Can you believe that autumn is here already? There is a chill in the air and stoves and fires are being lit most nights in the homes of Mayo.
On the bright side, this time of the year yields lovely fresh fruit and vegetables, so I have decided to share some local seasonal recipes that are simple to make and that should warm your bones this autumn.
Butternut squash soup with chilli and ginger
Come in from the cold to a warming bowl ful of autumn. I was served this soup at a wedding last week in Mayo and it went down a treat.
1 butternut squash, about 1kg, peeled and deseeded
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
850ml hot vegetable stock
Heat oven to 180C fan. Cut the squash into large cubes, about 4cm, then toss in a large roasting tin with half the olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking, until golden and soft.
While the squash cooks, melt the butter with the remaining oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and ¾ of the chilli. Cover and cook on a very low heat for 15 to 20 mins until the onions are completely soft.
Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and the cream, then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. For a really silky soup, put the soup into a liquidiser and blitz it in batches. Return to the pan, gently reheat, then season to taste. Serve the soup in bowls with swirls of cream and a scattering of the remaining chopped chilli. Easy and delicious.
Cheesy Autumn Mushrooms
Big flat field mushrooms are cheap and easy to find in your local supermarket, so here is a lovely starter for four people that is just so simple to make. Go on, give it a go!
4 large field mushrooms
100g gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
25g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 thyme sprigs
Knob butter, cut into small pieces
Rocket leaves, to serve
Heat oven to 190C. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking tray. Scatter over the cheese, walnuts, thyme sprigs and butter. Pop into the oven and cook for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the mushrooms are softened. Arrange some rocket leaves on plates and place the mushrooms on top.
A lot of berries are growing for free on the roadsides of the county right now, so get out there with your kids and have fun collecting and why not make a crumble out of them? It’s a really simple dessert to make and is fantastic topped with warm custard. This recipe serves six good sized portions.
6 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
250g fresh wild berries (blackberries are great )
50g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
50g cool butter, diced
50g plain flour
40g Demerara sugar
100g porridge oats
2 tsp. ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the apples and the berries and sugar into a saucepan, with a lid. Add two tablespoons of water and the ground cinnamon.
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until it has softened into a pulp. Keep an eye on the fruit and add a little more water or a few drops of lemon juice if it starts to dry out.
Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Then add the sugar, porridge oats and the ground ginger. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the fruit – don't press it down. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the crumble is nice and golden and the fruit juices have started to bubble up around the edges.
Serve warm and top with custard. Putting porridge in the crumble gives it a nice bite and is something unique to crumbles made in Mayo.