Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

The Fig Saga continues with more recipes for those succulent fruits. The first one was shared with us by Homestead Gardens Davidsonville nursery manager, Joseph Panossian. He relayed his wife's special jam complete with walnuts and sesame seeds added for the finale.

Exotic Fig Jam

Fig jam is the perfect way to use fruit that may have been left on the tree too long, or not long enough.

This began as a basic fig jam recipe however Joseph’s wife adds the cloves, walnuts and sesame seeds for extra special texture. If the cooked figs get too dry, add small amounts of water, and try covering the pan for a little while to soften the fruit.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 pound fresh figs, stemmed and chopped into sixths or eighths
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves, if desired
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (not toasted)

Combine the figs, sugar, zest, juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir often, until figs begin releasing juice, in order to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pan.

Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, using higher heat if fruit has a lot of liquid. Cook, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened, but still juicy, about 20 to 25 minutes.Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick.  Add the walnuts and sesame seeds. Cool, transfer to jars or airtight containers, and refrigerate. Jam will thicken further as it chills. Keeps refrigerated at least one week.

Chevre Stuffed Figs with Peppered Honey Figs

Serves 4

Fresh figs...a timeless match for cheese, are becoming an increasingly adaptive tree to the Chesapeake Region. This is thrilling news because figs are some of the healthiest fruits and make almost any recipe simply elegant. Adding pepper to the honey makes this classic Mediterranean dish fresh.

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 fresh figs
  • 1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese

Combine honey and pepper in small pitcher; stir to blend. Starting at stem end, cut each fig into quarters, stopping 1/2 inch from bottom to leave base intact. Gently press figs open. Spoon 1 teaspoon cheese into center of each.

Arrange figs on platter; drizzle with peppered honey.

 

Fig Relish on Mascarpone Bruschetta
Quick pickled figs and olives add a sweet-tartness to this bruschetta. The rich mascarpone cheese can be found these days in cheese shops and often in the finer cheese section of the supermarket.
Makes 12

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 6 fresh figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 slices ciabatta bread
  • Mascarpone cheese

 

Combine vinegar, olives and figs; let season about 30 minutes.

Finely crush almonds and combine with extra-virgin olive oil.

Grill or toast bread slices and drizzle with nutty oil

Smear room-temperature Mascarpone cheese onto warm toasts then top with a smear of the fig relish.

 

 

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Double-Fig Glaze 

Trust me this sauce from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up is one scrumptious recipe for figs. Try it on whatever strikes your fancy.

Free-range chicken is one of the most popular meats to grill—and the one that is most often destroyed when grilling. If you start with a high-quality, pastured, locally raised chicken and follow this simple method of salting the bird first, cooking it on the bone, and using indirect heat for the bulk of the cooking time, you will be amazed at the results: juicy, flavorful, tender chicken that tastes as chicken should.

Even though the breasts are the star here, this treatment works well for thighs.

serves 4

for the chicken breasts:

  • 4 chicken breast halves, bone in, skin on
  • About ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil

Rinse chicken with cold water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle chicken with a good kosher or sea salt, taking care to work some under the skin. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Let chicken come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat. For gas, turn all burners on high and close the lid. When temperature inside the grill reaches 400°F, turn off one burner; the area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat section. For charcoal, light 4 to 5 dozen (48 to 60) briquettes and let them burn until covered with ash, about 30 minutes. Mound them on one side of the grill; the area over the section cleared of coals is  the indirect heat section.

Using a Teflon brush or oil-soaked paper towel, brush the grill with vegetable oil. Place chicken, skin-side down, on the indirect heat section, and close the lid of the grill. Cook 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, close the lid, and cook another 10 minutes. Move chicken to direct heat section and cook, turning once, until skin is brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.

The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into its center (avoid the bone) reads 160° to 165°F; the chicken will be slightly pink, but will finish cooking while it rests at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature topped with the fig glaze.

for the fig glaze:

  • makes about 3/4 cup
  • 1 /3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 large fresh figs, diced and tossed lightly with brown sugar
  • 4 dried figs, diced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place half the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the fresh figs and turn when the first side has caramelized; now add the dried figs and after caramelizing them, remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon zest, juice, water, and thyme to the same pan. Season with salt and pepper. The glaze will be very chunky and that’s the idea.

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