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Honey isn’t just for slathering on toast, a spoonful of the sweet nectar can turn salads, meats and pancakes into masterpieces.
Behold the honey recipes Winnie the Pooh would be proud of for National Honey Week and beyond.
Baked pears with fresh ricotta, honey and pine nuts
This is a perfect light and not-too-sweet pudding for winter. Of course, any ripe pears will do here; though a plump, red variety does look particularly pretty, once baked.
You will need
For the pears:
4 ripe, red pears 2 tbsp honey 25g butter 4 rosemary sprigs a squeeze of lemon juice
100g fresh ricotta cheese about 2 tbsp honey, to serve 20g pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4.
2. Core the pears and take a horizontal sliver from the base of each to allow them to sit upright.
3. Stand them up in a dish small enough to fit them snugly. Drizzle with honey, dot with butter, tuck the rosemary sprigs in and around and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of water.
4. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes until the pears are soft, but still holding their shape.
5. Serve the pears with some juices from the tin and a little rosemary, if liked, spoonfuls of ricotta, a scattering of pine nuts and a drizzle of honey.
Recipe Alice Hart Styling Tabitha Hawkins Photograph Jonathan Gregson
Warm autumn salad of freekah, duck and figs
An opulent and substantial salad based on cracked freekah, otherwise known as green wheat. You can substitute the Freekah with spelt, faro, pearl barley or bulghar wheat if you can’t find it and swap the crispy duck for crumbled feta to make a vegetarian salad, or use leftover roast lamb, or sliced, pan-fried duck breast instead of the Chinese-style duck.
You will need
For the salad:
1 Chinese-style crispy duck 200g cracked freekah (green wheat)
6 plump figs, halved 15g butter, very soft 50g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped A small bunch of parsley, chopped
For the dressing:
200ml red wine
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 tsp Dijon mustard 2 tsp honey 6 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C fan, 425°F, gas mark 8.
2. Put the duck in a roasting tin and roast for about 45 minutes, until crisp and browned. Before the duck is cooked, lay the figs out in a separate tin and dot with butter. Roast for 15 minutes and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, put the freekah in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1cm. Add a generous pinch of salt, bring to the boil then add a lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, until the grains are tender but slightly chewy. Drain any excess water away and return the grains (in the pan) to the heat for a minute or two, fluffing them with a fork. Cover and set aside.
4. Make the dressing. Put the red wine and shallots in a frying pan and bring to the boil. Simmer down to half the original volume then remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients. Season and pour half the dressing over the warm freekah.
5. Roughly shred the duck meat and crisp skin, adding it to a large serving bowl with the freekah, walnuts and parsley. Carefully fold the figs in and pour the remaining dressing over.
Recipe Alice Hart Styling Tabitha Hawkins Photogrpahs Jonathan Gregson
Squash hotcakes with blackberries and honeycomb
These wholemeal pancakes make a delightful weekend breakfast on autumn days. The batter is subtly-spiced, but you could enhance the gingerbread flavour with a little ground ginger and mixed spice. Serve them, puffed-up from the pan with hot blackberries and honeycomb.
You will need
250g wholemeal spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp fine salt 50g light muscovado sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
284ml pot buttermilk or thin, natural yoghurt 130ml milk
½ 425g tin pumpkin puree [ie about 210g]
2 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sunflower oil 300g blackberries
100g honeycomb, to serve
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1. In a mixing bowl combine the spelt flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and spices. In a second bowl, using a stick blender, blitz the buttermilk or yoghurt, pumpkin puree, 40g light muscovado sugar sugar, egg yolks and vanilla together until smooth. Fold into the spelt flour bowl until almost combined, but with a few clumps of flour still remaining. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold into the mixture until just combined. Transfer to a pouring jug and allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes.
2. While the batter rests, put the blackberries in a small saucepan with the remaining 10g muscovado sugar and a splash of water. Bring up to the boil and simmer gently for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the blackberries just begin to give up their juice, but don’t break don too much.
3. Set a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Dip kitchen towel into the oil and rub over the surface to coat lightly. Pour or spoon the batter in to make pancakes of about 8cm diameter (space them out well to make flipping them easier).
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4. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and a bit crispy then turn with a spatula and continue cooking for 2 minutes more. Keep warm on a loosely-covered plate in a low oven.
5. Repeat until all the batter is used. Serve the pancakes in small stacks with the blackberries and craggy pieces of honeycomb spooned over.
Recipes Alice Hart Styling Karen Akhtar Photogrpahs Ali Allen