Sauces & Condiments

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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Sticky Fig Jam

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This should be a picture of an embarrassingly large picnic spread. I’m not talking Americana cold fried chicken and potato salad and pie picnic food (although I do love me some pie).

I’m talking prosciutto, salami, several cheeses, crusty bread, crackers, marinated vegetables, maybe some aged balsamic vinegar and good olive oil, and of course, more wine than you know you should have but don’t really care.

Just when you think you’ve perfected that picnic spread, fig jam walks in and blows your mind.

Game. Over. It’s that good.

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Fig jam is like strawberry’s sexy, more sophisticated older sister. Jam is also seriously easy, and is a great project for a novice canner if you’re so inclined. If not, you can refrigerate unprocessed jam for a few weeks.

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Fig season is fleeting, but if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some this recipe should definitely be on your must-do list for the weekend. The beauty of jam is that you don’t need perfect fruit. If you’re canning, be sure to use bottled lemon juice, which has a more consistent acidity level (important for safe and effective canning).

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I’ll be sure to upload a picture just as soon as I have a worthy picnic spread. For now, you’re stuck with pictures of jars in my pantry. In the meantime, feel free to daydream your own picnic spread.

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Sticky Fig Jam

From Put ’em Up! cookbook, by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Makes about 4 cups

2 pounds figs, stemmed and quartered (I used black mission figs)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

Bring the figs and water to a boil in a large nonreactive pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to soften the fruit. Crush the figs with a potato masher. Add sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and jammy but not dry, about 20 minutes. Test for gel (for a how-to, go here). Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes, stirring to release air bubbles.

If not canning, ladle into bowls or jars. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

If canning, use the boiling-water method. Ladle into clean, hot 4-ounce or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rims clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 10 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. If any jars did not seal, refrigerate immediately.

Broiled Salmon, Three Ways

Half the battle of successful weeknight cooking is an arsenal of simple, go-to main dishes. They should be simple enough to have on the table in under 30 minutes, adaptable to seasons, and versatile enough that you won’t tire of eating it once every, say, 2-3 weeks. And of course, they shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

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Broiled salmon has become one of my mainstays, both on weeknights and weekends. It’s widely available fresh or frozen, and it goes well with just about any vegetable and starch. A marinade or glaze would be a delicious addition, but here, I have stuck with fresh or dried herbs and seasonings. In each case, season the fillet before cooking.

Ginger Salmon: season with dried ginger, Kosher salt and pepper. Serve with broccoli and a baked sweet potato seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, and butter.

Spiced Salmon: season with chopped fresh or dried oregano, cumin, Kosher salt, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each fillet. Serve with summer squash.

Salmon with Corn Sauce: season with chopped salt and pepper. Ladle 1/2 cup creamy corn sauce onto each plate. Layer with steamed asparagus spears and salmon.

I broil the salmon because it’s efficient and I live in a small apartment. If you have an outdoor grill, by all means, grill!

Choose boneless, skin-on salmon fillets, with an even thickness. (The skin will separate from the flesh during cooking, so there’s no need to pay extra for skinless fillets). For superior flavor, choose wild salmon if you can find it without paying a small fortune.

Basic Broiled Salmon

Adjust oven racks so that the top rack is 4″ from the heat element. Turn broiler to high. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels. Season as desired. Place fillets skin-side down on a broiling pan coated with cooking spray. Place the pan on the top rack. Broil for 7 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions about whether to broil with the oven door open or closed.)

Creamy Corn Sauce

Yield: about 2 cups

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup dry white wine (or use more broth)
1 3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth (or substitute vegetable broth)
1 sprig whole plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in the wine. Bring to a boil; cook until the wine is reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth and thyme and return to boiling. Stir in corn. Simmer over medium-low heat until the corn is tender, about 15 minutes. Discard thyme sprig.

Puree with a freestanding or immersion blender until smooth. Return to the pan and stir in butter, chopped thyme, and salt and pepper to taste (I start with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper). Make ahead: Sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.