FOOD FOR FRIENDS
Recipes and inspiration for autumn alfresco dining.
Whether enjoying the last of summer’s warmth or the early days of autumn proper, we celebrate the opportunity to eat alfresco. A menu that can be cooked on the fire or in the oven, depending on how the mood – or weather – takes you, is a lovely, adaptable way to entertain
Entertaining outdoors at this time of year comes with risks… So, to ensure the perfect gathering against a cold or drizzly day, our menu can be cooked entirely indoors. Having said that, it really is worth grilling some elements on a firepit or barbecue; such as the sourdough for the soup, or the pumpkin. The resulting smokiness will make the meal even more delicious.
To start, a fennel and bean soup will warm everyone up, leaving plenty of appetite and anticipation for the hearty main and sides. An Italian-inspired rolled belly of pork roasted with apples and onions, gorgeous girolle mushrooms pan-fried with potatoes, grilled pumpkin slices with a vibrant dressing and that most colourful of greens – rainbow chard. Woody sage, thyme, rosemary and bay add their aromas to the earthy flavours.
For dessert, delicate honey- and bay-poached pears, sweet, nutty frangipane and flaky, buttery pastry make a triumphant fruit tart. Plus, we’ve used the fragrant pear-poaching syrup in a warming tipple to help you linger outside for a little longer, as the light fades and the temperature begins to drop.
This elegant pale oak table is complemented by a modern take on country chairs. Dress with the simplest linens and terracotta, hand-thrown, snowyglazed plates and dishes, and recycled or hand-blown glass – and don’t forget a mix of outdoor lanterns and twinkly candlelight. And should the weather take a turn for the worse, this whole setting works equally happily indoors.
With a relaxed, simple table setting even small elements of extra decorative detail will go a long way – these beautiful hand-blocked napkins add a lively layer of pattern set against the plain fabrics, and the hand-woven rush napkin rings each have an interwoven sprig of dried buds, making them unique.
Flame firebowl, £249, Skagerak atSkandium. Cooking tripod, £31.95, Wild Stoves. Galvanised metal bucket, £3.99, Kingfisher atSelections. Salcombe rechargeable garden lantern, £98, Red Lilly at Notonthehighstreet.com. Bimala brass lanterns, large, £36.95; medium, £24.95, Nkuku.Votives, stylist’s own.
RIGHT Hand Thrown dinner plate (at back),£30, Nom Living. Leach Pottery medium general purpose bowl (on right), £27, David Mellor. Terracotta platter (at front), £76, Reiko Kaneko at SCP. Otto cereal bowl (at front), £8; Stella cereal bowl (at back), £8, both Habitat. BELOW Round platter, small, £12; Hand Thrown dinner plate, £30; condiment bowl, £6, all Nom Living. Charcoal napkin, £45 for six, The BlockHut. Felicity Irons rush napkin ring, £13, David Mellor. Brighton cutlery in Pewter finish, £110 for 24 pieces, Habitat. Lali mini terracotta pot, £6; Hansa terracotta pinch pots, £3 each,all Rowen & Wren. herby Fennel and cannellini bean soup with ricotta