Walnut and Coffee Sponge Cake

This is a must recipe for those coffee and nut lovers. Two light coffee and chopped walnut sponges are sandwiched together with a coffee butter icing and completely covered with more icing. Then walnut halves are used to decorate the top.

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Walnut and Coffee Sponge Cake

  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30–35 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster sugar/superfine sugar (1⅛ cups)
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter, softened (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 1 tbsp coffee essence/extract OR 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water
  • 225 g (8 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1¾ cups)
  • 115 g (4 oz) chopped walnuts (1 cup)
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • For the icing
  • 140 g (5 oz) butter, softened (⅔ cup, or 1¼ sticks)
  • 340 g (12 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cup)
  • tbsp coffee essence/extract
  • 13 walnut halves for decoration

Equipment

  • You will also need 2 x 20.5 cm (8 inch) cake pans, greased and base lined.
  • Method
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  • Mix in the coffee essence/extract.
  • Sift the flour into a separate bowl.
  • Now beat in the eggs into the creamed mixture, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour with each egg which will prevent curdling.
  • Then fold in the remaining flour and chopped nuts.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake tins.
  • Bake for 30–35 minutes, until the top of the cakes are firm and spring back when gently pressed with the tip of a finger.
  • Remove from the oven and place the pans on cooling racks for 1 minute before turning out the sponges and removing the liners. Leave on the cooling racks to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, to make the icing, sift the icing/powdered sugar into a large bowl and add the butter and coffee essence/extract. Beat together until the icing is smooth.
  • Once the sponges are cool, spread one third of the icing over the top of one sponge. Then sandwich together with the other sponge.
  • Use the remaining icing to cover the top and sides of the cake.
  • Finally decorate the top with the walnut halves.
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Currant Shortbread

Currant Shortbread

12 wedges
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time 45–50 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 170 g (6 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1⅓ cups)
  • 55 g (2 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¼ cup + ½ tbsp)
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 55 g (2 oz) currants (½ cup)
  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3).
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • Then mix in the flour and currants until a dough if formed.
  • Knead lightly.
  • On a large, greased, baking sheet, roll or press the dough into a round measuring 20 cm (8 inches).
  • Prick all over with a fork and then mark into 12 equal wedges.
  • Lightly crimp round the edge.
  • Now bake above the centre of the oven for 45–50 minutes until firm to the touch and golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cut into the wedges while still warm.
  • Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
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Crossover Pancakes

Crossover Pancakes

Small English-sized pancakes that are made with a thicker North American-style batter. These are served one on top the other with sweetened butter and maple syrup poured generously over the top.

Crossover Pancakes

12 pancakes
  • Preparation time: about 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: about 45 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 250 g (9 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), lightly beaten
  • 475 ml (16 fl oz) milk (2 cups)
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • pinch of salt
  • To serve
  • 85 g (3 oz) butter, softened (³⁄₈ cup)
  • 1 tsp icing/powdered sugar, sifted
  • maple syrup to pour

Equipment

  • You will also need a 20 cm (8 inch) nonstick frying pan/skillet.


  • Method
  • Melt 85g (3 oz) of the butter and set aside to cool.

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Then mix in the sugar.

  • Next make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the eggs, milk, and melted butter, incorporating flour from around the edges. Using a rubber spatula, push down any remaining flour from the sides of the bowl and whisk again until there is a smooth, thick batter.

  • Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 140°C (275°F) (gas 1) and place five plates in the oven to warm.

  • Meanwhile prepare the sweetened butter In a small bowl beat the softened butter together with the icing/powdered sugar and set aside.

  • Now to cook the pancakes. Melt the remaining 28g (1 oz) (2 tbsp) butter. in the frying pan /skillet and pour into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe clean the frying pan/skillet with kitchen paper. Get the frying pan/skillet really hot and then reduce the heat to medium. Before cooking each pancake, smear the pan with a little melted butter, using a wodge of kitchen paper, to keep it lightly greased.
  • For each pancake you will need about ¼ cup of batter. A ladle makes it easy to scoop out the batter and pour into the pan. So for the first pancake, scoop ¼ cup of batter into the ladle and this will be a guide for the rest.

  • Quickly ladle the batter into the centre of the frying pan/skillet, lifting from the heat, and tipping the pan/skillet from side to side to even out the batter. The batter won’t cover the surface of the pan/skillet but should make an even round pancake. Then return to the heat and cook the pancake for 1–2 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface and the underside is starting to turn golden in colour. Flip it over using a palette knife and cook the underside for another 1–2 minutes. Now slide onto one of the warmed plates and cover loosely with foil. Return to the oven to keep warm.

  • Repeat using the remaining batter, overlapping the pancakes on the warmed plate.

  • To serve, stack three pancakes on each of the other warmed plates and top each stack with a spoonful of the reserved sweetened butter.

  • Serve with maple syrup.
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Updated: January 6, 2020

Baked Bananas in an Orange Sauce

Baked Bananas in an Orange Sauce

For a really quick dessert that is prepared and baked in just 15 minutes. Bananas are sliced and coated with butter, sugar and orange juice and baked with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Baked Bananas in an Orange Sauce

4 servings
  • Preparation time: Less than 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 8–10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 6 small or 4 large bananas
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 4 tbsp light muscovado sugar/soft light brown sugar
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • ground cinnamon

Equipment

  • You will also need a medium size gratin dish.


  • Method
  • Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

  • Thickly slice the bananas and spread over the base of the dish.

  • Now pour the butter over the bananas, sprinkle over the sugar, then pour over the orange juice.

  • Finally, add a little ground cinnamon.

  • Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes until tender and syrupy.
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Updated: December 31, 2019

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

A batch of crepes folded into quarters then drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar make a very light version of the traditional English pancake.

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

8 –10 large crêpes
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 110 g (4 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1 cup less 2 tbsp)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk (1 cup)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • To serve
  • caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • You will also need a 25.5 cm (10 inch) heavy gauge aluminium frying pan/skillet.


  • Method
  • First mix the milk and water together.

  • Then sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break in the eggs.

  • Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from around the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream.

  • Spoon 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and whisk again. Reserve the remaining butter.

  • Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes.

  • Place five plates in a warm oven.

  • Get the pan/skillet really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium setting.

  • Smear a little of the reserved butter over the base of the pan/skillet between cooking each pancake.

  • You will need about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first. Then pour the batter quickly into the centre of the pan/skillet, at the same time tipping the pan/skillet around from side to side to get the base evenly coated. If there are any holes, just fill them in with extra batter using a teaspoon. It should take less than a minute for the underside to turn golden. Check by lifting the edge with a palette knife.

  • Flip the pancake over with the palette knife and cook the other side until golden. This side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.

  • Continue making the pancakes until all the batter is used. Stack them on the warmed plate as they are ready. Keep them warm in the oven, covered loosely with foil.
  • To serve, fold each pancake into quarters and divide them amongst the four warmed plates. Pour the lemon juice over the pancakes and then generously sprinkle with sugar.
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Updated: April 24, 2019

Lemon Surprise Pudding

This week we’ve had a couple of nights where it feels quite cool – it seems as though the time has come to say goodbye to summer and all those lovely berry desserts.

The coming of fall, although a beautiful but short season here in Ontario, will mean that winter is just around the corner. Now being a summer person, that is not my favourite time of year. It means there is often a very reluctant dog (our yellow labrador) and us to venture out on walks. The bright sunny, even snowy days, are a delight – it’s the ice and wind I could do without!

So – where I was going – it seems that it’s now time to start bringing out the fall recipes with that bit of comfort food about them. The first one we had again for supper last evening – a Lemon Surprise Pudding – which has just been added to the blog. I hope that you will want to try it.

Lemon Surprise Pudding

This Lemon Surprise Pudding makes a lovely, citrus dessert. The mixture creates a thick, very lemony sauce that is covered with a really light and airy sponge.

Lemon Surprise Pudding

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 2 large lemons
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 55 g (2 oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (½ cup)
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (⅔ cup)
  • To serve
  • Double/whipping or heavy cream

Equipment

  • You will also need a 1 litre (1¾ pint) (4 cups) ovenproof dish.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • First, zest one of the lemons and then squeeze out the juice from both of them. The juice should yield 150 ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup). Put to one side.
  • Then add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  • Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a bowl to whip later and adding the yolks to the mixture.

  • Sieve the flour into a separate bowl. Now add a tablespoon of flour followed by a tablespoon of milk, beating well between each addition, until all the flour and milk have been incorporated.

  • Slowly add the lemon juice. It may start to curdle but that will not be a problem.

  • Finally, whip the egg whites until they are just stiff and then lightly fold in.

  • Generously butter the ovenproof dish and then pour in the mixture.

  • Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Place the ovenproof dish in a roasting pan and then add the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ovenproof dish.
  • Bake for 35 minutes until the top is beginning to brown and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed with the tip of a finger.

  • Serve immediately along with a jug of cream.
  • You will find there will be a lovely, thick lemon sauce at the bottom of the dish covered with a very light and airy sponge.
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Updated: October 2, 2018

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach with Tomatoes and Crispy Potatoes

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach

A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.

Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.

Salmon on a Bed of Spinach with Tomatoes and Crispy Potatoes

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the potatoes
  • 900 g (2 lb) potatoes (6 medium)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • For the fish
  • 675 g (1 lb 8 oz) salmon fillet, middle cut, skinned and cut into four even-sized pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a little oil
  • 14 g (½ oz) butter, melted (1 tbsp)
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • For the tomatoes
  • 400 g can (½ × 28 fl oz can) chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 28 g (1 oz) chilled butter, cubed (⅛ cup, or ¼ stick)
  • ½ tsp sugar

  • For the spinach
  • 14 g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
  • large bag, plastic container baby leaf spinach, about 500 g (18 oz)
  • a dash of white wine vinegar

Equipment

  • You will also need a roasting tin/pan for the potatoes and an ovenproof dish large enough to lay the fish in a single layer.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

  • For the potatoes
  • Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Place in a pan and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil and then simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes until the potatoes are cool enough to handle.

  • Now thickly slice and add to a large bowl. Season, add the oil and toss to coat. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.

  • For the fish
  • Lightly oil the ovenproof dish, add the fish and brush with the melted butter. Season and then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 18 minutes.

  • For the tomatoes
  • Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce.

  • Now gradually stir in the cubes of butter over a low heat and then add the sugar. Season to taste.

  • For the spinach
  • Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes.

  • Next stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.

  • To serve
  • Divide the spinach among four serving plates and place a salmon portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.
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Updated: September 25, 2018

Buttercrisp Baby Potatoes

Buttercrisp Baby Potatoes

When you want a different way of cooking baby potatoes, give this recipe a try.

Buttercrisp Baby Potatoes

3 servings
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 450 g (l lb) new/baby potatoes
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick), OR
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • coarse salt, for sprinkling

Equipment

  • You will need a large lidded sauté pan.


  • Method
  • Scrub or scrape the potatoes. Cut larger ones in half, as you do want the size to be small.

  • Heat the butter or oil in the pan and, when hot, add the potatoes and shake the pan so they are well coated with the butter or oil.

  • Cover with the lid and let them cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to turn the potatoes. When cooked they will be crisp and golden brown on the outside and tender inside.
  • Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve at once.
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Steak Béarnaise

Steak Béarnaise

I love cooking steak in the summer and it is always good to have a selection of different sauces to choose from so the meal can be a little different each time.

This traditional French Béarnaise Sauce is so lovely and creamy and a perfect match with a simply cooked good steak.

Steak Béarnaise

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Standing time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the steaks
  • 14 g (½ oz) butter (1 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 4 x 170 g (6 oz) steaks (rib eye, sirloin or other good quality steak)
  • For the Béarnaise Sauce
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter, cut into small pieces (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Serving suggestion
  • fries and peas


  • Method
  • For the steaks
  • Season the steaks.

  • Now heat a large frying pan/skillet and add the butter and oil. When the butter has melted and is foaming, fry the steaks. As a guide, fry them over a medium heat for 2 minutes each side for medium rare, 3 minutes for medium, 5–6 minutes for well done. Or BBQ them.
  • Transfer to a warm plate, cover and let them rest for five minutes, turning halfway through.
  • For the Béarnaise Sauce
  • Put the vinegar and shallot in a small pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer to reduce to about 1 tablespoon. This will only take a few minutes. Strain and leave to cool a little.
  • Now in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with some seasoning and then add the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of warm water.

  • While the steaks are resting, place the bowl with the egg mixture over a pan of just simmering water. Add the butter, a knob at a time, stirring until each knob has melted before adding the next.
  • Continue stirring until the sauce is shiny and thick. Once it has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon.
  • To serve
  • Spoon the sauce alongside the steaks.
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Updated: September 12, 2018

Chocolate Dipped Fingers

Chocolate Dipped Fingers

These butter biscuits just melt in the mouth and the chocolate dipped ends will appeal to those chocolate lovers in the family.

Chocolate Dipped Fingers

30 biscuits
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature (1 cup, or 2 sticks)
  • 55 g (2 oz) icing/powdered sugar (½ cup)
  • a few drops of vanilla essence/extract
  • 225 g (8 oz) plain flour/all-purpose flour, sifted (1¾ cups)
  • 140 g (5 oz) plain/semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

Equipment

  • You will also need a piping bag fitted with a 12.5 mm (½ inch) star-shaped nozzle


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  • Beat the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy.
  • Then add the vanilla extract.
  • Now gradually add the sifted flour, mixing to make a soft dough.

  • Spoon into the piping bag and pipe 6.5 cm (2½ inch) lengths onto baking trays/cookie sheets, cutting the dough off at the nozzle each timewith a small knife. The dough should yield about 30 biscuits.
  • Bake for 18 minutes.
  • Then remove from the oven and leave for 2 minutes.
  • Using a palette knife, carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool. They will be very delicate until they have cooled completely.
  • Next place a basin over a pan of just-simmering water and add half the chocolate.
  • Once melted, remove from the heat and then add the remaining chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and is of a smooth consistency. This makes for a lovely shiny chocolate coating.
  • Place kitchen paper beneath the wire racks to catch any chocolate drips. Then dip each end of the biscuits in the melted chocolate (you may not need all the chocolate). Return them to the wire racks and leave until the chocolate has set.

  • Store in an airtight container.
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Updated August 8, 2018

Apple and Sultana Crumble

Apple and Sultana Crumble

Apple crumble – a very classic dish. The first dessert I ever made. Here sultanas are added to the apples to make it a little more interesting and also giving it more flavour. Using oats as well as flour for the crumble topping reduces its sweetness too. A very tasty crumble.

Apple and Sultana Crumble

4 –6 servings
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 55 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 900 g (2 lb) Bramley apples (or other variety of apple suitable for cooking) (about 5 or 6)
  • 115 g (4 oz) sultanas (¾ cup)
  • 55 g (2 oz) granulated sugar (¼ cup)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ lemon

  • For the topping
  • 85 g (3 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (⅔ cup)
  • 85 g (3 oz) porridge oats/rolled oats (¾ cup)
  • 85 g (3 oz) chilled butter, cubed (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Equipment

  • You will also need an ovenproof dish and a baking sheet for this recipe.


  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).

  • Peel, core and slice the apples.
  • Put them in a large bowl along with the sultanas, sugar, and spice. Toss to mix.
  • Now tip into the ovenproof dish and even out the top.
  • Squeeze the juice from the half-lemon and sprinkle over the fruit. Then put to one side while making the topping.

  • For the topping
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the oats.
  • Now rub in the butter.
  • Next mix in the sugar.
  • Spoon over the fruit and lightly press down.
  • Put the dish on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (350°F) (gas 5) and bake for a further 30–40 minutes until the top is starting to brown and the juices are bubbling around the edge.
  • Note
  • This is good served hot with custard.
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Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

A traditional chicken kiev where chicken breasts are stuffed with a garlic butter and parsley and coated in fresh breadcrumbs, then baked until golden. Mmmm!

Chicken Kiev

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 40 g (1½ oz) flour (⅓ cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 225 g (8 oz) fine, fresh white breadcrumbs (3½ cups)

To serve

  • a green salad

Equipment

  • You will also need a greased baking tray.


  • Method
  • 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, 4 cm (1½) inches long and 2 cm (¾ inch) deep. Push one-quarter of the butter mixture into each pocket and secure with a cocktail stick.
  • Tip 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 in the egg and roll 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.
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Updated: April 8, 2018