Autumn is my favourite season. I know it is. But by the time spring rolls around my ardour is swayed by the warm weather and prospect of sun after a long winter (I should note here that British winters are significantly shorter than Canadian ones. It just needs to be said). Autumn is a hard season to love – it signals the descent into the dark, cold nights of winter, it’s a bit mucky and the heating bills start to roll on in… But everything about autumn is intoxicating: the vibrant colours, the sound of crunchy leaves underfoot, the smell of that first dark, cool evening. Bliss. I’m also a huge Christmasphile (is that a word?) – so autumn signals the start of the delicious run-up to my favourite time of year.
And of course the food. I get to pull out those recipes that are warm, comforting and hearty. Recipes that I couldn’t legitimately pull out in spring or summer. Recipes that taste of the season. And it’s strange – often I find myself pulling out these favourite recipes (or looking up recipes with particularly autumnal ingredients) without even thinking of the season. It’s just like a food clock: “Ding ding – time to eat some lasagna and apple cake Emily!”
What do I crave come autumn?
- Apples – baked into cakes, crumbles, and pastries with lashings of cinnamon and usually finished with custard. God bless you, custard.
- Caramel – covering nuts, the aforementioned apples, cakes of all ilks…making everything warm and oozy.
- Soups – chunky or smooth (I’ve got my preference, but submit to the popular vote and make both kinds), with lots of hearty vegetables and tender meat.
- Slow cooked meals – risotto, tagine, curry, braised beef…the list could go on forever.
- Spiced bakes and drinks – chai tea, gingerbread, molasses cookies.
[Let’s pause here for a moment to allow me to collect myself and wipe the drool from my chin.]
Here’s a short-list of what recipes I’ve succumbed to in the past few weeks:
Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake – I was looking for a quick recipe that used chicken thighs (I used skinless, boneless here) and the chinese five-spice in this recipe hit the right notes. This dish was a big winner with the husband and Poppy. Both gobbled up the chicken, loved the sticky spring onions and nuts and thought it was a thoroughly delicious dinner. I quite liked using the skinless/boneless thighs here because it meant it was a lighter dish and easier to eat.
Salted-Butter Apple Galette – My mother-in-law gifted me a big bag of apples from the tree outside her house and I was keen to bake something with them. This recipe came up on Instagram and it seemed like it would be full of flavour and easy. I cheated and used shop-bought pastry (it would probably be nicer with home-made) and cut some corners but it was still tasty. I’m going to file this under ‘nice – needs refining’.
Pumpkin & Bacon Soup – I made this with butternut squash because there weren’t any nice pumpkins in my supermarket, but it was really nice regardless. I also oven roasted my squash rather than boiling it in the stock and I think that added to the sweetness of the soup. Definitely sieve it at the end – this isn’t something that I would usually do, but it made the soup so much more velvety and delicious.
Slow-cooked Beef Short Ribs – Utterly delicious. Fall-apart beef that is so concentrated in flavour. I went whole-hog and even made the mushroom side-dish (see recipe) and they were great as well. It was
a bit of quite a rich dinner, but such a nice treat on a cool Sunday evening.
My brain is still percolating over our upcoming family autumnal menu. I really want to make a tagine, curry, molasses cookies, cheesecake (probably not totally autumnal, but on my mind nonetheless) and more! Luckily autumn blends into winter and before we know it Christmas is here (!!!!!). Yay! And then the glut really begins…..
Full disclosure: I did not make that crazy beautiful little cake at the top of the blog – I ate it in about two bites at Gail’s bakery. It was epic. I think if I saw that cake and someone said it was £15 I’d say ‘huh?’ and just hand over my bank card. I’ve got no impulse control when it comes to cafes and cakes. Just as my three-year-old.