Picking produce at its prime ensures every mouthful is worthwhile. In this second excerpt from her new cookbook, our columnist shares ideas for vibrant autumnal platefuls
The techniques I lean on in the kitchen change as the year unfolds. In the autumn, my oven is in constant use: I start roasting again, big trays of jewel-coloured roots, the last of the corn, broccoli and cauliflowers. In winter, my heavy, cast-iron pots seldom leave the hob, always full of soup or a vegetable braise. In spring, the tender and fresh vegetables need only a lick of heat from a hot frying pan. And, in summer, I use my mandoline most, to slice fennel and courgettes finely for grilling and for raw salads. The seasons mean that the way I cook and the time I spend doing it change as dramatically as the contents of my fruit bowl and fridge.
While I shop as locally as possible and focus on British produce, I have no qualms about leaning on our other European friends and their incredible offerings: citrus from the Mediterranean, the imminent winter tomatoes from Italy, pink and purple winter radicchio. Never has it been more important to foster these links, the trade it encourages and the barriers it breaks down. I long for a vegetable garden and to grow what I eat, but that’s not possible just now. The bulk of what I buy is from nearby shops and our excellent farmers’ market, topped up with supermarket deliveries for bulky things and dry goods.