Baked Fig w/goat cheese, orange peel and mint

“Exotic, luscious, orchestra of flavors” were the words used to describe this appetizer during last night’s Dialog Dinner in Lafayette. Clearly it was the star player, and the Chicken Picatta was a very close runner up. And, both are easy to do!.

Figs droop from the stem the more ripe they are. They droop b/c the skins and inner flesh gets thinner and weaker as the seeds get bigger, thus the skin stretches as the weight increases. Hmmm, some of us have experienced this(!).

The ingredients:

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Rose Water (see image)
  • Black Mission Figs (organic from Chowchilla, CA, see image)
  • Drunken Goat Cheese (aged 12 mos, rind soaked in red wine)
  • Candied Orange Peel
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Port Balsamic Vinegar
  • Optional: chocolate and/or bacon, see more stuffed figs here

The directions:

  1. First of all, select soft figs that are plump and wide at the base.
  2. Earlier in the day, or the night before, remove the seeds from the pomegranates. (Click here to see a photo essay of me harvesting pomegranate seeds.)
  3. Put the seeds in a jar along with a teaspoon of rose water, see image, set aside, let sit overnight or a couple of hours, shake often.

    Rose Water, available at Whole Foods and most international markets.

    10 minutes before serving:

  4. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees.
  5. Cut the stems off of each fig, be sure to cut very close to the stem in order to discard only the stem and not much of the fig.
  6. Then cut the top 1/4 inch off of each fig – just enough to expose the inner flesh/seeds. Retain this top piece for another use, see comments, below.
  7. Scoop out enough seeds to have room for 1/4-inch cube of cheese, a mint leaf and a couple of orange peel slices. Retain the seeds for another use, see comments, below. (Be sure to use a very small utensil in order to avoid tearing the skins of the figs. A serrated grapefruit spoon works, and this narrow seafood fork works well, see image.)
  8. Set the figs on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart from each other, that spacing will allow you to pick them up easily from the hot pan.
  9. NOTE: if the figs do not sit flat on the baking sheet, then slice off a bit of the bottom, and they won’t wobble.
  10. I’ve used a grapefruit spoon and another time used a seafood fork to scoop out the seeds of the figs to make room for the cheese, mint and orange peel. Keep the seeds for another use, see below.

  11. Place a mint leaf into each fig, stick it to the inside wall of the fig.
  12. Put a couple of orange peel slices next to the mint leaf.
  13. Finally, put a piece of cheese into each fig. (Try putting the cheese and orange peel slices in at the same time, this may work better for you.)
  14. Put the figs in the oven, at 350 degrees, for 10 minutes, or until the figs are warm and the cheese is melted.

    Setting up the ramekins:

  15. While the figs are in the oven, pour a 1/2 teaspoon (or so) of the Port Vinegar into each ramekin.
  16. Shake the jar of pomegranates/rose water mixture one more time and toss a small handful of’m into each ramekin.
  17. Add a fig and serve.


Resources

Here are resources with recipes, facts and other interesting stuff:

http://californiafreshfigs.com/

http://californiafigs.com/