Autumn is gently turning to greet us. Conkers, missile like, will soon be plummeting to the ground, a reminder that change is in the air, watch out!
Mother Natures mischievous unpredictability brings an array of new delights our way, butternut squashes, apples, juniper berries, pumpkins, sweetcorn and mushrooms are arriving, all the while crunchy leaves are beginning to fall. Slowly.I love the seasons. I love brightness and blue skies.
I’ve enjoyed an Irish summer, often they’re a very mixed bag of extremes, weather wise. Mizzle and mist one day, rain and wind the next, bright sun and balmy evenings the following, and often, all may figure in the same day! This summer, however, was steadily bright and warming, blue skies and bright sunshine, this was the case in West Cork anyhow.
We picked blackberries and plums to make jams,
Each Sunday we went to the local farmers market where the Gubbeen stall gloriously beckoned.
Gubbeen is run and owned by the Ferguson family, specializing in all things pork and cheese. On one particular Sunday I got chatting with the owners son, Fingal. We talked bacon, cured and smoked, cheese and sausage rolls, and then my most favourite of delights, black pudding. Not exclusively Irish though, for the French and Germans have all been using pigs blood to create this wonderful black delicacy for centuries. Fingal suggested having a black pudding party for my foodie friends, which I am considering. I surreptitiously added to the conversation a quote I’d read a few days before, from the wonderful Winston Churchill, “A cat looks down upon a man, and a dog looks up to a man, but a pig will look a man in the eye and see his equal.” Suffice to say the pigs at Gubbeen are kept in the best conditions, with a sea view no less.
For me, if and when I eat meat, I like to know that the animals have been reared in the best possible conditions. Gubbeen’s pork is premium, for sure, look at that view!
One Sunday, amongst the organic vegetables I spotted a butternut squash. Normally I’d make a soup, instead I played around and made these delights of both sweet and savoury magic, morish and nourishing. They’ll leave you pleasantly full, and sometime in the future wanting more. I’ve also since made these with spinach and peppers, for now I’ll leave you with the Butternut squash rendition. The Gubbeen cheese is not essential, and Parmesan makes a happy replacement. Even the most Carnivorous characters can’t help but fall for these, they are superlative and so lovely, and you’ll feel great after eating them. Though remember you’ll need a clean tea towel that you don’t mind staining, so a good reason not to throw away old ones. Better still, you can make them the day before and whip up the sage sauce in moments. Sage deserves a blog all of its own, so for now I’ll simply say, sage keeps away bad spirits!
Butternut Ravioli with Gorgeous Gubbeen
Serves 6 as a starter, 3-4 as a main, depending on hunger levels!
Butternut squash, 1 kg, cut lengthwise and seeds scooped out
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp
Egg yolks 5
Nutmeg a good grind roughly ½ tsp
Gubbeen/ Parmesan 100g
Brown flour 1 cup
Butter 1 tbsp
Sage leaves 14
Organic single cream 250 ml
PRE-HEAT oven to 180C/ Gas 4
PLACE the squash in a roasting tin, cut-sides up
BRUSH with olive oil and season generously
SPRINKLE over cinnamon and bake for 50 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and allow to cool.
SCOOP the cooled butternut squash into the centre of a clean tea towel.
ROLL up the tea towel as if making a Christmas cracker and bring the ends together, then twist to get rid of as much liquid as possible.
CHOP butternut squash and transfer to a large bowel.
ADD ricotta, egg yolks, nutmeg, half the cheese, seasoning and mix well.
SPRINKLE flour onto a clean surface
SHAPE butternut mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in the flour.
PLACE on a clean baking tray lined with baking paper and leave to chill in the fridge until ready to eat.
HEAT butter in a small saucepan
ADD sage leaves and lightly sizzle for about five minutes.
POUR in cream and stir in cheese.
COOK on a gentle heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
When ready to eat
BRING a large pan of water to the boil and gently drop the balls in, they take only minutes to cook, like Gnocchi, when they rise to the top they’re cooked.
SPOON onto warmed plates.
POUR over sauce and saunter. Serve immediately.