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These are top Scottish chefs' favourite seasonal ingredients for autumn and winter

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but also extreme comfort eating, as the weather gets colder and salads ain’t cutting it anymore.

Published: October 13, 2020
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Hunker down and coorie in, and read about our chefs’ favourite autumn/winter ingredients, to keep the chills at bay.

Gary Robertson, executive head chef at The Balmoral, Edinburgh

One of my current favourites has to be mussels. They are generally affordable, plentiful and they are just back in season now, continuing to get better as we move into the colder winter months.

They’re so versatile and work incredibly well with a huge variety of other ingredients, so you can really experiment with many different flavour combinations.

They are quick, nutritious and inexpensive to cook, making them an easy choice for any occasion really. At The Balmoral, we prefer to source our mussels from the Isle of Lewis, these being particularly sweet.

Personally, I like to keep it simple; mussels, peas and potatoes (pictured), finishing the mussels in a deliciously smooth garlic-spiked white wine sauce.

Kaori Simpson, chef patron at Harajuku Kitchen, Edinburgh

In autumn, I love using kabocha (pumpkin) for my comfort food.
My mum has a restaurant that will be full of pumpkins to make her kabocha nimono. So I came up with kabocha gyoza, which you can currently get from our takeaway menu.

Narkisha Gallagher, head chef, The Register Club, Edinburgh

Pumpkins, in all their varieties, colours and sizes. Growing up in the Borders in the Seventies and Eighties, trying to carve a Halloween lantern out of the trusty turnip, the colourful pumpkin seemed the ultimate in exotic, American glamour.

Now with an abundance of varieties of pumpkins and squash in the shops, I love their versatile use in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Cinnamon spiced pumpkin cakes are a great seasonal variation on carrot cakes, but my personal favourite is roughly chopping along with tomatoes, red chilli, onion and garlic.

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Chucking in a roasting tray with a good glug of olive oil and balsamic. Once softened, blitz with coconut milk and cumin, for the ultimate easy spicy soup.

Jimmy Lee, head chef, Lychee Oriental, Glasgow

For me, this season is all about ginger. It's zingy, fresh and has so many health benefits.

Not only does it help support your immune system, which is perfect for this time of year, you can easily add it to broths and soups for that extra zing. And my little tip, add some ginger into your Sunday roast gravy - it really enhances the flavours.

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Joe Lazzerini. head chef, The Loveable Rogue, Glasgow

chefs' favourite ingredients

Picture: Joe Lazzerini. head chef, The Loveable Rogue, Glasgow

Make the most of juicy, sharp plums before the season changes. They are my favourite fruit at this time of year, amazing for both cooking and baking, and with a boozy fruit trend back on the menu, it's the ideal time of year to experiment with them at home.

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Tender poached plums infused with the flavours of star anise and cinnamon are a winner for any home cook to try, or here at The Loveable Rogue we have boozy plums served with mascarpone for you to tuck into.

Chris Niven, head chef, The Adamson, St Andrews

I look forward to the game season every year. One of my favourites is venison and pairing it with beetroot and brambles - both in season at the same time.

At the restaurant just now we have a loin of venison with salt baked baby beetroots, rosti potato, pickled brambles, fig purée and a 70 per cent cocoa chocolate sauce - it’s a great dish showcasing wonderful autumn ingredients.

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Neil Forbes, head chef, Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh

I love the fact that we have so many varieties of apples, over two thousand I believe, from a red devil to a bloody ploughman, a bramley to a Worcester pearmain.

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I always insist on a British apple and always use the ones I grow myself. In the autumn, I lean towards adding them to crumbles and pies, perhaps with a kick of cinnamon or mixed spice.

But apples are also great with savoury dishes like roast pork with apple sauce, venison and game with apple jelly or this sausage, pumpkin and apple bake.

Paul Wedgwood, chef owner, Wedgwood the Restaurant

I love Jerusalem artichokes, they have such a unique flavour, with the correct seasoning they are almost addictive.
I usually pair them with seasonal game meat like grouse, partridge and wild mallard, and add a bit of freshly shaved black truffle to really enhance the flavour.

Roberta Hall-McCarron, chef owner, The Little Chartroom

chefs' favourite ingredients

Picture: Roberta Hall-McCarron, chef owner, The Little Chartroom

Celeriac, as it is so versatile. I use it when I am making soups, both vegetarian soup and soups served with meat.

It makes the loveliest puree, one of my favourite dishes to serve the puree with is a roast monkfish tail along with red wine sauce, winter truffles and pieces of roasted celeriac.

Rachel Morgan, co-owner, Twelve Triangles

Squash is so good at the moment and we’re getting some really lovely varieties in from Pittormie Farm in Fife.
In our Easter Road kitchen, we roast them with garlic and thyme then fold them through chorizo and use as a filling for our flaky pasties.
There’s also sprouts - my favourite green, I bought some for the first time this season over the weekend - I love them stir fried with olive oil, sea salt and garlic, they’re great as a side or just on their own with some toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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