20. Oct, 2014

Autumn time!

For a chef Autumn is a fantastic season. The boundaries are limitless. The harvest of plentiful vegetables, autumn fruit, game and fungi are but some of the reasons that we love it. It is close enough to summer that we can get away with putting on a cheeky little salad on the menu. Why? Be at we can! Who doesn't like to reminisce about those long summer days spent on a far away beach or of a BBQ in the back garden with family and friends? I know as the nights draw in a memory of summer can be comforting.


But really, why look back when the future brings such bounty. Autumn as a chef is exciting. We get to put back on the menu slow cooked cuts of meat. Roasted root vegetables. Mushrooms of mystical appearance. Use the smoker to evoke the smells and sounds of autumn walks in the forest as the leaves fall and the tendrils of the smoky bonfire rise into the mist soaked air. Food isn't just about pie some ingredients on a plate, it's about creating an emotion. The look, the smells, the taste and the feeling all of these give us are to me the essence of enjoying food. Miss one or more of these out and it becomes a processed, film wrapped sandwich from the all night service station. Don't get me wrong it has its place, but it's just a little, limp cold and uninteresting.


When it comes to so much in cooking, keep it simple. Sometime people try to put loads of ingredients together and they think the more they use the better the result. When in reality it can often be the more they use the more expensive the pile of inedible food they throw in the bin. So here is my thought on a simple and tasty pasta supper. Use either a squash or pumpkin of your choice. Best result for getting the most flavour from them is to roast them. Cut into wedges, leave skin on, de seed drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook your favourite pasta, I'm not going to be precious and tell you that you must use hand rolled fresh oricieti. In some good olive oil and butter soften some finely chopped shallot, garlic and sage. Add in the some of the squash once you have removed the skin and chopped it up. This is basically your sauce. The pasta now can 've tossed through this and served with shavings of parmesan and toasted pumpkin seeds. There are some elaborations to this. If you are a keen forager then some fresh nettles through the sauce are lovely.  

Another of my favourites at this time of year are Jerusalem artichokes. I love mashing these and putting them through mashed potatoes. Great with a nice bit of roast lamb. How about serving the 2 of these with some cavalo nero, Italian black cabbage. Sauteed with pancetta, olives and anchovies. Don't use the white marinated ones, keep them for a chilled glass of manzanilla sherry. Use A good time of anchovies in oil, some of the best are the Portuguese ones. Ortiz is a particularly favourite brand of mine if you can get a hold of them. Also don't be scared of the thought of using the little fishies with your lamb. You are in effect just using them as seasoning.