Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Examples of My Cluelessness

Catchy post title, eh?  I guess when it comes to baking and cooking, if it's not something pretty basic I don't have a whole lot of idea what I'm doing.  But sometimes it's fun to try anyway.  

Example #1:  I had been wanting to try fresh figs, as I'd never had them. Finally found some at Trader Joe's, but they only were available in a one pound container.  Anyway I tried them, pretty good I suppose...


...but now I had all these little figs and I hated for them to go to waste.  I started wondering if I could preserve them somehow and after reading a little bit here and there, I was able to come up with a way to make a bit of a jam out of them.  


I had planned to freeze it but only made enough for two little containers so that didn't really seem necessary.


I really liked this, better than the fresh figs (could be all that sugar, perhaps).  I had some on my toast this morning, and found it yummy!  

Here's what I did, in a nutshell.  
 Stem and half (almost) one pound of figs.  Place them in large saucepan and mash them all up.  Add (almost) one cup sugar, a splash of lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat, turn heat down and simmer about 1/2 hour.  Stir occasionally.  Badda-bing, it's jam!


Example #2:  Last week I ate at an Italian place that served this innocuous looking cake called Italian Almond Wine Cake.


It looks a little blah and bland I know, but it packed a lot of flavor.  I emailed the restaurant to ask if they would share their recipe. I guess they're a little busy to be sharing trade secrets with the likes of me, so I was on my own.  
I googled the heck out of "Italian Almond Wine Cake" and really couldn't find anything very similar.  I did find something called Italian Wine Cake at cooks.com. (click for recipe)



It was pretty good, the cake was very soft and moist.  And I loved the glaze.  But it just wasn't quite what I was looking for, no almond for starters.  I guess I'm stuck going back to La Piazza Al Forno to get my cake fix. 

18 comments:

Jenn said...

I love fig jam, but usually just buy it from Whole Foods. We do have a fig tree so maybe I'll make fig jam when I get enough fruit.

The picture of the restaurant cake looks dense while your cake looks fluffy. Could it be possible that the restaurant cake is flourless? I found a recipe that may be more toward what you're looking for. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/italian-almond-cake. It uses Matzoh meal and almonds in place of the flour. Maybe you can add a dash of Italian wine or rum for some additional flavoring. Good luck! :)

The Japanese Redneck said...

We like fresh figs. I like them preserved too!

The cake looks good.

Karen said...

I think I'd like the fig jam, too, although I like them fresh as well. It's fun to try to replicate recipes; sometimes it just takes more than a couple of tries!

Julie m. said...

I have never had fig jam before! It sounds good though. I'm a big fan of sticky toffee pudding; it's a definite favorite of mine for figs.

That almond wedding cake sounds tasty too! I'll bet it's loaded up with Almond extract. That's one of my all time favorite flavors!

Brenda said...

Julie, I have a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich that calls for fig jam and I can't find it here! Wish you lived next door, lol. Actually, I bet Whole Foods would have it, they have everything. I bet yours is better though. :o)

Ingrid said...

I've never had figs before either and I've been wondering about them but didn't want to buy a pound of them.

Julie, add some almond extract to the cake batter. I would use a white cake mix instead of a yellow. White takes to other flavors better. (That's just my opinion) Add the almond extract to taste, obviously before you add the eggs. Also, how about adding in a wine that has almond undertones as well? You know in place of the red? I know nothing of wines so I can't suggestion one but maybe you could google it? Hope that helps...if you try my suggestions and it taste really good send me a slice! :)
~ingrid

Barbara Bakes said...

I'm thinking a little of your yummy fig jam on that cake would be a good addition. Keep bugging them - maybe you'll wear them down and you'll get the recipe.

Mary at Deep South Dish said...

I have a young fig tree in my yard, and it doesn't really produce a ton of figs at this point, so to be honest, that's usually what I do with them - a simple refrigerator jam, or else I eat them straight up! :)

Can't help much on the other - maybe next time you go, you can pull it out of them?

Jennifurla said...

I have been seeing figs everywhere, for some reason they scare me! ha - I bet the jam was divine.

Indie.Tea said...

I really like figs. I like using them in savory recipes, like roasting them with chicken, thyme, etc... and served with lightly dressed argula.

Monet said...

I have never tried fig jam...or worked with fresh figs. But I just won a huge shipment from California and they are arriving on Thursday! Needless to say, I will be trying to make some jam. Sometimes recipes work and other times they don't. I bet you can nail that cake down if you just keep on trying!

newlywed said...

Mmm! Fig jam! I just love figs.

The Blonde Duck said...

I don't think I've ever had figs!

Amanda said...

Love fig jam.


http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/italian-almond-cake

What about that for your cake?

Pam said...

Making fig jam was a great way to use up the extra figs.

Monica H said...

I'm not a big fan of figs, but I do like jam. I think for the same reason as you- it's sweeter!

I've never heard of that cake, but it looks good to me. Hope you get the recipe or find one that's close.

grace said...

if at first you don't succeed, try, try again! don't give up finding a recipe for the cake. if nothing else, you can feast on a tasty cake each week whether it's similar to the restaurant version or not!

Kerstin said...

What a yummy jam - I'd definitely be a fan!

So sorry about your doggy too :(