Fresh or dried, figs are it! While not native to Ireland, they’re no longer considered “exotic” and are widely available to use in dishes ranging from teatime sandwiches to appetizers and. Christmas bakers have probably already started to stockpile dried ones for holidays sweets, but, in between, try some fresh ones in these yummy recipes. Some varieties to look for are the dark purple Black Mission, most heavily cultivated today; the green-but-ripe Kadato; the Brown Turkey, similar to Mission but lighter in color; and Calimyrna, often found as dried figs. You’ll find similar recipes in my cookbook Teatime in Ireland (Buy One, Get One Free) with signed copies available at www.irishcook.com
FIG AND GOAT CHEESE TOASTS
MAKES 24 TOASTS
Fruit and cheese are a stunning combination in these little toasts made with raisin bread. Serve them at teatime or on a cheeseboard with drinks.
For the spread
1 package (10 ounces) dried Calimyrna figs, stemmed and chopped
1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the toasts
24 slices raisin bread
Two 4-ounce logs plain goat cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Fresh chive sprigs, for topping
1. Make spread. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine figs, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and figs are nearly tender. Transfer to a food processor, add lemon juice, and process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth; add remaining 1/4 cup of water, if necessary. (Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week).
2. Preheat broiler. With a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out a round from each slice of bread. Arrange rounds on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
3. In a small bowl or food processor, combine goat cheese and milk; whisk or blend until smooth. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then pipe cheese onto each round. Top with a spoonful of fig spread and garnish with chives.
FIG AND GOAT CHEESE CROUTES
MAKES 12 CROUTES
This recipe calls for goat cheese, but you can easily substitute blue cheese, if you prefer.
12 (1-inch-thick) baguette slices
1/2 cup crumbled goat or blue cheese
3 figs, stems trimmed
Olive oil, for drizzling
Honey, for drizzling
Ground black pepper
1. Preheat broiler. Arrange rounds on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Spread cheese on each slice to edges.
2. Cut figs into quarters. Lay one on top of cheese, drizzle with olive oil and honey, and sprinkle with pepper. Return to broiler and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese is soft and golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.