Cook’s Notes: A Taste of Autumn – Apples, Pears and Figs

October can always feel a bit daunting when it comes to food choices. Veggie boxes are full of root vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit such as pears, apples, spinach, figs nuts etc. With this abundance of local grown produce or even home grown (apples and pear trees) this month can be full of delicious recipes to help deal with the changing seasons.

Welcome to autumn!

Welcome to autumn!

Apples come in so many varieties, granny smiths, russet, braiburn, gala and we are spoilt for choice by so many British producers. Apples are ideal to use in baking, poaching, chopped raw in salads or added to desserts to create a much more robust flavour.

Pears also come in many varieties and our own pear tree managed to give us quite an abundance of fruit this year. Whether you choose to poach, bake or use in savoury or sweet recipes, pears can add a robust flavour to many recipes.

Fresh figs are full of flavour and colour. Their sweetness can be used in desserts and also used with delicious cheese as an accompaniment on a cheese board. They combine well with rocket, Italian style hams and walnuts – so versatile and tasty.
You can choose to grill, poach or simply eat them raw – they are well worth using in an autumn recipe.

October is a month when we feel more inclined to spend more time indoors and are more susceptible to colds and flu so we may need to spend a little more time on healthy comfort food and also foods to lift our mood.

Doesn't this fig custard tart lok amazing?

Doesn’t this fig custard tart lok amazing?

Apples are full of Vitamin C and are excellent for fibre. They can be helpful in aiding your digestive system, and breaking down fat. Pears are also a good source of Vitamin C, fibre and potassium. Also useful in aiding digestion and are full of fibre.

Figs are packed with antioxidants such as Vitamin A and K . Also sources of natural sugars, plus several minerals …

Try out the following recipes for October.

Pear, Spinach and Sweet Potato soup
A delicious soup full of good vitamins and minerals. Just the right taste of sweetness from the pears.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: European
Serves: 4
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium sized ripe pears
  • 250g fresh spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 750 ml vegetable stock
  • chopped chives
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  1. Wash and scrape sweet potatoes and chop into slices. Boil potatoes until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Peel and slice shallots. Peel and slice garlic. Grate ginger.
  3. Make up vegetable stock.
  4. Place olive oil in a large soup pan. Wait until oil is hot then place garlic and sauté for a few minutes then add shallots and continue to cook until transparent.Add grated ginger and stir gently.
  5. Add in the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Place sweet potatoes into the soup pot and stir for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock. Gently bring to a rolling boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Use a blender to puree soup.
  6. Heat through and serve with chopped chives and crème fraiche.

Apple, Celery and Toasted Almond Salad
This robust salad can be served on its own as a vegetarian option or served with char grilled chicken.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: European
Serves: 4
  • 4 medium sized apples (Russet optional)
  • 3 medium celery sticks
  • 2 tbps flaked almonds
  • Spicy lemon dressing
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbps of extra virgin oil
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 tbps of crème fraiche
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Wash and core the apples. Chop into medium sized slices. Place in a serving bowl and set aside
  2. Wash celery sticks and slice finely. Place in serving bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the lemon juice, curry powder, olive oil and crème fraiche. Whisk gently and season to taste.
  4. Place flaked almonds in a small pan and toss until slightly toasted. Leave to cool.
  5. When ready to serve – combine the dressing with the apples and celery and top with flaked toasted almonds.

Fig and Home-baked Vanilla Custard Tart
This is worth the effort and can be used as a tea-tart in place of a cake or as a delicious dessert.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: European
Serves: 4
  • 500g short crust pastry (either bought or homemade)
  • 4 well ripened figs
Shortcrust pastry
  • 2 cups good quality plain flour
  • 125g good quality cold butter (block style is advisable)
  • 1 tbps caster sugar
Custard-style filling
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 1 medium sized egg (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
Shortcrust pastry
  1. Preheat oven to moderate setting 180 degrees C or gas mark 200 degrees C depending on your oven style.
  2. Prepare either 2 small shaped heart baking tins or one 7 inch round tart tin.
  3. Remove pastry from either bought shop packet (according to instructions) or from the fridge.
  4. Roll out pastry to fit your choice of baking tin.
  5. Prick over base with a fork and line base with baking paper.
  6. Place baking beads in bottom and bake in oven until edges turn slightly brown (20 minutes). Remove baking beans and baking paper from pastry base. Set aside to cool
Custard-style filling
  1. Mix all custard filling ingredients in a bowl. Wash and cut figs into small quarters.
  2. Place figs on bottom of pastry shells and pour over custard filling (making sure not to overfill). Place in oven until custard filling is set. (15 -20 minutes).
  3. Cool and serve with crème fraiche.

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