A perennial autumn favourite, pumpkin can be used in a range of different applications, from pumpkin pies and tarts, to soups and risotto. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even use pumpkin to make an autumnal version of waffles, or include it in a pumpkin spiced latte. It works well with both sweet and savoury dishes, and is a good source of vitamin A, C and dietary fibre.
Slow cooking and traditional meats
Stews, casseroles, chilli con carne, or pulled pork, whichever meat-based winter warmer you opt for, the name of the game is slow and steady cooking. According to Emily Deacock, marketing and events assistant at Event’s 2014 Caterer of the Year Harbour & Jones, the company has been noticing a marked trend in the way meat is being used in catering. "Firstly there has been a return to using traditional English meats like game, such as venison and wood pigeon.
"Secondly, started by the in vogue pulled pork, methods used to tenderise meat have become more and more popular," she says. "Following suit, duck confit, beef brisket, ham hock and anything slow-roasted are cropping up everywhere, including on our menus."
Simon Denton, chef director at Zafferano, says the caterer is using a lot of rabbit, with its rabbit sausage rolls proving particularly popular.
As the leaves begin to fall, summer favourite coleslaw gets a winter makeover that makes use of the seasonal ingredients available at this time of year. Winter slaw often contains red cabbage, nuts such as pecans and walnuts, carrots, red onion, pomegranate seeds and even parsnips. There is generally no set recipe for winter slaw, you can be as creative as you like. It works well with cooked meats such as gammon or left over cold cuts.
Sweet and savoury concepts
The trend for mixing sweet and savoury flavours looks set to continue through to the end of the year. Deacock says one of Harbour & Jones’ recent culinary conquests has been turning traditional dishes into something really special by using unconventional ingredients.
"This often involves using savoury ingredients to make what is usually a sweet dish," she explains. "On both our recent and forthcoming menus, we feature collaborations such as parsnip panna cotta, black pepper meringue, cheese doughnuts and parsnip ice cream. Such dishes impress guests by offering the unexpected, creating fun experiences and initiating conversation. "
Foraging and homegrown
Denton explains that the trend for foraged food, and food that has not been messed around with or is not too processed is also one that is expanding into the autumn/winter months.
"We are doing a lot of homegrown things, like sprouted lentils and beans. We are cooking them and taking them in a slightly different direction." He describes the Noma style of Scandi cooking as being very popular at the moment.
Interactive eating is also set to be big this autumn/winter, as food shouldn’t be viewed just as fuel, it needs to please in terms of taste and presentation as well - that's the view at Harbour & Jones.
"But more than that we think food can be used as an interactive experience," explains Deacock. "We’ve developed pudding stations for guests to discover around the room. Instead of having to stay sitting at the table for three courses, people can mill around, have a change of scenery and explore pudding in a different way. From doughnuts to cupcakes, trifle sharing stands and a ‘retro bar’ stocked with vintage puds, dessert becomes an interactive experience and a talking point."
South American/Japanese fushion
Perhaps a surprising trend, and not necessarily exclusive to autumun and winter, is South American and Japanese fusion cuisine. Denton says it builds upon the long-running trend around South American food, but with the cleaner, more simple approach of Japanese food.
"For quite some time people have been talking about South American food, but the whole Peruvian/Japanese style is very interesting to me. We have had quite a few requests for this style of food," he says, noting Sushisamba is a restaurant that particularly champions this type of cuisine. "It’s my hot tip for autumn and into next year," Denton adds.
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