FRESNO, Calif., March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Luscious! Addictive! Seedy Heaven! Taste of Eden! Sublime! These are the words and phrases used to describe California Figs by members of today's most preeminent culinary organizations – the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and Les Dames d 'Escoffier International (Les Dames). In fact, through informal surveys conducted at both of the organizations' annual meetings, these epicurean insiders ranked figs as the #1 emerging fruit relative to increased use and growth in popularity. This top spot in the culinary food chain has the California Fig industry abuzz with what looks, feels and tastes like a simply delicious, simply beautiful Year of the Fig.
"California Figs have long been adored by the culinary elite for their versatility and unique flavor," said Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, California Dried Fig Advisory Board and Fresh Fig Growers Association. "And, now, figs are finding their way onto more and more menus and cooking shows, as well as into a growing number of cookbooks and grocery carts, further validating what we in Fig Country have known for years – there's nothing in the world like a California Fig!"
Surveys conducted by the California Fig industry reveal that more than 90 percent of Les Dames members are encountering figs in their professional culinary careers more than they did just five years ago; while, IACP members reported a similar, substantial increase of 85 percent. Further confirming their rise to the top, fig-centric products – such as a cabernet wine and fig preserve – were identified among the top, emerging food trends determined by veteran trend-spotters from leading media outlets, such as the Food Network, Parade Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens and O Magazine, at the 2010 Fancy Food Show in New York City.
According to Chef Robert Del Grande, RDG + Bar Annie, Houston, TX, "These days, figs are on everyone's mind. From chefs to new product developers to home cooks, it's the new secret ingredient. With one bite, you can taste 1,001 possibilities for new flavors and ingredient combinations."
Additional Praise from the Culinary World
"I plan to celebrate this glorious fruit year-round – from the dried to the fresh season. Cheers to the Year of the Fig!"
- Marie Simmons, author of "Fig Heaven"
"I've loved figs as long as I can remember! It's fun to see others experiencing and enjoying what I believe is the world's most perfect fruit, like I get to do every day."
- Sondra Bernstein, restaurant proprietor and CEO, the girl & the fig
About California Figs – Dried and Fresh
"California produces 100 percent of the nation's dried figs and 98 percent of the fresh figs under the best growing conditions and world's highest quality standards," according to Karla Stockli, CEO California Fig Industry.
Available year-round, California Dried Figs make great snacks and naturally sweet, flavorful recipe additions. The dense, sweet flesh, coupled with figs' unique texture go well in baked goods and desserts, and are a perfect complement to meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, other fruits, and vegetables, as well. Dried figs are ready to eat right out of the package or are easily diced and sliced. For dried fig recipes and tips, visit www.californiafigs.com.
The California Fresh Fig season starts in mid-May and continues through mid-December. California Fresh Figs are exceptionally versatile, and can be integrated into every course for family meals or used to add flare and elegance to any party or guest meal, too. Figs, not only add taste and enjoyment to every course of a meal, but they can come to the table at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time, too. For fresh fig recipes and tips, visit www.calfreshfigs.com.
Try the following recipe from the California Fig Advisory Board for a delectable taste of California figs year-round.
California Fig Layer Bars
- 1 package (8 ounces) dried California figs, stems removed and chopped fine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup hot water
Crust and Topping
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups rolled oats
- 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
- Ice water, as needed
For Filling, combine figs, sugar, nuts and water in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
For Crust and Topping, in mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt and vanilla; beat together. Add oats and flour, mix until blended. Press about half flour mixture evenly in bottom of lightly greased shallow pan, 9 by 13-inch. Spread filling evenly over all. Add water to remaining flour mixture and mix lightly until forms ball and cleans sides of bowl. Turn onto lightly floured surface and roll into rectangle to fit on top of pan and arrange on top of filling, trimming edges to fit.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan. Cut 4 X 6 to make 24 large squares or cut 4 X 12 to make 48 bars to serve as snacks.
Serve warm with ice cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Yields: 24 or 48 bars
NUTRITION FACTS (per serving)
Calories 120 (36% from Fat); Total Fat 4.5g; Saturated Fat 3g; Poly Fat <1g; Sodium 55mg; Potassium 66g; Cholesterol 10mg; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 17g; Sugar 11g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Vitamin A 138IU; Vitamin C <1mg; Calcium 14mg; Iron <1mg.
About the California Fig Advisory Board and the California Fresh Fig Growers Association
The California Fig Advisory Board and California Fresh Fig Growers Association promote awareness and the use of California-produced dried and fresh figs domestically and internationally. California fig growers, processors and marketers fund the activities of the industry.
SOURCE California Fig Advisory Board