Comfort food for a cosy Autumn

comfort foods for a cosy Autumn

Summer sunshine has it’s appeal, but once the weather cools we know what we are looking forward to most - cosy sweaters and boots, changing colours on the trees and, most importantly, comfort food.

When we expanded our studio team last year, we began a Tuesday lunch club to give ourselves the chance to get to know each other. It worked so well we’ve carried the tradition on into 2021, and we’re looking forward to planning some autumn feasts over the next few months.

We wanted to share our cosiest cooking with you, so we asked the team to each tell us about their favourite comfort food and how they make it their own. 

Claire’s twice-baked bonfire night potatoes

baked potatoes cosy autumn foods

Baked potatoes are a firm favourite in our house. I like the simplicity of putting them in the oven on low before we head out for a dog walk, then coming home to a hot meal with minimal fuss.

We all like different topping; vegan Tarot opts for beans with bbq sauce, I like beans and cheese, and the kids like tuna.

But when I’m in the mood to spend a bit more time on supper, I do twice baked potatoes - because what could be better on a cold day than melted cheese. Ideal for a warming meal on bonfire night!

If you have a vegan to cater for, this recipe works well with vegan cheese to replace the cheddar, and cashews blended with a little lemon juice or cider vinegar to replace the sour cream. 

Make sure you start with the right kind of potatoes - avoid any waxy or small varieties, and go for something large and floury like a Maris Piper or King Edward. 

  • 4 large floury baking potatoes

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 60g butter, melted

  • 85ml soured cream

  • 1 tsp djon mustard

  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped

  • 70g mature cheddar, grated

  • Salt and pepper

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 (180 ̊C fan).

  • First off is the first bake! Pierce your potatoes with a fork, then rub them all over with a little bit of sunflower oil. I do this by getting oil on a piece of kitchen roll and rubbing it over the skin. Bake your potatoes on the middle shelf for 1 hour. If your potatoes are particularly large, a metal skewer through the middle of each will help them cook evenly, and they may need an extra 10 - 20 minutes.

  • Take the potatoes out, and turn the oven down to 190 / gas mark 5.

  • Put on your oven glove, and carefully slice the top off each potato about a third of the way down. Put the top slice to one side. Then, using a spoon, gently scoop out the potato so you have a boat shape. Leave enough potato-middle attached to the skin that it doesn’t collapse. 

  • Take the potato that you’ve scooped out, and mash it with two thirds of the butter, half of the cheese, all the sour cream and the mustard. Then stir in the spring onions.

  • Pack the mash into the little potato boats, and top with the remaining cheese. Brush the outside of the potato and the lids with the rest of the melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. 

  • Pop the potatoes on an oven tray with the lids alongside, and bake on the top shelf for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. 

These are great with a good green salad and some fresh tomatoes, or good old fashioned baked beans.

Katie’s cosy cock-a-leekie soup

chicken and leek soup recipe

Soup is a cold weather essential, and chicken soup is proven to have anti-inflammatory properties so is the perfect go-to for when you’re feeling under the weather.

I like to plan my meals ahead of time, so when I make a roast chicken on a Sunday I save the legs and wings for soup on Monday. Using roasted chicken adds to the flavour of the soup and is a nice efficient way to avoid any waste.

  • 450g (1lb) of leftover roast chicken.

  • 1 litre  (1 ⅓ pints) of chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 carrots

  • 2 sticks of celery

  • 1-2 leeks 

  • 60g long-grain rice

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp of sea salt

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

  • Pinch of ground cloves

  • Splash of white wine or sherry (optional)

  • In a large saucepan, put your chicken (bones and all) along with your stock and wine / sherry and the bay leaves. Bring it to the boil, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes whilst you chop the veg.
  • Skim the surface of the soup to remove any scum that has formed, then add the chopped leeks, carrots and celery along with the rice and cloves.

  • Bring it back to the boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

  • Remove the bay leaves, then any chicken that’s still on the bone. Strip the meat from the bones, and divide it into large chunks, before returning it to the soup (minus the bones) and stirring in the parsley.

I like to serve mine with sourdough bread and a thick slab of butter for extra comfort-factor!

Catherine’s magic mac n’ cheese 

Mac and cheese recipe

Macaroni cheese is great because it can be put together easily from store cupboard basics and unlike most of my favourites, the kids will happily eat it too! I like to add bacon and leeks to mine to make it a bit special.

  • 2 medium leeks

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 125g smoked streaky bacon

  • 250g macaroni

  • 40g butter

  • 40g plain flour

  • 700ml whole milk

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 25g white bread, grated or blended into medium breadcrumbs

  • 125g mature Cheddar

  • Firstly, pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 (180 ̊C fan).
  • You also want your milk at room temperature, so measure out 700mls and set it aside.

  • In a medium frying pan, warm your oil whilst you chop your leeks, then cook them gently for 5 minutes until soft and set them aside.

  • Chop the bacon and fry it in the pan that you took the leeks out of until crispy.

  • Whilst you wait for the bacon to cook, boil your macaroni for five minutes to par-cook, then drain it and return it to the pan.

  • Next, we’ll make a rue by melting the butter in a medium saucepan, stirring in the flour and cooking for a minute or two.

  • Turn the heat to low under your flour and butter and using a whisk to stir, gradually add your milk a little at a time making sure it combines well before you add the next splash. Whisk and stir intermittently for 5 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick.

  • Stir in the mustard and two thirds of the cheese until the cheese is melted. You might like to add salt and pepper here too.

  • Add the leeks, bacon and macaroni to the sauce, stir well and pour the whole mixture into an oven proof dish.

  • Top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, and bake for 20 minutes until it’s golden on top and bubbling at the edges. 

I like to serve it with a side order of steamed mange tout or sugar snap peas to get some extra greens in!

Louisa’s all-hallows-eve dorset apple cake

Dorset apple cake recipe

I love apples, and autumn is the perfect season to celebrate them! I have two varieties in my garden, big fat bramleys for cooking, and sweet little braeburns for eating. I always make traditional dorset apple cake on Halloween as a treat for the grownups, and serve it warm spread with butter and a cup of mulled cider. 

  • 115g unsalted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for the tin

  • 225g self-raising flour, plus one tbsp

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp allspice

  • 115g light brown sugar

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 6-8 tbsp milk

  • 225g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced into crescents

  • 100g pecans

  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar 

  • Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line a deep 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

  • Take half of the apples, cover with the demerara sugar, and use them to create a pattern in the base of the lined cake tin - a swirl looks nice.  

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together your spices and flour, then rub in the butter using your finger tips until it’s a bread-crumb like consistency. 

  • Stir in the brown sugar.

  • Break your egg into a separate dish with 4-5 tbsp of milk, and gradually add it to the mixture, stirring as you do so to form a smooth batter.

  • Mix a tbsp of self raising flour with the apples and pecans to stop them sinking in the mix, then stir them through the batter. 

  • Spoon the batter into the tin on top of your apple pattern, and smooth it with the back of a spoon. 

  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, covering half way through with baking parchment to stop any scorching. 

  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then tip it out so the pattern is topmost and serve it warm! Or serve later with hot custard.

We hope you enjoy these comforting recipes to get you through as the nights draw in. Wishing you all a cosy and fun-filled autumn! Love Claire and the so close team