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Sauces and Condiments

Fig pate

THE trunk of the fallen eucalyptus tree makes a perfect picnic table and a couple of rocks nearby will do nicely as chairs. It's a cool, shady spot, halfway down the canyon, and sycamore branches arc high above, dappling the ... Read more

Total time: 25 minutes | Makes 1 (6-inch) log
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups stemmed, halved dried Black Mission figs
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Step 1To remove the skins from the hazelnuts without toasting them, bring some water and one-half teaspoon baking soda to a boil in a small pot. Add the nuts and cook for a few minutes, then drain and rub off the skins with a kitchen towel.

Step 2Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until they start to change color. Grind them in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder.

Step 3Place the hazelnuts, figs, brandy, vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in the bowl of a food processor.

Step 4Process until the mixture is a paste. Add the ground fennel and black pepper.

Step 5Place the fig paste on a sheet of aluminum foil and shape it into a rough 6-inch log, then wrap it tightly in the foil, rolling to shape it into a cylinder. Unwrap the foil and place the log -- still on the foil -- onto a baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees until the surface of the log dries and hardens a bit, 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool.

Step 6Wrap the log securely in foil and keep it in a zipper-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Serve, sliced into coins, cold or at room temperature.

Note: From "Good Day for a Picnic, Simple Food that Travels Well" by Jeremy Jackson (William Morrow, $23).
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