Fresh Figs – Three Ways

f2Fresh Figs – Three Ways

As I have mentioned in previous posts, living in the country certainly has its perks. Locally grown and raised food is easy to get your hands on. It’s easy to feel spoiled. There are certain things, however, that seldom cross your path. 

I was recently on auto pilot in the local grocery store in search for ideas for dinner. It had been a crazy busy weekend and my brain was fried. I was browsing through the produce section waiting for something to jump out at me. The corner of my eye caught it first and I instantly woke up from my haze. I turned towards these drop shaped, dark purple/black/green beauties. I stood, for a second, contemplating not whether I would grab some or not but rather how many. All of them? There were quite a few on display. While carefully placing them in a paper bag I opted for ten. The rest I left for others, most likely equally surprised.

I have to admit, I forgot all about dinner. Back home I happily presented Bruno with the paper bag. His eyes lit up and he devoured one before I had even time to blink. “Nom nom”, his lips smacked and down went the last bite of this perfectly ripe, fresh fig.

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– The savoury fig comes with a dollop of goat cheese/devon cream wrapped in prosciutto. Balsamic vinegar glaze and chopped walnuts adds so many subtle layers while the fig is still in focus. 

– The sweet bite is accompanied by a ball of marzipan, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chili pepper. Finish it off with a mint leaf. 

– Serving fresh figs on your cheese tray is a great classic. You can’t really go wrong. No explanation needed.

A glass of our Sparkling Golden Russet apple cider or Pinot Noir goes beautifully with either one of these fig options!

 

Savoury Figs

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1/4 cup goat cheese

1 tbsp Devon cream

5 fresh figs

5 slices prosciutto

Balsamic vinegar glaze

Chopped walnuts

In a small bowl, mix together goat cheese and cream.

Cut the figs and prosciutto in half, lengthwise.

Place a small dollop of the cheese mixture on top of each fig. Wrap in prosciutto and attach with a skewer. Decorate with a couple of pieces of walnut and a drop (you don’t need much) of glaze. Makes 10 pieces

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Sweet Figs

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5 fresh figs

Marzipan, room temperature

Honey

Chili pepper

Fresh mint leaves

Cut the figs in half, lengthwise. 

Roll small balls (about the size of a large chick pea) of marzipan.

Place marzipan ball on top of the fig, then drizzle with honey.

Sprinkle with chili pepper and decorate with a mint leaf. Makes 10 pieces

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Figs and Cheese

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Simply cut fresh figs in quarters and add to your favourite cheese board. No further instructions needed.

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Rhubarb Juice

r3Every summer growing up I couldn’t wait for them to ripen. When my mom would finally get me the green light, I ran through the vegetable garden, past potato plants, onions, tomatoes, beans and herbs to the very back. There it was, somewhat unruly, with large green hats, slowly moving in the wind, greeting me. The rhubarb patch. 

I had been told not to take the largest stalks because they would be tougher to eat. That was a difficult thing, since at that age, one tend to want the biggest piece of everything. A medium sized red beauty caught my eye. I lightly pulled on it, twisting a bit until it came loose. I quickly ran back through the garden and into the kitchen. I handed my mom the rhubarb, who cut the big green hat off, reminding me not to eat it as she placed it upside down on my head. She then handed me a small bowl of sugar. It was time. Sitting on the front steps of our house, bare feet, sun hitting my face while dipping the rhubarb stalk in the sugar for each bite was magic. Pure summer indeed. 

My mom used to make this amazing summery rhubarb concentrate. I haven’t had it for years and recently decided to make some. Just as I remember, the hint of rhubarb is beautifully sweet and subtle. Ideally it should be enjoyed outdoors, in your favourite spot in the garden while reading a good book and listening to the birds singing. 

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3 lb rhubarb

2.5 cups water

6-7 cloves

500 g sugar

Rinse the rhubarb and cut it in 1/2″ pieces. In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil and add the rhubarb and cloves. Cover and let simmer until rhubarb is cooked and falling apart, about 10 minutes.

Put a sieve over a large bowl and pour the rhubarb mixture into the sieve. Let sit and drain for 30 minutes. 

Discard the solids and measure the juice. Pour back into the sauce pan and add the sugar (500g/litre juice). Bring back to a heavy boil. remove foam with a spoon and let cool. Store in sealed glass jars or bottles in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.

Simply pour about an inch of the juice in a glass. Top it up with chilled sparkling (or still) water and a couple of ice cubes.  

If you want a more adult version, here are two simple recipes that will please your guests at your next summer get together.

Rhubarb Martini:

1.5oz vodka or gin (both work really well)

1oz rhubarb concentrate

0.5oz lemon juice

Shake vigurously then pour into a chilled martini glass.

Rhubarb Bubbles:

Add about 1oz of rhubarb concentrate into a champagne flute and top up with sparkling wine or champagne.

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Asparagus Bisque

a1A few weeks ago I squealed with joy as friends of ours dropped off a big bag of freshly cut asparagus from their own garden. I get this tingling feeling in my whole body every spring when I know the asparagus is ready and the local farm stands will soon begin displaying these bundles of bright green beautiful stalks. A true perk to live out in the country. For me it’s the best part of the year. The kick-start for the fresh produce season. I fully indulge and eat as much asparagus as I possibly can during its rather short span and I’m sure I’m not the only one. The great thing about asparagus is that there are endless ways to prepare it. Fry it, cook it, steam it, roast it, bbq it, puree it, eat it raw – the list goes on and on.

One of my asparagus favourites is this oh so simple bisque. It’s delightful both hot, room temperature or slightly chilled, depending on the day. The asparagus takes centre seat while nicely backed up by fennel and cumin. A dollop of lemon crème fraîche tops it off. The bisque can be made a day in advance to make your lunch or dinner as enjoyable as possible. Perfect.

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2lb asparagus

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

5-6 shallots, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

5 cups chicken broth

1 tsp lightly crushed fennel seeds

1 tsp lightly crushed cumin seeds

White pepper and salt to taste

1/2 cup crème fraîche

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest from one lemon

Cut off the bottom 1” of the asparagus and cut them in 2” pieces.

In a large heavy sauce pan, melt the butter with the olive oil. Sauté the shallots until soft ~ 5 minutes. Add the garlic, asparagus and spices and cook for another minute. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let simmer until asparagus is soft, about 10 minutes.

Let cool before transferring the soup to a blender. Purée for a couple of minutes or until very smooth. Pour soup through a sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a ladle in the sieve to push the liquid through. Discard the solids.

Mix together the lemon juice with the crème fraîche and decorate each serving. Garnish with the lemon zest. Serves 4.

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