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While Figs Are Here . . .

Honeyed Fig Preserves

Makes about 4 cups

Copious amounts of sugar, honey and lemon more than mask the disappointment of underripe -- or even overripe -- figs. Adapted from a recipe in "Mes Confitures," by Christine Ferber (Michigan State University Press, 2002):

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2 1/4 pounds fresh underripe Black Mission figs, preferably small figs

3 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup to 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, depending on the ripeness

Juice from 1 small lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

Sterilize the jars, rings and lids according to manufacturer's directions.

Rinse the figs and dry them. Remove the stems and cut the figs into thin slices.

In a bowl, combine the figs, sugar, honey and lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Cover the bowl with a piece of parchment or wax paper, fitting the paper against the surface of the fig mixture, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Scrape the fig mixture into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, scrape the mixture into a bowl, cover with a piece of parchment or wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

Scrape the mixture into a pan, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring gently but almost constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and skim any foam from the top of the jam. Carefully spoon the jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch space between the jam and the neck of the jar. Wipe the rims of the jar. Seal the jars according to directions.

Quantity too variable for meaningful analysis.

Fig Cheese Plate Serve slightly underripe figs, quartered, with blue cheese and walnuts or goat cheese and Marcona almonds; serve alongside olives and prosciutto, if desired.

Buttered Figs With Manchego Tart Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add 12 underripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise, to the skillet, cut side down, and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon honey and place in the oven for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 1/4-inch thick slices of manchego cheese on individual squares of puff pastry and bake until melted, about 4 minutes. Top with the figs. From chef Todd Grey of Equinox restaurant.

Toffeed Figs Rinse and dry 6 slightly underripe fresh figs. Halve each fig lengthwise, place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle generously with light brown sugar. Broil until the sugar melts into a glaze and the figs are warm. Serve immediately, preferably with ice cream. From "Bread Tomato Garlic: Quick Cooking With 3 Main Ingredients," by Jill Dupleix (Soma, 1999).


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