Category: Recipe

Figs with pistachio biscuits recipe


Baked or poached fruits cry out for a crisp accompaniment – a butterscotch-scented ginger snap, perhaps, or a triangle of sugar-dusted shortbread. A box of Belgian wafer biscuits will do for the time-pushed.

Nuts add crispness and you can have fun marrying flavours. Walnut biscuits with poached pears, for instance, or almond cookies for a bowl of baked greengages. It’s been a good autumn for figs and they bake lusciously when surrounded by a glistening pool of Marsala and fruit jelly. I think of them as a perfect partner for pistachios and the deep wine red of the figs alongside the pale green of the nuts is charming.

Enough figs for 4; makes 30 biscuits
For the figs:
figs 8
redcurrant jelly 4 heaped tbsp
red wine or Marsala 250ml
orange 1

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the figs in half lengthways then place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Melt the jelly with the red wine in a pan. Add the grated zest of the orange, pour over the figs and bake for about 30 minutes until tender.

For the biscuits:
butter 250g
soft brown sugar 50g
skinned almonds 65g
maple syrup 50ml
plain flour 250g
pistachios 65g (shelled weight)

To finish:
pistachios 50g (shelled weight)

Set the oven at 160C/gas mark 3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a flat beater. Add the soft brown sugar and beat until soft. While the butter and sugar cream, lightly toast the skinned almonds in the oven on a baking sheet then, when they are golden, remove from the oven.

Reduce the toasted almonds and the pistachios to fine crumbs in a food processor. When the butter and sugar are soft, beat in the maple syrup, alternating with some of the flour and the ground nuts. Transfer the dough to a board, roll into a fat cylinder and wrap in paper or film then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half, then, on a floured board, roll out one half to a rectangle about ½cm thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make roughly 15 biscuits. Place them, with a little room to spread, on parchment-lined baking trays. Now repeat with the second half of the dough.

Roughly chop the reserved pistachios and scatter them over the biscuits, then bake, in batches for 12-15 minutes. They should be a pale golden-brown and a little soft. Remove from the oven, let them settle on their tray for 10 minutes then lift carefully with a palette knife on to a cooling rack. Serve with the baked figs.


Duck meat has always felt luxurious but, as I discovered at a recent Suffolk food festival, it needn’t be a luxury: you can buy duck legs for very little. Legs do take longer to cook than breasts, but it is easier – the oven does all the work. Succulent, soft pieces of meat for a fraction of the price.
Crisp Turkish spiced duck leg salad with grilled radicchio and quince

A tip: If you can’t find quince, use pear instead, but omit the poaching step.

Prep 20 min
Cook 2 hr
Serves 4

2-3 duck legs
Salt and black pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses plus 1 tbsp for the radicchio
3 tbsp honey
Zest and juice of 1 small orange

For the quince
1 large/2 small quince
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1 sprig thyme

For the salad
1 head radicchio, cut into eighths through the stem
6 tbsp olive oil
1 handful dill, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
200g large grained couscous, like the Palestinian maftoul
A big handful of walnuts, finely chopped, to serve
Seeds of ½ pomegranate, to serve

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Pat the duck dry with kitchen paper, and pierce the skin a few times with a sharp knife. Season well, mix the spices and rub half the mixture over the legs. Put on a baking tray and roast in the oven for an hour and 45 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the meat tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together the molasses, honey and orange, and brush half of this over the legs several times during the final 30 minutes of roasting, reserving the rest for the dressing.

Now peel, quarter and core the quince. Peel the lemon zest with a potato peeler, avoiding the white pith, and put in a small pan with half the lemon juice, quince, four tablespoons of the sugar, rosewater and thyme. Cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the quince is tender but still holding its shape. Drain, reserving the cooking liquor, and cut each quarter across into thick slices. Arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and put in the oven underneath the duck for the last half-hour.

When cooked, leave the duck to rest, covered, in a warm place. Cover the couscous with boiling water, season and leave for five minutes.

Heat a griddle pan on a high heat. Toss the radicchio in a tablespoon each of olive oil and pomegranate molasses, season, then grill for 90 seconds a side, until it begins to wilt. Whisk the remaining olive oil with the orange-honey marinade, dill, spring onions, remaining lemon juice and a tablespoon of the quince liquor (use the rest for cocktails), and season. Arrange the couscous, quince and radicchio on a large serving plate and dress. Top with chunks of roast duck (you will easily be able to cut away tender chunks), walnuts and pomegranate seeds, and serve at once. A crisp chicory salad would be a great accompaniment.
And for the rest of the week

Other grains, such as pearl barley and quinoa, also work well in this autumnal salad – lentils do, too. For a vegetarian version, use delica pumpkin instead of the duck.

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour
2 x 150g chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
½ small head broccoli, broken into little florets
200g sugarsnap peas
3 baby pak choi, quartered
1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, to serve

Blend the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, sesame oil and cornflour until smooth. In a separate bowl, toss the chicken pieces in the five-spice.

Heat the oil in a wok until smoking, add the chicken, garlic, ginger and peppers, and fry over a high heat for five to six minutes, until the chicken has started to colour.

Pour over the soy sauce mixture, then add the broccoli and a splash of water. Cover with a lid, cook for one to two minutes, then stir in the sugarsnaps and pak choi. Cook for a further five to six minutes, until the vegetables are tender and any liquid has reduced. Scatter with the sliced spring onions and serve.

Duck provençal recipe

The perfect dish to see out the last of the summer evenings. Serve at room temperature with grilled bread to mop up the oil and juices.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Rest 15 min
Serves 4

2 duck breasts, patted dry
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Salt and black pepper
90ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 lemons – peel finely shaved to get 4 strips, juiced to get 1 tbsp and the rest cut into wedges, to serve
1 red chilli, finely sliced on an angle
5g oregano sprigs
2 bay leaves
½ small red onion, peeled and sliced 5mm thick
½ small fennel bulb, sliced 5mm thick
2 red romano peppers, deseeded and sliced 5mm thick
1 tsp tomato puree
180g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
60g pitted dry black olives, roughly torn
1 tbsp baby capers, drained
2 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tarragon leaves, plus 1 tbsp extra to serve
5g chives, roughly chopped, plus 1 tbsp extra to serve

Season the duck on both sides with a teaspoon of herbes de Provence, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Put a large saute pan on a medium heat with three tablespoons of oil, the garlic, lemon peel, chilli, oregano, bay leaves and two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt. Fry gently for eight minutes, stirring often, until golden, then turn up the heat to medium-high, add the onion, fennel and peppers, and cook gently, stirring often, for 20 minutes, until softened (turn down the heat if the vegetables start colouring too much). Stir in the tomato puree, tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, the remaining lemon juice and herbes de Provence, and set aside.

Lay the duck breasts skin side down in a cold nonstick pan, put on a medium heat and, as the heat builds up, gently fry for 10-12 minutes. Spoon off any fat as it renders (save it for roast potatoes) and press down on the breasts every now and then, so the skin crisps to an even, deep golden brown. Turn the heat to high, flip over the breasts and cook for two to three minutes on the flesh side, moving it as you go, so it all gets some colour. Transfer to a board, rest for 15 minutes, then cut into 1.5cm-thick slices.

Stir the tarragon and chives into the cooked vegetables, transfer to a large platter and drizzle over the remaining three tablespoons of oil. Discard the duck’s resting juices and gently mix the duck slices with the vegetables, making sure some of the meat is visible. Season with a little salt and pepper, scatter over the remaining herbs and serve with the lemon wedges squeezed over the top.