We start by thinking about the time of year; which vegetables, legumes and leaves are in season? It’s autumn now, meaning pumpkin, squash and mushrooms are in season and as the weather gets colder, root vegetables and brassicas will be in their prime.
Once we’ve chosen the seasonal ingredients, we think about how we want the salad to taste: fresh and zingy or warming and robust? For winter, we focus on roasting or sautéing vegetables to concentrate their flavour, whereas in summer, serving vegetables steamed or raw showcases freshness. To create a comforting dish for cooler climes, we choose warming spices like cumin and paprika, along with woody herbs like rosemary and thyme to complement the seasonal vegetables. For brighter spring and summer salads, we turn to soft herbs like basil, coriander and mint.
With the key seasonal vegetables and flavours in mind, it’s time to build the salad from base to dressing. We chose a grain or legume for sustenance that will complement the seasonal vegetables – our winter favourites are black barley and lentils.
For contrasting textures and flavours, we like to pair cooked elements like roasted vegetables, lentils and grains with something raw, like thinly sliced raw vegetables and leaves. Adding chopped nuts and seeds brings extra crunch to every mouthful.
When it comes to protein, our favourites are soft cheeses like feta or goat’s cheese which pair well with autumnal flavours like pumpkin and mushroom. Roasted chicken and hot smoked salmon also work well in winter salads and add depth of flavour.
When making the dressing, we think about whether the salad is bitter, sweet or salty, then use contrasting flavours for the dressing. Choose a base for the dressing like buttermilk, yoghurt, or oil, then add acidity with lemon, vinegar, or pomegranate molasses which bring sweetness too. We love using tahini in our salads as it’s great for binding the dressing and offers a nutty, rich flavour.
Grains can be dressed as soon as they’re cooked, to ensure they absorb the flavour of the dressing, but never dress leaves ahead of eating as the leaves will lose their crunch.
GAIL’s House Blend coffee can be enjoyed in so many different ways. We love how it tastes on its own or with milk. Thinking ahead towards warmer weather, we wanted to share a tasty cold brew recipe to make at home. Oranges brighten the rich chocolate notes of GAIL’s House Blend for a refreshing summer brew.
500ml Water (bottled or filtered is best)
30g coarsely ground GAIL’s House Blend (or another coffee of your choice)
A jar or bottle with a wide neck
- Rinse and scrub the oranges under a warm tap to remove any wax. Dry.
- As if it were an apple, use a vegetable peeler remove all of the peel (not the pith) from 1 orange. Reserve the other for later.
- Place the peel and ground coffee in your jar and pour the water over.
- Stir once to make sure all of the ingredients are wet.
- Refrigerate and let sit for 12-16 hours.
- Strain and serve with lots of ice. Garnish with a strip of fresh orange peel.
Buckwheat pancakes with caramelised apples
and salted honey butter
If you’ve never tried buckwheat pancakes, weekend brunch is the ideal time. Buckwheat flour has a nuttier, more distinctive flavour than regular wheat flour and these French-style crêpes (typical in Brittany) are perfectly complemented by golden caramelised apples and salty-sweet honey butter. This recipe is a doddle to whip up, but you’ll need to make the batter the night before to allow the buckwheat to soften and the flavours to develop. Oh, and also, there’s no sugar in this recipe as all the sweetness comes from the fruit and honey.
for the pancakes:
100g wholegrain organic buckwheat flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
300ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil or clarified butter, for frying
for the caramelised apples:
3 medium Bramley or Granny Smith apples (tart varieties work best)
30g unsalted butter
for the salted honey butter:
40g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
½ tsp flaked sea salt
4 generous tbsp crème fraiche
Start by making the pancake batter. Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Add this to the flour and whisk until it’s lovely and smooth. Next, whisk in the melted butter. Transfer to a jug, cover with cling film and rest in the fridge overnight.
To make the caramelised apples, remove the cores and pips (no need to peel them) and slice each apple into 8 wedges. Heat the butter in a frying pan and when foaming, tip in the apple wedges. Cook until golden brown and caramelised, turning each wedge over once. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
Next up is the salted honey butter. Warm the honey over a low heat for 2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened butter, a piece at a time, to create a glossy emulsion. Sprinkle in the salt and keep warm until ready to serve. If it cools and starts to solidify, just gently reheat until liquid again.
To cook the pancakes, heat a heavy-based frying or sauté pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil or clarified butter, tilting the pan so the base is evenly coated. Give the batter a stir if necessary and then pour in just enough to coat the base of the pan – you want the pancakes to be paper-thin. Cook for 2 minutes until golden, then flip the pancake with a spatula and cook for another 2 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a warm plate and continue with the remaining batter. You should end up with a pile of 16 pancakes.
Lastly, to serve, take each pancake and fold it in half twice to form a triangle. Serve 4 pancakes per person, overlapping them in the centre of each plate. Arrange six or so apple wedges on top, add a scoop of crème fraîche and finish with a generous drizzle of warm honey sauce. Now, all that’s left is to tuck in and enjoy your hard work.
We think this breakfast makes the perfect start to a weekend. It’s simple to make and the shared nature of this dippy dish gets the whole household involved.
50ml olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked, hot or sweet paprika to taste
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp caraway seeds
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
50g feta, crumbled
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 whole loaf of good white sourdough
Start by preheating your oven to 200C then grab a large, oven-proof frying pan and warm it up over a medium heat. Toast the caraway seeds until they’re all lovely and fragrant then add the olive oil and let it warm through, frying the toasted seeds for another minute or two.
Next up, add the onion and pepper. When it’s all soft and jammy – 10 to 15 minutes – stir in your chilli flakes, cumin and paprika and cook for another couple of minutes. Tip in the chopped fresh tomatoes, give it a good stir and cook for five more minutes before adding the tinned ones. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, then cook for two minutes more.
It’s best to turn down the heat at this point and let it simmer for around 15-20 minutes for the sauce to thicken. When it’s a rich, dark red, turn off the heat let it cool down a bit.
Next, take a wooden spoon and hollow out eight little wells in the surface of your sauce to crack the eggs into. Taking care not to break the yolk, use a fork to gently bury the egg whites under the sauce but leave the yolks on show.
Crumble the feta everywhere but the egg yolks, drizzle with olive oil then place in the oven. After five minutes, the yolks should be just set. If you like them completely hard, give it another five minutes before sprinkling with coriander and drizzling with a touch more olive oil.
And that’s it. All that’s left is to rally the troops and tuck in with a fresh loaf of crusty white sourdough. Enjoy.