Roasted Autumn Vegetable Plait

Now we are into September, I think we can officially break out the Autumn recipes. While it might not be time for scarves, gloves and thick coats, I am definitely thinking of all things Fall.

With cooler temperatures and squashes and pumpkins arriving into the shops, my thoughts turn to roasts, soups, stews and casseroles. One of my favourite ways of cooking vegetables is to roast them and with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, autumn and winter vegetables really taste at their very best.


This vegetable plait consists of roasted seasonal vegetables, deep green Cavolo Nero, together with fragrant, woody herbs, chestnuts and blue cheese. They all go exceptionally well together and form a perfect vegetarian dinner dish. It’s also really good served cold the next day with salad, or in a lunchbox.

Autumn veg plait

1 small Acorn or Queen squash, or a small butternut squash, washed, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
2 small red onions, halved and sliced
Small bunch of Cavolo Nero, washed, ribs removed and roughly torn up
Small bunch of Sage, rolled and cut into very fine strips
1 tbs Thyme leaves, chopped
200g Blue cheese like Stilton, rind removed and broken into fairly large crumbles
1 Pack of vacuum packed chestnuts, broken up a little
Puff pastry – either home-made or shop bought and rolled into a rectangle (approx 35cmx23cm)
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Egg and a little milk for brushing

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Rub the squash with 1tbs of olive oil, 1tsp salt and ½tsp pepper and place on a baking tray and roast until tender and just catching at the edges. This will take around 30 minutes. When ready, allow to cool.

While the squash is roasting, gently sauté the onions in a small knob of butter, a little oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until softened, translucent and golden. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. In the same pan, add a little more butter, the kale and a tbs of water. Stir around until it has wilted a little.

Place the puff pastry onto a lined baking sheet and cut thick strips around the edge, leaving a centre rectangle intact.

Autumn veg plait1

Gently, mix together the squash, kale, chestnuts, cheese, sage and thyme and place onto the pastry. It should be fairly compact as you are going to wrap the strips of pasty around it to form a parcel.

Brush the strips with a little of the egg wash and fold over the ends first and then alternate side strips until the filling is encased. Cover with cling film and chill for an hour or overnight if you are making ahead.

Autumn veg plait slice

When you are ready to bake, brush the egg wash all over the pastry and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Autumn veg slice

Bring on Autumn, I love it!

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with Salted Caramel Sauce

This recipe is only for people who LOVE peanut butter! The filling is rich, creamy and packed full of smooth peanut butter.

Mini PB cheesecakes

For the crust, I have used caramelised Lotus Biscoff biscuits which are quite dangerous to have around the house as they are so moreish. However, they are perfect for the base of just about any cheesecake. Their delicate spice and caramel flavour work so well with the peanut butter and the salted caramel sauce.

I have made a batch of caramel sauce myself, but Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Salted Caramel Sauce works perfectly well here too, just warm the jar slightly to make the sauce pour easily.

I think these would be great for a small, but decadent dessert and would work well for a holiday party.

Mini PB cheesecakes1

25 Lotus Biscoff biscuits
50g salted butter, melted

300g Full fat cream cheese at room temperature, I used Philadelphia
200g sour cream
300g Smooth peanut butter
120g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs plain/all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Caramel Sauce:
200g sugar
100g salted butter
120g double/heavy cream
1tsp sea salt

I used Masterclass 12 hole mini sandwich tin for my cheesecakes, but these can easily be made in muffin cases too.

Start by making the caramel sauce to allow it time to cool.

Add the sugar to a deep, heavy based pan and heat until melted. Stir in the butter until combined and then pour in the cream, stirring all the time until it reaches a rolling boil. It will bubble and rise up as it boils which is why you need a pan deep enough. Allow to boil for a minute or two, it should be the colour of golden amber. Stir in the salt and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare the tin by lightly greasing the sides.

For the crust, blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add to the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.

Equally distribute the buttery crumbs between the cups and firm them down with the back of a spoon, shot glass, or pastry tamper if you have one. The crusts need to be neat and compact so you don’t have any crumbs in the actual cheesecake.

Bake the crusts for 5 minutes and allow to cool while you make the filling

For the filling, add the cream cheese and sugar to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can also use a hand mixer for this. Beat on high speed until super smooth and fluffy.

Add the vanilla, cream and beat again until smooth, then add the eggs until just combined. Finally stir in the peanut butter until fully incorporated. I do this final step by hand so as not to whip too much air in that could crack the cheesecakes.

Pour in the filling onto the part-baked crusts. They will not rise very much, so you can fill almost to the top.

Bake for around 18-20 minutes or until just set. Keep an eye on them as they will crack if over-baked.

Mini PB cheesecakes closeup2

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool down to room temperature. Then wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly. The loose bottoms of this tin allow you to push the refrigerated cheesecakes out with no problems.

Mini PB cheesecakes closeup

When ready to serve, pour on a little salted caramel sauce. These are super rich and sweet and I have served mine with some tart blackberries.

Plum and Pecan Friands with a Maple Glaze

This is my first friand recipe using autumnal flavours. The plums that are in season at the moment are delicious – sweet and winey. They are great just eaten on their own and the children love eating them, but they are lovely to cook with too.

plum pecan friands

These friands are made with ground pecans rather than the usual ground almonds. My eldest son says he doesn’t like pecans (what is wrong with him?) but he liked these very much. He did remove the pecan on the top though!

The flavour of the pecans is lovely and goes so well with the cinnamon and orange zest and the seasonal fresh plums are delicious. The maple glaze is optional really, but really works well with all the flavours.

Plum Pecan friand 3

The first batch of these turned out a little wet, so after I have chopped the plums, I place them on some kitchen paper to absorb a little of the moisture. You only have to do that if the plums are extra juicy though.

Plum Pecan friand closeup

6 large egg whites/250ml Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites
250g icing sugar
130g pecans + 12 extra to top each cake
100g plain/all-purpose flour – sieved with 2tsp cinnamon
Zest of an un-waxed orange
160g melted butter + extra for greasing the tin
5 small ripe plums – chopped into small pieces and placed on some kitchen paper

Maple Glaze:
½ cup sieved icing sugar
2-3tbs maple syrup – enough to thin

Preheat the oven to 180°C and brush the pan with the extra melted butter

Tip the pecans into the food processor, a coffee grinder, or I used the milling attachment on my Nutribullet and pulse the pecans until they are completely ground into crumbs. Make sure you keep agitating the nuts to keep them on the move, otherwise, as they are quite moist, you can end up with pecan butter.

Tip the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until broken down and frothy. Add the butter and zest and whip until fluffy.

On low speed, add the ground pecans, icing sugar, flour and cinnamon until just combined. Stir in the plums by hand.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. I use an ice cream scoop to do this as I make less mess.

Plum Pecan friands closeup2

Place a pecan nut on the top of each cake and bake for 30-35 minutes or until they have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire cooling rack. I actually left these until they were almost cool because they are quite delicate.

Leave to cool completely before making the glaze.

Plum Pecan friand closeup1

For the glaze, simply stir maple syrup into the icing sugar until you have a runny consistency and drizzle back and forth over the cooled cakes.

These are delicious served with coffee, but would be perfect for an autumn picnic too.