It's fig time... again! The second crop of figs to appear each year in our farmers' market is a real bumper crop. While the California Fresh Fig Association says that figs are available mid-May through mid-December, I see them in our farmers' markets in early/mid July for a teaser and then for a second crop in late August or early September. I pretty much buy them whenever I see them. I can't help it -- they are so beautiful and delicious and fleeting.
In addition to their lovely looks, fresh figs are a great source of fiber, potassium, calcium and iron, plus all those antioxidants. Here are some other great fig recipes to inspire you.
It's near the end of summer, and I sprung for ice cream this week. Partly denial that fall and winter and coming. Partly because fig ice cream sounded so interesting. Not just fig ice cream: fig, honey, cinnamon, white wine, ricotta ice cream. Yes, it really works. This is one delicious and striking ice cream. Guests sit eating it, bite after bite, deep in thought -- What is that flavor?
I started with Gina DePalma's recipe for Fig and Ricotta Gelato in her (fantastic) book, Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and took some liberties. The recipe has some options for making it as you so desire.
Figgy Ice Cream With Ricotta, White Wine and Honey
1/2 pound fresh, ripe figs, washed and quartered
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup white wine (or vin santo or fresh orange juice)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 strips orange peel, fresh
1 3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta, preferably fresh
1. Create a fig compote: In a small pot, heat the figs, 1/4 cup sugar, white wine, 1 cinnamon stick and orange peel over low to medium heat, stirring. Simmer for about 5 minutes. The figs will get mushy and the sugar should dissolve. Set aside to cool.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, heavy cream, last cinnamon stick and 1/2 cup sugar to boiling, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and last 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl.
4. Once the milk and cream boils, remove it from the heat.
5. Slowly pour the hot milk/cream into the egg yolks, while whisking vigorously. Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
6. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula -- this is the 'custard'.
7. Pour the custard through a fine strainer to remove the cinnamon sticks and any cooked egg.
8. Cool this mixture over an ice bath by placing the bowl you are using into a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Stir the ice cream mixture to facilitate quicker cooling.
9. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel from the fig mixture and pulse in a blender or food processor. The mixture should be chunky, not fully pureed.
10. In a large bowl, stir the ricotta to break up big lumps. Whisk in the chilled custard and then the fig mixture.
11. Churn in your ice cream maker as directed. I haven't tried this, but here's a non-ice cream maker idea that utilizes a hand mixer to make ice cream (I saw this in the Aug/Sept 2011 issue of Saveur magazine): Freeze the ice cream base in a bowl. Every 2 hours as it freezes, take it out of the freezer and mix it with the hand mixer on medium speed to break up ice crystals. This will make a chunkier ice cream -- it's worth a try!