mmmm… despite the sudden influx of summer sunny warmth, I’ve been basking in thoughts of autumn foraging. I made the most amazing forage pie last autumn season, all plucked a mere tiptoe from the back door. What you see above is the final remaining slice, about to be demolished.
I picked a few handfuls of chestnuts from some nearby woodlands. It seemed to be a bad mast year for those trees, as I usually get a good bagful…Either that or I was just way too slow off the mark; entirely possible. It’s such a lovely task, biking down earthy leaf-covered trackways to known trees and wandering all round them, scuffing chestnut cases under the heel of your boot to reveal shiny tufted nuts inside (or little pathetic scrawny things that the squirrels have ignored without bothering even to broach the spikes), ignoring the passers by wondering what the hell you’re doing, studying the ground and muttering to each other about what you might be scrabbling about in the undergrowth for. I wonder what this year will yield.
Anyway, there was just enough to make a batch of pastry large enough for a pie dish. And it was just at that perfect autumn crux point when there were also still apples on the trees in the back garden and the blackberries hadn’t quite given out. One of those moments like the spring time climax when if you play it right you can get baby broad beans, purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus all into the same vinaigrette – it’s a bit like the spring and autumn equinox of food.
Very easy and immensely satisfying – just boil and shell the chestnuts. Crumble the flesh, mix with about half their weight in butter and add a little sugar and roll out or push into the dish for a sweetcrust. Then pile in your earthly fruit delights with some brown sugar and honey, plus I usually fail to hold back on liberally dowsing in bits of stem ginger and/or powdered cinnamon. Bake and enjoy.