I’ve got two fig recipes lined up for this week because this is it, high fig season, and you need to grab them while you can. Green black, brown, it doesn’t matter, they’re all awesome. Figs are delicate creatures and that’s part of their charm. They don’t keep or travel well so stores only carry them right at the height of their short season. Fresh figs aren’t anything like the dried version, and they are a world away from Fig Newtons, which I’m embarrassed to say is the main way I knew them most of my life. The fresh fruit has a lush berry like quality — but probably the biggest draw is its unique and complex texture: a mix of soft chewy flesh, smooth skin, and tiny crunchy seeds. Don’t let them pass you by.
This recipe comes from our friend James. James’ mother is from Turkey and his dad is from southern Russia and he’s full of fascinating recipes from both cultures. He made this fresh healthy dessert for us when he came over the other night to teach me how to make his mothers version of borscht. That’s coming up in a future post but I didn’t want to wait on the figs. If you can’t find them at your regular store, check Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
Figs are a traditional dessert all over the Mediterranean, but especially in the Middle East, where they originated. They are so naturally sweet and luscious that they require very little fooling with. James says they’re often served lightly poached like this, along with Turkish Coffee after dinner.
In true Minimal Monday style, this is less a recipe and more a figgy free for all. There are any number of ways you can do this, including ditching the whole poaching idea and just shoving your (clean) finger into the top of the ripe fig to make a cavity for some freshly whipped cream, clotted cream, or creme fraiche, which is exactly what we did for our second helping.
- 6 - 8 fresh figs (any variety will do as long as they're ripe)
- 6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 Tbsp brandy
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- sprinkling of ground cardamom for garnish
- With a sharp paring knife, cut off the stem of the figs, and make a cross cut at the top of each, about an inch deep. Gently nudge the figs open a bit with your fingers.
- Set the figs in a small saute pan and add the crushed cardamom pods, 1/4 cup water, and 1 Tbsp brandy. (The water should be about 1/4 inch high in the pan) Bring to a simmer and simmer the figs for about 5 minutes, constantly basting the figs with the liquid. Make sure you spoon the poaching liquid down over the open figs. Remove the figs to a shallow bowl or plate.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla. The easiest way to do this is to put it all in a clean jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes. When you hear the 'sloshing' noise stop, it's whipped.
- Pry open the figs a bit with your fingers and spoon a dollop of whipped cream into each one. Sprinkle lightly with cardamom.