I completely failed to get a seasonal eating post up for September and I’m determined not to let October go the same way. Personally, I blame the unseasonably warm weather which, unlike the many die-hard summer devotees lighting up twitter and facebook with their gleeful enthusiasm, made me go all reverse-grinchy, cheated out of at least a week of my beloved autumn.
So what’s good in October? Lots of things. But a few of my favourites are explored below.
I’ll start with pumpkins and butternut squash because it’s Halloween this month and it seems wrong not to mention them. Butternut squash is an all-time favourite and one of the best ways to go is the simplest. Peel it, chop it into rough chunks, garnish with a sprinkling of sea salt, plenty of chilli flakes and a generous glug of good quality olive oil. Then roast it at 180 degrees for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. It goes brilliantly with sticky sausages (for a great recipe have a look here, at the excellent Love Food Hate Waste. And note it doesn’t have to be cocktail sausages…!) and some steamed peas or petit pois.
Alternatively, throw some quartered white onions into the mix, roast for about 30 minutes (you don’t want it to colour too much) then whip it out, blend the veg with some fresh chilli (deseeded and chopped finely) and a good slug of coconut milk for a rich, creamy soup with a nice, warming bite.
I’m less familiar with pumpkin and a bit less keen on its stringier quality but in honour of a fellow blogger whose words are funny, moving and inspirational in equal measure, I strongly recommend you check out The Great Balancing Act for a bit of inspiration on how to cook it. The good people across the pond (and by that I mean Americans and Canadians) are just better with pumpkin.
At this time of year we’re also reminded of the special and enduring love between the blackberry and the apple – like one of those heart-warming 50 year marriages where the couple still hold hands in the street.
You can go down the stewing route and create a lovely tangy sauce to serve with ice cream, over breakfast pancakes or perhaps roast pork with crackling. Generally speaking, to stew them you need to cook them very slowly over a low heat with a bit of water and varying quantities of sugar. If you’re using sweet apples, you can get away with less. For cooking apples, you probably want to add a bit more. You can’t go too far wrong if you taste regularly, and remember to add the blackberries about halfway through the cooking time as they won’t need as long.
You can also go down the ‘oldie-but-goodie’ crumble route and bake your fruit with a crunchy topping. For the classic approach, try Delia’s recipe – billed as her ‘best ever’ crumble… To make it a bit less traditional, you might like to try adding a spicy dusting of ginger, cinnamon or a teaspoon of lemon zest to your crumble, or perhaps playing with the texture by adding rolled oats, ground almonds or finely chopped hazelnuts.