Recipe: Sophie Hansen’s Warm Duck and Fig Salad with Cauliflower Cream




Here’s an irresistible dish from Around the Kitchen Table (Murdoch Books), the fabulous new book by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron. This bright and colourful book is full of recipes and creative activities highlighting some of the simple joys of life. This scrumptious warm duck breast and fig salad with cauliflower cream dish is  one of the many goodies within!

This dish is a bit fancy. It definitely looks and tastes special, and with the figs and duck as key ingredients, it’s probably the most extravagant meal in the book. But it’s worth it for a special lunch for a special two or few.


Annie and Sophie


Prep time: 30 mins, plus marinating
Cook time: 45 mins


2 duck breasts
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp five-spice powder (page 259 or store bought)
1 tsp honey
½ cup (125 ml) white wine
4 figs, halved
2 handfuls rocket (arugula)
½ cup (70 g) pomegranate seeds
½ cup (60 g) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Crusty bread or focaccia, to serve

Cauliflower cream

1½ Tbsp (30 g) butter
1 leek, white part only, diced
½ head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock or water


Score the top (fatty) side of the duck breasts in a crisscross pattern and place in a bowl. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, five-spice and honey in a small jug, then pour the marinade over the duck breasts, rubbing it into the scored meat. Cover and marinate overnight or for at least a couple of hours in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, then sear the marinated duck breasts for about 2 minutes, fatty side down, until golden and crispy. Pour the wine into the pan around the duck breasts (but not over the top of them). Transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. Add the figs, cut side down, and bake for another 15 minutes or until the duck breasts are cooked but still pink and tender inside.

While the duck is cooking, make the cauliflower cream. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Cook the leek for a few minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the cauliflower and cook for a few minutes before adding the stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is completely tender. Transfer to a blender, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and blitz until you have a smooth purée, adding a little liquid if needed. Smear the cauliflower cream over the base of a pretty serving platter.

Remove the duck breasts and figs from the oven and let the duck rest under a tent of foil for 10 minutes or so. Return the pan with the cooking juices and figs to the stove and cook over high heat for a few minutes to reduce the juices a little. (You could add a splash more wine if there’s not enough liquid to make a sauce.)

Slice the duck against the grain and arrange it on the cauliflower cream. Add the figs and scatter the rocket, pomegranate seeds and walnuts over the top. Serve with some crusty bread or focaccia.


If figs have come and gone for the season, try using a little thinly sliced pear, some plums, blackberries or even raspberries instead.


Images and text from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron, photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.