And it's not as if we had a glut of cabbage and needed to find ways to use it. The back to back cabbage recipes were pure coincidence. But, I will admit that all this cabbage noshing has given me a greater appreciation for the vegetable. Try cooking it just like you would any hearty green, like kale or collards. I mixed some extra cabbage with some extra kale, blanched them, then sauteed the whole lot with garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce -- really tasty!
So, after that long introduction, I wanted to make sure to post a recipe that's totally unrelated to cabbage cuisine. I've done traditional canning before, which resulted in some delicious fig preserves, about two years ago. I almost did it again this year, but then I decided to make my life a lot simpler and go for quick and easy gratification.
Finding this recipe that Mark Bittman wrote for the New York Times a few years ago, got me motivated. That and a sale on figs at my supermarket. All you do is chop up your figs, add a little sugar and let the figs' own pectin work in your favor. The only difference between this quick jam and traditional preserves is that this one is fast to make, and should be consumed within about a week. One pound of figs will make about one and a half cups of jam. It's also a lot easier to get your hands on a pound of figs than on the four pounds or more you'd need to make the canning process worth it.
This makes a chunky jam that's great on bread or scones. You could also stir in some toasted nuts and serve it with cheese; add sauteed onions cooked with some red wine to create a sort of chutney for roasted pork or chicken; or spread it on a toasted prosciutto sandwich. Or eat it all by itself. If you've never made jam or preserves, this is the can't-possibly-be-easier method for you!
Quick Refrigerator Fig Jam
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in The New York Times
Bittman gives a few good suggestions and variations in his story, plus recipes for other summer fruit, so give it a read. I used a mixture of Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Calimyrna figs for my jam. Use a single variety or any combination you want. While I hate to cook a perfect fig, jam is an ideal way to use fruit that may have been left on the tree too long, or not long enough.
Update: You can scale up this recipe easily. I made a version with all Calimyrna figs, which needed a longer cooking time to account for their firmer skin. If the pot gets too dry, add small amounts of water, and try covering the pot for a little while to soften the fruit.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1 pound fresh figs, stemmed and chopped into sixths or eighths
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a small or medium saucepan (figs should come one to two inches up side of the pan). Bring to a simmer over low to medium-low heat. Stir often, until figs begin releasing juice, in order to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pan.
Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, using higher heat if fruit is very liquidy. Cook, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened, but still juicy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool, transfer to jars or airtight containers, and refrigerate. Jam will thicken further as it chills. Keeps refrigerated at least one week.