August felt like autumn and the warm days we’ve enjoyed the September are certainly giving way to cool nights. Which made us think of cosy evenings wrapped in layers and tucking into hearty, warming food. We thought we’d round up some tasty autumnal recipes, from splendid soups to delicious deserts.
Each recipe serves a differing number of people, so it’s up to you whether you invite friends over, divide your dish into portions to store in the fridge or freezer, or divide the recipe by ratio to feed one or two people. It’s always more cost-effective – and less effort – to make more than you need and safely store your leftovers for another meal for another day.
Butternut squash & sage soup (serves 8)
Melt the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add your chopped onions and sage, and gently cook until the contents are very soft. This is likely to take around 15 minutes. Add your butternut squash and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the honey and vegetable stock, bring the contents to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender.
Once the soup has cooled enough to handle safely, use either a hand blender or enclosed blender to blend until the soup is smooth. If it’s a little thick, add some more stock or a dash of water until you have the ideal consistency. Now it’s ready to serve – you just need to sprinkle on your chopped-up chives and cracked black pepper.
Note: Depending on taste, you could add lentils or peas and withhold the honey or butter, to increase your vegetable intake and decrease your fat content.
Bean and pasta soup (serves 2)
Use the stock cube to make 700ml of stock. Rinse your cannellini beans and put 200g of the total aside for the time being. Put the remaining 200g in a bowl or a blender and blend until you have created a purée. Add a little water if needed.
Chop your garlic clove finely. Rinse and dry the sprig of rosemary.
Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the rosemary sprig and the garlic. Cook the garlic gently until it turns a light gold in colour and then remove the rosemary and discard it.
Pour your stock into a saucepan and bring it to boil. Add the soup pasta, and cook for as long as the packet instructions suggest.
When that’s done, add the garlic oil you made first, plus the puréed beans and 200g of whole beans you left aside to the saucepan. Don’t tip the stock away!
Heat the soup gently and stir until you’re satisfied it’s well mixed and at just the right temperature. If the soup is a little thicker than you’d like, add water in small increments. Give it a taste test and add a little salt or pepper if you feel it needs it. Once you serve it up, sprinkle on some parmesan. You can even add some extra-virgin olive oil and croutons for flavour and texture.
Sausage, apple and mustard hash (serves 2)
Boil a large pan of water, with a little salt added. Meanwhile, peel your potatoes and cut them into cubes of about 2cm in size. Core your apples and cut them into wedges, running from the top to the bottom of the apple. Once the water has boiled, add the potatoes and cook them for 4 minutes. Drain away the water.
Heat half the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium to high heat. Add the apple and fry each side until they turn a golden brown and begin to caramelise - usually about 5 minutes. Take them out and put them aside.
Using the same pan, heat the rest of your butter and a touch more oil on a medium heat. Add the potatoes and sausage chunks and fry them for 10-15 minutes, turning them occasionally so they’re evenly browned. Add the apple wedges and stir in your 2 teaspoons of mustard. Serve on a bed of salad leaves and add some thyme leaves on top.
Beef and stout stew with parsnip mash and carrots (serves 4)
Heat your oven to 160°C (140°C for fan-assisted ovens)/ gas mark 3. Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large casserole dish with a lid. Cut your stewing beef into large chunks and brown it in a separate pan. Chop the carrots into large chunks, chop your onion into small chunks, and add them to the casserole dish. Wait until they’re nicely browned, then scatter in your two tablespoons of flour and mix it all together. Now add your meat – plus any juices still in the pan – to your casserole dish and stir it all together.
Open your can of stout and pour in the full 500ml. Then crumble the stock cube into the dish, add your pinch of sugar, some salt, pepper and your herbs, and give it all a good stir, while bringing it up to a simmer. Now cover the dish with its lid and pop it into the oven for about 2.5 hours. Once tender, it’s ready for serving and the leftover portions (once cooled) can be frozen in your freezer for up to three months. Make sure when you come to use your stored leftovers that you defrost them thoroughly before reheating.
Making the mash: Peel and chop up 900g of potatoes and 3 decent-sized parsnips. Boil them together for about 15 minutes, drain off the water thoroughly, add a knob of butter plus a dash of milk - or a few tablespoons of cream or crème fraiche for a really creamy mash!
Sticky toffee pear cake (serves 10-12)
Note: you’ll need a 20cm-diameter cake tin. Line the base with non-stick baking paper and then grease it with butter. You’ll also need to prepare your poached pears in advance and leave them overnight.
For the caramel
For the poached pears
For the sponge
Pour the port and cider, 4 tablespoons of light muscovado sugar and your spices into a medium-sized saucepan on a medium heat. Peel your pears and cut off the stem. Add the pears to the saucepan so that they’re covered with the liquid. Cook for 40-45 minutes and then allow to cool. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit into the pan on top of the pears, then pop the saucepan in the fridge overnight.
The next day, take a 20cm-diameter cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper and then grease it with butter.
Heat your oven to180°C (160°C fan-assisted ovens)/gas mark 4. Pour around 200ml of the liquid your pears have been poaching in, into a dish, ready for later. Cut the pears in half and scoop out and discard the core and seeds.
To make the caramel, add your butter and sugar to a small saucepan and heat until the contents have melted. Whisk them together over the heat until they form a caramel. Pour this caramel into the tin you’ve already prepared and then place the halved pears into the tin with the curved side uppermost.
To make the sponge, simmer the 200ml of poached-pear cooking liquid over a medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, until you’re left with about 50ml. Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the yogurt.
Put the butter, sugar and treacle into a large saucepan and gently heat until it all melts. Stir it well and then put it to one side for 15 minutes to cool down. Then pour in the yogurt and add the eggs beat and beat to create a batter. Mix your flour with the bicarbonate of soda and stir it into the batter until it’s combined – but not too much, or you risk the cake becoming a bit on the heavy side.
Finally, pour the batter into the cake tin over the pears. Level off the mixture and bake for around an hour. Check it’s ready by pushing a skewer or knife into the centre – if it comes out clean, it’s ready. Loosen the sponge from the tin with a knife and let it cool. Ideal served with cream or ice cream, according to your personal preference!
Autumn pudding (serves 6)
Note: you’ll need to leave your pudding overnight in the fridge for best results. You’ll also want a side plate small enough to slot inside a pudding bowl.
8 slices of bread
450g of cooking apples
100g of plums
225g of blackberries
100g of light muscovado sugar
90ml of elderflower cordial
Serve with double cream
Cut the crusts from your slices of bread. Grab a large pudding bowl and cut a circle out of one of your bread slices – enough to fit in the bottom of the bowl. First, line the bowl with a large piece of cling film – enough to hang over all the edges of the bowl. Slice 6 of the slices of bread in lengths. Lay them around the inside edges of the bowl on top of the cling film, each finger of bread slightly overlapping the next. The eighth slice of bread and a couple of spare bread ‘fingers’, you’ll leave aside to create a lid for your pudding.
Peel and slice your apples, removing the core. Sink the plums into a pan of boiling water for about half a minute, then – very carefully! – remove them, peel them and take out the stones. Empty the pan of water, put the plums and the apples in and add 100g of light muscovado sugar and two tablespoons of water. Cook the mix for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Next, pour in your elderflower cordial and the rinsed blackberries and allow the pan to simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour enough fruit and juice into your bowl to fill to the top of the bread lining, but keep some aside to soak your remaining bread in.
Dip the remaining bread into your leftover fruit juice and lay it, overlapping, to create a lid.
Cover the top of your pudding bowl with cling film, then put the side plate on top of it. You can place a couple of (unopened!) tins of beans/tomatoes/soup to add weight. Leave the bowl in the fridge overnight.
Serve the next day by removing the tins and plate, opening up the cling film, and holding a large plate to the top of the bowl, and upending it. Take away the bowl carefully and remove the cling film. You can now drizzle a little leftover juice and artfully arrange any leftover fruit, pour some double cream and you’re ready to eat!
Recipes come courtesy of BBC Good Food, Delicious magazine and Dualit.