Improved Fig-Olive Tapenade.
1 cup dried mission figs, stemmed, quartered.
2 cups water.
1 tsp ginger (fresh is best, crystallized permissible, powdered o.k.).
1 tsp peppercorns.
2 tsp onion flakes.
2-3 cloves garlic.
4 Tb lemon juice.
2 Tb olive oil.
1 Tb quality, spicy mustard.
1-2 tsp each thyme/rosemary (I used dried).
1 cup oil cured black olives.
2 Tb balsamic vinegar (I may have used a bit less, and used white truffle balsamic).
1/2 Tb capers.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add figs, ginger, peppercorns, and onion flakes. Leave this to simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the figs are plump.
Whisk together mustard, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil, and set aside for flavors to sink in while figs are simmering.
When figs are plumped, blend until chunky with the lemon juice/olive oil/herb/mustard mixture, olives, capers, and vinegar. If you do not have a blender, with some vigor, a mortar and pestle may be used. Adjust to your taste, seasoning with fresh cracked pepper and salt if necessary.
For a sweeter version, simmer figs with water and brandy, and add a tablespoon of honey. Instead of thyme and rosemary, try cinnamon and nutmeg.
Caramelized onions or sun-dried tomatoes also make for great additions.
Serve with crostini, fresh or grilled vegetables, cheese, or meats, or in sandwiches, wraps, or pastries.