Give a Fig: Recipe ideas for a Glutinous Glut of Figs.

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The worst thing about this time of year is wasps and  in any other year I might have titled this post – Who Dares Wins! But this summers endless days of sunshine and warmth have resulted in the most, unusually, abundant crop of figs.

In early summer wasps go about the important business of preparing for the next waspy generation and are more interested in our woody garden furniture than they are in us.  I often watch them busily gnawing away and wonder how long it might take for our ancient garden furniture to be totally consumed by wasp nesting activities. They cleverly turn the woody mulch into paper thin layers for building fascinatingly intricate constructions.   This peaceful coexistence comes to an abrupt halt when the tree-fruits ripen in late summer releasing their irresistible sugary vapours into the air.  No, at this time of year war is declared over who has the right to the fruit on the trees and Wasps, rather stingingly, have something of an advantage. Its  a matter of getting out there and picking the just-ripe-enough fruits early in the day before the wasps get scent and we beat a hasty retreat.

This year however we have an oversupply of  softly plump, delectably sweet figs on our faithful old tree. So many in fact that a truce has been called on the wasp-war. With such a glut figs are falling from the tree uneaten by either us or our waspy friends.  The long and the short of it is that I have been able to get figgy-creative with recipes which is a serious treat.

If you follow my instagram account you will have seen a post for Pistachio Fig Frangipani Tart – simply substitute 50% of the ground almonds in your favourite frangipani recipes with ground pistachio nuts. I added a table spoon of Vin Santo a full flavoured sweet sherry that marries sumptuously with the woody flavoured figs.  Press several quartered figs into the frangipani and bake for 45 minutes.  If you don’t have a favourite frangipani tart recipe then do contact me and I will ping you a copy of this recipe by e-mail.

Fig and goats cheese is another of  favourite pairing and below I share two recipes. The first a quick and easy Fig Confit that, like a chutney, should store well. Full bodied and flavoursome with caramelised red onions (home grown of course!) figs and balsamic vinegar it is seductively dark and mellow, delicious with cheese or cold collation lunches. It is also an ingredient in the second recipe, a very simple fig and goats cheese quiche.

Fig Confit

Makes 2x300ml jars

40ml olive oil

3 large red onions (approx. 400g), finely sliced

1 teaspoon white sugar

½ teaspoons salt

500g fresh ripe figs, roughly chopped

100ml balsamic vinegar

60g dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon pickling spice, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Method

Heat the oil in a large, high sided pan with a good fitting lid over a low to moderate heat. Add the sliced onions and stir in the white sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook with the lid on for ten minutes or until the onions are soft and have released their juice. Remove the lid, stir and continue to cook stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the onions are golden and caramelized.

Add the chopped figs and then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cook with the lid on for another ten minutes and then remove the lid and simmer the relish until the liquid has evaporated and the chutney is syrupy and thick.

Spoon into hot sterilized jars, seal and cool before labelling and storing in a cool place for a few weeks before using.

 

Fig and Goats Cheese Tart.

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Ingredients

Makes 1x24cm tart

Pastry

200g spelt flour

50g lard or vegetable shortening

50g salted butter

2 tablespoons water

Filling

2 tablespoons fig confit or caramelized onion confit

250ml creme fraiche

3 medium eggs

½ teaspoon fresh or dried chopped thyme leaves

A twist or two of black pepper

A pinch of salt

100g chevre blanc (goats cheese log)

3 fresh figs

3-4 thin slices jamon iberico or parma ham

A good pinch of freshly chopped thyme

Method

Pastry

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the diced lard and butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 10 to 15 minutes before using.

Roll the pastry, line a 24cm flan tin, chill, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200c/gas 6.

Bake the pastry blind for ten minutes, remove the baking paper and beans or silver foil and cook for a further five minutes. Remove the case from the oven and cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

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Filling

Reduce the oven temperature to 170c/gas 3.

Spread the confit into the base of the pastry case.

Put the crème fraiche into a bowl, break in the eggs and mix well together. Stir in the chopped thyme, black pepper and salt. Pour the cream into the tart case.

Cut the chevre-blanc roll in half and slice each half into three pieces. Break the slices in half. Slice the figs thinly and arrange the cheese and fig slices over the filling. Tear the jambon into small pieces and scatter over the tart. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Cook the tart for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set and the top is golden. Serve warm or cold.

 

 

 

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