Four delicious, comforting classics the family will love – perfect for tasty leftovers too

As the colder nights draw in and we kiss goodbye to summer for another year, it's time to dig out some cosy, comforting recipes to treat yourself and your family.

A new season – especially Autumn – screams out for filling, wholesome meals that are made with love and in large quantities – perfect for hungry children, and even better for those days when very handy 'leftovers' save the hassle of mealtimes.

From a spin on your usual spuds – the addition of crumbled black pudding is heavenly – to a classic mac and cheese favourite with a healthy twist that even little ones won't be able to resist – dive in, get batch cooking and enjoy cosy meals every night of the week…


Serves 6


  • 2 tbsp goose or duck fat
  • Garlic 1 clove, peeled and quartered
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 large potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 110g black pudding
  • 400ml chicken stock, hot


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°fan/Gas 3. In a small saucepan, warm the goose or duck fat with the garlic and thyme until sizzling, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse.

2. Layer half the potato slices in a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish, spooning over a little of the fat and seasoning as you go.

3. Crumble the black pudding over the potato slices, then layer over the remaining potatoes. Pour over the hot chicken stock, then spoon over the remaining fat and season again.

4. Cover the dish with foil, place on a baking tray and bake for 1½ hours.

5. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 220°C/200°fan/Gas 7. Bake for 20–30 minutes until crisp and golden; serve hot.

Tip: King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes work well, but any ‘floury’ variety can be used.


Serves 4–6


  • 200g macaroni
  • 500g vegetables (squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 900ml whole milk
  • 1-2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 300g Mature Cheddar, grated
  • 25g dry breadcrumbs
  • Salad to serve (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°fan/Gas 6.

2. Cook the macaroni according to the packet’s instructions, adding the vegetables for the last 5–10 minutes of cooking, depending on the type of veg. Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, put the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan and whisk continuously until the mixture bubbles. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard to taste and 200g of the cheese. Fold into the macaroni and vegetables.

4. Transfer the mixture to a 2 litre baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the remaining cheese.

5. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes until the topping is golden and the cheese has melted.

6. Serve with salad, if liked.

Tips: If you have any leftover plain crisps or tortilla chips, crush and use instead of breadcrumbs (children will love this!). Or you could top with torn pieces of kale, which will crisp in the oven.


Serves 6


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg venison shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, thickly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves, torn in half
  • A few sprigs thyme, plus extra to garnish
  • A few sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, bruised
  • 1 tsp mixed (or black) peppercorns, crushed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml Sloe gin
  • 200ml passata
  • Potato mashed with parsnip or celeriac, and steamed kale to serve (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a large flameproof lidded casserole over a medium–high heat and brown the meat, in batches, until well coloured. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate.

2. Add the vegetables, herbs and spices to the pan, together with a large pinch of salt, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened slightly.

3. Stir in the tomato purée, gin, passata and 150ml (¼ pint) hot water. Return the meat to the pan, cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring from time to time. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the venison is very tender and the sauce has reduced slightly.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with sprigs of thyme, accompanied with mash and steamed kale.

Tip: Choose free-range or wild venison over farmed. Venison is one of the leanest, heart-healthiest meats available – it has less fat than skinned chicken breast and contains healthy omega 3 fats. It’s also high in protein and packed with zinc, it has higher levels of iron than any other red meat.


Makes 10–12 small pancakes


  • 400g rhubarb, sliced
  • 1 piece of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
  • 75g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 egg 1, beaten
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Double cream whipped, to serve (optional)


1. Put the rhubarb into a saucepan with the stem ginger and 75g of the caster sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir well. Slowly bring to a simmer over a low heat.

2. Cook gently for 8–10 minutes, stirring often, until the rhubarb is soft. Taste and check the sweetness, adding a little more sugar if necessary. Leave to cool.

3. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Starting in the centre, gradually whisk in the milk until the batter is smooth and has the consistency of thick cream.

4. Wipe a non-stick frying pan with a little oil and heat until hot. Turn down the heat to medium. Cook the pancakes in batches: drop tablespoons of mixture into the frying pan, spaced well apart, and fry for 1– 2 minutes on each side until the surface puffs and bubbles.

5. Keep warm. Serve the pancakes with the rhubarb compote and whipped cream, if using.

Tip: Instead of compote, serve the pancakes with pear slices, gently fried in butter and drizzled with maple syrup.

FOUR SEASONS COOKBOOK, published by Dairy Diary, £10.99 plus P&P, is out now

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