20 best autumn recipes: part 1

From baked squash to a classic blackberry and apple pie, Observer Food Monthlys selection of the pick of the season Part 2 of this series launches tomorrow

Richard Olneys pears in red wine( poires au vin rouge)

Serves 4
feeing pears 4 or 5, slightly under ripe
orange 1
sugar 150 g
good red wine 1 bottle

Cut the pears in two, lengthwise, core and peel them and arrange the halves in the bottom of an earthenware or enamelled ironware terrine if they are to be cooked in the oven, Pyrex or porcelain will do as well. Wash the orange to remove any hint of insecticide or preservative, and shave a long spiraling from the peel, keeping clear of the white, pithy material. Add it to the pears, sprinkles very lightly with cinnamon, add the sugar and the wine, bring to a boil, and leave, covered, to simmer for about 2 hours( with certain hard ranges of cooking pears, one may permit as much as 6 to 8 hours cooking time ), or until they are coated in a thin syrup. Serve them chilled, accompanied by tuiles or other simple cookies.
From The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney( Collins, 14.99 ). Click here to order a transcript from the Guardian Bookshop for 12.29

Jane Grigsons blackberry and apple pie

Blackberry and apple pie: When you assemble windfall apples to make this tart, sum and variety of fruit do not much come into it. Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

When you pick blackberries in the autumn, and gather windfall apples to make this pie, sum and various forms of fruit do not much come into it. You construct the best of what you have. This is the way it should be. This is how regional dishes once developed. People utilized what their garden and neighborhood could provide. Sometimes a suggestion from a guest or the arrival of a new ingredient with the development of trade and manufacture might give a new aspect to an old dish, with luck a new refinement, most likely at the least, in recent times a short cut or replace ingredient that did not improve it. I cannot help feeling that before the great bramley conquering it was introduced in 1876 blackberry and apple pie made with the windfalls of pippin or reinette varieties tasted much better. Nowadays, I use tart windfall Blenheim orange apples, and then after Christmas Belle de Boskoop. This is a real treat as we do not grow it in Wiltshire, and depend on the kindness of January guests from France for an occasional supply.

With apples of this quality, you do not need so many blackberries( cookery books often give equal weights of each ). If you are making the pie soon after picking blackberries, rather than from a store in the freezer, weigh them and add up to doubled their weight in apples.

Assuming you start with 1kg apples and kg of blackberries, put half the blackberries into a large saucepan. Peel, core and slice the apples, sprinkling them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them darkening: put the peel and cores into the blackberry pan and encompas with water. Cook slowly at first, then faster as the juices run, so that you end up with about 150 ml of strained liquid. Dissolve 200 -2 50 g sugar in the liquid, the sum according to the tartness of the fruit.

Pack the sliced apples and remaining blackberries in layers in a deep tart dish. Mound up the fruit in a curve above the rim of the dish. Pour the sweetened, cool juice over the whole thing. Cover in the usual way with shortcrust tart. Brush over the top with egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Put into the oven at 200 C/ gas mark 6 for 45 -6 0 minutes depending on the depth of the dish. Turn the heat down somewhat once the pastry is set firm and softly coloured. Protect it with butter newspapers from becoming too brown. Test the apples with a thin pointed knife through the central hole in the pastry: when it goes through them easily, they are done. Serve with custard sauce or cream, preferably cream, clotted cream above all.
From Jane Grigsons Fruit Book by Jane Grigson( Penguin, 12.99 ).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 12.99

Anna Del Contes trofie with walnut sauce( trofie in salsa di noci)

Trofie with walnut sauce: a Ligurian speciality. Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

This sauce from Liguria is traditionally used with pansoti or corzetti, local pasta shapes induced with a simple dough of flour and water. Pansoti are the Ligurian ravioli, filled with wild herbs, beet leaves, borage and ricotta.

Corzetti come in two shapes: in one, the rolled-out dough is cut in the shape of a figure of eight; in the other, a far rarer shape, the dough is cut in the shape of big coins and each coin is stamped with a special wooden tool carved with a pattern. In the old days, aristocratic families had their own postage with the coat of arms on it. Corzetti are rarely found on the market, but another Ligurian pasta shape, trofie, can be used; these are more widely available from supermarkets.

As for the walnuts, they should be fresh-looking with no dark spots and in big pieces, depicting no sign of powder. Of all nuts, walnuts are the ones that most quickly turn rancids and they become unpleasantly acid when old.

Serves 4
walnuts 100 g, shelled
one-day-old crustless bread 30 g
whole milk 3-4 tbsp
garlic 1 clove
extra virgin olive oil 100 ml
doubled cream 2 tbsp
parmesan cheese 50 g, grated, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
trofie 350 g

Soak the walnuts in boiling water for about 15 minutes and then drain and remove as much of the scalp as you can. Preheat the oven to 120 C/ gas mark.

Break the bread into small pieces, put it in a bowl and pour over the milk. Leave it for a few minutes and then squeeze out the milk and put the bread in a food processor together with the walnuts and the garlic. Blitz while adding the petroleum through the funnel. Transfer the concoction to a serving bowl and mix in the cream and the parmesan. Taste and season with salt and a little pepper. Place the bowl in the oven.

Cook the trofie in boiling salted water. Drain, reserving some of the water, and turn it into the bowl with the sauce. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, mix well and serve at once with a bowl of grated parmesan.
From Anna Del Conte on Pasta by Anna Del Conte( Pavilion, 18.99 ).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 16.40

Simon Hopkinsons cep tarts

Cep tarts: perfect for a light lunch with a rocket salad and some thin slivers of parmesan. Photo: Martin Poole for the Observer

Persillade basically means chopped garlic and parsley. It is a classic of Provenal cookery and is added to many sauted dishes at the last minute, along with a few cases breadcrumbs to soak up any excess olive oil or butter. When added to fried ceps, they become cpes la provenale and if you are not wishing to bother with the pastry, then this dish is wonderful just as it is.

If you are lucky enough, like me, to have been foraging for fresh ceps in Welsh woods, then these are the mushrooms to use for this dish. Patently, these are not readily available in the shops! So, as an alternative, I would suggest either a combination of dried or tinned ceps( which are readily available in expert food shops and some supermarkets) with large, black, flat mushrooms. Dried mushrooms are best because they have a much stronger flavour, and are easy to reconstitute.

This would be perfect for a light luncheon with a rocket salad and some thin slivers of parmesan.

Serves 4
fresh ceps 450 g or dried ceps 110 g
flat mushrooms 225 g
butter 110 g
salt and pepper
flat-leaf parsley 1 bunch, leaves only
garlic 4 cloves, peeled and chopped
dry breadcrumbs 50 g
lemon grated rind of 1
egg 1, beaten
parmesan cheese 2 tbsp, freshly grated

For the pastry
strong plain flour 225 g
salt a pinch
unsalted butter 225 g, cold, cut into small pieces
lemon juice of
iced water 150 ml

Begin by making the pastry, preferably the day before; surely several hours in advance. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl and add the butter. Loosely mix, but dont blend the two together in the normal route of tart making. Mix the lemon juice with the iced water and pour into the butter/ flour mixture. With a metal spoon, gently mix together until you have formed a cohesive mass. Turn on to a cool surface and shape into a thick rectangle. Flour the work surface and gently roll the pastry into a rectangle measuring about 18 cm x 10 cm. Fold one one-third of the rectangle over towards the centre and fold the remaining part third over that. Lightly press together and rest the pastry in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Return the pastry to the same position on the work surface and turn it through 90 degrees. Roll it out to the same dimensions as before, and fold and rest again in the same way. Repeat this turning, rolling, folding and resting process three more days.( Phew! This is the moment when you wish youd bought ready-made pastry .) Place the pastry in a polythene container and leave in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

If you are using dried ceps, encompas with lukewarm water and leave to reconstitute for 20 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze dry with your hands.( Strain the soak water and use it to make a soup or stock .)

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry into four circles measuring about 15 cm across and 3mm thick. Place on a floured tray and keep cool in the fridge.

Slice the mushrooms thinly. Heat the butter in a large frying pan until only turning golden. Hurl in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook briskly until crusty and golden brown, driving off any moisture that builds up. Add the parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs and lemon rind and mix thoroughly. Turn into a bowl and leave to cool. Remove the pastry circles from the refrigerator, brush the leading edge with beaten egg to a depth of 1 cm and spread the mushroom mixture over the four circles up to the edge of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and put on to greased baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 15 -2 0 minutes or until the pastry has risen around the edges and is thoroughly crisps underneath( check by lifting with a palette knife ). Serve piping hot.
From Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson( Ebury, 16.99 ).
Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for 24.60

Jane Scotter and Harry Astleys baked squash with celery and herb cream

Baked squash with celery and herb cream: sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash is ideal for this. Photograph: Tessa Traeger

This recipe was devised on one of the rare occasions that we had a major power cut, with three young children needing to be fed and only the timber burner for warmth and cook. We wrap the squash in foil and tucked them into the edges of the wood burner, away from the flames. The children dipped cubes of bread into the cheesy, fondue-style filling. It became a popular supper dish in less chaotic hours, too.

Our favourite squashes to use for this recipe are uchiki kuri( also known as onion squash ), buttercup and blue ballet. All have dense, strongly flavoured flesh that soaks up flavors and fat without becoming mushy and marrow-like. The scalp of the squash retains its beautiful, vibrant colouring and is thin enough not to need peeling. We think it is the best part.

You can also serve this dish as a starter, employing individual smaller squashes. The photo shows sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash that is ideal for this.

Serves 2 hungry people
squash 1, about 1-2kg
creme fraiche about 300 ml( you need enough to fill the squash by)
lemon juice of
celery leaves 3 sprigs, or 1 lovage leaf
rosemary, thyme or sage 2 sprigs
butter 1 knob
garlic 1 clove, finely chopped
nutmeg a little, grated, or cinnamon stick
good melting cheese, such as comte, gruyere or cheddar 150 g, grated
ocean salt and black pepper

To garnish( optional)
olive oil 3 tbsp
sage 4-5 leaves

Heat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Cut the top off the squash to make a lid and put aside. Scoop out the seeds and a little of the flesh so that you are left with a clean squash bowl. To stop the squash toppling over, it is a good idea to make a base for it to sit on: take a roughly 30 cm square piece of foil, squeeze it together and shape it into a bangle. Set it in a roast tin and place the squash on top.

Fill the squash three-quarters full with creme fraiche and then add the lemon juice, herb sprigs, butter, garlic and grated nutmeg or the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the eyelid back on the squash. Cover with foil and bake for at the least an hour. The cooking period will differ, depending on the size of your squash. It is done when a sharp knife slides through the flesh with no resistance.

Remove the herb sprigs and sprinkle in the grated cheese. Place the squash back in the oven, without the foil, for about 10 minutes, until it has browned and the cheese is nice and gooey.

The fried sage garnish is optional, but it looks and savours great. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the sage leaves, building sure they are completely dry if you have washed them. Fry for about 30 seconds, until crisps, then remove and place on kitchen paper to drain.Sprinkle the foliages on top of the squash filling.

The easiest style to serve this is to spoonful out the creamy contents on to each persons plate and then cut chunks off the squash horizontally, working your route down. Serve with toasted sourdough bread.
From Fern Verrow by Jane Scotter& Harry Astley( Quadrille, 25 ).
Click here to order a transcript from the Guardian Bookshop for 17.50

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