dried FIGS bathing in PORTO

Plumped up some sun-dried figs into...
a perfectly spirited culinary concoction.

For all intent and purpose...
logically I should have been posting first about luscious fresh figs...
instead of highlighting the fig in its ultimately drier sweeter state.

Especially since, just this week has delivered me a real treat...
the sweetest 'mission' figs from California.
Quite an unexpected surprise.
They were actually very close to their peek of perfection.

All kinds of recipes raced through my mind.
However, the easiest and less complicated use of this fresh fig...
was to quite frankly put one by one quietly through the
route of my mouth towards the happy ending of my tummy ;0) 
How's that for a great destination?

Alright, teasing aside...this wonderful poaching of my favourite dried fruit...
along with a flavourful fortified wine had to finally be shared with all of you.

Pour a little of the Porto Syrup and jazz it up with a few thin slices
of figs and maybe a few sprinkles of chopped roasted almonds.

It all began from a little experimentation that stemmed from another recipe... 
which included apricots and I don't even remember what spirit was used.
In any case...I had just bought a big bottle of Ruby Port to cook with and it had...
dawned on me that I couldn't go wrong in cooking the dry figs into my favourite liquor.
I also had felt that adding to it the aroma of my favourite...
cinnamon spice would not hinder the overall result either ;o)

After a few tweaks here and there...
I finally came up with the perfect ratio of dried fruit to liquid.

The most amazing part of this recipe is how well it lends...
itself to both sweet and savoury recipes.

Porto Fig Walnut and Cheddar spread
(vegetarian paté)...with a few other Porto figs as garnish

yields about 1 cup / 250ml

Printer Version

(American / Metric measures)
. 4 Porto figs *
. 1/2 cup (80g) raw walnuts
. 3.5 oz. (100g) aged Cheddar
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Porto fig syrup
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) water

* ...OR...pre-soak dried figs into enough Porto fortified wine to generously cover them in a small bowl. 
Let them rest until softened enough to purée in a blender.  Add the remaining liquid into the recipe.  Adjust the added water accordingly in order to achieve a paste.

Note: Can be prepared ahead the day before.
1.  In a blender or small food processor, place together the 3 Porto figs with the remaining ingredients.
2. Pulse a few times.  Scrape down the edges with a spatula before blitzing the mix into a spread-like texture.
. Serve with either a few raw vegetables, crackers or fresh bread.

Oh...and did I forget to mention...
that the figs keep in the refrigerator in what seems like forever...
if, of course you don't finish them too soon ;o)

A little info on the wondrous dried FIG...
in its naturally organic sweetness.

Several Health Benefits:
. Excellent source of calcium, potassium and iron. 
. Figs help in balancing the pH of the body since they are high in alkalinity.
. Very protein rich and a great low in fat treat...albeit caloric due to the natural sugars.
. Fiber generous to aid in our digestive system and is also a reducer of cholesterol levels.

. Store your dried figs by wrapping them well with
a plastic wrap while taking as much air out.
They can keep in a cool dark area for at least
one month or refrigerated for several months.

There is a plethora of choices when it comes to choosing a Port fortified wine.  I will certainly not even try to touch upon this vast subject in this post...perhaps, maybe at a later time.  Therefore, without going into a lengthy description...here's a little something you need to know about the versatile and relatively inexpensive Ruby Port wine variety:  It is the most extensively produced fortified wine of its kind. It has a slightly sweet taste and has been created to be sold within the first 2-3 years of life...it will not improve with age as most Ports do.

Porto Figs
yields 22-24 figs

(American / Metric measures)

. 22-24 dried figs* (sulphite-free preferred)
. 3 cups (750ml) good quality Port wine
. 1 big stick of cinnamon (Ceylon preferred)

* Turkish dried Figs (usually from the Province of Aydin...where they are most popular) are my first choice because they are plump and succulent. Their sweetness are preserved naturally, hence, none of those unwanted preservatives.
. A very close second choice would be the California (Calimyrna) fig or the Mission fig which happens to be of a smaller and sweeter variety.
Note: Whenever possible and if your pocket book permits...an organic selection of dried figs are always best for any recipe.

approx. 20 minutes

1. Prepare the dried figs by slightly pulling the tips and then cutting them off and discarding them.
2. In a medium (8 inch/ 20cm) saucepan...pour the Port wine and place the cinnamon stick in the liquid. Cover the pot and bring it to a BOIL and then remove the lid let it boil for another 2 minutes. Take out the cinnamon stick .
3. Bring the heat down to MEDIUM and add the figs side by side, as best you can. Cover the pot for 2 minutes and then lower the heat to a simmer for another 8 minutes. Shut the heat off and leave the cover on until it reaches room temperature. This will take several hours.

4. Once the figs are cool...place them into a big mason glass jar with the aid of a jar funnel. Make sure the liquid fully covers the patted down figs and seal. If missing some liquid...you can add a minimal amount of uncooked Port wine. Before refrigerating, turn over the jar for about 1 hour and then it can be turned over right side up again. 
Note: Although not a necessary step...I do, once and a while turn the jar upside down to let the Port syrup spread throughout the figs.

The advantage of this recipe is that the figs
can either be immediately consumed or
kept in the refrigerator for months as it continues to soak up
the liquid and creates the most luscious Fig Port syrup.

Suggestion for the syrup:
The remaining syrup can then later be used to de-glaze any meat style dishes. 

Figs bathing in Port
...can be accompanied by a variety of side delicacies.

Add in some...
in all their natural goodness.

Selectively choose...
a few great robust bodied cheeses.
BLUE cheeses...
Strong CHEDDARS...


The Softer, yet pronounced cheeses also lend themselves exceptionally well...such as:

If, unfortunately your specialty cheese shop
hasn't served you well enough...
here are some great specialized cheese sites you can refer to:
* It's all about...what else...Cheese *
* The Cook's Thesaurus: Cheese *
* An overview of world cheeses *

I really enjoyed realizing this post.
I do hope you have a chance to make this fabulous culinary concoction.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.