Two fresh fig recipes: fig blueberry crisp and fig cookie bars!

It finally happened… the figs on our monster fig tree started to ripen! I tried two new recipes this year with figs that both turned out fantastic.

Fig and Blueberry Crisp

I basically followed this Food Network recipe with some slight modifications:

  • I used 3 cups blueberries and 3 cups figs and added a bit of lemon zest to the fruit mixture
  • I did not add nutmeg or pecans
  • I did add some ground ginger, probably about 1/2 teaspoon

Fruit mixture and topping:

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The final, delicious product:20160710_165231

Fig Cookie Bars

While the crisp was super easy to throw together, fig cookies bars (also called fig newtons) required more work, spread across two days for me. For the cookie part, I mostly followed this Fresh Fig Newtons recipe from Sugar Dish Me. For the jam in the middle, I looked around at a number of recipes and ended up using:

  • 2 lbs fresh figs, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. After the boil starts, reduce to a simmer and continue to stir / mash from time to time. After 45 min or so, the jam should be thickened.

Note: this jam did turn out quite sweet, so next time I’d reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup probably.

For the cookie part, I changed the Sugar Dish Me recipe by:

  • Reducing the butter – I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Omitting the orange zest – I didn’t have an orange and wasn’t sold on this anyhow.

The bars were a huge hit. If only they weren’t so much work!

Making jam:

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Finished jam:

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Finished cookie bar sheet:

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Mmmm… delicious!

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Baking soft pretzels, not as hard as you might think!

After a recent trip to Philadelphia, the land of soft pretzels, I came across the recipe for Alton Brown’s soft pretzels and figured it was a sign that I should make them. The technique is fairly straightforward, make the dough, let it rise, divide and roll it out, form pretzels, dunk in pretzel bath, apply egg wash, and bake.
The only change I recommend is to divide the dough into 12 or 16, instead of 8 if you don’t want enormous pretzels. I found it was easiest to hold the dough in the air and roll between my hands rather than try to roll on the counter.
The result was delicious and I will definitely make them again!
I also whipped up a batch of roasted poblano queso for a dip and highly recommend it.

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Kale and caramelized onion stuffing

Two thanksgivings ago, I made a bread pudding as our stuffing for thanksgiving. It was delicious, rich, cheesy, bready… but it wasn’t exactly stuffing. So this year, I went the opposite direction and found a stuffing without any cheese, yet it was still moist and flavorful. Kale and caramelized onion stuffing from the Smitten Kitchen. In the version I cooked up, I used slightly less olive oil, added a bag of sliced cremini mushrooms, and went the vegetable broth route. It was awesome and the caramelized onions were so so good.

First, I shaved off the crust of the sourdough loaf and cut it up to toast. It was a few days old and quite hard to get the crust off actually, but in the end you couldn’t tell at all.

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I actually caramelized the onions the day before I put together the stuffing since they take so long to cook down.

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On thanksgiving I finished assembling the stuffing and baked it. So much delicious kale, mushrooms and onions!

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A Cornucopia Thanksgiving Feast

The cover of this year’s Thanksgiving issue of Vegetarian Times had the loveliest food I’ve ever seen: a bread cornucopia stuffed with colorful roasted vegetables. I knew I had to have it, so I made one for Thanksgiving! I mean, vegetables and bread are my two favorite things to eat, so there was really no way I wasn’t going to try it.

I started off following the dough recipe for the cornucopia. The dough rises overnight in the fridge into a massive amount so make sure you use a large bowl.

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To create the cone of the cornucopia, you have to form a cone out of poster board and then cover it in foil and cooking spray.

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I then used sections of the dough to roll it out into rectangular sheets, cutting 20″ x 1.5″ strips and then wrapping them around the cone while it was standing up, starting the bottom. The last bit of dough was used to create 3 additional strips and braid them. I laid the cornucopia on its side and then added the braided strip, so it did not go all the way around.

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The cone then went into the oven. About half way, I had to remove the foil / posterboard cone from the dough, which was not the easiest thing to do.

In the meantime, we prepped many colorful veggies to prepare using the recipe Fork and Knife Roasted Vegetables. We used mushrooms, acorn squash, butternut squash, purple sweet potato, onion, and cauliflower. We also made the recommended Essence of Thanksgiving Gravy.

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We very carefully transported the cooled cornucopia to our friend’s house, and kept the veggies in a separate container until it was time to put everything together on the table. Thanksgiving-16

I was soooo pleased with the final result. And it was good too, not just pretty! Everyone ate a bit of the cornucopia bread, and we even took home the leftovers and continued to eat the bread with our thanksgiving leftovers until it was gone.Thanksgiving-17Thanksgiving-18

A most delicious fresh fig tart

 

 

Back when we had figs ripening like mad, I came across a recipe from Vegetarian Times for a Lavender and Fig Tart with Goat Cheese Cream, and oh man was it worth the effort. It was a super big hit at a party, the first food to completely disappear.

The only change I made was to use thyme instead of lavender, since we had that in abundance in our garden.

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The hardest part of the recipe was dealing with the puff pastry, something I had no experience with.

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After you bake it, you have to cut along the edges to create the crust and then press down the middle. It wasn’t too bad, but of course mine wasn’t as pretty as the magazine picture.

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We had on over-abundance of figs at the time, so I really loaded up the tart.

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The final step was drizzling with a sweetened balsamic and thyme mixture. I can’t wait to make this recipe again next year!FigTart-6

Simple, healthy banana “pancakes”

I’m not sure where I came across this, but if you’re worried about the number of calories (or gluten) in typical pancakes and you like bananas, this recipe is for you. Make banana pancakes by mashing a ripe banana and mixing with two eggs. Add your favorite pancake spices, like cinnamon and vanilla, and then cook like a pancake. Serve with your favorite toppings. I’ve been using honey from our bee hive, my homemade applesauce, and/or strawberry jam. I really enjoy them!

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