Seasonal recipes from the orchard

Orchards are a source of delicious ingredients all year round. From homemade apple granola to quince sausage rolls, food photographer Stuart Ovenden reveals some of his favourite recipes

The Orchard cook_gin wassail

As a resource for food and drink, the orchard brings with it a wide spectrum of opportunities. It’s not just about the fruit – I’ve found that you can use pretty much everything.

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Blossom, leaves, branches; one can even grind the kernels from the stones of a certain kind of cherry to make Mahleb, a spice used in recipes from Greece through to the Middle East. Orchard cooking needn’t be just about apple pies and tarte tatins, although I have a great fondness for both.

orchard
Sunshine filtering through an orchard ©Getty

The crisp freshness of an apple works perfectly with shellfish such as oysters and scallops, while plums and cherries have a natural affinity with game. Quince, on the other hand, pairs well with the flavours of North Africa – Morocco in particular.

Here is a selection of six recipes taken from Stuart Ovenden’s The Orchard Cook: Recipes from Tree to Table.

Sticky honey sausage with pears

Try making this easy sticky honey and mustard catherine wheel sausage with pears, cobnuts and celeriac mash.

The Orchard Cook_Sausage and Pear
Sausage and Pear ©Stuart Ovenden

It’s not just the name that makes this dish feel appropriate for a bonfire or firework party. The mix of sticky, sweet, savoury and a pop of heat from the mustard is exactly the kind of thing you want to be eating on a cold November night; fire blazing, scarves done up tightly and sparklers at the ready. If you want to up the ante on the spice front, a teaspoon of chilli flakes in the pan at the honey stage wouldn’t go amiss.

Pears

Orchard granola

Mix oats, nuts, honey and oil, along with a few extras to make an energy-rich cereal or snack.

The Orchard Cook_orchard granola
Orchard Granola ©Stuart Ovenden

I love making granola. I also love the fact that once the basic elements are in place (oats, nuts, honey and oil), I can pretty much free-style with the fruit additions. I’ve stuck to dried apples, raisins and cherries in this instance, but any dried fruit will work.

Cider and damson gin wassail

Bring good luck to next year’s harvest by making a wassail drink with friends and family.

The Orchard cook_gin wassail
Damson gin wassail ©Stuart Ovenden

The kids and I go wassailing every January without fail; it’s a fine evening of tradition, theatre and a hearty dose of paganism (which never goes amiss in my opinion). A torch-lit procession starts at the far-end of the village and makes its way towards the orchard; as we approach, pots and pans are banged and rattled to scare away evil spirits and ensure a good harvest in the autumn. Toast soaked in wassail is hung on an apple tree as a gift to the spirits, wassail is sipped and there is singing and dancing.

Puff pastry baked camembert with quince

This cheese, pastry and sweet quince dish is the perfect starter.

The Orchard Cook_Quince and Camembert
Quince and Camembert ©Stuart Ovenden

This is pretty much cheese-lovers nirvana; cutting open a baked camembert is one of those moments that compels a collective gasp around the table, before a quick clamour to find a suitable means of damming the tide of melted cheese. Roasted garlic cloves can be squeezed and spread onto toasts before diving in.

Moroccan lamb and quince sausage rolls

Enjoy this delicious lamb and quince sausage rolls recipe with mint and yoghurt dip.

The Orchard Cook_Quince and lamb sausage rolls
Quince and lamb sausage rolls ©Stuart Ovenden

These sausage rolls are great for a picnic, or a somewhat snazzy lunchbox. Lamb and quince are natural partners, while a cool minty dip is a lovely contrast to the warmth and spicing of the sausage rolls.

Greengage and pistachio cobbler

This plum dessert is the perfect warming recipe for an autumn or winter’s day.

The Orchard Cook greengage cobbler
Greengage cobbler ©Stuart Ovenden

It’s a brief season for greengages, so it pays to make the most of them while they’re at their best. A bowl of emerald green Reine Claude greengages sitting on the kitchen table brightens up the greyest of days. They lose their colour a touch when cooked, but are rightly considered to be one of the finest dessert plums. 

About the book

The Orchard Cook Recipes from tree to table

This book is a collection of recipes based around a year spent in a mixed fruit orchard, and while the seasonal emphasis naturally leans toward the Autumn months, it’s important to view orchard cooking as year-round pursuit. There are recipes for Spring, Summer and Winter included in the chapters; it feels only natural to want to spend as much time as possible in these beautiful, complex spaces.

The Orchard Cook by Stuart Ovenden
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Stuart Ovenden is the author of The Orchard Cook, £25, published by Clearview Books stuartovenden.com