Tag Archives: Creating Appetizers with Farmer’s Market Produce

Italian Fig Syrup

Look what I found on my fig tree this week?  The house we moved into last Christmas has a wonderful fig tree with big, broad pretty green leaves in our side yard.   The leaves are gorgeous.   I now realize how seductive Eve must have looked while wearing these as her only daily attire.  The tree is bursting with so many figs I can barely get to them before the birds take a bite out of each one and move on to the next.

Today I harvested as many as I could find and created this delectable Italian Fig Syrup.  It’s fabulous straight out of the jar, or top some on Brie, Marscapone or Goat Cheese for a quick appetizer.  It makes a lovely dessert drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream (homemade or store-bought) too.


30 Figs

White Sugar (About 2 cups)

2 T. Lemon Juice


Wash the figs well and trim off stems.  Cut  figs in half if large.  Place figs and lemon juice in a saucepan and add enough sugar to almost cover the figs.   Cook over low heat for 45-60 minutes.  The sugar will turn to a lemon infused syrup.

Once cooked and cooled, place in a jar and add enough brandy to come to the top of the jar covering all of the figs and syrup.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, Food, Holiday, Sauces

Creating Appetizers from Farmer’s Market Produce

Santa Barbara Saturday Farmer's Market

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

While Saturday shopping at the bountiful Farmer’s Market in Santa Barbara last weekend, I came across rows and rows of stalls filled with baskets of gorgeous red, yellow, orange, purple and green fresh produce.  With company in tow, I viewed these vibrant, flavorful delectables as the perfect solution to creating some great appetizers to nibble on while enjoying our weekend together.  Knowing every hostess needs a repertoire of tasty small dishes to whip together  on short notice, I share a couple of favorites that take little time and provide immense pleasure.  Use your imagination and think of ways to showcase seasonal market finds.  In many cases, vegetables can be interchangeable in a dish.  If you can’t find a farmer’s market near you, seek out the freshest and ripest vegetables available at your favorite grocer to ensure the best taste possible.

Spanish Smoky Eggplant Dip

Serves 4

1 large, or 2 small eggplants

1/2 c. Greek yogurt

1 t. ground cumin

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. sea salt

1/2 t. pepper

1/4 smoky Spanish paprika

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse and prick the eggplant all over with the prongs of a fork.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning once or twice, or until done.  Allow the eggplant to sit until it has softened and cooled slightly.

Place the cumin and Spanish paprika in a dry skillet and toast for a few minutes; set aside.  Peel the skin off of the eggplant, leaving a few charred bits to add flavor.  Put the flesh in a food processor and add the yogurt, cumin, Spanish paprika, lemon juice, salt and pepper and process until smooth.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with homemade pita chips or lavosh.

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

Roasted Carrot Dip

Serves 4

4 medium carrots, cut into chunks

1 small red onion, cut into chunks

2 garlic gloves, chopped

1 large red chile, shopped

1 t. ground cumin

Salt and Pepper

1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock

2 T. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the vegetables, garlic and chile on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle mixture with olive oil.  Sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over vegetables.  Place in oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables soften.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor, add vegetable or chicken broth, and pulse a few times until well blended, but still contains a rough textures.  Add more broth if mixture is too dry.  Season to taste.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve with toasted multi-grain bread or homemade tortilla chips.

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Filed under Appetizers, Food, Recipes