October. Back to school with your new books which still have that evocative newly print scent and carefully sharped pencils. Time for the smell of a woodpile awaiting for colder nights, for bright sunny days that make you step outside into the Nature. Time of cookies for breakfast and for an afternoon snack, time for a roast which will pervade your house with a Sunday aroma, even on a boring Wednesday, time for a muffled laughter under the first blanket in front of the tv.
October, time to start another new section of Juls’ Kitchen. Seasonality has always been my inspiration in cooking. Since I moved on my own I had the chance to buy fruit and vegetables at the market, too. This gave me an even deeper sense of the passing of seasons, making me appreciate even more the anticipation of what’s to come. I’m reluctantly waving goodbye to the aubergines, my favourite summer, cherishing in my heart the moment when we will meet again, when the first grilled vegetables will bring me the slightly smoked smell of thinly sliced aubergines, drizzled with a dash of good olive oil and a splash of vinegar.
In the meantime I am also welcoming with open arms pumpkin and butternut squash, as you would welcome an old friend you have not seen for a long time. We will spend together a few exciting months, which will be full of surprises, rediscovered habits and steaming soups with a faint smell of nutmeg.
Let’s head to the market and see what awaits us in October on the stalls of our local producers.
- mushrooms. Grandma used to leave early in a foggy morning to go mushrooms hunting. We knew we would have risotto with porcini for lunch. If you prefer dried mushrooms, there’s also a lavish sauce for your fresh tagliatelle.
- pumpkin, butternut squash, delicata squash. Will I be ever able to put into words my love for this Autumn vegetable? I began with risotto, crespelle, butternut mac and cheese till my favourite winter bundt cake. In these days I’m chopping, roasting, frying, pureeing squash as never before. Many new recipes will come soon.
- radicchio. It’s a splash of colour in a boring salad, has a pleasant bitter note which gives an interesting depth of flavour to any dish, a precious resource in a last minute risotto.
- rhubarb. I’ve spent passionate words to tell you about my love for rhubarb, to grieve the hard time to find it here in Tuscany. I ended up planting rhubarb in my garden and wishing for summer rain to water it, to let him grow luxuriantly. I miss the English days, when we would eat stewed rhubarb with clotted cream. Now I use it in cakes and tarts when I can.
- baby potatoes. Roast them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and sea salt, or steam baby potatoes and make a salad with some light home-made mayonnaise and dill.
- savoy cabbage
- beetroot. I learnt to appreciate them lately, now they have conquered their place in roasted vegetables an in a light hummus.
- chard. I would usually opt for spinach, but when grandma comes back from the vegetable garden with a basket of wild chard there’s no better way to eat it than blanched in boiling water and quickly pan fried with a clove of garlic and a few flakes od chili pepper. If you want a more structured dish, make a soup or our malfatti.
- carrots. Crunchy and fresh as an appetizer in a pinzimonio, I love to use them in a hummus, in a cake or in a minestrone.
- onions. Just two words, onion soup. With bread croutons and melting cheese.
- beans. A typical side dish in many trattorias in Florence, they’re the key ingredients for bread soup and and farro soup.
- lemons. They’re coming, they’re going to pervade our house with a fresh citrus smell, which will linger for the whole winter. From a traditional marmalade to a boiled or grilled fish, how can you survive without lemons?
- chestnuts. If I think about iconic Autumn elements chestnuts and mushrooms are the first products which cross my mind, followed by undergrowth smell and warm colours, ranging from brown to fiercy orange. Today chestnut flour is my ace in the hole when I want to bake a gluten-free cake or cookies. Use it to make castagnaccio, necci or biscotti.
- walnuts. In the last recipes I’ve sung the praises of their slightly bitter and rich taste and their versatility in the kitchen. Walnuts work magic in a wide range or recipes, from biscotti to buckwheat tortelli. I’m still using them in cookies and salads.
- pomegranates. Small ruby red gems, a special twist to salads or yoghurt.
- persimmons. When I was a child grandma would give me a small pottery dish, a teaspoon and a persimmon, that was my afternoon treat. I was quickly lost in a sugary and sticky ecstasy, which ended up licking the skin of persimmon as not to leave anything on the plate. Today I was persimmons to make cakes, too.
- apples (fuji, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Stayman). Wait until next post for yet another apple cake.
- grapes. Another afternoon treat, grape schiacciata, with the unusual and balsamic hint of rosemary.
October. Time of? What are you most looking forward in October? Which are the seasonal recipes you cannot wait to make again?
This is a poster you can find with my book, Cucina da Chef con ingredienti low cost. It inspired me today’s post and it will be a guide for next ones.