Autumn/Winter 2018

With Christmas on the horizon and a beautiful warm autumn still just about with us, all our seasons seem to come at once! Halloween is next and a pumpkin or squash should be more than just a carving! In the spirit of less food waste why not try and use it flesh and all. In fact my Crown Prince squash did it all for themselves this year. The seed was ‘planted’ when we dug in last year’s compost and then went on to grow throughout the summer producing four lovely big squash. Perfect for carving but so much else. Roast the flesh with garlic coriander, cumin seed and a sprinkling of paprika, then blitz with chicken or vegetable stock for a vibrant and velvety, seasonal soup. Alternatively roast the chunks and top with a tomato and chickpea stew with ginger, chill, dried apricot and preserved ginger for a great vegetarian supper.

Turkey is not just for Christmas! And I look forward to using these birds as an alternative to chicken throughout the year. A good bird grown slowly to high welfare standards is well worth the money and a good way of supporting our small local farms. Lots now produce their own birds for the festive season. However, so much is thrown away in the excitement of Christmas day. This year why not make a plan to strip off all the meat from the carcase as soon as you can. Perhaps delegate this task to someone whilst the washing up is going on. This will also help with space in your fridge! If you can, chop the frame of the bird into pieces and pop into a saucepan with water, then simmer slowly for about an hour. That is all you need to get some flavour into a stock. Don’t use more water than you need, just enough to cover the bones. Now you have a delicious ingredient to use a base for a soup made with all those left over Christmas veg!

I have enjoyed autumnal walks this year collecting and storing the bumper crop of cobnuts. It takes time to release them from their shells and is an excellent job done sitting in front of a good log fire; well worth the effort for their superior, nutty flavour.

I like to toast them in the oven then use them crushed to top a good pea and Parmesan risotto or use them with kale to make a kale and cobnut pesto. Wonderful for a winter salad of grilled radicchio and roasted roots. As the kale season starts to get going as the weather gets colder I have enjoyed Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s idea of taking the leaves of any curly variety and giving them a spritz of oil then roasting in the oven for 10-15 mins. They hold their shape well and taste just like Chinese crispy seaweed. I give mine a dusting of sesame or black onion seed and then just tuck in, alternatively use to top a platter of roasted veg or crush over a velvety soup.

I am now looking forward to the short Seville orange season (December to February) having just run out of this delicious marmalade. l enjoy the heady aroma of this citrusy fruit filling the kitchen with its sticky sweetness on a cold dark day in January. A sign of brighter things to come! Simply, spread thickly on a slice of freshly cut home-made sourdough bread and tuck in.

Happy Cooking,