Autumn Leaves

The trees are turning, leaves are crunching underfoot and the breeze has a little nip on its tail – autumn is here in all it’s glory. Along with the season come the fruits of October, among them apples, cabbage and potatoes.

Why not pair some of those crisp, tart Bramleys with ham, cheddar and a nice slice of sourdough for a sandwich that ticks all the boxes of flavour and texture? Start with a slather of maple mustard, pile on some batons of ham, top with thin slices of apple and shower with grated, mature cheddar.

After some time in a hot oven , a melty, toasty, gooey-in-a-good-way lunch is ready.

Ham, Apple and Cheddar Toasty

1 slice sourdough, toasted
1/2 teaspoon each mustard and maple syrup, blended until smooth
1 slice of ham or a handful of ham batons
1/4 Bramley apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated cheddar or 2 slices

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Spread maple mustard on bread, top with ham then fan apple slices on top. Mound the cheese over the apples evenly. Pop the sandwich in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the apples are tender.

Options: You can used turkey instead of ham on the sandwich, good for Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers.

Another recipe at the top of my arsenal of late is a tray bake developed by New York Times recipe maven Melissa Clark. Pieces of potato, wedges of red cabbage and sausages dabbed with mustard are roasted in a hot oven until crisp and tender. I added Bramley apples to my version that had been tossed with cinnamon and a little golden castor sugar. The apples went in with the sausages and cooked just until tender, adding a sweet component to the dish – and a heavenly aroma to the kitchen. You can never have enough tray bakes, which work especially well on busy weeknights when time is at a premium.

Tray Bake A La Melissa Clark

1 large baking potato, cut in chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 head red cabbage, cored and cut in 1″ wedges
1/2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon each coriander and nigella seeds, lightly crushed
4 each rosemary and thyme sprigs
4-6 fresh sausages – I used pork with apple
Dijon mustard
1 large Bramley apple, cored and cut in 1/2″ thick wedges
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon golden castor sugar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 220C/425F. Toss potato with 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on one end of a sheet tray. Place the cabbage in an even layer at the other end of the tray and scatter the onion over everything. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with seeds and tuck the herb sprigs in amongst the vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes. Toss apple slices with lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar. Smear each sausage with a bit of mustard. Remove tray from oven and flip cabbage then lay sausages over everything and the apple slices evenly. Sprinkle with Parmesan and return to oven for another 15-30 minutes, until sausages are no longer pink and completely cooked through. Serve with mustard, if you like.

Even though autumn is beautiful, I’m still trying to find the silver lining as the darkness of winter edges in and temperatures drop. Thank goodness for the therapy of cooking, the warmth and power of the oven and a basket of lovely produce to brighten the night and fill the belly.

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