Tag Archives: autumn cheeses

Pumpkin and Chestnut Macaroni Cheese


Never fear, Halloween haters, it’s safe to come out for another year. Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the surge in spooky celebrations has been a boon for pumpkin farmers. Every year, we enter the fiercely competitive Tooting Common Pumpkin Carving Competition and even managed to score a second prize last year with the scary fellow above. This year – allotment smugness alert – we managed to grow our own. I would love to take credit for their vastness by claiming that I’d administered secret potions or performed arcane fertility rites but, in reality, I forgot what I’d planted and only discovered them when we returned from a fortnight’s holiday.

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Smoked Goat’s Cheese and Squash Tarte Tatin

Smoked goat's cheese and roasted squash savoury tarte tatin

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know about my nostalgic obsession with autumn. It’s always sad to say goodbye to summer but nice to welcome hot water bottles, cocoa and the smell of real fires. Alas, there is a long-running debate in our house about adding a real fire or logburner and I appear to losing, so I have to take my smoky fixes where I can (note: I realise that this makes me sound like an arsonist so, for the record, I’m not).
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November’s Cheese, Please! Challenge Recipe Round-up – Smoked Cheese

November was certainly a smokin’ month (arf!) for the Cheese, Please! Challenge, with a record number of entries. It was great to hear about people using smoked cheese who had never cooked with it before – or even eaten it – creating a variety of dishes which paired the cheese with meat, fish, fruit and vegetables in a veritable harvest festival of smoked cheese loveliness.
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Roasted Chestnuts, Root Vegetables and Green’s of Glastonbury Smoked Cheddar Cheese Tart

Roasted root vegetables, chestnuts and smoked cheese autumn tart

In the days when I had a proper job that involved changing out of my pyjamas, leaving the house and eating something slightly more varied than fishfinger sandwiches every day, there were many things that I loved about central London. The view up the river from Waterloo Bridge never lost its ‘Wow’ factor. The man selling peacock feathers outside Farringdon station always made me smile. And the winter arrival of the hot chestnut sellers counted down the festive season like some kind of hot nut-based advent calendar.

My two favourite spots were outside the British Museum and on the South Bank, halfway between Borough Market and Waterloo (although I think the latter may have now given way to some sort of caramelized nut thingies, tut). It was the evocative smell – all smoky and roasty – that I loved, as well as the ritual of juggling half-burnt nuts from hand to hand and trying to get the skins off whilst trying to avoid the inevitable shard of shell that gets stuck under your thumbnail.
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Spenwood Cheese Soufflé with Blackberry Sauce

spenwood cheese souffle with blackberry sauce

First of all, let me apologise for what must be the worst photograph of a soufflé in existence. I still don’t have a proper camera after I smashed mine, the soufflé collapsed when I went to find my phone and the addition of the sauce makes it look like some sort of CSI crime scene. But trust me, it does taste really good!

I came up with the idea for this recipe whilst I was on holiday in France. The shops and markets were full of hard sheep’s milk cheeses and one stallholder told me that they are traditionally eaten with black cherry jam. I took a jar away with me and it was an amazing combination, the saltiness of the cheese contrasting with the sweetness of the fruit and sugar. It got me thinking about British combinations; I tried Spenwood cheese for the first time a few months ago, a sheep’s milk cheese made in Berkshire and thought that it would go well with blackberries – so then I just had to wait for the blackberries to appear! It’s slightly different to the French combination, as the blackberry sauce is tarter than the jam but still lovely (it would be interesting to try with a blackberry jam).
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The Perfect Autumn Cheeseboard?

I’ve been pondering when to write this post. Any piece of writing about autumn has to legally include the words ‘mists’ and ‘mellow fruitfulness’ but, although strictly speaking, autumn in the UK started last Sunday, I just haven’t been feeling it. It’s been too warm and not very misty, mellow or fruitful at all. Even the conkers aren’t ripe. But then, this morning, I saw this on my walk:

frosty spiderweb autumn cheeseboard

A dewy spider’s web in front of some browning acorns! Lo, it was a sign! I declare autumn officially open.
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