Next week is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. We'll have a full house, a fuller fridge, and a freezer stuffed so tight that eeek, please don't open it too quickly. The lamb is cooked, frozen, and ready to go. (Want to make the one we made? It's the best lamb ever and I shared the recipe with The Forward so you can make it, too. Go right ahead.) I also froze two soups -- one's a triple garlic soup from Melissa Clark; the other has teeny, tiny meatballs suspended in a sour, salty broth. It's insanely delicious. I'm hoping to share it with you early next week.
And what about dessert? Well: I've got one last pint of fresh blueberries left in my fridge. wouldn't my guests just love to be served this genius fresh blueberry tart after the big feast? And I've somehow managed to save a handful of the beautiful apricots I got from Randy a couple weeks back. They still look perfect. I wonder if I should work them into some sort of show-stopping finale for the new year?
Maybe not. Let's face it: everyone wants honey cake. Those who don't want honey cake just want apple cake. All the excitement about apricots and blueberries is so last month, I guess.
Apple cake and honey cake are great, don't get me wrong. In fact, last year, I smushed the two together (is that turning into a habit?) and gave you a pretty stellar Apples and Honey Cake. That's the recipe I'll be making again for our new year dinner.
But I'll also be making these roast figs, to serve alongside that old standby of a cake. You should too -- if only to appease those of us who get sad at the thought of blueberries, strawberries, apricots, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches being replaced by just apples. Apples and honey are great, but summer doesn't last forever. It's worth celebrating it while you can.
The original recipe is simple: figs, marsala, turbinado sugar. But if you don't have marsala, you can use madeira, brandy, or even some red wine. Not the same, but equally delicious. Between you and me, I liked madeira best. (If you use red wine, may I suggest Melissa Clark's Red Wine Honey Cake as an accompaniment?) When figs hang out in a hot oven with just the right amount of alcohol and sugar, their flesh gets soft and sticky, maybe a bit caramelized, and wholly irresistible. Set them next to a slice of honey cake, and you can have summer and fall in one bite.
Roasted Figs with Turbinado SugarAdapted from Nigel Slater's Ripe Serves 4 as a small dessert or component thereof
Slater calls for marsala in his original recipe. I liked that combination a lot, but between you and me, I liked madeira -- another fortified wine -- even more. If you don't have either, go ahead and use brandy or straight-up red wine.
8 figs 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon marsala, madeira, brandy, or red wine 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (3 tablespoons if using dry marsala or red wine) Heavy cream for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the fig stems. Slice figs one of two ways: either halve them lengthwise, or slice an X about halfway through the length of the fig, and fan the quarters open.
Place figs in a baking dish. Drizzle the marsala over the figs and sprinkle the sugar overtop. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until figs are very tender and their tops have caramelized slightly.
Divide figs among serving bowls and top each with a small spoonful of the now very-reduced cooking liquid. Top with a spoonful or two of cream, if desired. Serve immediately.