The colours of autumn cooking
As cooler days approach, embrace bold flavours.
Garlic, sweet potato and chickpea soup
A super comforting, ward-away-the-blues autumn soup with a rich sweet flavour that's offset by a squeeze of lemon and a few twists of ground black pepper added straight onto each person's soup bowl at the table.
8 big cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
30g olive oil
350g cooked sweet potato
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground turmeric, or 3cm piece of peeled and freshly grated turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
lemon juice and black pepper to finish
1. Put the garlic, onions and olive oil in a large saucepan with a splash of water: this creates extra steam to soften the garlic quickly. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes until the water has evaporated and garlic is very soft.
2. Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, water, salt, thyme, turmeric and cayenne then bring to the boil, cooking until the sweet potato has softened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
3. Puree mixture in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan, adjust the consistency with extra water if needed, then heat until boiling. Divide among 4 to 6 bowls and add a drizzle of lemon juice and a couple of grinds of black pepper to each bowl.
Spiced red onion and feta scones
These supremely chunky flavour-packed scones turn a simple soup into a feast. Play around with the cheese you use, ideally pairing something tangy like feta with a stretchy cheese like mozzarella or edam – use the vegetarian or vegan versions if you prefer. They freeze well once baked so keep a few stashed away for easy cook nights.
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped into 1cm pieces
50g olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 egg, 60g
30g pomegranate molasses
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground paprika
200g feta, drained and chopped
200g mozzarella, drained and chopped
300g white bread flour, plus extra for shaping
3 tsp baking powder
beaten egg, sesame seeds and ground sumac to finish
1. Line two baking trays with non-stick paper and preheat the oven to 240C (220C fan-forced).
2. Put the onions, celery, oil and salt in a saucepan with a splash of water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes until the water has evaporated and the vegetables are sizzling. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat together the egg, milk, yoghurt and pomegranate molasses until smooth then mix in the spices followed by the feta and mozzarella. Then stir in the cooled vegetable mix.
4. Sift together the flour and baking powder, add to the mixing bowl and mix to a soft sticky dough as gently as you can to keep the cheese intact without crumbling. Flour the worktop and pat the dough into a 4 centimetre thick round.
5. Cut the dough into wedge-shaped segments then place these on the prepared trays, allowing room for spreading.
6. Brush the tops with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and ground sumac, then bake for 20-25 minutes until a rich golden brown.
Makes 6-8 wedges
Photo: William Meppem
Molasses and coconut rum cake, with a vanilla bean coconut icing
A generous glug of dark rum turns the texture of this dark coconut cake extra moist and sticky, perfect to eat on its own without icing. But if you want to glam it up, ultra-white vanilla icing will make it dazzle on your table for friends.
100g molasses or black treacle
100g dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g unsalted butter
50g coconut milk
2 eggs, 60g each
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g desiccated coconut
150g strong bread flour
2 tsp baking powder
dark rum to finish
Vanilla bean and coconut icing
150g icing sugar
coconut milk to make it spoonable, about 1-2 tablespoons
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
sweetened coconut flakes
1. Line the base and sides of a medium loaf tin with non-stick baking paper and heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced).
2. Put the molasses in a saucepan with the sugar, ginger and cinnamon and warm until any lumps in the sugar soften and the mixture is smooth, but not boiling. Pour this into a mixing bowl, add the butter and stir until it melts.
3. Beat in the coconut milk followed by the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the coconut. Sift together the flour and baking powder then stir these through.
4. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 minutes, or until firm in the middle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool then generously slosh some rum over the top and leave it to soak in.
5. While the cake cools, put the icing sugar in a small bowl and stir in enough coconut milk, a little at a time, to make a smooth, thick icing. Beat in the vanilla paste. When the cake is cold, spread on the icing, sprinkle with coconut flakes and leave to set before slicing.