Ever since one of my coworkers mentioned that she had a backyard fig tree I've been gently hinting -- and nudging, or even outright nagging her -- for figs. "Are they ripe yet?" I've casually asked at least once a week for the past eight weeks.
The figs are finally ripe and I'm the lucky recipient of a basket of them. I'm thrilled because I never see figs for sale at the farmers' market Baltimore, and while I do occasionally see them at the supermarket, those are figs that were picked green many days ago. They are nowhere near as sweet and delicious as a fig picked fully ripe from a tree and eaten within a day. (Or, as with many of the figs I received, eaten almost immediately.)
A gratin is a good way to accentuate all that is good about the fig. Run for five minutes under a broiler, the figs become soft and voluptuous, and sweeter. The raspberries are slightly jammy, and the crème fraîche and brown sugar melt and combine into a delicious sauce.
This is adapted from a Jeremiah Tower recipe found in Cooking with the New American Chefs. This is almost more method than recipe and these are the amounts I used for two servings, made in an 8" gratin dish.
Raspberry and Fig Gratin
1/2 pint raspberries
5 or 6 figs, halved
1/4 cup (or more) crème fraîche or mascarpone
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1. Scatter the raspberries in the bottom of the gratin dish. Spread the crème fraîche on top of the raspberries (this will be easier to do if you let the crème fraîche come to room temperature) and sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the crème fraîche. Arrange the fig halves on top of that.
2. Run the figs under the broiler, about five or six inches from the broiler, for about five minutes at which point the gratin and the figs should be bubbling.
3. Let it sit for a short while before serving.