When temperatures drop and the days get shorter, there is one major consolation – and that's all the downright delicious grub we get to enjoy. Gone are salads and picnic food and in their place are hearty stews, pies, indulgent potato dishes, creamy curries and fruity crumbles.
After all, this is the time of year when British food really comes into its own. As if you needed any more persuasion, here is our round-up of irresistible comfort food recipes, to help see you through to spring.
root vegetable rosti-topped cottage pie
We love a good cottage pie, and this classic recipe has been given a tasty twist, with a crunchy rosti topping – the perfect way to use up leftover carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes. If you've got a slow cooker, pop your mince filling on in the morning and let it bubble and cook down all day for extra flavour – and if you want to make it a little more indulgent, feel free to throw on some grated cheese before it goes in the oven – yum! Veggies need not feel left out, as this meat-free version is equally delicious.
mac and cheese
We challenge anyone to find a more comforting supper than mac and cheese. Whether you want to add broccoli, tomatoes, leeks or meat (think gammon or pancetta), you can't go far wrong with this dish. Remember to top with more breadcrumbs and cheese before it goes under the grill, and try adding a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard to your béchamel for a savoury kick.
Beef stew and dumplings
What says "autumn" more than a bowl of rich, steaming stew and dumplings? Our braised beef with dumplings sits in the oven for over five hours until the meat is positively falling apart. Bay, peppercorns, thyme and plenty of red wine give the rich gravy some gorgeous, deep and comforting savoury flavours. This dinner is sure to get you in the mood for log fires, woolly jumpers and autumn walks.
swedish meatballs with creamy mash
Like us, those Swedes have had to adapt to a chilly climate – and boy do they do winter food well. From warm cinnamon buns to colourful open sandwiches, those guys have got countless comforting recipes up their sleeves – but the most obvious has to be Swedish meatballs, with creamy mash, gravy and lingonberry sauce. To save you a trip to the Ikea cafe, we've included our own recipe here – serve with pickled cucumber for an extra Scandi twist.
A slow cooked chilli is a wonderful thing indeed. While this recipe uses pork, you can stick with diced beef if you prefer (or add plenty of veg and beans as a veggie alternative) – and along with onion, chilli, stock, tomatoes and seasoning, it can bubble away in the oven or on the hob for around three hours, until tender. Serve it with baked sweet (or regular) potatoes or fluffy rice, and a generous dollop of soured cream or yoghurt.
leftover sausage pie
While Jimmy Doherty's pie recipe calls for leftover sausages, you could use any meat – ham, chicken or turkey would be delicious. You could also substitute the meat for more veg (something chunky like squash or potato) for any vegetarians. With a glossy puff pastry crust, serve this up with mash for the ultimate winter warmer.
ultimate cheese toastie
With the addition of Marmite, plus onion chutney and roast tomatoes, this cheese toastie recipe is a must-have for chilly afternoons. Vegans can swap in this dairy-free cheddar alternative to get their cheesy fix, and meat eaters can add in ham if preferred. Best lunch ever!
Sausage, mixed bean and kale casserole
We love bangers and mash as much as the next person, but our favourite part of the pub grub classic is that luscious, onion gravy… And that's why we love this sausage, mixed bean and kale casserole. Served with a big dollop of mash, this is one comfort food we couldn't get through winter without.
Chicken tikka masala
While a takeaway curry might be your Saturday night treat of choice, nothing beats the reward of making your own from scratch. This chicken tikka masala has all of the creamy, rich sauce and layers of spices as your curry house favourites, but for a fraction of the cost per person. Don't forget the naan…
Fish and chips
Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't get your seaside fix of fish and chips. Crispy, hot and doused in vinegar – this comfort food is sure to put a smile on your face no matter the weather. We've got our homemade recipe down to a tee for those days when a trip to the chippy just isn't possible.
and for afters…
APPLE CRUMBLE AND CUSTARD
Apple crumble is the one of the puddings that us Brits turn to most often when they need a little cheering up – and who would be surprised! Juicy, baked apples and a buttery crumble topping are a match made in British culinary heaven. Easy to rustle up from scratch, serve this dreamy dessert with a dollop of vanilla custard.
Melting heart double chocolate fondant puddings
Does anything get you smacking your lips as much as these melting heart double chocolate fondant puddings? Didn't think so! When you've had a rubbish day, one of these gooey chocolate puds will totally set you right. Serve with a scoop of ice cream in front of the telly for the ultimate indulgence.