Valentine’s Day & Fig Sundaes
Valentine’s Day. It signifies different things to different people, and, for many, it’s completely meaningless. I think of it as a day to celebrate someone or people you love – partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, family, or friends. Since it’s coming up next week, I started to think about a menu from recipes on the site that would work well if you happen to be cooking for someone or even for a group. I also came up with a delicious dessert, vanilla sundaes topped with sweet wine-poached figs and toasted almonds – it’s light-hearted enough for an early paramour, fun for a family (sans wine for kids!), and all about love for that someone special.
I think a great Valentine’s menu would start with spiced sunchoke soup. Sunchokes are still in season, and this dish is an easy do-ahead one for an elegant starter. For the main course, I’d go with berbere-spiced lamb chops and freekeh with summer squash and brown butter (using winter squash, of course). The lamb is super easy. I like to sear ahead and then finish in the oven while everyone’s eating the starter. Also, the vegetables for the freekeh can be roasted a day ahead and reheated once thrown into the freekeh.
This dessert was very much an accident. I had eaten some beautiful sweet cheese-stuffed Turkish apricots that inspired me to do something similar with dried figs. I thought it would turn out artful and pretty, but my version sort of looked stuffy to me. The figs are cooked in a sweet white or dessert wine until glazed, and you end up with this honey-wine-fig-infused syrup. Drizzled over vanilla ice cream with the poached figs and a sprinkling of some toasted, nutty almond slices – heaven! If you ask me, a sundae as a Valentine’s Day dessert wins in my book. Oh, and figs and almonds also happen to be aphrodisiacs… Enjoy!
1 ½ cups Sauternes, Riesling, or any dessert/sweet white wine you like
½ cup water
2 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps honey
¼ tsp lemon zest
½ lb (8 to 10) dried figs (I used Calimyrna figs but Black Missions are also great)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
vanilla ice cream
In a saucepan, bring the wine, water, sugar, honey, and lemon zest to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes uncovered. Add the figs, cover and boil for another 10 minutes to plump up (they will significantly). Remove the cover and boil for another 10-15 minutes until the liquid reduces to a syrup consistency.
Top ice cream with figs, a drizzle of syrup, and a sprinkle of the toasted sliced almonds.