Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fresh Figs Roasted in Lavender Butter with Macerated Raisins & Orange Ginger Coulis

This is a lovely, warming, and simple dessert with golden, jeweled colour and floral/fruit/spice notes coming together in a pleasing and satisfying way.

For two servings, you will need four ripe (and I mean RIPE* or otherwise the dish will taste like chalk!) figs, three teaspoons of sweet butter, one teaspoon of sugar, 12 lavender buds, 4 fluid ounces of raisins, a 1/2 teaspoon of chopped ginger (fresh or frozen), a single drop of Sherry vinegar (can be omitted but does brighten the other flavours), freshly squeezed juice of one large orange, 4 fluid ounces of heavy cream, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

(*Ripe figs will have some skin fissures, a drop of juice coming from the bottom, and when touched, feels like a little water balloon. They do not significantly ripen off the tree so you need to procure figs that are already ripe. If harvesting your own, a gentle downward pressure on the stem will be enough to release a ripe fig from the tree.)

In my haste to get to our figs before the Starlings do, I sometimes pick them too soon like the one on the bottom.

Macerating fruits significantly raises the taste experience. True maceration is not just sprinkling sugar over fruit and letting the juices seep out, it is soaking the fruits, fresh or dry, in a flavourful liquid. Also it is a way of preserving fresh fruit in the fridge for several days. The night before, mix together in a glass/ceramic/stainless steel (i.e., non-reactive material) bowl, orange juice, vinegar, vanilla extract, and ginger.

Halved orange, ginger, and vanilla extract

Stir the raisins into the maceration liquid. Cover and keep in fridge.

Dark raisins lighten, becoming a beautiful golden brown

That same night, using a fork, blend butter with the sugar. Divide into four equal sections and insert a few lavender buds in each portion. Refrigerate.

The next day, remove raisins from the fridge and bring to room temperature. When ready to prepare the dessert, preheat oven to 210 degrees F/410 degrees F. Wash, dry, and quarter figs, without slicing all the way to the bottom.

If there is a stem stub, slice so it is on just one quarter.

Place them in a baking dish and insert a portion of the lavender butter in each fig.

Bake for about fifteen minutes or until slightly carmelized, tender, and sizzling.

 Lavender buds can be fibrous so you may want to pluck them out after baking

While the figs are in the oven, drain the raisins by gently squeezing their juice into a small bowl. Strain the liquid and pick out the ginger pieces from the raisins. Reserve separately the raisins and maceration liquid.

The coulis is a veritable nectar--it's just so delicious I could drink a vat of it.

Place figs on serving plates and drizzle any juices from the pan onto the insides of the figs. If they have flopped open during baking, just gently close them up. Pool the coulis around the figs. Strew the raisins about the plate and dribble on some cream. I suspect they would also enhance a mound of vanilla ice cream (in that case, leave out the cream).

The weather has been warm and wet.  The garden is drinking up the moisture, fortifying itself for our short, cold winter.

Queen Elizabeth, mums, blueberry, Dianthus, Black-eyed  Susan vine, zinnias & Abelia

Close-up of Black-eyed Susan vine creating a fence screen

Close-up of mums, zinnias & Abelia

The asparagus bed which was planted this past spring is doing well. On windy days, its feathery foliage gracefully moves in tandem like delicate green fans freshening the air.

I finally transplanted the two-year-old laurels from their nursery bed (young hedge on the upper right)

A solitary red berry appeared and after researching, I discovered that it does contain seeds which can be used to propagate more asparagus plants. Pertinent information is found here.

The Abelia continues to provide its reliable all-year-around interest with not only a few late-season flowers but also bronzy pink sepals which will hang on all through winter.

Transplanted from a tiny cutting this spring, this husky culinary sage is thriving.

A Queen Elizabeth rose does not realise it is practically November.

The zinnias are slowing down a bit, but still giving a lot of colour to the garden.

A grasshopper tired of the grass?

When arriving here four years ago, I transplanted the Camellia from its container in which it had spent ten years on our Grenoble balcony. Since it kept me company for many a long hour as my office was just off its balcony, I consider it my friend.  I thought I was doing it a favour by giving it a new, spacious home but instead it went into 'culture shock' and was unable to set flower buds, though it did sprout new green growth.  I never gave up looking for flower buds starting in late summer, and sure enough, this is the year that it has recovered enough to exert energy into flower production.

Not as many buds as it set on our Grenoble balcony, but enough for its late winter comeback.

The Box Elder does know it is late autumn and in shedding all of its leaves has provided a soft, golden carpet with a rich fragrance of musk.

Maple still holding on to its deep-purple leaves, gold-mottled Aucuba & fallen Elder leaves.

À la prochaine!