When the weather outside is frightful… Sunday, Nov 4 2012 

Even before the snow sets in, the weather can be just shocking in autumn, thanks to miserable drizzle and high winds. Despite being armed with Ugg boots (do they look ridonkulous? Yes. Are my feet warm? Yes. CASE CLOSED.), there’s little I love more on a blustery autumn weekend than curling up in front of a log fire with a good book, some folk music, and a homemade autumnal snack. Here are a few of my suggestions for you.

PARKIN. Originating in Yorkshire, this is a wonderful treacly mess fused together with oatmeal, and spices, meaning it’s sweet, warm and filling. Any classic recipe will do – and there are many. But what I like to do is serve it with Lapsang Souchong – a smoky tea that’ll really complete that Bonfire Night feeling.

PUMPKIN PIE. This is an American dessert that hasn’t quite made it across the pond into France yet, so naturally my froggy husband was initially suspicious. However, with the right mix of spices and a puréed consistency of filling, it makes a satisfying dessert that contrasts nicely with the crunch of the pie crust. Serve with orange juice (slightly warmed in a pan first if you like).

ROAST CHESTNUTS. A savoury option this time! If you have them “au naturel”, roast in the oven until the skins are black, and then peel them off and eat straight away as soon as your fingers can take the heat. Another fun way to cook them is to wrap them in foil, and throw them into an open log fire if you have one, extracting them with tongs. Assam or oolong tea would be a good accompaniment here – the chestnuts already have a creamy, smoky flavour that you don’t want to be overridden by a strong tea like Lapsang.

CRUMPETS WITH MARMITE. OR CHEESE. This one’s a bit of a cheat as most people don’t make their own crumpets (although with a flat pan and some metal rings, you can), but it’s a bloomin’ marvellous autumn snack. Just pop a few crumpets in the toaster and, once done, garnish with a few wafer-thin slices of Cheddar, and/or a slick of Marmite. Say no more.

HOT CHOCOLATE, HUNGRY MOUSE STYLE. This takes a little more effort than your standard instant hot chocolate. You need to order the cocoa nibs and then have a means of breaking them down (the best way is to use a coffee grinder), before whisking this powder together with milk, cream, vanilla, and perhaps a few spices. Cardamom is nice. Top with extra cocoa nibs. The Hungry Mouse’s instructions are excellent, and I recommend that you follow them.

Curl up on the sofa, and enjoy! And remember that there’s only 50 more sleeps ‘til Christmas! *squee*


Autumn days… Tuesday, Nov 1 2011 

…means autumn food!

As well as making pumpkin and red pepper soup this week, with a kick of chilli for good measure (enough for 4 lunches! No more inferior cup-a-soups for me for a while…), I’ve also been busy on the dessert front. Observe:

That, my friends, is a pumpkin pie. Keeper’s first, and he loved it.

I combined two recipes, using one from Jamie Oliver and another from the Guardian. The secret? Two tablespoons of rum (well, alright, I used brandy in the absence of rum). The taste? Delish! Next time I would separate the eggs and whisk the whites for a mousse-y rather than custardy texture, blind bake the base for less time (20 minutes is too long and left it hazardously close to burning), and, of course, add more alcohol.

I also made this:

I could not be prouder of this parkin if I had given birth to it. It is AMAZE. But nonetheless, one slice is still more than enough (it’s very filling thanks to the oatmeal), meaning one tin lasts ages. YAY. I used this recipe, which gives just the right amount of spicy satisfaction. Eat with Lapsang Souchong for ultimate Bonfire Night goodness.