Bring on Autumn


Our gardens seems to be changing daily at the moment, more and more deciduous trees are turning golden and the leaves are starting to carpet our driveway and lawn. When I was visiting Mt Difficulty restaurant  several years ago with a tour group the Maître D  said the best Autumn colour is in the first week of May (Although after our very dry summer I think we might be there). Central Otago is certainly the most stunning region in New Zealand for Autumn colour and sitting drinking a Pinot Noir in my favourite Carrick or Mt Difficulty, surrounded by the hills of Bannockburn with the vineyards and Cherry Orchards lined up below you – it really can’t get any better.


Now is the season for Pumpkins, Walnuts, Quince, Pears and Apples plus the last of the Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries. I find myself making jars of jelly with all sorts of Autumn fruits especially Quince, Crab Apples and my favourite Japonica Apples. Jelly is such useful kitchen favourite and although its delicious dripping from a hot croissant fresh from the Farmers Market. I probably use it more by adding 2- 3 tablespoons along with a splash of wine to deglaze a frying pan after cooking a steak or lamb chops, or the wonderful Havoc Pork tenderloins and always for a chicken breast . Once it has reduced down add a knob of butter and  pour over your selected meat- Easy and delicious. Always stunning is adding  2-3 tablespoons of red currant Jelly to a Beef Bourguignon at the end of the cooking time . Just adds a touch of sweetness.

I have included a couple of  charming Autumn recipes;

Bruschetta with Pumpkin, Blue Cheese and Sage
1 kilogram pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1cm pieces
6 large sage leaves, torn roughly
extra Virgin olive oil
8 Slices of Ciabatta Bread or a sliced French Stick on an angle
1 clove garlic
120 grams blue cheese

Preheat oven to 200 deg Celsius
Place the pumpkin and sage leaves in a baking dish.
Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is beginning to brown around the edges.
Toast bread on both sides. Rub with the garlic clove.
Divide the pumpkin among the toast slices and top with cubes of blue cheese.
Bake 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese just begins to melt.
Serve drizzled with a little more olive oil.

Steamed Blackberry Puddings 
250 grams blackberries or … raspberries , rhubarb etc
3 eggs separated
100 grams caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2 tablespoons melted butter
150 ml buttermilk
200 gams self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

 Pre-heat oven to180C. Grease 6 x200ml ramekins.
Divide the blackberries between the ramekins. (If using frozen blackberries do not thaw them out.)
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the caster sugar until thick and frothy. Stir in the melted butter and buttermilk.
Mix in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the egg whites.
Spoon the batter into the ramekins. Stand the ramekins in a baking dish pour in enough water to come half way up the sides of the ramekin. Cover the baking dish with tin foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let the puddings sit for 5-6 minutes before turning them out.

Great with Vanilla Custard


What’s Been Fun:

  • Walking the beach at low tide on one of our many calm sunny warm days.
  • Going to the first Italian dinner at ‘ The Esplanade” complete with Italian wines and a stunning menu from Pia Paolo.   You could have been in a Tratorria anywhere in Italy… Look out for the next one.
  • Picking the last of our roses.
  • Eating the flavoursome cherry tomatoes and courgettes from the garden.
  • Writing a list of all  the little maintenance jobs around the house and knocking them off one by one. ( so satisfying)
  • Having Michael  Coughlin back at Pier 24.
  • Chatting with Annabel White for a few hours about travel tours.
  • Going to the Movie’ Florence and the Ufizzi Gallery’ at the weekend – There are 3 more movies in this series :             ‘Teatro Alla Scala’ from May 12  :’ Leonardo Da Vinci’ from June 9  : ‘The Papal Basilicas of Rome’ from June 30              All at the Rialto . I am sure other centres must have these amazing movies too. Check them out….
  • Planting my Tulip bulbs in pots and when they start to flower I will dot them around the garden. I did this last year and it was a great success.

What Am I Looking Forward To :

  • High Tea with the New Zealand Ballet   2 High Tea with the RNZB Dunedin
  • Fashion Event hosted by the Golden Centre and Otago Polytechnic – Thursday 19th May. Proceeds are  going to the Otago Community Hospice.Dunedin’s Golden Centre Mall, is hosting Darnell 16 –  a glamorous fashion show of priceless international couture from the Darnell Collection – not seen before in Dunedin, presented by author Charlotte Smith (Dreaming of Chanel and Dreaming of Dior) and curator of the Darnell Collection, (   Darnell Collection    
  • My tour to Turkey beginning on the 25th May.
  • Spending a week in Edinburgh  after Turkey planning a new tour to Scotland and Normandy.
  • Demonstrating at Kitchen Things  as part of the Otago Polytechnics Food design conference  – June 30th                              Along with Dunedin’s  ‘Food Share ‘ and the NZ  wide  ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ Campaign it will be a night of instant inspiration creating meals out of the food donated to Food Share on the day. Think this might be hilarious…
  • Our garden is going to be in the May edition of NZ Gardener !!!

As you can see there is a lot on .. Have fun. Judith XXX