Chicken and Avocado Salad For One


It seems like a bit of a cheat to post a salad recipe, since it’s just a collection of nice things strewn over your plate, but here we go anyway.

Begin by putting a boneless, skinless chicken breast into a plastic bag, and beating it with a rolling pin until it’s well- flattened.

Put it onto a plate and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, then add about a tablespoon of olive oil, some ground coriander, a tiny pinch of mint and salt and pepper.  Turn over until the chicken is well-covered in the dressing.

Use either your griddle pan or the grill to cook the chicken, about 5 minutes each side, but do check by cutting into the middle.  It should be white and opaque, of course.

Meanwhile, scatter a handful of rocket leaves and some red onion over your plate.  Cut an avocado into pieces and halve some cherry tomatoes.

When the chicken is cooked, slice and arrange it beautifully or messily onto your plate and garnish with the tomatoes, avocado and a few onion rings.

Sprinkle a few tiny drops of balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the plate, and some parsley if you have it.


Banana Bread


Since discovering Sheldon Cooper, Annie and Drew will now eat banana bread.

Mash 5 – 6 very ripe bananas with a potato masher.

Use an electric whisk to cream together 125g soft butter, 50g dark muscovado sugar and 75g golden caster sugar until light and fluffyish.

Add two large eggs and beat again.

It’s banana time:  add them to the bowl and beat together.  Don’t worry if it looks a bit ugly.

Now the dry stuff:  mix 200g plain flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  A little ground nutmeg is lovely too.  Mix this gently into the wet mixture until no flour is visible.

Line two 7 – 8″ round tin with those big tin liners that look like muffin tins.  If you don’t know what I mean, look here:

They will save you loads of time and mess on greasing, cutting etc.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, then put in the oven at 180 degrees for 25 – 35 minutes, until they are springy, even at the centre.

It’s lovely as it is, or with butter, or you could sandwich both the cakes together with some cream cheese icing.  Just ask if you need a recipe for that.


Mum’s Coq au Vin

We know, we know.  It’s supposed to be made with red wine and with the skin on and with all sorts of rustic bits and pieces in it, but as Mum says, “Who wants to eat pink chicken?”  Unfortunately, the photo does make it look a little pink-ish, but it wasn’t like that in real life.  It was delicious, and looked delicious too.


Fry a large onion until soft in butter and/or olive oil.  In a separate pan, fry 6 rashers (snipped into pieces) of dry-cured, smoked bacon until crisp.  Add to the onion.  Now, brown 3 – 4 chicken breasts, cut into pieces, in the bacon pan.  Season with salt and pepper as they colour, then add them to the onion pan.  Finally, brown about 200g mushrooms in the other pan (use extra oil/butter as necessary) before adding them to the master-pan.  Now, turn up the main pan to high, then add a third of a bottle of dry, white wine.  Pop in a bay leaf and a bouquet garni, then put the lid on and simmer for 30 – 60 minutes.  If you’re entertaining, stop at this point, and warm it up later. Ten minutes before serving, take the lid off the pan to reduce the sauce a little. Add a couple of tablespoons of double cream and allow to bubble before serving.  Sprinkle with parsley.

The sauce with this is quite runny.  If you want it thicker, dust your chicken in a tablespoon of flour before frying.

CL’s Quick Chicken Nuggets


CL is now creating quick and delicious mid-week meals as well as beautiful jewellery.  What a woman!

Here’s how:

“Grease the tray.  Take 3 chicken breasts cut into 1″ cubes (approximately), rolled in plain flour, rolled in egg (1 egg mixed), rolled in breadcrumbs (1 white, 1 brown slice whizzed up) with any seasoning you like – I’ve used paprika, pepper, a bit of chilli powder – I’ve used 2 teaspoons of the mix in the breadcrumbs, but really, you can add in what ever you’d like. Thyme, rosemary and pepper will be my next choice.”

Bake in a medium oven (180 degrees) for about half an hour.  Cut the biggest one in half just to check that it is cooked through.


Chocolate Butterfly Cakes


Oh, hullo!  It’s Hugh again.  And his foolproof measurements for perfect cakes.

Weigh out four large eggs (it will probably come to about 210g)

Measure out exactly the same quantities in golden caster sugar and soft butter.

The self-raising flour and cocoa powder together should also come to 210g (or whatever your eggs weighed).  I went for 190g flour and 20g cocoa.

Add a teaspoon of baking powder and a tablespoon of milk and use an electric hand whisk to beat until smooth.

Divide into 22-24 muffin cases.

Bake at 180 degrees for 12 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Do not check until the 12 minute mark.  Let your nose guide you.  Once you can smell cake, they tend to be almost ready.  They should spring back readily when you press the tops.

When the cakes are cool, delve out the tops and halve them.  Do this before you make the icing, as the icing is nicer to work with when it’s just made.

For the icing, beat together 90g dark chocolate, 125g soft butter, 140g icing sugar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.

Assemble with care, a generous teaspoonful of icing in each cavity and wings on top.  Sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving.

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Berry Compote


It’s definitely comfort food, but I have the feeling that, measure-for-measure, it probably contains fewer calories than a bar of chocolate or a shop-bought cheesecake.  Anyway, who cares?  It’s delicious.  And besides, the leftover compote can be the cornerstone of your nutritious breakfast the next day with porridge, or just oats, or yoghurt.

60g arborio or pudding rice

a knob of butter

40g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

600ml semi-skimmed milk

(cream, nutmeg, raisins are optional)

a mug and a half of frozen summerfruit berries from the freezer department

2 dessertspoons sugar


180 degrees/90 minutes approximately


Rub a knob of butter around a large Pyrex bowl and leave what is left at the bottom of the bowl.  Add the rice, sugar, vanilla and milk.  You could add a cinnamon stick, raisins or nutmeg too, if you like.  Microwave on high for about a minute, just to get it started.

Put this into the oven (180 degrees) for an hour.  After an hour, carefully lift up the skin and give the pudding underneath a little stir.  If it’s drying out, add a little more milk (or even cream); if not, just stick the skin back over and give it another half an hour.  Turn the oven down if the top is burning, rather than golden.

Meanwhile, put your frozen berries and 2 dessertspoons of sugar into a small pan and warm over a medium heat, giving them the occasional stir.

It’s practically health-food, probably.



Chicken and Vegetable Casserole with Dumplings


There’s no way around it, dumplings aren’t photogenic, but let me reassure you that this casserole is absolutely, totally delicious!  Note to self the next time I make it:  don’t tweak a thing.


2 leeks, washed and finely sliced

1 onion, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely sliced

4 large carrots, peeled and in pieces

1 clove garlic, peeled but whole

200g mushrooms

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks

2 rashers of bacon, chopped

a heaped dessertspoon of cornflour, sprinkled with thyme, paprika, a little salt and pepper

a sherry glassful of Marsala

a pint of chicken stock

100g self-raising flour

50g suet

a grinding of nutmeg

5 tablespoons of cold water maximum


 You need a large casserole pan with a lid for this one.  Sweat the leeks, onion, celery, garlic and carrots in half a teaspoon of sea salt and a big knob of butter.  Keep the heat very low, and stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, quarter 200g mushrooms and fry ferociously in a separate frying pan (in butter) to brown them.  Don’t stir them too often.  When they are nicely golden, add to the other vegetables.

Cut your bacon and chicken into hearty-sized pieces and sprinkle with the cornflour mix.  Turn over to ensure maximum coverage.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan (now devoid of mushrooms) and bring the heat up again.  Fry the chicken and bacon until well-coloured on all sides.  Now pour in a small glass of Marsala and scrape the bottom of the pan vigorously with a wooden spoon to deglaze.  Let it bubble for a few more moments, then pour the whole lot into the vegetables.  Add a bay leaf and a pint of chicken stock, then pop the lid on and simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.  Before you add the dumplings to the casserole, though, taste and adjust your seasoning, and give the casserole a good stir to check that it’s not sticking.  If it is sticking, it’s probably safer to finish it off in the oven.


Mix the SR flour and suet together with a decent grinding of nutmeg.  Stir in just enough cold water for the mixture to bind.  No need to roll into neat balls; the dumplings will take on their own shape as they cook.  Just cut your dough into 8 pieces and dollop onto the top of the casserole.  Put the lid on and continue to cook either on the stove-top or in the oven for 20 minutes.