What’s your favourite thing about the autumn months? Leisurely country walks on a Sunday, pub lunches, collecting conkers with the kids… whilst the weather may take a cool turn, there’s still plenty to enjoy throughout this transitional season.
One of our favourite things about moving into the autumn and winter months is our adapting food habits. The fresh, cool salads and vibrant Mediterranean dishes start to take a back seat, and in come the hearty pies, stews and root vegetables, packed with deeply warming textures, colours and flavours to reflect the autumnal shift.
Delve into the colourful, punchy-flavoured world of North African cuisine with a lamb tagine. Moroccan cuisine is characterised by richly-spiced marriages of sweet and savoury spices alongside grains such as couscous. The perfect one-pot for family nights in, you’ll need good quality lamb from the butchers, tomatoes, stock, onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, turmeric, prunes or apricots, chickpeas and lemon juice.
This simple recipe can be made in advance and heated up for those comfy Friday nights in. First heat the oil in a deep casserole dish, then add the onions once they have begun to colour add in the spices and garlic. In the same casserole dish add in your cubed lamb for 5 minutes, then add in your chopped tomatoes, prunes or apricots, lamb stock and a pinch of sugar. Add in 100ml of water and simmer for 3 hours, stirring often. For the last 30 mins stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice and season to taste.
Comfort food doesn’t get much better than the hearty family favourite – cottage pie. This classic British dish is perfect for the colder nights and is a simple dish that all the family can enjoy. All you need for this recipe is a large onion, diced carrots, good quality minced beef, tomato puree, plain flour, red wine, fresh thyme, beef stock, frozen peas, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, butter and milk. In a large frying pan heat the oil and then add in your diced onion until they start to brown, then add your diced carrots and stir. Brown your mince in the same pan and cook thoroughly, then add tomato puree and flour and stir through, pour in the red wine and add the thyme.
Once you have added the stock simmer for 45 minutes then turn the heat down and add in your peas and Worcestershire sauce to taste and keep warm. Meanwhile boil your potatoes in a large pan for around 12-15 minutes until tender. Drain the potatoes, add the butter and milk and mash until smooth. Place the mince onto the bottom of a baking dish and spoon the mash onto the top. Grill for 8 mins or until golden brown, serve whilst hot.
Roast vegetable tart
This colourful meat-free tart is ideal for a family lunch or served cold for an autumnal picnic. Packed full of flavour and served on flaky filo pastry it makes for a lighter option this autumn/winter. You will need sliced aubergine and courgette, chunky wedges of red onion, cubed sweet potato, ready to roll filo pastry, red or green pesto, cherry tomatoes chopped in half, feta cheese, oregano and balsamic vinegar. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7, place your cubed sweet potato in a large baking tray and season, roast for 10-15 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile heat a griddle pan with oil and char the sliced aubergine, courgette and onions, add more oil if you need to. Remove the potato from the oven. Place the filo pastry onto a baking tray, brush the pastry with pesto leaving a 2cm gap around the edge, arrange the veg on the top, add the chopped tomatoes and crumble the feta before sprinkling with oregano and placing into the oven for 20 mins or until crispy and golden. Serve with a mixed salad.
Pear and berry crumble
Made with British pears and mixed berries this sweet treat is delicious served with ice cream, crème fraiche or custard after a hearty meal. Make it into individual deserts or one big one for everyone to dig into. To make this desert you will need ripened English pears which are peeled and cubed, thawed mixed berries, lemon juice, golden caster sugar, mixed spice, flour, oats, light brown sugar, chopped walnuts, a pinch of salt and cold cubed butter.
First toss the cubed pears and mixed berries with the lemon juice, sugar and mixed spice until coated, place the fruit at the bottom of a greased baking dish. Meanwhile to make the crumble topping, in a bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, walnuts and salt. Then with your fingers rub the cold butter into the mixture and form clumps, place this into the freezer for 10 mins then sprinkle on top of the prepared fruit and bake for 30-40 mins until the fruit is soft and the crumble is golden brown. Serve warm with custard, ice cream or crème fraiche.
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