Tasty Autumn recipes from around the world
The leaves are turning, nights are drawing in faster and the heady days of 30o temperatures are fading into a distant memory. But Autumn has plenty of pros; cosy jumpers, shiny conkers, curling up with a coco to watch the Great British Bake off, and what better supplement to the season than the classic and comforting flavours of pumpkin, apple, spices and more. So get your piny on and cook up a storm with some of these delectable recipes that are the epitome of Autumn on a plate from around the world.
Apple and blackberry pie - the UK
When you pick blackberries in the autumn, and gather windfall apples to make this pie, quantity and variety of fruit do not much come into it. You make the best of what you have. This is the way it should be. This is how regional dishes once developed. People used what their garden and neighbourhood could provide. Sometimes a suggestion from a visitor or the arrival of a new ingredient with the development of trade and manufacture might give a new aspect to an old dish, with luck a new refinement, most likely - at least, in recent times - a short cut or substitute ingredient that did not improve it. I cannot help feeling that before the great bramley conquest - it was introduced in 1876 - blackberry and apple pie made with the windfalls of pippin or reinette varieties tasted much better. Nowadays, I use tart windfall Blenheim orange apples, and then after Christmas Belle de Boskoop. This is a real treat as we do not grow it in Wiltshire, and depend on the kindness of January visitors from France for an occasional supply.
With apples of this quality, you do not need so many blackberries (cookery books often give equal weights of each). If you are making the pie soon after picking blackberries, rather than from a store in the freezer, weigh them and add up to double their weight in apples.
Assuming you start with 1kg apples and ½kg of blackberries, put half the blackberries into a large saucepan. Peel, core and slice the apples, sprinkling them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them darkening: put the peel and cores into the blackberry pan and cover with water. Cook slowly at first, then faster as the juices run, so that you end up with about 150ml of strained liquid. Dissolve 200-250g sugar in the liquid, the quantity according to the tartness of the fruit.
Pack the sliced apples and remaining blackberries in layers in a deep pie dish. Mound up the fruit in a curve above the rim of the dish. Pour the sweetened, cool juice over the whole thing. Cover in the usual way with shortcrust pastry. Brush over the top with egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Put into the oven at 200C/gas mark 6 for 45-60 minutes depending on the depth of the dish. Turn the heat down slightly once the pastry is set firm and lightly coloured. Protect it with butter papers from becoming too brown. Test the apples with a thin pointed knife through the central hole in the pastry: when it goes through them easily, they are done. Serve with custard sauce or cream, preferably cream, clotted cream above all.
Braised lamb and squash with harissa - North Africa
4 tbsp olive oil
1kg (2lb 4oz) cubed braising lamb
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp harissa
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes
500ml (18fl oz) lamb or chicken stock, or wate
1 tbsp tomato purée
1kg (2lb 4oz) squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 x 400g (14oz) tin chickpeas, drained and rinse
juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
300ml (½ pint) hot lamb stock
2 tbsp harissa, or to taste
coriander, very roughly chopped
Heat half the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole and brown the lamb in batches, removing each batch with a slotted spoon to a bowl as it's done. Add the onion to the pan and cook until slightly softened and pale gold. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further two minutes. Then add the harissa, carrot, tomatoes, stock or water and tomato purée. Return the meat and any juices to the pan and season well. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook gently for an hour.
Heat the rest of the oil in a large frying-pan and sauté the squash in batches until golden brown all over and just beginning to soften. Add this and the chickpeas to the lamb after it has cooked for an hour. Season again. Cook very gently for a further 30 to 40 minutes with the lid half on. The meat should be tender, the squash soft and the cooking juices reduced. Add the lemon to taste and check the seasoning.
Heat the lamb stock and add the harissa - you might want to add more. This makes a "hot sauce" that people can help themselves to. Offer it at the table with the Greek yogurt. Sprinkle the lamb with coriander and serve with bulgur wheat or brown rice. I like chard or spinach on the side too.
Salted-caramel, apple and roasted-hazelnut galette - France
For the pastry
150g plain flour
75g ground almonds
2tbspn caster sugar
175g chilled butter
1 egg yolk
3-4tbspn ice water
For the caramel
150g muscovado sugar
100ml double cream
1tspn sea salt
For the topping
20g plain flour
50g brown sugar
2tspn ground cinnamon
100g roasted and chopped hazelnuts
For the pastry, process together the flour, almonds, sugar, chopped butter and a pinch of salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk with a little water and blitz again until it comes together, adding further water if needed. Using your hands, press the pastry into a round disc, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce by melting the butter and sugar together in a pan over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve, then bring to a boil for a few minutes. Stir the double cream and sea salt through it and set aside.
Peel the apples and cut them into neat slices, then toss them in a bowl with the flour, sugar, cinnamon and hazelnuts.
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 3 and line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the pastry gently into a circle about the thickness of a £1 coin. Arrange the apple slices and nuts in the centre, drizzle with a little caramel and pull the edges up on all sides. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden. Drizzle with a little more caramel sauce and serve hot, with vanilla ice cream or custard.
Chilli con carne - USA
2 kg beef brisket, trimmed and sliced into 2.5cm thick pieces across the grain
500 ml hot coffee
3 large dried chillies, such as ancho, chipotle or poblano
2 red onions
10 cloves of garlic
3 red, yellow or orange peppers, deseeded and sliced
2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
2 heaped teaspoons smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
3-4 fresh chillies
2 cinnamon sticks
4 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
3 tablespoons molasses or muscovado sugar
2 x 400 g tins of beans, such as kidney, butter, pinto
soured cream, optional
Ask your butcher to trim and slice your brisket for you. If you're doing it yourself, carefully trim the meat by discarding any fat or silver skin. Cut the meat against, rather than with, the grain into 2.5cm thick pieces.
Make the coffee and, while it's hot, soak the dried chillies in it for a few minutes to let them rehydrate.
Meanwhile, peel and dice the onions and peel and finely slice the garlic. Deseed and slice the peppers.
Heat a few lugs of oil in your largest casserole pan on a low heat, add the cumin, paprika, oregano, bay and onions. Fry for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.
Deseed and chop half the fresh chillies. Slice up the rehydrated chillies and add them to the onion mixture along with the chopped fresh chilli, the cinnamon sticks, sliced garlic, a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper and a splash of the chilli-infused coffee.
Stir, then add the rest of the coffee, the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon, and the molasses or sugar. Add the pieces of brisket and another good pinch of salt and pepper, cover with a lid and simmer for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
After a few hours use 2 forks or a potato masher to break the meat up and pull it apart.
Once you've done this, add the sliced peppers, then drain and add the beans and leave to simmer with the lid off for 30 minutes, or until the meat is completely falling apart and delicious, stirring occasionally.
Have a taste and season well - if you require a bit more heat (like I would), this is the time to deseed and chop the rest of the fresh chilli and stir it in.
Dollop a big spoonful of soured cream over the chilli (if using), and serve straight from the pan, with fluffy rice, flatbreads or potatoes and a really nice fresh lemony green salad. Don't forget multiple cold beers! Enjoy.
Simple squash risotto - Italy
1 butternut squash
4 tbsp light olive oil
600ml vegetable stock
50g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, picked
140g risotto rice (we like carnaroli)
100ml white wine
50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Peel the squash and separate the bulbous seed-bearing section from the slender end. Chop the slender end into 2cm cubes, toss in half the oil, season lightly and roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on the outside and soft in the centre, about 30 mins. Cut the bulb in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon - you can keep these to toast in the oven and sprinkle over salads. Chop the flesh into 2cm pieces. Warm the vegetable stock in a small pan, set over a low heat. Drop in squash and leave to gently poach.
While the squash is roasting, warm a medium-size frying pan over a gentle heat. Add the remaining olive oil and half the butter, followed by the onion. Cover and cook for 3 mins until the onion turns translucent. Stir in the celery, garlic, herbs and a few turns of pepper (no salt at this stage). Cover again and cook for a further 2 mins. Increase the heat slightly and stir in the rice. Stir, uncovered, for about 5 mins - this will help to develop the toasty aroma of the rice without burning the veg.
Turn up the heat, stir in the wine and let it bubble away to almost nothing. Reduce the heat and start adding the stock. Add one ladle at a time, stirring gently but constantly during each addition. The idea is to encourage the rice to absorb the liquid and soften, but also give up its starch to thicken the remaining broth. Don't stir too aggressively or you will end up with a pan of mush. When the stock has been absorbed, it's time to add the next ladleful and so on. It will take about 15 mins to reach the final ladle of stock. By this time the squash in the stock should have softened. Mash it up with the remaining stock and stir into the risotto.
Turn off the heat, dot the top of the risotto with remaining butter and most of the Parmesan, cover, leave to rest for 2 mins, then stir through and check the seasoning. Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and sprinkle the roasted squash and leftover Parmesan on top. Serve with crusty bread and Sautéed spinach.