Pour the pasta sauce into a large pan and add the cooked chicken. Gently simmer for 15 minutes to heat through.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta along with a little olive oil (this will avoid the pasta sticking together while cooking). Cook for the time as directed on the packet, then drain.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the sliced courgettes/zucchinis. Toss to coat with the oil and sauté for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, tossing frequently, until they are cooked through and beginning to colour.
Now add the drained pasta to the chicken and stir through. Then add the courgettes/zucchinis and stir to coat with the sauce.
Parmesan coated chicken breasts are baked in a tomato and basil sauce covered with mozzarella. They are served with tagliatelle tossed in chopped parsley and garlic butter and sautéed courgettes/zucchini.
2 courgettes/zucchini cut into 1.25cm (½ inch) slices
1 tbsp olive oil
You will also need an ovenproof dish large enough to take the four chicken breasts in a single layer
Preheat the oven to 200C/400°F/gas mark 6
For the parmigiana
Put the olive oil and garlic into a pan over a medium-low heat and, as soon as the oil starts to sizzle, stir in the tomatoes and tomato purée. Simmer gently for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Remove from the heat and add the shredded basil leaves. Season.
Meanwhile, measure the flour into a plastic bag and season. Then add half the grated Parmesan and shake to mix. Spread out onto a large plate.
Tip the egg into a shallow dish.
Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, shaking off any excess egg while lifting them from the dish. Then coat with the flour and cheese mixture.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan/skillet and add the chicken pieces to the pan. Cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side until they are lightly golden in colour. Transfer to the ovenproof dish and pour the tomato sauce around the chicken.
Lay two slices of mozzarella on top of each chicken breast then sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan.
Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned.
For the tagliatelle
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the tagliatelle and cook for the length of time directed on the packet.
While it is cooking mix the butter with the garlic and chopped parsley.
Drain the tagliatelle, return to the pan with the parsley butter and toss together.
For the courgettes/zucchini
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium heat. Add the the courgettes /zucchini and toss in the oil. Sauté for 3–5 minutes turning frequently until cooked through and beginning to colour.
Lift the chicken breasts from the pan onto four serving plates and spoon the tomato sauce around. Garnish the chicken with the basil sprigs.
Serve with the tagliatelle and courgettes/zucchini.
Heat half a tablespoon of the oil in the pan and brown the beef, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set to one side.
Cut the bacon rashers into cubes and add to the pan. Once the fat starts to run and they begin to brown, remove from the pan using the slotted spoon and set aside with the beef. This will take about 3–4 minutes.
Now, reduce the heat and add the remaining oil to the pan with the onion, celery, and carrot. Gently cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes until they soften, stirring frequently.
Stir through the garlic and tomato purée/paste and cook for a further minute.
Then return the beef and bacon to the pan. Stir in the red wine and increase the heat to medium. Let the wine bubble away until it has reduced by half.
Next, stir in the beef stock and add half the oregano, nutmeg, bay leaf, and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer very gently for 45 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the remaining oregano and half the parsley.
Serve the spaghetti sauce over the pasta and scatter the top with the remaining parsley and some grated Parmesan.
A simple light sponge recipe that is the basis of many kinds of sponge cakes, the famous one being the Victoria Sponge Sandwich. This basic sandwich sponge can be filled with a conserve or creamy filling and the top iced, usually with a soft icing, or simply covered with caster or icing sugar/powdered sugar.
115g (4 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
½ tsp baking powder
115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
½ tsp vanilla extract
You will also need 2 x 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, greased and base-lined.
Preheat the oven to 170C° (325°F) (gas 3)
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer makes this cake very quick to prepare.
First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix for 1 minute until the mixture is creamy.
Divide evenly between the two pans and level the tops.
Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 20–25 minutes until firm to the touch. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with a fingertip.
Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the lining, and cool on a wire rack.
This is known as a two-egg cake, for a deeper sponge use 3 eggs and increase the rest of the ingredients accordingly, and bake for 30–35 minutes.
Always line the base of the tin even if it is non-stick. When greasing, brush butter on evenly. The cake will still stick if it is greased unevenly.
Have everything weighed or measured before beginning to mix.
No self raising flour? Add 1 level teaspoon baking powder to every 115g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour. Sift the flour twice to incorporate as much air as possible and mix the two ingredients together thoroughly.
Butter should be at room temperature for baking. If you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, it can be microwaved on defrost for 20–30 seconds, until the butter is soft but still holds its shape.
Leave at least 1 inch space all round tins so that the heat can circulate freely.
Give the sponges the baking time suggested in the recipe but use this as a guide. Ovens vary – some are hotter and so cakes will take less time to cook and vice versa. It is better to start checking a few minutes before the allotted time. and if the cake is cooked in less time take it out of the oven. Conversely, if it is not ready at the allotted time allow a couple more minutes and check again. Also, when a cake is ready you can smell it. So your sight and smell are good allies.
To tell when they are ready, gently touch in the centre with the fingertips and, if the mixture feels springy and no imprints remain, the cakes are baked. They should also shrink away from around the sides of the tin.
675g (1½ lb) stewing steak, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch cubes)
3 tbsp seasoned flour
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp tomato purée/paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
55g (2 oz) flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
600ml (20 fl oz) beef stock (2½ cups)
2 large tomatoes, skinned and quartered
150ml (5 fl oz) beer (⅔ cup)
*In Canada these little bags of bouquet garni aren’t available so I make my own. A simple bouquet garni consists of a sprig each of parsley and thyme, a bay leaf, 2 cloves, and a few peppercorns, tied together in muslin to form a sack.
You will also need a deep sided large sauté pan. A stove-top to oven pan is ideal, otherwise you will also need a large casserole dish.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Tip 3 tablespoons flour into a plastic storage bag and season. Shake bag to mix. Add the meat to the bag and shake again to coat the meat with the flour. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan over a medium-low heat and gently cook the onions and pepper for 5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the beef cubes and lightly brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and stir through the paprika. Cook for a further minute.
Stir in the tomato purée/paste, seasoning, flour, and a little grated nutmeg. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Gradually add the stock, stirring until well blended. Increase the heat to medium and cook the sauce until it is smooth and thick.
Remove from the heat. Return the onions and peppers to the pan. Then stir through the tomatoes and add the bouquet garni.
Cover and cook the goulash in the oven for 1¾ hours.
Stir in the beer and return the pan to the oven, covered, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Put the potatoes in a large pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil, and cook for 20 minutes, until tender.
Add the eggs during the last 10 minutes (saves on another pan!). Once the eggs are ready, remove from the pan and run them under cold water. (This will prevent a dark rim forming round the yolk while they are cooling.)
Drain and mash the potatoes with 28g (1 oz) (⅛ cup, or ¼ stick) of the butter and a little milk, until creamy. Set aside.
Next, melt the rest of the butter in a pan and, once foaming, tip the pan and quickly add the flour. Stir to form a smooth paste and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes. Warm the milk (a microwave makes this quick) and gradually stir into the roux until smooth. Stir in the wine. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and gently cook for 5–10 minutes until the sauce is very thick, stirring constantly. (The sauce needs to be very thick because once the fish is added and cooks in the sauce, its juices will thin it.) Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg.
Now cut the fish into bite-sized chunks and mix into the sauce with the spinach. Spoon into the ovenproof dish.
Peel the eggs, carefully cut into quarters and scatter them evenly over the top of the fish.
Cover with the mashed potato and sprinkle with the cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then cook for a further 10–15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
You will also need a large frying pan/skillet and a deep sided casserole dish
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into rough pieces. Place in a bowl and moisten with the milk. Mix with a fork to break up into crumbs.
In a large bowl, mix together the soaked breadcrumbs, onion, lamb, eggs, seasoning, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
Shape into 32 meatballs, using wet fingers. Just keep a small bowl of water nearby. (Fingers dipped in flour will just become sticky.) Place them on a plate, cover, and chill for 1 hour to firm up.
Heat half the butter in the pan/skillet over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add half the meatballs. Shake them in the pan to keep them moving and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to the casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding extra butter if needed.
Pour the stock into the panskillet. Bring to the boil, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the mustard. Pour over the meatballs. Cover the dish with foil and cook above the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.
Mix the crème frâiche and cornflour/cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into the casserole until well blended. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, uncovered, until bubbling. The sauce will become thick.
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1.25cm (1 inch) cubes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
675g (1½ lb) potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into large chunks
1 red pepper, diced
1 jar Tuscan-style olive and garlic pasta sauce (Classico)
150ml (5 fl oz) good chicken stock (⅔ cup)
340g (12 oz) fresh or frozen whole green beans/haricot beans, cut in half
2 tsp fresh basil leaves
You will also need a deep-sided sauté pan with lid.
First, add the potatoes to a pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Parboil for 7 minutes then drain and leave until they are cool enough to handle. Dice into 1.25cm (1 inch) cubes and leave in a large bowl.
Now heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the sauté pan over a medium heat and add the chicken. Lightly brown on all sides, 4–5 minutes. Then remove from the pan and keep warm.
While the chicken is browning, add the diced pepper to the bowl of potato cubes and toss together with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
Once the chicken has been removed from the pan, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
Now tip the potatoes and pepper into the pan, and sauté for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Next, return the chicken to the pan and add the pasta sauce, chicken stock, and green beans. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the basil leaves during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
225g (8 oz) fine, fresh white breadcrumbs (3½ cups)
a green salad
You will also need a greased baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Beat together the butter, garlic, parsley, and seasoning. Set aside.
Cut a slit along the thickest part of each chicken breast, 4cm (1½) inches long and 2cm (¾ inch) deep. Push one-quarter of the butter mixture into each pocket and secure with a cocktail stick.
Put the beaten egg in a shallow bowl and spread the flour and breadcrumbs over separate plates. Coat each breast in flour, tapping off any excess, then dip into the egg and coat in the breadcrumbs, pressing them down onto the chicken.
Lay the chicken pieces on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the breadcrumbs are golden.
Remove the cocktail sticks and serve with a green salad.
You will also need a 2 litre (3 pint) (8 cup) ovenproof dish.
Accompany with a green salad
Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until softened.
Increase the heat, add the lamb, and stir-fry for 3–4 minutes until browned all over, breaking up any lumps as it is cooking.
Reduce the heat and stir through the tomato purée/paste and cook for 1–2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, and stock, and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes.
minutes before the meat sauce has finished cooking preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Now for the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and stir to make a smooth paste. Cook over a low heat for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continuously, until smooth. Then cook for 4–5 minutes on a low heat, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken.
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water as directed on the packet. Drain well.
Spread half the macaroni over the base of the dish. Spoon the meat sauce on top. Then cover with the remaining macaroni. Pour the white sauce evenly over the top and scatter with cheese.
Bake for 25–30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
A foolproof way to make a smooth white sauce:
Once the butter has melted, tilt the pan so all the melted butter rests in one corner. Tip the flour onto the pool of butter. It will then be easier to stir to a smooth paste. Also preheat the milk in a microwave, on high, for 1 minute, then gradually whisk it into the roux. Adding warm milk gradually will make a smooth sauce without any lumps.
Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan and add the noodles. Cook until tender according to the time recommended on the packet. Once they are tender, remove from the heat but do not drain. Leave for 5 minutes to cool a little.
(This a good time to chop the basil, crush the garlic, dice the ham and red pepper.)
Stir in the cottage cheese, sour cream, cornflour/cornstarch, and seasoning.
Then add the ham, peas, and red pepper.
Spoon into the casserole dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese and then sprinkle over the top.
Finely chop two thirds of the basil and mint and 2 lemon thyme sprigs, reserve the remaining third. Using a pestle and mortar, pound together the herbs, crushed garlic, and two tablespoons of the olive oil until a paste is formed. Or use a food processor. Put the chicken in a shallow dish and spread the herb mixture over the top of the chicken. Cover, refrigerate and leave for at least 30 minutes to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Put the peppers, courgettes/zucchini, and potatoes in a bowl. Season and pour over the remaining olive oil. Toss together until the vegetables are well coated. Then add the tomatoes.
Lay the chicken pieces in the centre of the roasting tin/pan in a singe layer and then spread the vegetables around the outside.
Roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
To serve, squeeze over the lemon juice and scatter over the reserved herbs.
Tinned/canned plum tomatoes can be substituted for the fresh plum tomatoes, just add them to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking.