Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Figs and things

This week on the market: figs, quinces,a few mushrooms.

Yes, looks like Autumn is here.
So with all these lovely purple figs overflowing from the stalls, what's to be done with them besides just putting them in the fruit bowl for a quick snack?

How about Fig Tart with Orange Custard?

you will need:
1 packet ready-made short crust pastry large enough to line a 9inch flan tin (unless you’re a domestic goddess with legendary pastry making skills.)
12 to 16 figs as perfect as possible.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablesp light brown sugar
150ml crème fraiche
Juice and zest of 1 large orange.
Line a 9 inch flan case with the pastry, prick the base all over with a fork, and bake blind at 220C for 20 mins. De-stalk figs, wipe over with a damp cloth and slice in half. Make a custard by whisking the egg yolk, crème fraiche, sugar, orange juice and zest until a smooth emulsion has been obtained. Remove case from the oven, allow to cool, then layer ¾ of the figs on the bottom and pour the custard over gently. Add the remaining figs and bake, on a large baking sheet to avoid spillage disasters, for 30 mins at 200C or until the custard has set. Serve slightly warm, with single cream.

Figs are just made for savoury use too. Sliced, and arranged attractively on a platter of thinly sliced Bayonne ham, saucisson sec, and smoked duck breast, you have a quick and easy starter for a supper party. And a nice change from the ubiquitous melon with Parma ham.
For an unusual warm starter, try slitting 2 figs per person crossways about ¾ of the way down, stuff with your favourite blue cheese, and wrap each fig in a thin slice of streaky bacon and bake at 200C for 5 to 10 mins. Serve warm on a bed of mixed salad leaves
A soft juicy fig, eaten with blue cheese, is a marriage made in heaven. Particularly with Roquefort, the slight saltiness of the cheese is tempered by the sweetness of the fruit. Lining the cheese platter beforehand with well washed fig leaves really shows cheeses off. Use a good combination of soft and hard to suit your own personal preferences. Toss some salad leaves in mild vinaigrette, hurl into a big salad bowl, add some crusty bread and your cheese course is ready to be served…… before the pudding à la Francaise

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