Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells […]
It has been far too long.
Somehow, it feels like I have just awoken from a deep, lucid sleep, where I watched the transition of seasons take place before me in a matter of moments. I have felt the gentle summer breeze transform into wilder, bolder winds, where golden leaves are compelled to break away from the branches of drowsy trees, only to dance wistfully through the air for what seems like brief moments of flurrying passion, before finding their place on the ground, with their brethren. In the blink of an eye, I find myself in the closing of the Autumn season and it is only now that I have found my way back to you, my readers. For this, I am truly sorry.
I have often proclaimed my love for each and every season that comes to pass. Each one with their own beautiful, unique characters, and every one bringing their own bounty to the kitchen table. No season is quite the same, each one incomparable to the other, and yet, somehow, I find myself holding on dearly to the vision of trees shedding their leaves prior to their much deserved Winter slumber. There is something rather symbolic in this transition, a play on the notions of new beginnings and the shedding of old skin. In my eyes, there is indeed no better time to begin on a journey of self-discovery through cooking, travel and the joys of life.
Needless to say, it is also incredibly sentimental, perhaps even spiritual, when the air begins to smell like crackling firewood and one begins to clothe oneself in layers topped off with soft, wooly jumpers; and one parades wholeheartedly through tree adorned streets painted in the boldest palates of marigold yellow, butterscotch and candied apples, if only to hear the satisfactory crunch of leaves underfoot. If there is one thing that the seasons continuously whisper to me, is that life is a gift, with each moment a blessing for us to enjoy and cherish.
On the subject of cherishing moments, for the last few weeks, Djamo and I have been looking after our little ray of sunshine, visiting Christmas Markets, Farmers’ Markets and simply enjoying morning walks through the park, watching her chase the odd squirrel up a tree and her attempts at paddling around in muddy puddles. Evenings have been spent going through the photographs we took throughout the last year (and even further back) and scrapbooking these memories as keepsakes, a ritual I have come to find extremely satisfying and utterly therapeutic. However, the act itself got me thinking about the function of this blog… Was it simply to showcase my abilities in the kitchen? Was it to demonstrate the marriage of flavours? I have begun to think about this a lot as of late, particularly now that recipes I once wrote down on paper, have mysteriously vanished or have been accidentally thrown away. Perhaps, this blog is not only a place to partake in culinary art, but also to store some of my favourite recipes, my go-to recipes, basic recipes, recipes that my family and friends can enjoy without too much effort.
So, in between future posts, I will begin showering this blog with a few of my favourite, somewhat simple recipes that Djamo and I tend to find ourselves going back to again and again.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND HAZELNUT FRANGIPANE TART + A MAPLE GLAZE
Cooking time: 2+ hours
Makes: 9 inch tart
To make the purée, please see my Roasted Winter Squash Recipe. Ideally, the purée is made in advance to the recipe, however, if you decide to make the purée on the same day as the rest of the tart, you will need to add approximately 1 1/2 hours of preparation and cooking time onto this recipe. Alternatively, you can always substitute the purée with a store-bought pumpkin version.
1 small butternut squash, stem sliced thinly
1 cup hazelnuts, ground
1 cup butter
1 cup caster sugar
1/4tsp satsuma zest
1tsp vanilla bean paste
Butternut Squash Filling
1 cup butternut purée (or substitute for pumpkin purée)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp coriander
1tsp vanilla bean paste
2tbsp maple syrup
1/4cup caster sugar
1/4cup brown sugar
Brown Butter Tart Crust
1 egg yolk
2tbsp cold water
6tbsp butter, room temperature
2tbsp brown butter
1 1/4cups plain flour + extra for dusting
1/4cup confectionary sugar
pinch of himalayan salt
To begin, place 2 tablespoons of butter into a pan or a skillet (tip: a lighter coloured pan will enable you to observe the colour transitions) and over a medium heat, begin to melt, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking. Once the butter has transitions from a light lemon colour to a sun-kissed tone and you can smell its nutty aromas, you can take the brown butter off the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl to cool. If desired, once cooled, strain through a cheesecloth to eliminate any burnt flavours.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC (170ºC fan-oven or 375ºF). Place the cup of hazelnuts onto a baking sheet in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, checking to ensure they do not burn. Remove and set aside to cool slightly before rubbing the nuts outer skin off.
Meanwhile, place 6 tablespoons of butter into a bowl along with the plain flour and salt, and combine until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the brown butter and sugar to the mixture and combine well. Add the egg yolk and cold water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until a dough is formed. (Note: if the mixture is too dry, add more water, if it is too sticky, add more flour). Dust your work place with flour before rolling the dough out and placing it in a tart tin. Using a fork, stamp a few holes into the tart dough and set aside in the refrigerator (the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or frozen for up to 3 months, so can easily be made in advance).
Now, rind the hazelnuts into a fine powder using a spice grinder before transferring to a bowl. Add the caster sugar and the butter to the bowl and mix until a dough is formed. Add the 2 eggs, one at a time, into the mixture. Add the vanilla and satsuma zest and mix until evenly distributed. Set aside.
Place 1 cup of the purée into a bowl along with the spices, vanilla, maple syrup and sugars and mix until evenly combined. Set aside.
To make the butternut squash roses, cut the stem off the end of the squash, before using a slicer to thinly slice the stem into small circles. Make enough for 7-8 roses.
Take the tart out of the refrigerator and pour in the purée and the hazelnut frangipane, swirling around with a spoon or a wooden skewer to achieve a marbled effect. Fold the squash slices around each other on top of the frangipane, to create a floral effect.
Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean (tip: if the tart begins to brown far too quickly, cover loosely with aluminium foil). Allow to cool (can be stored in foil in the refrigerator for 1-2 days).
Thank you for reading.