Creamy Chicken for Two

spray olive oil
2 chicken breasts, skinless and trimmed 200g each
½ onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
100g mixed or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
250ml chicken stock (made with ½ a stock cube)
salt and pepper
100ml crème fraîche
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
300g broccoli, steamed, to serve

Heat the spray oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the chicken breasts and fry for about 10 minutes, or until well browned on both sides. Set aside.

In the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onion for 2–3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and fry for another 1–2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry until golden-brown. If they start to stick, add a little stock to the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the stock. Bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat and simmer for 12–15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in boiling salted water until tender.

Stir the crème fraîche and parsley into the sauce and serve immediately with the broccoli.

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Lemon Cheesecake ~ Banting

4 Banting Rusks
50g Butter
220g Smooth Cottage Chse
250ml Fresh Cream
1 Tbsp Xylitol
1 Lemon

Crust – Crush the rusks. Melt the butter in a bowl. Then add ¾ of the crushed rusks, mix well and press into the base of a greased round pie or quiche bowl and chill. Filling: Grate the rind off the lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Whip the cream until thick, then slowly add xylitol, lemon juice, cottage cheese and lastly fold in grated lemon rind. Spoon the mixture over the crumbs Sprinkle the leftover rusks over the top. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

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450g potatoes, cut into chunky chips
sunflower oil , for frying (about 300ml)
flaky sea salt

To cook the chips, put them in a sturdy saucepan that holds them in a double layer and still has plenty of space above them. Pour over enough cold oil to cover them by about 2cm. Put the pan on a high heat and bring the oil to the boil, stirring the chips with a wooden spoon occasionally so they don’t stick.

After about 20 mins the oil will clear and the chips will look like they are frying. Keep an eye on them, stirring with the spoon occasionally until golden and crisp. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon into a dish lined with kitchen paper, and season with flaky sea salt. Serve with the steak.

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Egg and Bacon Sandwich

oil, for frying
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
2 thick slices sourdough bread
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 small egg
1 tbsp ketchup or brown sauce, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Fry the bacon until crispy, then put on a plate covered with foil to keep warm.

Using a cookie cutter, cut a hole in 1 slice of bread, then spread mayonnaise on one side of both slices. Fry the bread in the same pan. When browned on one side, flip both over and crack the egg into the hole. Fry for 2-3 mins, then turn down the heat and cover the pan until the white of the egg is set but the yolk is still runny. Remove everything from the pan.

Spread the non-egg slice with the sauce, add the bacon, then top with the egg slice. Halve and tuck in.

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Overnight Oats

40g grated carrot
a big pinch of mixed spice
¼ tsp cinnamon
50g rolled porridge oats
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sultanas
1 tbsp Greek yogurt

Mix the grated carrot, mixed spice and cinnamon with the oats, 150ml water and a pinch of salt, then cover and chill in the fridge overnight. The next day, stir in the honey and sultanas then top with Greek yogurt.

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Plougmans Sandwich

1 medium baguette
2 tbsp mayo
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
½ small apple
3 slices smoked ham
50g cheddar , sliced
2 tbsp pickle or chutney
handful of rocket

Slice the baguette in half lengthways. Mix the mayo with the mustard and cut the apple into thin slices. Spread the mayo mixture over the baguette base, then lay on the ham, cheese, apple and the pickle or chutney. Finish with the rocket and the baguette top, then cut in half.

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Vegetarian wellington

500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
2 tbsp olive oil
small bunch sage , leaves finely chopped
2 shallots , finely chopped
500g closed cup mushrooms , chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
150ml double cream
200g fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp ground mace
150g cooked chestnuts , chopped
whole nutmeg, for grating
500g block puff pastry
plain flour, to dust
6-8 cooked beetroot (similar sized- about 400g)
1 egg , beaten, to glaze
1 tbsp sesame seeds or poppy seeds, to decorate

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the squash with 1 tbsp oil, half the sage and some seasoning. Tip onto a baking tray and roast for 25 mins until tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and fry the shallots for 10 mins until tender. Add the mushrooms and fry for 15 mins until softened, and the liquid has evaporated.

Add the garlic and remaining sage to the mushrooms, fry for a minute, then add the double cream. Stir until it coats the mushrooms and no liquid remains. Fold in the breadcrumbs, mace, chestnuts and roast squash. Season everything well, adding a grating of nutmeg. Leave to cool before assembling the wellington.

Roll the pastry out on a floured work surface to a 35 x 45cm rectangle. Transfer to a large parchment-lined baking sheet with one of the long lengths of the pastry facing towards you. Spoon the mushroom and squash mixture down the length of the pastry, leaving a 7cm border along the top and 1cm on both sides. Brush all the exposed pastry with beaten egg.

Put the beetroots in a line down the middle of the filling – they should be touching. Fold the filling-covered, long length of the pastry over the beets, using the paper to help you. Roll up and trim the pastry with a knife when it’s overlapping by 1cm.

Place the wellington seal-side down, and pinch the ends to seal. Egg wash the whole thing and use a fork or blunt cutlery knife to score the pastry in a pretty pattern. Chill until for at least 30 mins, or up to 24 hrs.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Brush the wellington with more beaten egg, sprinkle with the sesame or poppy seeds and bake for 45-50 mins until golden brown and puffed up. Leave to rest for 10 mins before carving into chunky slices with a sharp knife to serve.

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Brocolli and blue Cheese Soup

Serves: 4
1 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium baking potato (about 250g), diced
600g broccoli florets
2 vegetable stock cubes
1.2L water, warmed
100g Danish blue cheese

Prep:20min › Cook:30min › Ready in:50min
Soften the diced onions and garlic in a little water on a medium heat in a large saucepan. Add diced potato and broccoli florets to the pan and cover for 5 minutes. Crumble the stock cube into the 1.2L of water then pour into the pan and simmer for 20 minutes until the broccoli and potato are tender. Blend the soup mixture using a food processor or blender until smooth. Return the soup to the heat and add 75g of crumbled cheese and stir to melt. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with lumps of remaining cheese on top.

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Winter beef Stew


For the stew
500g braising steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with pepper and a little salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion , finely chopped
450g carrot , cut into chunks
2 large parsnips , cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp sundried or regular tomato paste
300ml red wine or extra stock
450ml vegetable stock

For the topping
225g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
140g cheddar , coarsely grated
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml milk

Heat oven to 150C/. Toss the beef in seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Fry the beef over a high heat until browned all over – it’s easiest to do this in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add 2 tbsp water and the onion to the pan, stir well over a medium heat, scraping up the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat and fry gently for 10 mins, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened.

Tip in the carrots, parsnips and bay leaf, then fry for 2 mins more. Return the beef to the pan, stir in the tomato paste, wine if using, and stock, then bring to the boil. Cover and cook in the oven for 1¾-2 hrs until the meat is tender. Can be made up to 2 days ahead or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost thoroughly in the fridge before topping and baking. Take out of the oven and increase the temperature to 190C.

To make the topping, sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add half the cheese. Mix olive oil and milk, then stir into the flour to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add more milk, if necessary. Spoon the dough over the meat and vegetables, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for about 15 mins until golden, risen and cooked through.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

900ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 175g
1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
2 tbsp sweetcorn , canned or frozen
2-3 mushrooms , thinly sliced
2 spring onions , shredded
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli (optional), to serve

Pour 900ml chicken or vegetable stock into a pan and add 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1 tsp chopped root ginger and 1 finely chopped garlic clove.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken to a board and shred into bite-size pieces using a couple of forks.

Return the chicken to the stock with 50g rice or wheat noodles, 2 tbsp sweetcorn, 2-3 thinly sliced mushrooms, 1 shredded spring onion and 2 tsp soy sauce.

Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender.

Ladle into two bowls and scatter over the remaining shredded spring onion, mint or basil leaves and shredded chilli if using. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling.

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