Is it really the end of summer ? That's what a great number of food bloggers keep writing. It does feel like fall here in Seattle. The mornings start out grey and damp and when I look out the window I see grey skies, dark green foliage and everything else seems to either be some shade of brown or some shade of green. But then by noon the sun comes out and colors my world. Why didn't I see the deep purple of the lavender still in bloom or the hot pink of the last of the geraniums and look at the bright orange pepper in the garden. Is it because the skies are grey that I expect everything to be grey ? Hmm have to work on that view of my world. The days are still warm and sunny and the air is cool and crisp-I love this time of year and I love to bake at this time of the year. I do have a huge conflict though -this little battle wages -go out into the sunshine, work in the garden, walk the dog or just sit out on the deck with a good cup of espresso and finish that book.. While the other little voice beckons with thoughts of freshly baked bread or chocolate fudge brownies or a simple brown butter pound cake with a side of ...oh yes a side of fig jam with vanilla.
The same fig jam that is begging to be made and put up, so that sometime during the real grey of a Seattle winter I can pull it out and eat it by the spoonful fondly remembering today's sunshine and blue skies and the cool breeze blowing gently through my hair.
I found this recipe in Christine Ferber'sMes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber. A beautifully written cookbook with exquisite photography. Christine Ferber is known internationally for her jams and jellies. Just browse through the recipes in the cookbook, Apple jelly with Rose Petals;Raspberry and Litchi with Rose Water; Wild Blueberry with Pinot Noir and Licorice; Apple with Caramel; My Grandmother's Pear Jam with Vanilla, Pine Nuts and Walnuts; Ripe Tomato and Apple with Rosemary-the list is endless. Alice Waters , one of my favorite Chefs and someone I greatly admire said : "Christine Ferber's book preserves an understanding of fruit that has become rare in this world." Yes fellow cookbookaholics this is another one for your library or your wish list !
I could blog all year on the tasty recipes in here -I'm sure you'll be seeing many more. But today figs were on sale at the market so I picked up a few pounds and remembered this recipe. It's a simple one, all you need are figs,lemon and sugar. And now I have 5 pretty little pints of the loveliest fig jam flavored with just the slightest accent of vanilla. This is going to be so divine on some toasted bread with a cup of espresso and a good book. I'm heading out to the front deck to bask in today's sunshine..enjoy my little figgie friends.
Fig with Vanillaadapted from a recipe by Christina Ferber
2 1/4 pounds (1 Kg) of small black figs3 3/4 cups(800 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of 1 organic lemon
2 vanilla beans-split lengthwise
Rinse the figs in cold water and dry them. Remove the stems and cut the figs in half. In a non reactive bowl combine the fruit,sugar, lemon juice, vanilla beans. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and let the fruit macerate for 1 hour.
Pour the fruit mixture into a preserving pan-just make sure it's a non reactive pan-stainless steel or ceramic works if you don't have the expensive copper preserving pan . Bring the mixture to a simmer. After it reaches the simmer stage pour it back into the bowl and cover with parchment and refrigerate overnight-mine sat for 3 days and absorbed all that wonderful vanilla aroma. After removing it from the refrigerator put it back into the preserving pan and bring it to a boil. Skim and continue cooking on high heat for 5-10 minutes stirring gently until it begins to thicken. In the meantime sterilize your canning jars following these directions.
After cooking the jam on high for the 5-10 minutes remove the vanilla beans and return the jam to a boil. Check the thickness-I just take a teaspoon full and place it on a plate-leave it for a few minutes and check the thickness by running my finger thru it-this jam I wanted to be a little more like a really thick syrup ( to use on ice cream and cakes ) so I didn't cook it to jam consistency. Put the jam into jars and seal . You won't find pectin in Christina's recipes-she relies on the fruit and acids and you won't find instructions on boiling water baths. You can find information on proper canning techniques here at Ball, the go to source for all things preserved .
In the forward to the book, by none other than Alain Ducasse, he says: "My favorite? Every one of them. It makes no difference whether I'm having preserves on toast or just dipping my finger in the jar, I enjoy them all with the same voluptuous pleasure." Alain, I second that as I'm dipping my finger in the little bit of syrup I couldn't fit into the canning jars --mmm, sweet and sticky with the aroma of vanilla . Bon Appetit.