Well hello October. I didn’t see you coming at all. As best as my goldfish-like memory is fit to recall, all the leaves on the horse-chestnuts and ash and sycamores around our house were a vibrant green, luscious and summery and then – bang! – overnight they went all golden and red and withering.
I notice too that toffee apples are back in the shops, though I haven’t yet had the pleasure. I normally have at least one every October just to remind myself how delicious they can be and how badly they hurt my teeth.
Another man asked me the other day for a recipe for stew. ‘You need to put that in the pipper,” says he. Which I will do. But that’s another sign we’re closing in on the short days and long nights, the need for comforting broth and tender meats by the fireside.
Not that October is a bad month of course, in terms of seasonality. There’s plenty of great stuff around at this time of year, particularly if you’re a fan of game meats, things like venison, grouse and pheasant.
Then there’s the local apples and pumpkins and figs and beetroot; I’ve been meaning to make a beetroot soup for as long as me or the goldfish can remember, but is just never seems to happen.
My six-year-old is currently looking for a costume for yours truly, to wear to a Halloween party.
I may yet live to regret my suggestion that she “tear away” and I’ll wear whatever she and her mum come back with. Hopefully it isn’t a Donald Trump mask.
These bad boys, commonly known as a tornado potatoes but to me as concertina spuds, would be just the ticket for munching beside a bonfire come All Hallows Eve, when the trick-or-treating is all wrapped up.
For some reason I’m naturally attracted to food stuff on a stick (apart from candy floss) and I live for the day that I finally taste an American corn dog, as tacky and as processed as they undoubtedly are.
Anyway… For maximum effect you’ll want to eat these as soon as they come out of the oven and they’ve cooled sufficiently so that you don’t burn the roof of your mouth. They’ll be crispy and salty and did I mention they’re on a stick. Dips are also a must.
* The quantities here will comfortably do two big spuds. So if you’re making four spuds or eight, double as necessary.
2 big spuds (I used roosters)
2 tbsps of butter, melted
half a tsp of salt
finely grated parmesan, big handful
1 tsp of smoked paprika
Get your oven pre-heating to 165˚C and while that’s happening, wash and dry your spuds.
If they’re fresh, there’s no point peeling which is another plus (less work).
Being very careful, push a skewer the whole way through each potato.
Then with a knife, cut down as far as the skewer and turn and cut and turn and cut, until you’ve cut all the way down the spud.
Try not to cut too thickly though or it won’t cook properly.
Now, pull the spud apart so that you have a spiral or concertina effect. You want a bit of a gap through the spiral so that the seasoning and cheese gets well inside.
With a pastry brush, paint the spuds all over inside and out with the melted butter – be generous. Is your mouth watering yet?
Mix the parmesan, salt, paprika and a good grinding of the black pepper in a bowl and then spoon this all over the spuds until they’re covered. Use it all up if you can.
Set the spuds onto a baking tray with sides so that only the skewers are touching the tray.
Retire this to the oven and let it roast for approximately half an hour, until the spuds are golden brown and cooked through.
As a final touch when they come out of the oven, give them another grating of parmesan and a pinch of salt and Bob’s your hungry uncle.
You can leave on the stick or rip the spirals off, it’s up to you.
But if you have any blue cheese dip, you’ll be in concertina heaven.
Roll on Halloween.
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