Autumn brings a wealth of colourful, hearty and flavour-packed vegetables to add interest to menus, including butternut squash, cabbage, kohlrabi, parsnips and Brussels sprouts.
Kohlrabi, which is part of the cabbage family, has a similar flavour to radish mixed with turnip. Use it to make a peppery winter slaw, mix with apple to create a crisp side salad, or use it as part of a root vegetable gratin to serve with autumn mains.
Utilise hearty vegetables such as celeriac to make great soups for starters, such as this tasty recipe for celeriac soup with toasted chestnuts and chives.
With lots of varieties of English apples now in peak season, such as Braeburn, Spartan, Cox’s Golden Pippin and Egremont, it’s an ideal time to use them across the menu, from soups such as apple and parsnip, to mains such as cider braised pork with apples and mustard mash, to delicious desserts such as apple sorbet or charlottes, or spiced apple chutney to accompany a cheese plates.
On trend ingredient: pumpkin
With Halloween now a key trading opportunity, it’s time to bring on the pumpkins. As well as featuring decorative pumpkins around your pub and running a children’s competition for the best pumpkin carving, embrace them on menus too.
Roast off pumpkin seeds and use them in winter salads, or to top vegan nut roasts or veggie loafs for your Sunday menu. Cooking pumpkin in pumpkin juice is also a great way of preparing it, and really enhances the flavour.
There are lots of interesting varieties of pumpkin available, including the silver-blue skinned crown prince pumpkin which has lovely yellowy flesh and a sweet taste and is great roasted off and used shaved in wintery salads dressed with virgin olive oil, olives, anchovies and fresh goat’s cheese.
Munchkin pumpkins, which have edible skin and a similar taste to sweet potato are also ideal for adding colour and a point of difference to autumn menus. Roast them whole and single serve with mains.
Another idea is to carve the tops off the mini pumpkins, roast and use as mini soup bowls, or stuff them with a mix of ancient grains such as pearl barley and seasonal vegetables for a hearty vegan dish.
Why not try this recipe of munchkin pumpkin, cracked wheat, baby turnips, pumpkin gnocchi, sage and black garlic crust
Pumpkin also makes a top cocktail ingredient too. Blitz up the flesh to make pumpkin juice (it has a similar taste to melon and striking orange colour), which works a treat in whisky and spiced rum cocktails, such as ‘Old Fashioned’ style drinks.
Event idea: Seafood Week 2019 (www.fishisthedish.co.uk)
Running from 4 October to 11 October, this year’s Seafood Week is the ideal time to celebrate the fantastic range of fish and shellfish available in the UK.
This year’s campaign, organised by UK seafood industry marketing body Seafish, features activity days for pubs to get involved with, centred on a selection of popular and lesser known species including hake and mackerel, as well as a celebration of pub classic fish and chips on the final day Friday, 11 October with a ‘Not just for fry-days’ theme.
To link in with the campaign on social media, tag @fishisthedish in your posts and use #SeafoodWeek.
Embrace seafood dishes on your specials board for all, or part of the week. Specials could range from a hearty fish pie, to ‘From the Sea’ sharing platters and haddock Scotch egg, to on-trend fish tacos. Fish burgers will also be a menu winner. Ideas include white fish burgers using species such as cod or haddock and served with lemon mayonnaise, or a prawn burger, which can be made with a binding heat proof agent such as Sosa Gelburger.
Champion the fruits of the ocean in more a la carte dishes, featuring the fish species being highlighted by Seafish for the week, such as grilled whole plaice with brown shrimp and samphire butter.
Or use the subtly flavoured hake, a round fish caught all around the UK, in a dish of pan- fried hake with crab and prawn croquette and saffron and mussel sauce.
Customers will also be hooked on this dish of local caught grilled mackerel with candied beetroot and new season Cox’s apple salad with an apple cider dressing.
You could get involved by running a social media competition to win a seafood dinner at your pub to help highlight new dishes on your menu, announcing a new monthly fish supper club event or a weekly event such as ‘Fish and Fizz Fridays’ ‘Mussel Madness’ ‘Taco Tuesdays’ featuring fish tacos or ‘Fish Specials Night’.
Use Seafood Week as an opportunity to look at the sustainability of the fish used on your menus, and if you aren’t already doing so, look to introduce lesser known, more sustainable species.
With sustainability guidance changing regularly according to the time of year and quantity of specific species being landed, pub caterers need to be committed in order to stay up to speed. For key sustainability information and resources seeand for guidance on which fish species are sustainable and best to use on your menus see the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide
Don’t bin, win more GP
Pubs often think they have to throw away left-over fish, but there is a wide range of things you can do with it to reduce waste and maximise your GP. Ideas include deep-frying leftover fish skin, such as salmon and trout, to create fishy crisps as a bar snack, or using leftovers to make fish cakes or kedgeree for a fantastic brunch dish. Use leftover cooked fish to make pâtés, such as this delicious recipe for hot smoked ChalkStream trout pate. Harvested by hand in Hampshire, ChalkStream trout offers a great alternative to salmon and is a responsibly reared menu option.
Direct Seafoods is part of the Bidfresh group. For more information visit