Wednesday 22 October 2008

Autumn Days

You know the idea of Autumn? Sitting inside in front of a glowing fire, all snug and warm when it's dark and cold outside; drifts of crisp red and gold leaves which you crunch underfoot and kick into the air; the air getting that little bit sharper and fresher, turning your cheeks pink and making you curl your sleeves around your hands to keep them warm. Pub lunches, with dark wood and bright candles... I love it.

What I hate is Actual Autumn; wearing about twelve layers to pad restlessly about the house in and still being cold, and being bored to death because there's nothing to do inside and you can't go out without getting soaked. Wet feet. Thoroughly depressing grey days.

You wouldn't think a season could change that much from one end of a country to the other (uh, unless you live in, I don't know, Russia. I'm talking an England-sized country, here), but Autumn has been a revelation to me these past few weeks. It turns out watching everything die is a lot more picturesque under bright, clear sunlight; on campus there's a bush such a bright shade of red that it looks like it's burning, and on Saturday my flatmates and I went walking on the common and found a baby Christmas tree growing in a secluded corner.

This is the sort of seasonal comfort food that my brain automatically associates with Autumn-in-inverted-commas, and it's been such a shock to actually have an Autumn (rather than the Northern alternative: 'Death Months') that I thought it was time to dig out the recipe. I made it for the first last year - just before Halloween, actually; I remember because I was hurrying to get tea ready for my dad and sister before I went out to a party. If it amuses you, imagine me cooking this dressed as Anne Boleyn. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi, I think.

Anyway, it's totally comforting, ridiculously easy (if you have a food processor. You know, the sort I Don't Have At Uni with me. I used a masher and tore up the breadcrumbs by hand) and extremely cheap, which gives me a good feeling about my ability to look after myself in the big wide world. Oh, and healthy, don't forget that. Don't let those Death Months strike you down, as we say up North.

...We don't actually say that. I might just tell people that we do.

Carrot & Parsnip Crumble
Recipe from Josceline Dimbleby's Complete Cookbook
Serves 4.

100g brown bread (leave crusts on)
675g carrots
450g parsnips
4 tbsp fromage frais or similar
(this time I used yoghurt; I've used creme fraiche before)
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
75g grated cheddar cheese
25g parmesan
(I skipped this and use 100g cheddar)
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Whizz (or tear) the bread to crumbs in a food processor, then set aside in a bowl. Peel and chop carrots and parsnips roughly, then boil them til very soft. Drain and put in the food processor (may need two batches) with the fromage frais, and whizz to a smooth paste.

2. Grate in the nutmeg & add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish and spread level.

3.Stir grated cheese, oregano and olive oil into the breadcrumbs and spread that evenly over the top of the pureed veg. Cook for 15-25 mins at 230C, til the topping is crisp and golden.


Finla said...

Yeah i full agree with the layers of clothes.
Atleas you have this delicious criumble to warm you up and i am jsut sitting here shivering and drooling to the picture.
Looks so yummm

Anonymous said...

cambridge has real autumn too! It's awesome!



could that possibly be the first time I got drunk and we almost fell off adam's roof and you slept with my hair as a pillow?



Abitofafoodie said...

Looks supremely comforting...

When I was a student, I used to grate bread on the cheese grater for breadcrumbs. It isn't the ideal, but reasonably effective!

Anna said...

That's the one, Soph XD. But replace 'slept with [your] hair as a pillow' with 'was almost suffocated and eaten alive in the dead of night', and you've got it ^^ <3

Antonia, that is a genius idea! I'd never have come up with that, cheers!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

A savory crumble? Love it!!!!! Let's welcome Autumn for this!

Y said...

I love the idea of Autumn.. and the cold weather here is pretty mild, so I guess I can't complain too much about actual Autumn either! Besides, any weather that produces a crumble as tasty as that, can't be all that bad! :P

Unknown said...

happy autumn! we're approaching summer down here.

Emily Rose said...

looks wonderful- I had a similar experience when I went away to University- here in New Orleans (my home town) it is still hot and extremely humid, the leaves don't change colors, and it rains quite a bit, when I went further north to Tennessee I experienced the kind of Autumns you see in the movies- it was breathtaking!

grace said...

what a marvelous dish! although i've never had this particular creation, it sounds irresistible and both heart- and body-warming. :)

test it comm said...

I like the sound of a savoury vegetable crumble.

Rosie said...

I love the sound of this savoury crumble Indigo. Just what is required for comfort food on these cold autumn nights.

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

Hey, happy that you have decided to start tagging 'cheap-ass student food.' As atm I am living on breakfast cereal. Sainsbury's basics and tesco value breakfast cereals, no less. Love long time Gxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Ooo Yummy :) I'm glad to see you are coping with a student kitchen..I sadly am not...TITANTIC version of Brownies last matter I will try Pumpkin Pie on Friday for Halloweeeen...bring on the disaster!

But yeas this looks sooo nice :) We have autumn here it's great I look out my kitchen window and the tree outside changes colour like every day and the walk to lectures is only bearable because I get to walk through crunchy leaves xD

I hope you are alrite my love

Anonymous said...

looks yummy darling!
we have real autumn here too the sun shining through the firey coloured leaves is a great way to walk up to uni AND I tramp throught the most collosal(sp?) piles of crunchy leaves on the way to uni. (someone sweeps them to one side of the path so theres a leaf free space but I ignore this concept and crunch throught he pile of leaves :P)
I am actually coping pretty well with the cooking for myself on the cheap dealy, I made chicken with canneloni beans in a paprika and tomato sauce with leeks and mushrooms etc. and it was pretty cheap easy and healthy and as you can guess i was very happy with myself :)
love yooooo

Emily Rose said...

there is an award for you on my blog!

Anonymous said...

Urgh, look at all you bloody STUDENTS showing off about your REAL AUTUMNS! Well HERE UP NORTH snow is forecast for the week and my bus home this morning got diverted through Hayfield of all places due to 5FT FLOODING! THAT'S A NORTHERN AUTUMN!

I actually want that crumble so much I might just attempt it. From underwater that is, here in the flood zones.