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Fresh fig mini turnovers are fun treat

Recipe: Fig pockets are filled with quick fresh preserves

Fig pockets are like little mini turnovers, filled with fresh fig preserves. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Like fig season, these cookies are special. They take a little time and effort, but the results are delicious with a delicate crispness and just the right amount of fig.

Filled with quick fresh fig preserves, they’re like mini turnovers. Instead of a flaky crust, the golden pastry forms something closer to a scone. Removed from the oven at 8 minutes, the dough stays soft like a thick sugar cookie with a fig center. Two minutes more, the top is golden and the bottom crisps while the filling retains its softness. (Any longer and the cookie gets too crunchy.)

The pastry dough needs to be kept as cold as possible; otherwise, it sticks to everything while being worked and pulls apart. So, make these little pastry pockets in batches of 10 or 12.

Quick fresh fig preserves double as filling.

For the fig filling, finely chop the figs including skin. (The food processor is great for this.) Walnuts add a little extra texture and flavor, but are optional. You’ll have extra fig filling leftover. Use those quick fig preserves on toast or English muffins. Or make more cookie dough!

Fig pockets

Makes about 30 cookies

For pastry:

6 tablespoons shortening

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon soda

For filling:

1-1/2 cups figs, finely chopped (about ½ pound)

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

To assemble:

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

Prepare pastry dough. With a pastry blender in a large bowl, cut ¾ cup sugar into shortening until fluffy. Stir in eggs, then vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and soda. Blend dry ingredients into sugar-shortening mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Prepare filling. In a heavy saucepan, combine chopped figs, 2/3 cup sugar, water and walnuts, if desired. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Stirring often to prevent sticking, cook fig mixture until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the ripeness of the figs. Remove from heat and let cool thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut 3-inch circles.

Remove chilled dough from refrigerator. Divide dough into thirds. Put one third of the dough on a sheet of parchment paper or lightly floured, cloth-covered board. Return remaining dough to refrigerator to stay cold.

Between two sheets of parchment paper or on the lightly floured board, roll dough until thin, about 1/16th inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a large glass, cut circles of pastry. Place 1 teaspoon of fig filling on each pastry circle. Fold pastry over filling. Use a fork to crimp the pastry and seal.

Carefully place little turnovers onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each cookie. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until very light golden brown. (Less for a softer cookie, longer for a crisper cookie.) Remove cookies from baking sheet immediately and cool on a rack.

Assemble turnovers.

Repeat this process until all dough is used.

These cookies can be served warm or room temperature. Store in a sealed container.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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