Figs, Figs and More Figs!

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August is all about figs (picking, canning, preserving) and the many ways to use them in recipes.  They hang like amethyst jewels on trees ready for harvesting in late July to early August.  “Back in the day”—as is often said—they were picked, washed, dried and cooked on a low fire in a black pot with lots of sugar.  To enhance the flavor, lemons or oranges were added in the cooking process.

Later, the trend was to add flavored gelatins to give a variety of tastes; hence strawberry figs, etc.  Usually this turned out to be a jam since figs were mashed during the cooking process.  I have included a few of my favorite recipes with the prized commodity, preserved figs.

 Fig Cake

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
3 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
2 Cups Chopped Fig Preserves
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients and bake in a greased Bundt or loaf pan for approximately 1 hour.  When cooled, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  To make a pretty pattern, place a doily on top of cake before sprinkling with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar.

Note:  Substitution for buttermilk is 1 cup of whole or skim milk mixed with 1tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar.

Recipe courtesy of Peggy Taylor/Sew, What’s Cooking? (The Cottonport Musuem & Cultural Center), a favorite recipe of the quilters.

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

This is a very simple to make recipe for ice cream that takes advantage of the wonderful flavor of fresh figs.

1/2 Cup Milk
2 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Quart Ripe Figs (Peeled)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Scald ½ cup milk and stir it slowly into 2 well-beaten egg yolks.  Cook the mixture in a double boiler or in a bowl over boiling water, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat a spoon.  Cook and fold the custard into 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, lightly whipped.  Press peeled figs though a sieve until puree consistency.  Sprinkle the puree with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 1teaspoon vanilla, then add it to the custard.  Blend the ingredients thoroughly and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 20 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes.  Recipe courtesy of  www.gourmetfood.com.

Avoyelles Commission of Tourism offers a variety of local cookbooks from different Avoyelles Parish organizations.  Stop by the ACT Office at 8592 Hwy 1 in Mansura to browse through the different cookbooks from throughout the parish.  For additional information, call (318) 964-2025.