Seasonal produce ideas
It’s a wonderful time of year to be cooking, with the harvest in and an abundance of flavour-packed produce to use, as well as plenty of fantastic game.
Although kale is available all year round, it lends itself particularly well to autumn/winter menus. A wide variety of different kales are available, including purple, white, Cavolo Nero, mustard and red kale. To maintain the vibrant colour of red kale, bake, fry, or use it raw. It also makes a delicious and striking bar snack as red and green kale crisps.
I also love mixing pieces of crispy kale with steamed kale to add texture, as a great side dish with wintery mains. It is also delicious served with garlic and lemon to accompany a steak, and this recipe for bacon and chestnut kale is also a taste buds winner.
This ‘god of greens’ offers the perfect base for winter salads, which are ideal for lunch menus, such as chipotle, kale and quinoa salad, or kale, cranberry, carrot and orange salad, which you can top with grilled halloumi, cauliflower or strips of protein such as beef and chicken.
Celeriac is a hearty and versatile vegetable for autumnal menus; simply roast or puree it to serve with meaty main courses, or slice and use as a vegan steak with a sauce such as salsa verde.
It also works well grated raw into remoulades, and in great seasonal soups such as with chestnuts and truffle. It is also ideal for creating a Christmas showstopper dish of baked celeriac, fennel and parsley cream and fennel salad. The dish can be served whole to the table and simply cracked open with the back of a spoon and the delicious centre scooped out.
For something different use parsley and chervil roots which can be roasted or pureed. They have an intense flavour and are great with game dishes. Rainbow and Swiss chard are ideal for adding colour to wintery dishes.
You can’t beat a classic leek and potato soup as a warming starter, or offered as a lunchtime special of a soup and a sandwich, for a set price. You can also use creamed leeks in a potato galette to serve with guinea fowl or pheasant.
Now is also a glorious time of year for game, including pheasant, partridge and grouse. The game season is my favourite time of year and I love the hearty feel of a good game stew, or simply roasted game birds with buttery veg.
This dish of roast partridge, Savoy cabbage, bacon, chestnuts, celeriac fondant and puree with red wine sauce is a classic combination.
British Food Fortnight – 21 September to 6 October
British Food Fortnight is now the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink. It provides the ideal opportunity to highlight all the amazing British produce you feature on your menus, introduce new produce and run special events to help attract customers in.
- Consider hosting ‘Best of British’ supper clubs during the fortnight featuring tastings and talks from your producers.
- You might also host a regional cheese and beer night. or a dinner featuring traditional English dishes such as mutton and caper pudding, mutton ham with quince, or oxtail and kidney pudding.
- Champion dishes originating in your area on your specials board, such as Derbyshire oatcakes with cheese and mustard butter or Sussex Pond Pudding, which would make a delicious addition to your dessert menu.
- Run a ‘Best of British Bake-Off’ competition, inviting customers to submit entries for British classics with a twist. Host a judging session at your pub, with the bakes sold off to raise money for a local charity.
The event is also a great opportunity to champion the treasure trove of quality produce grown in the UK to school children, with the British Food Fortnight organisers encouraging chefs to go into their local schools to do talks and tastings.
Why not invite a group for a fun session on British food at your pub? Getting involved is great PR for your business.
On trend ingredient: Jackfruit
A star performer in vegan dishes, Oliver Kay has seen a sharp increase in jackfruit sales in the past two years as it has become a mainstream ingredient. At this year’s Glastonbury festival it was everywhere, with around 75% of the food stalls serving jackfruit in their dishes. It grows in tropical areas and while, technically a fruit, it has a consistency similar to pork or chicken.
Jackfruit is simple to use, shreds well, and its sweet undertone lends itself well to spicy flavours like Korean spicy BBQ and South American inspired dishes. It also works well cooked in BBQ and tomato sauces - in ragu style dishes, with jackfruit replacing meat. Use it to make croquettes with vegan cheese and dips as a great starter or bar snack. Other ideas include jackfruit quesadillas, chilli with nachos and for lunchtime options a Sloppy Joe sub sandwich.
As well as using as a great fertiliser on your pub’s garden plants, use coffee grinds to make a flavour-packed coffee brine to create dishes such as coffee and bourbon brined turkey, or slow cooked shoulder of pork with garlic and lemon kale.
If you have any leftover cheese from cheese boards use it in cheese pies or sauces for nachos or for dipping. You could also make a mini fondue to serve as part of a dish or starter.
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