January 2013 Fig Focus

barley bow tie pilaf

Jump for Joy, It’s January

We are so excited 2013 is finally here. We’ve been busy creating new contests and opportunities for you to win lots of fun stuff this year. Along with our contests, we have Twitter parties planned with the experts at America’s Test Kitchen and we have a host of amazingly delicious new recipes.

On a healthy note, this year we’ll be highlighting one new lifestyle tip each month that you can incorporate into your day. By the end of the year, you’ll have 12 new ways to help you live a healthy, happy, active lifestyle.

Tip #1 for 2013–Vegetarian for a day…or two…or three

Try going vegetarian one day a week and see what you think. We spotted this article online at Vegetarian Times. “8 Foods Every Vegetarian Should Eat.” We loved the simple tips. Check out #8, Dried Fruits. Laura Flynn McCarthy says in her article that dried fruits are great because ” They’re good, super-convenient sources of iron—and if you combine them with some mixed nuts, you’ve got a packet of iron and protein you can take anywhere easily. In addition, dried fruits provide a wide array of minerals and vitamins as well as fiber.” The other 7 foods are: tofu, lentils, beans, nuts, grains, leafy greens, and seaweeds.


barley bow tie pilaf

If It’s Love at First Bite…You Could Win a Trip to America’s Test Kitchen in Boston

fig focus cover

We’re hosting a Valentine’s Day contest, Love At First Bite, with our friends at America’s Test Kitchen. We want to hear from you how you would complete this sentence in 50 words or less, “My most memorable moment with a fig is …” Your answer can be fact or fiction. Be wildly creative–make us laugh out loud or cry uncontrollably. One Grand Prize Winner and their One Guest will receive a 3-day/2-night trip in May to visit America’s Test Kitchen in Boston.

Prize includes round-trip coach air transportation for 2; 3 days/2 nights’ hotel accommodations; and $500.00 spending money. Other winners will receive cookbooks, aprons and coupons for free Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Fig products. The contest starts soon. Visit our Facebook page and click on the Contests tab for all the details.
In other contest news, congratulations to all our holiday contest winners!

  • Nancy Hollis (Indiana), Maria Wright (Utah), Jeffrey Lammers (Ohio), Kari Flores (North Carolina), Claudia Davis (New York), Patricia A McDonald (Florida), Lesly Christensen (Iowa) each won a gift basket valued at $200.00 from Valley Fig Growers and Jarlsberg Cheese.
  • Synthia Quan, “stars….on the green carpet,” and Maria Wright, “There’s Gold in them thar Figs!” won Cook’s Country Season IV DVDs in our fig photo caption contest.
  •  @MWill1980 and @jkozloff won ATK cookbooks for helping us reach our 1,000th Twitter follower.

Other News from Valley Fig Growers

  • Spotted great sounding recipe for grown-up version of fig bars at Food & Wine, Fig Bars with Red Wine and Anise Seeds.
  • Love the recipe for Chocolate Covered Figs from Oldways.
  • Congratulations to our friends Chris Kimball and Joanne Weir. They are winners at the 4th Annual TASTE AWARDS.
  • Showing our great figs and fig products in Booth #3610 at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show January 20-22.
  • Mark your calendar for our upcoming Twitter party with America’s Test Kitchen on February 13. You’re sure to discover all kinds of decadent Valentine’s Day ideas.

2013 with Cook’s Country TV from America’s Test Kitchen and Valley Fig Growers

2013 again brings together Valley Fig Growers and Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. American home cooking at its best, Cook’s Country TV features the cast and crew of America’s Test Kitchen, the top-rated cooking show on public television.

Watch Cook’s Country TV update traditional American recipes and you’ll learn what makes a recipe succeed (or fail) as well as which kitchen tools, cookware, and supermarket ingredients have won their independent tests.

We are excited to have a wide array of recipes, developed and tested by the experts at Cook’s Country, and added to our website recipe collection at www.valleyfig.com. One of our favorite new additions, Almost Hands Free Risotto with Figs, Parmesan and Herbs, is low in fat and high in fiber. If you’re watching your sodium intake, reduce or omit the table salt.

fig focus cover

Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Figs, Parmesan and Herbs
Serves 6 as a side dish

This recipe does not employ the traditional risotto method; the rice is mainly stirred for 3 minutes toward the end of cooking instead of constantly throughout. This more hands-off method does require precise timing, so we strongly recommend using a timer. The consistency of risotto is largely a matter of personal taste; if you prefer a looser texture, add extra broth in step 4.

  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • Table salt
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Ground black pepper


1. Bring broth and water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain gentle simmer.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and ¾ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened but not browned, 4 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes.

3. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir 5 cups hot broth mixture into rice; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 16 to 19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

4. Add ¾ cup hot broth mixture and stir gently and constantly until risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in diced figs and Parmesan. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice, parsley, and chives; season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add up to 3/4 cup remaining broth mixture to loosen texture of risotto. Serve immediately.

Looking Ahead to Valentine’s Day

cream cheese mouse

Many foods have a reputation for making romance more pleasurable. The word aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sensuality. Lists of popular aphrodisiacs include: figs, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, oysters, and ginger.

The sweet allure of figs is legendary throughout history. A symbol of love and fertility, California figs sensuously avail themselves to the cook in dishes begging to be served on Valentine’s Day.

Sweetheart Parfaits

Fig-Orange Sauce:

  • 1 cup sliced, stemmed Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur or orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Cheesecake Mousse:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whipped heavy cream

Topping and Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled shortbread cookies
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans or almonds
  • Sprigs of fresh mint, optional


1. To make sauce: In small saucepan, combine figs and orange juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and simmer until liquid is syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in orange liqueur and lemon juice. Chill until serving time.

2. To make mousse: With wire whisk, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Gently whisk in 1/2 the whipped cream. With rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream. (Sauce and mousse can be held in refrigerator up to 1 day.)

3. To serve: Spoon mousse in bottom of 4 martini or champagne flutes. Smooth to an even layer. Top with fig sauce. Sprinkle with crumbled cookies and nuts. Garnish with mint.

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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