September 18, 2007

One last wave at summer...

Summer is fading into fall here in Northern California. It's getting dark a little earlier in the evening, and 100-degree "Indian summer" days have given way to crisp cool nights. Rain is in this weekend's forecast. Apples, pears and figs have replaced peaches and plums at the farmers' markets.

I was pleased when Ivonne chose to honor the fig in this 35th edition of Sugar High Friday. I love fall fruits -- *especially* the unctuous fig -- but like many of you I don't have a lot of experience cooking with them. I enjoy slicing them over a harvest salad, stuffing them with goat cheese and wrapping them in pancetta, and I've even experimented with a yummy savory torte that often makes our autumn open house menu. But Ivonne was looking for something sweet, so I couldn't lean on any of my old standbys. I'd need to expand my horizons and come up with some new way to fall in love with the fig.

I looked at a lot of recipes. I thought about scones. I perused a half dozen different interpretations of fig tart. I briefly contemplated preserving the bounty for posterity in the form of fig jam. But in the end, I took a step back toward summer, choosing a riff on Fine Cooking's Fig and Anise Ice Cream as my contribution to this month's event.

I'm not a fan of anise so I did a little improvising there, choosing cardamom and clove to impart a bit of a fall flavor. And I used my grandmother's trick, swapping mascarpone for the creme fraiche the recipe requested. Because recipes are just guidelines, right? My revised ingredient list included:

2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups organic whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
8 cardamom pods, crushed
1 teaspoon cloves
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup mascarpone

I pureed the figs to a fluffy pink texture and then cooked it to a wonderful jammy goodness. And every time I combine cream and eggs over heat, I thank Shuna for her careful instruction in all things anglaise.

I had plenty of down time while my base chilled in the refrigerator. An hour and a half, to be exact. You'd think I could have used some of that time to study the instruction manual that came with the ice cream maker attachment I haven't used since *last* summer.

You'd think wrong.

I *did* look at the manual. I actually watched a video on Kitchen Aid's website that showed how to assemble the equipment. This isn't rocket science. You'd think I'd have retained it long enough to get the apparatus up and running.

I repeat, you'd think wrong.

I screwed up the assembly. So my delicious gelato base is still... gelato base.

Lucky for me, Shuna's curriculum included some troubleshooting, so my base is back in refrigeration and we're going to try this again tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Resources used:
blend of organic brown turkey and black mission figs from Hamada Farms
Clover-Stornetta organic whipping cream
California Wildflower honey from Marshall's Farm

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Peabody said...

I hope it turns out!

Ivonne said...

What a beautiful, loving way to treat the gorgeous fig! Thanks so much for taking part in SHF #35, Dolores!

Belinda said...

What an innovative way to use figs...I love them right from the tree, for that short, fleeting time they are available, but I have enjoyed seeing the nifty recipes everyone has been coming up with for Ivonne's SHF event.