Skye McAlpine's Autumnal Recipes
Image copyright: Once Milano
I'm a long-time fan of Skye McAlpine, and her new book, A Table For Friends, is a masterpiece in teaching us how food should be enjoyed, needing no special occasion to cook. Skye's ethos is all about relaxed cooking, and the book features delicious, Italian-inspired recipes that can be thrown together for two or more. We may not be able to have big dinner parties at the moment, but my copy has already been tried and tested on suppers for my family and close friends.
Skye has shared some autumnal recipes from the book with Seraphina. Featuring simple, seasonal ingredients such as pears, chestnuts and rosemary, the dishes are perfect for sharing with family or friends. And if you're looking for some gorgeous crockery to serve on, check out our line of beautiful homeware.
Tagliatelle With Gorgonzola, Pear & Walnut
This is an indulgently rich balm to soothe body and soul in the bitter cold. The pear and walnut are by no means essential, in fact a plate of tagliatelle drenched in just the creamy, peppery cheese sauce is pure joy. However, the chunks of fruit add a delicate sweetness that cuts through the intense richness of the sauce and it's little extra effort to throw them in.
80ml single cream
450g Gorgonzola cheese, chopped
1 large or 2 small pears
A handful of whole walnuts
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fill a large saucepan with water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the water is galloping, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the cheese, then set over a medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the cheese has almost completely melted. Core the pear(s) and slice finely, then roughly chop the nuts.
Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water (roughly 1/4 cup), toss in the cheese sauce and reserved cooking water, then, just before serving, toss through the pear and walnut pieces. Add a little black pepper, if you like, and serve immediately.
Wild Rice & Lentil Salad
This light, nutty recipe works equally well as a centrepiece or a side dish. I like it best with wild rice. You can cook the components - rice, lentils and crisp friend onion - ahead of time in stages, if that makes life easier, then simply assemble everything on the day you want to eat it. Once assembled, it will sit happily in the fridge for a day or two.
200g wild long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 litre water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for seasoning
120g Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
500ml vegetable stock
1 onion, finely sliced
120g pomegranate seeds
A small bunch of mint, leaves picked
Sea salt flakes
Toss the wild rice into a saucepan. Cover with the measured water and add 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to the boil over a high heat. When the water begins to gallop, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook over a gentle heat for 25-30 minutes. The rice should be chewy and some grains may burst open like exotic flowers in bloom. Drain off any liquid, then tip into a large bowl, seasoning generously with olive oil and a little salt while the rice is warm.
While the rice cooks, toss the lentils into a separate saucepan. Cover with the stock and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes until just cooked; you want them to hold their shape nicely and have a little bite to them. Drain away and liquid and add to the bowl with the rice. Fluff together with a fork and season with a little more olive oil.
Lastly, cook the onion: heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry until very crisp and dark. Combine the onion and pomegranate in a serving dish with the grains and pulses.
Before serving, tear in the mint leaves, toss, check for seasoning and serve.
Flourless Chocolate, Chestnut & Rosemary Cake
Chocolate cake is often dry and, in spite of its dark, sumptuous appearance, rather disappointing to eat. This, however, chic-ly dusted in a cloud of icing sugar, is the ideal balance of velvety chestnut and rich, fudgey chocolate. The rosemary is entirely optional, but gives it a soft grown-up-ness. I use the cans of sweetened chestnut purée here, but if you can't find it easily feel free to use the unsweetened variety readily available in British supermarkets: use 400g, whisking it lightly with 100g icing sugar, until smooth, before you begin.
Salted butter, for the tin
500g sweetened chestnut purée
75g ground almonds
40g cocoa powder
Leaves from 4 rosemary sprigs, plus extra sprigs for the top
Icing sugar, to dust
Heat the oven to 180C / fan 160C / Gas 4. Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Pour the chestnut purée into a large mixing bowl. Separate the eggs and lightly beat the yolks with a fork, then add them to the purée. Pour in the ground almonds, add the cocoa and mix well. Roughly chop the rosemary leaves and add them to the batter, then stir until well combined.
In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the chocolate mix. Pour into the tin and sprinkle on a few rosemary sprigs. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out. The cake will keep nicely for 2-3 days. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
A Table for Friends by Skye McAlpine (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26) is out now. Photography by the author.