Tag Archives: figs

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs and Praline

~ Orange Almond Semifreddo, Port Wine Poached Figs, Almond Praline ~

What are you serving for dessert for Christmas? I am making this light and luscious semifreddo, cloaked in a heady sauce of port-wine poached figs. Fragrant with orange and spice, it’s reminiscent of English Christmas puddings and mulled wine. The semifreddo is an elegant frozen Italian concoction of whipped cream and meringue, flecked with toasted almonds and orange zest. Each bite is ethereal, melting on the tongue in a teasing airy poof. For a little extra oomph (it’s Christmas after all) a shard of caramelized almond praline crowns the dessert.

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs

Each component may be prepared in advance, perfect for entertaining and last minute gift wrapping.

Serves 8

Semifreddo:
3/4 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Figs:
1 cup Port wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 large dried (or medium fresh) figs, stems removed, halved

Praline:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Prepare the semifreddo:
Line a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with plastic, leaving a 3-inch overhang. Place the almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the orange zest and salt; pulse to blend. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat the cream, Amaretto and vanilla extract in a clean mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream until no traces are visible. Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites until evenly distributed. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Cover tightly with plastic. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the figs:
Bring all of the ingredients, except the figs, to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan. Add the figs and toss to coat and submerge. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the liquid. (Figs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until use. Allow to come to room temperature before serving).

Prepare the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the almonds and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.

When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Working quickly, cut in 3/4-inch slices and arrange on serving plates or shallow bowls. Spoon figs and juice over the semifreddo and garnish with praline shards. Serve immediately.

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs

~ Orange Almond Semifreddo, Port Wine Poached Figs, Almond Praline ~

This dessert has the whiff of Christmas. The good news is that you don’t need to wait until December to taste it. It’s really a 2-part dessert, with each component stand-alone good. Fresh figs are poached in a heady reduction of Port wine, balsamic vinegar, citrus and spice yielding intense results reminiscent of Christmas puddings and mulled wine. You could stop there and serve the figs in their stew as a simple dessert soup, but why hold back? That was my thought, when I ladled the figs and their sauce over a wedge of melt-in-your-mouth semifreddo. Semifreddo is a fancy way to describe this frozen Italian concoction of whipped cream and meringue, which, in this case, is flecked with toasted almonds and orange zest. Each bite is ethereal, light and airy, disappearing on the tongue in a teasing poof. For a little structure and lasting crunch, I topped the dessert with a shard of caramelized almond praline. Like I said – why hold back?

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs 
Serves 8

Semifreddo:
3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Amaretto or almond liqueuer
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Figs:
1 cup Port wine (or heavy bodied red wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 ripe medium-large figs, halved

Praline:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Prepare the semifreddo:
Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic, leaving a 3-inch overhang. Place almonds and ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add orange zest and salt; pulse to blend. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat cream, Amaretto and vanilla extract in a clean mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream until no traces are visible. Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites until evenly distributed. Spoon into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Cover with plastic. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the figs:
Bring all of the ingredients except the figs to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan. Add the figs and toss to coat and submerge. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the liquid. (Figs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until use. Allow to come to room temperature before serving).

Prepare the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepen over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the almonds and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer.. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.

When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Working quickly, cut in 3/4-inch slices and arrange on serving plates. Spoon figs and juice over the semifreddo and garnish with praline shards. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts from TasteFood
Pistachio Pound Cake from Oui Chef
Holiday Pumpkin Roulade from TasteFood
Fig Crostata from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Legends of Europe: Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

My mission (should I choose to accept it):  To create an original recipe using Prosciutto di San Daniele from Legends from Europe. Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe: Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reffiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio.

As luck would have it, these 5 products happen to be some of my favorites. The biggest challenge I faced was not in accepting this mission but deciding which product to feature. Fortunately, the folks at Legends helped me with my choice and assigned me the Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is named for the region of San Daniele in northeastern Italy where it enjoys a unique micro-climate nestled between the Dolomite Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The ham is left to slow-cure naturally, following a 2,000 year-old tradition introduced by the Celts. Today, Prosciutto di San Daniele is considered a delicacy  with its mild flavor and delicate texture. This week, I will be posting a few recipes I’ve created with Legends’ Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

A small rosemary sprig does double duty as a toothpick and aromatic, infusing the figs and goat cheese with its flavor as they bake in the oven. Makes 16 hors-d’oeuvres

8 ripe figs
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices “Legends from Europe” Prosciutto di San Daniele, halved lengthwise
16 3/4-inch rosemary sprigs with stem, plus 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. Halve figs lengthwise. Place figs on a work surface, skin side down. Gently make a small indentation in each center with a teaspoon. Mix goat cheese and pepper together in a small bowl. Fill the indentation with goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon. Wrap a prosciutto slice, cross-wise, around fig. Spear a rosemary sprig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place. Repeat with remaining fig halves. Place figs in a baking dish. Lightly brush prosciutto with olive oil. Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer figs to a platter. Remove baked rosemary sprigs and discard (they will be brown). Replace with a few fresh rosemary leaves, without stem. Lightly drizzle figs with honey. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve warm.

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

~ Baked Stuffed Figs with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Honey ~

Food is like fashion. There are some trends that flash then fizzle, while there are classics that withstand the passage of time – just like a little black dress. The combination of figs, goat cheese and prosciutto falls in the little black dress category. Each ingredient is a specialty hailing from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, reflecting locally grown and raised food with a history spanning the ages. And they taste great together. No fancy accoutrements are needed – this is the stuff of slow food.  Whether you call it timeless or simply delicious, the common denominator is it strikes a primal chord in all of us, bringing us back for more.

This recipe showcases the ancient fig, one of the first plants cultivated by humans.  Figs are high in calcium, fiber, potassium and contain many antioxidants.  Luscious and honeyed, they are delicate in flavor.  Their subtle sweetness is an elegant addition to savory dishes such as pizzas and salads, while their mildness adds refinement to desserts, never tipping the sugar point.  Classic, understated and refined – all of the makings of timeless food and good fashion.

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Fresh rosemary sprigs serve as toothpicks in assembling the figs while infusing flavor during the baking. Makes 12 hors-d’ouevres, or serves 6 as a salad course.

12 figs, ripe but not too soft
6 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in half length-wise
4 large rosemary sprigs, cut in thirds, plus extra for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)

Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit.  Gently separate the quarters to create an opening.  Scoop 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese into the opening, without overstuffing.  Wrap each fig with prosciutto slice.  Pierce the prosciutto and fig with a rosemary skewer to hold in place. Arrange figs in a baking pan. Gently brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (the prosciutto will also add salt). Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crispen and cheese is tinged brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Carefully remove and discard baked rosemary sprigs. Arrange figs on serving platter or individual plates with fresh arugula (optional).  Drizzle each fig with honey.  Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Fig Jam from Kiss My Spatula
Fig and Walnut Biscotti from Brown Eyed Baker
Prosciutto Roll-ups with Arugula and Fennel from TasteFood
Roasted Fig Crostini from TasteFood

Fall Market Salad: Figs and Greens with Honey Vinaigrette

Fall Market

This autumnal salad is insired by the fall palette on display at Sundays Farmer’s Market.

Figs and Greens with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Serves 6

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, oak leaf, mâche
1 cup purple basil leaves
One medium fennel bulb with fronds, tips and end removed, thinly sliced
6 purple figs, quartered
1/2 cup halved walnuts
6 oz. (175 g.) blue cheese such as Roquefort or Forme d’Ambert, cut in 1″ pieces

Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil in steady stream to emulsify.

Combine greens, basil and fennel in a large bowl.  Pour half the vinaigrette over, tossing with hands to combine well.  Arrange greens on serving plates.  Top with figs, walnuts and blue cheese.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste.  Serve with baguette or pain paysan.

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

~
Food is like fashion: It comes and goes with time.  There are trends that flash then fizzle, and then there are the little black dresses that withstand the passage of time and are considered classic.  Figs with goat cheese and prosciutto are in the little black dress category.

The key to timeless food combinations lies in the origin of the ingredients.  Figs, goat cheese and prosciutto (or dried, salted meat) are locally grown and produced products hailing from the hills of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East where the cuisines naturally reflect locally grown and raised food. No fancy accoutrements needed; this is the stuff of slow food.  Whether you call it timeless, more-ish, umami, or simply satisfying, the common denominator is it strikes a primal chord in all of us, bringing us back for more.

This recipe showcases the ancient fig, one of the first plants cultivated by humans.  Figs are high in calcium, fiber, potassium and contain many antioxidants.  Luscious and honeyed, they are delicate in flavor.  Their subtle sweetness is an elegant addition to savory dishes such as pizzas and salads, while their mildness adds refinement to desserts, never tipping the sugar point.  Classic, understated and refined – all of the makings of timeless food (and good fashion.)

FIgs Chevre

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
Makes 12 hors-d’ouevres, or serves 6 as a salad course

12 figs, ripe but not too soft
8 oz./240 g. soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in half length-wise
4 large rosemary sprigs, cut in thirds
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rosemary leaves for garnish
Arugula or arugula sprouts

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)

Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit.  Gently separate the quarters to create an opening.  Scoop 2-3 teaspoons goat cheese into the opening, without overstuffing.  Wrap each fig with prosciutto slice.  Arrange figs on baking tray.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each fig with rosemary sprig.  Bake in oven 25 minutes.  Remove and discard baked rosemary sprigs.
Arrange figs on serving platter or individual plates.  Drizzle each fig with 1 teaspoon honey.  Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves.  Serve immediately accompanied with fresh baguette slices.
Optional:  Arrange figs on bed of arugula, or garnish platter/plates with arugula sprouts.