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Seasonal Recipes for October

fruitFall is certainly in the offing, with chilly nights and crisp days fast becoming a meteorological norm.

October heralds the full force of the apple and pear season plus the readiness of beautiful shelling beans such as borlotti (also known as cranberry) and butter (also known as lima). Beautiful roots such as the sweet, aromatic parsnip also make their debut, doing so well as a sweet or savory ingredient.

My recipes in October start to have have touches of warming spices and chili heat, some rich sweet hints nestling well with a lovely cup of tea or warm cider! To find more seasonal recipes and bakes, pop on over to hollylikestocook.com.

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Apple and Pear Chips

I love playing with the perceptions of sweet and savory. These fruit chips are the perfect example of my love of playful flavors. Doused with a little crunch of sea salt, these fruity chips are lovely alongside cheese — the apples with some sharp, crumbly cheddar and the pears crying out for a strong blue.

Apple

Pear

Sea salt

Each fruit yields about 10 chips. You can make a large batch and store them (once completely cooled) in an airtight container for future autumnal evening nibbles.

Use a mandolin or sharp knife to finely slice the fruits into slices about a tenth of an inch thick. You can core the fruit before slicing but, honestly, at this thickness you won’t notice the core, just pop out the pips.

Lay out on baking tray lined with waxed paper and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake at 300F for about an hour, turning half way through to get an even bake. When golden brown, remove from the oven and pull from the baking sheet to cool so that they don’t steam against the paper and go soggy.

Parsnip and Chai Spice Cake

Chai is well known among the seasonal latte drinkers, its sweet spiced aroma evoking undeniably comforting feelings.

A twist on the traditional carrot cake, the parsnip substitute in this recipe adds another aromatic dimension.

Cake

1 cup margarine/shortening

1 & 1/4 cup light brown sugar

4 eggs, beaten

1 & 2/3 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup finely grated parsnip

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup sultanas

1 orange, juice and zest

1 chai spice tea bag

Syrup

1 cup water

1 chai spice tea bag

1/2 cup white sugar

Icing

3/4 cup salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 & 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Zest of 1 orange

Handful walnut halves

Pre-heat the oven to 365F.

Zest the orange, and roll the orange around on a hard surface to release the juice within before cutting and squeezing the juice into a mug with the zest.

Pop the chai spice tea bag into the juice and warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds, or on the hob very gently, until the juice is warm but not too hot to touch. Leave the tea to steep in the juice and flavor it with the spices.

Cream together the margarine/shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the remaining ingredients. Fold together gently until well combined.

Line two round 9-inch baking tins and pour in the batter. Bake in the pre-heated oven until golden brown atop and set within. Check with a thin skewer by piercing the thickest part of the cake. If the skewer comes out of the cake clean, it is done.

Set aside to cool.

In a small sauce pan, combine the water and white sugar, add the chai spice tea bag and bring to a boil. Once boiled, turn down the heat, remove the tea bag (give it a good squeeze first) and allow it to simmer until the syrup has reduced by half. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

When the cakes have cooled and the syrup is not hot but just warm, return the cakes to their tins, pierce each cake with a thin skewer 10 to 12 times and pour over half of the syrup. Leave to soak in and cool completely.

Make the icing by creaming together the butter and confectioners sugar until fluffy and pale, drizzle in the completely cold remaining syrup little by little, whipping until combined.

Once the cakes are completely cooled, dollop half of the icing into the top of one cake and spread over, place the second cake atop, then cover with the remaining icing. To finish, crush a handful of walnut halves by hand over the top.

Smashed Shelling Bean Dip

There is no denying that hummus is among dip royalty. This dip uses lovely season shelling beans for its body and has an herby, spicy zing.

Beans are an incredibly tasty, affordable source of protein, which makes this dip a fab standby recipe for autumnal entertaining.

1 & 2/3 cup cooked and cooled (or tinned) borlotti/cranberry beans

1 & 2/3 cup cooked and cooled (or tinned) butter/lima beans

Small bunch fresh cilantro

Dried chili flakes, to taste

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons lemon juice

A few generous glugs of olive oil

Salt and pepper

If you are using fresh beans, they will need to be cooked and cooled first. Fresh beans straight from their pods take about 40 minutes to an hour of simmering to become tender. This will entirely depend on your bean, the time of the season, the amount of beans, your star sign… It’s best to prepare your beans ahead of time. Otherwise this simple dish will take a rather lot longer than a simple whizzing. 

If you are using dried beans, they will need an overnight soaking before cooking. Allow more time!

The other option is to use tinned beans. I know this somewhat defeats the idea of this being a seasonal recipe, however tinned beans are always available and give the opportunity to simply and quickly try out this recipe before committing the time to make the more involved version.

Once your beans are prepared and cooled (or your tin has been opened and your beans drained) pile into a shallow dish with chopped cilantro and chili flakes (start with a quarter of a teaspoon then add more to taste when it’s been smashed together).

Finely chop the garlic and fry in a little oil on a low heat, just to take the very sharp edge out of it. When the garlic has soften a is slightly golden, add the sesame seeds and turn off the heat. Turn the seeds in the residual heat of the pan for a few moments then pour into a pestle and mortar. The heat of the pan will have softened the seeds enough to make then easier to smash them into a paste in the pestle with the garlic.

Add the sesame garlic paste to the beans, a couple of glugs of olive oil and the lemon juice. Use a potato masher to smash the beans into a lumpy paste, keep some whole beans and half beans amongst the smash to add some lovely chunky texture. Add a little more oil if you prefer a looser dip, though this is meant to be a really meaty, chunky recipe so don’t blitz it into oblivion!

Season with salt, pepper and chili to taste, then serve up with some lovely crispy flat bread crackers or mini crostini.

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