I have a backlog of good recipes to share with you, dear reader, as I’ve been rather quiet on that front for a while. Thanks to a flurry of small luncheons and dinner parties, I was compelled to lift my game and search out dishes that might even excite my own jaded appetite. In sharing them with you, I also benefit by adding them to a safe place for the future, my recipe file. Most of these new recipes involve seasonal fruits, especially figs.
The fig season has given us one month of sweet eating. Every day I take an old hand-woven basket down to the orchard and carefully select a few ripe specimens. They continue to ripen on the bench for another day, but the window of opportunity passes quickly. Other than scoffing them down with some soft gorgonzola dolce and toasted walnuts, I’ve been hunting and collecting the best fig recipes for desserts, jams and sweet/savoury salads.
We have two varieties in our garden- the commonly grown Brown Turkey fig and the green-skinned White Adriatic fig, sometimes called the strawberry jam fig, in reference to its sweet jelly like red flesh, excellent flavour and flesh quality. Both have their place, although I have a preference for the Adriatics. The leaves make great serving platters, or are useful for covering up various body parts or embarrassments. They are easy to grow, don’t need pollinating or pruning, but prefer a non windy site and plenty of water in late Spring and Summer. If you have room, I recommend that you plant one, if only for the thrill of making figgy desserts.
I’ve only recently discovered the joys of making semifreddo since the demise of my ancient ice cream maker. I might just stick with this faster and easier concoction in the future. The following recipe is a beauty, especially for those who are blessed with a productive fig tree as well as lots of home laid eggs.
Semifreddo di Fichi /Fig Semifreddo
350 g fresh figs
125 g brown sugar
7 egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
350 ml whipping cream
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Wash the figs, remove the stems (keep the skin on) and finely dice. Place them in a non-stick pan on a high heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes add the brown sugar. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow the figs and brown sugar to caramelise for around 20 minutes until you have a jam-like consistency.
- Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pan from the heat to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the 50 ml of cream and gently work it into the jam.
- In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks on high for 10-15 minutes until they triple in volume. Add the caster sugar slowly, ensuring it is well mixed with the eggs. The mixture should be quite thick.
- In a clean bowl, whip the rest of the cream to soft peaks. Then slowly fold the cream into the egg mixture, being careful not to lose the volume.
- Gently fold the fig jam into the cream.
- Place a large sheet of cling wrap over a plastic or metal container. I used a bread loaf tin, measuring 24cm L by 11 cm W and 10 cm D. Pour the cream into the container, filling to the top, leaving the cling wrap to hang outside each side. Cover well with tin foil and place in the freezer for at least 12 hours. You can make this dessert a day or so ahead.
- About 10-15 minutes before serving, take the tin out of the freezer and flip it upside down onto a long tray before slicing it.
Adapted from a recipe found on Mondo Mulia
Make a compote of lightly poached figs. Remove the figs after a few minutes of poaching then reduce the sauce then strain it. Serve with the semifreddo.
Poaching liquid for figs.
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons brown or granulated sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeded (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 or so figs