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Fig and Almond Crostata

It’s fig season here in the Northeastern U.S., and if you don’t have your own fig, there are plenty of markets selling different varieties of these luscious fruits. I had about a dozen that were ready to eat and decided to make a free-form crostata for dessert, poaching the figs first in port wine, honey and cinnamon. They’re delicious poached in red wine too, but if you have port wine, it’s a perfect match accompaniment to figs.

The figs become a little moister after poaching, which could make the pastry soggy, so I scattered a layer of sliced almonds as a bed for the figs, to act as a barrier and also give more texture and flavor.

Drain the figs from the poaching liquid and place them carefully over the almonds.

Gather the pastry around the edges, pinching to form a border. Brush with beaten egg, or some milk.

After it comes out of the oven, spread some of the reduced glaze over the top.

It’s delicious just as is, but a bit of ice cream always makes things better.

Fig and Almond Crostata
 
 
Ingredients
  • Serves two to four people (easily doubled to serve eight)
  • 10 to 12 figs, cut in half
  • ½ cup Port wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • For the Pastry:
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Bring the Port wine, honey, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Lower the heat and add the figs. Let the figs simmer for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how ripe the figs are.
  3. Don't let them poach so long that they lose shape.
  4. Drain the figs and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the heat to high and let the Port wine mixture reduce to about half or until about the consistency of honey.
  6. Don't forget the solution will be runnier when it's hot, but thickens when cooled.
  7. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor, until it resembles coarse sand. Add the ice water until it starts to hold together. Bring it out onto a board and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball, wrap in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for about a half hour to an hour.
  8. Remove from refrigerator and roll over a floured surface to a circle with a circumference of about 10-12 inches.
  9. Scatter the almonds over the center of the dough, leaving a border of about two inches.
  10. Place the poached figs over the almonds, then fold the pastry over the figs, pinching toward the edges to form a border.
  11. Brush the border with either beaten egg, or milk.
  12. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until browned.
  13. Remove from oven, and brush the reduced port wine glaze over the figs.
  14. If the glaze is too thick, put it back on the heat for a few minutes, adding a bit of water if necessary.
 

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Fig Port-Wine Pistachio Ice Cream

Fig Port-Wine Pistachio Ice Cream

OK, enough with the figs, you might be saying. The season is over. Well, that’s mostly true, but the way my brain is working these days, if I say to myself I’ll save this fig post for next year, I’m likely to forget, or to find it impossible to locate these photos among the thousands that are buried in my computer never, neverland. So here you have it – another fig recipe. Tuck it away for next season if figs have disappeared from your markets or if your tree is finished producing for the year.
If you’ve got purple figs, the ice cream will take on a beautiful dark pink hue. But I used up the last of my purple figs in a lemony- fig olive oil cake (click here for recipe). When some friends invited me to pick some figs from their tree, which happens to produce green figs, I wasn’t about to complain. Especially not when they were as juicy and flavorful as these.
 The recipe is adapted from one in David Lebovitz’ book, “The Perfect Scoop.” I changed it to add port wine instead of water, and threw in some pistachios too. The wine adds flavor and helps to keep it from hardening to a rock solid mass. Feel free to use another type of alcohol if you prefer – rum, grand marnier or whatever you fancy. Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
 Sprinkle with a few more pistachios on top and dig in.

Fig-Port Wine-Pistachio Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz’ “The Perfect Scoop”
printable recipe here

2 lbs. fresh figs (about 20)
1/2 cup port wine, plus 3 Tablespoons
1 lemon, preferably unsprayed
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Remove the hard stem ends from the figs, then cut each fig into 8 pieces. Put the figs in a medium, non-reactive saucepan with 1/2 cup port wine, and zest the lemon directly into the saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes until the figs are tender. Remove the lid, add the sugar and continue to cook until it reaches a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Blend together with cream, lemon juice, and pistachios, and 3 more T. of port wine. Chill in the fridge and then put in your ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s instructions.