Cooking with seasonal fruits and nuts in October

Wild duck salad with cobnuts and elderberries

Serves 4

Elderberries hit their peak as the mallard, or wild duck, appears on the game calendar. And what good timing, because they’re the perfect marriage, whether you drop the elderberries into a sauce, make a jam or jelly to go with the bird or toss them together in a seasonal salad like this one. Teal, widgeon or pintail ducks make a very good alternative. Or use a normal, good-quality duck. To give the salad a nice, autumnal feel, I’ve chosen red-coloured leaves. Don’t be tempted to use radicchio, however, as the leaves are quite bitter for wild duck.


2 wild duck, cleaned
25-30 cobnuts, shelled
60g-70g small, preferably red-tinged salad leaves, such as oak leaf, red mustard leaf, red Batavia, red chard, washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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For the dressing

20g-30g elderberries
1½tbsp good-quality red-wine
vinegar such as Cabernet
4tbsp walnut oil


Preheat the oven to 220˚C/425˚F/gas mark 7. Season the wild duck, inside and out, brush with a little vegetable oil and roast them in a roasting tray for 30 minutes, basting every so often. Remove them from the tray and leave them to cool for about 15 minutes on a plate to catch any juices.

Meanwhile, put the cobnuts on some foil on a roasting tray, roll them in a little olive oil and season with a generous amount of salt. Roast them for 10-12 minutes until they’re light golden.

Cut the legs off the duck, remove the meat with a sharp knife and shred the meat roughly into chunk-sized pieces. Remove the breasts and cut them into six slices, and add the meat juices if it seems a little dry.

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together and seasoning to taste. Lightly dress the leaves with half of the dressing and arrange on plates. Arrange the pieces of duck on and in among the leaves and scatter the cobnuts over. Spoon the rest of the dressing over
the salads.

Cox’s apple bread pudding

Serves 6-8

The bread pudding my grandmother made was a regular teatime snack. It’s one of those puddings that all households that cook should make once a week. Try serving it with traditionally flavoured homemade ice cream, such as marmalade or brown bread. You could even spike good vanilla ice cream with Somerset cider brandy.


300ml medium cider
200g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
½tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp mixed spice
60g sultanas
60g raisins
Grated zest of half an orange
500g brown or white bread
4 eggs, beaten
4 medium sized Cox’s dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
50g butter


Bring the cider, sugar, spices, sultanas, raisins and orange zest to the boil. Break the bread into small pieces and mix into the syrup in a bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the apples on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring as they’re cooking, until they’re lightly coloured, then leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 175˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Fold the eggs into the bread mixture, fold in the apples and then put the mixture into a rectangular deep-sided baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper. Bake it for about 30-40 minutes until the mixture is firm. Dust the top with caster sugar when it’s still hot.

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