April 2015 Fig Focus

Spring Celebrations!

Whether you’re enjoying brunch or dinner with family and friends, here are some great recipes to make Spring memorable.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Figs and Cream Cheese Filling

Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Orange Sugar–Almond Topping

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 orange
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Cake

  • 2¼ cups (11½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons (10 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 orange
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup stemmed and finely chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stems removed

Directions

For the Topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and orange zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.

For the Cake: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and orange zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

Reserve 1¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, orange juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and dried figs and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese-filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from outside edge of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any air bubbles. Sprinkle orange-sugar almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.

Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be sugar-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.

NOTE: Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

Fig and Banana Pudding Trifle

Serves 12

Pudding

  • 7 
large bananas, slightly under ripe
  • 2 cups Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stemmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 
cups sugar
  • 8
 large egg yolks
  • 6 
tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 
cups half-and-half
  • 1/2
 teaspoon salt
  • 3 
tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1
 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 
tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1
(12-ounce) box vanilla wafers

Whipped Topping

  • 1
 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 
tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the Pudding: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place 3 unpeeled bananas on baking sheet and bake until skins are completely black, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk 1⁄2 cup sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch in medium bowl until smooth. Bring half-and-half, remaining sugar, and salt to simmer over medium heat in large saucepan. Whisk 1⁄2 cup simmering half- and-half mixture into egg yolk mixture. Slowly whisk tempered yolk mixture into saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and large bubbles appear at surface, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Transfer pudding to food processor. Add warm peeled roasted bananas and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and process until smooth. Scrape into large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until slightly cool, about 45 minutes.

Cut remaining bananas into 1⁄4-inch slices and toss in bowl with remaining lemon juice. Spoon one-quarter of pudding into 3-quart trifle dish and top with layer of cookies, layer of sliced bananas, third of figs, and another layer of cookies. Repeat twice, ending with pudding. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding and refrigerate until wafers have softened, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

For the Whipped Topping: With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. (Whipped cream can be refrigerated for 4 hours.) Top banana pudding with whipped cream. Serve.

Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

Dried Fig and Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Sauce

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 12 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs (12 to 14 figs), left whole with stems attached
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) onions
  • 2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) unpeeled firm cooking apples, such as Jonathan, Gravenstein, or Granny Smith (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 12 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (3 to 4 pounds)*, untied
  • 1 cup fruity white wine, such as Pino Gris or Riesling
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, optional

Directions

Combine the figs and 2 cups of the apple cider in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until the figs have softened and all but 1/4 cup of the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Boil, uncovered, to reduce any excess liquid. Cool the figs in the liquid; then strain, reserving the 1/4 cup of cider syrup. Set aside 8 whole figs. Using kitchen scissors, trim the stems from the remaining figs and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and apples and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 tablespoon of the sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cut-up figs. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cut eight 18-inch lengths of cotton string. With a thin sharp knife, cut the pork lengthwise down the center, about three-quarters of the way through, so it can be opened like a book. Season the opened pork with a sprinkling of salt and a grinding of black pepper.

Spoon about half of the apple-fig mixture in a thick layer over the bottom portion of the pork, spreading it evenly. Fold the top portion of the pork over the bottom. Slide the strings under the pork, evenly spaced, and tie them firmly but not too tightly. Tuck any stuffing that escapes back into the roast. Rub the remaining 1/2-tablepooon sage and a generous amount of salt and pepper over the outside of the pork.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large, heavy ovenproof pan over medium heat until it is hot enough to sizzle and evaporate a drop of water. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the pork and sear it on all sides until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat, and spoon the remaining apple-fig mixture around the pork.

Place the pan in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan and carefully turn the roast over. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the pork registers a temperature of 135ºF, 10 to 15 minutes more. (The internal temperature will rise as the pork rests out of the oven.)

Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the roast to a cutting board, and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Spoon the apple-fig mixture into a serving dish and cover to keep it warm.

And the remaining 1 cup apple cider, the wine, and the reserved 1/4 cup apple cider syrup to the pan. Heat to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the mixture is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Taste and add lemon juice if desired, and salt and pepper if needed.

Cut the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange them, slightly overlapping on a warmed platter. Spoon the apple-fig mixture around the edges, and garnish with the reserved whole figs and sage leaves. Spoon the cider sauce over the meat, and serve.

*A well-trimmed boneless pork loin has had the log narrow strip of meat called the tenderloin removed. The resulting roast measures only about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and 12 or more inches long. This is the cut that is required for this roast.

Recipe source: Fig Heaven© 2004 by Marie Simmons

Passover

Passover begins April 3 and ends April 11 this year. Our Rice Pudding with Figs and Cardamom would be a wonderful dish to serve.

Rice Pudding with Figs and Cardamom

We prefer pudding made from medium-grain rice, but long-grain is perfectly acceptable if that’s what you happen to have on hand.

Serves 6 to 8.

  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice (white) or large grain white rice
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions

Bring 2 cups water to boil in large, heavy-bottomed pot (at least 3 quarts) or small soup kettle (4 to 5 quarts). Stir in salt and rice; cover and simmer over low heat, stirring once or twice until water is almost fully absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add milk, half-and-half and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high to bring to simmer, then reduce heat to maintain simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until mixture starts to thicken, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring every couple of minutes to prevent sticking and scorching, until a spoon is just able to stand up in the pudding, about 15 minutes longer.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, dried figs, and cardamom. Cool and serve at room temperature or chilled. (Can be covered with plastic wrap on surface of pudding and then refrigerated up to 2 days.)

Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

“Try ‘Em, You’ll Like ‘Em” Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Take steps every day to live a safe and healthy life. We started 2015 with these tips:

Being a healthy role model

Choosing healthy fats

Making sensible snacks a part of your plan

Now, as we move into April, it’s a good time to “wise up”. Making healthy changes often means learning something new. For example, if you want to eat more foods with fiber, you’ll want to know which foods offer the most fiber. Look for reputable websites to find reliable information and recipes; two good sites are the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ChooseMyPlate.gov. For information on figs, which are high in fiber, you can also go to www.valleyfig.com or www.californiafigs.com. Don’t get overwhelmed and feel like you need to learn everything. Simply focus on learning a little every day. 

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and tag us @valleyfig —we’d love to see what you’re cooking on Instagram and Facebook!

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