How a-peel­ing!

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

UTUMN will be with us in an in­stant, and it’s my favourite time of year for cook­ing. In fact, I’d say it’s prob­a­bly my favourite time of year full stop.

I love it when the weather turns a lit­tle cooler, and the val­ley is filled with those beau­ti­ful au­tum­nal colours: cop­per, caramel, or­ange, red and yel­low.

There’s noth­ing like a crisp au­tumn day, a few clouds in a su­per-clear blue sky, with the Pen­nines resplendent in the low sun, shin­ing like gold. For the cook, too, au­tumn is a great time of year.

We can now start to use up the things we made with those sum­mer­time gluts of pro­duce.

The pick­les and pre­serves, the bags of frozen fruit, the jams and jel­lies.

Picked cor­rectly, we should have pump­kins and squash to last for a few months - re­mem­ber to al­ways leave the stalk in­tact and a pump­kin or but­ter­nut squash will sit hap­pily on the shelf in a cool place un­til you both de­cide it’s time for the chop­ping board.

I love au­tumn cook­ing; not quite as stodgy as full win­ter dishes, but def­i­nitely on the heav­ier side, as out sum­mer ap­petites fade and be­gin de­mand­ing some­thing a lit­tle more sub­stan­tial at din­ner time. Now the bar­be­cue’s been cleaned and put away for an­other year, we can start roast­ing again.

Pot roasts, es­pe­cially, are great at this time of year – we like to do a lovely slow-cooked leg of lamb with fla­geo­let beans and the last of the green­house toma­toes, for in­stance.

Or per­haps a kleft­iko, or baked joints of chicken with yoghurt and olives with crunchy rose­mary pota­toes, as an ed­i­ble mem­ory of the sum­mer.

Spices, too, start to make more of an ap­pear­ance about now, so I’m us­ing cloves, cin­na­mon, nut­meg and all­spice a lot more in bis­cuits, cakes and even many savoury dishes.

Which brings us to this dish, a won­der­ful way of deal­ing with a sur­feit of ap­ples, some­thing most peo­ple with more than a cou­ple of trees will know all about.

As with squash, an ap­ple, picked care­fully with its stalk in­tact will last a good long time in the larder be­fore you need to use it, but as the weather cools, the idea of a hot dessert starts to ap­peal, and this Nor­mandy spe­cial­ity is a lovely way to present the fruits of one’s orchard.

A douil­lon or, tech­ni­cally if one is us­ing an ap­ple, bour­de­lot, is a pipped fruit, of­ten stuffed with dried fruit, or sim­ply sugar and but­ter, and baked in a shell of puff pas­try. It has the feel of an ap­ple pie or turnover, com­bin­ing those bril­liant flavours and tex­tures of hot ap­ple and flaky, but­tery pas­try to stun­ning ef­fect.

Most recipes I looked at called for a raw ap­ple to be used, but I thought that might still be a bit too tough af­ter bak­ing.

In­stead, I thought I’d poach the ap­ples in a dark caramel syrup be­fore sealing them into their pas­try coats, and it worked won­der­fully – the crisp sugar-crusted pas­try crack­les open to re­veal a soft, fra­grant ap­ple which in turn re­leases a lit­tle pud­dle of but­tery sauce en­livened with a lit­tle prickle of salt.

We add some fresh ap­ple, a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream and a sauce made from a re­duc­tion of cider, and there’s a ter­rific dessert that lifts the hum­ble ap­ple into or­bit.

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