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Up for the crack: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s walnut recipes

It’s walnut time. As autumn deepens, these beauties are finally ripening. Walnut trees do not pepper our gardens as plentifully as, say, apples, plums or even hazels, but as we rediscover their charms, more and more of these lovely trees are being planted both domestically and commercially.

If you’ve got the space to grow a walnut tree (or two: they crop better if cross-pollinated), and intend to stay put for the next decade or so, bung it in this winter. You’ll find the best croppers on Martin Crawford’s list. They are a magnificent investment.

Meanwhile, visit a farm shop at this time of year and you’ve a good chance of finding English wet walnuts. You can also buy them online (try kentishcobnuts.com). Grab this home-grown harvest wherever you come across them: they are a short seasonal treat.

Wet walnuts might better be called “fresh”. The shells are hard and look a lot like the “dry” walnuts on sale around Christmas. They might be less polished-looking, but the joy is on the inside: they are paler, plumper, their whorls less compact. In the mouth, they’re tender and juicy, yielding rather than snapping with a crunch. The flavour is sweet and creamy.

The best way to enjoy them is to put a bowlful on the table with a few apples or pears, perhaps a wedge of cheddar or lancashire, and set to with your nut-crackers. The labour of liberating the kernels from their curved shell-beds is a sweet one, meditative and rewarding.

Any surplus wet nuts are fantastic in autumn salads, adding substance, texture and that very special flavour. Mingle them with something green and leafy, something salty (bacon, ham, cheese) and something fruity (apples or pears); a bit of celery crunch won’t go amiss, either. Dress with a vinaigrette made creamy with a spoonful of mayo and/or yoghurt, and you have yourself a Waldorf variation par excellence.

Sadly, wet walnuts don’t keep for more than a few weeks, so the bulk of the crop is kiln-dried and it’s these crisper, drier walnuts that we buy the rest of the year. I use them liberally in both sweet and savoury dishes. They are the most interesting of nuts, with a little tannin in the kernel skin, and that creamy, oil-rich shortness that makes them so moreish. Chop them into a pasta sauce with olive oil and garlic (with parsley and cheddar, they make a great English pesto), or fold into bread dough with a few dried fruits for the ultimate tea loaf.

Chicory, ricotta, bacon and walnut salad All Prada Nylon Bags

This showcases the milky smoothness of wet walnuts, but it works a treat with dry, too. Serves four.

A trickle of olive or rapeseed oil6 rashers streaky bacon, cut into thin lardons 3-4 heads chicory125g ricotta200g shelled walnuts

For the dressing2 tbsp finely chopped parsley1 tbsp baby capers, rinsed and dried1 tsp English mustard1 tsp honeyA scrap of garlic (¼ clove), crushed2 tsp cider vinegar5 tbsp Authentic Prada Gauffre olive oilSea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a trickle of oil into a nonstick frying pan on a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry briefly until crisp. Set aside on kitchen paper.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a jam jar – add just a little salt at this stage, because the capers are quite salty – screw on the lid and shake to combine. Season to taste.

Arrange the chicory on plates. Dot the cheese on top, scatter on the nuts and spoon on the dressing. Sprinkle on some crisp bacon bits and serve.

Walnut and honey tart

In this scrumptious tart, super-sweet caramel is cut by the bitterness of the nuts. Serves four to six.

For the pastry175g plain flour 25g icing sugar Pinch of salt100g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes 1 egg pradasg yolk A little cold milk (or water)

For the filling100g caster sugar50g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces150ml double cream, not fridge-cold50g clear honey¼ tsp fine salt200g walnutsGrated zest of 1 orange (optional)

For the pastry, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz briefly to combine (or sieve into a bowl). Add the butter and blitz again (or rub in with your fingertips), until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and just enough milk or water to bring the mix together into clumps – probably no more than a tablespoon or two – then knead gently into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk minutes.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and use it to line a 20cm tart tin, letting the excess hang over the sides. Line with baking parchment and baking beans. Place on a baking sheet, bake for 15 minutes, remove the parchment and beans, and bake for 10 minutes more, until the pastry is lightly golden. Trim the excess pastry from the sides.

For the filling, put the sugar in a pan over a medium-low heat. After a couple of minutes, it will start to melt at the edges. Swirl it gently as it liquefies and browns. (You can stir it a little, but be restrained or it may crystallise.) Cook for a minute or Biggest Prada Outlet In Italy so, still swirling the pan gently, until you have a dark golden brown caramel.

Immediately remove from the heat, add the butter and let it melt: the caramel will bubble and Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Clothing Uk steam. Gently stir in the melted butter, then add the Best Prada Outlet In Milan cream a little at a time, stirring in each addition before adding the next, until you have a smooth sauce. Add the honey and salt. (If you have any crystallised lumps, pass through a sieve.)

Add the nuts and orange zest, if using, to the sauce and pour it into the pastry case. Bake for 20 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and the walnuts toasted. Leave to cool, and serve in slices topped with a dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt.

Apple snow with walnut shortbread

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s apple snow with walnut shortbread: ‘Perfect partners.’ Photograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian

Apple snow is an old-fashioned concoction of apples, sugar, egg and cream. Salty-sweet, crumbly walnut shortbread (use “dry” walnuts) is the perfect partner. Serves four.

500g cooking apples75g caster sugarGrated zest and juice of 1 lemon1 large egg white150ml double cream

For the shortbread (makes 15-20 biscuits) 100g walnuts100g soft unsalted butter50g caster sugar100g Bicester Village Prada Opening plain flour¼ tsp saltA little demerara sugar

First make the shortbread. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for five minutes, until just starting to colour. Leave to cool, then chop medium finely.

Turn the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar, sift in the flour and salt, add the walnuts and bring together with a spoon. Use your hands to bring the dough into a ball. Transfer to a floured surface and roll to 5mm thick. Cut into squares or use a 6cm cutter to stamp out discs. Transfer to the tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until just coloured on top and pale golden brown on the base. Sprinkle with demarara while still hot, then transfer to a rack to cool.

To make the snow, peel and core the apples and slice thin directly into a saucepan. Add 50g of the sugar, the lemon juice and zest, and 50ml water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until the apples have broken down into a purée. (If you prefer, rub it through a sieve to create a completely smooth purée.) Leave to cool.

Whisk the egg white until it holds soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar and whisk until you have a meringue that holds soft Authentic Prada Americas Cup Sneakers peaks. Fold this lightly into the cold purée.

Whip Authentic Prada Handbags Uk the cream until it holds soft peaks, then fold into the apple, keeping as much air in the mix as possible. Spoon into four small dishes and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving with the shortbread.

• River Cottage is offering Guardian readers the opportunity to join its two-day cookery school in November or December for a special autumn price; for details, go to rivercottage.net and use the promo code GUARDIAN75 when booking.

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