Indian Summer, anyone? The sunny season might be on its last legs but with a September line-up full of mouthwatering ingredients to get your teeth into, you’ll hardly have time to notice. Lately, I’ve been finding myself buzzing with energy and satiety for the beginning of something new. Now’s the time to embrace the start of fall, and what better way is there than to celebrate with the kind of food that’s perfect for sharing.
Win friends and influence people by turning your hand at some original and exciting (yet also simple) seasonal recipes…
Focaccia with cherry tomatoes, roast garlic and rosemary
Makes 1 loaf, 12 servings
Prep 25 minutes, plus proving and cooling
Cook 1 hour
300g strong white bread flour
300ml warm water
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar, plus 1 tsp
flaked sea salt
150g cherry tomatoes
1 bulb garlic, top sliced off
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed
1. Place the flour in the bowl; make a well in the centre and add the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, followed by 100ml warm water. Once the yeast has dissolved, mix in the rest of the warm water, 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt, until you have a sticky dough. Knead with a little more oil for 5 – 10 minutes, until smooth, silky and elastic. Make the dough roughly into a flat round shape and place in an oiled large bowl, covered with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Place the garlic bulb on a sheet of foil, wrap and seal tightly. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the flesh and set aside. Toss the cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of oil in a bowl until coated, then season.
3. Lightly grease a deep 20cm x 30cm baking tin with oil. Scoop in the dough and stretch it out so it mostly fills the tin. Press the roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes evenly spaced into the dough, sprinkle with the rosemary, then indent all over with oiled fingers. Cover with oiled cling film and prove further for another 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
4. When ready to bake, sprinkle the top of the dough with some more sea salt and the remaining sugar. Place a separate tin in the bottom of the oven and fill with recently boiled water. Cook the dough on the middle shelf for 30 minutes, or until golden.
5. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then drizzle with a little more oil before serving.
Chicken and mushroom pie with pancetta
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 45-50 minutes
1 medium leek, trimmed and sliced
200g cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
100g cubetti di pancetta
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp plain flour
200ml cold chicken stock
75ml white wine (optional)
75g crème fraiche
a handful of thyme leaves
2 x 375g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1 medium egg, lightly whisked for brushing
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan, and cook the pancetta for a few minutes, until starting to crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, then add the leek and mushroom to the same pan and fry for 5 -10 minutes until cooked. (add some more oil or a knob of butter if needed)
- Return the pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock, white wine (if using) and thyme. Season, and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then stir in the crème fraiche and cooked chicken.
- Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Roll out half of the pastry to a round large enough to line the base of the pie plate. Spoon the chicken mixture on top. Roll out the second pastry and cut out long ribbon lengths for your lattice top about 1.5cm wide. Weave your pastry strips in a lattice pattern on top of the pie as you wish, then remove and discard any over hanging dough. Using your fingers, press down around the edges to neaten.
- Brush with egg, then place on a baking tray and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Serve with vegetables or a green salad and crusty bread.
Cappuccino cake with mallow fluff frosting
Serves 10 -12
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
250g butter, softened
250g soft brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
50g cocoa, plus extra to decorate
4 large eggs
100g natural yoghurt
100ml very strong coffee, cooled
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
For the coffee syrup
100ml very strong coffee
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
For the mallow fluff icing
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
200g marshmallow fluff
- Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the flour, cocoa, eggs, yoghurt, vanilla, coffee and mix for a further 2 minutes or until well combined.
- Pour the cake mixture in to the prepared tins and bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes, or until light and springy to the touch and lightly golden.
- Make the coffee syrup by heating the coffee and sugar together in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the warm sponges from their tin on to a wire rack and evenly drizzle the coffee syrup all over. Leave to completely cool.
- Make the icing by beating together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the yoghurt then gradually add the marshmallow fluff in large spoonfuls, until all is incorporated. Use roughly half of the icing to sandwich the sponges together, then using a palette or flat bladed knife, spread the rest of the icing over the top of the cake. Sprinkle the cake with a dusting of cocoa powder and a few chocolate covered cocoa beans if you wish. (this cake will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days)
Recipes, styling and photography by Natalie Seldon