Autumn 2014

Wow, this year’s seasons were a bit all over the place weren’t they? Firstly spring arrived very early and immediately turned into summer, then summer itself decided to go on holidays and the temperatures remained rather low, then late summer washed out into autumn, and since the beginning of September, summer reared its head again and it’s been gloriously warm and dry with temperatures in the low to mid 20s. This week, it is definitely feels like autumn with the lower temperatures, especially the chilly mornings and evenings.

The last tomatoes

All this meant that this year’s produce arrived about a month early. And, the inter-seasonal marriages resulted in some super tasty crossovers: mushrooms appeared in mid summer (the early rain did have its advantages) and I just harvested strawberries last week! Strawberries in October! So this is a great time to take advantage of the crossover between very late summer harvests and autumn offerings. Think berries with orchard fruit, nightshade vegetables with the squash family and mushrooms with salad. Ottolenghi’s ratatouille pretty much sums up my summer/autumn kitchen right now. Make a huge batch and enjoy for a couple of days (it tastes even better the next day).

Of course, now is also the time to preserve (or just freeze) tomatoes using the end-of-season glut. Last year I made a lot of tomato chutney, but this year, ketchup took over my kitchen. For a sugar free version, try substituting dates or honey, both work perfectly. I always use Jamie Oliver’s ketchup recipe, and I don’t add extra water as the tomatoes are juicy enough in themselves and more liquid just means extra boiling time. Just think, when you’re in the deep dark depths of winter, this flavourful ketchup will transport you back to the wonderful sunny days we’ve had this year…..

Some tasty things to enjoy right now:
Fruit: new harvest apples, pears, quinces
Nuts: walnuts and hazelnuts
Vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, romanesco, all cabbages, pumpkin, leeks and very late seasons green beans, zucchinis and tomatoes
All wild mushrooms!

beans

Photos: tomatoes ripening in the autumn sun on my terrace, and early autumn beans from De Oude Boerderij

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