PUBLISHED: 06:49 20 October 2014
Autumn brings with it so much rich colour. Freshly ploughed fields contrasting with the falling foliage, enhanced by the wonderful misty, dewy mornings.
Autumn brings with it so much rich colour. Freshly ploughed fields contrasting with the falling foliage, enhanced by the wonderful misty, dewy mornings. So many brightly coloured fruit and vegetables – all kinds of glorious squash, purple beetroot and raspberries, yellow quince and pears, vibrant green cabbages, leeks, apples and maybe after the first frosts a few early Brussels sprouts and creamy parsnips.
Walnuts are the flavour of the month – “wet” ones – if you are lucky enough to find any that is. Try your local farm shop, but even there they may well be French, so probably your best bet is to find someone who has a walnut tree in their garden. They are fiddly – the easy bit is cracking them open, then comes the tricky part of trying to extract the nut from the shell – but it’s all worth it, as “wet walnuts” are juicy, firm but yielding, with a fresh yet sweet taste quite unlike the dry ones we are used to out of a packet. Usually we wait until the little nuts fall from the browned husks to the ground. Sometimes, if the weather has been especially dry, the walnuts don’t fall – just give the tree a good old shake. To pickle them, pick when the shell is soft and still enveloped in its green fleshy husk.
The Taylor Taste Test
We compare home-grown winter squash varieties. Roast, fry, steam, grill, mash them or make them into soup.
Harlequin Squash – these pretty, little, round squash, weighing about a kilo, are striped gold, green and yellow with a hard furrowed skin and bright orange flesh. They are extremely sweet and a bit nutty. Roast them whole – cut off the top, scoop out the flesh and bake for about an hour. In the meantime, fry an onion gently for about 10 minutes, add the squash flesh, some curry paste and cook for a further two or three minutes. Add a small, chopped red chilli and some coconut milk. Season and add 3oz of spinach leaves. Fill the baked squash with the mixture and enjoy with some crusty bread. A colourful, warming and filling autumn supper.
Crown Prince – larger and a beautiful almost steely blue colour at first fading to a creamy yellow colour with a dense orange flesh. These have a real chestnutty taste and are a bit waxy. Great in a risotto – I usually roast my cubes of squash for 20 minutes before adding them to the risotto with the first batch of stock.
Onion Squash – bright orange with a deep orange flesh, these melt in your mouth and have a definite nutty, earthy flavour. Roast for about 45 minutes with some shallots and garlic cloves drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh sage leaves and rosemary.
Most squash store well over the winter - usually the longer they are stored the sweeter they become; an airy, dry shed is the ideal place to keep them.
The Norfolk cheeseboard
Wissington is an award-winning full fat, hard cheese produced by Jane Murray at Willow Farm, Deopham, from the milk from her flock of British Friesland ewes. It is milky white with a distinctive natural mould rind. It is smooth and mellow and has a slightly salty tag (some say it tastes like Spanish Manchego cheese). It is quite mild so needs to be eaten simply. Find it at farm shops and delis throughout Norfolk.