Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Undercover Figs

Fichi al Vapore & al Forno con "Meringa" Speziata
Steamed & Baked Figs with Spiced "Meringue" Topping


A little experiment here... which could have turned out a little bit better to be honest- but could also have been (and tasted!) a whole lot worse... Let me just say this- meringues are delicate and they will collapse if it is a humid or rainy day- as I found today! I have heard that on many occasions, but always thought people were exaggerating a bit... but now I know!

This was a simple dish to make- had I not taken a peak at how it was coming along- the meringue would not have shrunk-down either! Aaargh! It will be better next time- so when you try yours... be warned and be more patient than I! But the important thing is that the idea and the flavor were both still wonderful and so I was still pleased with the result and am happy to share!


Juicy and delicious, fresh figs are of course wonderful in themselves, but with a fluffy(ish) topping, flavored with lemon, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, they are nicer still!


The ingredients couldn't be simpler... 2 figs, 1 egg white, a little fresh vanilla, a little cinnamon, a little lemon zest... and a little luck! And awaaay we go!


The topping could possibly have been a little fluffier, but the flavor was, as I said, terrific- and my little experiment of giving the meringue a little steam-bath to speed up the cooking/baking time was ambitious in the first place! But I will tell you what I did all the same!

As usual- minimal prep-work... hurrah! Slice the figs open, leaving the bottom intact so that they stay together, grate the zest of half a lemon and scrape out the seeds of about 2" of vanilla pod... couldn't be simpler than that!


Whisk the egg white until stiff, then add the zest, about a half teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of sugar and that little bit of vanilla... don't worry- it is more than enough!

Continue whisking for 3-5 minutes until nice and firm and until any remaining sugar crystals are dissolved.


And when it is finished, the "meringue" mix will look like this- yellow from the zest and the cinnamon and full of speckles of vanilla... and of flavor of course!


I decided to use my rice-steamer, but a regular fold-out steam rack and a regular saucepan would be just fine too.


Spoon the meringue into the open figs and steam for 10 minutes WITHOUT being tempted to lift the lid... aaaargh!


After 10 minutes the figs will have begin to soften, have given off a lot of juice and the topping will be essentially cooked through- now to pass them into a hot oven, around 200°C for a further 10 minutes or so to become firmer on the outside and for the figs to become softer on the inside.


And so yes, 10 minutes later, they are ready to serve, with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar and a rich aroma of fruit, sugar and spice in the air! Mmmmm!


 Very simple, but simply delicious! There's not much more to be said!


Oh- except that this is a very light, sweet dish! So that you don't have to feel guilty about eating both of them... or ME, to be precise! 


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