Although the days may be getting gradually shorter and the nights darker, autumn also brings with it, a bounty of new seasonal produce for us to experiment with.
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Here at Individual Restaurants we’re excited to welcome a variety of new ingredients into our kitchens.
Development Chef, Andrew Owen explains: “Each season has its treats and autumn is no exception. There certainly are some real star ingredients to choose from including; oysters, winter squash with all their different shapes, sizes and colours, old but not forgotten beetroot varieties, freshly dug carrots, orchard apples, mushrooms, root vegetables and many more.”
Here’s just a few of the star ingredients we’re working with this season….
Our British rock oysters are truly free-range. Sourced from Mersea, Colchester oysters live naturally on the seabed, where there is ample food and space to grow, rather than being grown in nets or cages.
Not long ago beetroot rarely appeared on restaurant menus, but these days the vegetable seems to be the star of the show in many dishes. It’s almost as though the boring old beetroot has hopped out of its jar of vinegar and gained culinary status!
Now that farmers have begun growing old varieties such as; golden, white and even candy striped beetroot again, there is plenty of scope for eye catching dishes. With winter beetroot at its best during the autumn, we will be featuring it on our menus this season.
(Sourced from H & P Ascroft (Paul Ascroft), Worthington Farm, Tarleton, Lancs)
Over time orange has become the colour most firmly associated with carrots – a perception rooted deep in the brain of the average consumer.
However, this wasn’t always the case.
Setting aside spuds and onions, the carrot is probably Britain’s top veg and it’s extraordinary to see the huge variety in shape and colour that is being produced again in Britain.
From white to purple, round to short or even long and spindly, these new creations are the kinds of carrots that the prosperous 15th-century land-owner would have been having for his supper. And now you can, too, though for once in these straitened times, you don’t have to be rich to join in!
(Sourced from Wareings Produce (Clive Wareing), Johnsons Farm,Tarleton, Lancs)
WINTER SALAD LEAVES (WATERCRESS & CHICORY)
It is a common misconception that winter and salads don’t go together, but let me tell you… they do! Winter leaves such as; dandelion, Treviso & chicory, although delicious can often be bitter. However, balanced with thick balsamic vinegar, crispy smoked bacon, and a garlicky or creamy dressing, they really do become something delicious.
The world of squash is an exciting and mysterious one, due to the wide variety of different shapes, sizes and colours available. Historically, squash and pumpkins are pretty intertwined, as they’re part of the same family and in botanical terms they’re actually classified as fruit, not vegetables.
Winter squash such as butternut and acorn are at their best come Autumn/Winter. Due to the good flavour and texture it provides, I often opt to cook Butternut squash.
APPLES & PEARS
With the apple orchards of Kent thought to be the best in the world, our apple heritage really is second to none.
I have found that old established varieties lend themselves to all manner of great dishes, from rustic tarts, pies and crumbles to fruity sauces and chutneys.
A wide variety of delicious farmed mushrooms are now available, including favourites such as; chestnut, field, shitake and oyster. Not only are mushrooms delicious, they also contain a similar vitamin mix to meat, making them a great substitute. They are high in fibre and protein and also contain a large number of minerals, including selerium, which can help reduce the risk of cancer.
They should definitely be part of your five-a-day!
Our native mussels are sustainably farmed in Scotland and Menai, near the Anglesey peninsula.
Also in season right now…
• Passion fruit