The one thing we have plenty of this time of year here in Sonoma are figs. They're one of my two favorite fruits, (cherries are a close second) and they're everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. They're there for the gleaning at roadsides, and in backyards where there are such an abundance that people are just happy to have you come and take them off their hands. I like to think of them as a sweet version of zucchini. Except with figs, no one seems to leave a basket of them on the doorstep then ring the bell and run away. I wish they did.
One of the first things we did after we bought our new house was plant fruit trees, of course a fig tree was the first tree in the ground. I went to the nursery looking for a Black Mission Fig tree. I had some delusional idea that figs came in two colors and two varieties, black and green, boy was I wrong. I only found out how wrong I was a couple of weeks ago. The night before the earthquake we went to a dinner at Sondra Bernsteins Pop Up venue Suite D. It was a Kale and Ping Pong Dinner. I thought it was going to be a meal of various kale dishes, and yes there was kale, but the kale Sondra meant was a young winemaker named Kale Anderson and it was the name of his winery Kale Wines.
At the dinner we were seated next to Peter and Gwen Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards in Yountville among the restaurants they supply are the French Laundry, and boy do they know figs. They broughjt a wide variety to the dinner and quickly educated me as to what I'd bought. It turned out that the wierdly colored yellow and green striped figs I had growing in my backyard weren't sick, or mutants, they were Panache Striped Tiger Figs. That particular variety Gwen told me were especially delicious. I went home with new respect for my tree and a determination to get another one.
My fig tree however didn't put out enough figs this first year to really make anything out of, so I went to my favorite source, our friend Bruce Needleman's Fig Tree. Needleman's fig tree is behind Needleman's store and he's perfectly happy to let me pillage it every year.
So now that we're settled in the house, I'm back behind the stove and ready to put all this new equipment of mine to work. Casting around for the perfect thing to make in the new kitchen on a hot September afternoon (94 degrees) I turned to the other thing we've got plenty of here in Sonoma. Goats. Goat cheese to be exact. Laura Chenel's is about a mile and a half from our new house so I went and got some fresh goat cheese with the idea of making a simple goat cheese ice cream. As I drove past Needleman's fig tree I thought, hmmmm maybe some roasted figs in that goat cheese ice cream....the game was afoot.
Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese Ice Cream
Here's What You Need:2 cups fresh whipping cream
12 fresh figs
1 cup of milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 oz of fresh goat cheese
2 Tbs of olive oil
Here's What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Wash and dry the figs carefully.
Place the figs in an oven-proof baking dish and drizzle them with 2 Tbs of olive oil. I used California Olive Ranch Arbequina variety which has a great fruity bite, perfect for figs, and or ice cream.
Pop the figs into the oven to roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile mix together the sugar...
...2 cups of whipping cream...
...and 1 cup of milk.
Stir the mixture together well and place the pot on the stove at a low heat.
When the milk /cream mixture starts to steam but not boil, take the pan of the heat and add in 5 oz of fresh goat cheese.
Stir the goat cheese in until it's melted and blended.
Pour the mixture into a container and set it aside.
Take the roasted figs out of the oven. Let them cool a bit them put them into a blender or food processor to puree.
Stir the pureed fig mixture into the ice cream blend.
Put the fig goat cheese ice cream blend into the fridge to chill for a few hours. You want it cold before putting it into a ice cream machine. I usually let mine it out a bit to come to room temperature before I put it in the fridge. Another alternative it to set the bowl into an ice water bath to give it a flash chill.
In a few hours when the ice cream mixture has chilled down, stir it up again as the cheese will have congealed a bit, and put it into your ice cream machine.
Let it churn for about 25 minutes. Bingo, ice cream!
This is a very rich creamy dessert, figgy with a mild goat cheese flavor. All one needs is a scoop, as a little goes a long way. The combo of goat cheese and olive oil roasted figs satisfy any dessert craving. I'm thinking of pairing it with a savory shortbread, which brings me to what I'm up to next, an adult fig newton. I can't stay away from Needleman's fig tree and unless he buys a shot gun and that Lab of his grows some balls, I'm going to keep cooking with his figs. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori