Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vanilla Spiced Fig Relish from 'Mes Aigres-Doux, Terrines et Pates' by Christine Ferber

Christine Ferber is a highly acclaimed french jam maker, her jams are sold in the shops of  the legendary pastry chef  Pierre Herme so I think she must be rather above average. I have never purchased any of her preserves but I have three of her paperback recipe books and I am completely wedded to her apricot confiture that combines fresh and dried apricots along with white wine and vanilla. It is delicious, and I have made it several times. It was the first recipe that came to mind when I started thinking about what I might make for this month's Spice Trail Challenge, organised by Vanesther of Bangers and Mash. The spice for this month is vanilla and is being guest hosted by Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup. There are so many delicious possibilities, but I wanted to try something new. Knowing how common vanilla is in both the sweet and savoury preserves from Christine Ferber I started to look through the 'relishes' section of this book for inspiration and finally settled on a relish made with figs.
   Now I must confess to cheating on the ingredients as the recipe called for fresh figs and not just any figs but Bourjasotte Noires figs, which when I looked them up do not appear any different to the black figs found in many supermarkets but regardless I did not have any, so I used dried. I soaked them for several hours in the wine included in the recipe to try and soften them up as much as possible, but the final relish is of course different in texture and balance but really not too bad, and the vanilla really does stand out and complement the flavours.
The recipe stated the relish should be stored for two to three weeks in the fridge before using so I made it at the beginning of May and finally tried in the last week. The author recommends it goes well with liver pate, parma style ham, a cured beef similar to bresaola and a french cheese Saint-Felicien.  I tried mine with some Spanish cured ham and manchego cheese:
And also some cold roast chicken and sliced chorizo:
I think the relish was too powerful for chicken but it stood up to both the chorizo and the cured ham and manchego cheese very well.

I will give you the recipe as I made it, with dried figs:

25 semi dried figs
240 ml white wine vinegar
430 ml Gewurztraminer wine
110g granulated sugar
220g flower honey
20 black peppercorns
3 vanilla pods

  1. Rinse the figs and dry carefully with a cloth or paper towels.
  2. Remove the stems and cut the figs into quarters.
  3. Soak the dried figs in the wine overnight and drain off and reserve the wine the next day.
  4. In a non reactive saucepan bring the vinegar, strained wine, sugar, honey, black pepper and vanilla pods to a boil.
  5. Continue to boil gently and skim any foam from the surface until the liquid is reduced by half and has formed a light syrup.
  6. Add the figs to the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Pour the relish into a large kilner jar and store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks before serving.
  8. Continue to store in the fridge.

Should my fig plant ever produce a bumper crop I may try the fresh fruit version!

1 comment:

  1. You are so lucky to have a fig tree. Thank you so much for entering this recipe in the Spice Trail, I am so pleased to see a savoury dish with vanilla.