Fresh Fig Salad
Cut open your figs to show the pinky interior (they can be any variety of fig so long as they are fresh). Arrange on a plate with some lettuce (again any variety is good) some good quality Iberico ham or Serrano ham, some shavings of a hard cheese such as Pecorino or Parmesan or something native to your part of the world which is flavourfull and perhaps a little salty - the salty cheese is a nice compliment to the very sweet figs. Make a dressing of two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice and add a little honey to taste... add a little bit at a time until it tastes just right. A little black pepper and then pour the dressing over the salad. Don't wait too long to enjoy with some crusty bread!
Fresh Figs with Blue Cheese
Cut a small opening in the side of your fresh figs (as many as you think you can eat!) you might actually want to try and remove a little wedge of fig. Push some blue cheese into this space (whatever blue cheese is your favourite!) and place the fig on a baking tray. Once all the figs are done, brush them with a little vegetable oil and place under the grill for about five minutes or until you see the cheese starting to ooze out. Serve with a salad, some good quality ham and brown bread and butter.
Poached Figs in Spiced Syrup
Make a sugar syrup using two parts sugar to one part water and bring it to the boil. Add some spices (cinnamon stick, start anise, cardomom, cloves, pink and black peppercorns... you choose which and how much or what combination to suit your own tastes). Add fresh figs - choose figs that are not quite at their ripest for this recipe, they hold their shape better. Bring up to the boil and then turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook until the figs are just soft and have lost some of their colour. Take off the heat and let them cool in the syrup a little. Sterilise your jars and add the figs and syrup while still fairly hot. Seal. Now if you are going to store them in the cupboard for a very long time you need to use kilner type jars and seal properly using the oven or hot water bath method. But you can simply store them in the fridge where they will keep for several weeks. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream or remove the figs and serve them with roast pork or lamb.
Fig and Olive Tapenade
This is very much a recipe borne of whatever was in the cupboard or fridge at the time. A tapenade is a kind of spread/stuffing/dip thingy. You can use it to stuff fish or meat before grilling or baking or simply raw in a dish with veggie croutons or toasted bread. The most basic of Tapenade's could simply be olives, garlic and olive oil ground to a paste in a mortar and pestle. I am using a food processor because I have one. You don't need to.
half a dozen fresh figs.
a handfull of black olives (pitted)
a handfull of green olives (pitted)
around 100g of ground nuts (I used almonds but any ground nut would do)
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 orange (juice and zest only)
freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil to loosen the paste.
Put all of the above ingredients into a food processor (except for the olive oil) and pulse it until they are quite small. While the motor is running on the processor add some really good quality olive oil until the mixture is a spreadable paste. I overdid the oil at this point making the mixture a bit too runny. I would have added some more ground nuts to firm it up a bit but unfortunately I had no more left... but I think you understand how it works. Taste and season with more pepper if required. Now you need to pop it in a jar and keep it in the fridge. It should keep for several weeks without going off.
Boozy Fig Jam
2 lemons, 1 orange, 2kg fresh figs cut into half inch pieces, 500g sugar, one wine glass of Cointreau or other orange liqueur, half a teaspoon salt.
Zest the lemons and the orange and add the zest to the chopped figs. Cut the orange in half and add that to the figs, juice the lemons and add the juice too. Combine the sugar and the Cointreau and the salt and add to the pot with the figs. Leave it to stand for an hour at room temperature and stir occasionally until the sugar is almost dissolved. Bring fig mixture to a boil over a low heat to start with (stirring regularly), once the sugar has definitely dissolved then put the heat up and continue to watch the pot to stop the jam from catching on the bottom. Bash the figs with the spoon from time to time to encourage them to break up. After about 40 minutes the jam should have reduced quite a bit and you can do a setting test. Figs are low in pectin and so this jam doesn't really set solid... the pieces of figs are too large anyway, unless you have been really good about bashing them up, for a regular jam... this is more like a luxury preserve. Sterilise and warm your jam jars and fill with the jam. Run a knife around the edge of the jars to remove any air bubbles and seal. Cool the jam completely before storing in the cupboard. This jam should be of a high enough sugar content to last a good year in the cupboard, however, I can't guarantee that. If you especially want to ensure that the jam will keep you will need to process it in a water bath for about 10 minutes to ensure a good airtight seal on your jars.