Jam the Figs!!! On the first day of Spring

Fresh Figs Frozen

The first day of Spring and Figs usually do not have a lot in common. But this first Day of Spring world’s collided when I found a bag of whole figs, fresh-frozen at the end of last summer and forgotten….buried underneath jars of homemade tomato sauce, pesto, bags of New Mexico chile peppers, my ice cream freezer canister & some pizza dough! Totally hidden away to be found this morning while I was cursorily cleaning it all out. Spring Cleaning. Get it?

Now I could in no way consider tossing these figs out. There was no freezer burn. They looked like  they had been frozen yesterday. Rich, deep colors still intact. Jam the figs!

Fig Jam

Fig Jam

Recipe for figs jammed on the first day of Spring. You will need:

1. Two pounds frozen whole figs (or any other frozen whole fruit or fresh fruit) tossed with 1 cup white sugar & 1 cup turbinado or raw sugar in a non-reactive pan.

figs & sugars

2. Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about 6 hours unrefrigerated. The sugar will dissolve and the fruit will break-down somewhat creating quite a bit of juice.

Sugared Figs

3. Put figs & syrupy juice in a non-reactive cook pot. Stir into pot 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, 1/2 cup pear flavored liqueur & 1/4 cup chopped mild to medium hot New Mexico Chile peppers (fresh, canned or frozen).

dried thyme

Pear Liqueur

Hatch Chile peppers

4. Bring ingredients to a low boil, turn to simmer and cook, stirring often, until liquid is reduced somewhat and thickened. While jam is thickening get your canning jars ready. Wash in very hot soapy water, rinse well & dry in a low temp oven until ready to fill. Place lids and rings in a pan of softly boiling water over low heat until ready to put onto jars.

Fig Jam and Jars

5. Carefully fill glass jars with jam to about 1 inch from the top of the jar. Dry lids and rings with a clean cloth and top each jar, tightening gently.

Jars filled with jam

6. Allow jam jars to cool completely. Will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze for later use (make sure they don’t get hidden!) or give as surprise Spring gifts!

What might you have “hidden” in your freezer that you could give new life to?

Welcome long awaited Spring, welcome.

“X-HOT Chile Peppers & COLD Ice Cream”

   Fresh Roasted New Mexican Hatch Chile Peppers

Late August….early September…our ritual chile pepper roasting day came again this year just like clock-work. Wouter returned home to Nashville with a very large burlap bag of fresh red and green New Mexican chile peppers straight from the fields around Hatch.

This was a hard year for chile growing in New Mexico, not enough rain for too long left much of this world-famous crop of peppers more scarce than usual. Therefore,I am even more delighted to have a little part of this years New Mexican chile pepper harvest.

In his haste to get packed up for his drive back to Nashville, Wouter bought 2 bags of peppers, tossed them in the back of the car…heading East….thinking one was mild & one hot. Not so…one HOT and one X-HOT for roasting day..even better!

Roasting these peppers with their fleshy skins and thick meat is quite easy. Just a few steps takes the chile fresh from the bag to being fresh frozen in the freezer. New Mexican chiles have a very unique flavor that is both bold and earthy. We add them throughout the year to soups, egg dishes, salsa, pastas, steaks…..not to mention homemade ice cream….we’ll get back to that later. First the roasting……

Gather together the following: a few really cold beers; your chiles, prepare a charcoal grill with very hot coals (you can use a gas grill of course, but the charcoal just adds to the flavor); tongs, a couple of metal trays, a few large zip-lock type bags to “sweat” the peppers & some small pint size freezer zip-lock type bags to store peppers.

Directions:

1. Sort through peppers tossing out any that are rotten. Pile good firm peppers in a pan & place close to the grill.

2. Start roasting. Wouter manned the grill….the cold beers helped!

3. When peppers are black on the outside and roasted, this happens pretty quickly, place on a metal pan to cool for a few seconds. I cannot adequately describe the smell wafting up and out of our backyard…the rich earthy chile roasting smell of these particular chiles…unless you have either been in and around Santa Fe during chile roasting time or have roasted your own…it is the smell of hard work, harvest time, and things that matter.

  4. I put the still hot roasted peppers into large plastic bags & close tightly. You can add lots of peppers to each bag. Sweat peppers until they cool. This usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

5. When they are cool enough to handle remove peppers, one by one, from the bag & peel. You might want to wear protective gloves for this part. I usually don’t but I make sure I clean my hands & fingernails with a nail brush after peeling. I do the peeling while Wouter roasts. A cold beer helps with this process also.

6. Peeling the peppers can be a bit tedious, but I enjoy the process. Don’t fret about getting every little piece of blackened skin off every pepper. A bit of the skin just adds to their flavor. Seeds? I pretty much discard what comes out easy & rest stay.

7. I add about 2 to 4 peppers to each small freezer bag & seal tightly, press out most of the air & freeze. (A couple of these babies will be enough for most recipes.)

Peppers ready for the freezer…..and ice cream?

I have been interested in using the fresh New Mexican chiles as an addition to a homemade ice cream concoction for a couple of year. This year I came up with just the right recipe and ingredients. Each one compliments the other very well.

“Chocolate Chile Pepper Mocha Ice Cream”

Ingredients:

1 pint heavy cream; 1 pint whole milk; 1 tsp instant espresso powder; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 1 cup sugar; a dash of salt;  3 tbsp dark cocoa; 1/4 cup chopped frozen or fresh chile peppers  (For this recipe I used an electric ice cream freezer.)

Directions:

1. Freeze bowl of electric ice cream freezer based on directions with your particular brand.

2. Put sugar, salt, cocoa & chile peppers in the bowl of a food processor & pulse until well mixed & no chile chunks remain.

                                                           

3. Heat cream & whole milk over medium heat. Do not boil. Add sugar-cocoa-chile mixture to pan & sir until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Bring to room temp & then chill in refrigerator.

4. Pour chilled mixture into the freezer bowl and freeze according to directions…about 20-30 minutes is what it took for mine to bring the mixture to the right texture.

My “Chocolate Chile Pepper Mocha Ice Cream” had the right amount of “hot & cold, sweet & chocolate”.

The end.