Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You asked......Smokvica (fig liquor)

Yeah....I know that I said I was going to make the crostada and then I realized I was getting low on my "hooch" so I shelved the "full fig" crostada for a little detour.  With this I bring you (wait for it......drum roll......) SMOKVICA (or "Smokva" - Croatian for fig liquor).  On my first trip with hubby I paid over 120 kuna for a tiny little bottle and then I thought "well, the label is cute but ...dang.....I could do this!"  It is really easy and, if you like figs, this is a wonderful treat.

2 1/2 cups chopped figs
2 cups brandy (some of the recipes in Fresno call for vodka which, to me, is a little lighter)
2 coffee beans
1 vanilla bean

Chop the figs and place the rest of the ingredients in the bottle and let sit in a dark place, undisturbed, for at least 2 to 3 weeks. I like to shake it up about once a week just to get the fruit fully infused. After the time has passed, strain the ingredients and add simple syrup to taste.  Note:  I happen to like my simple syrup made with a little honey for this recipe.  It gives it a warm, unique flavor.

PS:  These photos are temps since mine is (like me at work) in the dark, out of sight.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Figs.....the last of the season!

Mom said there are only a few left on the tree and they are starting to dry up a bit (but this doesn't stop Dad from grabbing a handful on his way out to the shed!).  Here is what's on deck for this weekend (I got this from a Facebook post from California Figs.....great post!)

Crostata is one fruit-filled pastry that doesn’t require a lot of fuss.

Make a slight fold at the edge of crust, pinching the dough to seal.
If you love a great fruit tart but think it’s a job best left to your grandma or the local bakery, think again. I’ve created a traditional and satisfying Italian crostata that’s quick, easy and perfect for summer. n Oftentimes, I’ve noticed that restaurant pastry chefs will create works of art that are as complicated to make as they look and taste. Who has the time or ingredients to create those complex confections?
When a bite of something warm and delicious is something you crave, this dessert is one of the simplest recipes to manage, with only a few steps to prepare the dough, an even easier assembly and no special experience necessary.
A typical Italian dessert, the crostata is often prepared with jam as its main filling. I created mine with a crust that offers hints of cinnamon and ginger, paired with a topping of in-season fresh fruit and an orange marmalade to give it extra zest, depth and a natural sweetness.
For pastry
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cold, in chunks
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 large egg
½ cup ice water
For filling
3 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons orange marmalade
For glaze
1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
to serve (optional)
Handful of fresh mint
Good vanilla ice cream
In a food processor fitted with a pastry blade, pulse the flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon and ginger until the dough is crumbly. Add the egg and water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse until the dough forms a texture that is smooth enough to handle. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and work it until well combined, forming a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Add peaches, raspberries and blueberries to a small bowl. Add flour and orange marmalade and stir gently to combine.
Place a pizza stone in a conventional oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Sprinkle the counter with flour and gently roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle, about 1⁄4-inch thick, turning dough over and sprinkling flour on both sides so it doesn’t stick. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pizza paddle.
Spoon the fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around.
Lightly dab the egg wash around the border with your fingers. With a fork, make indentations around the border.
Take the pizza stone out of the oven. Slide the crostata off the pizza paddle and onto the pizza stone. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Slide the pizza paddle under the tart to remove it from the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and fresh mint.