The Autumn period of "stay home and in comfort", brings "specials" with it...so different to the light meals of summer....
L'automne amène des goûts spéciale - si différente que ceux de l’été...
Herbst bringt andere Geschmäcke ins Haus - sehr viel anderes als im Sommer...
Between Summer with the "lighter" meals, taken over a longer period of the day, and the Winter "heavyweights" taken to sustain us in the cold period, lies Autumn.
Sometimes a period of "Indian Summer" where the temperatures stay quite high, at least during the day, and only at night time does it get quite cool, indeed - cold, and sometimes worse than deepest Winter!
A difficult period to decide what to eat, when to eat....
The autumn traditionals. No, these (sometimes) enormous vegetables are NOT sent simply to scoop out and decorate to celebrate Halloween! They are nature's way of telling us what is good for us at this time of the year!
Delicious - in all colours you can think of, in all sizes, shapes and taste.
On cold days, made in a soup, the most simple version, with a decent "dollop" of fresh cream, or clotted cream, it warms up "the cockles of the heart" as some say! A "veloute" soup, basically a very fine puree, enriched with cream, seasoned as you like, and served with crispy triangular fried croutons. What more do you want?
But - cut into chunks, or even just in quarters, peeled (because the outside doesn't like being eaten) cooked, drained and arranged in a grating dish with either some cream or a light sauce made up from something like chicken broth , cream and lightly thickened - just sprinkle some breadcrumbs mixed with grated chees, and push it all into the oven to get that crusty gratin colour, or quite simply peeled, cut into pieces, cooked and then purée'd, with a nut of butter, and a little rasping of nutmeg - then ,,,,,enjoy!
Like most of my vegetable preparations, I tend to try to cook all vegetables in special, heat supporting bags, available everywhere inexpensively, properly seasoned, with maybe a nut of butter, by the VAPOUR method.
Yes, it takes longer, but not much longer (for potatoes count around 30 minutes, for a whole chicken around 1 to 1 and a half hours, boiled eggs around 10-15 minutes), and the vitamins, minerals, iron and all the rest is kept within the sealed bag, together with the vegetables. and if you've got a cooker similar to this one, you can do all the things at the same time, saving time and energy, pots and pans - and washing up!
(this is a typical "vapour cooker" - very useful because not only vegetables, but all manners of things can be cooked healthily, without fat, and seperately, thus keeping individual taste. I use it also for potatoes - for salad or to sauter - eggs for hardboiled use in salads etc.. - fish - whole or fillets - meat, in particular chicken, to use as cold meat in summer picnics, or for cold buffets, covered with a "chaud-froid" sauce. Usable also to slowly, carefully "rewarm" dishes).
This method is not expensive, there are so called "rice cookers" or "vapour cookers" with all the necessaries - like automatic cut off when there's no more water creating the necessary vapour, timers, and no problem of running out of gas - they're electric, and not expensive. "Pressure Cooking", although quicker is not, for me, a solution, it tends to destroy most of the goodness in smaller items like vegetables, and microwave is only good for "pre-cooked" dishes, simply to warm them up quickly whilst cooking them very little, and tends to destroy the structure of sauces with a flour basis, making them liquid and no longer sauce!
Really, Autumn is ideal for soups and potages of all types, except the cold ones! They are inexpensive, can be consumed without limit (or almost) they help the stomach to adjust to the new season, are healthy, are quick to prepare, and can be made from just about anything! They can also be "fortified" by adding some sherry or other wine, and they can be made more substantial by adding rice or pasta to them. They can be served with croutons, or simply with good crunchy bread "dunked" and spread all over the tablecloth and your blouse/shirt front!
Of course, salad items can still be consumed, even in Autumn, simply for the nutritional value. Try a green salad with hot fried lardons over it (the sauce vinaigrette is made from the lardon fat, oil - if necessary - lemon juice, mixed directly in the pan used for frying the lardons, and poured directly, hot/warm over the green salad.)
Some of us (myself included) do need something substantial to get into, like meat or fish, and even here, Autumn allows us to consume well and plentiful. Slightly "fattier" meats can be permitted, maybe not the period yet of the rich "Cassoulets" or "Choucroute Royale", but we're getting near that time, so - start training your digestive system!
Of course, a high point, THE high point for some is the large availability of MUSHROOMS and other funghi!
This one recalls to mind somebody I have "occasional" contact with, who seems to have an obsession with "funghi" - amazingly enough, he is still alive! If, however, you are not an expert ...be careful! I'm not going to give any recipes, there are so many, and that subject will be for a different article....
People asked, not long back, for any ideas to use these things, and although they have probably already looked, I'll give some details anyway....QUINCES (EN) or COINGS (FR)....
Autumn is also the season for other things, like these "coings". I wouldn't recommend trying to eat them like an apple or a pear - you'll be unwell!
Generally used for the enormous quantities of "pectin" they contain, to make jellies and jams and confitures, even marmelades, they are also used to make a sort of "paste" or pate, very jellified, flavoured often with other fruits, since the coing does not have any particularly strong taste, or really any taste at all, but they do have a very strong odour, almost a "perfume" - depends on your taste whether you like it or not.!
I understand they are also used to concoct small "lozenges" for sucking, to improve breath quality (scent/perfume)
This is what makes it perfect to be flavoured with other fruits.
Certain vegetables can also be used to flavour, particularly carrots.
This jelly pate is used as a side dish to main courses or as a salad/dessert ingredient, or just to snack on!
To know more about the "unfashionable" poor old "coing" click here:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coing (In French, but you can change the language on the page).......and for images and recipes.....try this: