20 best easy autumn recipes: part 4

The Guardian Lifestyle 2 months ago

Shuko Oda’s seared duck and leek donburi

A Japanese style “roast duck” that’s quickly seared and then cooked in brine for 10 minutes. This allows the duck breast to be pink inside, juicy and tender. The duck is then served with grilled leek and on rice as a donburi dish.

Serves 2
duck breast 2
soy sauce 150ml
mirin 150ml
sake 150ml
Japanese short-grain rice 250g
leek 1, trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces.
olive oil 1 tbsp
salt a pinch
watercress to serve

Clean the duck breast by cutting off any excess fat on the skin which hangs off the meat, and lightly score the skin vertically.

Heat up a frying pan and fry the breast, skin-side down first. Fry until skin is golden, throw away any excess fat, and lightly fry the other side.

At the same time, in a separate pan, add the soy sauce, mirin and sake and bring to boil.

Place the duck breast into the mixture, place a lid on top and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 10-12 minutes.

Take the breast out of the brine, and leave to cool down. Cool the brine separately.

When both breast and brine have cooled down to room temperature, place the breast back in the brine until ready to serve.

Prepare and cook the rice according to packet instructions.

Dress the leek in olive oil and salt, remove from the oil, and grill at a low heat until fully cooked. Cut in half lengthways.

Spoon some rice into bowls, place the watercress, grilled leek and the sliced duck breast on top.

Heat up the brine and cook until reduced by half and pour over the rice bowls.
Shuko Oda is co-founder and executive chef of Koya London

Gill Meller’s ceps with artichoke and chives

Gill Meller’s ceps with artichokes and chives. Photograph: Andrew Montgomery

This has to be one of my favourite plates of food ever. I love its pastoral elegance – it feels and tastes like you’ve stolen the soul from an autumn woodland. That feeling (accentuated perhaps by how many ciders you’ve drunk), is a testament to good ingredients and simple cooking. If you can’t find ceps or porcini mushrooms locally during the autumn months, then, of course, you can buy them online from a variety of wild- and foraged-food specialists. There are alternatives: firm, cultivated chestnut mushrooms would work really well, too.

Serves 2
Jerusalem artichokes 350g (about 6-8), peeled, skins reserved
garlic 2 cloves, bashed but skin on
thyme 4 sprigs
extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp
butter 1 knob
sunflower oil for deep frying
cep mushrooms 2 large, cut into 1cm slices
chives 1 small bunch, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Cut the peeled artichokes into 3cm cubes. Place the cubes into a roasting tray, with the garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season all over with salt and pepper, then place in the oven. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 1 hour, or until the artichoke cubes are tender and caramelised. Squeeze the softened garlic flesh from its skin and place it in a blender with the roasted artichoke, the butter and just enough water to loosen, then blitz to a smooth, spoonable puree. Check the seasoning and keep warm.

Wash the reserved artichoke skins, drain and pat dry (they need to be completely dry for frying). Heat 2-3cm of sunflower oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. When it’s hot enough for frying (170C on a cooking thermometer; or when a cube of bread sizzles and crisps quickly), fry the skins in batches for about 1-1½ minutes each, until crisp and golden. Don’t let them get too dark or they will taste bitter. Drain each batch on kitchen paper, then season with salt and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until hot. Season the mushroom slices with salt and pepper and place them in the pan. Fry the slices for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they have taken on some colour. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through half the chopped chives. Divide the artichoke puree between two plates. Arrange the fried mushrooms around this, then scatter over the crispy artichoke skin.
From Gather: Everyday seasonal recipes from a year in our landscapes by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £25)

Meera Sodha’s hake, celeriac and spinach curry

Meera Sodha’s hake, celeriac and spinach curry. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Fish curries are among my favourite things to eat but too often their base is either tomato or coconut milk. This one is different, here the base is a beautiful spiced broth in which the celeriac is poached until you can mash it against the side of the pan using a wooden spoon and it thickens in the broth. It isn’t traditional, but it has warmth, body and spice, which are all good company in autumn.

Serves 4
rapeseed oil 4 tbsp
black mustard seeds 1 tsp
fresh curry leaves 12
onions 2, chopped
ginger 3cm piece, grated
garlic 3 cloves, minced
green finger chillies 2½, finely chopped
ground cumin 1½ tsp
salt 1 tsp
celeriac 1 small (around 400g), peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
tomato puree 1 tbsp
fish stock 750ml
hake fillets 600g, cut into pieces (3cm)
baby leaf spinach 100g
lemon juice 1 tbsp
to serve lemon wedges and basmati rice

In a large sauté pan or casserole, for which you have a lid, heat the oil and, when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, chilli, cumin and salt and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the celeriac, tomato puree and stock, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the celeriac pieces are tender, use a stick blender or potato masher to crush about 8 pieces of celeriac, to add texture to the sauce. Finally, add the pieces of hake and baby spinach, cover with a lid and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the fish is just cooked through. Take off the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice, and serve with rice.

Nigel Slater’s figs with pistachio biscuits

Nigel Slater’s figs with pistachio biscuits. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

Baked or poached fruits cry out for a crisp accompaniment – a ginger snap, perhaps, or a triangle of sugar-dusted shortbread. A box of Belgian wafer biscuits will do for the time-pushed.

Nuts add crispness and you can have fun marrying flavours. Walnut biscuits with poached pears, for instance, or almond cookies for a bowl of baked greengages. Figs bake lusciously when surrounded by a glistening pool of marsala and fruit jelly. I think of them as a perfect partner for pistachios and the deep wine red of the figs alongside the pale green of the nuts is charming.

Enough figs for 4; makes 30 biscuits
figs 8
redcurrant jelly 4 heaped tbsp
red wine or marsala 250ml
orange 1

For the biscuits
butter 250g
soft brown sugar 50g
skinned almonds 65g
pistachios 115g (shelled weight)
maple syrup 50ml
plain flour 250g

First make the biscuits. Set the oven at 160C/gas mark 3. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food mixer fitted with a flat beater. Add the soft brown sugar and beat until soft. While the butter and sugar cream, lightly toast the skinned almonds in the oven on a baking sheet then, when they are golden, remove from the oven.

Reduce the toasted almonds and 65g pistachios to fine crumbs in a food processor. When the butter and sugar are soft, beat in the maple syrup, alternating with some of the flour and the ground nuts. Transfer the dough to a board, roll into a fat cylinder and wrap in greaseproof paper or clingfilm then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half, then, on a floured board, roll out one half to a rectangle about 5mm thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make roughly 15 biscuits. Place them, with a little room to spread, on parchment-lined baking trays. Now repeat with the second half of the dough.

Roughly chop the remaining 55g pistachios and scatter them over the biscuits, then bake in batches for 12-15 minutes. They should be a pale golden-brown and a little soft. Remove from the oven, let them settle on their tray for 10 minutes then lift carefully with a palette knife on to a cooling rack.

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Cut the figs in half lengthways then place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Melt the jelly with the red wine in a pan. Add the grated orange zest, pour over the figs and bake for about 30 minutes until tender. Serve with the pistachio biscuits.
Nigel Slater is the Observer’s cookery writer

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s stuffed aubergine boats

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich’s stuffed aubergine boats . Photograph: Patricia Niven

You can use ready-made baharat or Lebanese seven-spice mix, which can be found in supermarkets, but they will give a slightly different flavour to the end result, so make your own if you want to recreate the Honey & Co flavour at home. Our spice mixes are the essence of our cooking.

Serves 4 as a main or 8 as part of a larger spread of dishes
small aubergines 4
olive oil 4 tbsp
garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
salt and pepper a generous sprinkling of each

For the filling
onion 1 large (about 140g), peeled and finely diced
olive oil 3 tbsp
minced lamb 400g
salt 1 tsp
baharat spice mix 1 tbsp (see below)
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
ground turmeric ½ tsp
tomato puree 2 tsp

For the topping
cherry tomatoes 10-12, halved
feta 80g, crumbled
parsley leaves from a few sprigs, chopped

For the baharat spice mix
dried chilli 1
coriander seeds 3 tsp
cumin seeds 4 tsp
ground allspice 2 tsp
ground white pepper 1 tsp
ground turmeric ½ tsp
ground mixed spice 2 tsp

If making the baharat spice mix, heat your oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Crack the dried chilli open and shake out the seeds. Place the deseeded chilli on a baking tray with the coriander and cumin seeds, and roast for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the tray. Crumble the chilli between your fingers, then grind to a powder with the other roasted spices. Mix with the dried ground spices and store in a dry, airtight container. It will keep for up to 6 months, but ideally use within 2 months for the full effect.

For the aubergines, heat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Halve the aubergines lengthways. Use a small knife to score the flesh of the aubergines in a criss-cross pattern, taking care not to cut through the skin. Mix the olive oil with the garlic, salt and pepper, and brush very generously all over the flesh of the aubergines. Place on a tray in the oven and roast, cut-side up, for 15-20 minutes or until the flesh is beautifully golden and feels soft when pressed. Remove from the oven.

In the meantime, place the diced onion and oil in a frying pan over a high heat and cook until golden. Add the minced lamb and salt, keep the heat high and use a spoon to break the meat into little pieces so that it starts to brown. Mix in the spices and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and 4 tbsp of water, and continue to stir while it cooks for a further 3 minutes.

Spoon the mince onto the roasted aubergine boats, using up all the mixture, and spread to cover the cut surfaces. Top with the tomato halves and feta, and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the chopped parsley just before serving.
From Honey & Co. At Home: Middle-Eastern Recipes from our Kitchen by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion Books, £19.99)

To order the cookbooks featured in this supplement at a discounted price, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 3336846

The Guardian and Observer aim to publish recipes for sustainable fish. For ratings in your region, check: UK; Australia; US

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