Champ and Chilli Pie

It can still get cold, so comfort food is still on the menu. This is a variation on a Shepherd’s pie, I started making this a couple of years ago to use up some leftovers.

If you’re one of those organised people who plans meals for the week then you can make the champ and the chilli for separate meals in advance and just assemble before you bake it

There’s a decent amount of vegetables in this chilli but you could also swap it for an entirely vegetarian chilli if you’re not a meat eater

Ingredients

For the champ

1kg Potatoes

250 ml Milk

5-6 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)

Salt

For the chilli

400 Grams Minced beef

1 Onion (chopped into 1cm chunks)

100 Grams Mushrooms (chopped chopped into 1cm chunks)

50 Grams Sweetcorn

2 Stalks of celery (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Red Pepper (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Chilli flakes (increase this if you like a hotter chilli)

400ml Passata

400 Gram Can of black beans or kidney beans

Coriander (optional, but I usually add a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander)

75 Grams Grated Cheese (I used mature Cheddar)

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into equal sized cubes before boiling in salted water until soft and then mash thoroughly
  2. While the potatoes are cooking add the milk and scallions/spring onions into a small pot and simmer over a very gentle heat
  3. Stir the milk and scallions into the mashed potatoes and mix well, check if it needs more salt.
  4. For the chilli, heat a large high sided frying pan and add the mince and allow to brown
  5. Add the tomato puree, spices and sliced vegetables and beans and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Add the passata and simmer for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the chilli has thickened
  7. Transfer the chilli to a large oven proof dish and then top with the champ mix
  8. Spread the champ across the chilli with a fork, so that the top has a rough texture (this will help give a lovely crunch once its baked). Sprinkle with grated cheese
  9. Cook in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees (Celsius) for 30 minutes

Lemon Bars

I love any form of lemon dessert and these are the ideal tea time treat. There’s a rich buttery shortbread base and a zingy lemon topping.

OMG I love these so much, I have to distribute these among friends and family or else I could easily eat these entirely by myself. If you have better self discipline than I do, these will keep in an airtight box for 2-3 days.

Use a food processor if you have one to make them even easier to make. There’s no need to roll out the shortbread base, just press it into the dish.

Makes 18

Ingredients

For the base

120 Grams Butter

130 Grams Plain flour

30 Grams Icing sugar

For the topping

Juice and finely grated zest of 3 lemons

190 Grams Sugar

3 Eggs

65 Grams Plain flour

Extra icing sugar for dusting the finished bars

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius) and line a 9 in x 12 in baking tin with parchment paper
  2. To make the base, add the flour, butter, and sugar to a food processor and pulse until it looks like breaks crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can use the rubbing in method to combine the butter and flour
  3. Transfer the crumb mix to the baking sheet and press it down. Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until light golden brown
  4. Allow the base to cool slightly before making the topping
  5. Using your food processor again, add all the topping ingredients to the bowl and whizz until light and fluffy
  6. Pour the topping on top of the cooled base and bake for 25 minutes (or until the centre doesn’t jiggle
  7. Allow to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into bars

Middle Eastern Barley and Feta Salad

I have been over indulging lately and my body was crying out for something healthy and delicious. I love this salad, its packed with colour, texture and flavour and is full of protein.

Barley is a much underrated ingredient and used mostly in soup and stews, but is also amazing in risottos and salads.

This salad is substantial enough to eat on its own but is also fantastic as a side dish or part of a mezze, or in a wrap. This will in fridge in an airtight box for 2-3 days.

Ingredients

75 Grams Barley (dry weight)

100 Grams Radishes (finely sliced)

2 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)

50 Grams Almonds (rough chopped)

2Tbsp Pumkin seeds

50 Grams Pomegranate seeds

100 Grams Feta (crumbled into junks)

2 Tbsp Mint (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely sliced, you can use parsley if you don’t like coriander)

For the dressing

2 Tbsp Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet. Lightly oil a shallow baking tray and spread the cooked barley across it to cool
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, add the dressing and stir well

Blue Moo Pie

This is national pie week, so it inspired me to make my version of a steak and blue cheese pie. Yes, there is a bit of work involved but I guarantee it will taste 100 times better than anything you’ll buy in a supermarket.

Rich buttery pastry with really deep unctuous filling mmm.

Before you blue cheese haters turn your nose up at this. I have served this to people who detest blue cheese and they loved it (admittedly I didn’t tell them there was blue cheese in it until they had finished).  So be brave and give it a try, you can try a really mild blue cheese if you’re not sure.

Roll the pastry between two sheets of baking parchment. To make it easier to move to the baking tin.

If cheese just isn’t your thing, just leave it out, this recipe will still give you a really tasty steak pie.

Crumble the Stilton across the steak filling before adding the pastry lid.

I used homemade pastry but you can use shop bought short crust pastry if you’re short on time. I usually make the meat filling and pastry the day before (you can also freeze it if you’re organised enough to make a double batch) .

For the pastry

400 Grams Plain flour

200 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)

1 Tbsp Mustard powder (optional)

1 Egg

Plus 1 Egg yolk (for glazing the pastry before it goes in the oven)

For the filling

800 Grams Stewing steak (cut into 4-5cm chunks)

50 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Mustard powder (optional)

1 Onion (finely chopped)

2 Stalks of celery (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

2-3 Tbsp Oil

100 Grams Stilton or other blue cheese

500-750 ml Beef stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

  1. To make the filling, add a pinch of salt and pepper to flour as well as the mustard power and mix. Coat the cubes of meat in the flour
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil to a large heavy bottomed pan, add the meat in small batches and seal on each side before removing and setting to one side. Continue doing this until all the meat has been sealed, add more oil to the pan if you need to
  3. When all the meat has been sealed add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and gently fry the onion, tomato puree and celery for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and the beef stock. Cover and simmer gently for 60 minutes. Uncover and simmer for a further 30 minutes until the gravy has reduced by at least a third (it should be quite a thick gravy). When the meat is tender remove from the heat and allow to cool completely
  4. I use a food precessor to make pastry, but you can also use the traditional “rubbing in” method if you prefer. Add the butter, mustard powder and flour to the food processor and pulse until it looks like bread crumbs.
  5. Add an egg and pulse, gradually add small amounts of cold water while pulsing until the pastry starts to come together
  6. Turn out on a floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  7. While the pastry is chilling, grease a 9in x 9in loose bottom baking tin
  8. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge. Cut one third of the pastry and set to one side.
  9. I like to roll out pastry between two sheets of baking parchment because I think it makes it easier to transfer to the tin, but you can simply roll it out on a floured surface if you prefer
  10. Roll the pastry out until its about half a centimeter thick and transfer to the prepared tin. Make sure to press it gently into the edges
  11. Spoon your cold meat filling into the pie case and spread evenly
  12. Sprinkle the crumbled cheese on top of the steak filling
  13. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and top the pie, brush the edges with a little water and then press the edges of the pastry together to seal (you can crimp or press down with a fork)
  14. Brush with egg yolk and add 7-8 little cuts on the lid to allow steam to escape
  15. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees (Celsius) for 45-50 minutes until deep golden brown

Pina Colada Squares

Pineapple and coconut are a marriage made in heaven, and though there is no booze in these, they are still yummy.

These are amazing for a special teatime treat or for dessert with ice cream. You can make the sponge 2-3 days in advance and wrap in cling film, then just add the topping before you’re read to serve. You can even freeze the sponge if you’re super organised (just remember to make sure the sponge is fully defrosted before applying the cream cheese frosting).

I’ve added some toasted coconut as a topping and take a few minutes to toast it, this adds a whole extra element.

Toasting the coconut will make all the difference

I used margerine for the sponge, Mary Berry uses this in her sponge recipes. Since nobody probably knows more about cakes than her, so I’ll go with her advice, but feel free to use butter if you prefer.

Makes 18 squares

Ingredients

For the sponge

Large tin of pineapple junks (drained weight 340 Grams), roughly chopped

350 Grams Caster Sugar

350 Grams Margerine

275 Grams Self Raising flour

100 Grams Dessicated coconut

5 Eggs

For the frosting

25 Grams Icing sugar (if you prefer a sweeter frosting you can use more)

200 Grams Cream cheese

25 Grams Dessicated coconut (toasted)

Method

  1. If you have a stand mixer I would recommend using it, but an electric hand whisk is fine too.
  2. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a 9 in x 12 in baking tin with baking parchment
  3. In a bowl, add the margerine and sugar and whisk together until light and fluffy.
  4. Whisk in one egg at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. Whisk the remaining flour when they eggs have been added along with coconut (don’t panic if it looks curdled)
  5. Fold in the roughly chopped pineapple, and transfer the mix to your prepared baking tin
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes
  7. Allow to cool in the tin
  8. For the toasted coconut topping, you can spread the coconut on sheet pan and bake for 5-10 minutes while the sponge is baking. I prefer to do it in a pan, as its easier to check that it’s not going to burn. Once toasted set to one side and allow to cool
  9. Add the icing sugar to the cream cheese and mix well. When the sponge is completely cool spread with the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with the toasted coconut
  10. Cut into squares

Double Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Do you have a chocoholic in your life, then this is the recipe for you?

If you want to do something special serve them with creme fraiche or fresh cream and fruit for the perfect breakfast or brunch dish.

White chocolate chips add a little bit of contrast.

They also make a great dessert, served warm with ice cream and you could even spread them with Nutella if you want to make them even more indulgent.

When bubbles appear on your pancake it’s time to turn it over.

These pancakes freeze well if you want to make a batch and freeze.

Makes 12-15 pancakes

Ingredients

225 Grams Self raising flour

100 Grams Chocolate chips (I used white chocolate chips as I like the contrast)

50 Grams Cocoa powder

1 Tbsp Caster sugar

1 Tsp Baking powder

Large pinch of salt

2 Eggs

400 mil Milk

Oil and butter to fry

Method

  1. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar and salt to a large bowl and combine
  2. Crack the eggs into the bowl and start to whisk, gradually add the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free
  3. Add the chocolate chips and mix well
  4. In a non stick frying pan, add a small knob of butter and a teaspoon of oil and heat over a medium to high heat
  5. Ladle in 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture in to the pan and wait until bubbles start to appear on the pancake. This will be the sign that the pancake is ready to turn, cook for a further minute or two. Repeat until you have used up all the batter (I always give it a stir as the chocolate chips will sink to the bottom and you want some chips in every pancake)
  6. Serve with some butter or syrup, or ice cream if you’re making this for dessert

3 Ingredient, Condensed Milk and Fruit Squares

We’re currently getting battered by storms and I couldn’t face going out, so I had to work with what I had. 

I love this recipe as it takes minimal effort and can be made with ingredients you normally have in your cupboard.  I recommend everyone always has a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard.  It can be used for everything from making ice cream, sweets and baking.

These are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee on a miserable day (they also freeze well, just freeze before you decide if you’re going to sprinkle with icing sugar)

Ingredients

390ml Tin of condensed milk

160 Grams Self raising flour

350 Grams Dried fruit (you can use any fruit you like or a combination)

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Makes 15 squares

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a 16cm x 24cm baking tin with baking paper
  2. Add the flour, fruit, and condensed milk to a bowl and mix well
  3. Transfer the batter to the baking tin and bake for 25-30 mins
  4. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, and then add a dusting of icing sugar if you want to make it look pretty. Cut into squares and store in an air tight box for up to 2-3 days

Feta and Vegetable Slice

Vegetarian main courses can be a bit Meh.  This yummy mix of vegetables, lentils and creamy feta cheese wrapped up in delicious flaky pastry makes great quick weeknight dinner and packed with protein.

You can change up the vegetables you use depending on what you have (it’s a good way to use up left over veggies).  You can also used canned lentils, and I always use shop bought flaky pastry (because who really ever makes it from scratch).  You can also make the filling the day before, so all you have to do is assemble and bake if you’re short on time.

I made one large pastry parcel that can sliced up, but you could also make 4 individual ones if you prefer.

Ingredients

1 Sheet of shop bought puff pastry (pre-rolled)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Leeks (sliced)

2 Peppers (sliced)

150 Grams Cooked green lentils

150 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

200 Grams Feta cheese

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

2-3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

Salt and pepper

1 Beaten Egg (for brushing)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the vegetables over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, stir in the cooked lentils and feta cheese
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  4. Place your pastry on a sheet of baking parchment. Leaving a border of 2cm, place the vegetable mix on on half of the pastry sheet. I use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid from the vegetable mix
  5. Lightly brush the edges of pastry with beaten egg and fold the pastry over to cover the filling. Press the edges of the pastry together with a fork (or you can crimp it if you’re feeling fancy)
  6. Brush the pastry with some beaten egg, if you want to make things look pretty you can lightly run a knife across the pastry in a criss Cross pattern (be careful not to go too deep and pierce the pastry)
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Fake Away Orange Chicken

On the days when I’m not in the mood for cooking I enjoy a good Chinese take away.

This can be expensive, and not especially healthy. One of the dishes I enjoy is orange chicken. Sometimes it can be overly sweet and the chicken is deep fried, making it high in calories.

My version is a bit healthier, but still delicious. It’s perfect for a week night dinner if you want something a bit different and is pretty quick to make. I don’t like this dish too sweet (I think there is enough sweetness from the orange), but if you prefer you can add a tablespoon of honey to the sauce if you have a sweet tooth.

Ingredients

500 Grams Chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)

2 Oranges (finely grated zest and juice)

250 ml Chicken stock

1 Tbsp Rice wine or cider vinegar

1 Tbsp Garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Ginger (finely chopped, or 1 Tsp of ground ginger if you don’t have any fresh)

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Oil

1 – 2 Tbsps Cornflower (mixed with a small amount of water until its a smooth thick liquid)

Seseme seeds and finely sliced scallions/spring onions (optional) to garnish

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken. Cook for 5-10 minutes until nearly cooked
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the garlic and ginger, cooking for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add the stock, salt orange juice and zest and the chicken to the pan and simmer
  4. When the liquid has reduced by about a third, add your cornflour mix to the pan stir well.
  5. Simmer for a further 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened
  6. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced spring onion and serve with rice or noodles

Chicken and Gnocchi Traybake

On cold days you want eat something wholesome and delicious with very little effort, and this is perfect. Roast chicken veggies and potato dumplings mmm.

What’s even better is that everything is cooked in the same tray, so you have fewer dishes to wash.

I use shop bought gnocchi, as most of us don’t have time to make them. This helps make this a really easy dish, that just needs to be assembled and then the oven does the work.

Ingredients

8 Small or 4 large chicken thighs

1 Leek (cut into chunks)

1 Red pepper (cut into chunks)

100 Grams Spinach

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tbsp White wine or cider vinegar (I promise you won’t taste vinegar, but it will help bring out the flavours)

500 Grams Bag of Gnocchi

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Sprinkle the olive oil on the base of a large roasting tray
  3. Place the chicken, Leeks, peppers and gnocchi in the tray and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, and remove from the oven. Sprinkle the vinegar over vegetables and add the spinach and mix through the contents of the tray
  5. Bake for a another 15 minutes and the serve. Double check that the chicken is cooked (the juices should run clear, cook for longer if they aren’t)