What I’m cooking this autumn

by Clare Fairs, October 26, 2015

With school half term well underway and some lovely bright autumnal weather, I’m trying to make sure the children and I spend as much time outdoors as possible before the winter sets in.

We’ve had an abundance of fruit in the garden – apples, pears and a bumper crop of quinces. I love to preserve the flavours of the autumn for the rest of the year and have been busy making chutney. It’s sometimes hard to know what to do with the wonderful quince but I’ve made quince jelly or membrillo for the first time this year and turned to Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess for a chutney, she calls Paradise Chutney, with quinces, pears and fresh and dried cranberries. The kitchen has been warm with the rich aromas of the fruit and cider vinegar simmering away.

When the children come in from playing outside they’re always hungry and I try to keep the cupboards stocked up with healthy but delicious snacks. Who can resist a chocolate brownie?  But they are usually oozing in butter so in this recipe I have replaced the butter entirely with much healthier hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil. They still taste delicious and we all feel just a little less guilty about the indulgence!

Sam is still really busy on the farm and so for lunch I like to have a substantial and warming soup on the go. My current favourite is this Spiced Lentil Soup, it’s quick and easy to make and keeps you full all day.

My winning supper this week is baked potatoes. So easy and cheap to do and everyone can choose their own toppings so for once everyone is happy! I feel like a clever Mum!

Spiced lentil soup

Serves 4
Prep time 30 mins

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 tbsp hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tins green lentils
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100g Savoy cabbage or kale
  • Natural yoghurt to serve
  1.  Finely chop the onion and roughly chop the carrot. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes until softened.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan with the garam masala and tomato puree and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until fragrant before adding the tomato and tomato puree.
  3. Rinse and drain the lentils and add them to the pan with the stock and 750ml water.
  4. Bring to a simmer for 6-8 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
  5. Remove and discard any thick stalks from the cabbage/kale, then add the leaves to the soup and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, stirring until wilted.
  6. You can leave the soup chunky or if, like me, you prefer a smooth soup use a hand-blender or liquidiser to blend it and get it to the consistency of your choice.
  7. Remove from the heat and divide among soup bowls, top with yoghurt to serve.


Best ever Brownies

Makes 12

  • Tray bake tin: 23 x 33cm
  • 8 floz hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 350g milk chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 450g light muscavado
  • 150ml milk
  • 225g self-raising flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius (160 fan/ 350F/gas 4).
  2. Line your tin with baking parchment and grease well.
  3. Heat the oil and 225g of the chocolate in a  bowl and set over a pan of hot water until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  4. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the sugar, milk, and the melted chocolate mixture, and beat with a wooden spoon to combine.
  5. Sift in the flour and mix until smooth.
  6. Stir in the remaining chocolate, then pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until well risen and cooked in the middle.  If you use an Aga as I do, bake the brownies on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven, with the cold sheet on the second set of runners, for 45 minutes or until well risen and cooked in the middle.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into 12 squares.



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