20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (2024)

Simon Hopkinson’s mushrooms on toast

Of an occasional Sunday evening, Dad would make the most delicious mushrooms on toast. Well, actually, he didn’t make toast; rather, he would make the most delicious, perfect squares of immaculately fried bread. It seems obvious when you think about it, for however well-toasted is a slice of bread – even the most accommodating of crusty sourdough – it will, inevitably, begin to slightly sog about halfway through munching. But a nicely thick slice of fried bread will hold its own until the last mouthful. Always the thoughtful and considered cook, my dear old dad.

His mother, not the most inspired, kitchen-wise, would have simply opened a can of Chesswood creamed mushrooms and warmed them through on the Aga. But she did fry the bread … though possibly not as well as did her son. His trick was to lightly spread each surface with a smear of good dripping, then fry it on each side in a dry frying pan until super-crisp. His mushrooms were always button, cut in half, stewed in butter, a dusting of flour added and then milk stirred in until a smooth, thick-ish sauce was achieved; if there was some cream (or top-of-milk) in the fridge, a spoonful or two of that to finish. I have always believed he wanted to recreate that can of Chesswood’s but simply because our mother would never have countenanced such slovenly convenience, he made them his own.

Shall we upgrade a little? We shall. Then creamed morels on fried bread, it shall be.

Serves 2
dried morels 20g (the tinier, the finer)
boiled water 150g
butter a thick slice
salt and pepper
white bread 2 thick-ish slices, crustless
duck fat or butter
medium sherry 50g
dry vermouth 50g
shallot 1 small, chopped
garlic a scrap, crushed
flour 1 tsp
whipping cream 100g
lemon juice a healthy squeeze
chives ½ tbsp, snipped

Put the morels into a bowl, cover with the boiling water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon into a small saucepan, pop in the butter and add a little seasoning. Put to cook over a very low light, stirring together until the butter has melted and allow to stew for about 10 minutes, covered, really slowly.

Sparsely spread the white bread with duck fat (or butter) and quietly fry on each side until golden and crisp.

Strain the morel-soaking liquid, using a tea strainer, into another small saucepan and add the sherry, vermouth, shallot and garlic. Simmer until reduced by about two-thirds.

Add the flour to the morels, stir around for a minute or 2, then strain in the reduced morel liquor. Simmer till thickened, then stir in the cream. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes until the sauce is nicely clinging to the morels and is of a lovely ivory colour. Stir in the lemon juice and chives, then carefully spoon over the fried bread; sprinkle over a few extra chives, if you wish, just to pretty the thing. Eat at once.
The new edition of Simon Hopkinson’s The Vegetarian Option (Quadrille, £12.99) is out now

Chicken with quince and cider by Henriette Helstrup and Allan Jenkins

20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (1)

A much loved recipe in our house, for when the nights start to draw in and the first Iranian quince appear in the shops. Originally from a lost newspaper cutting, and tweaked over the years.

Serves 4
chicken 1 medium, the best you can afford
garlic 3 cloves
lemon ½
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
butter a generous knob, enough to brown the chicken
small quince 4, halved
dry cider 500ml

Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Trim the chicken of excess fat and skin. Peel and slice the garlic and cut into thin slivers, insert under the chicken skin at regular intervals. Rub the bird with the half lemon, squeezing the juice over it. Season sparingly with salt, more liberally with pepper, and paprika if you like it.

Heat the butter in a cast iron casserole and lightly brown the chicken all over. Remove the bird and stuff it with as much of the quince as you can. Return it to the pan with any remaining quince tucked in around it and pour the cider over. Bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and place in the oven. After an hour, remove the chicken, place it on an ovenproof dish and return to the oven to crisp the skin.

Meanwhile, sieve the juices from the pot and reduce on the hob until syrupy, then reserve to serve with the roasted bird.

Thanks to Fine Food Specialist for sourcing the quinces

Anna Jones’s maple toffee apple and pear crisp

20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (2)

This is everything I want in an autumn pudding. Melting orchard fruits spiked with ginger and cardamom and a topping that’s half crisp and half crumble, which reminds me of oatmeal cookies. I eat this with thick Greek yogurt mixed with a little honey and vanilla or, if it’s really cold, good hot vanilla custard.

Serves 4-6
apples 3
pears 3
maple syrup 2 tbsp
prunes 75g
dried figs 50g
candied ginger, 2 pieces, finely chopped
unwaxed lemon 1
vanilla pod 1, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla paste)
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground cardamom ½ tsp
For the topping
rolled oats 100g
ground almonds 50g
butter or coconut oil 100g
light brown sugar 75g
white spelt flour 100g
salt a small pinch

To serve
Greek or coconut yogurt whipped with a little vanilla and honey

Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Peel the apples and pears and roughly slice them. Toss them with the maple syrup in a roasting tray and cover the tray with foil. Roast for 15 minutes in the hot oven, then remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes until the edges catch and caramelise.

Meanwhile, roughly chop 50g of the prunes and all the figs, finely chop the ginger, and place the whole lot into the bottom of a 24cm round (or equivalently sized) baking dish. Grate over the lemon zest and add the juice of ½ the lemon, add the vanilla and spices and mix everything together. Cover the dish with a clean tea towel and leave to one side.

Make the topping by rubbing the oats, almonds, butter, sugar, flour and salt together with your fingers. It will feel wetter than a crumble topping and you’ll be left with larger pieces of butter, but you should have a very rough crumbly dough after about 4 minutes. Chop the remaining prunes roughly and mix them through too.

When your apples are ready, mix them with the fruit and spices in the baking dish, then sprinkle over the topping. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until deep golden.

I serve mine with some Greek or coconut yogurt, whipped with a little vanilla and honey.

From The Modern Cook’s Year: Over 250 vibrant vegetable recipes to see you through the seasons by Anna Jones (Fourth Estate, £26)

Claudia Roden’s tagliatelle with white truffles

20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (3)

Piedmontese tagliatelle, called tajarin, with butter and parmesan are one of the best ways to enjoy a white truffle because they do not interfere with its sensational aroma. The Piedmontese white truffles are the most prized and extremely expensive. They must be used very fresh as they lose their aroma at an accelerating pace – their season is between the end of September and mid January – or preserved in jars or tins, which are not quite as scented as fresh ones.

Serves 4
white truffle 1 small
unsalted butter 125g
parmesan 40g, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
nutmeg a grating
tagliatelle 300g, or fettuccine

Truffles are generally exported already cleaned. If you need to clean your white truffle, scrub it with a stiff brush and rub it with a moist cloth. Melt the butter and add the grated parmesan and a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Boil the tagliatelle or fettuccine until al dente, drain quickly and serve immediately, tossed with the melted butter mixture. Shave a little white truffle over each serving with a mandolin or a potato peeler.

Black summer truffles from Umbria are relatively cheap – you can buy them fresh in season from October to March – and they are available preserved in jars in some British supermarkets. Their flavour is not as sensational as that of white truffles but it is distinctive and delicate. For 2 small portions of Umbrian tagliatelle con tartufi nerri, cook 100g tagliatelle and prepare the sauce at the same time: bring to the boil 200ml double cream with a few drops of truffle oil (to taste), 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan, a little salt and a finely grated small black truffle. When the tagliatelle are al dente, drain and mix them in the pan with the truffle sauce.
From The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden (Square Peg, £30)

Yasmin Khan’s red lentil and squash soup with za’atar croutons

20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (4)

Za’atar is a Palestinian spice mix made from wild thyme, sesame and sumac that has an affinity with sweet root vegetables. Here it is used to make crunchy, tangy croutons to adorn an aromatic soup of roasted butternut squash and spiced lentils. Roasting the squash intensifies its flavour and sweetness, and gives the soup a glorious silky texture that perfectly contrasts with the crispy croutons.

Serves 4
butternut squash 1kg, peeled, deseeded and cut into 3cm pieces
light olive oil
onions 2, finely chopped
garlic 4 cloves, crushed
cumin seeds ¾ tsp
coriander seeds ¾ tsp
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
red lentils 160g, rinsed
vegetable or chicken stock 750ml
lemon juice of ½
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the toppings
stale bread 2 slices (I like to use sourdough for taste and texture)
za’atar 2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil
parsley or coriander leaves chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and drizzle with light olive oil. Toss the chunks so they are evenly coated in the oil, then roast for 20-30 minutes, until they are soft.

Heat 3 tablespoons light olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and fry for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic, reduce the heat and cook for another few minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the cumin and coriander seeds by stirring them in a dry pan over a low heat for a minute until their aromas are released. Grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, then add them and the cinnamon to the saucepan with the softened onions. Fry the spices for a few minutes.

Add the lentils and 1 litre of just-boiled water. Cover and simmer the soup for 10 minutes.

Once the lentils have softened, add the squash, stock, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Leave to simmer for another 10 minutes.

Once the lentils are fully cooked, take the pan off the heat and blend the soup with a hand-held blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference.

To make the croutons, roughly chop the bread into 3cm chunks. Heat 3 tablespoons light olive oil in a frying pan and, once it is very hot, add the bread and sprinkle over the za’atar. Fry the bread, stirring frequently, until it is toasted and crunchy. Place the croutons on some kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls, top with the croutons and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped herbs.
From Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury, £26)

20 best easy autumn recipes: part 1 (2024)
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