Friday, September 13, 2013

Getting figgy with it

We have been back for three weeks now, having arrived home with, well let's just say a little soupcon more luggage than we left with. The weather is still fabulous so the unpacking hasn't been finished and will have to wait until the first rainy weekend of autumn.

Having cooked very little during our road trip - we ate out or barbecued out of laziness, indulgence and heat exhaustion - it feels like time to get back in the kitchen.

I have two huge black fig trees in the garden but typically, the best fruit is always just that tiny bit out of my reach. I've used ladders, big sticks, even a child's fishing net to try and reach the little blighters and often risk life and limb to get them before they drop onto the terrace at the back of the house and go to waste. It seems criminal but luckily, Rosine's tree next door is also heavy with beautiful ripe green figs, all within easy picking reach, and as they are one of my favourite food stuffs on the planet and she is happy to let me pick as many as I like, I thought I would share a few of my favourite ways with figs.

If you have access to fresh figs, just pick what you need as and when as they tend to blow, leak juice and turn mouldy within a couple of days.

The salad above was lunch a few hours ago, made with figs and coeur de boeuf tomatoes (thanks again Rosine) chopped into chunks, along with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes (out of a jar), goats cheese, pine nuts and a scattering of fresh basil. I made the dressing with equal parts of olive oil and cider vinegar (which is great for speeding up the metabolism), a squeeze of lemon juice, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. You can add a little honey to sweeten the dressing if you like. Serve it with a toasted pitta - it's healthy, low in fat and brimming with taste and goodness.

This one also works if you scatter most of the ingredients above(leaving out the fresh tomatoes, basil and pine nuts) on a piece of puff pastry and cook in a hot oven for 25 minutes (all credit to Sarah O for this one.)

For a quick, easy, low fat dessert, halve green or black figs or a combination and lay them skin side down in a roasting dish. The low fat version just needs a few tablespoons of water added while the slightly more calorific version goes with a generous dousing of honey across the top (and my friend Rob adds cinnamon too, which creates a sweet sauce with a little kick.) Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes and serve warm with the juice drizzled over and a (small) spoonful of mascarpone. Yum. Last night's pudding at Ecole des Filles was baked cheesecake with fresh fig compote, which was delicious.

In other news this week, I found myself on the other side of the fence when I was asked to do a photo shoot for a first person piece I have just written. I have spent half my working life in studios, watching shoots while waiting to do interviews but it is a very weird feeling being the subject of one. I had a mad wardrobe panic 10 minutes before the photographer arrived, trying to choose something that was not mutton dressed as lamb, nor too clingy or heat inducing in 80 degrees. I think it went can be the judge when it appears in the next week or two.