FAST CHEESY HERB MUFFINS – Makes 12
Good with soup, salads or for eating on the go!
275g. / 10ozs. self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
50g. / 2ozs. butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
250mls. / 9fl. ozs. milk
75g. / 3ozs. cheddar, grated
leaves of 1 bunch of basil, chopped
75g. / 3ozs. pitted black olives, chopped
2 tbsps. sun-dried tomato paste
- You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6.
- Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Mix the butter, egg and milk together in a jug.
- Add the cheese, basil and olives to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well. Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir everything together using a fork. Mix in the sun-dried tomato paste right at the end to give a rippled effect through the batter.
- Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes until well risen and lightly golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or cold.
These are best made and eaten on the day but will keep for 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container. They freeze well for up to a month. Defrost and warm through at a low heat in the oven to refresh.
If you can’t find muffin cases you could use cupcake cases, they are larger than fairy cake cases but not quite as deep as muffin cases, so the mixture may stretch to a few extra muffins. Gently swirl in the sun-dried tomato paste, without stirring it in completely, as this gives a lovely hit of tomato when you eat the muffin.
CHICKEN AND LEEK SUET CRUST PIE – Serves 6
2 tbsps. oil
4 slim, small leeks or 2 fat ones, trimmed and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut fairly small
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (about 450g. in weight)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsps. plain flour
150mls. (5fl. ozs.) Marsala or sherry
200g. / 7ozs. full-fat creme fraiche
2 tbsps. chopped parsley
For the pastry:
150g. / 6ozs. self raising flour
75g. / 3ozs. suet
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
- You will need a 26cm. / 10 1/2 inch pie dish that can hold about 1.2 litres (2 pints). Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/ gas mark 7.
- Heat half the oil in a large frying pan. Add the leeks, carrots and onion and fry until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil, season the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Whisk the flour and Marsala / sherry in a bowl until smooth then tip into the pan. Add the crème fraiche and stir until thickened and combined. Add back in the leeks, chicken etc. Add the parsley, season, spoon into the pie dish and allow to cool. You could do this step the day before.
- To make the pastry, measure the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl and pour in enough water (about 100mls. / 3fl. ozs.) to make a soft dough. Add the water gradually, do not tip it all in at once, and stir with a knife as you go. Bring together with your hands and lightly knead. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm. / 1/2 inch thick and large enough to cover the top of the pie dish.
- Brush the edge of the dish with a little of the beaten egg, then carefully lay the pastry over the filling. Trim the edges and press to seal. Brush with more beaten egg and make a small hole in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes until lightly golden.
- Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.
I had a pie dish of exactly the right dimension, but I also have 2 that are deep and oval, so if you can get the filling in, a dish of that type would be fine. You wouldn’t need as much pastry for covering the top with a dish of that shape.
If you have a pie funnel (I have 2) I suggest you use one as it keeps the lid from getting soggy on the bottom by holding it up. You can still buy pie funnels in a good kitchen shop (I have seen them in the one in Ledbury).
The pie can be totally assembled up to 6 hours ahead and baked to serve. The pre-baked pie freezes well. Bake straight from frozen for 40 – 45 minutes.