Chicken and mushroom hot-pot

Prep time 35 minutes. Cook time 25 minutes Serves 4

This is a good way to use up cooked chicken. You can assemble the hot-pot in advance so it is a no -fuss supper. This is a recipe

Chicken and mushroom hot-pot


50g butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing

onion, chopped

100g button mushrooms, sliced

40g plain flour

1 chicken stock cube or 500ml fresh chicken stock

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of mustard powder

250g cooked chicken, chopped

2 handfuls of a mixed pack of sweetcorn, peas, broccoli and carrots, or pick your favourites

For the topping

2 large potatoes, sliced into rounds

knob of butter, melted

  • Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the butter in a medium-size saucepan and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and leave to cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms to the saucepan with the onions.

Once the onion and mushrooms are almost cooked, stir in the flour – this will make a thick paste called a roux. If you are using a stock cube, crumble the cube into the roux now and stir well. Put the roux over a low heat and stir continuously for 2 mins – this will cook the flour and stop the sauce from having a floury taste.

Take the roux off the heat. Slowly add the fresh stock, if using, or pour in 500ml water if you’ve used a stock cube, stirring all the time. Once all the liquid has been added, season with pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and mustard powder. Put the saucepan back onto a medium heat and slowly bring it to the boil, stirring all the time. Once the sauce has thickened, place on a very low heat. Add the cooked chicken and vegetables to the sauce and stir well. Grease a medium-size ovenproof pie dish with a little butter and pour in the chicken and mushroom filling.

Carefully lay the potatoes on top of the hot-pot filling, overlapping them slightly, almost like a pie top.

Brush the potatoes with a little melted butter and cook in the oven for about 35 mins. The hot-pot is ready once the potatoes are cooked and golden brown.

Posted in Chicken, Easy, Lunch, Main course, Potatoes, Supper, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

French Bean Salad

This is a tasty salad that requires only blanching the beans and a toss in the dressing. It is perfect on its own or with chicken, fish or lamb. It is worth using good quality Dijon mustard. Use the thinnest, youngest beans you can find. Enjoy! This recipe is a Jamie Oliver one.

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (from 1/2 of a small shallot)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 pound haricots verts
  • 1 tablespoon Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Make the dressing first.

  1. Combine the shallot, vinegar, and garlic in a large, nonreactive bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. I didn’t have a shallot so used a red onion which worked well.
  2. When the shallot mixture is ready, add the mustard and measured salt and pepper and whisk until combined. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in the capers. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed; set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare the beans by cutting the stem end off of each, leaving the wispy tail on.

When the water has reached a boil, add the trimmed beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well in a colander and immediately add to the dressing. Using tongs, toss until well coated, then transfer to a flat serving dish. Spoon the remaining dressing over top and sprinkle the beans with the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Easy, Lunch, Main course, Salad, Starters, Supper, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strawberry Semifreddo

This is a really easy way to serve strawberries and cream if you have a glut of ripe strawberries. It takes about half an hour to prepare but is easily done in three parts – cook the strawberry sauces beforehand, the first sauce needs to cool down anyway. This dessert keeps well frozen and only needs to be taken out to the freezer before you serve the main course. Take out of tin or box, remove wrapping and place on serving dish. Take the pouring sauce out earlier. I found this recipe on and amended it slightly. Enjoy!

Prep time 15 minutes. Cook time 10 minutes

Chilling time 4 hours Servings 6

Strawberry Sauce No.1 to stir into the cream

3oz/85g/1cup sugar

10.5oz/300g roughly chopped strawberries

1 teasp lemon juice

In a small pan add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil, squishing with a potato masher. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes stirring constantly then remove to a clean bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until cold or place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Reuse the pan for second sauce.

First sauce

Strawberry Sauce No.2 for pouring over

7oz/200g strawberries chopped

1.5 tables icing sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a blender add the strawberries and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Pour into the reserved pan and add the sugar. Cook over a low heat for approx 5 minutes or until thickened. Let it cool and serve over the semifreddo.

Semifreddo. Line an 8″x 4″ (21cm x 10cm) loaf tin with parchment or clingfilm or use a plastic box.

1.5cups/300g double or whipping cream

Half a cup/125g Greek yogurt

Half a teaspoon vanilla essence

In a medium bowl whip the cream until stiff, fold in the yogurt and vanilla then gently fold in the cold strawberry sauce. Pour into the lined pan or box, cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Posted in Dessert, Easy, Lunch, Main course, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Chicken Provençal

The flavour of summer – this sautéed chicken is succulent and though the cooking time is relatively short, the flavours meld together well. Serve with olive oil and a bowl of pasta, potatoes or rice with added saffron. Although the recipe calls for a jointed chicken I used only chicken thighs. This recipe is from the Sunday Times colour supplement.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 50 minutes

Serves 4

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1 chicken jointed or chicken thighs and drumsticks

1 large onion, finely chopped

10 garlic cloves, peeled

8 anchovies, chopped

150ml dry white vermouth /martini

8 sprigs of thyme plus a few more to add at the end

16 good quality black olives, pitted if you prefer

Heat the oil in a sauté pan or a broad shallow pan with a lid. Brown the chicken in batches, turning the pieces only when they lift easily. Season the chicken as you cook it and be careful not to burn the oil. Remove the pieces to a plate.

Add the onion to the fat in the pan and sauté until golden, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the anchovies and the the vermouth, stir well. Pour in 100ml water.

Put the chicken back in the pan together with any juices that have leached out. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down immediately. Add the thyme and cover the pan. Cook for 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the amount of liquid in the pan – you want about three tbsp of sauce for each serving. Add more water if you need to , or leave the lid off so that the liquid reduces if you have too much.

Stir in the olives about ten minutes before the end of the cooking time and add more thyme. If you have too much liquid and the chicken is ready, remove the pieces and boil the juices to reduce them. Put the chicken back in the pan to heat through if necessary. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

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Cucumber with mint cream cheese sandwiches

These sandwiches are perfect for a summer’s day. You do need to salt the cucumber or you will end up with soggy ones. I got this recipe from the Sunday Times that featured one in the Fortnum and Mason The Cookbook. Next time I make these I will take some photographs.

1 cucumber

8 large slices of good white bread

200g cream cheese

2 tbsp chopped mint

Juice and grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Butter, softened for spreading

Peel the cucumber and trim so it is the same lengths the slices of bread. Slice the cucumber very thinly lengthways, put the slices on a board and sprinkle lightly with salt. Leave for 20 minutes then pat dry.

Put the cream cheese into a bowl and beat in the mint, lemon juice and zest and some salt and pepper.

Lightly butter the bread and spread it with the cheese mixture.

Arrange the cucumber on half the slices of bread then sandwich together with the remainder. Cut the crusts off and cut each sandwich into four.

Posted in Bread, Canapés, Easy, Lunch, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leek Pie (actually a tart)

It is actually a tart but for three generations we have called it leek pie. It can be prepared in stages and eaten hot, warm or cold. What is not to like about leeks in a cheese sauce on a bed of crispy pastry? Serve as it is or with a green or tomato salad. You can cook the pastry, cook the leeks and make the sauce anytime in advance. When ready reheat the sauce and stir in the leeks then spoon into the pastry tart. You can garnish it with chopped up bacon if you like. For baking I use a tin 34cms x 20cms but the choice is yours.

Serves 6

Preparation time up to 30 minutes.

Cooking time 20 – 30 minutes


One block of shortcrust pastry, rolled out to the thickness of a £1 coin

3 or 4 medium/ large leeks, trimmed, washed and cut in half then sliced

50g butter

50g plain flour

425ml milk

100g to 150g cheddar cheese, grated

English mustard, a pinch if powdered or wholegrain mustard to taste

For the topping

2 tablespoons fresh white bread crumbs

25g cheddar cheese, grated or sliced


Slices if cheese and sliced tomatoes


Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6/180C fan oven.

Blind bake the pastry. See below for instruction

Place the leeks in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 3 minutes until just tender. Drain and put under cold water immediately to refresh and stop the cooking process.

Make the sauce  Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in one-third of the milk. Repeat this process, stirring all the time, allowing the sauce to become thick and shiny before adding more milk. When all the milk is added bring to the boil. Add the grated cheese and the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the leeks.

Spoon into the pastry case. Top with the breadcrumbs and cheese (and bacon if using) or slices of cheese and halved cherry tomatoes or sliced larger ones.

Bake in oven for 20 – 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool for ten minutes before serving.

Blind baking

Roll out pastry about 4cms/1.5 inches wider than the tin you are using and use the rolling pin to lift it and help position it over the tin. Leave an overhang of pastry around the sides of the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork.

Heat the oven to 200ºc/180c fan/gas mark 6. Line the tart tin with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans or red pulses. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is firm, then remove the beans and cook for about 5 more minutes more until golden brown and biscuity.. Trim off any excess using a small knife before filling.

Posted in Easy, Lunch, Main course, Supper, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Broccoli Pasta

This pasta dish is simple and quick to make. It serves 2 and is ready in less that 20 minutes.

150g rigatoni or penne pasta

3 spring onions

1 garlic clove

125g cherry tomatoes

150g broccoli

1tbsp vegetable oil

pinch of chilli flakes, or to taste

75g cream cheese

salt and pepper

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook as directed. 
  2. Meanwhile slice the spring onions, peel and finely grate the garlic, halve the tomatoes and thinly slice the broccoli florets and stalks.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the spring onions and fry for 1 minute until soft. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, fry for a couple of minutes until they start to break down then add the broccoli. Fry for 2 minutes then add a ladle or small mug of the pasta water, give everything a stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the broccoli is done, then remove the lid.
  4. Drain the pasta, add to the pan with the broccoli and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Stir through the cream cheese and finish with plenty more black pepper.
Posted in Lunch, Main course, Supper, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment