Every year I resist the autumn kitchen to try to preserve the last sweet moments of summer. But now, as the days of September roll into October, the template is in place. Although I long for long sunny days during our long Irish autumns and winters, my wife Sofie is much more prepared for the change of season. Embracing its Scandi traditions of making the house cozy for the colder days, candles are lit and blankets are laid down at the first howl of a soggy autumn day.
also play my role in the kitchen. Although my preference is for light, exciting and bold flavors from other continents, I am actually extremely skilled in producing “brown food” – the types of simmering stews that aren’t pretty but warm you from the inside out. and provide just the right amount of nostalgia to lessen the sting of the season. Irish Stew, Creamy Chicken Casserole with Cheddar Meatballs, and Beef and Guinness Stew are all favorites. This week, we’re embracing all things cozy with three recipes that should get you through those cooler days.
We should start with the soup – it’s the season after all. This one’s a keeper, packed with the spiciness of chili, the creaminess of coconut, and the liveliness of split peas, all of which reinforce the sweet flesh of the sweet potato to create a soup that’s quite irresistible. Do it once and it will be a regular soup recipe in your repertoire.
Then, a dish to boil and boil all the way to your table on a cold fall day – a braised beef shin lasagna. Lasagna was one of the first things I learned to cook, and it still remains one of my favorite comfort foods. This version gives next level results. I used braised beef shank, but you can also use flank steak. Either way, cook gently until tender, which makes all the difference to the stew, which is then layered between pasta and a rich cheese sauce.
For a sweet finish, try the sticky apple cake here served with Norman cream. It’s a dependable cake that can be served as a sweet treat with coffee or brought to the table in full glory with a drizzle of maple caramel. The cake can be prepared in advance and keeps well for three to five days wrapped in cling film.
Chilli, coconut, sweet potato and split pea soup
Cooking 35 min For 6 people (4 generously)
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
600 g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
250g yellow split peas
1 can of 400 ml low-fat coconut milk
1.5 l vegetable stock, more if needed
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and let soften over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the ground coriander, cumin seeds and chili flakes and sauté for 1 minute before adding the sweet potato and split peas.
2. Pour over the coconut milk and broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes until tender.
3. Use a hand blender or food processor to blend until smooth, adding more broth if needed. Garnish with chili flakes and serve.
Braised beef shank lasagna
Cooking time 3h30 to 4h For 8 people
2 kg beef shank cut into pieces
3 tablespoons plain flour, seasoned
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
250 g button mushrooms, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated
5 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves plucked
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
450ml red wine
200ml fresh beef stock
400g tinned crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
12 sheets of fresh lasagna noodles
Mixed leaves, for serving
For the cheese sauce:
75g of butter
75g plain flour
800ml whole milk
150 g Cheddar cheese, grated
100 g grated parmesan
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1. To make filling, toss beef in seasoned flour. Heat a good layer of oil in a casserole dish and brown the beef in it, in batches if necessary, until it is nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add the onion and mushrooms with a little oil to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes until golden, then add the garlic, herbs and tomato puree. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the broth, crushed tomatoes and red wine vinegar and return the beef to the skillet. Reduce heat to low and cook gently, partially covered, for 2½ to 3 hours until meat is tender and falls apart when pushed with a spoon.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two, then gradually add the milk until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Season well and add most of the cheese and mustard.
4. Once the beef is tender, remove the bay leaf and shred the meat in the sauce. If the sauce seems a little juicy, you can reduce it until it just coats the meat.
5. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark. 6. Pour ⅓ of the meat into a large baking dish, then cover with 4 lasagne sheets and pour ⅓ of the cheese sauce. Repeat the layers two more times, ending with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Serve with a green salad.
Sticky apple cake with Normandy cream
Cooking time 1h30 + cooling & cooling For 10 people
200g unsalted butter
4 tangy cox-type dessert apples
175 g caster sugar plus 1 additional tablespoon
3 medium eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
190g self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Greek or plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sweet brown sugar
For the Norman cream:
300 g heavy cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon Calvados brandy
For the caramel coulis:
50g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of maple syrup
120 ml fresh cream
1. Preheat oven to 170C/340F/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm (5cm deep) springform cake tin.
2. For the sponge cake, put the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and let it melt. Cook until the milk solids catch and it begins to smell nutty. Pour into a bowl and let cool, then refrigerate until set but not hard.
3. Peel, core and chop 2 of the apples. Put in a saucepan over medium-high heat and add 50 ml of water and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently and adding more water if needed, until almost pureed. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
4. In a mixing bowl, cream the reserved brown butter and caster sugar with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and the cooled apple.
5. Sift the flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt, then stir into the mixture and stir in the yoghurt.
6. Peel, core and slice the remaining two apples and arrange them on the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar then pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour until the sponge cake springs back to the touch.
7. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then unmold onto a serving platter and let cool to room temperature.
8. Put the caster sugar for the caramel in a saucepan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of water and gently melt the sugar. Then turn up the heat and bubble without stirring until it turns nice and golden. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients – it will sputter and spit, but when it calms down the sauce should be smooth and glossy. If it starts to sear, simply reheat it over low heat. Let cool to room temperature.
9. For the Norman cream, beat the fresh cream with the sugar and cognac and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
10. Serve the sliced cake with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.