On the 15th day of the month of Shvat we celebrate Tu B’Shvat. As every child is taught, it is the birthday of the trees. One custom is to eat fruits of the seven species for which the land of Israel is praised; wheat, barley, olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.
Since the holiday falls on Shabbat, dishes that feature these ingredients will be offered. (Athough I must admit, I never thought of wheat and barley as fruits.)
Wheat is Challa and then there is barley in the cholent. I’ll make a baked chicken dish with shallots, olives and dates, (which is as simple as it sounds-olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper for the marinade, then add shallots cut in ¼’s, pitted olives and chopped dates, bake in a 375 degree
oven for 1 ¼ hours) with fresh grapes and pomegranate seeds sprinkled on something creamy for
Which brings me to figs. I remember serving figs on fresh fruit platters, cut in half and looking so fetchingly Mediterranean, so artfully Rembrandt-esque. But does anyone ever eat the figs? No!
So I asked myself, when have I enjoyed eating figs? And I remembered sitting at a Café in Israel spooning fig jam onto a warm croissant and sipping a café au lait watching the world go by and realized I like fig jam.
Surfacing from my moments of fig mindfulness, I wondered with what else fig jam might go? I recalled sweet and tangy chutneys accompanying coldcuts and, beside a variety of mustards, I
often serve savoury red pepper jelly. It’s a British thing, and it’s very good. Can you guess where I’m headed?
Fig jam and smoked meat doesn’t sound too radical, does it?
It just so happened that this week my brother took me on a field trip to visit the new Perl’s. I was offered samples of some of their products (which should be in supermarkets soon) and tasted their smoked turkey. It was nothing short of delicious.
They explained that their product is unique because they dry smoke, infusing the flavour into the meat using slow burning wooden chips (as opposed to injecting meat with liquid smoke).
Sent home with a smoked turkey thigh loot bag, I took the meat off the bone and used it in a kosher version of a Cobb salad (pictured above). The thigh bone that you see on the cutting board will be tucked into the cholent.
Slices of smoked turkey accompanied by the following version of fresh fig jam, that was made when figs were in season, complete our Tu B’Shvat Shabbat celebration. Tuck this recipe away until next fall, when this delectable comestable can be made again.
Fresh Fig Compote
8 fresh figs, cut in ¼’s
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons spoons orange liquor (optional)
Dissolve the sugar in the water and simmer for 10 minutes making a syrup.
Poach the figs in the syrup for about 12 minutes until softened.
With a slotted spoon, remove the figs to a bowl. Add the lemon juice and liquor and continue to boil the syrup until reduced by half. Pour over the figs and chill.
This is delicious served either with meat or spooned over cream cheese.
Nancy Weisbrod, Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada
PS Join COR and The Village Shul for a 3 part evening series entitled Mashgiach @ Home Feb. 12, 19 and 26.
Visit the COR website for more details. http://cor.ca/assets/static/node/201301/files/427/moshgiach%20at%20home%20poster.pdf