It’s a day of land and sea ahead as Chuck and Danny wheel into Vancouver Island. Briny, spiny sea urchins and 100-foot bull kelp seaweed pulled fresh from the ocean are saline superstars of tonight’s feast, but the chefs are thinking sweet thoughts for their morning repast — and for that, they head off to find fabulous, fresh figs.
Within walking distance of their campsite at Goldstream Provincial Park, Chuck and Danny discover Mary Alice Johnson’s ALM Organic Farm , which operates year-round and has 15 acres of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Mary Alice is eager to show Chuck — who has never eaten a fig just off the tree — how to pick ripe figs off her precious plants. “When they’ve got a shine on, they’re ready. You don’t want to tear them at the top, so just give them a twist,” she advises. Sampling these “fruits of the gods”, the chefs are surprised by the texture and sweetness of the organic figs. “Usually the figs that you get are wet on the inside, but these are drier, with distinct pulp and are so tasty,” says Danny. Although quite perishable and easily bruised, this versatile B.C.-grown fruit is simple to use in a multitude of ways: fresh, dried, roasted, candied, preserved, paired with prosciutto or added to baked goods.
Not far from the tree, Chuck and Danny get ready to whisk up a batch of camping-style cardamom fig muffins to give to Mary Alice, pressing their trusty barbecue into service. They gather eggs from the happy hens at Jesse and Evelyn Pereira’s local farm Terra Nossa, and are using a few unexpected ingredients — cardamom, orange, mint and almond flour — for a unique twist on a breakfast staple. “The figs will add that floral, honey flavour,” says Danny, who adds chopped figs to the batter and places halved figs on top. All that fruit keeps everything moist, with a finished texture in between a cake and a muffin. Home cooks looking to make this recipe without a muffin tin can borrow a technique from the chefs by pouring the batter into ramekins, then placing them into the centre of a preheated barbecue with a closed top, which works as a makeshift oven. Served with creme fraîche and drizzled with dark buckwheat honey, these beautiful baked goods will be the star of your table, whether at home or to start out an outdoor adventure.
“This is the part of camping that I love,” says Chuck. “You may not have everything, but what you do have, you use in a unique way, so maybe you’ll discover something new.”
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Watch the recipe video below to learn how to make Cardamom Fig Muffins.