FIG HEAVEN: 70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit
In her previous cookbooks (The Good Egg ; Rice, The Amazing Grain ; etc.), Simmons proved she could make an art out of a single ingredient. Now she takes on the historically significant, sensual and delectable fig. As in her earlier works, Simmons discloses the fabled history and resplendent diversity of a little-scrutinized food. When it comes to recipes, the author does not shun proven favorites, such as Classic Fig Drizzle (a honey, balsamic vinegar and rosemary dressing for figs), or Fresh Fig Tart, a summer choice. If the sugared decadence of ripe figs has a natural partner, it's the salty richness of cured pork, and Simmons makes a point of including several recipes that play up the combination to the hilt: Bacon-Wrapped Wine-Poached Dried Figs, Dried Fig and Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Sauce, and Fresh Fig Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma. Equally alluring—if less expected—are Pan-Braised Duck Legs with Marsala and Fresh Fig Jam, and Dried Fig Cinnamon Scones. Part of a fig's considerable charm is its ability to seem equally comfortable in both sweet and savory settings, or in any part of the menu from soup to nuts. Unfortunately, figs have a short season, finicky growing conditions and are highly perishable. These factors make fresh figs pricey and narrowly available, unless, like Simmons, readers live in southern California and can grow a fig tree in their backyard. However, Simmons does offer plenty of recipes that call for easily obtainable dried figs. 8-page color insert. Agent, Judith Weber. (May)
Forecast: Although Morrow plans a national broadcast and print media campaign, Simmons's cookbook is likely to resonate primarily with cooks on the West Coast, as that's where Simmons lives and writes, and it's where figs are most abundant.