Autumn makes me unspeakably happy. Cable knit cardigans, getting the fires going in the house, TIGHTS, boots, capes and ponchos, russet coloured leaves, sinking into an armchair with a good book and large cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon, stopping with Primrose and Poppy to pick delicious bounty from the hedgerows, TIGHTS, my brown brogues, windfall apples, scarves, long walks in breezy sunshine where the light filters through the trees in the woodland just so, Jerry in warm woolly jumpers, jams and jellies and did I mention TIGHTS, dear Reader?! Lovely thick opaque tights. All those wonderful autumnal things and more, seem to make my heart sing. Even my hair behaves better in the autumn and suddenly rosy cheeks and
constantly messy windswept red hair blend into a landscape tinged with the colours of the liquor in the jam pan, rather than stick out like a sore thumb.
Autumn is almost the best time in the world to get into seasonal cookery. Who needs more of an excuse to pop a stew into the bottom of the oven to slow cook or pick blackberries on a long walk? Comfort food at its best. With that in mind, I popped off to watch a new friend in action. Everything about the lovely Cherie Denham from Flavour Passion screams foodie! The first time I met her she rendered me speechless with scones lighter than air topped with lashings of her Blackberry jelly. Winning me over with food is always a dead cert. for cementing a friendship. She’s pretty good ‘craic’, as they say in her Irish homeland, too!
Trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Cherie then became a teacher there, earning yet more culinary stripes with her own catering business and as a home economist consultant for none other than River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when River Cottage’s first cookbook hit the scene. Now running a whole host of seasonal cookery demonstrations from her stunning countryside cottage, Cherie shows her guests how to create an array of dishes from original recipes that can be scaled up or down depending on the occasion and most importantly, shares her culinary hacks. Easy canapés, crowd pleasing dishes, cosy autumn kitchen suppers, something a little more refined – this is cookery for those with busy lives who need tried and tested recipes that are a bit hit with everyone from the children to Saturday evening dinner party guests. Jerry was in seventh heaven with the Slow Braised Spicy Chipotle Beef Cherie sent me home with………the whole plateful was snaffled in seconds.
Demonstrations seem to be THE thing when it comes to cooking these days and I can see the appeal. This is the countryside’s Tupperware party for the 21st century, dear Reader but OH SO MUCH more glamourous and useful! Rather like your best friend sharing all the secrets you’ve been dying for her to divulge for years. All cooking abilities are welcome. In fact, the guest list for Cherie’s demo was rather like a modern who’s who of Cluedo – was it the anaesthetist, the students off to university for their first year, the farmer’s wife, interior designer or godfather’s wife that nicked the last slice of Warm Lemony Treacle Tart….? I wonder, dear Reader. Can’t blame them, it was seriously scrummy and I shall certainly be returning for more culinary inspiration when Cherie demos Christmas in November!
Inspired by my amazing morning and immensely delicious dishes, my kitchen now looks more like a production line than farmhouse haven! Elderberries, crab apples, quinces, herbs from the garden for drying – we’ve got it all going on in Margot’s Kitchen at the moment, dear Reader! The cottage is groaning under the weight of all the apples that seem to arrive by the carrier bag full and are left on the doorstep by lovely villagers. With jams and jellies a go go, I’ve taken to trying a few new numbers with the apples too as I can’t bear to see them go to waste. Crab apple vodka, windfall apple butter, hedgerow compote, fruit leathers for the girls and my favourite so far, apple crisps. I haven’t even got round to picking the sloes yet but I must, before they are snapped up by the birds. First frost is just far too long away to leave a batch of sloe gin to chance!
If like me, your house is turning into an orchard quicker than you can say cider, then this will help turn a few of those appley beauties into something everyone can enjoy. Here, just for you my dear Reader, is my recipe for Apple Crisps.
1 or 2 apples, not cookers
sprinkling of cinnamon
Peel and core your apples, cutting out any maggoty bits if like me you’ve used a few windfalls. Using a mandolin (the culinary version rather than musical), finely slice the apple so that you have rings or half rings depending on how many maggoty bits you’ve had to cut out. You could do this with a knife but remember it does have to be paper thin slices.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and place apple slices on the paper. You may have to line a couple of baking sheets depending on how many apples you have decided to use. Sprinkle over the cinnamon. NO SUGAR NEEDED.
Place in bottom of the Aga (in my case the ever faithful Everhot) or in a very low oven from anywhere from 2 hours or until you have achieved the level of crispness you would like. Best to do this when you need to do some slow cooking as the oven will need to be on low (no more than 120 degrees Centigrade) for a while. Keep checking the slices every now and again to make sure they are not burning. You can choose to leave them until they are really crisp or simple dried out and still a bit chewy. Lovely as an after school snack, crushed over yoghurt, stirred into vanilla ice cream – the choice is yours!
Happy autumn, dear Reader! I’m off to buy some more tights……
Wow Sounds yummy on every level. My sloes are in the freezer ready for sloe vodka making. I love the apple crisps idea. Love autumn so much I too am suited better to this season boots back on with jeans messy hair as always xxxx
Messy hair is the key style trend for the season! You’ll look lovely as ever I am sure xx
Great post as ever. My favourite things about autumn are the turning leaves, conkers, morning dews, the roast dinners making a comeback, the return of my beloved favourite jumpers, shamefully neglected over the ahem, ‘summer’ and the berry lipsticks I can wear with them.
Ooooh ROASTS and berry lipsticks – you are so right! *goes off to scribble another couple of additions to the list. Thank you for coming over and writing such lovely things!
Margot…Thank you, I am so delighted you enjoyed my Autumn dem! You are just SO kind and lovely. It was great having you there, such a pleasure and your culinary questions made me tell my lovely attendees more and more! Cannot wait to try making your apple crisps, I’ll bring the Havana Club and we’ll get stuck in with your freshly squeezed apple juice and soda 😉 x
Now you’re talking Cherie!!! Really it was a pleasure to attend and I loved it. Thank you so much. I’ve got the ice cube tray in for our rum and apple night! xx
Oh, I want to try that cocktail, sounds lovely! You never know the first frost might be here sooner than you think. The nights are certainly getting cooler x
You’re on the list for an invite when Cherie and I do that one xxx
Oh autumn, you’re a wonderful season! A lovely post of autumnal happiness! Our apple trees are heavy with fruit so I’m always on the look out for apple recipes, thank you!
Ooh it is such a glorious season. Thank you! Hope you enjoy making the crisps when you have a mo.
I drank the vodka before I could make the crab apple voddie. Bad, bad. bad. Do it every year. Am I too late for sloes? Too drunk to notice…
Ha Mrs Watkins! I had a wee few slugs of the vodka before only making a ‘small’ bottle…. Not too late for sloes – just pick them and pop them in the freezer till you’re ready to use them. xx
There was a frost on the rear window of my car this morning… go get those sloes!
Operation Sloe is GO. I repeat GO. Thanks Penny xx
Ah, my sloes are in the freezer. If I wait for a frost the darned birds beat me to it 🙂
I waited too long last year and missed the majority of them. Am armed with a basket and ready this year!
Autumn is such a lovely time. Blackberry jelly is my favorite. What a great post that really helps me get into the season.
Thanks so much Tina. Must get back in the kitchen and make up some blackberry jelly!
I could definitely enjoy eating these in the New Year. I was looking for some tasty and nutritious treats. Sprinkled over yoghurt and a spoonful of granola would be a great way to start my morning. Thank you for linking up to December’s #LoveSeasonalFood Clare x
Ooh I love them with yoghurt or mid afternoon snack just on their own. Thanks so much for having me on your linky Clare. x
Pingback: January #LoveSeasonalFood - Grubby Little Faces