it is ready when you can place a spoonful of the marmalade on a plate..tilt the plate..and the marmalade sticks..does not run... transfer the marmalade to sterilized jars and process if you wish..i do..or keep refrigerated for up to one week.

fresh fig bruschetta
again..this is not really a recipe..just use the best and freshest ingredients you can... and adjust ingredients quantities to your liking...

1 onion..sliced..sauteed in 1 tbsp good quality olive oil until onion is dark brown
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
6-8 fresh figs sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices each
aged balsamic vinegar
6-8 pieces freshly made bruschetta..drizzled with best quality extra virgin olive oil

spread some of the mascarpone cheese on each bruschetta..1-2 tbsp. top each bruschetta with some of the onion and 3-4 fig slices. put on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler..broil until the cheese begins to bubble..just a minute or carefully to ensure they do not burn. take out of oven, put on a serving platter..drizzle with the balsamic vinegar..and serve while hot

note..sometimes i sprinkle on a bit of freshly minced rosemary or lavender before the vinegar...

romaine salad with roasted figs and pine nuts
6 fresh figs
2 tbsp. good quality olive oil
8 cups washed and dried romaine lettuce, torn into bit sized pieces
4 oz. parmigiano reggiano cheese (cut into small, bite-sized chunks)
1/3 cup shelled pine nuts..roasted in saute pan until light brown

6 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
grey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut figs in half, place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. roast in oven 10-15 minutes until hot and tender. cool to room temp.

make is my trick..i always use a mason jar for my salad dressings... combine the olive oil, vinegar and salt/pepper to taste in a mason jar..cover with the lid..screw tightly..and shake away! very easy and quick. if you wish, you can whisk the ingredients together..but my way is much more fun...
place the lettuce, cheese and nuts in a salad bowl and gently toss. add just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves..toss again..taste and adjust seasonings if needed. place on a serving platter and arrange the roasted figs on top..serve immediately...note..i sometimes use gorgonzola cheese instead of the parmesan...

so enough recipes for today...please let me know what you think of them...and..this is really, really important...i always am on the hunt for terrific fig recipes..i will share some more with you throughout the season..but i always need more..remember peter's hex? so i invite all of you to share your recipes with me..and with the other readers..please post your favorites in the comments section of this fig tree and i will be eternally grateful...

napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"™


Anonymous said...

I love your blog!
My favorite thing to do with fresh figs is to cut a small slit in the top of a few, stuff the holes with a bit of goat cheese and an almond, and broil for a minute until the cheese begins to melt.

Anonymous said...

You inspired me. I had fresh figs with yogurt drizzled with honey for breakfast. Delish.

Anonymous said...

I always forget about figs. I eat them all the time when I am on vacation in Italy. Thank you for the nudge.
Love the blog

Anonymous said...

I love fresh figs but never know what do do with them except eat straight off of the tree. Thank you for the recipes.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks for the kind words!

alice..i love your idea, thanks eating figs daily for breakfast!

ellie and are welcome

everyone not let peter do another hex job...

Amy Sherman said...

I posted about figs ages ago, here were my suggestions:

* Wrap figs in prosciutto as an appetizer

* Serve sliced in half with a dollop of ricotta and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts

* Cut into quarters and dip into yogurt or marscapone, dust with cinnamon

* Poach figs in port and serve with vanilla ice cream

* Chop figs and mix with an equal amount of gorgonzola, spread thinly on toasted baguettes, serve warmed or at room temperature

* Chop finely and mix with vinaigrette to dress a green salad

LeLo said...

Oh figs wonderful figs. I love them too! They won't be in season here in the Portland area until later this summer, but last year I did some explorations with them. Yum!

P.S. I love your blog. :)

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

amy and lelo..thank you so much for the recipes!!! excellent...

Anonymous said...

I have a fig tree here in Atlanta. My wife hates figs, but I love them. I usually give a bag (Kroger shopping bag) to my elderly widow neighbor as well as the neighbor two doors down.

I still have a ton of them leftover (even after my own gorging). I'd like to sell some (maybe on craigslist). What do you think is a fair price? I was thinking half of what they'd charge in the grocery store......unfortunately, I never see fresh figs there. Any price ideas?

Anonymous said...

So please your tree recovered. We've got a huge crop over here this year and I found you whilst searching for ideas on what to do with them.

Very inspirational - thanks. I've linked this post to mine - hope that is OK. Sally

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi fresh-fig-fan..i saw fresh figs in the supermarket last week..they were $4.50 for a very small! now, our june fig season is really short so i will check it out in the fall when figs are more plentiful..and repost the interim..$3.00 a basket seems fair..what do you think?

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally/casalba..thank you so much for the link..of course it is o.k. i checked out your blog..really beautiful..and how cool to be living in italy. i will visit your blog frequently..please feel free to do the same..

'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

I found you lovely blog via Sally at Casalba, you have some yummy figelicious recipes here! Your farmhouse looks beautiful too, I hope you don't mind if I stay a while and have a little snoop about.

Ciao Amanda

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me, Napa. Thanks for replying.

Napa Farmhouse 1885 said...

hi readers!..well it is september..and our fig tree is producing again..think i need to write another fig the interim, we had the best salad tonight..romaine lettuce, sliced red onion, sliced fresh figs. crumbled blue cheese and walnuts in an aged balsamic/evoo vinaigrette..really, really good..peter asked me to make it again tomorrow night. i am also making a fig/balsamic vinegar reduction..will post the recipe too..