Asexual, Plain Figs

by Matt on September 19, 2006

Fig_header
Fig_illustration

Warning: Crankasaurus Rex Sighting Ahead.

I’ve been in a pretty cranky mood lately. I am going to continue to be cranky for a few minutes longer when I say that I am tired of people writing about figs as a sensual, sexual experience. Rhapsody, sex, sensual, luscious, aphrodisiac, juicy, passionate, exotic, long-sweet kiss, beautiful, fragile, enough! We get it people! It’s the one lil fruit that allows us to be all flowery, creating hyperbole after hyperbole, to wax poetic ad nauseum, and I think I’ve had enough!

And believe me, I’m just as guilty as charged.

Having gotten that off my chest, I’d like turn your attention to one of my favorite little snacks. And I’m writing about it because we won’t have figs for much longer. There are two seasons for figs and we are almost on the tail end of the second phase. Figs are so finicky, so delicate and so susceptible to weather and seasonal conditions. When you find them, buy them. How else are you going to talk about sex and fruit?

Please. No banana jokes.

This recipe is from Michael Chiarello of that TV station that I try to avoid at all costs. But I hear from friends that personally he’s a good guy, even if he does call a friend of mine “mama” as a term of endearment when she’s clearly only about 7 years older than he is. Ouch.

Figs and blue cheese go together perfectly, and when they are on top of freshly baked focaccia that’s drizzled with honey, well, you’re not going to get a serving in my house. I’ve stood over the stove and eaten half of it in 30 minutes, and polished off the entire dish in one day. It’s one of the things Adam makes for me and something I miss terribly around mid-March.

I promise to return to my bubbly, gay old self tomorrow.

Focaccia with Blue Cheese and Honey (we add figs)

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello

2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, heated to lukewarm
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 cups blue cheese, crumbled, for topping
2 tablespoons honey to drizzle, for topping

fresh figs, quartered (the amount you add is up to you)

In a large bowl or the work bowl of an electric mixer dissolve yeast in the milk. Add sugar and 1 cup of the flour. Mix well and let stand in a warm place about 15 minutes for the yeast to activate.

Mix another 2 1/2 cups flour into the yeast mixture with the dough hook attachment until smooth. With the machine running, add 1 cup flour and knead for 6 minutes. Turn out onto a board and lightly knead in remaining 1/2 cup flour. The dough should remain rather wet to ensure a soft and light bread. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk about 20 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press dough with finger to gently stretch dough to fit in pan, and then use a rolling pin to lightly flatten.

Oil an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet with 1/3 cup olive oil. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Using your fingertips, nudge the dough into a rectangle.

Cover and let rise again until doubled, 30 to 40 minutes.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make indentations all over the dough by pressing with your fingertips being careful not to puncture all the way through the dough. Brush olive oil over the top, filling in the wells. Sprinkle the salt and rosemary over the surface and add the quartered figs. Bake until crisp on the bottom and golden brown on top, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Cut into wedges, top with crumbled blue cheese and honey.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

melissa mcgee September 19, 2006 at 8:00 am

haha! i laughed when i read the title, and i had some idea of where you were going to go with your post and KAZAAM! i was right.
i love the recipe, and if i ever find decent figs (that made me want to rip open my lacy bodice to reveal my heaving, supple breasts beneath) i’ll definitely give this one a go.

i like you just the way you are, and while you might not be bubbly right now, honey, you’re always gonna be gay. :)

Jennifer Jeffrey September 19, 2006 at 8:55 am

You are so very, very entertaining, cranky or not.

David September 19, 2006 at 10:02 am

I like it when you’re mean.

It kind of….well, you know…gives me the shivers.

yoony September 19, 2006 at 10:22 am

what are the 2 seasons for figs? i know this one ends this month.

ann September 19, 2006 at 11:45 am

Dang am I glad someone else out in foodbloggerworld is as cranky as I am these days. I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a fig and blue cheese focaccia.
Dammit, now I’m even crankier…

Time to go foraging for chocolate eclairs in the conference room.

Alphonse the Noble September 19, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Matt, deah! Figs aren’t sexual at all – they are “opening”. Surely you remember California Syrup of Figs in a bottle (or are you too young? – you’re certainly beautiful – whoops!). One’s mother gave it by the spoonful to keep one regular. Since when I have always fought shy of figs!!

Monkey Gland September 19, 2006 at 2:20 pm

I dunno you know, eating ripe mangos gets pretty saucy at times…

Mia September 19, 2006 at 4:21 pm

I was reading an article recently in the New Scientist it mentioned avocados as being a “sensual” fruit because of how the shape brings testicles to mind. Interesting article, not really something I had considered before, but maybe the figs shape has something to do with their sexy mystique. They are sort of teardrop shaped as well or maybe it’s the way they split open. I think they are mostly seedy rather then sexy, not to mention good eating especially with a nice salty cured ham.

peabody September 19, 2006 at 6:52 pm

Even though I do love figs…I can never think of them as a sensual fruit….I mean Fig Newtons don’t say sexy to me.
Nice Focaccia.

munkicat September 19, 2006 at 9:34 pm

I’m unlurking to say that even when you’re cranky, you’re charming. Now that takes some skill!

Having grown up with a fig tree in the backyard, I didn’t realize they were a prized gourmet food until seeing them on a menu with some pricey, foreign ham. The things you take for granted when you’re young…

Scott at RealEpicurean September 24, 2006 at 1:19 pm

Figs are horribly underused in England.

I still have memories of my dad’s fig biscuits from when I was small which is enough to put anybody off!

Luckily I still love them fresh.

Tana September 25, 2006 at 10:47 am

I’ll be an utter heretic and say that I don’t even LIKE figs.

I could French kiss a peach all night long, though.

Are you excited about the dinner this coming weekend?

maryeats September 29, 2006 at 7:03 pm

I have been using crankasaurus rex forever (actually my parents started it when my sister and I were young. Her name is Jamie, hense jamasaurus). But whenever I say it pople totally crinkle their noses, as if to say “ew”. I’m glad you use it too.

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