Figs are so.....cute. Up the street is a large fig tree and since the property owners don't eat figs, they welcome the neighbors to pick what they want. Perhaps figs aren't glamorous or trendy but in my book they are divine. Just biting into a perfectly ripe green fig fresh from the tree is heaven in my mouth. The shelf life is very short so when I go to pick the figs, it's imperative to have a plan of what to make when they hit my kitchen. Some of my favorite ideas are cheese-stuffed figs (grilled, wrapped with prosciutto, and so on), jam, chutney, ice cream, salad topping or dressing, ice cream, cookies, or tarts. One of my Texas chef friends drizzles some homemade caramel sauce over and bakes them in the oven. Ummmmmm. She can make those for me anytime! If only she didn't live in Houston.
Today's fig fest led to fig chutney which I use as a sandwhich spread, side condiment for pork or chicken, on crostini with blue cheese or goat cheese on top with perhaps a few toasted hazelnuts. Chutney was the perfect addition to our teriyaki chicken kabobs for dinner. If the fig tree has ripe figs through this week, a baked fig dessert will likely be on my menu. For the pastry affecionado, an absolutely fabulous dessert book is authored by Claudia Fleming called The Last Course, The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. Her recipes are both elegant and beautiful, and I think her cornmeal fig tart might just be calling. Since Tracy is an ice cream fiend, making fig ice cream is a must. Try this tempting recipe - we'll be enjoying next weekend!
Fresh Fig Ice Cream
(adapted from David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop)
2 pounds fresh figs
1/2 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Remove the stems from the figs and then cut each into 8 pieces (for small green figs, cut in 4 pieces). Place figs in a non-reactive medium saucepan wiht the water and lemon zest. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until figs are tender.
Add the sugar and continue to cook uncovered on medium-low heat until it reaches jam-like consistency, about 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Stir in the cream and lemon juice and then cover and chill in the fridge. Churn in your favorite ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.