Autumn (fall) is my favourite season. It’s certainly not because I am looking forward to winter (like most sane people I prefer warmth to chill!). It’s because of the produce. The line between autumn and winter is often blurred, spring sometimes fails to arrive properly until the end of its season, then merges with summer, but autumn always marches in bright and clear when bins and boxes of new season apples and pears appear everywhere. And there are figs, grapes, blueberries, feijoas, passionfruit, kiwifruit, nashi and limes. The first of the local Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips come in, and there are chillies of all hues, and peppers, too, and cheap eggplant, the biggest crispest fennel bulbs, and squash and pumpkins, broccoli, cavolo nero and beetroot all look sharp. And potatoes. Oh YEAH, gone are the end of the ‘new’ season, waxy salady types greening around the edges, and in come the roasties! Oh Autumn! I can gulp it down. Get my 5+ A Day three times over! Colour, choice, succulence and taste in bucket loads.
Well, that was quite a rave wasn’t it? But I think you get the idea. Forgo the frozen peas and canned fruit and EAT FRESH. Relish the season! Get to the farmers’ markets and shop till you drop! Load the basket up and go home and cook your socks off!
And make Ilaria’s salad – she’s made a cracker of a spinach salad – best-ever combo of fruit and vege we reckon. Spinach, roasted pumpkin and roasted honey pears. Oh my gawd! It’s so good. Do you know how to make a great spinach salad? How to avoid being left with that chalky sensation you get from raw spinach? Ilaria’s nailed it! Spinach & Pear Salad. Make it.
Pears, pears, pears … pears are everywhere at the moment, lots of varieties and freshly harvested. There are plenty of other ideas for using them: Honey-roasted Pears & Blue Cheese (I’ve used the award-wining Kikkorangi blue), Pears & Blue Cheese with a Drizzle of Honey, Pears & Parmesan. Check them out.
Finally, I’ve found some days for cooking classes, and this time I am doing something a little different. I’m offering a class on Monday 24th April, the day before Anzac Day. If you are planning a nice long weekend (and why not!) you might find this is the perfect day to come over to Waiheke and enjoy our spoils. The class will be repeated on Sunday 30th. It’ll be all about gorgeous autumnal produce of course, with lots of delicious recipes to inspire you to keep on enjoying cooking and eating. And there’ll be hazelnuts and walnuts, award-winning cheeses and honeys, and sumptuous wines.
To finish this week, a bunch of cookies. Yep, this is the dough you make ahead and keep in the refrigerator for when you feel like whipping up a batch of cookies. You can freeze it too, and if you cut the dough into cookies first, you can take them straight from the freezer for baking. That’s cool. I’m enjoying a couple with a cuppa as I write this (oh, messy keyboard again). If you know someone who is a bit down in the dumps, whip up a batch, wrap the cookies in a cellophane bag, tie with a pretty ribbon and pop around for a cuppa. You’ll cheer them up no end. Have a great week.