Monday, 23 September 2013
It's that time of year again. Time to pack away your beachwear, shop for a warm coat, dig out your slow cooker and settle down to the surge of cooking shows that appear when the nights start drawing in. Autumn has lots to be joyful about, especially when it come to food, it's harvest-time! Apples, pears, plums, beetroot, celeriac, pumpkin and wild mushrooms are all in abundance, while mussels and game birds pop up again after their summer break. It's a season full of gorgeous ingredients, what could be better?
Autumn is a good time to get into foraging. Damsons, sloes and blackberries are easy to identify so a good place for beginners to start. Get them home, make booze, feel smug. Wild mushrooms aren't quite so straightforward, so take an expert with you, or just buy the packs you'll find in the supermarkets now!
British apples and pears are back! If you look at the origin of your fruit when shopping, you'll have noticed that the supermarket stock has been from the southern hemisphere for the past few months, but now's the time to buy British. Apples need to be made into crumble, paired with good chums like walnuts, rhubarb and cinnamon, or simply baked to perfection. Meanwhile, put your pears into cakes and strudels, or just smother them in chocolate.
If you can't eat comfort food in autumn, when can you? It's perfect for those weeks when you're hovering uncertainly over the central heating controls, unsure about when to finally relent and switch it on again. A melty gratin is the culinary equivalent of whacking all the radiators on full blast, so are steak pie and stuffed mushrooms, mind you.
Quite frankly, anything hot and cheesy is going to be a winner, and I just can't decide on a favourite. Cheese fondue is probably the purest form of cheese-loaded comfort, but pancake lasagne has those herby mushroom flavoured pancakes too. Then there's Sicilian chocolate lasagne, macaroni cheese, Wensleydale mushrooms, gluten free crispy pancakes and tartiflette. Basically, cheese makes all food better.
In spite of all its charms, autumn is the time that colds and flu come out to play. If you end up afflicted by such germs, you'll need to arm yourself with the best medicines possible. Penicillin (the boozy version, at least) is sure to send those flu bugs packing, and if the Scottish stuff doesn't do the trick, the Jewish variety will. Now, doctors will tell you that antibiotics aren't the best thing for a cold, so you might prefer to attack the virus with spicy Thai soup or rum instead. Or, just hide under the covers with boxed sets and sympathy, that works too.
Want more recipe inspiration? Check out the rest of our top ten recipe compilations.