They come fresh or dry, in yellow or purple, from California and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. They are in restaurants, supermarkets, fruit stands, backyards, and inside some very famous cookies. What are they? They're figs one of America's favorite fruits.
From Mission and Kadota figs to Adriatic and Calimyrna varieties, award-winning cookbook author Marie Simmons leaves no fig or fig leaf unturned in this extraordinary book about this most extraordinary fruit: Fig Heaven.
Figs are harvested in late summer and early fall, but, fortunately for us, they are easily dried and packaged, so they're available all year long. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, plump, fragrant figs are guilt-free indulgences that can be enjoyed in countless ways.
Fig Heaven is an inviting, comprehensive cookbook offering 70 recipes for both fresh and dried figs. They range from appetizers, salads, and sandwiches to entrées and desserts.
On the savory side, you'll find Open-Faced Dried Fig and Melted Blue Cheese Sandwiches; Fettuccine with Fresh Figs, Lemon, and Rosemary; and Lamb Pilaf with Artichokes and Dried Figs. If your sweet tooth needs some real satisfaction, there's a Fresh Fig and Peach Crumble, Dried Fig and Walnut Biscotti, and Molten Chocolate Roasted Figs with Vanilla Custard Sauce.
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About the Author
Marie Simmons, former food editor of Cuisine, is a regular contributor to Woman's Day, Bon Appétit, and Good Food. She is the author of several cookbooks, including The Good Egg, The Amazing World of Rice, and Fresh & Fast: Inspired Cooking for Every Season and Every Day.
Read an Excerpt
70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit
Open-faced Dried Fig and Melted Cheese Sandwiches
makes 4 servings
Inspired by my love of cheese and figs, I concocted this open-faced sandwich using a simple dried fig "jam" and slivers of my favorite cheese of the moment. I originally used French Comté, a smooth, nutty, full-flavored type of Gruyère, but if it's not available, a well-aged Gruyère, Fontina, Stilton, or even a mild Cheddar is a good substitute. If you are feeling carnivorous, fry up some halved strips of bacon and lay them over the fig mixture before adding the cheese. This recipe makes four sandwiches but is easily scaled down to make just one. It makes a nourishing winter lunch with some salad greens on the side. The jam will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks -- ready and waiting for your next fig-and-melted-cheese-sandwich attack!
8 ounces dried Calimyrna or Black Mission figs, stems trimmed, quartered (about 1 ½ cups)
Four ¼ to ½-inch-thick slices whole-grain rustic bread
4 to 6 ounces Comté, Gruyère, Fontina, or mild Cheddar cheese
- Combine the figs and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until almost all of the water has been absorbed and the figs are softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
- Transfer the figs to the bowl of a food processor and process until chunky smooth. Transfer the "jam" to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Lightly toast the bread on both sides either in the broiler or in a toaster. Spread one side of the bread with a thick layer (2 tablespoons or more, depending on the size of the slice) of the fig jam.
- Use a sharp knife or a cheese plane to cut off thick slivers of cheese, and lay them on top of the jam. Place the sandwiches on a pan and heat under the broiler until the cheese is soft and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Cut into pieces and serve at once.
GRILLED PIG N' FIG: Add a layer of sliced fresh figs to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Choose thinly sliced Teleme, Camembert, Gruyère, Fontina, or Monterey Jack for the cheese, and layer with a slice of baked or cured ham.
OPEN-FACED FIGS AND CHEESE: Spread a thin diagonal slice of baguette with a creamy cheese (cream cheese, fresh goat cheese, Teleme, Camembert, Brie, Saint André, or Gorgonzola); add a layer of thickly sliced fresh figs and a few pieces of torn basil.
FIG AND PROSCIUTTO PANINI: Layer one half of a soft sandwich roll with thick slices of fig. Toss some arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, and a few grains of kosher salt. Place the arugula on top of the figs. Top with a folded slice of prosciutto and the other half of the roll.
Fresh Fig Tart
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
The buttery crust for this tart couldn't be easier. It's made in the food processor and then pressed into the tart pan -- no messing around with a rolling pin or worries about handling pastry in the heat of summer. Without fail, the crust is consistently tender. The fig filling is scented with orange zest and just a hint of cinnamon. Ginger-lovers might like the fig and ginger variation.
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds (approximately) firm ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup heavy cream, softly whipped, or 1 pint softened vanilla ice cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loose-bottomed tart pan.
- Combine the 1 ½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor motor running, gradually add the butter through the feed tube. Process until the mixture is crumbly.
- Stir the egg yolk and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture through the feed tube. Pulse the mixture until it begins to pull together. (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle it with iced water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) The dough should be crumbly but not dry.
- Turn the dough out directly into the prepared tart pan. Gently press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan in a relatively even layer; the dough will have a rough surface. (The crust can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.)
- Reserve 8 to 10 of the figs for the topping. Cut the remaining figs into ½-inch pieces. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons flour, the orange zest, and the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl until blended. Add the cut-up figs and toss gently to coat them with the sugar mixture. Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared crust; top with any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.
- Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the figs are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven.
- Trim about ½ inch off the tops and bottoms of the reserved figs. Cut each fig crosswise into three or four ¼-inch-thick rounds. Carefully place the sliced figs close together on the surface of the tart, pressing them down gently into the hot fig mixture. Let the tart cool on a wire rack.
- Before serving, remove the rim from the tart pan. Slide the tart, still on the base of the pan, onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with sieved confectioners' sugar. Cut into wedges, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream if desired.
Fresh Fig Tart With Crystallized Ginger: Omit the cinnamon from the crust and the grated orange zest and cinnamon from the filling. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger to the fig filling.
Fresh Fig and Blueberry Tart: You will need 1 ½ pounds of figs (any variety) and 1 ½ pints of blueberries. Use 1 pound of figs and 1 pint of blueberries for the filling. For the topping use 8 ounces figs and 1 cup (about ½ pint) blueberries, pressing the blueberries between the fig slices for the topping. Omit the orange zest and cinnamon.Fig Heaven
70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit. Copyright © by Marie Simmons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
|Sandwiches, Breads, and Salads||37|
|Main Courses and Side Dishes||61|
|Preserving Fresh Figs||149|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love figs and researched a few before purchasing this one. I like that it doesn't have hundreds of recipes and it gives a nice range of sweet and savory.
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