Autumn Tastes

Leila Jerman is a proud mother of two, wife of one, owner of Sofia’s Kitchen who eats, sleeps and dreams food. Coming from a background of chef’s and restaurateurs, she now hopes to venture into the food blogging world whilst planning to take her business to the next levels. Why not pop over to Leila’s own foodie blog, Leila’s Kitchen, for recipes, tips and more!

Autumn marks a significant change in most people’s eating habits in comparison to summertime, but for me, it just makes it easier to justify eating the huge plates of steaming hot casseroles that I make all year round, or devouring large bowls of soup with huge thick chunks of crusty bread!!

It’s also quite exciting as it marks seasonal autumn fruit and vegetables coming into our farm shops and organic stores.  From aubergines to broccoli, or blackberries to damsons, it opens a very delicious window into more pies; whether savoury or sweet, casseroles, tarts, cakes…the list is endless.

 At this point, I now want to make soups.  Let’s face it, this particular year we’ve not really had a proper summer so my soup craving has come fairly early on.  I tend to chop swede, leek, carrots, potatoes and greens into a large pot, add lentils, farfallini pasta, stock cubes, a dollop of tomato puree and some spices and let it boil away. The result is a delicious tangy soup that definitely does warm the cockles!! It’s great and easy to freeze too, so if you’re having an off day, you can just boil it back up again and it’s ready to go!

Like everyone, I also enjoy a well made roast dinner! I don’t care what it is, in the voice of Joey from Friends, ‘meat…good, veg…good, gravy…goooood…’ but my own specialities are casseroles that are served with very fluffy rice topped with saffron.  My huge favourite that I pester my mother to make for me, is one with chunks of lamb in a zesty sauce of parsley, mint and chopped celery. There is nothing quite like this dish, and I could happily eat plates and plates until I fall into a food coma!!!

Of course, autumn wouldn’t be complete without dessert! Sticky toffee pudding with custard, apple and blackberry pie, huge pieces of cheesecake, you name it, I’ll eat it.  My children’s favourite is Victoria Sponge or chocolate brownies so they make quite a few appearances in our house over the months. I do not have a problem with this, again, cake….GOOD!

SO here we are, September and already I’m loving the darker days, wind and rain which means I don’t have to leave the house for anything other than the school run, and can spend the hours cooking with my eldest, then reaping the rewards!

Here’s a very quick and easy recipe to enjoy on a cold and sunny Sunday afternoon!!

Chunky Vegetable Casserole

Preparation Time 8 minutes

Cooking Time 30 minutes

Serves 4


 2 Large Potatoes washed and diced (not peeled)

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

1 green pepper, sliced into thin strips

1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips

250g closed cup mushrooms chopped into quarters**

1 tin borlotti beans or pinto beans, drained

2 tbsp tomato puree

4 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil

1 Schwartz garlic and herb packet mix*

Salt and Pepper to taste.


 Fry the potatoes in the oil until they start to go slightly golden.  Remember to keep stirring them as they can stick to the pan.

Add the onions and peppers and fry until softened.

Add the mushrooms and leave for 6 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the beans, tomato puree, Schwartz mix, salt and pepper, and cover with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes with no lid to allow the water to boil off leaving a thick sauce.

Serve hot with thick slices of French bread.  To cool you can also have plain yogurt on the side.

*The packet mix is a cheat but works really well.  I actually also sometimes add a spoonful of chicken seasoning to give it an extra zing. For total vegetarians, any vegetable stock will do.  You can also give it an extra zing by adding chilli or curry powder.

**You can substitute with other vegetables but will need to change the cooking times accordingly to suit.

For a meaty variation, you can add chopped frankfurters at the same time that you add the onions and peppers.