A week or two ago, after having watched Season 1, Episode 8 of Gordon Ramsay's "The F Word," (which was automatically taped as a TiVO suggestion -- What can I say, my TiVo really does know me well!), I went to my computer & scanned the internet far & wide, looking for Janet Street Porter's delectable-looking "fig pudding" recipe, which beat out Gordon's fig tart as the winner of their "bake-off" contest. After searching everywhere, I came up empty-handed. Sigh. Maybe one of these days she'll put out a cookbook. But until then, it looks like she's keeping that recipe a family-secret. (Speaking of which, if any of you do happen to know where I can procure this recipe, I'd be very grateful for the information! ;-) )
But of course I wasn't about to give up that easily. Those of you who know me, know that I am not often deterred when I'm determined to find something. So "Ha!"
I decided to re-watch the bake-off contest, writing down ingredients & approximating others which weren't explicitly shown or talked about. In the end, I probably ended up with a very different recipe, but I didn't care. Since I couldn't find the exact recipe to try, I was going to get creative & improvise on ingredients I thought would compliment the figs.
I sent my fiancé to the store to buy fresh figs, knowing full well that they were out of season , but, all the same, hoping against all hope that they would somehow be at the supermarket. After all, these days, the existence of high-tech greenhouses make the growing of out-of-season crops possible. Well, as luck would have it, I would have no such luck! :-) He came home without figs, but thankfully I'd given him a back-up plan -- Get pears instead if there are no figs. (Of course, had he have gone to a gourmet supermarket or had we lived in a state like California, things might've turned out differently. ;-) But it's no sense worrying or wishing about that now!)
So, anyhow, that night I put "Plan B" into effect, & served the baked/poached pears with a side of Breyer's low-fat vanilla ice cream for dessert. It took a matter of minutes to make & the dish was delish!
Try it, & let me know what you think!
Baked Figs (or Pears)
Ingredients: 1 fig, split into quarters (or 1 pears, sliced into small chunks) 2 Tbsp. brown sugar 1/2 c. Marsala wine honey, about 1/2 tsp. 1 Tbsp. butter 1/8 tsp. clove powder 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 2 small scoops Breyer's light vanilla ice cream
Directions: Cut up the fig/pear & place in a mini dutch oven. If you are using figs, split them open, but do not cut them completely apart. Pour Marsala wine on top. Add brown sugar & spices, & mix thoroughly, making sure to douse the fruit in the liquid mixture. Add butter & drizzle honey on top. The fruit should be mostly submerged in the liquid before you place it in the oven to bake. Place in the oven & bake for 30 minutes, or until pears are soft but not mushy. Check the dish every so often as it's baking. When done, dole out mixture, dividing portions into two small porcelain ramekins. Scoop out 2 small scoops of vanilla ice cream & place on top. Serve & enjoy!
Yield: Makes 2 servings. (Of course, you can always double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to serve larger parties.)
Chef's Notes: Be sure to choose figs (or pears) which aren't too ripe, as they will disintegrate in the oven. For a healthier version of the above recipe, simply leave out the butter & sugar. It'll still taste good, just not as rich.
Serving Suggestions: If in season, sprinkle red currants on top. The tang of the currants is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the figs/pears. Alternatively, you could serve the dish with raisins on top, but in my opinion, that's a far more conventional & less exciting option. Live a little. Do something unexpected for a change! ;-)
I've also seen fig dishes served with mascarpone (or crème fraîche) & hazelnuts, which also sounds good. Of course, I encourage you to be creative & think of your own toppings as well.