Category Archives: Entertaining

Spicy chicken pasties

Spicy chicken pasties

Makes 6

For the pastry

225g plain flour

Good pinch of salt

½ tsp ground turmeric

125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

About 4 tbsp icy water

For the filling

175g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1.5cm cubes

3 tbsp natural yogurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2cm root ginger, peeled and grated

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp each of ground cumin and coriander

Good pinch of salt

2 tbsp mango chutney

Beaten egg, to glaze

To make the pastry

  1. Sift the flour, salt and turmeric into a bowl.  Add the diced butter into the flour using the tips of your fingers until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
  2. Using a round-bladed knife, gradually stir in enough cold water to bring the mixture together to form a ball of soft but not sticky dough.  Wrap in clingfilm and keep chilled until needed.

To make the filling,

  1. Combine the chicken, yogurt, garlic, ginger, cayenne, cumin, coriander and salt in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  If you have the time, cover and marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge.  I didn’t have time to do this but they still tasted great.
  2. Preheat the grill to its hottest setting and line the grill pan with oiled foil.  Spoon the chicken mixture onto the foil and spread evenly in one layer.  Grill for 5 to 6 minutes or unitl the chicken is just firm and starting to colour.  Remove the grill pan from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180oC / 350oF / gas 4.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop to a 24 x 36 rectangle.  Cut out 6 rounds with a 12cm cutter (I used a cereal bowl).  Divide the chicken mixture into equal portions, draining off any watery liquid that has collected.  Spoon a portion of chicken onto one half of each pastry round, leaving a 1cm border clear.  Be careful not to overfill the pastry (like I did) otherwise they’ll break / crack.
  4. Top each with a teaspoonful of mango chutney.  Dampen the pastry edges with beaten eggs, then foll the pastry over the filling to make a semi-circle and press the edges together firmly to seal.  Press down on the edges with the back of a fork to decorate and seal.
  5. Place on the lined baking sheet.  Brush lightly with beaten egg to glaze then make a small steam hole in the centre of each pastie with the top of a knife.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.  Serve warm with extra chutney.


I made this dish for a group of friends coming overr.  I’d never heard of it before but everyone loved it. It’s a perfect recipes for friends as it’s quite quick to make. My guests helped themselves to Pasticcio, salad, garlic bread and homemade French dressing.  This recipe makes 6 but 4 of us polished this dish off – yummy scrummy!

1 tbsp sunflower oil

500g minced pork or beef

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

90g tomato puree

90ml red wine

2 bay leaves

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

250g short cut macaroni

salt and black pepper

Cheese sauce

30g butter

30g plain flour

300ml milk

175g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg yolk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

  1.  Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan, add the meat, onions and garlic, and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, and wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, sugar, oregano and cinnamon (if using) and season with  salt and pepper.  Simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
  4. Meanwhile cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for about 8-10 minutes until just tender.  Drain and set aside.
  5. Make the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually blend in the milk.  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, egg yolk, and mustard, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon half of the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish and add half of the macaroni.  Cover with the remaining meat mixture, then top with the remaining macaroni and the cheese sauce.
  7. Bake the pasticcio in a preheated oven at 180oC (350oF, Gas Mark 4) for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden.

Parmesan and Thyme Crostini

Serves: 9

150g grated parmesan

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 (200g) tub cream cheese, softened

1 baguette

1. Preheat the grill. Slice baguette into 1cm slices. Arrange the bread slices on a baking tray. Toast under the grill for 1 minute per side, or until both sides are slightly toasted.

2.In a mixing bowl, combine the Pecorino, garlic, thyme and cream cheese. Spread the mixture over the tops of the baguette slices. Grill for a further 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.

A lovely recipe to serve as a starter.  The cheese is very strong so you might want to serve with some grapes.  I served with Ricotta and roasted tomoto crostini and Prosciutto, pear & rocket rolls.  YUMMY!!!

Prosciutto, pear and rocket rolls

Makes 24

2 ripe but firm pears, cored and halved

1 tsp lemon juice

2 large handfuls of rocket

12 slices of proscuitto

20g of parmesan

24 cocktail sticks

1. Cut each pear half into 4 long pieces, to make 16. You’ll need 12, so eat the rest.

2. Combine the pears and lemon juice and season.

3. Put a pear slice and a few leaves of rocket on each prosciutto slice. Add a shaving of Parmesan, roll tightly and secure with 2 toothpicks.

4. Roll all the others, then cut each in half in between the toothpicks.

Another great canape recipe.  I served them when friends came over for dinner and they went down a treat.  I served them with Parmesan and Thyme Crostini’s and Ricotta and roasted tomato crostini’s.


2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little for greasing

750g lean mince

90g prosciutto

Home made tomato sauce (see below)

200ml beef stock

A little grated nutmeg

300g lasagne sheets

Home made white sauce (see below)

125g mozzarella

For the tomato sauce

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan

2 onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 carrot, roughly chopped.

2 tbsp tomato purée.

200ml white wine,

3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

1 handful basil leaves.

For the white sauce

85g butter

85g plain flour

1¼pt milk

  1. First make the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, garlic cloves and carrot, roughly chopped and cook for 5-7 mins over a medium heat until softened. Turn up the heat a little and stir in the tomato purée. Cook for 1 min, pour in white wine, then cook for 5 mins until this has reduced by two-thirds. Pour over 3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes and add 1 handful basil leaves. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Leave to cool, whizz in a food processor.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then cook the beef in two batches for about 10 mins until browned all over. Finely chop 4 slices of prosciutto, then stir through the meat mixture.
  3. Pour over the tomato sauce and stock, add the nutmeg, then season. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins until the ragu looks rich and is well coated in sauce.
  4. Now make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the plain flour, then cook for 2 mins. Slowly whisk in the milk, then bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down heat, then cook until the sauce starts to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Sauce can now be cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months.
  5. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. To assemble lasagne, lightly oil an ovenproof serving dish (30 x 20cm). Spoon over a third of the ragu sauce, then cover with lasagne sheets. Drizzle over about one quarter of the white sauce. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover with the remaining half quantity of white sauce, making sure you can’t see any pasta poking through. Tear the mozzarella into thin strips, then scatter over the top. Arrange the rest of the prosciutto on top. Bake for 45 mins until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Depending on the size of your dish there’ll be quite a lot of tomato sauce left over.  This left over sauce make a great spaghetti bolognaise or topping for a jacket potato.  This is one of my favourite recipes and is great when served with Italian salad and dressing.

Making your own tomato sauce does take a while but it tastes SO much better than shop bought sauce. 🙂

Ricotta and roasted tomato crostini

Makes 24


4 cups tomatoes

5 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper

1 cup ricotta

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast until the tomatoes are beginning to burst, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides of the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Bake until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Dividing evenly, spread the ricotta on the toasted baguette slices, top with the tomato mixture, and sprinkle with the thyme.


I served with salmon blinis and mozzerella and marinated pepper bruschetta.


Mozzerella and Marinated Pepper Brushetta


Serves 4

1 yellow pepper

1 red pepper

10ml olive oil

1 sprig of flat-leaf parsley, chopped


1 ball of good mozzerella

Burn the skins of the peppers on the hob. Once the skins are completely burnt, use a teatowel and rub off the skin.  Wait to cool before removing the seeds and stalks. Cut each pepper into slivers and marinate them for one hour in the olive oil and chopped parsley.

Season each piece of ciabatta with olive oil and salt, then grill or griddle each side for 20-30 seconds until lightly toasted. To serve, season the burrata with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper. Place a portion of the burrata on each piece of ciabatta and top with a spoon of marinated peppers.

I served with salmon blinis and ricotta and tomota crostinis.


Salmon blini

16 Blini pancakes

5 tbsp crème fraîche

1 tbsp creamed horseradish

150g smoked salmon

Warm the blinis in the oven. Mix the crème fraîche and horseradish together and spoon a little onto each blini. Top with a small piece of smoked salmon, season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

I served the blinis with Mozzerella and Marinated Pepper Brushetta and Ricotta and Tomato Crostinis and they all went down a treat.

Mint & chocolate and coffee mousse

Makes 6

For the mint layer

100g caster sugar

2 x 28g packs of mint

400ml double cream

For the chocolate and coffee layer

100g dark chocolate (minimum 50% cocoa solids)

3 tbsp coffee

3 tbsp brandy

250g mascarpone (at room temperature)

2 large egg whites (at room temperature)

25g caster sugar

Grated chocolate for dusting

  1. For the mint layer put the sugar, half the mint and 300ml of water in a pan.  Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and boil over a medium-high heat for 15mins or until reduced by two thirds.  Remove from the heat, discard the mint and leave to cool.
  2. Pick and reserve 6 mint leaves from the remaining mint and set aside for decorating.  Pick the remaining leaves, discard the stalks and blitz in a blender with the cooled sugar syrup until finely chopped.  Pour into a large bowl and add the cream. Whisk with an electric hand whisk to form soft peaks. Set aside.
  3. For the chocolate and coffee layer, melt the chocolate with the coffee and brandy in a large heatproof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir from time to time and then remove from the heat.  Stir gently until smooth.  Leave to cool.
  4. With an electric hand whisk, whisk the cooled chocolate mixture with the mascarpone until combined.
  5. With a clean electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg white into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Layer the 2 different mixtures into 6 glasses.  Chill until ready to serve.  Dust the reserved mint leaves with the chocolate shavings and place one on each serving.

I halved the above recipe and out of the 3 portions I made 2 large glasses – we were both hungry!  A lovely recipe but depending on how much you like coffee and brandy you might want to reduce the quantity of each slightly as the chocolate and coffee layer was quite strong on taste.


Original recipe from Sainsbury’s Magazine

Amazing chilli con carne

This is definitely my favourite chilli recipe – you can vary the hotness by adding more or less chilli powder.  It’s quick and easy to make and is perfect for a meal with friends.  The coleslaw is a great addition.

Serves 4

1 tbsp oil

1 large onion

1 red pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (add more or less depending on how hot you like it)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

500g leaned minced beef

1 beef stock cube

400g can chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

2-3 squares of plain, dark chocolate

2 tbsp tomato puree

410g can of red kidney beans

Basmati rice, coleslaw and nacho chips to serve

  1. Prepare your vegetables. Chop your onion into small dice, about 5mm square. Cut your pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and wash the seeds away, then chop.
  2. Start cooking. Put your pan on the hob over a medium heat. Add the oil and leave it for 1-2 minutes until hot (a little longer for an electric hob). Add the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent. Tip in the garlic, red pepper, chilli, paprika and cumin. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Brown the mince. Turn the heat up a bit, add the meat to the pan and break it up with your spoon or spatula. The mix should sizzle a bit when you add the mince. Keep stirring and prodding for at least 5 minutes, until all the mince is in uniform, mince-sized lumps and there are no more pink bits. Make sure you keep the heat hot enough for the meat to fry and become brown, rather than just stew.
  4. Making the sauce. Crumble your stock cube into 300ml/1⁄2 pint of hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince mixture. Open the can of chopped tomatoes and add these as well. Tip in the marjoram and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Squirt in about 2 tbsp of tomato purée and stir the sauce well.
  5. Simmer it gently. Bring the whole thing to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for 20 minutes. You should check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or isn’t drying out. If it is, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough. After simmering gently, the saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist and juicy.
  6. Drain and rinse the beans in a sieve and stir them into the chilli pot, along with the chocolate. Bring to the boil again, and gently bubble without the lid for another 10 minutes, adding a little more water if it looks too dry. Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving, and relax. Leaving your chilli to stand is really important as it allows the flavours to mingle and the meat.
  7. Serve with Basmati rice, coleslaw and nacho chips.  This recipe is delicious!!