Thursday, 12 November 2009

Autumn feasting

It seems like a long time now since Halloween, so apologies for the belated pumpkin onslaught. It would, however, be a shame to limit their lifespan to just a few days in the run up to October 31st.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've baked them with cinnamon sticks and butter, turned them into a fiery spiced soup, added them to a vegetable tagine and used them as a basis for flavouring cheese cake. As I type, one is staring at me from the fruit bowl... It's destined for laksa, along with corriander, ginger, chilly, noodles and coconut milk.

Of course, they also played a starring role in the menu of the autumn Farmyard Feast, at Mudchute Kitchen, alongside bundles of other seasonal delights, including crab apples, root vegetables, mushrooms... not to mention some very appealing home-made toffee apples.

One dish that I was asked about repeatedly on the night was the Jerusalem artichoke with strained yogurt, that we served as an appetiser. At 10am on the morning of the feast, I was out in the rain, digging up the artichokes from their beds beyond the yard, as I imagine many of our evening's diners were still dosing in theirs. It's quite amazing just how much joy the sight of an off-white root, half-caked in sodden soil, can bring to a man first thing in the morning.

As for the recipe, I have to give full credit to Philippa's inspirational talents... Upon her instructions, I roast them at a scorching heat in the wood-burning stove, then tossed them in a dressing of crushed garlic, fresh red chilly, mint, and a generous few slugs of Balsamic. They were served at room temperature alongside Philippa's home-made yogurt, strained using salt and a muslin cloth for a kind of autumn kitchen garden meets Lebanese meze dish. Very, very tasty. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, so please get in touch if you happen to have any...

We also served over-night slow-cooked octopus, with carrot puree, with crisped flat breads. Surf and turf, Mudchute Kitchen style - although the unfortunately the Octopus came from Scotland (via Billingsgate), not Limehouse basin. For lovers of offal, there was also black pudding and qual's eggs, served on homemade soda bread with farm crab apple jelly.

Ready to roast... With onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, paprika and bay.

Out of the oven and into the kitchen.
Stuffed with tomato sauce, mushroom, bacon, cheddar and curly kale.
It's amazing what a plateful like that can do for a Halloween party hangover.
Dessert... Toffee apple tart with home made yogurt, toffee apple chunks and salted caramel sauce.

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