Figs with Blue Cheese and Quick Plum Preserves

Summer, Sweet Recipes • 30 Jul 2012

As a person with a heightened sense of smell and potent olfactory-driven memories, odors often strike a visceral cord. I have a shortlist of perfumes, flora, and fauna that immediately transport me to definitive life moments; that gently sweep me away on a retroactive wave to an oasis of unblemished memories.

The fig is one of those transcendent fruits. One whiff of the plump, rotund flesh and I am a child, my sister and I sitting beneath a ficus tree, methodically inhaling the fig’s heady, complex perfume- a little bit sweet, a little bit sharp, a little bit milky.

Seeking ephemeral solace from the aggressively hot Mediterranean sun, I recall finding shelter beneath the foliage of a fig tree that grew on my great-aunt’s Israeli kibbutz.  The tree proudly bore its fruit, a deluge of figs drooping heavily and precariously from every sturdy bough, the scent of the fleshy droplets permeating the febrile air.  The leaves fanned out like outstretched fingers, each bit of green blocking the sun’s searing kisses. 

This exact moment, the cooling nature of the tree’s leaves, the way the air smelt of sap and green, is sealed in a timeless vacuum, culled into the present when I cut open fresh figs I use to make a sweet, surprising snack for my family.

The summer fruit is ripe and plump, bursting with slightly sweet, slightly grassy flavor. Thick fleshy skin and a femininely curvy figure demurely hide a blush, seedy interior.

I carefully slice the figs into rounds. Each one gets a gentle dollop of hyperbolically sweet and tart plum preserves, which I quickly made from three different plum varieties, each with a slightly nuanced flavor. I tried out two different types of high quality blue cheeses and settled on a semi-firm Blu di Bufala from Italy, full-bodied and velvety.  A drizzle of honey downplays the shock of the sour plum while a sprinkling of snow-white fleur de sel gives the tiny bites a classic sweet and salty essence. 

Though simple to construct, there’s nothing spare about the paradoxical combination of sweet and salty, tart and creamy. And each nostalgic bite brings me back to that special moment with my sister.

Fresh Figs with Blue Cheese, Quick Plum Preserves and Honey

5 fresh figs, stems trimmed, sliced into 1-inch rounds
2 ounces good quality blue cheese, such as Green Mountain Boucher Blue, broken into neat chunks
Plum preserves
1-2 tablespoons good quality honey for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

Quick Plum Preserves:
1 pound plums, pitted and roughly chopped, skins on
3/4 cup sugar
1 ¼-inch lemon slice, seeds removed (optional*)

1. To make plum preserves, add plums, sugar and lemon to a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

2. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium to medium-low heat, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the jam becomes thick and can coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat.

3. Discard lemon and some of the plum skin. Pour into a small mason jar. Let the preserves cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours, or overnight.

Yield:  1 cup jam.

To serve, top each fig with a small dollop of plum preserves and a chunk of blue cheese. Drizzle with honey to taste and carefully sprinkle each fig with a few grains of Fleur de Sel. Serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4 as a snack or 8 as an amuse bouche.

5 Responses

  1. Denise

    Wow, I have never heard figs writtten about in such a sensual way! Gorgeous photos too, these sound yummy!

  2. Natalia Stickle

    I love the way you write about food with such flare.  And the plum preserves sounds like it would be delicious on so many different things…definitely a fridge essential.  

  3. Mira

    I wish there were fresh figs for sale around here. They look so delicious. I wonder if I can grow a fig tree.

  4. So pleased to have found your blog… I enjoy meeting writers with a passion for fresh produce, similar to my own. Pop in and say hello to me sometime!

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