Thursday 1st September – A perfect autumn day

This is a really exciting time of year food-wise – full of anticipation, waiting for the abundance of autumn to fully reveal itself. Walking around suburbia reveals apple, pear and plum trees in the most unexpected places, but they’re still a couple of weeks away from ripe perfection, despite this year’s warm spring.

Gardens offer a glut of excess goodies, perfect for jam and chutney making. The grouse season kicked off a couple of weeks ago but it’s still a little too early for other game. Hare is in season but we decided against putting it on this menu after making rabbit pie last month.

So, early September; the summer holidays are over, the kids are nearly back at school, the weather can’t make up its mind. Salad or stew? We’re all in a realm straddling two defined seasons, which is why we thought we’d create a little topsy-turvy menu.

What we were trying to do was capture the distinct mood that comes at this time of year. Not necessarily a lament for the dying summer, more an attempt at embracing the imminent shift into cosiness.

What captures the idea of autumnal cosiness, warmth, love and family more than a traditional roast dinner? Only how could we translate that into a starter course? We toyed with the idea of a tiny chicken or poussin with miniature vegetables but it was too filling for a first course and not ‘different’ enough for people to spend their hard earned money on when they can make it themselves at home. The answer lay in a terrine.

We roasted a free range chicken, and then used the delicious roasting juices to make a stock to which we added gelatine to set the terrine. Succulent pieces of shredded chicken were placed between layers of delicious home-made chestnut stuffing and the whole thing was wrapped in Parma ham. Continuing the roast dinner theme, we served our terrine with quenelles of pea puree, a drizzle of carrot oil and tiny cubes of hot roast potatoes.

The main course was again inspired by comfort food and traditional food matches. Free-range ham shank from WH Frosts, slow cooked for 4 hours in cider and aromatic cloves before being shredded, packed into a puff pastry case and baked with a fresh duck egg on top. We served this with fondant potato, black pudding and wild mushrooms.

Dessert was meant to be more of a mystery so we called it ‘autumn leaves* – contains nuts…and treasure.’ It was basically a slice of hazelnut chocolate torte (inspired by Nigella), with the whole hazelnuts on top having been immersed in caramel before being brushed with edible gold powder.

The whole thing was ‘hidden’ under a pile of handmade orange-scented, gold dusted chocolate rose leaves – don’t say we don’t spoil you.

(We’ve been asked for the recipe for the dessert, so we’ll make that the subject of our next blog and will also reveal the secret to making the chocolate leaves.)

Our next event is ‘Game Night’ on Thursday 29th Sept and we’re also planning a spooky Halloween supper at the end of October. Keep an eye on our blog and Twitter accounts for menu and booking details.