Some Easy Recipes

Cream of Chicken Soup

serves 4
3 tbsp butter
4 shallots, chopped
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
450g / 1lb skinless chicken breasts, chopped
600ml / 1 pint chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, to garnish
salt and pepper
175ml / 6fl oz double cream
sprigs of fresh thyme, to garnish
fresh crusty rolls to serve

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the leek and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring. Add the chicken, stock and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the soup into a food processor and blend until smooth (you may need to do this in batches). Return the soup to the pan and warm over a low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cream and cook for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and serve with fresh crusty rolls.

Shepherd’s Pie


Serves 6
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
675g / 1lb 8oz good-quality lamb mince
2 carrots, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tbsp plain flour
225ml / 8fl oz beef or chicken stock
125ml / 4fl oz red wine
Worcestershire sauce (optional)

for the mashed potato,
675g / 1lb 8oz floury potatoes, such as King Edwards, Maris Piper or Desiree, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
55g / 2oz butter
2 tbsp cream or milk
salt and pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  • Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish and fry the onion until softened, then add the garlic and stir well.
  • Raise the heat and add the meat. Cook quickly to brown the meat all over, stirring continually. Add the carrots and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in the flour and add the stock and wine. Stir well and heat until simmering and thickened.
  • Cover the casserole dish and cook in the oven for about 1 hour. Check the consistency from time to time and add a little more stock or wine if required. The meat mixture should be quite thick but not dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little Worcestershire sauce, if desired.
  • While the meat is cooking, make the mashed potato. Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. Drain well and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add the butter and cream and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the lamb mixture into an ovenproof serving dish and spread or pipe the potato on top.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and cook the pie for 15-20 minutes at the top of the oven until golden brown. You might like to finish it off under a medium grill for a really crisp topping to the potato.

Toad in the Hole


Serves 4
oil, for greasing
115g / 4oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
300ml / 10fl oz milk
45og / 1 lb good quality pork sausages
1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • Grease a 20 x 25-cm / 8 x 10-inch ovenproof dish or roasting tin.
  • Make the batter by sifting the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and half the milk. Carefully stir the liquid into the flour until the mixture is smooth. Gradually beat in the remaining milk. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
  • Prick the sausages and place them in the dish. Sprinkle over the oil and cook the sausages in the oven for 10 minutes until they are beginning to colour and the fat has started to run and is sizzling.
  • Remove from the oven and quickly pour the batter over the sausages. Return to the oven and cook for 35-45 minutes until the batter is well risen and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Baked Apples


serves 4
25g / 1oz blanched almonds
55g/ 2oz dried apricots
1 piece stem ginger, drained
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp syrup from the stem ginger jar
4 tbsp rolled oats
4 large cooking apples

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Using a sharp knife, chop the almonds very finely. Chop the apricots and stem ginger very finely. Reserve
  • Place the honey and syrup in a saucepan and heat until the honey has melted. Stir in the oats and cook gently over a low heat for 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almonds, apricots and stem ginger.
  • Core the apples, widen the tops slightly and score around the circumference of each to prevent the skins bursting during cooking. Place them in an ovenproof dish and fill the cavities with the stuffing. Pour just enough water into the dish to come about one-third of the way up the apples. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until tender.
  • Serve immediately.