Back to the Kitchen: The Fabulous Fig

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gwen-upper110x1101BY GWEN KENNEALLY

Much to my surprise and delight there were an abundance of figs at the open air market this week. It is almost the end of the season, so go out and grab them quick!  My daughter was so excited that she made me buy more than I thought I could use in a week. Her enthusiasm was so intoxicating that we raced all the way around to the back of the market to get prosciutto, and then around again to get goat cheese. We drove to the park and feasted. At home for dinner I tossed figs with mixed greens and chicken with a maple syrup balsamic dressing. Then we devoured the rest over vanilla bean ice cream! Figs are an odd fruit. The season for fresh figs is very short. Thankfully they are available dried all year round.  When I first moved to L.A,  and finding my way in the culinary world, I had a neighbor who was an avid gardener. This time of year he would bring me buckets of these little gems and I didn’t have a clue about what to do with them. I called every foodie that I knew and got very little support. I started playing and creating. Figs became a part of my late summer menus.  I often use them whole as displays on my tables because they have such fascinating shape, texture and color. Then I have a lot leftover to create more wonderful dishes! My advice? Hurry up to the open-air market or the grocery store, grab some figs and make some of these recipes your own!

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Fig and Orange Chicken

This is one of my most popular chicken dishes! It is so simple and is really a one-meal dish.

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

1/2-cup currants

10 Black Mission figs or 8 of the larger, amber-colored Calimyrna figs, cut into halves

1 1/2 cups orange juice

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce,

1-tablespoon curry powder

1-tablespoon soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds chicken pieces or 6 boneless breasts

10 new potatoes, quartered

4 carrots, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Place washed chicken, carrots and potatoes in Pyrex or roasting pan. In a medium bowl mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes basting at least twice during cooking.

Fettuccine with Figs and Pancetta

I love the sweet savory flavors in this pasta. The rosemary gives it a beautiful finish.

1 cup pancetta, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

1-cup chicken stock

3/4 lb firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Juice of one lemon

1-pound fettuccine

In a large sauté pan heat oil. Add pancetta and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary and sauté for 5 minutes longer. Stir in wine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in stock, figs, parsley, half of pancetta, and lemon juice.

Cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2-cup cooking water, and then drain pasta in a colander.

Add fettuccine to fig mixture with 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low heat, tossing gently and adding more cooking water if mixture becomes dry, until just heated through.

Serve pasta with the remaining pancetta and freshly shaved Parmesan on top.

Cranberry Fig Chutney

2 cups cranberries

2 cups Calimyrna figs, sliced

1 red onion, chopped

2 inches ginger minced,

1 cup packed brown sugar

1-cup water

1/3-cup balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Chill in the refrigerator about 4 hours or up to 2 days.

Fig and Pecan Muffins

1-cup flour

1/2-cup whole-wheat flour

1/2-cup oat bran

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

1/2-teaspoon salt

2 cups dried Black Mission figs, chopped

1-cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1/3-cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 1/4         cups buttermilk

1-tablespoon vanilla extract

1 zest of one small lemon

Preheat oven to 400°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Spray liners with Bakers Joy. Whisk first 8 dry ingredients in bowl. Stir in figs and pecans. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon peel. Mix in dry ingredients. Divide batter among cups.

Bake muffins until browned on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Oatmeal Cookies with Figs and Cranberries

These are really a traditional, rich, buttery cookie. The figs and cranberries give it a classy twist.

1 3/4 cup flour

3/4-cup baking soda

3/4-cup baking powder

1/2-tablespoon salt

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon nutmeg

2 sticks butter

1/4-cup sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1cup-dried cranberries, chopped

1 cup dried figs, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture until blended and smooth. Add oats and fruit. Spray cookie sheets with bakers joy and drop a tablespoon of dough spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake until lightly brown and firm about 10 minutes. Cool on racks.

 Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. Check out her website and blog www.Backtothekitchen.net and www.gwenkenneally.blogspot.com

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • http://www.sirensfeast.com Nancy Mehagian

    Fabulous fig recipes. Now I’m sad that the figs on my tree have finished.

  • http://www.jackiehouchin.com Jackie Houchin

    Gosh, my fig tree – which was loaded in July & August is now finished too. But I’d also like to know if you have a way to adjust the muffin and cookie recipes for FRESH figs. I know they would be a little more juicy, so would you cut down on one of the ingretients, like the buttermilk in the muffins, or add some flour or oats in the cookies? Love to know… Photojaq@aol.com

    • http://backtothekitchen.net Gwen Kenneally

      Hi Jackie- Thanks for all of your great comments. Traditionally you just cut down the figs by 1/3 when using fresh rather than dried. I will always choose fresh, but as you and Nancy pointed out the season is short! Have a great week! All the best, Gwen

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