As we welcome the crisp air and warm hues of autumn and winter, our thoughts turn to seasonal favourites and autumn recipes for the plate and beyond.
The innocent apple, emblematic of so many of mankind’s greatest triumphs and falls, is not only a powerhouse of nutrition as it bursts with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre galore, but it is also a versatile ingredient for several tasty autumn recipes.
For a zesty take on this sophisticated classic, add a bit of kick with fresh ginger for a refreshing drink infused with warmth. As your base spirit, use the slightly richer and thicker bison grass vodka, and add several thin slices of fresh ginger (remember to peel off the outer skin to avoid bitterness) that you’ve muddled with a few dashes of Demerara sugar.
Finish with ice and fresh pressed apple juice and shake up a storm. Wet the rim of a martini glass with lemon juice then roll one side of it in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Perch a curled ribbon of apple skin on the edge, pour your shaken beverage into the glass, and voilà!
Start your meal off with a bit of sweetness in this savoury, flaky tart. Coat a base of puff pastry (easy to buy in the shop, or make it yourself if you’re feeling particularly ambitious) with a bit of melted butter, then arrange slivers of roasted fennel, crumble on a generous amount of creamy Stilton, and layer over a handful of crushed walnuts.
Top with slices of apple, a few shredded sprigs of fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Bake at 200C for about 15 minutes, or until golden and toasty.
Vinegar is a wizardly ingredient when it comes to autumn recipes and seasonal marinades, helping to tenderise meat by breaking down tough connective tissue and firm muscle fibre. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is minimally processed to retain the full flavour of the apples and pack a bit more of a punch.
Combine this with a spoonful of olive oil, fresh sage, black peppercorns, sea salt, diced shallots, chopped garlic, honey, mustard seeds, and a dash of peaty Scotch whisky to impart nice earthy, smoky tones to the meat. Leave the meat soaking in the marinade for at least an hour or two, longer for larger cuts and if you wish to create more flavour.
As autumn recipes go this flavoursome treat makes an excellent side dish for a vegetarian main, or to accompany pork, chicken, or duck.
It also fills the air with the most amazing aromas to help set a comforting and pleasant scene for your meal. Mix chopped pistachios, finely diced figs, dried cranberries, orange zest, a pinch of salt, and a dollop of maple syrup with a splash of apple schnapps (the strong German variety rather than the sweet stuff).
Core a few big apples (not all the way through, leave a bit of flesh on the bottom to keep your ingredients inside), place them in a shallow baking dish, fill them generously with your nutty mix and top with a slice of butter. Add a thin layer of water to the dish to help the apples retain moisture, and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until tender.
For a decadent finish to your seasonal feast, try this twist on a classic sweet treat. Following the steps from a basic cupcake recipe, create a simple batter. Caramelise sliced apples in a mixture of apple brandy, vanilla, butter, and sea salt. After cooling, but before they become too hard, fold the apples into the batter along with a pinch of ground cardamom and cinnamon.
Bake the cupcakes as the recipe specifies, but keep in the mind the moisture from the apples might increase the time slightly. For your frosting, melt 110g of butter in 220g of dark brown sugar with a pinch of salt. Bring to a slight boil, stirring continuously, for a minute or two and then gradually add six tablespoons of milk.
Let the mixture cool for a while until lukewarm, then blend with 350g of sifted icing sugar and finely chopped fresh apple.