Tag Archives: creme fraiche

Baked Figs

Figs ready for baking, with ginger wine, honey and rosemary.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t expecting a heart attack. Frankly Monty Python had more of an inkling about the Spanish Inquisition, and we all know how expected that was. Yes, I had the genetic predisposition and lived the lifestyle – but ticking all the boxes doesn’t always win you the main prize. Not always…

This time though I knew I must have hit some kind of jackpot because blue lights started flashing, sirens wailed and the machine wired up to my chest made frequent, frantic beeping noises. Turns out this prize was life-saving, piercing-edge, percutaneous surgery, and the specialist teams at the West Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals have earned – in every sense – my undying gratitude.

So now I’m faced with a choice food-wise: renounce totally anything enjoyable but potentially naughty and live out my days in the epicurean equivalent of a hair shirt, or expend some additional effort on finding foods that are both healthy and beautiful [whilst admitting the odd something sinful from time to time]. Actually you make the same choice several times every day, this sort of thing just has a way of turning decisions into DECISIONS.

Well I’ve made mine. And I will not go hungry into that good night.

I served this with a splodge of low fat crème fraîche, which would actually have been my choice before all the cardiac kerfuffle.

Feeds three or four

  • 12 ripe medium-sized figs
  • 100ml ginger wine
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • a good drizzle of honey, about a tablespoon and a half [vegans can replace with a sprinkling of brown sugar]
  • a few small sprigs of rosemary
  • crème fraîche to serve [optional]

Slash the figs with deep, quartering cuts almost all the way through, and arrange snugly in a shallow dish. Whisk the spice and vanilla into the ginger wine and pour over the figs. Drizzle the honey over and into the figs, strew the rosemary sprigs about, and bake in a 190C oven for 25 minutes to half an hour. Baste with the juices once or twice during cooking, and spoon over plenty as you serve.

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Pheasant and Raisin Ravioli

Pasta Maker

This was one of those times when the dish in question became the happier accidental cousin of the meal before. The pheasant was cooked as a tribute to the unforgettable River Cafe’s Rose Gray when she died in 2010. But pleasant as the original dish was, I don’t have wood fired oven in my kitchen, and I don’t have Rose’s magic in my finger tips. So having served the breasts according to the original recipe, I made this using the leg meat and carcass pickings from a large bird [a small whole bird will easily yield enough meat for two people]. I’m giving no precise measurements here other than to say that you should use 1 large egg for each 100g type 00 flour for your pasta dough. Beyond that it’s a case of let go and follow your instincts, they’re invariably right, as I’m sure Rose would agree…

Take the meat from the cooked bird and chop finely – the flavour of pheasant is potent and a little goes a long way. Use the carcass to make a stock with some onion, carrot and celery, a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, bay and marjoram, and few crushed juniper berries. Soak a handful of raisins in a large wine glass of ruby port. Mash a squashy ball of Mozzarella with a fork and add the chopped meat and the raisins. Reduce the stock to a few tablespoons, throw in the port from the raisins and reduce again. Whilst the reduction reduces roll your pasta dough out to the thinnest setting on your machine, and make your ravioli using a
rounded teaspoon of the filling in each. Add enough cream or crème fraiche to your reduced sauce to quadruple its volume along with a teaspoon of good grain mustard and adjust the seasoning. The ravioli are cooked when the water returns to the boil and they float to the surface. Transfer them to warmed plates and drizzle sparingly with olive oil, then liberally with the sauce.

Goat’s Cheese Tart

In the latest edition of My St Margarets Magazine I wrote about remembering your summer holidays through food, and as Autumn’s tendrils start to twine through the thinning rays of October sunshine you may be tempted to do the same. You can read the full piece ‘Look back in hunger’ [and indeed the whole magazine] here but the viewer does require Flash, so for my iPad using readers I’ve reproduced the goat’s cheese tart recipe below…

Goat's Cheese Tart

Nothing says French holiday quite like a ‘Tarte au Chevres’. Returning holiday makers however please take note – not even an award-winning local cheese shop is likely to be able to source “the wonderful little goats cheese made by the old man with a stall every other Thursday in such and such village in the Loire”, as his cheese probably never makes it as far as the next village on, let alone out of the country! This is your opportunity to recreate a happy facsimile with something more local. Last time I used Pant-Ys-Gawn, next I intend to use Dorstone.

For one large [20cm] or four individual [8cm tarts] shallow tart cases

NB – this is easiest with ready baked tart cases. If making your own blind bake first.

  • 6 small tomatoes, quartered
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced and sautéed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves OR
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 Pant-Ys-Gawn goats cheese, or equivalent quantity of your chosen cheese

Paint the inside of the of the pastry case[s] with the mustard. Arrange the tomato quarters neatly in the bottom, strew over the sautéed onions and season well. Mix the beaten eggs, herbs and crème fraiche and pour around the tomatoes – they should just break the surface. Crumble the goats cheese over the top [or for individual tarts try slicing into four neat discs and place one in the centre of each], and season again with plenty of black pepper and any stray morsels of herb. Bake in a 220°C oven for 20 minutes. The top should be golden with brown tinged edges and corners here and there. Allow to cool and eat at room temperature. A simply dressed salad of fennel, olives and chicory eats well with it.