Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Manchego and Fig Jam Tostados
I'm a sucker for easy recipes - particularly when the finished product, sounds, looks and (more importantly perhaps) tastes impressive.
So a few weeks back, when I was unexpectedly off work with a poorly Sam, and the TV had found it's usual home on Food Network, something called 'fig jam' caught my attention.
Giada de Laurentis was making this concoction by simple simmering some figs - dried ones - with some water, sugar and brandy. The mix was then pulverised in a processor with some toasted hazelnuts.
I guess it's an Italian recipe, which Giada demonstrated by serving it as crostini, with a slice of Pecorino and a slice of apple. It's available from Food Network on line here. But when I made it, I used Calvados rather than ordinary brandy. I was also in a tapas frame of mind, so gave it a Spanish twist and served it with thin slices of Manchego. Although I also served thin slices of a Granny Smith's apple, I must admit I preferred it with just the cheese on a really crunchy slice of oven-toasted baguette. They reminded me of the ginormous packets of pan tostados we used to buy on holiday in the Canary Islands - they are like miniature bread slices but really crunchy. I used to bring a packet back every holiday and it would keep me going for a month.
Manchego and Fig Jam Tostados
For the Fig Jam
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbspns Calvados
12 dried figs (approx)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted in a 180C oven for 8 mins and skins rubbed off
Place the sugar, water, Calvados and figs in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring gently so that the sugar dissolves. Leave to simmer gently for about 5 minutes until the liquid is syrupy and the figs have softened (I could cut them in half with the side of my wooden spoon when I felt they were ready).
Place the hazelnuts into a food processor and pulse until they are ground (not too finely but with no big lumps either).
Pour the contents of the saucepan into the processor and blitz again to break down the figs. You'll end up with a thick, sticky purée.
Decant into sterilised jars (this amount made about 2 x 250g jars).
Serve with sliced baguette which has been drizzled with olive oil and baked in a 180 C oven fro about 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Add slices of cheese if you like - Manchego was lovely but I can imagine Pecorino working just as well. You want something that has that sharpness of sheep's cheese, and is firm.
This was seriously yummy, and the perfect appetiser with drinks. I think it was quite festive, too, with the figs. Using the dried figs felt a bit of a cheat, but it really worked well, and gave a lovely, syrupy stickiness to the finished jam.
The true sign of how yummy it is, is that the slices I had left after taking these photos - and had earmarked as a snack later - were polished off by Mike. And he can take or leave figs. Just not in this form, clearly.