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Astar's fig recipes - 25 March

Figs are one of the most nutritious of all fruits. Just half a cup has as much calcium as a cup of milk. They also have more fibre than any other common fruits, with 28% being soluble fibre - excellent for weight loss. They are also high in iron, vitamins A and C.

They're easy to grow in either the ground or a container. I planted mine into a container on my second balcony and although it only produced four figs the first year, it's now tripled in size and drips produce.

Words of warning - the sap from the fruit, stems and leaves contains a substance that can irritate the skin and can cause serious eye irritation. Wear gloves and protect your eyes.

Baked Fresh Plump Figs with Brie and Bacon

This is a quick and easy entree.
Serves 4

8 ripe figs
100 g brie
4 slices bacon - cut into small pieces, pan fry and keep warm
2 tbsp toasted walnuts

Fresh thyme and oregano chopped plus reserve several sprigs for garnish
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Freshly grated black pepper

- Pre-set oven to 200degC.
- Trim tips off each fig, then cut a cross through the top coming half way down into fruit.
- Squeeze to open fruit at base.
- Line a baking dish with an extra large piece of baking foil.
- Stuff each fig cavity with a small portion of brie, some of the cooked bacon a little pepper, herbs and walnuts.
- Drizzle top with vinegar and olive oil.
- Bring up sides of foil and make a parcel - bake approx 10 minutes.
- Serve with fresh crusty warmed bread.

Sweet Preserved Citrus Figs with Apricots

20 fresh figs
20 dried apricots
1.5kg brown sugar
Zest and juice of an orange and lemon
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 large tbsp marmalade

- Into a large pot place boiling water and sugar.
- Add spices, zest and citrus juice, then figs and gently simmer for around 1 hour.
- Gently stir in marmalade.
- Allow to cool slightly then pack figs into clean sterilized jars, pour syrup to fill each jar.
- Simply delicious with hokey pokey ice cream and sliced bananas or with crackers and mixed cheese.

Baked Fig Tart

1 packet sweet pastry
12 ripe figs - black ones are the best or use figs from above recipe
1 large egg yolk at room temp
10 grams flour
10 grams cornflour
30 grams brown sugar
150ml milk or cream - boiled

For the pouring syrup sauce
Runny honey
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
Creme fraiche

- Pre-heat oven to 190degC
- Baking time around 15 minutes or until base is crisp
- Roll out pastry to about 1cm thickness then use a small pudding bowl to cut out rounds from the pastry.
- As you cut each circle put on a dinner plate separating each circle with a small piece of baking paper. Refrigerate for half an hour.

To make custard
- Into a bowl mix together the egg yolk, flours and brown sugar, then slowly add the boiled milk.
- Turn custard back into the pot and continue stirring until thickened.
- Allow to cool. 
- Spread each pastry ring with a thin layer of custard
- Top with thinly sliced figs
- Bake 12/15 minutes
- Mix honey together with citrus zest and juice.

To serve - place a fig pastry onto large dinner plates, drop a dollop of cheese on top followed by the syrup.