The great thing about flapjacks is that despite the fact that they’re clearly a yummy little treat; sweet and gooey like a slice of cake, they’re made from oats and so they somehow seem really rather healthy. To be clear, I’m not saying that they are (in fact, to do so would be to completely ignore the artery clogging amounts of butter and the tooth rotting levels of sugar and syrup..) – but it’s certainly easier to maintain the illusion with flapjack than with a big slab of chocolate cake.
Apple flapjacks are frankly even more virtuous. They’ve got one of your five a day in them for goodness sakes! They’re practically a health food. So what I’m saying is, in this month of over-indulgence, these flapjacks are a little something which you can enjoy without too much guilt. It’s nearly Christmas after all!
Gotta taste for apples? I’m here for you…
This recipe is a slightly more grown-up, much tastier and healthier version of the kids classic, chicken nuggets and chips. It’s for those days when you yearn for childish food. You want something simple and comforting. Something that can be eaten with your fingers, dipped into your condiment of choice and happily scoffed with guilt-free abandon.
Pretty perfect as it is, but add the tiniest hint of rosemary and the occasional hit of chilli and suddenly this crispy baked chicken gets even more exciting. Oh, an one more thing. This is baked chicken so you get all of the crunch but none of the grease!
Fan of Crispy Chicken? Try this too…
Now as you know, I’m certainly not one to be bossy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making this rather fabulous crispy chicken, then it seems a shame not to enjoy it with its natural bedfellow, the gorgeously gooey sweet potato fry (or rather, a whole bowl for them if possible).
You know that saying about how dogs start to look like their owners? Well, have you ever noticed that foods often tend to look like the seasons they belong to?
Not sure what I’m on about? Stay with me for a second… Think about the foods that you eat in summer. Vibrant, bright colours that match the world around them. Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes…
See what I mean? Well in autumn, the season of golds, coppers and orange, the food very kindly obliges again. Butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin all reflecting this cold season of warm, burnished colours.
This recipe is a celebration of some of my favourite autumn foods. It’s actually inspired by Delia’s Special Cottage Pie from her Complete Cookery Course but with a few seasonal twists which add a subtle, but oh-so comforting sweetness.
November has arrived, bringing with it a blanket of fog (in Nottingham at least). I’ve often found that fog, rather like snow, seems to induce a childlike frenzy of emotion in otherwise mature and well-rounded adults.
Some find it exciting and mysterious, others, creepy and eerie. A few think it’s just plain gloomy. For me, fog awakens my need to feel cosy. Walking to work, there’s almost a ghostly quality to the city. Everyone drifting by as if in a dream until eventually, growing more distant, they’re swallowed by the mist.
Autumn firmly here – in fact, winter edging ever closer, it’s not surprising that this month’s seasonal foods are rather few and far between…
You would be forgiven for thinking that the humble cauliflower is the least exciting of this little bunch. Perhaps it is, if it’s just boiled to within an inch of it’s life, and then served plan. Curried however, it’s a wondrous thing. Cooked with onion, cubes of potato, and a few well chosen spices it makes a simple to make but really rather wonderful treat!
As for cauliflower cheese, I can’t think of many dishes (especially vegetable dishes) which offer such creamy comfort. As a child, we often used to have this as a main meal, with more vegetables on the side for good measure. I never once felt there was anything lacking in such a meal!
I cooked venison for the first time last year, making my ‘Harty’ Venison Stew (I was very pleased with that little pun at the time – and I must say, I still am!)
It makes a lovely, more gamey alternative to beef, and in this rather cold and blustery month, it provides robust flavour to bolster you against the chill!
You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.
That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort. I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?
This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness. A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.
For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…
PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow. Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.
This isn’t a recipe to attempt after work when the evening is rushed and full of chores to complete. Make this instead on those luxuriously relaxed weekends where you can afford to spend some equally luxuriously relaxed time in the kitchen.
I recommend some music (Michael Bublé is my personal favourite for this sort of activity), a mug of tea or coffee (to be substituted with a glass of wine if it’s past midday) and a couple of hours of blissfully free time to spend happily slicing, rolling and whisking…
The result? This golden, autumnal beauty! A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley. The recipe is for 6-8 people because if you’re going to put all that effort in, then you may as well make something which will serve a crowd or last for a couple of sittings!
If you love smoked haddock, then why not try my Smoked Haddock & Prawn Chowder too?
It could be argued that October is really the month of the pumpkin but if, like me, you can’t really be bothered with all the carving and general icky preparation, then the Butternut Squash is an excellent alternative.
What other month could this beautiful vegetable belong to with its pale gold skin revealing a brilliant orange core when cut? How welcome, the warmth of those colours as the crisp chill of Autumn creeps in, frosting our breath and reddening our noses?
In need of more meals to make you feel better? Try some of these!
With this soup, the butternut squash (with the help of a fiery kick of chilli) delivers on those colours’ warming promise.
Now, I don’t want to be bossy but the best way to enjoy this soup is curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a steaming bowl clutched greedily in your hands and an old film on the television.
It’s for those days when you think you may feel the onset of the sniffles and frankly the rest of the world can wait. All you need is a comfy little nest, something (or someone) to snuggle up with and a bowl of Chilli & Butternut Squash Soup.
When I think about my favourite parts of the day, food nearly always plays a role. Saturday breakfasts in bed – a perfectly cooked poached egg served with tea and a couple of hours of peace. Family suppers around the table, catching up on each others’ day over a bowl of something warming and restorative. Even lunches at work; microwaved leftovers which often taste even better the next day, enjoyed with a few pages of a good book or a quick catch up with a friend.
Even as a child, coming home after school was one of my favourite times of day – not just because it was good to have finished lessons but because I would come home to a cup of tea and a snack. Sometimes rice cakes and Marmite, fig rolls, ginger cake or once in a while, apple turnovers.
What a treat! What an indulgence! What little miracles these beautiful pillows of buttery puff and jammy apple were!
As a student, living away from home for the first time, I still remember the wonderful day when, shopping in Kwik Save for the usual basics of pasta, cardboard sliced white and tinned tuna, I discovered a pack of apple turnovers for the very reasonable price of 99p! It seemed almost inconceivable that such luxury could be possible for under £1…
Needless to say, this recipe beats the lot. Homemade, eaten still warm from the oven with a mug of steaming tea and if you’re feeling particularly decadent, a dollop of cream, of either the iced or clotted variety.
The recipe makes 6. I recommend starting with a double batch…
Well, here we are again. The start of another month. As the days grow shorter, so does the time we have left until Christmas. In fact we have just 12 weeks until another year’s turkey and stockings are stuffed.
If the sheer mention of the ‘c’ word fills you with a sense of dread then take a look at my 12 part guide to a Stress Free Christmas – guaranteed to fill you with a sense of seasonal serenity instead…
We’re not there yet though so forget the Christmas shopping for today and take a moment to enjoy October and the seasonal gifts it has to offer…
Sweet potato is a huge favourite of mine. Its nutritional benefits are unquestionable – unlike normal potato it even counts as one of your five a day! Better than that though, whether it’s roasted, mashed or made into soup, its honeyed tones add an almost dessert like sweetness to any dish, which is pure comfort on a chilly October day.
If you’ve never cooked with Duck then do give it a go. These days it’s not too tricky to get hold of duck legs or breasts so you don’t have to tackle a whole bird if you don’t want to. It has a slightly stronger flavour than chicken but isn’t as ‘gamey’ as other birds like pheasant or goose. The fat makes great roasties too…
If you want to get more fish in your diet then haddock is a wonderfully versatile and widely available fish. A fish shop favourite, haddock doesn’t have to be covered in batter. It can be cooked simply with some lemon juice and parsley as a healthy alternative. Smoked haddock is one of my favourite fish – poached and served with creamy mash and poached egg on top. That moment when you break the yolk and it oozes into both fish and mash… sublime! It’s a must in fish pies and it makes a mean chowder too.
Could there be anything cosier than pulling on your woollen sock slippers, pouring yourself a nip of sloe gin and enjoying the smell of sweet roasting chestnuts as you warm your cockles by the open fire? (Figurative cockles, rather than literal that is – actual cockles are just going out of season..)
If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree in your garden – or to have access to someone else’s then this time of year is generally filled with crumbles, pies and apple cake. Not a bad way to console yourself at the end of summer but occasionally, dare I say it? One feels the need for a bit of a change… After all, there are only so many crumbles and pies you can eat in a day. Personally, I draw the line at one of each but then I’ve always been a bit of a stickler.
The thing is, even a strict regime of a pie and crumble a day doesn’t even come close to diminishing the apple glut. Don’t get me wrong, of the gluts you could suffer, apples are probably one of the best, but it’s a glut that still needs tackling, and tackle it I will!
This spiced apple butter is rather wonderful. Firstly, there’s no need to peel the apples – a job I find quite therapeutic for the first apple or two but by number five or six, I must say it’s pretty tiresome.
Secondly, it’s a multi-purpose apple butter. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to cheese and biccies but can also be used in sweet treats such as apple tarts or turnovers.
Wait! Before you gasp in awe and reach for your preserving pan, there’s more! This sweet, sticky, spiced apple butter comes in jars and you all know the rule about food that comes in jars right?
“If it comes in a jar then it can be given as a gift.”
I’m sure that’s a Shakespeare quote … or perhaps it was Martha Stewart…
Anyhoo, I’ve heard a rumour that Christmas is just around the corner so it seems that this glut of apples, plus a recipe for them that can be put in jars and given as gifts might be rather handy?
I’ve got you covered buddy – check out the gourmet gift section of the blog 🙂