|Roasted Figs with Caramel, Honey Ice Cream and Aged Balsamic|
While I was attending San Jose State University several years ago, one professor in his class one day noted a certain irony which went something like, Silicon Valley has some of the most fertile soil in all of California, so what do we do with it? Build track homes and office parks on top of it. Silicon Valley encompasses the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area which roughly includes Santa Clara County and the southern parts of Alameda and San Mateo counties. I have lived here for pretty much my whole life and I dislike the fact that the rest of the Bay Area gets clumped in with San Francisco because the two very different on several levels. For example, if you drive 30 minutes east of San Francisco in July, it's common the temperature will be 30 degrees warmer. Also, San Francisco is very urban while the rest is largely suburban.
Hidden away among the suburban development is an oasis in the form of J. E. Perry Farms on the west end of Fremont. They have a roadside stand on their property where they sell produce they grow on site. I went there in search of ingredients for this week's #SundaySupper theme of local food and/or farmer's market finds. One of the items that caught my eye was fresh figs, primarily because I had yet to work with this fruit in it's fresh form. I also brought my copy of The Flavor Bible with me. The list of complementary ingredients implied that it was a common ingredient in salads and desserts. One flavor affinity that is noted in it is figs, caramel, vanilla and balsamic vinegar, but it also strongly suggested honey separately.
I can't find it anymore but I remember reading an article a couple of months ago that listed several common desserts that should be taken off restaurant menus, mostly because many versions aren't executed properly. (If I remember correctly, items such as New York cheesecake, cupcakes and chocolate lava cake made the list.) One point that the author made in the article was that desserts are often an afterthought for those establishments that do not employ a pastry chef, so I thought I'd attempt to fill the void.
I pieced together the components of this dessert from a number of different sources. I adapted the fig roasting instructions from Fine Cooking Magazine; the caramel after consulting my friend, Chef Robert Dasalla of Little Chef Counter; and the ice cream custard from epicurious but I still don't have an ice cream machine, so I had to use David Lebovitz's hand-churning method I also used with my gelato dessert about a year ago.
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, divided
2/3 cup clover honey
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 black Mission figs, rinsed, dried, stems removed and cut in half
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1. Make the ice cream. Combine the cream, 1 cup half-and-half and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, remove from heat, cover and let it cool for approximately 30 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and salt. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the cream mixture into the eggs while continuing to whisk.
Then pour the eggs and cream back into the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon and the temperature reaches 170°-175° Fahrenheit. Remove from heat, strain the mixture through a sieve into a nonreactive bowl, cover and chill. At this point in time, use your ice cream machine or follow the instructions in the David Lebovitz link above. This can be done a day or two in advance.
2. Make the sauces. For the caramel, add the sugar to a large saucepan evenly and place over medium-high heat. As the sugar starts to melt, shake the pan to redistribute. (Keep a close eye on it because the sugar can go from just right to burnt in a matter of seconds.) Once the sugar turns to amber, remove from heat and drop in the butter and the remaining half-and-half. The sugar will bubble violently, but whisk the added ingredients to combine, then cover and cool. Separately, add the vinegar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to reduce by 3/4 (or to 4 tablespoons) or until the vinegar is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Roast the figs: Preheat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit. Place the figs, cut side up, on a foil lined sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the figs begin to brown. To plate the dish, spoon some caramel in the center of a plate, place an ice cream scoop on top of the caramel, arrange three fig halves around the ice cream and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
The flavors of this dish did complement each other well with the balsamic balancing out the sweetness of the strong flavors of the caramel. It was sweet, but not overly sweet. I ran into some execution issues with the ice cream because it never fully solidified but was still very good.
By the way, I had the chance to consult Chef Dasalla because he and I competed in this year's Ribfest in the Park. You might remember I won the contest last year, but not this time. Since Chef was competing my goal this year was simply to get more votes for best overall rib than him. To my surprise,
Other Sunday Supper Participants
And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper contributors:
We'll all be sharing stories and recipes from our own local food markets and celebrating local produce, so join us Sunday evening at 7 pm for a Farmer's Market twitter chat!
Appetizers & Salads
Garlic Scape Dip from The Girl In the Little Red Kitchen
Onion Bacon Jam with Bread n' Kale from Gotta Get Baked
Kale & Pepita Pesto from girlichef
Garden Quinoa Salad from The Urban Mrs
Grilled Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad from Pescetarian Journal
Watermelon-Feta Salad with Pomegranate Drizzle from The Weekend Gourmet
Soups & Sides
Watermelon Gazpacho from Jane's Adventures in Dinner
Classic Gazpacho from Curious Cuisiniere
Pea Soup from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Pickled Garlic Scapes from kimchi MOM
Cheesy Zucchini Hodge Podge from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Succotash from Magnolia Days
3 Easy Japanese Spinach Recipes from NinjaBaking.com
Michigan-Made Meal with Seasoned Potato Chips from Foxes Love Lemons
Summer Veggie Pizza from Country Girl In The Village
Tomato Pie from The Hand That Rocks The Ladle
Kitchen Sink Vegetable Curry from What Smells So Good?
Margherita Pizza from Growing Up Gabel
Cheesy Zucchini Fritters from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Three Sauces with Summer Herbs to Transform a Simple Grilled Dinner from Cook the Story
Vegetable Quesadillas from Cookin' Mimi
Mushroom Scallion Risotto from Vintage Kitchen Notes
Summer Linguine with Grilled Vegetables from Neighborfood
Pasta alla Norma Nuda from Juanita's Cocina
Arugula Pizza from Family Foodie
Peach Cobbler from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Coconut Cherry Bars from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Lightened Up Peach and Blueberry Cobbler from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Cherry and Peach Mini Pies from My Cute Bride
Cranachan from Happy Baking Days
Cherry Brandy Cobbler from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Peach Maple Ice Cream from Pies and Plots
Cherry Clafoutis from Food Lust People Love
Roasted Figs with Caramel, Honey Ice Cream and Aged Balsamic from Crazy Foodie Stunts
Peach Ice Cream Paletas from Basic N Delicious
Gluten Free Sour Cherry Cake from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter today! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.