Even though it’s actually a summer fruit, there’s something about figs that say fall. Maybe it’s the color of the dark, chewy, sweet flesh, or the crispness of the seeds, like the crisp autumn air.
You can still find fresh figs in grocery stores across the East Valley, and using them in your entertaining is a way to inject simple sophistication into your cooking, say chefs.
Barbara Pool Fenzl of Les Gourmettes Cooking School in Phoenix says she doesn’t cook with a lot with figs, but she does enjoy eating them when they’re fresh, particularly when she is in southern France.
“When I’m conducting my classes in the Dordogne we eat lots of fresh figs,” she says. “They’re usually stuffed with a lovely soft goat cheese and served on a green salad with walnut oil dressing.”
Judy Toth, cooking teacher and owner of Simply Impressive Cooking School in Mesa, says she loves to cook with figs in all their forms — fresh, dried, or made into preserves. “Figs have a great flavor that goes well with things like sharp cheese,” she says. “It’s the sweet and sharp flavors together that are nice.”
She says dried figs are interchangeable in most recipes with other dried fruits, such as prunes or apricots.
She recommends a brie, prosciutto and fig tea sandwich for bite-size servings full of fall flavors. She notes that brie tastes best when it is at room temperature, so the sandwiches should be left out of the refrigerator a few minutes before serving.
Barbara Pool Fenzl
Owner, Les Gourmettes Cooking School
6610 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Simply Impressive Cooking School
BRIE, PROSCIUTTO AND FIG TEA SANDWICH
Yield: 3 whole sandwiches and 9 finger sandwiches
6 slices oat or whole-grain bread (Toth recommends Oroweat’s Oat Nut or Health Nut)
3 tablespoons fig preserves
5 ounces sliced brie cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces per sandwich)
6-12 slices thinly sliced prosciutto (about 5 to 6 ounces)
Fresh rosemary (optional)
Assemble the sandwich by spreading the about 1 tablespoon fig preserves on one slice of bread.
Slice the brie in thin slices. If possible, slice brie so that you get long pieces, so you will be able to get one slice evenly across a sandwich.
Place the brie on top of the fig preserves, then place one to two slices of the prosciutto on top of the cheese. If you must use more than one slice per sandwich, place it neatly on the bread so that it looks attractive once the sandwich is cut. You will use approximately 1 1/2 ounces per sandwich. Removing the rind is optional.
Sprinkle on rosemary, if using.
Place a second slice of bread on top of the sandwich. If your bread is really thick, you might want to add additional fig preserves on the top slice of bread also.
After the sandwiches are assembled, cut the crusts off each sandwich. Then cut each sandwich into three finger sandwiches. Keep covered until ready to serve.
Source: Judy Toth