Hello, September

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September is a time of transition, as late Summer gives to an early Fall. Fruits like blackberries, raspberries and melons will still be available during this time. Be sure to check your local farmer’s markets, as harvest times tend to vary. Please note that this list will help you know when to look for what at markets near you. So, check out the list below for a quick guide to the top in-season fruits and vegetables for the month of September,as the Summer is coming to a close.

September Fruits and Vegetables

Apples
Artichokes
Avocados
Blackberries
Blueberries
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Cauliflower
Carrots
Chile Peppers
Sweet Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Fennel
Figs
Grapes
Green Beans
Garlic
Horseradish
Leeks
Lettuce
Kale
Mushrooms
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Peppers
Plums
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Radishes
Raspberries
Red Onions
Spinach
Squash
Tomatoes
Watermelons
Zucchini

This Month’s Featured Fruit:
Figs!

 

 

Figs-green-purple-600x507 (1)

 

Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2016.

Figs originated in Asia Minor and were brought over to America in the 16th century. Figs were historically used to sweeten dishes before refined sugar was an option, and they continue to be used in such a way in many parts of the world today.

While dried figs are available all year around, fresh figs are usually available in the summer and fall. They taste like a mellowed cross between a peach and a strawberry. Their unique texture, and ability to be simultaneously chewy, soft, and crunchy, is what makes fresh figs so appealing and popular.

Varieties of Figs

There are several different varieties of figs. They range in colour from green or greenish-red when ripe, to the deep purple that most people are familiar with.

The most commonly recognized varieties are: Black Mission figs, Brown Turkey figs, Adriatic figs, or Calimyrna figs. Taste-test each of them to determine which type suits your palate best.

 

 

What Goes Well With Figs?

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Fig Serving Ideas

Figs are commonly stuffed with a tart or blue cheese and wrapped with prosciutto to be served as an appetizer, but honeyed figs and roasted figs are wonderful with yogurt for a snack or for breakfast, or with panna cotta for dessert.

Figs can be made into a jam or a preserve that goes well with pastries, crackers, or toast.

When roasted or grilled, you can add figs to a salad for some sweetness and texture as well. Or if you’d like, bake a cake and gently press figs into the top. It’ll look impressive to see fig halves studded on top of the cake showing their beautiful jewelled centers.

 

 

How To Select and Store Figs

The best figs should be slightly wrinkled, yet still plump with a little bit of a bend at the stem. Figs that are too hard or too firm indicate that they were picked before they were ripe. Depending on the variety, they should have a deep colouring and a sweet smell to them. Any sour odor means you should put that fig down and exchange it for another.

Figs are very fragile, so look for “perfect” figs that aren’t too squishy, don’t have any splits, milky liquid at the stem, or the obvious: no mold.

Figs are best consumed within a couple days of purchasing. They can be kept in the fridge, unwashed for that time, but make sure to cover any foods that may give off an odor as the figs can absorb that smell from sitting in the fridge like milk.

If you do happen to have some unripe figs, store them at room temperature on the counter and they should soften and get a little sweeter. Note that figs do not ripen after they are picked, so avoid unripe figs if you want to have soft and sweet ones for eating fresh.

How To Prepare Figs

Figs are often made into preserves or dried to take advantage of their delicious flavour. However, fresh figs are delightful eaten out of hand given their soft, sweet flavour and chewy texture.

Roast Figs:
Figs can be roasted at 375°F with some red wine or liquor, sugar, and lemon zest, with the cut sides facing up or down in the pan. Cooking them facedown will make them softer, while they’ll be firmer if baked with cut side up. This is a great way to extend the shelf life, and when roasted they’re delicious in the morning with some yogurt, pancakes, or served as a snack with cheese and crackers.

Grilled Figs:
Preheat your charcoal or propane grill and brush a little olive oil on the figs. Grill until lightly charred. Serve in a salad or on some fresh bread topped with crumbled goat cheese.

Caramelized Figs:
You can make fruit brûlée as well. Halve the figs and sprinkle a little sugar on top (raw, brown, demerara, whichever you choose). Use a brulée torch (or your oven on broil, watching carefully) to melt the sugar until caramelized (not too burnt). Let harden and serve alone or with a little burrata or fresh mozzarella.

Stuffed Figs:
To create a sort of blooming flower or star, cut the fig as if you were cutting it into quarters, but leave a centimetre or so uncut. Pinch the bottom to squeeze the insides up a bit to make the cut tips spread out into a star. Stuff with whatever you like: chopped walnuts, gorgonzola or another favourite cheese, and/or a honey drizzle.

Fig Tips

Cook your figs into jam, preserve, or roast with honey for a sweet spread or treat.

Figs are quite mellow in flavour, but cooking or drizzling them with honey, balsamic vinegar, or warm spices enhances their natural sweetness.

Be sure to enjoy your figs within a couple days because they are highly perishable.

 

Fig Nutrition

According to the Canadian Nutrient File, figs are extremely nutrient dense. They have high potassium and fiber content which is reported to help combat heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. On top of that, they’re rich in antioxidants — both in their fresh and dried form (albeit higher in antioxidants in dried form). Per 100 gram serving (about 2 figs), figs contain 12% of your daily fiber, 6% manganese, 7% potassium, 4% magnesium, 4% calcium and 2% iron.

Source:
Produce Made Simple: Figs (2016) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed September 1, 2018. https://producemadesimple.ca/figs/

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Cheese and Pomegranate Stuffed Figs

 

Robiola-Stuffed Figs with Pomegranate
Photo Credit: Maxime Iattoni, 2011

Simple, sweet, and totally indulgent, these figs will be the talk of your party… even though they will be the easiest appetizer to make! Pungent robiola cheese can be substituted with brie, ricotta, or any other soft cheese in this simple no-cook appetizer.

Makes 15 Individual Figs
Ingredients:
1 pint fresh figs (about 15 figs), stemmed
8 ounces of soft cheese, like robiola cheese, rind removed, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh  pomegranate seeds
Dill sprigs, for garnish

 

Directions:
Working from the stem end of each fig and using a paring knife, cut an “x”, about halfway toward the base; set aside. Mix robiola, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Spoon filling into a piping bag with a plain 1⁄2″ tip; pipe about 1 teaspoon into each fig. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and dill sprigs and serve.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Roast Chicken with Carrots and Figs

Hanukkah, a festival commemorating deliverance from religious oppression and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, is a beloved Jewish holiday.

Traditional Hanukkah dishes ring in the Festival of Lights with  family favorites like braised brisket, crispy latkes, fresh doughnuts and a roast chicken dinner.

This dish has a complex of sweet, spicy and tart flavors that will excite your taste buds and leave your guest wanting more.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2½ teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1½ Tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
One 4-pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2/3 cup sliced figs
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup white wine
3 cups carrots,  sliced ¼-inch thick

For the Glaze:
2 Tablespoons orange marmalade or apricot preserves
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

For Garnish:
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup  toasted pine nuts

Directions:
Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for two minutes and drain. Reserve the lemon wedges.

In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Let cool.

Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or overnight for  in the refrigerator, for best results.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim or a glass baking dish. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings.

Mix the marmalade and vinegar together and brush over the chicken. Roast for an additional 5 minutes to set the glaze. Let the chicken rest for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with white wine and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the carrots to the pan and stir; if the bottom of the pan  still looks, dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about seven to 12 minutes longer.

To serve family style, arrange the pieces chicken on a large platter.Spoon carrots over chicken and top with parsley, scallions and a sprinkling of  pine nuts.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor