Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Figs, glorious figs

My brother, the blacksmith has a fig tree laden with luscious figs. He only likes them dried and our solar dryer will have to wait till next year, especially since it is now pissing with rain for the first time in months. The tree has so many fruits on it and I can't eat them all! We have given some away but they don't keep and attract fruit flies like nothing else. Hornets also love them and the blacksmith has been killing dozens in his house every evening.
The only one who really likes fig jam is KK, so I may make a couple of jars for him, tho' as he rightly said, the cave is already full of jam that we don't eat. I pointed out that he would almost always prefer to eat cherry jam, of which we made quite a lot this year, while KK was here and we scrumped the trees around about. It's hard to let the fruit go to waste. He re
minds me that fig and walnut jam is good and since we have a shed load (almost literally) of walnuts still to process from 2007 & 2008, I think this is a good idea. And fig jam does go well with foie gras.

I have put a few figs in jars with sugar syrup and a fig wine apéritif that I made in the summer, which wasn't much appreciated as a drink. I think it was too strong (as in alcoholic) but since I invented the recipe after having tasted it at the red village of Collonge, I'm ready to try making it again.

Other ways to enjoy figs - again sadly only enjoyed by me at present, apart from splitting them open fresh from the tree and stuffing them in my mouth - split them gently and put in some goat's cheese, either fresh or more pungent according to your particular palette, and put them under the grill/broiler. Delicious with a green salad. Round here, they make a fig bread with about 50% wholemeal flour and this is really good with any cheese, but particularly goat's cheese. Also, of course, good with honey. The daughter puts goat's cheese and honey on her fig bread. Not bad!

Last year, I remember making an apéritif snack with dried figs and I think it would work with fresh ones. I made it so that an overweight friend would have something other than nuts and crackers on which to snack, to sop up the whisky. You soak the figs in fortified wine (fig wine again!) I think I used pineau - spoon a little honey over the figs and then put them in the oven for a while till slightly caramelised. Good eaten as a snack or as dessert with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream. And actually delicious with chestnut ice cream.

Yesterday, my mother made a dessert for a dinner I was preparing and to which she wasn't invited, which I think is very nice of her. She split the figs and filled them with a mixture of sugar, butter and ground almonds, then baked them for 10 minutes. 2 out of 3 of us liked the result, tho' I felt it was a little sweet. She had suggested flambéeing the whole dessert but I had got fed up by then. We ate 2 kinds of chorizo brought back by me & KK from Spain, blanquette de veau with locally produced veal, and everything else produced within a 10km radius, except the salt (100 kms), white wine (30 kms) and basmati rice & pepper (India!). The other two eaters refused salad on the grounds that they had eaten too much blanquette, so I ate it for lunch today in a piece of fresh baguette with some delicious tinned tuna also bought in Spain in tiny, one person-serving tins. Tuna is so very important on the Basque coast - in the town we saw shops basically devoted to tinned tuna, sardines and anchovies - the windows glowing from the beautiful label art.

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