CELEBRITY chef Rick Stein who owns the self-titled restaurant in Sandbanks, has a new cookbook and accompanying BBC series called Secret France.

He says are both a love letter to France and a credit to his 30-year long collaborator and director, David Pritchard.

"My early influences and inspiration came from France," explains the chef and restaurateur, "and my director David sadly died recently. We both shared a love of all things French, and I think he thought it was time to revisit. He could see that France means so much to everybody."

Here are three recipes from the new book to try this weekend...


This will keep you going on cold evenings.


(Serves 6-8)

100g dried beans, such as flageolet, cannellini or haricots, soaked overnight in cold water

4tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 leek, halved lengthways and finely sliced

2 carrots, chopped

1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme sprigs and parsley stalks)

675g courgettes, cut into small dice

450g tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

2 medium potatoes, cut into small dice

100g fine green beans, topped, tailed and cut into 3-4 pieces

100g frozen peas

75g orzo or spaghetti, broken into small lengths

Salt and black pepper

To serve:

Grated Parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Green pistou


1. Drain the soaked beans. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook gently for two to three minutes. Add the beans and 1.25 litres of water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes, or until just tender. Add half a teaspoon of salt and simmer for another five minutes, then set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large pan. Add the onion, leek and carrots and cook gently for five to six minutes until softened but not browned. Add the beans, their cooking liquor and the bouquet garni to the pan of softened vegetables. Add the courgettes, tomatoes and potatoes and another 1.25 litres of water, then season with two teaspoons of salt and some pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

3. Add the green beans, peas and pasta to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, take out the bouquet garni and stir in the pistou. Check the seasoning and serve in warmed bowls, with some extra grated Parmesan cheese and a little jug of extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top.


This is one decadent pie.


(Serves 4-6)

4 Confit duck legs

4 shallots, chopped

A few fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped

175ml red wine

200ml chicken stock

Handful flatleaf parsley, chopped

800g potatoes, cut into 5cm chunks

100-125ml warm milk

150-200g Comte cheese, grated

Salt and Rick's peppermix, or black pepper


1. Warm the confit duck legs over a gentle heat to release the fat, then pour the fat into clean jam jars. You will need some for this dish, but save the rest for roasting potatoes another day.

2. Remove the skin from the duck legs and discard it or slice and roast as a nibble. Pull away the duck meat with a couple of forks and shred it, removing and discarding any bones and gristle.

3. Heat two tablespoons of the duck fat in a pan, add the shallots, thyme and half a teaspoon of peppermix or plenty of black pepper. Allow the shallots to brown gently and once they are golden, add the wine and stock, then bring to the boil.

4. Cook for a few minutes, then add the duck meat and the chopped parsley. Stir and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 210°C/Fan 190°C. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20-25 minutes until tender. Drain them well, then add the warm milk and mash until smooth. Season with salt and a big pinch of peppermix or some black pepper.

6. Grease a baking dish measuring about 18 x 28cm with duck fat. Pile in the meat mixture, then cover with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake for about 25 minutes until heated through and browned on top.

7. Serve with a green salad, green beans with garlic and fried breadcrumbs or carrots a la fermiere.


Crisp pastry and jammy figs - just add ice cream.


(Makes 6 tartlets)

For the shortcrust pastry:

170g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

100g cold unsalted butter, cubed

Pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

1-2tbsp ice-cold water

For the filling:

100g butter, at room temperature

100g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2tsp almond extract

100g ground almonds

9 figs, quartered

1tbsp flaked almonds

To serve:

1tsp icing sugar

6tbsp creme fraiche


1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add the egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of cold water to make a smooth but not sticky dough. Add the extra water if required.

2. Put the dough on a floured work surface, roll it out and line six loose-bottomed 10-12cm tartlet tins. Chill for about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C.

4. Line each tin with a circle of baking parchment or foil, add baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then put the tins back in the oven for a further five minutes. Turn the oven down to 190°C/Fan 170°C.

5. While the pastry cases are cooking make the frangipane. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until you have a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the eggs and almond extract, then stir in the ground almonds and mix well. Divide the mixture between the pastry cases and arrange six fig wedges on top of each tart. Scatter with some of the flaked almonds and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

6. Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with some creme fraiche.

*Rick Stein's Secret France by Rick Stein, photography by James Murphy, is published by BBC Books, priced £26. Available now.