Saturday, 12 October 2013

Week 35- Harvest Festival Recipes

We've ploughed the fields and scattered...well, I haven't personally, but good people have on my behalf...and now it's time to reap the harvest.

This really is the best time for fruit, veg, fish, shellfish, nuts and seeds. Take a look at your local farm shop or fishmongers- virtually everything you can think of is either coming to the end of its season, or coming into season. Hence the celebration in many cultures and countries of plenty from the land.

Traditionally, harvest festivals occur in the week following the Harvest Moon- whether that is Jewish sukkoth, Chinese Autumn Moon celebrations or any number of similar feasts and thanksgivings. This year the Harvest Moon was early- 18th September- so I'm a bit late with this blog but, a bit like Bonfire Night, here in Sussex we spread these things out over a period of a month or more.

Golden Vegetable Soup*
Chicken and rice Soup*
Spicy Pumpkin Soup*
Bloody Mary Soup*
Celeriac Soup with bacon*
Hot and Sour Soup*
Leek and Watercress Soup*
Miso Ramen Soup*
This week has been a tricky one for me, as I had my wisdom teeth out and have been existing on soup sucked through a straw for a few days now- but soup is a good thing at this time of year with so many vegetables to choose from. So it gave me a chance to re-visit many of the soups which have featured on the blog: spiced pumpkin soup*, french onion soup*, courgette and coconut* aubergine and white bean, golden vegetable*, chicken noodle*, miso ramen* and many others featured in these pix.

Chicken Noodle Soup*
Carrot and Cumin Soup*
Aubergine and White Bean Soup with croutons
Courgette, Pea and Mint

With soup, and with harvest, you need bread. I've already featured soda bread* and corn bread*- so now we let's have some focaccia- to soak up our soup.
(All recipes starred with * can be found in the cloud above or by using the Search option)
Soda bread

Corn bread
Focaccia is one of the easiest breads to make. I've flavoured mine with chopped fresh rosemary- but any herbs, olives, garlic etc go well.

Warm 250g bread flour for 1 minute in the microwave and add some salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Mix in a tbsp of olive oil. Mix a sachet of yeast with 150ml warm water and then add to the flour. Mix in well with a knife and then turn out onto a work surface and knead well until smooth and elastic. Put in a warm place to rise. When it has doubled in size, turn out again and knead again. Then place it on an oiled baking sheet, make dimples in the surface with your fingers, spray with water and leave to prove again until it has re-doubled. Bake at 200 degrees for 25 minutes or so.

For main course, I have made stuffed marrow and/or courgettes. (These latter are getting quite large now and easily substituted for marrow if you prefer). Stuff either with beef ragout (leftover from lasagne or bolognaise earlier in the week perhaps) and slather with cheese sauce or make a cauliflower cheese (with or without bacon) and do the same.
Courgette stuffed with ragout
Topped with cheese sauce

For either recipe you will need a good cheese sauce- and this is simple to make yourself:

Melt 20g of butter in a saucepan, mix in a tablespoon of plain flour and stir quickly to absorb. Then splash in a cupful of milk and keep stirring over a low heat until it thickens. Add more milk, stirring all the time until you are happy with the consistency- a good coating sauce is needed, not too runny. If it goes lumpy, just whisk with an egg whisk until the lumps disappear.
Season well with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of mustard and then add 1-2 cups of grated cheese (mature Cheddar or Emmental). Stir to melt.

Slice your marrow or courgette in half lengthways and into smaller chunks if it's a real giant.

Steam for 15 minutes or microwave for 6 minutes and then scoop out the seeds (if it's a marrow) or the flesh (if it's a courgette) until you have a fillable trench. Keep the courgette flesh and use it for soup- as I did with the above pea, mint and courgette soup.

Fill your trenches with either beef ragout or steamed cauliflower (with fried bacon lardons if you want) and pour on the cheese sauce. Bake in a moderate (180 degree oven) until brown and bubbling. Lovely with garlic bread and salad.
Cauli cheese and bacon stuffed courgettes

Dessert is plum clafoutis- made with autumn plums.

Grease a pudding dish well with some butter and lay about 8 plums, stoned and halved in the base. Make a pancake batter from 50g of flour, 50g of caster sugar, 2 beaten eggs, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 275ml of milk. Pour it over the plums and finish with a dusting of brown sugar. Bake in a hot (200 degree oven) until risen and golden. Serve warm with custard, cream or ice cream. Equally good the next day cold for breakfast!
Plum clafoutis

So, a harvest menu to celebrate all that's good from the land: vegetable soups, bread,  stuffed vegetables and autumn fruit.

Happy Harvest Time!

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