Results tagged figs from David Lebovitz

Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Figs

Cranberry Sauce

People often ask me what Parisians do for Thanksgiving. And while many French holidays are celebrated in America, Thanksgiving is one that doesn’t cross the Atlantic.

I’ve done a Thanksgiving dinner for friends and it takes quite a bit of time to find and assemble all the ingredients. And although a few stores that cater to American expats stock everything, it’s more fun to make fresh pumpkin puree for pies, break up a pain au levain for stuffing, and to get a free-range French turkey – which I found out that many poultry sellers with rotisseries will pop it on their spit-roaster for you, which is a boon for those in Paris with dinky ovens.

Cranberry Sauce

And, if I may be so bold, Thanksgiving is a holiday where we spend eating food that doesn’t especially appeal to people outside of the United States. The French eat pumpkins, but roasted, and not in dessert. (Nor with marshmallows!) The French version of stuffing, or farce is mostly meat, with a bit of seasonings to round out the flavor. And flour-thickened brown gravy isn’t quite the same as sauce au jus de volaille.

Cranberry Sauce

So while we Americans love all that stuff for nostalgic reasons, people in France don’t have that same set of references we do, and most seem to politely “appreciate” it, but I don’t know any French people who hoard molasses or stuffing mix, or spend the few months prior to November downloading Thanksgiving recipes.

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Harvest Tart

harvest tart

I was lucky to be at my friend Kate’s house and extensive fruit and vegetable gardens in the Lot a few weeks back, when the seasons were overlapping. The last of the red peaches were still clinging to the trees, while the branches of the nearby pear and fig trees were filled with wonderful fruit ripe for the picking – and baking. And I couldn’t resist spending my time wandering around the yard and gardens, picking what I could, doing some impromptu tasting, and enjoying some down-time in nature.

farm eggsgrapes
sucreharvest tart
harvest tartwalnuts

While I like fruit just as it is, there’s also something satisfying about rustling up a whole bunch of fruit that’s just free for the grabbing, and then making a dessert that uses plenty of them without a lot of fuss. After some peeling and the inevitable goofy chit-chat cooks like to do when doing rote work such as peeling apples, we headed to the kitchen counter where Kate rolled out dough she had quickly put together, and lined a deep baking dish (from her fabulous collection of local pottery, which – of course, I covet with my heart and soul…or what’s left of them) with it.

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Fig Chutney

After reading my post about a French Weekend, where I gorged quite bit on fresh figs, someone here in Paris was kind enough to gift me a big bag of these squooshy green beauties that she scored from a weekend in the French countryside.

During the season, people with fruit trees always seem to be looking for people willing to take some of the fruit off their hands. And I always think it’s funny when people say they have “too much fruit” because, as a city boy who loves fruit but who has never had a fruit tree, I can’t imagine having too much fruit. C’est pas possible!

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Cotogna Restaurant

beef tenderloin at cotogna cotogna pizza maker

I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat: I worked with Mike Tusk at Chez Panisse – he was a cook upstairs in the café and I was downstairs in the pastry department, and although I knew he was a good cook, I was blown away the first time I ate at his restaurant, Quince.

Quince restaurant in San Francisco warm ricotta with figs

I went there shortly after it opened, when it was in a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. The kitchen was nice and rather large if I recall, and he explained to me that he was figuring out how to do everything that he wanted to do in that space. I had dinner later that week in the dining room, which is run by his wife, Lindsay, and was really delighted at the wonderful meal I had, especially the pasta dishes.

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Roasted Figs

roasted figs

For some reason, fresh fig season seemed to have slipped right past me this year. Either that, or I wasn’t looking very hard because normally when I see fresh figs, I can’t help bringing home a big sack of them and snacking on them all week. Figs have two seasons; the first is usually late summer and the second begins mid-fall. The second crop is better-tasting and toward the end of the season, the prices drop as the bounty increases.

fresh figs

Last weekend at the market I saw some very nice looking figs and even though I thought the season had passed me by, I sneaked a squeeze when the vendor wasn’t looking and I could feel through their skin the juiciness of a ripe ‘n ready fig, so I took a gamble and bought a very big bag. And when I got home, I was happy to find that when sliced open, they were a bright ruby-red inside and indeed, just perfect. So to make them last a wee bit longer, I decided to oven-roast a portion of them to conserve my late season windfall.

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