Stilton, roasted fig and prosciutto tart in a pecan crust

Yield    1x  9″ tart

Creamy stilton, crispy prosciutto and luxurious balsamic glazed figs in a gluten free pecan shell.
A small slice makes a rich, decadent  and elegant first course.

For the crust
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg

For the filling
5 eggs
1&1/2 cups whole milk
4 oz Stilton cheese or your favorite stinky blue cheese!

For the figs and balsamic reduction
3 pint-sized baskets of fresh figs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp agave nectar or sugar
2 tbsp melted butter

For the garnishy goodness!
6oz prosciutto, chopped and crisped to a golden brown, divided
3 – 4 oz more blue cheese
1/2 cup caramelized onions.  You can use 2 onions, sliced and sauteed in olive oil with some herbes de Provence for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F
Trim the stems off the figs and cut them in half lengthways. Drizzle with 1 – 2 tbsp of balsamic and the butter and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, until the figs are just soft but still hold their shape. Set aside.
Keep the oven at 375F
In a food processor, pulse the pecans into a fine meal. Add the almond meal (if using), egg and maple syrup and pulse until a ball forms.
Press the dough into a tart pan with your fingers. It will be sticky but it should fill a tart pan evenly. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and milk until combined. Layer the tart with the caramelized onions and a handful of prosciutto crumbles. Pour the egg mixture into the tart shell. Crumble the 4oz blue cheese into the tart and bake for about 20 minutes or until the egg filling is puffed and golden.
Remove and let cool to room temp.

While the tart is baking, combine the cup of balsamic, agave (or sugar) in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Turn down the heat and reduce by half. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
When the tart is cool, arrange the roasted figs on top.
Top with the remaining prosciutto crumbles and additional blue cheese.
before serving, drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
Enjoy!!

 

Gorgonzola, fig and pecan cheese terrine

This is such a lovely hors d’oeuvres to serve with crackers or celery sticks.

Yields about 20 servings

1/2 cup dried Mission figs, cut into small pieces, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
1 cup port
1 good sized sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 bunch for garnish
1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
1&1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
8 oz crumbled gorgonzola
2 tbsp brandy
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
Mesclun or frisee greens, for garnishing

Put the 1/2 cup of chopped figs into a small saucepan along with the port and thyme.
Let the mixture simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the figs, discard the thyme and port and set the figs aside to cool.
Put the cream cheese and butter into a bowl of a standing mixer and, if using the paddle attachment, cream the mixture on medium until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the gorgonzola, brandy and salt and beat for 1 more minute.
Take care not to over beat or it won’t set properly
Spray a 1 quart loaf pan with cooking spray and line the inside with plastic wrap. Spoon half of the cheese mixture into the pan and spread it evenly, making sure to get into the corners.
Scatter the figs, pecans and chopped parsley on top evenly and cover with the remaining cheese.
Give the pan a few sharp raps on a flat surface to settle the terrine and get out the air bubbles.
Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To remove the terrine from the pan, turn upside down on a flat surface and pull 1 end of the plastic wrap down.
The terrine will slip out of the pan onto the top piece of plastic wrap.
Slice and fan out on a platter garnished with greens. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of figs, pecans and thyme.
Serve with crackers

 

Exotic Lamb Pilaf with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and figs

This is a spectacular dish using ground lamb and incorporating the rich flavors of cranberries, pomegranates and figs.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 lb ground lamb
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chile, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp ground allspice
2 oz dried cranberries
2 oz dried figs, chopped if large
300 grams basmati rice
900 grams hot lamb stock. (For those in the US, Amazon.com sells Knorr lamb stock cubes and I use them a lot. They are wonderful!)

To serve

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley or mint or a mixture of both
40 grams shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
60 grams Greek feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 pomegranate, seeds only
greek yoghurt, to serve

Directions

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium high heat and sear the lamb for 5 minutes or so until lightly browned.
Add the onion, reduce the heat and fry until soft and golden.
Stir in the chile, allspice and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes then stir in the cranberries and figs.
Add the rice and stir briefly to mix the rice with the other ingredients.
Put in the lamb stock and season to taste.
Bring to the boil, stir once then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Now cover the pan tightly and cook for 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Don’t stir the rice during this time.

To serve

Gently fold the herbs through the pilaf with the pistachios and most of the feta.
Pile the pilaf onto 4 warm plates and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and remaining feta.
Drizzle over a little olive oil and serve with Greek yoghurt on the side

 

 

My roasted fig, prosciutto and blue cheese baguette

This is fantastic with such an orgy of flavors and textures in the mouth.
Very simple, but make sure your ingredients are the best you can find.

1 French baguette
2 packs Italian thinly sliced prosciuto (Spend the money on the genuine Italian made prosciutto, not some trader Joes or any other store “knock-off)
6 oz St Agur, cheese, Gorgonzola or Roquefort, softened at room temperature.
8 fresh ripe figs
Raw or brown sugar to sprinkle on the figs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Slice the French baguette diagonally, wiping each side with a little olive oil and roast on a baking sheet till crisp. Turn halfway through the roasting. Be careful they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Lay the thin slices of prosciutto on a baking sheet topped with either a silicone mat or a piece of baking parchment. Roast at 400 degrees for about 6 – 8 minutes till the pieces are really crisp. Remove and set aside.

Slice each fig into 3 slices and set aside.

Set up your station and on another lined baking sheet, place the roasted slices of baguette, break up the slices of prosciutto and lay them over the slices of bread, then add the fig slices to the prosciutto. Sprinkle the fig slices with the sugar, keeping the sugared side facing upwards. Top the figs with generous slices of blue cheese.
Roast at 400 degrees for 5 – 7 minutes till the cheese is well melted and the figs are heated through.

Serve with lots of napkins!!

Baked goat cheese with caramelized onion, garlic and dried mission figs

This is divine!!! (c/o Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh)

2 lbs plain goat cheese
14 dried mission figs (1 cup) sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
10 garlic cloves, crushed
3 rosemary sprigs
2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 sliced baguettes for dipping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Crumble the goat cheese into an oven proof dish and set aside.

In a saucepan combine the figs and sherry with enough water to barely cover the figs. Place the saucepan
over high heat and bring up to a bubble, cover and remove from the heat and let the figs plump up while the onions are cooking.

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 10 – 15 mins or until lightly browned,
Using a slotted spoon remove the plump figs from the saucepan, leaving behind any of the plumping liquid. Add the figs to the cooked onions, stir to combine then spoon over the crumbled goat cheese.
Place the dish into the top part of the oven for about 20 mins until the edges begin to bubble.

Remove and serve immediately with the sliced baguette, toasted or untoasted.

 

Dried figs pickled in port and whisky

I have a jar of these sitting in my pantry and even when I first put them into the jar, they smelled incredible. Can’t wait to have them with a dollop of creme fraiche or icecream

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp pickling spices (mixed whole spices)
1lb dried figs, halved
2-3 tbsp whisky
1 cup port

Combine the water, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes, then add the figs and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to stand for 24 hours.
Drain the figs and reserve the syrup
Sprinkle the figs with the whisky and pack into a sterilized wide-mouthed jar. Add the port to the reserved syrup, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour this hot mixture over the figs to cover.
Seal the jar and store in a cool dark place for 1 month to mature (yeah baby!) before using.
Enjoy!!!