Digging deep for our English roots: Inspired by the autumnal harvest now appearing, Emily Green spurns foreign produce in favour of local, cooked any way except school-dinner style

COOKING and eating seasonally may sound simple, but there are pitfalls. Roald Dahl's ferocious bon viveur Uncle Oswald would have us believe that grouse eaten on the Glorious 12th is a delicacy. I disagree, unless you like grouse un-hung, or frozen. That autumn apple in your greengrocer's might be from New Zealand and have spent longer in a cold store than on a tree. Several that I put in a pie recently had no moisture whatsoever; they simply curled up and died.

Yet finally there is a rich, autumnal harvest before us. Grouse is mature in the butchers' shops, and the weather is cool enough to crave it. As accompaniments, celeriac, beetroot and parsnips are arriving, earthy and distinctive. Frances Smith, a Kent farmer, reports that baby leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, baby brussels sprouts and the first squash are all on their way in.

The Women's Farming Union, worried we will ignore such delights, has published the Root Vegetable Survey, which claims memories of poor school dinners hold the key to many people's aversion. Restaurants have compounded the problem, spurning local produce in favour of exotics such as buffalo mozzarella salads or Thai curries.

Food with just such a foreign accent might have been predominant a year ago at the 192 restaurant in west London. The chef was Italian, her second an Australian. Yet a new young English chef, Dan Evans, has radically changed the tone. Last Friday I had curried parsnip soup, followed by grouse faggots on celeriac mash. They were so good, I asked for the recipes. His deft sous- chef, David Morosini, was kind enough to oblige.

I already had one of them: the soup is a classic, from Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book (Michael Joseph, pounds 18.99). The faggots are Mr Evans's, made from the legs of the grouse after he has already served the breasts. You may need to notify the butcher in advance that you would like caul, the casing in which to pack the faggots.

CURRIED PARSNIP SOUP

Serves 6

Ingredients: 1tbs coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seed

1 dried red chilli

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, split

1 large parsnip, peeled, cubed

2 heaped tbs butter

1 tbs flour

2 pints/1 litre beef stock

1/4 pint/150ml cream

chopped chives

Preparation: Grind the coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric and fenugreek. Gently sweat the parsnip, onion and garlic in butter over a low heat in a covered pan for about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and 1tbs of the spice mixture (store the rest in an airtight jar). Cook for several minutes, stirring, then gradually add stock. Cook until parsnip is tender, puree and correct seasoning. Reheat, add cream, stir and garnish with chives and fried croutons.

GROUSE FAGGOTS

Serves 10-12

Ingredients: 1lb/450g grouse legs, boned and minced

8oz/225g chicken, minced

4oz/115g veal, minced

8oz/225g minced pork

4oz/115g grouse liver and giblets

1 large onion, diced

1 glass red wine

1 egg

1-2 heaped tbs finely chopped fresh sage, rosemary, thyme (or half that amount if dried)

6 juniper berries, ground

pig's caul

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mirepoix (diced vegetables): finely chop 1 large carrot, 1 leek, 2 stalks celery, add 1 bay leaf and 1 sprig thyme

2 pints grouse, chicken or veal stock

Preparation: Preheat oven to maximum heat. Saute offal, so that it is raw in middle and caramelised outside. Chop. Combine other meats and add offal. Put chopped onion in a saucepan, add 1 glass red wine, and cook off the wine until it is all rather sticky. Add to mixed meats with herbs, ground juniper berries, egg and seasoning. Take care to undersalt. To check seasoning, fry a small dab and sample. Sweat the chopped vegetables for the mirepoix in 3- 4tbs olive oil or butter over a low heat until tender but not brown, about 15-20 minutes. As they cook, make faggot balls of the meat mixture, wrap with caul, knot and trim. Add 2-3tbs olive oil to a frying pan, heat and sear each of the faggots to crisp the caul skin. Spread the sweated mirepoix over the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add faggots and just enough stock, and maybe a glass of wine, to cover them. Place in hot oven. As soon as the stock bubbles slightly, reduce heat to 300F/150C/gas 2. Make sure the faggots do not boil or they will be tough as boots. Cook for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Serve on celeriac mash with pan juices.

CELERIAC MASH

Ingredients: 1 good-sized celeriac root

2 large potatoes

butter or cream

1 onion, peeled

salt and pepper

Preparation: Peel celeriac and boil with onion until tender, about 20 minutes. Cook potatoes, peel. Discard onion. Mash celeriac and potatoes together. Add butter, cream or olive oil to taste and season.

HOWEVER welcome the return of olde English cookery, you do not have to restrict yourself to classics to best employ the staples. Frances Smith will shred her baby brussels sprouts and stir- fry them with walnuts in peanut oil, garlic and a good dash of soy sauce.

The WFU survey shows the carrot as a runaway favourite over beets, parsnips and turnips. This recipe for Indian fritters comes from a Melbourne chef, Stephanie Alexander, and appears in her book Stephanie's Feasts and Stories (Allen & Unwin). These are perfect to accompany drinks; Ms Alexander serves them with fresh coriander.

CARROT FRITTERS

Serves 6

Ingredients: 5oz/150g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

5 fl oz beer

1 large egg, beaten

6 spring onions, or several baby leeks

5oz/150g grated carrot

Preparation: Sift together salt, spices and flour. Add beer and egg. Mix well. Stir in onions and carrots. Heat oil and deep-fry mixture by the spoonful until golden brown. Drain on paper and serve with toothpicks.

MY NEW greengrocer only brings in fresh horseradish for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year on 28 September. Most will go into one of the most delicious condiments there is to accompany boiled meats - pureed beetroot and horseradish. This recipe is from Simon Hopkinson, chef of Bibendum restaurant in South Kensington. L'chaim.

BEETROOT & HORSERADISH PUREE

Ingredients: 5-6in stick of fresh horseradish, peeled and grated

2 beetroots, cooked and peeled

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sugar

good pinch of salt

Preparation: Puree ingredients and store in the fridge in a screw-top jar. It should last for several weeks.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?