April/May/June 2012 Fig Focus

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A Spring to Remember

Winner of the Fig Photo Contest Is …

Congratulations to Gina Haase, our Grand Prize Winner! Gina’s winning photo of Fig Compote and Chèvre Leaves is stunning. According to Gina, “These tasty little hors h’oeuvres are my go-to for cocktail parties no matter what the season. Afterall, who can resist crispy potato leaves sporting a healthy dollop of savory fig compote atop creamy, pungent chèvre? Chopped Mission figs, fresh lemon thyme, cracked black pepper, a little sugar, a dash of salt, and a generous pour of French dry vermouth were simmered until thickened slightly, then left to cool. Russet potatoes were sliced thin, and then cut into leaf shapes with a cookie cutter, buttered, garnished and baked until crisp. The leaves were assembled in minutes; the photo was snapped in my kitchen moments before our guests snapped them up.”

Gina and her guest have won a complementary trip to Boston to visit America’s Test Kitchen and see a taping of the show as well as an America’s Test Kitchen apron, a cookbook signed by Christopher Kimball and the America’s Test Kitchen staff, a one-year subscription to Cook’s Country magazine, and a one-year membership to CooksCountry.com.

Check out the Valley Fig Growers’ Facebook page for all the other great winning photos, including our second place winners, Tipsy Fig Italian Wedding Cake from Susan S. and Savory Port Wine Fig Tarte Tartin from Cathi I.

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May is National Mediterranean Diet Month!

Simply Healthy, Simply Mediterranean, Simply Delicious

The month-long promotional campaign, created in 2009 by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, generates awareness of the delicious foods and amazing health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.

Valley Fig Growers joined with California Olive Ranch to help get the word out. Here is our recipe for a wonderful Mediterranean spread that you can use on crostini for an appetizer, as a spread on sandwiches, or as a dip with pita bread.

Get inspired and get healthy with a Mediterranean diet. It’s easy to bring the remarkable health benefits and affordable Mediterranean style of eating to your home every day. Here’s a recipe and some tips to get you started.

Here are a few simple tips and a delicious Dried Fig and Black Olive Spread recipe to start you on your journey to good taste and good health.

  • Eat mainly plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds
  • Use healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil which is naturally trans fat free, instead of butter
  • Choose herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt
  • Eat fish, poultry and dairy products in low to moderate amounts, limit red meat

Dried Fig and Black Olive Spread

By Marie Simmons, James Beard Award-Winning Cookbook Author

  • 8 oz. Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stems trimmed, quartered
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Crostini, for serving
  • 2 to 4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese, optional
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1. Combine the figs and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until almost all of the liquid  has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

2. Combine the figs, olives, fennel seeds (crushed with a mortar and pestle or the side of a heavy knife), garlic, orange zest, and black pepper in a food processor. Process until pureed, stopping to scrape the sides of the container down once or twice. With the motor running, slowly add the extra virgin olive oil. Transfer the mixture to a container or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. To serve, place the spread in a small bowl with a butter knife, and surround it with crostini. Alternatively, spread it on the crostini and serve plain or with a little crumbled cheese on top. Makes 2 cups

Celebrate all that’s Mediterranean throughout the year with dried figs and fresh extra virgin olive oil from sunny California.

• Extra virgin olive oil con- tains polyphenols that act as health-promoting antioxidants. It’s perfect for cooking, frying, sautéing, dressing and baking.

• For freshness, look for the most current harvest date on the bottle label. Always store in a cool, dark cupboard away from heat or light to maintain freshness longer.

• Dried figs offer a rich source of fiber in every sweet, chewy, crunchy bite.

• Dark purple Mission and golden Calimyrna figs can be used interchangeably in recipes and make great on-the-go snacks.

Free Recipes

You can find more great recipes and tips for California Dried Figs, California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Oldways and the Mediterranean Diet at www.valleyfig.com, www.californiaoliveranch.com, www.oldwayspt.com. and on Facebook and Twitter.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Celebrations

Mother’s Day is May 13th this year. Start the day off right with Butterscotch Sauce with Figs from Cook’s Country served warm over homemade waffles. Right around the corner comes Father’s Day on June 17th. The experts in the test kitchen at Cook’s Country like this recipe so much that they made it do double duty as a breakfast and a dessert. Butterscotch Sauce with Figs spooned over vanilla ice cream with a sprinkle of toasted pecans will make dad’s day a hit.

Butterscotch Sauce with Figs

Makes about 2 cups.  

  • 1 
cup packed light brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 

  • 2 
teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1
 cup (6 ounces) Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid dried figs, stemmed and quartered
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1. Cook the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mixture bubbles and becomes lighter in color, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Off the heat, slowly whisk in the cream until the sauce is smooth. Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Then fold in the figs. Serve warm or cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

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Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

Spotted On the Nutrition Front

by Cherryl Bell, MS, RD

California dried figs pack a powerful punch of dietary fiber. Three golden Calimyrna figs or four Mission figs provide 5 grams of fiber and 110 calories in a quarter cup–that’s 20 percent of the fiber you need for the whole day. I’m always looking for mentions of figs, fiber, nutrition news relating to figs, and ideas on how to use figs. I recently spotted an online Chicago Tribune Health article, Before You Eat that Doughnut, 10 Things Nutritionists Have to Say. Two of the ten “things” talked about the importance of fiber. I also loved seeing a breakfast cookie with figs and nuts for the Recipe of the Day on SmartBrief for Nutritionists. Of course, being the fig lover that I am, I would use all figs in the recipe (it calls for figs and cranberries).

  • “There are zillions of tips floating around about how to lose weight, boost your metabolism and stay healthy. We polled registered dietitians and nutritionists to find their top 10.”
  •  Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism and encourages weight gain. Start your day with a breakfast that combines fiber and lean protein to rev up your metabolism and keep you feeling full until lunch.
  •  Add fiber: Carbs are your friends if they’re high in fiber. A diet lacking in carbohydrates will lead to feelings of hunger and deprivation — and ultimately unwise diet decisions. Fill up on high-fiber carbs. The average American only gets about 10 grams daily, but you should be aiming for a minimum of 30 grams. http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sc-health-0321-10-things-nutritioni….
  • Recipe of the Day on SmartBrief for Nutritionists (4/13/2012)

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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