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
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.
- 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.