Spoiled as we are by the continuing warm weather in Northern California, there are still signs everywhere that Autumn has danced her way back into our lives. Leaves carpeting the ground, acorns scattered below the trees and a distinct chill to the early morning air. Mother Nature wears her most vibrant gowns of burnt orange and red as the evening sky is splashed with crimson and the daylight dwindles much earlier. It feels like it’s time to cook stews and casseroles, and sip red wine by the glow of the fire! I thought you might enjoy some of my favourite recipes for this time of year, do send me yours!

One pot wonders ~ casseroles and stews!

One of the great things about casseroles or ‘one pot’ meals is that many of them are actually best prepared the day before which allows the flavours to enhance. They then just require gentle preheating before serving.

California’s Napa Valley Vineyards in Autumn

Californian, Napa Valley Winery in Autumn

As accompaniments I pre-prepare mashed potatoes, puréed parsnips, or puréed cauliflower, a more calorie conscious option. I simply boil potatoes or parsnips or steam the cauliflower, add freshly milled salt and pepper, maybe add some butter or cream, with the cauliflower I just add a sprinkle of parmesan, (any hard cheese will work) although this is entirely optional. To mash the potatoes I find nothing works as well as good old fashioned elbow grease and a sturdy fork but for the parsnips and cauliflower I use my immersion blender, the one kitchen tool I would never be without! This blender is also brilliant for blending soups directly in the saucepan, (click on the links to buy: in USA in UK.)  I put the mixture in the dish I intend to serve from, cover with clear wrap and then give them just 2-3 minutes of microwave ‘zapping’ before serving.

Crisp early mornings in autumn

Crisp autumn mornings

Along with the main dish I also serve some bright green vegetables, such a broccoli, chopped kale, french beans, or spinach (which is especially good with lamb) all of which need little last minute
fuss and provide a vibrant splash of colour to the plate!

Autumn sky at dusk, Mt Diablo, Danville, California

Autumnal evening sky over Mt Diablo, Danville California

Here are a few recipe suggestions for hearty autumn ‘one pot’ meals from some of my favourite chefs, along with links to buy their recipe books, happy cooking!

Coq au Vin – Julia Child recipe
Beef Bourguinon – Julia Child recipe
Recipe Book Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle & Simone Beck (Made famous in the Meryl Streep, Rachel Adams movie Julie & Julia)

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – Barefoot Contessa recipe
Recipe Book The Barefoot Contessa in Paris Ina Garten

Lamb with green olives – John Ash’s recipe
Grandma’s pot roast  – John Ash’s recipe
Recipe Book From Earth to table by John Ash – winner of the Julia Child Cook book of the Year

Braised short Ribs –  Gordon Ramsey’s Recipe
Recipe Book Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course by Gordon Ramsey

Beef and ale stew  Jamie Oliver’s recipe
Recipe Book The Ministry of Food  by Jamie Oliver

Andy the Gas Man’s stew (lamb) Jamie Oliver’s recipe
Recipe Book Jamie Oliver’s Dinners