Recipes and notes from Charlie Hibbert, Chef Director at Thyme: a pastoral idyll which offers a place to pause for thought in harmony with the seasons.
A bucolic retreat of rooms, luxury and rest, Thyme provides a range of workshops, treatments, events, and some of the most delicious, locally sourced food in the county at the Ox Barn.
Crostini with pickled pumpkin, crispy sage and ricotta
One of the best things about autumn is pumpkins and squashes, and they are much more versatile than you might think. They make great centrepieces for vegetarian feasts, wonderfully warming soups, unctuous autumnal frittatas and even gooey, moreish cakes or muffins. My daughter’s not quite old enough for Halloween carving – that’ll be next year – so, for the moment, I can stick with the grown-up favourites – canapés. These crostini with pickled pumpkin, crispy sage and ricotta are super quick to make,once you’ve pickled the pumpkin (which lasts well thereafter), and always go down a treat in the Hibbert household.
Makes at least 30
- 1 small pumpkin (onion squash or similar soft rind pumpkin)
For the pickling:
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- A whole chilli (strength of which depends on who’s eating it!), sliced in half
- A couple of sprigs of thyme
- 400ml cider vinegar
- 300g caster sugar
- 70ml water
- ¼ loaf stale sourdough bread
- 20-30 sage leaves
- 300g ricotta
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 150o (normal) | 130o (fan) | Gas Mark 2
- Halve the pumpkin, de-seed each half and slice thinly into half-moons.
- Put the pickling ingredients into a pan big enough for the pumpkins and bring to the boil.
- Add in the pumpkin and cover with a round of baking parchment. Cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat or until the pumpkin is soft. Allow to cool completely or jar for later use.
- Slice the loaf as thinly as you can and lay the slices on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Cool completely.
- Put the vegetable oil into a high sided pan and over a medium heat. After three or four minutes check the temperature of the oil by dropping in a sage leaf: it should fizz and cook crisp in about 30 seconds.
- If the oil is hot enough, fry the rest of the sage, lifting the leaves out of the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Spread some ricotta onto your crostini, top with the pumpkin and a crispy sage leaf. Add a crack of black pepper and serve.
It’s dahlia time – hurrah! Thyme’s cutting and kitchen gardens are a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours, which make the passage to winter that much easier. Celebrated garden designers and compelling Instagram fodder – Arthur Parkinson and Butter Wakefield get together in the Tithe Barn on Thursday, 26 October to discuss Arthur’s new book Planting a Paradise.
As the nights draw in, intrepid autumn swimmers can dip until the end of the month, when the pool closes until spring. Thyme is a haven for all seasons, but there’s something very special about this particular journey through the calendar; the honey-coloured Cotswold stone buildings blend with the autumnal colours and the flickering firelight, and cosiness takes its turn. Drinks by the open fires, warming dishes from Charlie’s seasonal repertoire, cocktails using tinctures and cordials made from abundant harvests and a host of cooking and creating events – an autumnal awakening.