Autumn brunches are always a good idea. The weather is the perfect combination of dry, chilly and sunny making it the best time of year for an early morning walk followed by a return to the heat of a cosy kitchen for a delicious brunch. I’ve written about hygge on the blog a lot recently and I cannot think of a better way to bring some hygge to your weekend.

Autumn brunch is about a cosy setting and comforting food. For setting, think low lighting, candles, wool blankets on the backs of chairs and chilled out music. As far as food is concerned, brunch is the ideal meal to feature some of Autumn’s best ingredients.

If all this sounds appealing and you want to give Autumn brunching a go, read on; from place settings to menu, this blog post covers everything you need to throw the perfect Autumn brunch.

Having friends over for food is as much about creating a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere as it is about the food. One without the other is no good. When it comes to table settings, we don't have to restrict ourselves to orange tones at this time of year; instead opt for "quieter" colours that are equally warming and inviting but relaxing and peaceful at the same time. Think warm tones of blues, greys and neutrals made even warmer with greens and golds. Chose flowers and greenery from the garden (or the side of the road). Use candles and lamps to create soft lighting.

If you have some time on your hands before the brunch, switch off from the outside world by making yourself a cup of tea and spending an afternoon painting pumpkins to match your table setting. You've heard of mindful colouring, well this is mindful pumpkin painting.

Serve food straight from the stove top, put dessert in big bowls placed in the centre of the table to allow guests to dig in and help themselves. Have the kettle and coffee machine constantly boiling for coffee, tea and topping up hot toddies.


(serves 4)

Hot Toddies with Lemon, Honey, Cloves and Cinnamon

Butternut Squash & Spinach Barley Risotto topped with a Fried Egg, served with warm Sourdough Bread

Cooked Apples & Pears with Vanilla Coconut Cream & Candied Pecan Nuts

An Infinite Supply of Coffee and Tea

Hot Toddies with Lemon, Honey, Cloves and Cinnamon

Who can resist a hot whiskey in Autumn?! Kick off brunch with hot whiskeys all round to help keep guests warm and snuff out any sniffles.



Boiling water

Lemon wedges



Freshly grated cinnamon, for garnish


Cut a lemon into four wedges and stick three cloves into each wedge. Take four glasses and add a shot of Irish whiskey to each. Add a teaspoon of honey and fill with just boiled water. Pop a clove stuffed lemon wedge in each glass and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.

Serve straight away while they are still warm.

Butternut Squash & Spinach Barley Risotto topped with a Fried Egg, served with warm Sourdough Bread

Mains is a hearty and comforting squash risotto with a soft fried egg perched on top. Cut through the yolk and allow it to run into the risotto; perfect. Serve with warm sourdough bread (just pop some slices under the grill for a few minutes), topped with real butter or a drizzle of olive oil, you decide.


2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 cup of peral barley

4 cups of vegetable stock

2 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon of grated nutmg

Sea salt and black pepper

For the eggs:

2 tbsp olive oil

4 fresh eggs


Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash and cook for a further five minutes. Add the crushed garlic and the pearl barley and stir, cooking for a further two minutes.

Add the stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for approx 40 minutes, checking towards every so often to make sure the stock hasn't cooked off. By the end of the cooking time, the stock should be absorbed and the barley soft and tender. If the barley is too hard, add some more stock until the pearl barley is softened.

Once the pearl barley is cooked, add the spinach, thyme and nutmeg and stir well. Spoon into four dinner bowls.

Cook the fried eggs by heating 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Crack open the eggs on to the pan and allow to cook for without touching them for a few minutes to allow the whites to set. Then cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the egg yolk to cook, just so that it's runny. Use a spatula to transfer the egg from your pan and place on top of your risotto.

Season with a little black pepper and sea salt and serve straight away with some toasted sourdough bread on the side.

Cooked Apples & Pears with Vanilla Coconut Cream & Candied Pecan Nuts

Dessert is no fuss whatsoever. It can be made in advance and quickly reheated. To serve, just pop the cooked fruit in one large bowl, the cream in another and the pecan nuts in another and let your guests help themselves. This dessert is so good when eaten while drinking a cup of freshly brewed coffee.


For the cooked apples and pears:

4 medium apples, such as Granny Smiths

2 large pears

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp Highbank Orchard Syrup

For the cream:

1 can of full fat coconut milk (keep in the fridge for at least six hours before using to allow the milk to harden into a cream).

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Pecan Nuts:

1 cup pecan nuts

2 tbsp Highbank Orchard Syrup

Pinch sea salt


Wash the apples and pears and remove the cores. Cut into small bite size pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add the spices and orchard syrup. Add a small amount of water, just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to medium and simmer until the apples and pears are soft and tender. This should take 15-20 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add a little more Orchard syrup if needed. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

To make the coconut cream, take the coconut milk out of the fridge and scrape the cream from the top of the can (set the remaining coconut water to one side and use for something else). Add the vanilla extract and then use a whisk to lightly whip the cream.

To make the candied pecan nuts, place the pecan nuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 6 minutes at gas 5/190C. Add the orchard syrup and a pinch of sea salt to a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until it begins to bubble and caramelise. Add the pecan nuts and stir well to coat. Place the pecan nuts on a baking parchment to cool. They are quite sticky and so will stick together. Use a sharp knife to break up the nuts into smaller pieces.

To serves, spoon the fruit into the base of a serving glass, top with the coconut cream and drizzle a little orchard syrup and sprinkle the chopped candied pecan nuts on top.


© 2017 All rights reserved.

DESIGNED BY Frances Walsh 

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