Nona Pontiff e-mailed about fig recipes last month because her husband's first fig tree finally had reached the maturity to produce a nice crop. Alas, we had some other recipe requests already in the pipeline then, so it's likely their figs are done for this year.
But you never know. I hear of figs that come early and figs that come later, and "figure" that the ripening time depends partly on one's microclimate in the Lowcountry.
At my house, it was so dry and hot that the few figs our tree produced weren't plump or desirable at all. Great disappointment! I suspect the tree still holds a grudge about being transplanted a few years back.
The gardener is eternally optimistic, however. Just wait until next year, we promise ourselves and anyone who will listen. So, if not for this year, save a few of these recipes as a down payment on next year's bounty.
Jane Ellen Herron of Sullivan's Island sends a recipe for Mock Strawberry Jam from her late mother-in-law, Frances Mizell Herron. It uses Lowcountry figs and is quick and easy, says Jane Ellen. Also, other flavors of gelatin may be used -- raspberry, apricot and peach are very good. She prefers to use Jell-O, but store brands may be substituted.
Mock Strawberry Jam
Makes 6 1/2 pints
2 cups mashed figs (peeling is optional)
3 cups sugar
2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
Combine figs, sugar and gelatin. Stir gently. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and for a little liquid to form.
Bring to boiling point but not a fast boil. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes until well-combined.
Pour into sterilized 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Kathleen Dempsey of Johns Island sent a recipe that appeared in this column exactly 11 years ago today.
Fig Preserve Cake
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped fig preserves
1/2 cup nuts
For the glaze:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
To make cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. Add oil, beating well. Mix in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in preserves and nuts. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
To make glaze: In a saucepan, combine buttermilk, sugar, baking soda, cornstarch and margarine. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add vanilla. Drizzle over cake.
Julie Murphy kindly shared these recipes.
Fig Walnut Jam
3 cups figs, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Add figs, honey and lemon juice to a medium-size saucepan.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until thick; approximately 1 hour, stirring frequently.
Add walnuts and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour hot jam into sterilized 1/2-pint jars, put on cap, screw band firmly tight.
Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Here, figs are part of a homemade pizza. ("If you can get goat cheese with cranberries it is fabulous," Julie says.)
Fresh Fig, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Gourmet Pizza
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium to large sweet onion, sliced
1 pound prepared pizza dough at room temperature, or a premade crust if preferred
Additional olive oil for dough
4 to 6 fresh figs, sliced
1 (5 ounce) goat cheese log
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
In a pan, saute onions in oil until caramel colored; set aside to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1 inch thick. Make it round or square to your preference.
Place on a pan that is dusted with cornmeal. Spread a thin coat of olive oil on dough.
Arrange figs, goat cheese and cooled onions on crust. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with rosemary.
Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Also thanks to Elaine Hull of Charleston and Alma Collier of Harleyville.
Lost dog found
Sharon Cook of Summerville has been looking for a long time for the ingredients/recipe for St. Bernard hot dogs that were served at the defunct Patrick's Deli on King Street, circa 1970. She e-mailed last week with news:
"I finally googled St. Bernard hot dog recipes and, ta-da, finally had success. I went to http://restaurantrecipe secrets.info, found the recipe, and reconnected with another former Huguley's employee. It is a small world indeed! ... It's sounds so simple and is definitely not a gourmet item, but it was, and is, sinfully delicious. It consists of a steamed hot dog on a steamed bun, slathered with mayonnaise, catsup, and a lot of Swiss cheese. (I also add sweet pickle relish -- the caviar of the South.) The gimmick at Patrick's Deli was that their hot dogs all had 'breed' names."
Who's got the recipe
--A reader named Cathy e-mailed: "I've written you in the past for some of your recipes and they were great. I was wondering do you have recipes for chicken and dumplings, homemade biscuits and gumbo."
--A Summerville reader got a new standup mixer and wants to try her hand at beer bread and pizza dough.
--A West Ashley reader is looking for some fresh ideas for cooking for two.