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For dessert or breakfast, hot or cold ... fresh figs.

While fig varieties vary in sweetness, intensity of flavor, and color, they aren't always identified in the market. For the cook, this is no problem, since varieties can be used interchangeably.

Here we pair the fruit, raw or cooked, with the tart coolness of either fresh Italian mascarpone (purchased or made at home) or sour cream. Try the dishes for breakfast or dessert.

Among the dark-skinned figs are 'Mission' and 'Brown Turkey' ('San Piero'). Showy 'Osborn Prolific' is yellow-green heavily streaked with violet. Greenish white to green figs include 'Conadria', 'Kadota', and 'King'.

Remember that harvested figs don't ripen further, and as they mature, they tend to split. Choose plump-looking (not shriveled) ftuit with no signs of spoilage. They should give easily to gentle pressure. Firm figs taste dry.

Figs with Orange Liqueur and Mascarpone

8 medium-size ripe figs (3/4 to 1 lb.)

2 tablespoons orange-flavor liqueur, or 1 tablespoon thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

3/4 to 1 cup mascarpone cheese (recipe follows) or purchased mascarpone

Toasted pine nuts (directions follow)

Mint sprigs (optional)

Rinse and drain figs. Trim tip off stem, if desired. Cut fruit vertically in half. Arrange 4 halves on each of 4 dessert plates. Drizzle fruit with liqueur (or brush lightly with orange concentrate).

In the center of each plate, mound about 1/4 cup mascarpone (if desired, shape into a cone with a small spatula). Sprinkle cheese with pine nuts; garnish plates with mint. To eat, spread cheese and nuts onto figs. Use a fork or pick up to eat. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 268 cal.; 2.4 g protein; 19 g fat; 21 g carbo.; 27 mg sodium; 67 mg chol.

Mascarpone cheese. Heat 2 cups whipping cream to lukewarm (90[deg] to 100[deg]) and pour into a bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons buttermilk (freshly opened) and cover with plastic wrap. Hold at room temperature 24 to 36 hours, until mixture is the consistency of a soft yogurt (thickening is faster on hot days).

Line a colander with clean muslin cloth or several layers of cheesecloth; set colander in a sink. Pour cream mixture into cloth; let drain about 10 minutes. Fold cloth over cream mixture, then set colander on a rack in a rimmed pan, arranging so rack is at least 1 inch above pan bottom. Enclose whole unit with plastic wrap, making airtight. Let stand in refrigerator until most liquid has drained out of cream, at least 36 or up to 48 hours.

Scoop mascarpone from cloth to use; if made ahead, put mascarpone in an airtight container and chill up to 1 week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Per tablespoon: 59 cal,; 0.5 g protein; 6.2 g fat; 0.6 g carbo.; 8.7 mg sodium; 22 mg chol.

Toasted pine nuts. In a 6- to 8-inch frying pan over medium heat, frequently shake 1 tablespoon pine nuts until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool; if made ahead, cover and chill up to 1 week.

Baked Whole Figs

8 medium-size ripe figs (3/4 to 1lb.), rinsed and drained

About 1/4 CUP sour cream or mascarpone (see preceding recipe)

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

2 to 3 tablespoons honey

Rinse figs and set stems up and slightly apart in an 8- or 9-inch-square pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 350[deg] oven until figs swell from the heat and skins are taut, about 20 minutes.

Gently spoon 2 figs onto each of 4 dessert plates or small bowls. Accompany with sour cream, lime, and honey to add to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 131 cal.; 1.2 g protein; 3.2 g fat; 27 g carbo.; 9.3 mg sodium; 6.3 mg chol.

Baked Apples and Figs with Cassis

2 medium-size Granny Smith or Gravenstein apples

1 tablespoon lemon juice

6 medium-size ripe figs (1/2 to 3/4 lb.)

1/4 cup cassis (currant-flavored liqueur) or black raspberry-flavored liqueur

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons butter or margarine

About 1/2 cup mascarpone (recipe precedes) or sour cream

Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. Overlap slices in a shallow 9-inch-wide baking dish. Drizzle fruit with lemon juice. Rinse figs and cut off stems. Thinly slice figs crosswise and place fruit evenly over apples. Pour liqueur over fruit, sprinkle with sugar, and dot with butter in small pieces. Bake, uncovered, in a 400[deg] oven until juices bubble vigorously, about 15 minutes. Spoon into small bowls and top with mascarpone. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 233 cal.; 1.2 g protein; 11 g fat; 31 g carbo.; 33 mg sodium; 35 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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