This autumn, James Martin shares his favourite autumn food festivals, seasonal kitchen must-haves, best autumn recipe, favourite restaurant, ultimate comfort food quick fixes and his herby seasoning secrets...
1. Food Festivals
Late summer brings out the best of British food festivals and, over the next month, foodies are truly spoilt for choice. Abergavenny in Monmouthshire (17-18 September) has long been Wales’ flagship gastronomic knees-up in picturesque castle grounds complete with night market and gin palace. The Great Cornish Food Festival (23-25 September) salutes the southwest’s super seafood and a wealth of non-fishy treats around Truro’s Lemon Quay, while in the Midlands, Melton Mowbray Food Festival (1-2 October) pays homage to the town’s famous thick-crust pork pies and Stilton cheese. Edinburgh’s very own Oktoberfest Festival (5-9 October) narrows the focus to beer and trendy German-style sausages accompanied by table-thumping sing-a-longs. Finally, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival’s beefy programme (29 Sept-10 October) covers a demo by Bake Off champ Nadiya Hussain, hidden banquets and an edible mushroom walk – sounds fungi!
2. Kitchen Kit
With autumn just around the corner, slow cookers are a fab, fuss-free way to make delicious, warming meals from cheaper cuts such as lamb shanks, pork shoulder and chicken thighs. This aluminium slow cooker can be used on the hob to brown meat and vegetables first, to lock in the flavour, before returning the pot to the slow cooker. The digital timer allows you to sit back or go out while family-sized stews, curries and casseroles cook until the meat is tender. If you get delayed – don’t worry – it will automatically switch off to avoid over-cooking. It’s like having an extra pair of hand in the kitchen! New George Home 5.5L Slow Cooker, available online and in 189 stores.
3. James’ must-make of the month
Orchards across Britain are full of apples at this time of year and the fruit, in all its wonderful varieties, is both at its best and cheapest right now. I’m not one to grumble about a crumble but an Apple Charlotte is one of my favourite tea-time treats and it’s much easier to make. Line a pudding basin with slices of white bread dipped in melted butter (crusts off, please!), add some stewed apples and top with more butter-dipped bread. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes and serve with custard.
4. Restaurant of the month
Hungry customers come from far and wide to the Feathered Nest Inn in the Cotswolds, says head chef Kuba Winkowski. And that includes prime minis-ters and royalty, but he won’t disclose names! For a special occasion family feast, afternoon tea or romantic dinner this top-notch gastropub has it all: pic-ture-postcard views of the tumbling countryside, real log fireplaces, a warm welcome and a terrific menu drawing on local produce. Winkowski’s modern British cooking is praised in top food guides and features roast suckling pig, wild sea trout as well as black cherry and dark chocolate soufflé. The Feathered Nest Inn, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire. thefeatherednestinn.co.uk; 01993 833030
5. Three of the best new celebrity chef cookbooks
A bumper collection of two of our most versatile and popular ingredients. Si and Dave have searched high and low to find the ultimate chicken and egg recipes, from roasts, grills and pies to show-stopping puds and cakes.
Hairy Bikers Chicken & Egg, available in store
So what does a MasterChef judge and chef at the top of his game cook for friends and family at home? Marcus Wareing shares his domestic kitchen secrets in everyday recipes with contributions from his wife and children, too.
Marcus at Home, available in store
Everyone’s favourite globetrotting gourmet feasts in short-hop culinary capitals on the Continent, from Palermo to Copenhagen. The book includes recipes and insights from the local people and ties in with the second half of a TV series due to air on BBC in October.
Rick Stein’s Long Weekends, available in store
6. My chef notes; bouquet garni
French chefs swear by these aromatic bundles of herbs to add a fragrant oomph to soups, stocks and stews. Super easy to make, tie together a few fresh parsley stalks, thyme sprigs and bay leaves with unwaxed kitchen string. If you use a muslin bag try adding whole black peppercorns, fennel leaves or lemon peel. Add to the pot from the start of cooking and, like the best magic tricks, your secret ingredient will disappear before serving.
7. Seasonal: In-store treats for October
This hearty pie, packed with tender British lamb, carrots and a hint of mint, is encased in a suet and all-butter shortcrust pastry and hand-topped with rosemary Charlotte potatoes. A meal in itself! Extra Special Slow Cooked Lamb, Mint & Red Wine Pie, available in store
Wake up and smell a fresh, premium coffee! Two of Asda’s Extra Special coffees have been through the grinder at the rigorous Great Taste Awards 2016 and both come out as winners. Extra Special Creamy Indian Elephant Farm roast and ground coffee; Extra Special Javan Volcanic Island roast and ground coffee.
Pumpkins are not just for Halloween. Their brilliant orange flesh can be made into a warming soup or curry with spices and ginger, added to risotto or roasted in thick slices and served with sausages.
8. Food Awards
Asda scooped over 20 awards at the prestigious International Cheese Awards held in Nantwich, Cheshire this year. The haul included Healthy Cheddar Retailer of the Year for the second year in a row, which is no mean feat. To create a cheese that has up to 50 per cent less fat and retains the taste, texture and flavour is such an achievement – and the range comes in slices, blocks and grated packs. Also awarded golds by judges, who sampled 5,000 different cheeses from around the world, were our Extra Special Red Fox (a ‘toffee flavoured’ Red Leicester handmade at the award-winning Bel-ton Farm), German Smoked Cheese and Extra Special Parmigiana Reggiano.