Category Archives: autumn

Tartine of fresh figs and fresh cheese – plus fig jam!

IMG_7959

Another one of my “tartines”

A few weeks ago, I had a windfall of fresh figs from a friend and neighbour and here I post one of my favourite “tartines”!

Ingredients list:

  • Slice of bread
  • Fresh goat cheese
  • Fresh basil
  • Two fresh figs
  • Cracked pepper, optional

Take a slice of Poilâne bread – or any other sourdough or artisan bread with substance- , spread a nice fresh goat cheese over, slice a juicy fig on top, then decorate with chopped basil and Pedro Jimenez reduction or a thick balsamic vinegar. Perfect lunch!

My neighbour grows her figs in central London in her front garden and I enlisted the help of my son on half-term break to go and get a small boxful! They were green but nicely ripe and I decided to do a jam with the rest of it.

Adding vanilla and cinnamon into it, I cooked a truly delicious jam and managed to fill two pots of London fig jam – a very special thing indeed!

Collected in Hammersmith!

Collected in Hammersmith!

IMG_8052

Recipe for the fig jam:

Ingredients list:

  • Figs, 2 kg
  • Jam sugar (with pectine), 1 kg
  • Cinnamon sticks 2
  • Vanilla bean, one scraped
  • Lemon juice of one lemon

Halve the fruit or quarter them and put all the ingredients in a jam pan.

Get to boiling point, rolling for 3 minutes, then reserve until the next day, covered with a grease proof paper so the jam does not develop a skin.

Next day: Get to boiling point again and keep on a rolling boil for 5 minutes.

Put in sterilised jars straight away and screw the tops then turn each jar upside down so the air inside is sterilised through the hot jam.

Enjoy with bread, cheese or just as a spooned sweet.

This is surely a little bit late for figs in most parts of Europe but I am so thrilled I still managed to gather those in my neighbourhood that I can’t resist posting it.

Here is my son, grabbing some earlier!

The gathering

The gathering

IMG_8044

 

Crumble of rhubarb, apples and blackcurrant GF

Pie is my favourite number...

Pie is my favourite number…

Over my years as a London based foodie, I have developed an addiction to pies, crumbles, cobblers and anything with a crust outside and stewed fruit inside… The simple mention of this sends a tremor along my spine: Fruit and crust, a very sexy combination indeed. I still do love tarts and tartines, but I think I slightly favour a crust ON TOP rather than UNDER.

Each season offers its own enticing variations and Autumn is a season for : rhubarb, sharp apples and black currants. All three are quite acidic so in this version, I have put a little more sugar than usual to counter balance the tartness of the fruit but you can make it less sweet if you wish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of rhubarb
  • Bramley or other cooking apples, 2
  • Handful of frozen blackcurrant
  • Cornflour, 1 Tbsp
  • For the Gluten Free crust:
  • Ground almond, 100g
  • Chesnut flour or rice flour, 50g
  • Butter, 100g
  • sugar, 100g

Cut up all the fruit, mix it with the frozen berries and the cornflour – the object of the cornflour is to soak up the juice of the rhubarb to avoid a very wet pie!

Mix the flour, sugar and butter with the tip of your fingers until you have a sand-like texture. Lay the fruit in a pie dish or gratin dish. I have used frozen blackcurrants here, but you can opt for blackberries instead. They have a more subtle flavour but work deliciously toward a very British taste.

Top the fruit with the flour mix, trying to cover all of the fruit but do not worry if the lumps do not hide it perfectly. Just try and shake your sandy mix everywhere.

Put in a hot oven for 45min at 180º C.

Eat warm with some clotted cream or yogurt. If you are in France, it goes also well with a nice Faisselle or full fat fromage frais. This is the ultimate in homely, comforting puddings and with this GF version you won’t be leaving anybody out!

A patchy cover is not a problem...

A patchy cover is not a problem…

 

Great Fun Flapjacks (GF)

The name of these gluten-free flapjacks is the result of a bit of banter between my 22 year old nephew and I about finding the right acronym for his condition ! Being gluten-free is undoubtedly a constraint and sometime can be felt as a bit of a stigma, but it is not as complicated to cater for as I first thought and because our nephew is staying with us in London at the time of this writing, I have had to extend my repertoire of coeliac-friendly recipes and this is one of the first that I tweaked for him.  So here is the harbinger probably of a series of gluten-free meals that I will try and share with you.

Whether you are intolerant or not – and the figures here differ from 10 per cent to may be 40 per cent of the population!-, eating a diet lighter in gluten is possibly not a bad habit. It seems to me that we are generally having far too much of it and from food not necessarily associated with wheat! Did you know Malt vinegar, most soy sauces and many industrial products including sausages contain gluten?!

Crunchy with a tender heart

Crunchy with a tender heart

IMG_9484

 

Ingredients list:

  • Butter, 100g
  • Rapeseed oil, 2 tbsp
  • Treacle, 1 tbsp
  • Porridge oats, 200g (choose Nairn’s GF variety)
  •  Agave syrup, 2 tbsp
  • Muscovado sugar, 50g
  • Xantham gum, 2 Tbsp
  • Mix of sunflower, pumpkin, linseeds, sesame and raisins, 120g

Melt the butter and oil in a medium pan.

Put all the dry ingredients together 
in a big bowl, then pour the melted butter and mix while adding the 
agave syrup and the treacle.

Spread into an oiled tray so that you get 
a depth of about 1 cm. Put in a hot oven at 180° for about 20min. The edges 
must look brown and crispy before you take it out. Let it cool down 
then cut big squares with the tip of a knife. The GF version is more brittle than the original but the magic of the Xantham gum helps in binding it together quite satisfactorily.

Oats are very good at lowering your cholesterol . The agave syrup is a health option because its low glycemic load means that your glucose levels won’t shoot up too quickly, so no hunger pangs straight after and more long term energy.

Coeliac is a very serious and precisely diagnosed, defined, medical condition and unless you suffer from it there is no reason to go gluten-free, but may be going gluten-light carries it own health benefits. If you are interested in this stream, I am sure more “Great Fun” recipes will be coming your way and I hope you enjoy the change and maybe experience some health benefits yourself.

Fig and creamed goat cheese bake

Figs are one of my favourite fruit and the season is sadly so short…  Therefore I cannot resist buying them when I happen to find them on a London fruit stall. I found these in Bayswater as I was coming out of my exam room last week and bought a huge bag of it. The smell was all I needed to feel on holiday again… 

This recipe was inspired by a dish my friend Sandrine made for us once at her beautiful place Le Domaine des Clos in Provence. Sandrine is married to a childhood friend of mine and I love spending time with them in the summer because they love what they do and they do it well and their friendship is one of the things that I always can count on when I head back to my birth town. I had kept a fragrant memory of this meal and especially of the plump figs, stewed in thick juice and creamy goat cheese that were served as a starter.

Fruit stall one of Berlin's markets

Fruit stall in one of Berlin’s markets

Ingredients list:

  • 10 to 12 figs, unpeeled and washed
  • 200g of fresh goat cheese
  • 150 of cream cheese
  • Handful of chopped basil
  • Cracked pepper

Wash and cut the tail end of the figs.

Slice them and arrange in an oven proof dish.

Mix the goat cheese and cream cheese together – This is only for the local version as English goat cheese tend to be dryer ; whereas elsewhere you might use a fresh creamy goat cheese on its own.

Drop dollops of the cheese amongst the fruit. Add pepper and basil leaves.

Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes until the fruit are cooked and the juice has thickened. It is usually even better reheated the next day!

Serve as a starter with some Muscat de Rivesaltes or Sauternes. I adored this with a bottle of Macia Batle Dolce from Mallorca – a sweet white with remarquable balance and powerful aromas of white flowers and almond.

Figs and cheese

Figs and cheese

IMG_9492

 

Fig and goat cheese savoury tart

Moist and fragrant

Moist and fragrant

This savoury tart is a great way to use over-ripe figs or ones that have hardened a bit instead of softening with maturation- which happens quite often to me with imported figs. Make it quickly before the last figs disappear off the market stalls… Or fly over to where they grow! That is what I intend to do myself by the time your get this anyway so this purple tart is a parting gift.  I am still chasing the sun…

Ingredients list:

  • 10 figs
  • cream cheese, 125g
  • soft fresh goat cheese, 125g
  • balsamic vinegar, a generous drop
  • acacia honey, 1 Tbsp
  • pepper mill
  • Filo sheets or puff pastry

Prepare the filo sheets (or puff pastry) by brushing them with oil and laying them inside a removable-bottom flan or tart tin. I lay each corner of the filo slightly off the previous ones so they resemble a large flat flower. I would have used puff pastry for a richer tart but I did not have time to make any. Filo is a health-conscious option after all.

Mix the soft goat cheese and the cream cheese together in a bowl and sprinkle a little pepper.

Spread the mix over the filo sheets. Don’t try to cover all as it will melt anyway.

Wash the figs and cut them up in four without peeling them. Just top and tail them.

Sprinkle a thick balsamic vinegar over it all and put in a hot oven for about 20/30 min. The pastry needs to be golden and the figs nice and soft.

Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of acacia honey.

This is a savoury tart but it is so indulgent I would not mind it for starters AND pudding! Don’t know if I invented it or if it has been done before but don’t mind either way because it is a great combination anyhow… Figs, honey and goat cheese… Flavours that sing together in your mouth…

To use up the last figs...

Quick and easy to use up the last figs…