October is a wonderful, comforting month, and my favourite of all the year in a culinary sense as it is a time associated with the harvest, so there is always plenty of produce to choose from.
With the evenings darkening earlier, I think October offers a giddy sense of romanticism – especially for cooks. It is with this seasonal finery and a timely slowing of pace in mind that I have created this menu.
The apples, roasted whole and stuffed with chestnuts, honey and sage, to serve alongside rolled pork, make a gorgeous combination. Chestnuts also appear in the dauphinoise, topped with hazelnuts, pairing beautifully with the cream and potatoes.
As for the pudding, plums baked with star anise are a magnificent match for this pavlova, which is made with golden caster sugar and a cream filling lightened (just a little) with yogurt. It is decorated with nuts as the final link in this seasonal spread.
Light a few candles and dig into a feast that makes the most of this month’s harvest.
Prep time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes resting
- 400ml double cream
- 400ml full-fat milk
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ nutmeg, freshly grated, or use more or less to taste
- 1.5kg waxy potatoes, thinly sliced, preferably using a mandolin
- 1 fat garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
- Butter, to grease and also to dot over the top to cook
- 40g Parmesan or Gruyère, finely grated
- 80g vacuum-packed chestnuts, coarsely grated
- 30g hazelnuts, skinned and roughly chopped
- Bring the cream and milk to the boil in a large pan with the bay leaves, nutmeg, one teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the potatoes are just pierceable with a knife but not fully cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and rub a deep-sided baking dish (approximately 20 x 30cm) all over with the garlic clove, then grease with some butter.
- Remove the bay leaves from the potato mixture and add the cheese. Spread half this mixture over the dish, then scatter over the grated chestnuts and top with the remaining potato mixture. Dot with butter and cover with foil (try not to let the foil touch the top of the dish as this will inhibit the crust), then bake for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Remove the foil, scatter with the hazelnuts and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the top of the dauphinoise is nicely coloured and the hazelnuts are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.