Fig, Walnut and Buttermilk Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Sauce

Maison Travers

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I still had a few figs to use and we now have harvested the walnuts and have a few hundred, a huge wicker basket full. So, what else to do but think of a nice recipe that combines the two and I came across a version of this one in an old calendar of all places. My biggest challenge was finding buttermilk in France. It turned out to be easy once I realised that it was called fermented milk or “lait fermenté” and not “lait battu” as I remembered from my childhood. Maybe the name has changed? When pouring the batter into the cupcake holders, I always use an ice cream scoop. They are the perfect size and it is much easier than trying to judge quantities. The cupcakes are excellent as is and we ate several like that but I also wanted to serve some as dessert for a…

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Courgette Cake with cream cheese icing

Maison Travers

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This is a wonderful, light anytime cake that’s not too sweet. Excellent way to use up all those giant courgettes from the garden!

It can be eaten plain or with a cream cheese lemon frosting, which bumps it up to the next level.

Ingredients:

  • 200g (7 oz) grated courgette
  • 150g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125ml (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 200g (7 oz) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 8 walnuts, chopped roughly

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 160C / 325F
Grease a loaf tin
In a bowl, beat together the courgette, sugar, egg and oil
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder
Stir in the cinnamon, lemon zest and walnuts
Stir the flour mixture into the courgette mixture just until blended
Pour the batter into…

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Stuffed courgette

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These stuffed courgettes are typical fare in France and especially in the South of France. There are numerous recipes for these famous stuffed vegetables, but this is one of my favourites. As we enter summer here in the northern hemisphere, we are starting to see all the typical summer vegetables start to arrive at the local weekly markets and courgettes are one of the most abundant and my favourites. I have used round courgettes here but you can use large beefsteak tomatoes, onions and aubergines too, it’s sometimes nice to stuff an assortment of vegetables this way, so your guests have a choice of which vegetable they prefer.

I made the stuffing in advance, assembled it all and popped it in the oven for 45 minutes once my lunch guests had arrived.

I used veal mince but you can use beef, pork sausage or ground chicken or even if you are vegetarian, omit the meat and add some cooked rice or quinoa in its place.

Serve these delicious stuffed vegetables with a green salad and a crusty baguette to mop up the juices and a glass of wine. voila – perfect, simple summer lunch.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 round courgettes
1 tablespoon olive oil
400g / 15oz ground veal
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180C / 360F
Cut the tops off the courgettes, keeping them to use as lids and using a pointed spoon, hollow out the centres of the courgettes and keep the flesh
Place the courgettes in a baking dish and set aside
Heat some oil over medium heat in a sauté pan
Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft and translucent
Add the garlic, courgette flesh, tomatoes and meat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes
Add salt, pepper, cumin and herbs
Spoon the mixture into the courgettes and place the tops back on top of the courgettes Drizzle a little olive oil over and around the stuffed vegetables and bake for 45 minutes, or until well browned and the vegetables are soft, but still holding their shape
Serve hot or at room temperature
Enjoy!