Vegetarian compote of fresh figs in muscat wine with vanilla custard


Like apricots, fresh figs, ideally, need to be eaten picked from the tree, warm from the Mediterranean sunshine, fully ripened and bursting with soft, luscious flesh.

If their sweetness is then combined with some thinly sliced Parma or Serrano ham, you would have a feast indeed. Although they are imported throughout most of the year, the best of the European crop (from Turkey and Greece) are at their most luscious in autumn. They should be dark purple, feel soft to the touch when you buy them, and their skins should have a soft bloom, which needs to be wiped off with damp kitchen paper.

Eat them just as they are, or arranged in overlapping slices, brushed with honey and baked for 10-12 minutes at gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C). Another very unusual way to serve them is as a starter, such as Roasted Figs with Gorgonzola and Honey-Vinegar Sauce.

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