Perfect timing: Mark Hix serves up delicious, seasonal dinner-party treats

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In the second extract from his new book on seasonal cooking, Mark Hix serves up hearty dinner-party treats.

October is the month when the weather starts to become colder, and I begin to spend more time in the kitchen, updating classic recipes and experimenting with ingredients. Farmers' markets are always a stimulating place to buy seasonal food, because stallholders generally bring just what they've grown and produced. You're bound to come across more interesting varieties of vegetables and fruits – and although the produce might not necessarily be cheaper than mass-produced imports, you know that the money you are handing over is going directly to the farmer and not being passed down through a chain in which the producer at the bottom receives a fraction of the price.

Scallops with black pudding and Jerusalem artichoke purée

Serves 4

The sweetness of the scallops works really well with the earthiness of Jerusalem artichokes, which should be coming into season now.

300g Jerusalem artichokes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
80g butter
150g good quality black pudding
1tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
12 medium scallops, cleaned and trimmed
A handful of picked parsley

Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and cut them in half if large. Add to a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and whizz in a blender or food processor to a purée. Return to a clean pan and place over a low heat. Warm the purée for a few minutes, stirring so it doesn't stick, until it has reduced slightly to a spoonable consistency; it shouldn't be wet and sloppy. Season to taste and stir in about 30g of the butter; keep warm.

Cut the black pudding into small nuggets and set aside ready to cook. Rub a non-stick heavy-based frying pan with the tiniest amount of oil. Heat until almost smoking, then add the scallops and cook over a medium-high heat for a minute on each side. Immediately remove from the pan to avoid overcooking and place on a plate; keep warm.

Lower the heat and add the black pudding, parsley and the rest of the butter to the pan. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes to warm through, stirring every so often.

To serve, spoon the Jerusalem artichoke purée on to warm serving plates, place the scallops on top, then spoon the butter and black pudding over.

Chocolate-dipped walnuts

Makes about 48 pieces

These are perfect after dinner, and can be made a week ahead. They rely on the best ingredients – freshly shelled walnuts, good dark chocolate and the best cocoa powder.

24 walnuts in the shell or 150g good quality shelled walnuts
200g good quality dark chocolate
60–70g good quality cocoa powder

Shell the walnuts if you've bought them in their shells. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water until melted. Sift the cocoa powder on to a shallow tray and have another tray ready.

Dip the walnuts into the melted chocolate a few at a time, then remove with a fork, tapping it on the side of the bowl to encourage the excess chocolate to run back into the bowl. Now drop them into the cocoa, turning the walnuts with a clean fork and shaking the tray so they are well coated, then place on the clean tray. Repeat with the rest of the walnuts.

Store the coated nuts in an airtight container in a cool place and eat within a week.

Mutton broth

Serves 4

Long, slow cooking not only suits mutton, it also gives you a delicious stock to make this broth. You can vary the vegetables and pulses here, according to what you have in your fridge and larder – perhaps adding yellow or green split peas, maple peas, celeriac or any other root vegetable. Even a few cabbage leaves at the end would add colour and texture.

200g neck of mutton fillet
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 litres fresh lamb or chicken stock (or 2 good quality stock cubes dissolved in this amount of hot water)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
30g pearl barley
1 medium carrot
1 medium parsnip
100–120g swede
1 small turnip
1tbsp chopped parsley

Cut the mutton roughly into 1cm dice and put into a large heavy-based pan with the thyme leaves and onion. Pour on the stock to cover and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer very gently for about an hour until the mutton is tender.

In the meantime, soak the pearl barley in enough cold water to cover for an hour. Peel all the root vegetables and cut into rough 1/2 cm cubes. Drain the pearl barley and add to the broth with the vegetables. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then ladle into warm soup plates and serve.

Butcher's steak with bone marrow and wild mushrooms

Serves 4

This cut is highly regarded in France, where it is known as onglet. In the United States it is called hanger steak. Here, it is more likely to get used as stewing steak than cooked as a proper steak. Old-school butchers knew how good it was, though, saving it for themselves once the beast was butchered – hence the name. It lies just below the kidneys, near the flank and has a wonderful flavour. You'll need to order it in advance from your butcher, and ask him to saw the bone marrow shaft in half lengthways.

4 butcher's steaks, each about 200g
2 x 8cm lengths of bone marrow, halved lengthways
A couple of good knobs of butter
4 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
50–60g fresh white breadcrumbs
2tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp vegetable oil for brushing
120–150g wild mushrooms, such as winter chanterelles

Set the butcher's steaks aside on a plate to bring them to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

To prepare the bone marrow, heat a little of the butter in a pan and gently cook the shallots and garlic for 2-3 minutes until softened, then remove from the heat.

Scoop the bone marrow out of the bones with a spoon and chop roughly. Toss with the shallot mix, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and some seasoning.

Spoon the mixture back into the bones, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 12–15 minutes, or until lightly coloured.

Meanwhile, heat a ridged griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan. Season the steaks, lightly oil them and cook in the hot pan for about 3–4 minutes on each side, keeping them fairly rare, then set them aside to rest in a warm place.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the butter in a heavy-based frying pan until foaming. Add the chanterelles, season and cook over a high heat for just 30 seconds. (More meaty wild mushrooms will take longer; allow a few minutes.)

To serve, cut each steak into about 5 slices and arrange on warm plates with the stuffed bone marrow alongside. Spoon the mushrooms over the steaks and serve.

Whipped potatoes with chanterelles

Serves 4 as a starter

Two simple earthy ingredients – potatoes and wild mushrooms – come together to make the perfect dinner party starter. The secret here is to be generous with the amount of butter you use in the whipped potatoes so that they turn into a kind of very rich sauce. Chanterelles look particularly attractive, but you can use ceps, hedgehog fungus or girolles – whatever you can lay your hands on.

300–400g waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte or Anya
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g butter, cut into small pieces
100ml double cream
150–200g chanterelles, cleaned
1tbsp chopped parsley

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash finely – ideally using a potato ricer. If you use a masher, then push them through a sieve afterwards. Put the potato into a pan with 200g of the butter, season with salt and pepper and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Add the cream, re-season if necessary and keep warm.

Melt the remaining butter in a large heavy-based frying pan and heat until foaming. You may need to cook the chanterelles in two batches. Drop them into the pan with the parsley, season and cook over a high heat for a minute or so, turning every so often.

To serve, spoon the whipped potato in a thin layer on each warm plate and scatter the chanterelles over the top. Serve at once.

'British Seasonal Food' is published by Quadrille, £25. To order a copy at a special price, including free p & p, call Independent Books Direct on 08700 798 897

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