September – the beginning of autumn, a time of abundance and the culmination of the growing season.

This month the shops are full of sweet, tender home grown produce. It’s the best month for making preserves or filling the freezer!

The first English apples, pears and plums appear with almost every vegetable you can think of easily available.

Our bodies start to look forward to soup again and light but warming dishes fit the bill at meal times.

Below is a selection of quick and easy seasonal September dishes to inspire you through the month.

Salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes served with parsley sauce

Fishcakes with Parsley Sauce

Serves 4

These fishcakes are a delicious combination of salmon and smoked haddock. The parsley sauce uses up the left over poaching milk and has less calories than mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

Fishcakes

1 medium leek, about 100g

400g floury potatoes

140g salmon fillet

220g undyed smoked haddock fillet

300ml milk

1 large bay leaf

25g butter

Salt & pepper

Plain flour, 2 eggs, 100g breadcrumbs for coating

Oil for frying

Parsley Sauce

20g butter

20g flour

250 – 300g milk

15g parsley – chopped

Salt & pepper

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut into pieces and boil until tender.
  2. Thinly slice the leek,
  3. Heat the milk slowly in a large pan with the bay leaf, a grind of black pepper and the leek. When it’s at simmering point, add the fish fillets, put a lid on the pan and cook without boiling for 2 mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cool, strain the milk from the pan and reserve. Transfer the fish & leeks to a plate, remove the bay leaves. Roughly flake the fish, trying to keep it in large chunks.
  5. Once the potatoes are tender, drain and allow to steam dry. Mash with the butter and a little of the milk to make a fairly stiff mash. Season with salt & pepper.
  6. Mix the fish gently into the potato. Divide the mixture into 8 pieces & chill.
  7. Make the parsley sauce: melt the butter in a heavy based pan, add the flour and fry a little without browning. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining poaching milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Once the sauce is thickened and bubbling, stir through the parsley, season to taste, put a lid on the pan and keep warm.
  8. Finish the fishcakes: roll each cake in the flour, dip in beaten egg and coat in breadcrumbs.
  9. Heat about 5mm depth oil in a large frying pan. Test the temperature by dipping an edge of one of the fishcakes into it. When it sizzles, the oil is ready. Cook the fishcakes for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, draining them on kitchen paper once they are cooked. Serve with the parsley sauce.
Upside down tart made with fresh fig halves cooked with stem ginger and ginger sponge

Fig and Ginger Tart

Makes 8 pieces

A delicious pudding made with fresh figs, this is easy to make and impressive to serve.

6 fresh figs

4 pieces stem ginger

75ml syrup from the ginger jar

75g butter

75g caster sugar

100g SR flour

2 eggs

1 tsp ground ginger

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4
  2. Use an non stick, 20cm, oven proof frying pan and pour the syrup into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Half the figs and arrange cut side down into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Chop the ginger and scatter over the top of the figs.
  5. Beat the butter, sugar, flour, ground ginger and eggs together, spoon over the figs and level roughly.
  6. Put into the oven and cook for 30 – 40 mins, until the sponge is cooked.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 15mins, cover the pan with a serving plate and turn over. The pudding should fall out of the pan. Serve warm.
Two nut rissoles served with spinach raita and salad

Nut Rissoles

Makes 8

These are delicious vegetable burgers, eat them with or without a bun. The spinach raita is a great sauce to eat with them. Again, either in or out of a bun.

650g mixed vegetables – eg. Carrots, celery, onion, leek, fennel, pepper, celeriac, squash, broccoli, cauliflower…

100g chopped mixed nuts

100g breadcrumbs

1 egg or 2 tbsp flax powder

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

Salt & pepper

Flour for dusting – I used gram flour in the photo, but wholemeal spelt or rye also works well.

Oil for frying

  1. Chop the vegetables roughly, put into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Tip into a mixing bowl, add the breadcrumbs, egg or flax powder, curry powder, mixed herbs, salt & pepper. Mix everything together well and allow the mixture to sit for 10mins.
  3. Divide into 8 portions, press the mixture together to form patties. Coat well with flour.
  4. Heat about 5mm oil in a large frying pan, when a piece of rissole, dropped into the oil sizzles, it’s hot enough. Fry the rissoles in two batches, approx. 5mins each side, then drain on kitchen paper.
  5. Eat hot with spinach raita or cool & either refrigerate or freeze for use later. Re-heat, at 180C/350F/Gas5 for 15 to 20 mins on a baking sheet.

Spinach Raita

300g fresh or 2 blocks frozen leaf spinach

1dstsp oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp mustard seed

350ml natural yoghurt

1 tsp red chilli paste or to taste

salt and pepper

  1. If using frozen spinach, defrost, squeeze out the water from the blocks and chop finely. If using fresh spinach, steam in a little water, drain, squeeze out the water between 2 plates and chop finely.  Allow to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a small pan and fry the cumin and mustard seeds until they start to pop. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Mix the yoghurt, toasted seeds, chilli paste and spinach together, season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
A bowl of kedgeree

Spinach & Smoked Haddock Kedgeree

Serves 4

Kedgeree is one of those comfort foods that’s perfect when the weather starts to turn chilly, but is still fairly light. I’ve added spinach as a sneaky way of increasing the vegetables.

4 eggs

2 fillets undyed smoked haddock

¾ mug brown Basmati rice

1 large onion

1 tbsp butter

150g fresh spinach leaves

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

Handful of parsley, chopped

  1. Put the rice into a small pan, add just under 1 mugful water. Bring to the boil, put a lid on the pan and turn down low. Time for 20mins, then allow to sit with the lid on until ready to use.
  2. In a separate pan, cover the eggs with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10mins. Once the time is up, drain and cool in cold water, then peel off the shells and quarter the eggs.
  3. Slice the onion, melt the butter on a medium heat in a large pan and fry until softened. Add the curry powder and garam masala, fry a little, then add the spinach, stir to wilt. Reduce the heat to low.
  4. Tip the rice into the onion & spinach mixture, stir to combine and season with salt & pepper.
  5. Cut the haddock into chunks, stir through the hot rice, with the egg quarters and chopped parsley. Put a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 5mins to allow the fish to cook and the eggs to warm before serving.
A pot of sweet potato and red pepper chilli

Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Chilli

Serves 4

This is great, quick and easy to make, spice it up or down or miss the chilli out completely if you’re not a fan.

4 small sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks

1 red pepper – de seeded & cut into chunks

1 onion – sliced

1 red chilli – optional

1 large clove garlic – sliced

2cm piece of root ginger – grated or shredded

1 can red kidney beans – drained & rinsed

1 can coconut milk

100g fresh spinach

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp oil

  1. Fry the onion, pepper and sweet potato for a few minutes to soften the onion and add a bit of colour to the sweet potato.
  2. Add the chilli, ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander. Stir in and add the kidney beans and coconut milk.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender (5 to 10mins).
  4. Stir through the spinach and adjust the seasoning.
Baked chicken breast cooked with prosciutto and cherry tomatoes

Chicken & Prosciutto Parcels

Per person

A quick, easy supper dish, make these in the morning ready to cook later.

1 breast of chicken

2 slices Prosciutto

6 cherry tomatoes

Ground black pepper

  1. Pre heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5
  2. Depending on how many portions you are making, cut a square of tin foil for each chicken breast.
  3. Place a chicken breast in the middle of each piece, grind over black pepper.
  4. Crumple 2 slices of Prosciutto over the length of each piece of chicken.
  5. Score the skins of the tomatoes and put either side of the chicken.
  6. Bring the foil around the chicken and seal to make a loose parcel.
  7. Put into the oven and cook for 20mins.
  8. Remove and allow to rest for 10mins. Arrange the chicken on a plate, mash the tomatoes into the juices and pour over.
  9. Serve with vegetables or salad
Beetroot fritters served with a pot of cucumber raita

Beetroot Fritters

Makes 8

I made these for my teenage children one night when I was going out, thinking they would be enough for 4 and I would have some when I came home. They were completely scoffed & I ended up with a piece of toast!!

1 large beetroot

2 medium carrots

1 large onion

1 tsp cumin seed

1 heaped tbsp horseradish sauce

100g chickpea flour

100ml water

Salt & pepper

Oil for frying

  1. Coarsely grate the beetroot & carrots, finely slice the onion.
  2. Mix with the cumin seed, horseradish sauce, chickpea flour, water, salt & pepper.
  3. Heat about 5mm oil in a large heavy based frying pan, when hot, take handfuls of the vegetable mixture and put them in the pan. Fry on a medium hot heat for 5 mins each side. The oil should be hot enough to bubble and brown the fritters, but not hot enough to burn them.
  4. Turn the fritters over and cook the other side for 5 mins.
  5. Drain on kitchen paper.
  6. These can now be eaten as they are or cooled and reheated in a preheated oven at 170C/325F/Gas3 for 15mins. Serve with cucumber raita
A pot of cucumber and yogurt mixed with spices

Cucumber Raita

Serves 2 – 4

1 cucumber

4 heaped tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tsp cumin seed

½ tsp mustard seed

1 tsp oil

1 tsp salt

  1. Coarsely grate the cucumber, put into a colander or sieve, sprinkle over the salt and allow to sit for around 20mins.
  2. While you are waiting on the cucumber, heat the oil in a small pan add the cumin and mustard seeds and heat until they start to pop. Remove from the heat, put a lid on the pan to stop the seeds from flying over the kitchen and allow to cool. Stir into the yogurt.
  3. Rinse the cucumber under cold running water and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible. Stir into the yogurt and serve.
Pear slices arranged over an almond tart

Pear and Almond Tart

Serves 8

Almonds and pears are a great combination. This tart is delicious served warm with fresh cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, custard or ice cream. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

225g rich shortcrust pastry

125g butter

75g caster sugar

4 eggs

150g ground almonds

6 cardamom pods, shelled & the seeds ground

4 to 5 pears

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 26cm flan dish. Bake blind
  3. For the filling, cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and beat well. Stir through the almonds and ground cardamom seeds.
  4. Peel, core and quarter the pears, cut each quarter into 3 slices.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 190C/375F/Gas5
  6. Level the almond mixture into the baked flan case and press the pear slices into it. Bake for around 30mins.
  7. Allow to cool a little and serve warm.
A glass of fresh figs, raspberries & blackberries marinated with honey

Honey Marinated Figs with Autumn Berries

Serves 4

The season for beautiful, velvety figs is very short. Marinate them in honey and serve with autumn fruit for a decadent, healthy, easy pudding. Make extra and have them with porridge or muesli the next morning.

4 fresh figs

12 ripe blackberries

24 fresh raspberries

4 tsp good runny honey

  1. Remove the stalk from the fig and cut into quarters. Drizzle over the honey and stir to coat the fig well. Allow to sit for an hour, then mix in the berries.
  2. Serve straight away or put into the fridge and eat for breakfast the next morning.
Chocolate cake baked with pear halves

Chocolate Pear Cake

Makes 8 pieces

Chocolate and pears are delicious together, you also use tinned pears. Serve on its own as a piece of cake, or as dessert with yogurt, crème fraiche, or cream.

Cake

4 pears

150g soft butter

150g caster sugar

150g SR flour

50g cocoa powder

100ml boiling water

3 eggs

Drizzle

50g 70% dark chocolate

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp double cream

  1. Line the bottom of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
  3. Peel, quarter and core the pears, arrange core side up around the bottom of the cake tin.
  4. Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water together to make a paste.
  5. Put the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa and eggs into a bowl, beat well to combine.
  6. Spoon over the pears, level the top and bake for 30 to 40 mins, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out.
  8. Make the drizzle: melt the chocolate with the maple syrup, once melted, stir in the cream.
  9. Once the cake is cool, drizzle over the chocolate sauce.
Smoked and plain haddock cooked with spices vegetables and layered with rice

Haddock Biryani

Serves 4

This made a beautifully light, flavoursome dish. The ingredients list is long, but most of it is spices. Don’t be put off.

1 haddock fillet, cut into chunks

1 smoked haddock fillet, cut into chunks

1 medium onion,chopped

1 corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob

3cm slice of butternut squash, cut into 1cm cubes

¾ mugful white basmati rice

25g butter

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp mustard seed

¼ tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground coriander

3 cardamom pods

1 small cinnamon stick

1 small carton Greek yogurt

3 tbsp milk

Pinch saffron

Juice of ½ lemon

Small bunch parsley, chopped

Salt & pepper

  1. Heat half the butter in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry until beginning to soften.
  2. Add the cumin seed, mustard seed, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick to the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the chilli powder and ground coriander.
  3. Add the butternut squash and corn kernels, fry a little more, then put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down low and cook for 10mins.
  4. Rinse the rice well, until the water runs clear. Put into a pan with water and cook for 5 mins. Drain well.
  5. Stir the yogurt, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper into the vegetables.
  6. Take a clean pan, cut a circle of non-stick baking parchment to fit the bottom.
  7. Put the pan on a medium heat with the parchment in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Put the remaining butter onto the parchment in the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle half vegetable mixture over it.
  9. Mix the fish chunks together, scatter half over the vegetables, followed by half the rice.
  10. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, fish and rice. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat to low and cook for 20mins.
  11. Turn the biryani onto a serving plate, scatter with a little more parsley and serve.