People often ask me how I became a good cook. What they should be asking me is why I became proficient in the kitchen. That answer is easy. I love good food! And not always being able to afford some of the food I dearly love – well it simply fell to me to figure out how to reproduce it at home. For example: I love French Chicken Liver Pâté. But buying it is ridiculously expensive. So years ago I searched my recipe books (there was no internet at the time) and came up with a pâté that was every bit as good as most pâtés on the market. And to this day, I still prefer to deconstruct a product and rebuild it in my own fashion, to simply turning over my hard earned money at the grocery store. All this information just to explain why I am sharing this recipe with you today.
I fell in love with Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread at first taste. But an 8.5-oz. bottle costs $5.99 at Walmart. Walmart! And 8.5-oz. just ain’t that much spread! And what are we talking about here people? A couple three dried figs, a bit of orange, and some sugar! I mean really Croatia, even with shipping costs, that’s a lot of money for a tiny bottle of jam.
So being the
cheap frugal person that I am, I decided I could make this delicacy at home. I found the basic recipe on the kitchn.com website (great website BTW), but added my own touches. And if I do say so, it’s really pretty darn tasty. It’s not exactly the same, because of course I don’t have access to the same kind of oranges, for example, that grow in Croatia. But as an inexpensive alternative, it’s just fine.
Now I realize, not everyone has a bottle of orange liqueur hanging around. But for those of us who love margaritas, it’s a staple ingredient. So it’s worth the investment, even if it’s just for a perfect margarita! (Mr. Cs recipe for a perfect Margarita is on this site BTW.) But as an added benefit, you can do yourself a favor and make this lovely fig jam too. And I’m telling you, when lightly spread over softened goat cheese, there is simply nothing finer.
So be brave. It’s a new year, and what a year it promises to be! (We are not in Kansas anymore Toto, as the saying goes.) So step out of your comfort zone and try this jam. You will be amazed how easy it is to prepare. And how fast it will disappear when you serve it to your family (the adults in your family that is) and friends. Happy New Year everyone, and stay positive. That’s the best thing we can do to lift the spirits of those around us. Well that, and feed them well. And this jam is a great way to start doing just that!
- 6-oz. (about 22 whole) dried Mission figs, stems removed and very finely chopped
- ½ c. brown sugar
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- ½ c. water
- ½ c. orange juice
- 3 T. lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1 T. Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur
- ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tsp. orange zest (try 1 teaspoon first)
Combine figs, sugars, water, orange juice, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for about 30 minutes. Place in a food processor, add Grand Marnier and vanilla. Whirl until smooth. Stir in the orange zest. (Don’t whirl after the zest is added.) Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Note: For the fabulous appetizer I described above, soften goat cheese with a small amount of heavy cream or whole milk to desired consistency. Scoop into a small bowl. Place fig and orange jam in another small bowl. Offer a variety of plain crackers in a basket, and some thinly sliced Honey Crisp apples on a plate, a couple of spreading implements, and you have an appetizer that your friends and family will talk about for years.