Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey

As Autumn arrives, even before, my Italian-owned green grocery is full of figs – green, black and in between. What a gorgeous time it is – the last of the summer stone fruits, grapes, plums – one of my 4 favourite seasons of the year!

I must admit to liking my fruit, any fruit, fresh. You will see that we don’t have a lot of fruit recipes in our collection because of that. But once in a while, we will bake, grill or roast, maybe poach, something sweet.

Figs are so wonderful in their natural state, and we have several salads that attest to that. They pair well with cheese, honey, and even almonds and pinenuts! Figs are simply gorgeous this way.

But roasting brings in another dimension. It is a different taste – just as fig jam tastes different to fresh figs. Roasted figs are soft, warm and sticky, and they shine with either savoury flavours, sweet flavours, or a mix of both. They can be mashed onto bruschetta and topped with pesto, without the honey they can be used with pasta, or top a green salad with them. Serve them for breakfast, lunch, dessert, a snack or supper.

Are you looking for Fig recipes? Try Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Figs with Pecorino.

Browse all of our Fig recipes here, all of our Italian recipes, and all of our Dessert recipes. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer dishes.

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Fennel and Fig Salad with Vin Cotto

It is fig season! And I am cozying up to my neighbour who has 2 huge fig trees. So far, no luck in getting those ripe goodies, but luckily my green grocers are carrying both green and black figs.

Symbols of Autumn, figs begin to ripen in late Summer, and they star as one of the great delicacies until late Autumn. They are so luscious, the first ones of the season must be eaten raw. As the season moves on, they can be baked, fried (yes!), roasted, grilled, poached, made into jam, cooked into tarts, or pickled. They are also wonderful in salads.

This salad is best for the darker figs. Green ones are so delicate in flavour they cannot carry the Vin Cotto. The combination of the sweet flavour and yielding texture of the figs with the aniseed crispness of the fennel is divine.

Figs really do make excellent salads, if there are any left over from eating them as they are, or perhaps from making fig jam. They pair so well with almonds that many salads feature that pairing. Try Fig Salad with Almond Dressing, Fig Snack with Gorgonzola, or Figs with Rosewater and Almonds.

Similar recipes include Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey, Figs Baked with Thyme, and Fig and Pecorino Salad.

This salad pairs the figs with Fennel. Are you looking for more fennel recipes? Try Fennel Salad with Fresh Prunes, Grilled Fennel with Mozzarella, or Fennel and Apple Salad.

All of our Fig recipes are here, and all of our Fennel dishes are here. Feel free to browse them. Or take some time to explore our large range of wonderful, tasty Salads. Or simply browse our Late Summer dishes.

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Pepper, Chilli, Cumin Seed Rasam

I had been making Vada for a snack and wanted a rasam to have with them, so we grabbed Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See to make the next rasam in the Rasam chapter of Vol. 1. The flavouring of this rasam is chilli and pepper (sautéed and ground to powder), with untoasted cumin seeds and fresh curry leaves (also ground to a powder). These spice combinations are combined with a tamarind base.

We are about half way through our project of making all of the classic Rasam recipes from Volume 1 of Meenakshi Ammal’s books Cook and See. We are loving this project, and adore her books. It would be the only book that I have come across that walks you through how the flavour of recipes change with minor adjustments to the ingredients or method. Cooking through a chapter of her books is like receiving personal tuition in the very basics of South Indian (TamBram) food. These books would be my most treasured cookbooks.

This rasam is flavoured with cumin seeds, chilli and pepper. It is made without Rasam Powder, and grinds the spices as you go. But it is easy to make and very very delicious. It is spicy, peppery, hot, tangy, and so very good.

Are you interested in other Rasams? Try Tomato Indian Rasam Style, Kottu Rasam, and Garlic Rasam.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Our simply explore all of our Rasam recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Preserved Sweet Chillies | A Sweet Chilli Jam

These sweet chillies are a variation on Sweet Chilli Sauce, – red chillies are simmered in a sugar solution until tender, and then stored in a glass jar. I will usually make small portions as it is an easy recipe, using a dozen or so ripe chillies from the garden. The preserve is then used over the next few days as an accompaniment to dishes. It is pretty delicious, especially with anything involving rice.

The syrup thickens like a jam or jelly, creating an interesting texture as well as flavour. The trick is to avoid over cooking otherwise you will have chilli toffee. The clearish jelly is strongly chilli flavoured, and the chilli pieces add texture and more heat. You will really enjoy this one. Today I used ripened chillies from the purple jalapeno chilli plant in the garden.

I love to serve this preserve on a cheese board (you have to be a chilli lover) and also mix it into creamy salad dressings.

Similar recipes include Green Chilli and Coriander Paste, Hot Sweet Chilli Jam, and Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Browse all of our Chilli dishes and all of our Preserves. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Tomates Fondues à l’huile d’olive | Confit Tomatoes | Tomatoes in Olive Oil

For me, tomatoes are at their very very best in Autumn This year (as I write), the summer has been cooler than normal (despite a few heat waves), so I am beginning the usual Autumn uses of tomatoes a little early. Do use them in all their shapes and forms at this time of year.

These are confit tomatoes, cooked slowly in beautiful olive oil which they tend to absorb while becoming wonderfully soft. You can do them on the stove top, but I find that the heat is better controlled in the oven. They need to cook slowly. As you can tell by the name, it is a French recipe.

These are even better if the tomatoes are straight from the garden. Serve them with baked dishes, or in a salad. They go wonderfully in risotto and with pasta1 Try them as a side dish with grilled polenta and a salad. Or on inch thick fresh bread with basil or tapenade, or simply in the middle of a large white plate to enjoy on their own.

I first made these in 2002, so long ago now, but they are a traditional part of autumn cooking for us. Use large tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. We consider this recipe as part of our Retro series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 2005 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

Would you like other baked tomato recipes? Try Oven Baked Tomatoes, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese.

If you love confit recipes you will also like our dishes where food is cooked a la grecque.

You might also like our Tomato recipes. Or browse our French recipes. Check out our easy Early Autumn recipes.

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Bhindi Raita | Crispy Fried Okra in Yoghurt

Yoghurt is such an important part of the diet in many parts of India, and it is often a part of every lunch and dinner meal. Sometimes served as is, and often mixed with a vegetable, there are many ways to ensure yoghurt, spices and vegetables have an increased presence in the daily diet.

This recipe is terrific, with the combination of textures and flavours. It can be served as both a raita (yoghurt dish) or as a side dish – okra in a yoghurt sauce.

This dish is from the beautiful Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Kitchen, a real bible of Indian dishes. She suggests that this dish is served with Spiced Potato and Pea Samosas with Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce, for a light lunch or snack, and with Toor Dal Kitchari with Mixed Vegetables for a more substantial meal. Delicious!

Are you after more Okra dishes? Try Spicy Dried Okra, Malaysian Lemak-Style Vegetables, and Moru Sambar with Okra.

Or do you want to try more Yamuna Devi recipes? Try Spicy Eggplant Rice, Golden Turmeric Rice, and Chickpea, Almond and Sesame Spread.

We have more Raita recipes. Try Carrot Raita, Spinach Raita, and Three Different Raitas.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, all Raitas and all of Yamuna Devi dishes. All of our Indian dishes are here. Or simply explore our Late Autumn collection of recipes.

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Red Onion and Green Chilli Bhajji

Looking for quick and easy snacks? These Onion Bhaji are feather light and so more-ish – you had better make quite a few. Heat from the chilli, the beautiful citrusy warmth of the coriander seed and the chickpea flour coating make these a great go-to accompaniment to a strong cuppa Indian tea either morning or afternoon on a cool day.

This is a treasure of Bengal, north of India. The original recipe comes from Christine Mannfield in her collection of Indian recipes Tasting India. I adapted it a little. The beauty of this recipe is that the onions are not coated in a batter, but the chickpea flour is worked into the onions, using its own moisture, to form a delicious crispy light coating.

Have a look at this other style of Onion Bhaji and these Vegetable Bhaji. Or try this Greek-Indian Tomato Pakoras. Other Onion dishes you could try include Confit d’Oignon (Onion Jam), Onion Salad with Sesame Oil, and South Indian Onion Strings Slightly Pickled Salad.

Browse all of our Bhaji/Pakoras here, or have a look at our Indian Snacks. All of our Onion recipes are here, and Indian dishes are here. Or you might like to explore all of our easy Mid Autumn dishes.

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Saag Aloo | Spinach with Potatoes

A classic Indian Dish, one you will see everywhere. It is a surprising dish really – take some spinach, a few potatoes, and a few spices and the result is a dish that is easy to make and amazingly delicious.

There are two ways of making saag aloo one is a dry saag aloo – and the other has the potato coated in a wet, smooth spinach gravy. Today’s recipe is the dry version – potatoes are mixed with sautéed spinach and spices.

Sauce-free Indian curries like these are really just slightly-more-elaborate vegetable sautés—toast spices in some oil, add in your vegetables, and finish with salt and sometimes a touch of sugar to season the simple, healthful spicy glaze that coats the vegetables. Simple, but deceivingly flavour-packed and delicious.

Also check Aloo Palak Subzi, a version of this dish without the tomatoes and with fried potatoes.

You might also like Mint Paneer, Makhana Palak (Lotus Seeds in Spinach Gravy), Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Spinach Dry Curry and Palak Pachadi (Spinach and Yoghurt).

Browse other Spinach Recipes here and here and other Potato Recipes here and here. Other Indian recipes are here and here, or find inspiration in our Mid Spring recipes.

Never a pretty dish, the dry version of Aloo Saag is always packed full of flavour. I made this dish with mixed greens including some reddish ones, which darkened the spinach base a little.

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Plums, Apples, and/or Pears, Baked in Marsala or Port

One of the popular flavours of last century, around the ’70’s, was to bake fruit in Port or Marsala (a dark, sweet fortified dessert wine, produced in Sicily). The popularity of it has waned, though, to the extent that Marsala is now hard to find in stores and outlets.  However, I still like it, to the extent that once or twice a year, the bottle comes out and some fruit goes into the oven. See this delicious Pear dish.

Inevitably, cinnamon is paired with the Marsala, and it is a good combination, along with lemon and butter.

Today’s dish uses this combination in a bake of pears, apples and/or plums. At this time of year we are using plums on their own – it is Plum Season and my friend has gifted a bucket of home grown juicy fruit. They are baked and served with their juices along with cream, marscapone, or icecream, and can be added to pies and pastries, or included in icecreams, yoghurt deserts, and summery drinks (alcoholic or not).

Similar recipes include Pears Baked with Marsala, Baked Apples with Star Anise, and Rosemary Roasted Pears.

Browse all of our Desserts, and all of our Plum dishes. Our Apple recipes are here and Pear dishes here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Purslane Salad with Burrata

This is a herby salad with the tang of purslane, the bite of spinach, the crunch of nuts and the creaminess of burrata.

I have used Purslane, as we grow it exceptionally well in Summer. Rather than weed out all of this plant, I leave a little patch and water it well. It grows lusciously with long branches lifting up from the soil. It is easy to pick, and more important, easy to clean by rinsing a couple of times. The tart tang of purslane adds a lovely lift to salads. It is very easy to grow, and you may find it occasionally at your green grocers. You can always forage it, it is everywhere, but make sure it IS purslane and that it has not been sprayed.

I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful. I need to mention that the inspiration for this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More but we evolved the recipe over the years to use our common ingredients and make it egg-free. It is like a third cousin twice removed.

Similar recipes include Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad and Mustardy Peas with Purslane.

Browse all of our Purslane dishes, and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad or Dip

The last of this crop of beetroot was picked to make a Chilled Beetroot Soup and a Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad/Dip. It is a heatwave right now, as I write this post – we are in Day 3 of a 4 Day heatwave with temperatures over 40C. Thankfully, the mornings are glorious, so there is time to do a little gardening and get some cold dishes ready for the day.

Can I tell you that I have fallen in love with beetroot this year? Ok, I have eaten it and cooked with it before, but beetroot straight from my garden has made me a lover of this vegetable. You can tell by the number of beet recipes posted from 2006 to mid 2016 (5), and after that date (25 published or scheduled).

Let me share some of those recipes with you. Try an Indian sautéed Beetroot Curry, another Chilled Beetroot Soup, and a Beetroot Risotto.

We have some other dips perfect for hot weather: the green coriander based Zhug, Moroccan Carrot Dip and Tomato and Chilli Jam.

Yoghurt makes a great base for yoghurt salads that can often also be used as dips. For example: Yoghurt and Cucumber, Yoghurt and Green Peppers, and Yoghurt Tahina Dip.

Please browse all of our Yoghurt dishes, all of our Dips, our Salads, and all of our Beetroot recipes. or simply find some time to explore our Mid Summer Recipes.

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Avocado and Black Bean Salad with Green Tomatoes

Black Beans are so good and great in Summer as they add a little more substance for cooler days without feeling heavy and too wintery. If you haven’t used them before, they are a good stock item in your pantry. We are not keen on too many cans in our pantry, but black beans have joined the tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas (for emergencies).

Here we pair black beans with avocado and feta for a creamy salad that zings with lime juice.

We also add green tomatoes. What??, I hear you ask. Green tomatoes are a magnificent slightly sour and very crunchy ingredient ideal for salads, especially those with Mexican or South East Asian overtones. They are used extensively in parts of the world but not much in the English-speaking world. You may have seen the film Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (or not), but the use of green tomatoes extends far beyond being crumbed and fried (as delicious as they are). Try them in Indian dishes too, as a replacement for, or along side, the usual souring agent in the dish (tamarind, lime or lemon juice, dried pomegranate seeds, kokum, golpar, sour grapes, verjuice, etc). There are parts of the world that use sour to great effect in their cuisines – Persia and India come to mind.

I hope you enjoy this salad, it is very very good.

You might enjoy some other Black Bean recipes. Have a look at Turtle Bean Soup, and Black Bean and Cabbage Salad with Orange Dressing.

Try some Bittman SaladsCucumber and Avocado Salad with Asian Dressing, Wombok and Radish Salad with Peanut Dressing and Artichoke Hearts with Feta Salad.

All of our Black Bean recipes are here, and our Avocado Recipes here. Salads are all here (there are a LOT), and Bittman Salads here. Or take some time to explore our easy Late Summer Recipes.

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Radicchio Risotto | Risotto al Radicchio

Oh goodness! The vibrant colour of the bitter leaves of radicchio! I love them in my kitchen, but they are not the cheapest of vegetables to buy so they are not a weekly visitor. However, radicchio is so versatile, and incredibly good.

Today we make a risotto with this glorious vegetable. It is added at the beginning of the cooking process, and thus becomes very tender during the 20 mins of stirring that makes a risotto.

Do be careful about the rice that you use for risotto. You will get the best results using a risotto rice. You can read more about that here. My favourite at the moment, and the one that I used for this dish, is Carnaroli.

Are you looking for Radicchio recipes? Read more about this incredible vegetable here. Try Grilled Radicchio with Shallots and Dill, and Red Rice Congee topped with Radicchio.

Try other risottos too – Beetroot Risotto, Caramelised Pumpkin Risotto, Mushroom Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto are some of our favourites. You can see how to make a basic risotto here.

Check out all of our Risotto recipes, and all of our Italian recipes. We have some other Radicchio recipes too – check them out here. You might like to browse our easy Late Summer recipes here.

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Roasted Chilli Sweetcorn Salad and Feta

Welcome to Sweetcorn Season. Mostly we eat the whole corns raw – the sweetness is most intense when it is raw. We nibble away at those juicy corns, getting the skins stuck between our teeth and occasionally finding one of those long sweetcorn hairs in our mouths. But, boy, they are juicy and best eaten like this outdoors.

Sometimes we steam them and slaver them in butter. This is how we ate them as children. Later on I learned to add coarsely ground black pepper. Still later we added chilli and lime juice. And I began to roast them rather than steam them, covering them in their natural wrapping and throwing them on the BBQ or indoor grill. Even later, I learned to cook them as they do for Indian Street Food.

Just occasionally, we remove the cooked kernels and pop them into salads, or make sweetcorn salads in their own right. This recipe today is such a sweetcorn salad, one with the Mexican tangs of chilli and lime juice.

You might like to also try Sweetcorn Sundal (an Indian salad), Tomato and Sweetcorn Soup, or a similar cold soup.

Other salads that might take your fancy include: Cherry Tomato Salad with Soy Dressing, Asparagus Salad, or Buckwheat Salad.

You can browse all of our Sweetcorn Recipes, our Salad recipes, or take some time to check out our Late Summer Recipes.

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Sri Lankan Chai

Tea is a big thing in Sri Lanka and is one of its main export crops. Drinking tea is a national pastime and it is served at any time of the day. Unlike South India, where tea is always milky, tea in Sri Lanka is either black or white, and sweetened with sugar or jaggery, and spices such as cinnamon or ginger can be added

Visitors are always served tea – perhaps this chai with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Rather than make it with milk in the South Indian way, this tea is made black and then evaporated milk is added to both sweeten and add a milky flavour. Who can resist?

We love chai here, and have quite a number of different recipes. Try our Yogi Chai, Heavenly Gentle Chai, and Ashram Chai. Or browse all of our Chai recipes here.

We also love herbal teas, and you can explore our Tea recipes here.

Browse all of our Sri Lankan recipes, or our Indian dishes. Or simply take some time to browse our Mid Summer recipes.

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