Ficus is a shrub indigenous to the dorm room, waiting room and boyfriend bedroom. It’s unavoidable. Get a boyfriend; endure a ficus.
The boyfriend (or roommate, or administrative assistant) will point to the plant’s quiet habits, its taste for neglect, its curious — if miniature — imitation of an actual tree. You shrug. Ficus is to tree as newton is to fig. Doesn’t even remind you of the original.
In time, the ficus will tire of quiet, of neglect, of tree pose. It will hurl its long leaves across the pillows. Not your problem. By then you will have tired of the boyfriend — or convinced him to upgrade the decor.
Dragging the ex-plant by its ex-trunk, you remember that ficus has roots in the fig family. Dry-eyed, you dispose of the “weeping fig.”
In the kitchen you reach for a basket of tender, dusky figs. You roast the fruit in honey and sandwich it between crumbly cookies. The dish is something like Fig Newtons and — unlike the ficus — in good taste.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 8 plump, ripe black mission figs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 16 oat cakes, see note
- 1/2 cup vanilla creme fraiche
Rinse and gently dry figs. Snip off the hard nubs. Slice each fig in half lengthwise.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Measure butter, honey, zest, cinnamon and salt into a small baking pan, just large enough to hold the figs, face down, in a single layer. Slide the pan in oven. When butter has melted, swirl it with the honey, zest and spice.
Lay figs, face down, over the honey butter. Return pan to oven and roast, spooning juices over the figs once or twice, until figs turn tender, about 15 minutes.
Set one oat cake, bottom-side up, on a dessert plate or saucer. Spread with 1 to 2 tablespoons creme fraiche. Settle on two roasted fig halves, cut-side up. Spoon on some of the tasty fig syrup. Leave open-faced, or cover with a second oat cake, right-side up.
These make messy, but delightful, warm dessert sandwiches.
Note: Somewhere between a cookie and a cracker, lightly sweet oat cakes can be found in the grocery store cheese section or shelved with crackers.
Makes 8 sandwiches.
Home on the Range is a Tribune News Service column by Leah Eskin, which offers “delicious essays and insightful recipes.”