Friday, October 26, 2007

Autumn Fruit Salad

A couple of weeks ago at college I was struggling though the finer points of tax accounting when my mind drifted (as is its wont) to food, and more specifically figs.

The stalls at Chapel Market had been heaving under the weight of plump velvety figs and I had been thinking about how they signify Autumn for me - around September/October every year as the leaves start to turn, London succumbs to a glut of figs. On street stalls and markets there are big fat purple figs aplenty. And I love them.

So I thought I wanted to celebrate them and their heralding of autumnalness.

Slowly a plan starting to form - Apple crisps that looked like leaves; nuts, that seem autumnal to me (although, are they?!); bright physalis the colour of golden leaves; pears, also lovely this time of year; a hint of alcohol to warm up the seasonal chill...

And lo, my autumnal fruit salad was born! I think it'd make a really pretty and tasty dessert for a nice meal - light without being too saintly and virtuous, and simple but a little special too.

Autumn Fruit Salad
(Serves 4)

1. Poach your pears
- Peel and quarter lengthways 3 slightly unripe, or only-just ripe conference pears. Place them in a saucepan with enough red wine to cover them (or add a little water if you don't want to use so much wine). You can add a cinnamon stick, some cloves and/or some orange peel for extra spice at this stage if you like.
Bring to the boil and let simmer slowly for 10-15 minutes until soft through to the poke of a knife (Don't over cook though!)
Take out and leave to cool.

2. Make your apple crisps
- Core and slice one apple (I like Pink Lady apples for this) very thinly. As thinly as humanly possible! (I did it with a knife, but I guess if you have a mandolin that'll be better). Lay them on baking paper on a baking tray and scatter scantly with caster sugar.
Bake in a low oven (about 120C) for 30-40 mins, turning halfway and sprinkling sugar on the other side. They should be nice and crisp when done.

3. Toast some almond flakes
Take about 75g almond flakes and heat in a frying pan, tossing regularly until just browned and smelling delicious.

4. Compose
- Trim and quarter 6 ripe figs
Halve 16 physalis
Chop pears into chunks
Optional: Quarter 6 unsulphured dried apricots.
Pile the figs, pears, physalis and apricots stylishly on little plates and scatter with almond flakes and apple crisps.

5. Serve as is or with rick greek yoghurt.


Anonymous said...

Please make me this when I come home next year, it looks very yummy but I'm in the wrong season for this now.............

Julie said...

This looks wonderful, although I am completely unfamiliar with physalis. I particularly like the idea of the apple crisps looking like leaves. And London has a glut of figs in the fall? I'm envious!

lydia saucepan said...

Thank you julie! Physalis are lovely - really bright tasting - tart and sweet. And beautiful. I think they're called cape gooseberry too - maybe you know them under that name?

Yes, and the figs are great; the UK as a whole generally isn't great for fresh fruit and veg but sometimes there's some real treats around.

Really like your blog btw - been following for a while!

And thank you too for the comment K! - will defo make it when you are back home.