Ahead of her month-long residency, Celia Brooks tells us how to make the best of all things veg when entertaining in autumn
While most of us think of summer as being the most abundant time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables, it could be argued that October is actually the most productive month. This is the time of year when the fullness of ripening over the summer’s sunny months finally delivers the best of the goods.
Dozens of varieties of apples, pears, plums, figs, quinces, hazelnuts and walnuts gush from the trees. Swollen, ray-ripened pumpkins are hauled to the stalls. Sweet, slow-maturing roots and bulbs are finally at their peak for harvesting: celeriac, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, swede, turnips, main crop potatoes, leeks, and giant onions. Plants that relish that first autumn chill really start to thrive, such as cultivated and wild mushrooms, kale, cauliflower and cabbages.
There’s no better way to capitalise on October’s offerings than to cook and share it with loved ones. Borough Market’s proud produce sellers source the very best of all these colourful autumn fruit and vegetable treasures for your cooking and eating pleasure. As Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage’s month-long partnership with the Market in September demonstrated, seasonal and local food tastes better, and deserves a place in the spotlight throughout the year.
If you’re hungry for more seasonal ideas, then stick around for my own month’s worth of seasonal entertaining demonstrations on Thursdays in October in the Market Hall.
Without complication or fuss
With seasonal produce as the star, I’ll be using Borough Market’s goldmine of delicious supplementary ingredients—from artisanal breads and cheeses, to exotic spices and fresh tofu—to prove just how glorious plant-based meals can get, without getting complicated or fussy. I’ll be showing how to both enhance your home cooking repertoire and bring joy to your guests, whatever their dietary preferences.
Each week the recipes I’ll be cooking and offering up for tasting will be vegetarian and many will be vegan also, so if that’s important to you and yours, then great—but otherwise, forget those stereotype labels. This is just great food that everyone will love, and enhancing your health happens to be a bonus! I’ll also be joined in the Demo Kitchen by some of the Market traders, to share their passion and wisdom about their special ingredients used in my recipes.
I will move through the month week by week, from morning to night. Week one is themed ‘breakfast of champions’, including two surprising Indian twists on French toast, a secret tofu transformation, and an incredible polenta porridge with mushrooms.
Week two sees me cook up some easy seasonal lunches, including a parsnip and pear soup, a triple mushroom tart, and a cool and uber-healthy new way with cauliflower. For week three, don your cocktail duds for dazzlingly simple veggie canapés using figs, avocados, and special apple varieties, plus a clever parmesan ‘gelato’, and a Malaysian-style fruit and chilli sensation.
Finally, I’ll be showcasing a three-course vegan dinner menu, to celebrate World Vegan Day on 1st November. I’ll show you how to choose and use the best pumpkins, and introduce some unusual techniques with aubergines, bananas and quince for an indulgent, crowd-pleasing, 100 per cent plant-based dinner party.
Join Celia for tips, tastings and recipes every Thursday in October in the Market Hall, 12:30-2pm