Fall in love with these country house inspired autumnal recipes from Ireland's Blue Book
Five autumn recipes we're looking forward to cooking now that summer is (nearly) over
Embrace country house cooking with the spiced bramley apple chutney recipe from Newforge House. Photograph: iStock
With the end of summer lamentably among us and the kids back to school, we're gearing up for shorter days, colder nights and the return of the dreaded pumpkin spiced latte brigade.
Not only is the weather going to change, though, but also the way we cook, too. When the air begins to crisp and the leaves start to fall, we all love to prepare in-season recipes that showcase the best flavors, with sharp berries, woody asparagus and sweet, young vegetables shifting to the more intense flavours of mushrooms and game.
Food provenance has become something of a trend in recent years, yet Irish country house hotels have been supporting the movement for decades, growing wonderful fresh produce on their estates throughout the country - and there's no place better that features the best of Irish fall flavors and produce. Below we take a look at some of the wonderful autumn ingredients being grown and used by Irish country houses, and how you can incorporate them into your own home cooking this autumn.
Newforge House’s Autumnal Apples
Apples might be the first typically autumn ingredient that comes to mind. Think fresh, pressed apple juice; crisp, cold cider and warm apple pie, spiced with cinnamon.
County Armagh has over 40,000 acres of orchards, and for this reason, is known as the Orchard County. Newforge House, a boutique country house in Armagh, has been growing apples in their orchards for decades, to the delight of their guests. Newforge comes into its own during the autumn. The creepers that drape across the front façade of the house turn from verdant green to blazing orange to deep, burnished red as the season matures. The fires are lit and the house radiates warmth and comfort as the evenings draw in.
With six bedrooms, Newforge House is as small and intimate as one could want. Yet, the acres of surrounding grounds and woodlands also create a wonderful sense of space. With less than 12 guests on all but the busiest days, a stroll around the peaceful grounds can usually be enjoyed in complete solitude. Guests can also visit the small orchards on the grounds. These provide enough fruit for proprietors John and Louise to create delicious desserts, preserves and chutneys for their guests.
If you’re feeling inspired to create your own autumnal apple treat, then try this delicious apple chutney recipe from Newforge House.
Longueville House - making use of marvellous mushrooms
Fungi fans can rejoice as autumn draws near, as it is peak mushroom season in Ireland. Ireland has the ideal mild, damp climate for growing certain types of mushrooms. Mushroom foraging has become a popular activity in rural Ireland, and there are now many organisations offering group tours that instruct on the best places to find wild mushrooms, and how to recognise those that are edible from those that aren't. Edible mushrooms in Ireland include the Cep, the Chanterelle, the Parasol and the Puffball. As a rule, one should never eat or even taste a mushroom unless they can confidently identify its type. Better yet, stick with the experts!
Longueville House has been celebrating the mushroom for almost two decades, having held its first-ever mushroom hunt on the grounds of the estate in 2001. This year, Longueville’s 18th mushroom hunt will take place on October 13th. Guests are invited to don their wellies and explore the estate on a guided mushroom hunt, learning about the different varieties and the best places to find them. Back at the estate after the hunt, guests will be treated to a sumptuous banquet of autumn mushrooms.
Longueville House serves up their mushrooms in traditional and more innovative ways. If you’re feeling adventurous try this deceptively delicious mushroom chocolate truffles recipe from chef-proprietor William Callaghan, of Longueville House.
Coopershill House’s Versatile Venison
Venison comes into season around September in Ireland, and the season lasts until mid-winter. Its rich flavour allows it to work wonderfully in warming stews and with other autumnal ingredients such as mushrooms.
Coopershill House – an elegant family-run country house in County Sligo, has a herd of over 250 Fallow Deer roaming the fields and woodlands of the secluded estate. As such, venison features prominently on the menu. In fact, on nights when the meat is served, the team can boast a menu sourced from within about 500 metres of the kitchen.
Christina, head chef at Coopershill has come up with many innovative ways of serving this marvellous meat. These include smoked venison salad with melon and raspberry vinaigrette and venison meatballs in a Mediterranean sauce. For a true classic and people-pleaser, see her delicious venison medallions with juniper sauce recipe.
Ballymaloe House’s heavenly honey
In Ireland, the best time to harvest honey is in August and early September. The interest in beekeeping and honey-production has swelled in the past couple of years - likely the result of increased awareness of the devastating effects a decline in bee populations would have on the world’s ecology. The happy outcome of this is an increase in small honey farms producing speciality honey. The flavour of honey depends on the types of flowers from which the bees are gathering their nectar. Thus, no two producers will produce honey that is quite the same. Planting specific plants in the pollination area that surrounds the hives allows the beekeeper to influence the honey's flavour.
Ballymaloe House has been producing honey for the past five years. A beautiful and historic country house in County Cork, food provenance has always been part of the philosophy of Ballymaloe. The honey collected is used by the team of chefs to create beautiful desserts, salad dressings and is part of the Ballymaloe breakfast buffet every morning.
A simple salad dressing like the one below is a wonderfully different way to bring honey into your home cooking.
Dunbrody House is Nutty about Autumn
The hazelnut is an often overlooked product of the autumn harvest, despite growing well in Ireland. The nuts grow wild as well as being cultivated by farmers, and are generally ready for picking between September and November. Nuts, as a rule, grow better in warmer climates, however, hazelnuts are hardier and seem to stand up better to Ireland’s mixed climate than it’s nutty relatives. Hazelnuts are popular nuts for cooking with, adding texture and protein to salads, pasta dishes and baked goods.
The team at Dunbrody House in County Wexford has cultivated hazelnuts since 2008 when they planted 12 hazel trees along the pathways to the kitchen gardens, ready for picking by the chefs. For an indulgent treat with a nutty twist, try this decadent dark chocolate pots recipe from Dunbrody House.
Ireland’s Blue Book is a unique collection of country house hotels, historic houses, castles and restaurants around the island of Ireland. Ireland’s Blue Book Gift Vouchers can be used in any Blue Book property, for relaxing overnight stays, delicious meals, luxury spa breaks and more.
For more information and inspiration, visit irelands-blue-book.ie.