I love figs because the sweet, light flavor and delicate texture lends itself to a nonassuming addition to all sorts of dishes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. So whatever you plan to make, there’s a type of fig for every application. I love figs when they are in season. We used to have the most awesome fig tree that would produce a month’s worth of fresh, homegrown figs. Because the birds like figs too, we’d have to get up early to pick the ripe ones every morning. In fact, at times we would pick the one that were almost-ripe just to keep the birds from getting them. Having so many figs, we’d make fig preserves, and fig appetizers, and fig desserts, and fig sauces, and fig everything we could think of.

I created this dish to be the-most-perfect-dish, combining all of the things I love into one little cast iron skillet – cheese, balsamic vinegar, and figs in season in the wood-fired oven. Oh and blueberries… how can I forget those luscious little bombs! The cheese in this receipe is called Chaumes – it’s a French cows milk cheese, similar to Brie but a little firmer, that’s slightly aged for a couple of weeks. The flavor of the cheese is complex with a slightly nutty aftertaste. The blueberry, honey, and balsamic create a deep, rich flavor to bring the figs and cheese together for a wonderfully delicious one-bite appetizer.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup frozen blueberries

4 brown turkey figs, sliced in half

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons Honey

8 slices Chaumes cheese

1 tablespoon Grana Padano parmesan, grated

Yuzu Glaze

8 ounces Yuzu sauce

2 ounces Balsalmic vineagar

3 finger-length strips sliced Valencia orange rinds

2 quarter sized slices of fresh ginger

Coat the bottom of a small oven safe skillet with olive oil, then place blueberries in the skillet. Position fig halves in the blueberries and drizzle with maple syrup and honey. Roast in 500-degree oven for 5-7 minutes until blueberries burst.

To make the Yuzu Glaze, combine yuzu sauce, balsamic, orange rinds, and fresh ginger in small saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half.

Remove pan from oven and place cheese slices on each fig half, then sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the pan. Set the oven to broil and place rack 6-8 inches from the top.  Put pan back in oven and broil for 45 seconds to 1 minute until cheese is melted. Remove pan from oven and drizzle yuzu glaze over figs.

Written by Chef John O'Neil