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Peter Sidwell – Autumn’s culinary delights

Our columnist, Peter Sidwell, looks ahead to the many wonderful cookery opportunities that autumn will bring, especially in our native Yorkshire.

Autumn is usually a chef’s favourite season to cook, and I’m no different. It offers endless opportunities to enjoy delicious full-flavoured ingredients, and I love any excuse to create deliciously-satisfying comfort food dishes that will give you a big gastronomic cuddle.

I’m a big believer in putting love and effort into your cookery, as it will always be returned through the food you produce. I suggest heading into the back of the kitchen cupboard and dusting off the slow cooker, as there is no better way to enjoy this season’s ingredients than by chucking them all in for the day and letting it do its thing. After a long, hard day at work, returning home from the cold to a piping hot, flavoursome, slow-cooked meal really is about as good as it gets at this time of year. Summertime salads just don’t have the same effect! But remember, the cheaper the cut of meat, the longer the cook that will be required.

As you can imagine, the best cuts are shoulder and breast of lamb, shoulder of pork, ox cheek or shin of beef and chicken and turkey thighs. If you pop in to your local butcher and tell them that you’re looking for something for your slow cooker, I’m sure they will point you in the right direction – it is their job after all! Add in lots of root vegetables, spices, yummy herbs, and some good local beer or cider for additional flavour. Follow these very basic rules and you’ll have a cracking time in the kitchen this autumn.

As far as the weather goes, it’s been a mixed bag of a summer really, and one that’ll be remembered more for dreary drizzle than an abundance of barbecues on sun-baked weekends! I don’t know about you, but as soon as the 1st of September hit, I woke up to much cooler mornings, and soon noticed the darker evenings rolling in at an alarming rate. However, all is not lost, because as we say goodbye to British tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries, it’s hello to pumpkins, wild mushrooms and British apples, meaning there’s a whole range of seasonal dishes for us to apply our culinary skills and foodie imaginations.

I was recently lucky enough to cook at an amazing corporate event, where I was tasked with cooking Yorkshire tapas for some international clients who wanted to experience a true taste of Yorkshire and what it has to offer. I’m thrilled to say that, from a culinary point of view, I was blown away by what is available and what is made in our county because the quality of the food really is second to none. If I think back to when I first started cooking as a graduate from Woldgate School in 1992, then heading to Beverley College, to where we are today, it has been an amazing journey for myself as a chef, the food producers, and the many guests who have eaten my food over the years.

Particularly at this time of year, I urge you to get out to your local farm shop, deli or food festival. Have a good look around those shelves and stalls as you’re sure to find something that will spark your culinary imagination. Even the smallest ingredient may anchor inspiration for an individual dish in its own right. I know it always does for me!

I hope you all enjoy cooking this autumn, and do let me know what you make via my Twitter account, which is @Petersidwell, as I would love to know.

Happy cooking, Pete

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