September suppers

"This is the month to try out your local farmers’ market" / Photo: Subbotina Anna

"This is the month to try out your local farmers’ market" / Photo: Subbotina Anna - Credit: Archant

Evelyn Curtis provides a few of her favourite seasonal recipes for September

This month it’s harvest time, reflected in the supermarkets, shops and farmers’ markets where the best of the summer vegetables sit alongside the first of the winter crops. This is the month to try out your local farmers’ market; the chances are that they will have tables and stalls literally groaning with fresh fruit and vegetables, as it’s the peak time for picking and preserving, with plenty of ripe plums, tomatoes and pumpkins.

Days are shorter, but they are often warm and ideal for the year’s last barbecues or some final summer picnics – or entertain friends to an early game supper – the choice is yours!

Here are some ideas for creating easy, informal supper dishes for gatherings of family and friends during those last golden days of summer.

Spare Ribs in Tomato Sauce

If you don’t possess a barbecue, then grill the spare ribs in the normal way, cooking just a bit longer, they will taste and look equally as good.

Serves 6-8.

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Ingredients:

• l.8kg spare ribs

• 50g dark brown sugar

• Salt and pepper

• 2 tsp paprika

Method:

Divide ribs and rub in sugar.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.

Leave for about ½ hr.

Cook directly over red-hot charcoal for about 20 minutes, turning at least once.

Transfer to a double sheet of aluminium foil, add the sauce and cook for another 30-40 minutes turning frequently.

For the sauce:

• 2 medium onions

• 2 tbsp oil

• 1 clove garlic

• 2 tbsp tomato paste

• 3 tbsp vinegar

• 2 tbsp golden syrup

• ½ tsp ground ginger

• 300ml chicken stock cube

Method:

Peel and chop onions and sauté in heated oil until clear.

Peel and crush garlic and add to onion.

Stir in tomato paste, vinegar, syrup and ginger.

Add stock and simmer for 15 minutes.

Frankfurter Rolls

A great favourite with children, and if you’re having a barbecue party you can prepare the rolls well in advance ready to barbecue later.

Ingredients:

• As many frankfurters as you will require

• Sufficient Cheddar cheese to fill the frankfurters

• Rashers of streaky bacon to wind round each frankfurter

Method:

Split the frankfurters length-ways without cutting through completely.

Cut long slivers of cheese and put inside each frankfurter.

Wind a rasher of bacon round each and pin with one or more sausage sticks.

Cook for 10-15 minutes on barbecue, turning more than once and serve immediately.

Optional sauce

Mix together tomato ketchup, H.P. sauce, a little French mustard and a few drops of Worcester sauce until you have a dark red-brown consistency which tastes just right.

Pheasant Pie

This is an easy dish to serve for a small supper or dinner party. With grouse and wild duck all available this month with flavours improving, this recipe can be adapted to use your own choice of game.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

• 1 plump pheasant.

• 225g bacon (streaky or back).

• 110g mushrooms.

• 1 dessertspoon cornflour.

• A little cold milk.

• Mixed herbs.

• Seasoning.

• A little good gravy or cider or both 225g puff pastry.

Method:

Joint pheasant legs, wings and breast.

Put the rest of carcass in a little water and simmer for gravy.

Cut bacon into pieces and place in a pie dish.

Lay pheasant pieces on top; add mushrooms, herbs and seasoning.

Cover with gravy/cider.

Cover with greased paper or foil and simmer in medium oven for 1 hour at 160/170C, 325F, Gas Mark 3.

Take out dish and cover with a short crust pastry, brush top with beaten egg, return to oven and cook for ½ hr at 190C, 375F, Gas Mark5 until golden brown.

Mix cornflour with cold milk, add cupful of hot stock and allow to thicken.

Season to taste.

When pie is cooked, lift crust and add thickened gravy.

Very good hot or cold.

Blackcurrant Bakewell Tart

This month will see the last of the blackcurrants. I’m lucky enough to have a pick-your-own fruit farm near where I live, so I make sure I pick plenty of these berries to make jams and puddings, and freeze some for the winter months. Most fruits work well in this tart so you can use any fruit of your choice.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

Pastry:

• 110g plain flour.

• 50g wholemeal flour.

• 40g butter.

• 40g lard.

• About 2 tablespoons of water.

Filling:

• 110g castor sugar.

• 110g semolina.

• 1 egg beaten.

• 1 tablespoon blackcurrant jelly.

110g blackcurrants.

Method:

For the pastry measure flours into a bowl, then rub in fats until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Bind together with water to give a stiff dough.

Wrap in cling film and rest in refrigerator for 15 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Use to line 20cm (8 inch) flan dish, prick base and return to refrigerator.

For the filling:

Measure butter, sugar, semolina and egg into a bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended.

Spread jelly over the base of the flan shell and arrange blackcurrants on top.

Spoon the semolina mixture over the blackcurrants, spread evenly and bake in preheated oven 200C, 400F, Gas Mk 6 for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and pastry is cooked.

Serve hot or cold.

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On the fish front...

September is the best month for wild bass and flatfish, such as dab, sole, plaice and brill. Mussel and oysters come into season, while cockles and laver bread (usually obtainable in supermarkets) are at their best.

Meat: New seasons lamb. Rabbit. Grouse and hare. Partridge and pheasant.

Fruit: Apples, blackberries, damsons and elderberries.

Vegetables: Aubergine. Beetroot. Cabbage and carrot.

These are some of my favourites, but the list is endless and your local shops and markets will offer much more!