The change in the seasons is starting to crunch underfoot. There is a nose-tingling chill winding along the Liffey in the early evening and the faint aroma of peat briquettes mingles with the malt from the Guinness factory. It is my favourite time of year. The melancholy of the shortening days hangs in the air and the darkness starts creeping into the mornings. Everything seems more poignant in September, wistful somehow.
I saw my first pumpkin at the market the other day. Not without a small sigh of sadness for the summer that might have been, I carted him home, a head full of delight at the thoughts of blue cheese, walnuts and rosemary. I am determined to make up for 'Summer 2011: Sodden and Frantic' with a September full of copper coloured beer, hand knitted mittens and lovely times with friends.
San Choi Autumn
If pumpkin is the King of the vegetables, then radicchio is the Queen. She is all frills and fronds, an elegant edition to the plate, carrying her lurid colour with grace. This recipe is inspired by San Choi Bao, the Asian lettuce cup dish, but uses the earthy Autumnal flavours of pumpkin and goats' cheese (blue cheese was too overwhelming).
Serves 2 as a main, 4 for starter.
350 grams thin steak
apple balsamic vinegar (David Lleweyen's is perfect for this dish)
Cut the woody core from the bottom of the radicchio and peel back leaves carefully, and set aside.
Chop pumpkin (or butternut squash), into 2cm chunks, and toss in garlic infused olive oil, or the minced garlic and olive oil until coated.
Season and place in a 190 degree C oven for 30 minutes.
When the pumpkin is about finished, chop steak into 2cm wide, 5cm long strips and bash out with a meat mallet.
Place flour in bowl and season well.
Coat beef strips in flour.
Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed pan and grill strips on either side for about three minutes in total.
Roll up to eat, preferably with a malty Irish red ale while wearing a jaunty wooly hat.
Not going to win any beauty pageants.