And so it’s autumn, the time of yearning for soups, stews and casseroles; of starting to count calories and giving up quickly; of reaching for the third biscuit; and the fridge fragrant with wild mushrooms. If you’re lucky.
If you are indeed fortunate enough to forage, buy, beg or steal sizeable quantities of ceps, morels, girolles or at least maitake, even though you’ll be itching to cook and eat them as soon as possible, try keeping them in the fridge, uncovered, for at least a few hours. Every time you open it, it will be like the forest has come to your kitchen! I stored my hard-won girolles overnight and the next day a pat of butter that sat near them tasted like truffle butter.
Wild mushrooms need to be cooked simply, sautéed in butter with a little parsley. They will be gorgeous in pasta too, if you want to make a main dish out of them. If you’re not so lucky, do the above with fresh shiitake or Paris mushrooms; it’s worth it to spend a bit more and buy mushrooms that actually SMELL like mushrooms.
Peppers are another autumnal thing – much less so as they are available all year round but now they are at their fleshiest, cheapest best. You can make a dish out of them, piperade, and it’s fabulous stuff that can be eaten as a side, a dip or topping, warm or cold. Or grill them and make a red pepper salad with some soft cheese, or serve them with roasted partridge breast – hey, it’s autumn! It’s game time!
So now we come to the third autumnal focus: game birds and venison, most meat-eaters’ highlight of the year. Certainly mine – I might not be able to afford roast grouse with game chips very often but man, is it a feast when it turns up on my table. Partridge is far more affordable and so is pheasant - roast it whole – while wood pigeon is bargain basement; pan fried breast fillet is a delight.
As for the cake, matcha sponge with lemon scented cream is an elegant (albeit easy) possibility while a rustic jam tart hits all the right spots and you can eat it with your fingers.
So come to think of it, autumn is a lovely time, foodwise. If only it didn’t rain all the time…