Food & Drink: Sep 2022

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Food and Drink

Get Figgy With It

When Jim Kendrick suggested to his then-girlfriend Cassie that they plant her potted fig tree in the backyard of his West Waco home, she agreed, but on one condition.

She told Jim, “I just want you to know, if anything ever happens between us, I’m digging this tree up and taking it home with me.”

The tree, which she called Figgy, had been living in a pot in Cassie’s apartment at Pecan Ridge, on Lake Shore Drive. And it wasn’t much of a tree at all.

“It was literally a couple of twigs that maybe came up to your knee when we first planted it,” Jim said. “I can remember it being small enough where I could put a trash can over it when it would freeze.”

But Figgy adjusted well to its new home and has been producing bountiful crops of figs for the past five or six years. A couple of years ago, Jim posted a Facebook photo of a bountiful harvest with the caption, “Our fig tree is kinda killing it this year.”

“We definitely had hundreds of figs,” he said. “We laid them out on baking sheets, and we had six or seven baking sheets. We would pull them off and more would come. They kept growing in the spring and into the early summer. We had multiple yields.”

During the heat of this summer, however, Figgy produced fruit, but it never matured. “It was too hot and dry,” Jim said.

Figgy proved its resilience over the past two winters, however.

“After Snowmageddon [in 2021], we said, ‘Oh gosh. It’s dead.’ It looked like a bunch of dead wood sticking out of the ground,” Jim said. “There’s no way this thing is coming back. And it started growing a new tree out of the ground. This winter was really bad too, but it kept going and it’s grown into a bigger tree than it was before.”

For our fig-related recipes this month, we have a main dish, a couple of drinks, cake and granola. Cassie provided her recipes for the cake and granola.

Stuffed Ravioli with Figs

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package (9 ounces) cheese-stuffed ravioli
  • 2 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fig jam
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ounces white wine
  • 2 fresh figs, sliced
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

Fill a large sauce pan two-thirds full of water and place over high heat. Just as the water begins to boil, add 2 teaspoons salt and stir. When the water reaches a full boil, add the ravioli and cook according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, set a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta until it begins to crisp. Remove to drain on a paper towel and set aside. Crumble or cut the pancetta into large chunks.

In another skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Continue cooking until the butter is fragrant and begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the pepper, fig jam and wine, stirring until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and add the fresh figs; stir gently to coat the figs.

When ready to serve, place the ravioli on a plate. Spoon the sauce and figs over the ravioli and sprinkle with pancetta. Grate the parmesan cheese over the top and garnish with sage or other fresh herbs. Serve immediately. Makes 2-3 servings.

Honey Mascarpone Tart

For the pastry:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Fresh figs, sliced
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Whipped cream

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and cubed butter. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is flaky. Add the sour cream and stir just until the dough begins to stick together. Gather the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

When ready to roll out the dough, lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll the dough out until it fits a tart pan or tin. The dough may be slightly crumbly and not roll out well. If that’s the case, take pieces of the dough and press them into the pan, making sure to cover the bottom and sides completely. Trim off any excess dough and place the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 F.

When ready to bake, remove the crust from the freezer and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Weigh the paper down with beans, pie weights or sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and paper. Return the crust to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. When slightly golden brown, remove from the oven and turn down the heat to 350 F.

While the crust is baking, make the filling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the mascarpone and ricotta. Using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar, eggs, yolks and honey. Continue beating until combined and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Fill the baked crust with the honey filling and smooth the top. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The filling will be slightly wobbly when done. Remove the tart from the oven and cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just before serving, top with fresh figs and strawberries. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and whipped cream if desired. Makes about 6-8 servings.

Fig Cake

For the cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups chopped fresh figs, divided
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour mixture alternately with the evaporated milk. Stir in vanilla and almond extract, and fold in 1 cup of the chopped figs.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes on a wire rack.

To make the filling, in a saucepan combine the remaining 2 cups of chopped figs, brown sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, whip the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, milk and vanilla. If the frosting seems too thick to spread, add a little more milk.

Spread all of the filling on top of one cake, and top with the other cake. Cover the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Makes about 8 servings.

Fig Granola Bars

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh figs, stems removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water

For the crumble:

  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

To make the crust, heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly an 8-by-8 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla and, using a mixer, blend until smooth. Add the flour and salt; blend until combined.

Add the mixture to the prepared pan and use your fingers to spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and set aside.

To make the filling, in a saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the fig, lemon juice, sugar and water. Cover the pan and, stirring occasionally, cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

When most of the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.

To make the crumble, add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and oats to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the cold butter, then use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the mixture. The crumble should be a little clumpy.

Spread the fig mixture over the crust, and evenly spread the crumble mixture over the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

Cut into nine bars.

Gin and Fig

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 teaspoon fig jam
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Fresh fig slice, for garnish

Add the gin, jam, lemon juice and simple syrup. Stir until mixed well. Add ice, and garnish with a slice of fig. Makes 1 drink.

Bourbon and Fig

  • 2 tablespoons fig jam
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh fig slice, for garnish

Add the jam, bourbon, orange liqueur, honey and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Stir until well-mixed. Divide evenly into two old-fashioned glasses. Garnish with sliced fig. Makes 2 drinks.

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