Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dressing up fresh fruit

Mission figs
The fading days of summer are full of ripe fruit of all kinds: figs, pears and melons to name a few. And while you may be busy canning some of this goodness to tide you over for the winter, or laying in containers of frozen fruit to be enjoyed in smoothies later, be sure to enjoy all that you can right now, because nothing is better than fresh, ripe fruit.

As good as fruit is, sometimes it needs a little something extra - an accessory, the culinary equivalent of a silk scarf or a fine silver necklace. After poaching pears in a red wine the other night, I had a little of the mascarpone that I served with them left over. And I had a pint of very ripe figs.

I'll probably lose my foodie credentials for admitting this, but I've never had mascarpone straight. I've had it in tiramisu, but never by itself. It's nothing short of amazing; calling it a triple-cream soft cheese does it little justice. It is more like a luscious whipped cream condensed into a spread.

After I halved half the figs and put a dollop of cheese on each, I made another batch of the wine sauce and poured it over. Mmmm, it was almost as good as the pears, the sauce kicking up the sensuousness of the figs to a gasping height.

Lori K's wine sauce
Serves 4

250 ml red wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 small vanilla bean, split

Mix everything in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer until the sauce reduces to about half (this may take up to a half hour). Remove vanilla bean halves. Pour over fruit or ice cream.

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