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Fig Fest Dessert Recipes and Lecture 2018

Dallas County Master Gardeners Working Fig Fest

We had a great day at the garden on August 7th, out working early, tidying up the plants and helping them through this summer heat, and then inside to learn about the care and feeding of fig trees, a (relatively) easy and delicious plant we can grow out here in north Texas.

“Fig Fest” was the third in our series, “A New Crop of Classes.” Entertaining, informative, inspirational, flavorful and delicious were just some of the comments we heard from those who attended…77 to be exact. Jeff Raska, our Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, shared the biology, history, and how-to’s of growing figs locally, and Lisa Centala shared nutritional information about figs, which are a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins K and A.

Highlights from Jeff’s talk included:

  • Figs: You can love them to death. Figs love poor soil, but keep it well-drained and water consistently. You can even raise the bed a bit when planting with compost and mulch. Don’t add nitrogen – it will cut back fruit production.
  • The flower is inside the fig, and a tiny wasp pollinates it by climbing in and laying eggs
  • Figs are a Mediterranean plant and want no more than 800 chill hours. We are about as far north as we can be and still grow figs, which means the plant may die back in the winter. Allow your fig to have several trunks, and don’t worry if one or all die back – it will come back in the spring. In fact, don’t trim the dead wood away until the leaves come back in spring so you know which branches are really dead.
  • There are two varieties of fig trees: those that are everbearing, and those that bear once a season. Texas Everbearing (or Brown Turkey) will give an early crop in late spring/early summer, and the rest of the fruit will ripen from June through August. Celeste is also a recommended variety for our area, but it’s “one and done.” Celeste gives one crop a season but is a bit more cold-hardy than Texas Everbearing, which is why we chose this variety at Raincatcher’s.
  • Harvest your figs when they’re ripe (they have a little give when you squeeze them), because they won’t ripen off of the tree. And eat them quickly! They’ll start to ferment in just a couple of days.

For more information on cultivating figs, please visit this Aggie Horticulture site.

And, once again, following Jeff’s presentation we savored a fig-inspired lunch that would have kept Adam and Eve in the garden. We hope you enjoy the photos and recipes from a delightful summer class. Congratulations to a new crop of “fig experts!”

Trio of Fig Desserts

Fig and Strawberry Tart

Ingredients

For the Crust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

Salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ to ½ cup ice water

Directions

Make the crust: Pulse flour, granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

Drizzle ¼ cup ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (it should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Press dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

Roll dough to a 14-inch circle (⅛ inch thick) on a floured surface. Fit dough into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch fluted round tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim excess dough flush with edges of pan using a knife. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove weights, and bake until set, about 5 minutes more. Let cool. Leave oven on.

For the Filling:

¾ cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons Armagnac, or other brandy, such as Cognac

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 ounces figs (about 7), trimmed and halved lengthwise

8 ounces strawberries (1 ½ cups), halved if large

Garnish: whipped cream

Make the Filling: Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add sugars, zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, Armagnac, eggs, and vanilla; pulse until mixture is almost smooth.

Spread filling evenly into tart shell. Top with figs and strawberries. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F; bake until set and dark brown on top, about 1 hour more. Garnish with whipped cream.

Lemony Rice Pudding with Figs and Saba

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

7 cups milk

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split

1 pint fresh figs, quartered

Saba is an ancient sweetener traditionally made from freshly squeezed grape juice, known as must. It is basically a sweet grape syrup. Order online or purchase at specialty grocers. After opening, refrigerate up to one year.

 

 

Directions

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in first 2 ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes; drain.

Return rice to saucepan; stir in milk and next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes or until thick. Remove vanilla bean. Remove from heat, and transfer to a glass bowl. Let stand 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Spoon into serving dishes; top each with figs and a drizzle of Saba.

Yield: Makes 10 servings

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) can condensed milk

2 (13-ounce) cans evaporated milk

Juice of ½ lemon

3 pints peeled, fresh figs, mashed

2 cups sugar

Whole milk

Directions

Put all ingredients in freezer container. If the figs are very ripe, you may not need as much sugar as called for. Add whole milk to level freezer calls for to ensure proper freezing. Freeze in a 6-quart freezer according to directions.

Yield: Serves 20

Note: In the dessert picture there is a grilled fig spread with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a drizzle of honey. No recipe just buy and prepare!

Linda Alexander and Lisa Centala


*Our fourth and final class of 2018 is scheduled for Tuesday, October16th.

Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates promises to be a another educationally inspiring class. And following Jeff Raska’s presentation; don’t miss a bountiful lunch buffet filled with seasonal flavors.  Information about the class will be posted on this blog in early September.

Hope you can join us!

What’s happening at Raincatcher’s?

Lazy days of summer? Not this group! Having just finished our Grazing in the Garden event, next up are two more marvelous learn and eat opportunities. Careful now, the food tickets sell quickly. Lecture is free and no reservations required.  Details below.

Goodness, Gracious, Grape Balls of Fire!

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Tuesday, July 24th-10am 

10:00am – 11:30am, Under the Shade Pavilion, North Garden

11001 Midway Road, Dallas

Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Growing grapes in Texas is easy to do. Learn the basic steps, and you’ll be ready to start your own grape orchard.

(Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)

Following Jeff’s short presentation join us for a special treat.

Toney Davrados, of Yiayia’s will demonstrate the art of making dolmas. Dolmas are thought of as a culinary legacy from the Ottoman Empire. You’ll be transported back to the 1700’s with the savory, flavorful taste of these delightful delicacies.

$10 per person, Limited seating

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/goodness-gracious-grape-balls-of-fire-tickets-48106230029

(Paid reservations required by Friday, July20th)

Menu

Dolmas

(Filled with sirloin, onion, rice, parsley and Toney’s special seasonings)

Watermelon and Radish Salad

Peach and Blueberry Parfaits featuring Yiayia’s Homemade Greek Yogurt

Mint-Infused Iced Tea

 

Fig Fest, Celebrating a Seasonal Delicacy

Instructor: Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

With their sweet taste and luscious texture, figs can be used in a variety of culinary dishes. From growing to harvest, we’ll give you the information needed to become a fig expert. Join us!

Tuesday, August 7th – 10:00am*

Hosted by Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills * 11001 Midway Road

(Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)

Immediately following Jeff’s presentation, you are invited to join us for lunch.

$15 per person

Seating is limited to 48 guests and is by paid reservation only: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fig-fest-tickets-48093118813

Reservation deadline-August 3rd

Menu

Figgy Focaccia and Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey

Fig, Arugula and Walnut Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Lemony Rice Pudding with Figs and Saba

Fig and Strawberry Tart topped with Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Fig Flavored Tea and Water

*Public Invited to both events!

Questions? Call the help desk- 214 904 3053 or drop us a line in the comment section.

 

 

Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey and Gorgonzola Toasts

image

In his book, The Herbfarm Cookbook, Jerry Traunfeld says that “in summer and autumn when fresh figs are readily available, they become ambrosial when grilled and drizzled with honey infused with thyme.  Serve them as an appetizer before dinner or a fruit-and-cheese course to end the meal.

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ cup mild or medium-strength honey, such as clover or blackberry
  • 6 3-inch sprigs fresh English thyme or lemon thyme
  • 12 large ripe figs
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 best-quality artisan-style baguette
  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature

image Directions:  1.  Thyme honey.  Bring the honey to a simmer in a small saucepan and add the thyme sprigs.  Let sit off the heat for 15 minutes or more while grilling the figs and bread. image 2.  Grilling the figs.  Start a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill or preheat a gas grill.  (I used a stove top grill pan and it worked fine).  Cut the figs in half and toss them in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons olive oil and the thyme leaves.  Adjust the grill rack 4 inches from the fire.  When the charcoal is ashed over and glowing or the gas grill is medium-hot, grill the figs quickly until they are heated through but not collapsed, 1 to 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer them to a platter.

3.  Toasts.  Cut 24 ½-inch-thick slices from the bread and brush both sides lightly with olive oil.  Toast the bread on both sides on the grill away from direct heat.  Spread the cheese on the toasts and top them with the figs.

4.  Serving.  Remove the thyme sprigs from the honey with a fork and discard them, then drizzle the warm thyme honey over the figs and toasts.  Serve at once.

Yield:  8 to 12 servings (These can also be grilled inside on a stove top grill pan;  fun to prepare in front of your guests).

Note: We simplified the recipe somewhat by serving the grilled figs spread with Gorgonzola cheese then drizzled with honey. We eliminated the “toasts” because of our full menu.

Linda

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