Effortlessly elegant, these filo tartlets from chef Adam Gray could be served as starter on their own, or as a lighter lunch with a crisp salad. The sweet figs and crisp filo pastry are the perfect foil for the rich blue cheese topping and earthy beetroot.
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For the figs, place all the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Strain the mixture through a sieve or colander, reserving the liquid in a small pan and the figs separately
150g of caster sugar
50g of dried figs
200ml of red wine
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1 slice of orange peel
1 pinch of black pepper
1 juniper berry
Place the liquid back on the heat, bring to the boil and reduce to a thick syrup. Chop the figs finely and discard the flavourings
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Layer one sheet of the filo pastry out on a clean work surface, brush all over with melted butter, then repeat five more times. Cut the filo pastry into four 5cm x 15cm rectangles and place on a baking tray
1 pack of filo pastry sheets
50g of butter, melted
Bake for 6–8 minutes until the filo pastry is golden brown, then remove from the oven and leave to cool
For the beetroot, cook in a large pan of lightly salted water until tender (this may take 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of the beetroot), then allow to cool slightly. While still warm, peel the beetroot and cut into 3mm slices, then use a pastry cutter to trim each slice into a 5cm circle
Divide the Oxford Blue cheese into four portions (50g each), removing any outer skin with a sharp knife
200g of Oxford blue cheese
In a frying pan, heat a shallow layer of rapeseed oil and quickly fry the lemon thyme sprigs until fragrant, drain any excess oil on kitchen paper
sprigs of lemon thyme
To serve, cover each filo base with a layer of the chopped figs, then cover with overlapping beetroot discs. Brush these with the reduced fig cooking syrup. Crumble over each portion of the cheese, drizzle with a little rapeseed oil, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a sprig of the fried lemon thyme
freshly ground black pepper
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