GONE! That’s where they are, Keats. But no matter because Autumn is here, and it’s wonderful. The favoured season of all foodies-plump with produce, fertile with festivities; clear, bright, breath-catching, rust-coloured, red-nosed, smoke-breathed, leaf-crunching, Game-munching, porridge-steaming, brisk-walking, bright-morninged, GLOOOOORIOUS Autumn. How I love it. Englishness in all of it’s idiosyncratic beauty becomes truly evident in Autumn; the season of tweed, of mulled-wine, of root vegetables, of pubs, of fires, of russet trees and steaming tea. The season of porridge, of wool, of gloves and hats and scarves and woolly socks. The season of APPLES. God(or what you will) bless the apple. It is truly a thing of ingenuity. Apples are, like Bread, something without which i would find life unremittingly dull. They appeal both to the aesthete and the utilitarian. Healthy, nutritious, sweet, crisp, tart, crunchy, juicy. I wont bore you because you’ve all seen an apple-many probably, but have you ever really thought about one? You should. The beauty of the skin, the complexity of the flavour, the instant satisfaction you get from the first bite. And then the cooking of the little beauties. Crumbles, pies, tarts, purees, compotes, ice creams, sorbets, the list is endless. And not only are they readily-available, local, healthy and delicious-they’re cheap too. What more could you want?
So, to celebrate the true coming of Autumn after this ridiculous blip commonly referred to as the “Indian Summer”, here is the first (and simplest) apple recipe of the season: Toffee apples– they are so much better than you remember. Once you’ve made these you’ll wonder why you don’t eat them all year round.
– use Cox or something similar with a little sharpness
200g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (I used balsamic as I had nothing else-it was fine)
1 heaped tablespoon golden syrup
50 ml water
Scavenge some nice-looking unsoiled sticks from your local park. Stick them in the apples at the stalk, then place apples ready on sheet of lightly oiled greaseproof paper.
Melt all the ingredients in a narrow deep saucepan, making sure the sugar dissolves evenly- do not stir but you can swirl the pan a bit. Turn up the heat to medium and keep an eye on it until it bubbles and looks toffe-ish-this should take about 5 minutes. If you’ve got a thermometer you’re aiming for 140.
When this happens, remove from heat, and dip and twirl the skewered apples in the liquid toffee until they are coated in an even layer. Place on greased paper and leave to cool. TA DA!
And here’s a lovely little slip of a salad- inspired by Autumn-and by the offers on this week at Waitrose (if you’re from Waitrose and happen to be reading this-i am open to sponsorship offers)
Fig, Mozzarella and Mint Salad
Very feminine, this wee number. But delicious and interesting nonetheless-the mint is most surprising in the mouth. However, as with every salad, the devil is in the detail. Good olive oil is essential-really good stuff, and good balsamic too.
1 fig per person
Ball of buffalo mozarella
Sprig of mint
Pinch maldon sea salt and black pepper
Few leaves of spinach/watercress/rocket for bulk and pepperiness
Zest of 1/4 of a lemon-finely zested
Drizzle olive oil and splash balsamic