Fruits

Figs Preserved in Honey Syrup

Last summer, I made fig jam for the first time, and it’s been a highlight of my picnic spreads and cheese trays ever since. This summer, I was lucky enough to score large batches of figs two weekends in a row. I love fresh figs, but their shelf life is painfully short. I restocked my jam supply, and then turned my attention to other preservation methods.

I liked the idea of keeping the fruits whole, and serving them with yogurt, hot cereal, cheese, or just alone. Fall project: find (or create) a cocktail recipe featuring the syrup! I used black mission figs, the variety I typically see in my area, but green figs would look beautiful for this recipe. Try wide-mouth pint jars for easy access to the fruits.

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Figs Preserved in Honey Syrup

From Put ’em Up, by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Makes about 9 pints

10 pounds figs, stemmed
6 cups water
2 cups honey
1 cup sugar
9 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (1 tablespoon per jar)

In a large saucepan, cover the figs with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes to soften the fruit. Drain.

Combine 6 cups water, honey, and sugar in another large saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the figs and gently boil them in the syrup for 5 minutes.

Pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into each clean, hot pint jar. Pack the jars gently but firmly with figs. Ladle hot syrup over the figs to cover by 1/2 inch, leaving 1/ inch headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid. Screw lids on the jars temporarily. Gently swirl each jar to release trapped air bubbles. Remove the lids and add syrup, if necessary, to achieve the proper headspace.

Can: Use the boiling-water method. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 45 minutes. turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

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Stone Fruit Ricotta Crostinis

Do you ever just need a break from it all? I don’t mean, like, go all Eat Pray Love on me. More like, when you wake up one day and you just have this moment of clarity. You don’t feel like cooking, or thinking about cooking, or writing about cooking, or photographing cooking. And it is summer and you are traveling for weeks on end – work, vacations, weddings, blah blah blah. And so you just don’t.

You hear me? Or is it just me? Well, that’s been my summer so far. And I am perfectly okay with it. I certainly have not sworn off cooking, and I have eaten well, in my home and otherwise.

But today — today we are back. Playing and experimenting and taste testing. It feels good.

I can hardly call this a recipe, but it’s a start. Pack these up for your next picnic or outdoor movie or winery visit. Or serve them at a party. Embrace the art of not cooking.

Stone Fruit Ricotta Crostini

For each person:
2 slices baguette or small ciabatta bread, grilled or toasted
2 tablespoons ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper
About 4 thin slices stone fruit (eg, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), peeled if desired
1 slice prosciutto or Serrano ham,  if desired, torn into pieces
Honey, balsamic vinegar, arugala, if desired

Spread ricotta on bread. Sprinkle with pepper. If desired, drizzle lightly with honey or balsamic vinegar. Place fruit slices over ricotta. Top with prosciutto. If desired, garnish with arugala, or serve alongside.

Classic Apple Pie

My boss’ birthday was a couple weeks ago, and unlike most of my coworkers, he doesn’t really care for cake or cookies. (Say whaaaaat?) He does, however, like pie — in particular, fruit pie.

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Fruit pies are best when the fruit is in season… which is hard to do in the middle of winter. Fortunately, good apples are available year-round, and apple pie is pretty easy. I used pre-made pie crusts this time, but we’ll save a pie crust lesson for a future post.

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Classic Apple Pie

2 pie crusts
5 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (about 2 pounds)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
Cooking spray
1 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit one crust into a standard 9″ pie crust coated with cooking spray.

Place apples in a large bowl. Combine sugar, flour and spices and sprinkle over apples, tossing to coat. Spoon over prepared pie plate. Dot with butter and drizzle with vanilla. Top with remaining pie crust. Press edges together, fold excess crust under, and flute the edges. Brush surface with milk. Cut three one-inch slits into the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until apples are tender.