When I entertain, I always serve homemade candies along with the dessert. Usually these are my Peruvian bolitos de chocolat y coco (see 2016/11/28) and the treasured national candy of India barfi; this recipe will follow in the future. Sometimes, however, Portuguese figos recheados (figs stuffed with chocolate and almonds) are the final inspiration at my dinners. Such was the recent case with my beloved missionary friends Val and Waffle Lomilo. I take a tangent today into their world, so we can learn better to eat with reverence.
My relationship with Val goes back 22 years. Our mutual friend Kelly, who now resides in heaven, introduced us over slides in her basement of Val’s mission work in Uganda. My heart had just been softened, by my asking Jesus to live in it; thus, my supple emotions were mesmerized by this people and especially their food.
I learned that the meager diet of these poorest of poor, which are in my friends’ arid mission region, consists primarily of foraged herbs and a bitter fruit with its nuts, which are boiled three times to be made palatable; garden vegetables are available only as the frequent droughts allow; maize (cooked corn mush) and beans are also a luxury, which they can’t always afford.
The diet of the wealthier, in Uganda’s more lush areas, has a greater amount of organic garden vegetables, such fruits as mangoes and papayas, and ample beans and maize. Also, it delightfully includes the ceremonial slaughter of a chicken for honored guests. This nourishment of these better off is simple and pure, making it healthier than ours with all our fast foods and altered ingredients-added hormones in meat/dairy products, foods with GMO’s, etc. (Note: in this poor country genetically moderated organisms being added to their crops is just now a controversy; they have already lifted the ban for GMO’s in the banana crop, due to its recent huge failure.)
In America food is so available that obesity is a major problem. Our countrymen are often thrilled with weight loss when they visit Africa. I learned, to my delight, that Africans are overjoyed with the compliment ‘you look so fat’; gratitude is expressed after a meal with ‘thank you for increasing my volume’.
At present there is a famine in Uganda’s arid region, which hurts the children and elderly the most. We in this country can’t comprehend such food shortage and its effect on the human spirit. According to my friends, it produces a sense of deep community, in those that withstand it, as they share each other’s pain. These humble people know the true meaning of grace-God’s grace that keeps them alive in stark adversity.
Waffle and Val, who experience a heart for the broken, feed these hungry souls the word of God, which is also known as the bread of life. This proven substance, in turn, can provide them with answers to their natural needs, for this is what our gracious Father does best.
We are grateful for our vast provision here in America, striving to honor our bodies with healthy eating. Our faithful prayers move mountains as we intercede for those less-fortunate.
Now, may we take courage to experience moderate, joy-filled pleasure in this incredible dessert: be blessed by these simple figos recheados, the third recipe in my Portuguese series.
Figos Recheados (dried figs stuffed with almonds and chocolate) Yields: 12 large stuffed figs. Total prep time: 1 hr / active prep time: 20 min/ baking time: 50 min.
Note: these are best served hot, but they are also great at either room temperature or cold.
1/4 cup almonds, plus 12 extra almonds (18 extra almonds will be needed for topping smaller figs, such as mission figs.)
12 large figs (Turkish figs are best for size and quality; 18 figs will be needed, if using the smaller mission fig.)
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) semi-sweet chocolate, finely grated
- Best if served hot, but room temperature is also good. (For hot figs, do steps 2-9; then, set aside. Twenty minutes before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake as directed in step 10-11.)
- Preheat oven to 265 degrees.
- Place almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes in middle of oven; go to next step.
- With a sharp knife, finely grate the chocolate, place in a small bowl, set aside (see photo).
- Cut off stems of figs; make a careful, but deep, indentation in the opening of each with the tip of your finger; set aside.
- After nuts are toasted, remove from oven, and turn up oven temperature to 350 degrees, unless you are waiting to bake just before serving.
- Set aside 12 almonds (18 for smaller figs) and pulverize the other 1/4 cup in a food processor, by repeatedly touching the pulse button. (May use a blender or Vita Mix.)
- Add almond meal to grated chocolate, mix well.
- Using a spoon and your finger, press this mixture in the hollow of each of the figs; pinch openings together firmly (see photo). Place stuffed figs, stem side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in middle of an oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for 5 minutes; then, turn figs upside down and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Gently, but firmly, press a whole toasted almond in top of each hot fig.
- May keep leftovers in refrigerator for future use, cold figs are also excellent.