THE BOROUGH MARKET GUIDE TO Autumn
From squashes and beets to venison and wild mushrooms, a guide to sourcing and cooking autumnal ingredients
From squashes and beets to venison and wild mushrooms, a guide to sourcing and cooking autumnal ingredients
Nothing at Borough Market stays the same for very long – and that’s not true only in extraordinary times like these. Because of the way that our produce traders operate, the stalls are constantly being reshaped by the rhythm of harvesting, fishing, breeding, hunting and maturation. Right now, as autumn kicks in, that transformation feels particularly dramatic. It’s a change that happens gradually, day by day, but if you haven’t been to Borough Market for a while it can seem as though a curtain has been brought down and the entire set changed, with all the bright colours of summer replaced with a more muted palette: squashes, apples, pears, nuts, beets, mushrooms, oysters, venison, game birds.
This change on the stalls coincides quite happily with a shift in what we crave from our dinner. Gone, or at least significantly reduced, is summer’s urge for lightness and crispness, replaced by an increased yearning for foods that are deeper, richer and more comforting. Foods that provide a gentle hug as the air cools and the nights draw in. The good news is (as this collection proves) that autumn’s produce lends itself perfectly to treatments that offer that embrace, to roasting and braising, chillies and curries, pies and crumbles.
If you can’t make it to Borough Market, many of our traders provide online delivery services, offering a wide range of produce. Explore our online shopping directory:
Nuts in September: The cobnut harvest
Autumn beets & squash salad with hedgerow dressing
Ultimate baked beetroot & its greens
Squash, mushroom & sage tart
Girolles, chanterelles, brambles & egg
Whole roasted stuffed marrow
Bettina Campolucci Bordi
Game theory: The ethics of venison
Venison & black bean chilli with whole baked squash
Deer & hedgehog pie
Curried monkfish & clams
Edible histories: The apple
Toffee apple mille-feuille
Quince & cobnut crumble
Roast pumpkin pie
So, what exactly is a cobnut? That, says Charles Tebbutt, founder of Food & Forest, is probably the question most often asked of him and his colleagues when they’re manning their Borough Market stall. The simple answer, he continues, is that a cobnut is a just hazelnut. But it’s a hazelnut with a very strong sense of time and place.
Around the world there are many species of hazel tree, from which numerous nut cultivars have been developed over the centuries, each one adapted to the microclimate and soil of its native region and the culinary preferences of the local population. The cobnut is an English variety synonymous with the county of Kent, where Charles and his colleagues maintain a beautiful historic orchard.
A tub of freshly harvested Kentish cobnuts
“The reason so many are grown in Kent is to do with the climate – it’s the Garden of England, after all – though there are producers elsewhere,” Charles explains. But while cobnuts would once have been a common sight in the shops and markets of London, production has in recent decades fallen off a cliff. “The reason it’s not more commonly grown today is that the nut has a peculiar shape and a very tight husk which makes it quite difficult to process mechanically. This adds an extra stage to the processing that you don’t get with other varieties.”
It also doesn’t help that the orchard’s entire bounty of cobnuts needs to be picked by hand in a matter of days, making harvesting hugely labour intensive. “Every year at the start of September, we harvest all our nuts in about two weeks,” says Charles. “The reason we work so quickly is that if you leave cobnuts on the trees for much longer you start losing catastrophic amounts to squirrels, which can genuinely be the difference between the year’s crop making or losing money.”
The 130-year-old orchard, which is managed in partnership with Gillian Jones under license from the National Trust, is located in the countryside close to Sevenoaks, bordered by high woodland. Like everything else at Food & Forest, the cobnuts are grown using agroforestry – a method of farming that limits soil erosion and encourages biodiversity by combining the cultivation of trees with that of other plants or animals. “The common practice in an orchard is to keep growth right down, mowing it every month or so, but we let ours grow up with bluebells and primroses,” Charles explains. The team have also been experimenting with the use of poultry to keep pests at bay.
For about the first three weeks of September, the cobnuts kernels are sold on Charles’s stall in their fresh state. “When they’re fresh, they’re super creamy, with a kind of milky sappiness to them,” he says. “They have a lightness which is not there in dried or roasted nuts. I really like them – I find them refreshing, with a distinctive taste – but they have such a short window.”
Once that window is closed, the stall sells its cobnuts in their dried and roasted forms. Dried cobnuts are sweet and crunchy, with less of the milkiness of the fresh nuts – and that natural sweetness is intensified even further by roasting. “Roasting them creates more layers of flavour, really bringing out their sweet notes. It makes them great for cooking. We sell roasted cobnuts to bakeries for their cookies, cakes and patisseries. I’ve known people make dukkah – a Middle Eastern condiment made with herbs, nut, and spices – which I found really interesting. One of the stallholders at Borough Market uses them in vegan salads and another makes a wonderful dish of cobnuts, lentils and butternut squash. Personally, I like a bowl of good Greek yoghurt and some great honey, with roasted cobnuts sprinkled on top.”
This recipe has a few different stages to it, but you can prepare almost everything while the beetroots are roasting. It’s certainly worth giving the elderberry vinegar a go, but can just use a fruity red wine vinegar mixed with
1 tsp caster sugar and the berries.
100g puy lentils, rinsed
4 large beetroots, skin on and cleaned
½ large butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeds removed and sliced into wedges
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 fresh bay leaf
100g purple, red or mixed kale
2 sprigs of tarragon, leaves picked
2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
50g fresh goat’s cheese, torn into chunks
1 handful of blackberries
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
30g fresh or frozen elderberries (optional)
For the elderberry vinegar:
150g red wine vinegar
80g golden caster sugar
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tsp salt
150g ripe elderberries, picked from their umbels with a fork
First make the elderberry vinegar. Combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and bay in a non-reactive pan and bring to a gentle boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn down to a simmer and add the elderberries, pressing half of them with the back of a wooden spoon to burst them, and stirring for 3-4 mins. Remove from the heat and strain
through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the pips and skins and reserving any of the whole berries to add back in. Heat gently in a small pan. Add in the blackberries, grated garlic and extra elderberries and simmer for 3 mins, stirring. Remove from the heat.
Heat the oven to 180C. Soak the lentils in cold water for 30 mins. Meanwhile toss three of the beets in some rapeseed oil with salt, pepper and half the thyme leaves. Wrap them individually in foil, leaving a little space for air to circulate, then place in a roasting tray. Roast for 1 hour, then leave to cool. Use some kitchen towel to remove the skins, then slice into wedges.
In another roasting tray, toss the butternut squash with some salt, pepper, the remaining thyme and some more oil. After the beetroots have roasted for 20 mins, put the squash into the oven for 30 mins, then scatter with the pumpkin seeds and pop back in the oven for 10 mins more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Drain the lentils then place in a pan with double the volume of water, a bay leaf and a large pinch of salt. Cook for about 30 mins, until tender. Drain, rinse and toss with a little rapeseed oil and 1 tbsp elderberry vinegar.
Peel the remaining beetroot and slice very finely into ice cold water. Put the kale into a bowl, pour over ½ tbsp rapeseed oil, then season. Massage the oil into the kale until the leaves darken and become more floppy.
Lay some raw and roasted beetroot on the plates along with the squash and pumpkin seeds. Toss the kale with the lentils, herbs and some more of the vinegar and place on top. Divide the cheese between the plates and dress with the blackberries and a little vinegar.
Le Marché du Quartier
Fresh goat’s cheese
Fans of beetroot will swoon at every stage of creating this homage to the mighty crimson root – especially the eating part – and also engaging with its botanical beauty and watching it do its thing with its unfathomable and savage colour. It’s one of a kind. This vegan dish is my ultimate treatment for a lovely bunch of relatively freshly dug beetroots – fresh enough that their delicious greens are still shiny and lively, their pink stems still taut and crisp. If the greengrocer has removed this precious cargo from the roots, it is probably because the leaves are past their best – the roots keep much longer than the greens, and it may be late in the season. If so, you can substitute chard or spinach.
6 fresh beetroots (500g untrimmed weight, minus weight of greens)
300g beetroot greens (or chard or spinach)
2 tsp good balsamic vinegar
300ml coconut milk
60g pistachio kernels (no shells), pounded or chopped with a large pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 180C and brush a casserole dish generously with extra virgin olive oil. Bring the dish near your chopping board.
Scrub the beetroots and drain. (You may wish to put on some gloves to stop your hands getting stained.) Do not peel the beets, but cut off the root and any scraggles. Pare the rough bits at the top. Slice quite thinly and toss in the dish as you go.
Add the 1 tbsp oil and the balsamic to the
beet slices along with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat evenly and spread out to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil, place in the oven and bake for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, prepare the greens. They tend to harbour a lot of dirt. Rinse both leaves and stems first under cold running water and drain the sink thoroughly. Discard any limp or yellowing leaves. Fill the sink to submerge the greens and jostle them about. Leave them while the remaining grit settles. After about 5-10 mins, lift them out into a colander.
Grab a lidded pan that will accommodate the greens. Chop leaves and stems roughly and place in the pan as you go. Place the pan over a medium heat with just a pinch of salt (no need to add water unless they have dried off completely).
Stir, then cover and cook for about 5-7 mins, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have collapsed. Drain and set aside.
When 30 mins is up on the roots, remove the dish from the oven and distribute the cooked greens over the top. Pour over the coconut milk. Return to the oven for 20 mins, by which time the roots and greens should be gently bubbling in a thick magenta emulsion.
Scatter the crushed pistachios over the top. Return to the oven for 5-7 mins, until the nuts are lightly golden. Serve right away, or at room temperature.
Recipe from SuperVeg by Celia Brooks (Murdoch Books)
This tart is the sort of dish that will fug up the kitchen windows and fill the house with the smell of good cooking. It brings together three good pals: mushrooms, squash and sage – the savoury, sweet and aromatic, all of which sit happily together in a golden walnut pastry with the creamy tang of comte for company. You could add bacon, if you’re that way inclined, but otherwise this is a meat-free meal that will sate and delight.
For the pastry:
50g skin-on walnuts
150g plain flour
A pinch of salt
120g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1-3 tbsp iced water
For the filling:
350g butternut or acorn squash, peeled and sliced into half moons
250ml double cream
A pinch of chilli flakes
A small bunch of fresh sage
100g comté or other hard cheese, grated
200g mushrooms (ideally wild), sliced
Heat the oven to 200C. To make the pastry, put the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and blitz to breadcrumb consistency. Add in the flour and salt and pulse briefly to combine. Tip in the butter and pulse until you have a crumb, then add in the egg yolk and pulse again. Now, 1 tbsp at a time, add the iced water, pulsing until the
dough just comes together. Tip it out into a large bowl and squidge it into a smooth ball, adding a little more water or flour if required.
Flatten to a disc, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 30 mins. While it’s chilling, toss the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 12 mins, until softened and colouring. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Roll the pastry out to £1 coin thickness and line a 23cm tart tin. Chill again in the fridge until hard, then turn the oven down to 180C. Line the pastry with baking paper, fill with baking beans and blind bake for 15 mins. Remove from the oven, lift out the beans and paper, then bake uncovered for a further 12 mins, until crispy and golden.
In a bowl or jug, whisk together the cream and eggs and season with salt, pepper, a pinch of chilli flakes and a good grinding of fresh nutmeg. Roughly chop half the sage leaves and stir these through with the cheese.
Heat a knob of butter and dash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat and fry four of the remaining sage leaves for 1 min to infuse the oil, then fry the mushrooms with some salt and pepper until coloured and giving up their moisture – about 5 mins.
Now, get your pastry case and pour enough of the custard into it to cover the base entirely, then layer up the squash with the mushrooms, pouring a little custard between each layer. Top with the rest of the custard. Fry off the few remaining sage leaves in a bit more butter and pour this over the top of the tart. Bake for 25-30 mins, until deeply golden and just-set. Allow to settle for 20-30 mins then slice and devour.
Food & Forest
The French Comte
You’ll be able to find a wide variety of wild mushrooms at this time of year – chicken of the woods, ceps, hen of the woods and beefsteak mushrooms – but the most special to me are girolles and chanterelles. Their flavours are a mix of the woods, earth and trees, with the richness and comfort in this dish coming from the yolk and the broth. This recipe makes far more broth than you need, but you can never have enough stock in the fridge, and it’s easier to make a larger amount.
3kg chicken wings
50g dried mushrooms
30g kombu (dried seaweed)
300g cider vinegar
200g demerara sugar
1 bunch of tarragon, leaves picked
360g girolles (plus a few extra in case of wastage)
240g chanterelles (plus a few extra)
To make the chicken broth, chop 4 of the onions into 8 wedges and put on an oven tray. Place half the chicken wings on a separate tray and put both in the oven at 170C.
Keep checking the onions, moving them around and flipping them to stop them burning. After 1 hour, turn the wings and continue cooking for 30 mins. You want the wings to have rendered their fat and released all their liquid. The onions are ready when they too have coloured all over and softened completely.
Put the roast onions and chicken wings into a pan or tray, cover with filtered water and bring to a simmer. Cover, then place in an oven for 8 hours (or overnight) at 90C. Leave to cool, pass off the liquid and discard the wings (or use them for a pie mix).
Roast the other half of the wings and the onions in exactly the same way, but instead of covering them with water after they’ve cooked, cover them with the chicken stock. Bring to simmer and cook for 8 hours, again at 90C. In the morning, add the dried mushrooms and konbu and leave to stand for 1 hour. Pass off the broth and chill.
Cook the eggs at 63C in a water bath for 1 hour. This can be done ahead of time if you chill down the egg after cooking.
Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil, drop in the berries and leave to cool.
Now prep the mushrooms. Remove any soil and leaves by rubbing with a damp cloth or cutting away. Scrape the stems of the girolles with a small paring knife. Use a pan that will fit the girolles snugly in one layer. Put the girolles in the pan with 50g butter and some salt, place on a high heat and cover with a lid.
After 2 mins, turn the heat down, stir, test the seasoning, and add the chanterelles. Cook the mushrooms together for 10 secs, then take off the heat. Season with salt and black pepper if necessary. The mushrooms should have a glossy liquid surrounding them all.
To serve, reheat the eggs if cooked in advance and heat up 600ml of the broth. Crack the eggs, remove the whites, then carefully place a yolk into the centre of each bowl. Place the mushrooms around, drop in 4 or 5 berries, add some tarragon leaves, then pour in the broth.
Wyndham House Poultry
The marrow is such an underestimated vegetable and not used or praised enough. It can be daunting because of its size and mysterious spongy flavour. Cooking it low and slow is the key here!
1 large marrow
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
75 almonds, blitzed
1 tbsp barbecue spice
½ tsp chilli flakes
Dill fronds, to garnish
Heat the oven to 200C. Prepare the marrow by slicing it in half and scooping out the insides with a spoon, then set aside the two halves. Chop the scooped insides into small pieces (about 2cm cubes) and add to a bowl.
Add the onion, olive oil, blitzed almonds and spices to the bowl of chopped marrow and mix well. Start adding the mixture to one half of the scooped-out marrow shell.
Once the marrow is filled, place the other half on top to close and shut the marrow. Seal the marrow securely with string (making sure you use a double knot) or wrap tightly in aluminium foil if you are barbecuing it.
Place the marrow in a large baking tray (pan) lined with baking parchment and cook in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour.
Once the marrow is cooked, it will be nice and soft, and easily sliced into lovely pieces to be eaten as a side dish or as it is.
Recipe from Celebrate: Plant-based Recipes for Every Occasion (Hardie Grant)
Food & Forest
I believe that if you’re going to eat an animal, you should be prepared to see it go. As a society, we have become wrapped up in cotton wool; instead of going out hunting, gathering and bringing food back to the table, we just pick it up from a shop.
Some people can be squeamish about eating game. When I point out that they eat other meat, they say “that’s different”. Why? Because it comes wrapped up, no longer looking like the animal it came from.
But when you know where something’s come from, it puts value on the end product, and you appreciate it more. We need to bring people back to basics, through education. There are kids in London who don’t even know that milk comes from cows.
In the countryside there’s a very delicate system, which humans are left to manage. Shooting deer is part of that. There are no natural predators in Britain anymore, so if we didn’t manage the herd properly, it would wreak havoc.
If you don’t cull the females, the herd doubles in size each year, and if you don’t take out the stag every so often, he breeds with his daughters, his granddaughters, and you see genetic problems developing.
Gamekeepers also help to control the environment by maintaining hedgerows or planting game crops. By managing their habitat, we allow game birds to thrive in the wild. With grouse, for example, we burn back the heather so that it regenerates, and we manage the fly population so that
We put something back, we don’t just take. It’s all about maintaining a happy balance throughout the countryside.
Some people think that shooting is cruel, but it isn’t. When I hunt, the animal doesn’t know I am there and it is taken out instantly. One shot, one kill. We impose what we call ‘fair game’: if a bird flies high enough, I don’t shoot it; if a deer looks up and notices I am there, I don’t shoot it.
The first female deer are hunted in November, and they will usually have had their young back in June; if you shot the mother, her young would be big enough to survive. But I will always take the youngster out before the female – I won’t leave an orphan. The Scottish insist on that policy.
The game industry is strictly regulated, and it’s highly selective in its impact – unlike mass production of meat and some methods of fishing, which smash up the environment. It also gives the country a lot of work and brings money into small rural communities. It’s essentially wild farming.
If the animals we shot were just thrown away, that would be a terrible waste. And that’s why we come to Borough Market. If we shoot an animal, we should eat every part of it.
Humans are at the top of the food chain and it is our responsibility to keep everything below us properly managed. We mustn’t take that responsibility lightly.
200g dried black turtle beans (or 2 x 400g tins of cooked beans, drained)
2 dried ancho chilli peppers
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp cooking oil
200g smoked lardons
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
800g minced venison (shoulder, or a mix of shoulder, leg and trimmings)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1 tsp Mexican pasilla chilli powder
330ml dark porter beer
2 bay leaves
2 pieces of cassia bark or 1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 large butternut squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Flatbreads and/ or rice (optional)
If using dried beans, rinse them with cold water, then put them in a heatproof bowl or pan, cover with just-boiled water and leave to soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside. At the same time, place the ancho chillies in a small heatproof bowl, cover with just-boiled water and soak for 30 mins. Then put the chillies, their soaking water and the tomatoes in a blender. Fill the empty tomato tin with water and add that too. Blitz until smooth. Heat the oven to 160C.
Put 1 tbsp cooking oil and the lardons in
a flameproof casserole dish or ovenproof saucepan (for which you have a lid). Fry over a medium-high heat for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, reduce the temperature and cook for 5 mins, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 mins.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining cooking oil in a separate large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Add the venison, brown it for 8-10 mins, then stir in the cumin and the chilli powders. Cook for 1 min, then transfer to the casserole. Increase the heat, move the meat to one side and pour the beer in.
Allow it to bubble for 20 secs before adding the tomato and ancho chilli purée, black beans (if using pre-cooked beans wait until the last 30 mins of cooking time), bay leaves, cassia bark or cinnamon stick, sugar and a good few grinds of pepper. Stir, bring to a lively simmer, put the lid on and place in the oven for 1½ hours. Remove the lid and cook for 30 mins more, by which time the beans should be tender and the liquid thickened and intensely flavoured. Taste and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper.
Wipe the squash clean and bake it whole on a small roasting tray next to or under the casserole for around 1½-2 hours, until the skin colours and sinks. To serve, slice it in half and remove the seeds. Tip any juice that’s cooked out back over the flesh and season generously with salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Serve the chilli and squash with sour cream, plus flatbreads or rice.
Recipe from The Borough Market Cookbook (Hodder & Stoughton)
Don’t worry; I haven’t put real hedgehogs in this venison pie. Hedgehogs (also known as pied-de-mouton) are delicious wild mushrooms that are in season right now.
For the rough puff pastry:
175g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
350g plain flour
A good pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)
For the filling:
2 tbsp dripping (or olive oil)
600-700g venison shoulder, in large cubes
1 knob of butter
200g hedgehog mushrooms
1 large or 2 smaller onions, peeled and sliced
4 cloves of garlic
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp flour
500ml light ale (nothing too bitter)
To make the pastry, combine the butter with the flour and salt, then add just enough water to bring it together into a fairly firm dough. Form into a rectangular shape with your hands and, on a well-floured surface, roll out in one direction to make a rectangle about 1cm thick. Fold the two short ends into the middle so they overlap. Give the pastry a quarter turn and repeat the rolling-andfolding process five more times. Wrap the pastry in cling film, then rest it in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour.
Season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper. Set a large casserole pan over a high heat. Add half the dripping and when hot add the cubed venison (you might need to do this in batches). Avoid shaking the pan too much – you want the meat to caramelise on the outside, so let it sizzle for several minutes. When lovely and golden, lift the meat to a plate.
Turn the heat down and add the remaining dripping, followed by the onions, mushrooms, garlic, bay, rosemary and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly for 10-12 mins, until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have given up their juices – don’t let anything burn. Return the meat to the pan, turn the heat down, scatter over the flour and stir it in well. Cook for 2-3 minus, then pour over the ale, stir well and bring to a simmer. Top up with water to just cover the meat. Cook with the lid ajar in a 175C oven for 2-2½ hours.
Remove the casserole from the oven. The meat should be nice and tender and the sauce should be rich, but might need seasoning. Stir the pie filling gently then let it cool.
Turn the oven up to 190C. Cut the pastry in two, about two-thirds and one-third. Roll out the larger piece and line a lightly greased pie dish (about 1.2 litres). Don’t worry if you have some over-hang, this gets trimmed off. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to form a lid. Spoon in the venison and all the lovely juices, but you might want to whip the bay leaves and herb stalks out now, if you can find them.
Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg, lay on the lid and crimp together the edges, then trim away the excess pastry. Brush with more egg, and cut a little vent in the centre of the pie. Bake for 45-50 mins, until golden brown. Leave to settle for around 15 mins before serving.
Venison shoulder Shellseekers Fish & Game
Beef dripping Northfield Farm
As the nights get longer and temperatures drop, warming meals appeal. It’s still nice to keep things light, though, and this curried monkfish does just that, through its fragrantly spiced coconut milk and clam juice broth. Spice Mountain has a wide range of really interesting pre-mixed curry blends, inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka, Kerala, Mauritius and more. I’ve suggested using the Thai green curry blend in the recipe below, but any blend based on a coastal region would work well.
250g palourde clams
200g rainbow chard
240g basmati or jasmine rice
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, cut to matchsticks
1 large banana shallot, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 tsp Thai green curry powder
200ml coconut milk
2 tsp golden caster sugar
450-500g monkfish fillet
Purge the clams by placing them in a bowl and covering with cold water. Leave for 5 mins, drain the gritty cloudy water away and repeat until clear. Discard any clams that remain open if tapped.
Cut the stems off the chard at the point those stems meet the leaves. Cut the stems into 2cm lengths, and halve any leaves that are bigger than your hand.
Rinse the rice, then place in a saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water. Cook for 2 mins
fewer than the packet instructions, drain and leave to steam.
Once the rice is on, start cooking the monkfish. Place a heavy-bottomed sauté pan (for which you have a lid) on a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp sunflower oil, then the ginger, shallot and a pinch of salt. Sweat and soften over a low-medium heat for 4-5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more, before measuring the spice powder into the pan and cooking for 1 min, stirring continuously. Pour in the coconut milk, fill the tin with water, then pour that into the pan. Add the sugar and simmer for 5 mins.
Cut the monkfish into four equally weighted portions (probably around 4cm deep). Add the clams to the broth and place the lid on top of the pan. After 2 mins, add the monkfish pieces to the bubbling broth, return the lid and simmer for 2-3 mins more, shuffling the pan once or twice, until the clams are all open and the monkfish has turned from translucent to pearlescent white. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze in the juice of half the lime and cut the other half into quarters.
While the monkfish and clams are cooking, place another large frying pan or sauté pan over a medium-high heat with a knob of butter or 1 tbsp coconut oil or light olive oil. When warm, add the chard stems, fry for 2 mins, then add the chard leaves and stir occasionally until wilted – this should take around 4 mins.
To serve, pile a ladle of rice into the middle of each bowl or plate. Lay chard leaves and stems over the rice. Add the monkfish portions and ladle the clams and curried sauce on top and around, with a wedge of lime on the side.
Furness Fish Markets
Green curry powder
It was the Romans who first introduced the domesticated apple to Britain, but after they left, the importance afforded to fruit cultivation slowly faded. It wasn’t until the 12th century that European fruit growing would begin its renaissance. The French led the way in identifying, propagating and commercialising the most enticing varieties of apple, including the Rouviau, the Blandurel and the Costard. After cuttings were brought across the Channel and grafted into English orchards, the Costard would lend its name to the generic word for a fruitseller that endured in markets like Borough until deep into the 20th century: costermonger.
Early English varieties included the Queening (the name of which alluded to its angular ridges being like those of a ‘quoin’, an old spelling of ‘coin’) and the Pearmain, so called for its pearlike shape. In 1204, the lord of the manor of Runham in Norfolk was liable for an annual tax of 200 Pearmains and four hogsheads of cider – a transaction which, to the modern reader, appears definitively East Anglian.
In the counties of the southeast, the flat landscapes and light soils lent themselves to intensive arable farming, but in the wet, rugged westerly regions, where cereals flourished less readily, apple trees and livestock offered a complementary combination: trees provided natural barriers and shelter for the animals, cider provided both income and in-house intoxication, and the pomace from cider making – the mulch left behind after pressing – could be used as a nutritious form of animal feed.
It wasn’t until the Tudor period that commercial apple orchards began to be established away
from the cider centres of Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Richard Harris, Henry VIII’s fruiterer, set up a royal fruit collection at Teynham, Kent, in 1533, when he “fetched out of Fraunce a great store of graftes, especially Pippins, before which time there were no Pippins in England”. The expansion of organised fruit growing was accelerated by the arrival in Kent and Surrey of green-fingered protestant refugees from France and Flanders.
In The Herball (1597), the botanist John Gerard made brief mention of these orchards. “The tame and grafted apple trees are planted and set in gardens and orchards made for that purpose: they delight to growe in good and fertile grounds. Kent doth abound with apples of most sortes.” This he contrasted with the abundant but more chaotic apple trees found in the “pastures and hedge rowes” of Herefordshire’s mixed farms, including one estate with so many apples that the staff drank nothing but cider and the pigs who scavenged on fallen fruits had become surprisingly fussy: “The hogs are fed with the fallings of them, which are so many, that they make choise of those apples they do eate, who will not taste of any but of the best.”
As the presence of apple trees in England’s farms, market gardens and orchards multiplied, so too did the abundance of varieties, the naming of which became a very English artform: a beautiful blend of poetry and profanity. John Parkinson, in his Paradisi in Sole (1629), listed and rated more than 50 distinct types, while also dismissing “twenty sorts of Sweetings, and none good”. His rollcall included the Woman’s Breast, the
Bastard Queene (like the Queene apple, but less tasty), the Leathercoate (a small, sharp, winter fruit), the Cat’s Head (“took the name of the likeness”), the Cowsnout (as bad as it sounds), the Old Wife (better than it sounds).
By the 19th century, though, many of the old Kentish orchards had been turned over to the more profitable production of hops for the burgeoning beer industry. As a result, the apples sold at market tended to be small, blemished, jumbled up and unnamed, produced mainly in mixed farms or market gardens. In stark contrast, apples shipped from abroad were increasingly appealing. In the USA, vast resources were thrown at the production and export of a small portfolio of brightly coloured fruits whose visual appeal more than compensated for any paucity of flavour. Yankies, as they were known, were sold by costermongers across the length and breadth of Britain. Canada, too, got in on the act in a big way.
It wasn’t until the Royal Horticultural Society finally began to consider the coarse subject of commerce that a concerted effort was made to organise and promote English apple growers. In 1883, the RHS organised an Apple Congress in Chiswick. Before the show, the committee viewed, identified and logged a staggering 1,545 varieties of British apple, before publishing a list of the 60 best dessert apples and 60 best cooking apples, with the aim that growers would focus their efforts on the worthiest varieties. The winner in the dessert category was the King of Pippins. In second place was the Cox’s Orange Pippin, grown by Richard Cox, a retired brewer in Slough. In the decades that followed, English orcharding soared back to prominence, with the Cox increasingly dominant.
British growers tended to focus on early eating apples, which could be picked before foreign arrivals flooded in, and cooking apples, which no other country – unsteeped as they were in a culture of puddings and pies – bothered to produce. As the British ‘pomologist’ Edward Bunyard put it: “The best English apples by long training know how to behave in a pie; they melt but do not squelch; they inform but do not predominate.” The most famous of these emerged around 1810, when a resident of a modest cottage in Southwell, Nottinghamshire
planted some apple pips in its rear garden, producing a tree laden with unusually large and flavoursome fruit, later named Bramley’s Seedling after the house’s then owner.
The decades that followed saw a surge in the quality of English apples. Edward Bunyard’s The Anatomy of Dessert (1929) essayed almost a full year of extraordinary harvests: the Gladstones of late July; the Irish Peach, whose “fresh acidity with slight spicy aroma accords well with the warm August days”; the arrival in November of the beloved Cox, the “Chateau Yquem of apples”; December’s Blenheim Orange (“The man who cannot appreciate a Blenheim has not come to years of gustatory discretion; he probably drinks sparkling Muscatelle”) and the similarly refined Orleans Reinette (“if Rembrandt had painted a fruit piece he would have chosen this apple”); the misnamed May Queen, which came in January; the late winter apples of February and March, which if properly handled can display “the plump turgescence of youth”; the season finally ending in early summer with the likes of the Rosemary Russet, “an aristocrat in every way”.
As Britain revelled in a glorious diversity of apples, other countries focused on producing a small number of highly consistent, attractive but slightly humdrum varieties, and as the 20th century unfolded, it was the likes of the Granny Smith (from Australia), Golden Delicious (from the USA, then France), Gala and Braeburn (both from New Zealand) that offered the output and homogeneity demanded by the supermarket system. The UK now imports three-quarters of its apples, and many once-famous natives have all but vanished. Even the Blenheim, described by Bunyard as “one of the best known of our apples”, is rarely seen today. Thanks to global production and controlled atmosphere storage, which keeps fruit in a state of suspended animation, supermarkets can sell the same 10 or so international apple varieties all year round, while the rest struggle to find a home beyond specialist food markets like Borough. “It is evident,” wrote Bunyard, “that each nation has the fruits that it deserves.” Where we are now would make him weep for the country’s soul.
This is an edited extract from Borough Market: Edible Histories by Mark Riddaway (Hodder & Stougton)
Borough Market: Edible Histories by Mark Riddaway
The Borough Market Store
These toffee apple mille-feuilles can be a communal effort, with all components prepared in advance of pudding so that everyone can build their own at the end of a meal.
320-375g ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
Juice of ½ lemon
3 discovery apples
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
100g dulce de leche
200ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla essence
A bag of ice or frozen peas
Icing sugar for dusting
Apple powder for dusting (optional)
Heat the oven to 200C. Dig out a roll of baking parchment and two similarly sized baking sheets or trays.
Cut two pieces of baking parchment the same size as your largest baking sheet. Put one piece on the sheet, then unroll the puff pastry onto it. Lay the second piece of paper on top, and put the second baking sheet or tray on top of that. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 15 mins. Remove from the oven and, leaving the pastry on the bottom parchment, allow to cool and harden for 3 mins, before using a long knife to cut into 12 equally sized rectangles (make three incisions lengthways, then two across). Return to the oven, without the top sheet this time, and bake for 5-10 mins more until the rectangles are golden.
Squeeze the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Quarter each of the apples and cut
away the core, then cut each quarter into three 1-2cm wedges. As you do this, toss the wedges in the lemon juice to avoid browning. Then, add the sugar and mix well. Arrange the apple wedges on a baking sheet in one layer and bake in the oven for 6 mins. Carefully turn each wedge over and bake for 4-5 mins more, so that the wedges are soft but still hold their shape. Leave to cool.
Decant the icing sugar and dulce de leche into small serving bowls. Then, when ready to eat, whip the cream into a light chantilly by pouring into an (ideally metal) mixing bowl and placing that on top of a bag of ice or frozen peas. Add the vanilla essence, then use a balloon whisk to thicken the cream just about to ribbon stage.
To assemble the mille-feuilles, encourage everyone to take three pastry pieces each. Spread two of them with dulce de leche. Use one as the base, top with apple and a spoonful of cream, then the second dulce de leche slice, more apples and cream, and the final pastry piece on top. Finish with icing sugar and apple powder if you wish
Recipe from The Borough Market Cookbook (Hodder & Stoughton)
Elsey & Bent
Dulce de leche
For the filling:
3 large quince
125g caster sugar
2 bay leaves
½ stick of cinnamon
1 bramley apple
For the crumble:
300g plain flour
A good handful of rolled oats
150g light brown sugar
75g shelled, broken cobnuts
Peel the quince and cut them into 8. Remove the core and put the wedges in an oven-ready dish that just fits them. Scatter over the caster sugar, bay leaves and cinnamon and 250ml water. Cover with tin foil and bake for 1 hour at 170C.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Rub the butter and flour together between your hands until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the oats, light brown sugar and cobnuts and mix well.
When the quince has had 1 hour, remove the tin foil (be careful of the steam). Peel and grate the bramley apple and stir into the quince.
Heat the oven to 190C. Sprinkle the crumble on the fruit and bake for about 20-25 mins until the top has browned, and the mixture cooked.
Allow to rest for 10 mins or so, as the sticky fruity juices are red hot and have a habit of burning the roof of your mouth (as I have found out all too often in my haste for a spoonful).
Eat with a big dollop of very thick cream or your favourite custard – or hey, why not both!
Quince Ted’s Veg
Food & Forest
This is a simple pie that packs a punch in the flavour department. Sweet roasted pumpkins combined with heavy autumnal spices will fill your house with the most heavenly scent. Don’t be tempted to slice the pie straight out of the oven – be patient and wait until it has cooled slightly. A perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up served with sweetened whipped cream and a strong black coffee.
For the pie crust:
200g plain flour
½ tsp salt
115g cold unsalted butter, cubed
25g ground pecans
4-5 tbsp cold water
For the pumpkin filling:
400g roasted pumpkin
350ml whole milk
170g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
Place the flour, salt, ground pecans and butter into a bowl and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water gradually until the dough starts to come together. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead a little until smooth. Dust the work surface again and roll out the pastry to the size of your pie plate, around 20-23cm.
Grease your pie plate and place the pastry
into the plate, making sure it fits snuggly. Trim some of the pastry from the edge, leaving an over-hang of around 1.5cm. Tuck the over-hang pastry underneath itself and then using your fingers, crimp the edge all the way around. Pop into the fridge to chill and rest while you make the filling.
To make the filling, firstly you need to roast the pumpkin. I used two small pumpkins/ squashes weighing around 600-700g each. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres, then cut into 2.5cm wedges. Place on a baking tray with a drizzle of rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt and roast in a preheated oven at 200C for around 25 mins.
Leave the pumpkin to cool a little so that it’s easier to handle, then scoop out the flesh into a bowl. You’ll need 400g of the flesh. Mash the pumpkin with a fork – I like to keep some texture in the puree, so don’t pop it in the food processor.
Heat the milk until it nearly reaches boiling then take it off the heat. Beat the eggs, sugar, salt and spices into the pumpkin puree then add in the milk to make a custard. Remove the pie crust from the fridge and carefully pour the pumpkin custard into your pastry lined tin.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 15 mins. After this time, reduce the temperature to 180C for 40-50 mins, or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool on rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.
Elsey & Bent