Autumnal moments (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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A new season brings fresh varieties of produce to choose from, with delicious results.

Take advantage of seasonal produce while ushering in the new autumn period. Photo / Babiche Martens
Take advantage of seasonal produce while ushering in the new autumn period. Photo / Babiche Martens

Apart from getting excited about digging out your favourite boots and cooler weather wardrobe - autumn brings brilliant vegetables and fruits to look forward to cooking.

Today I am using the last of the old and the first of the new. Pears are coming into season and make for a tasty and quite hearty salad when paired with the oft-maligned brussels sprout, which I love. And unless you have a history of eating them when boiled to oblivion, I can't understand why so many people turn up their noses at them.

Pan-frying sprouts in a little butter and olive oil
or - even better - a dribble of delicious hazelnut oil until just tender, with a generous amount of salt and pepper, makes for a very enjoyable vegetable.

Crispy slivers of the best quality free-range bacon you can get your hands on, and a dijon vinaigrette finishes the salad off nicely.

To give lamb a richer flavour, insert a sliver of garlic and a piece of anchovy inside each cutlet.

I have cooked this dish many times, especially for the men in my family who dislike anchovies intensely. The beauty of an anchovy when paired with lamb is that it offers a different level of flavour which is almost indiscernible. "Mmmm ... which butcher did that meat come from? How much garlic did you use?"... are always the comments that follow. Now I can stop being clandestine because if any of those men are reading today I guess they have found out my secret.

Feijoas are beginning to spread their glorious scent around neighbourhoods (more on that next week) and are delicious roasted until soft with pieces of dry, sweet pumpkin to pair with the lamb.

To finish with something sweet, I came across a bounty of passionfruit and some beautiful oranges so decided to combine the two in a gluten-free almond cake. The oranges are boiled whole until soft then thrown into a food processor with ground almonds and a few eggs.

A splash of Drambuie makes it a bit more special, especially as a dessert cake.

The passionfruit are still lasting on our vine and with Auckland still humid and warm, they seem to be hanging about for a bit longer. Scoop out some pulp and drizzle over the cake for a gorgeous flavour.

Chef's tip

Treat brussels sprouts kindly. Always look for the smallest, brightest and firmest. Slicing and gently pan-frying produces a delightful nutty flavour which pairs well with red meat, blue cheese and goat's cheese.

- NZ Herald

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