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Chicken/Mushroom Pie Great Comfort Food

Even the word pie is comforting. But then, it would be hard to deny the very real lure of pastry, especially when, as here, you know you're going to dunk it in gravied juices till its luscious lightness has become deliciously, soggily heavy. I concede, however, that making and rolling out your own pastry is not necessarily the speediest option, so I use bought, all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry and feel fine about it.

I make the pie even easier, by browning the chicken and making the sauce all in one go. And gold-crusted, welcoming pies for two people in half an hour is not bad going.


Serves: 2

  • 3 pieces bacon (cut or scissored into 1 inch strips)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic flavored oil
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms (sliced into eighth inch pieces)
  • 8 ounces chicken thigh fillets (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 2½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1¼ cups hot chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon marsala
  • 8½ ounces all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry sheet (9 1/2 x 9½ inch)



  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7/425ºF. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the bacon strips in the oil until beginning to crisp, then add the sliced mushrooms and soften them in the pan with the bacon.
  2. Turn the chicken strips in the flour and thyme (you could toss them about in a freezer bag), and then melt the butter in the bacon-and-mushroom pan before adding the floury chicken and all the flour left in the bag. Stir around with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour.
  3. Pour in the hot stock and Marsala, stirring to form a sauce, and let this bubble away for about 5 minutes.
  4. Take two 300ml / 1¼ cup pie-pots (if yours are deeper, don't worry, there will simply be more space between contents and puff pastry top) and make a pastry rim for each one - by this I mean an approx. 1cm / ½ inch strip curled around the top of each pot. Dampen the edges with a little water to make the pastry stick.
  5. Cut a circle bigger than the top of each pie-pot for the lid, and then divide the chicken filling between the two pots.
  6. Dampen the rim of the pastry again and then pop on the lid of each pie, sealing the edges with your fingers or the underneath of the prongs of a fork.
  7. Cook the pies for about 20 minutes turning them around halfway through cooking. Once cooked, they should have puffed up magnificently.

Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese

I’m just going to say it: this is the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever eaten. I don’t feel it’s boastful to say as much, as the greatness lies not in any brilliance on my part, but in the simple tastes of the ingredients as they fuse in the heat. That’s home cooking for you.

I do rather love the way these little macaroni cheeses, with their pixie-penne, look like they’ve been made with artificially coloured, cheap squeezy cheese or out of a box, when in fact their exotic glow comes courtesy of the earthy goodness of a sweet potato.


  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 10 oz pennette (or other small, short pasta)
  • 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon english mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika (plus another quarter teaspoon to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 oz feta cheese/or any other cheese
  • 1 ¼ cups sharp cheddar (plus 1 quarter cup to sprinkle on top)
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Fried Chicken Perfect for Watching Football Games

Who doesn't love extra-crispy old-school fried chicken? Here's a faster way to prepare it.

2 chicken drumsticks, skin on2 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
3 to 4 cups milk
2 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, for frying
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten

In a medium pan, place chicken and cover with milk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight. This helps tenderize the meat, but is optional

In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, using tongs, transfer chicken into pot, then pour in the milk. Bring milk to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low allowing to simmer until the chicken is cooked through entirely, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the milk, and place on a rack to cool. Allow them to sit until warm about 15 minutes, and then pat dry using a kitchen towel.

Heat vegetable shortening in a Dutch oven over high heat just until it's nearly at the smoking point around 325 degrees F.

In a large zip-lock bag, add salt, flour, cayenne pepper, shake to combine.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 egg.

Place each piece of chicken, 1 at a time, in the bag and shake to coat the chicken. Then dip chicken into the egg to coat. Place the chicken back into the flour to coat for a second time. Repeat this method on remaining 3 pieces of chicken.

Gently drop each piece of chicken into hot oil, allowing the skin to crisp and turn golden brown in color, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.


Chocolate Fudge Cake for Comfort and Tailgating!

This is the sort of cake you'd want to eat the whole of when you'd been chucked. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on its stand, comforts.

It's also great for tailgating!


for the cake

  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • ½ cup corn oil
  • 1 ¼ cups chilled water

for the fudge icing

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 ¾ cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Nothing Says Summer Like Ribs

These ribs can be done with baby back or regular pork ribs or beef ribs. I have also made split chickens this way. The ribs are tender, moist and just slide off of the bone. I know that your family will love them just as much as my family does. I noticed that some are unable to find hickory smoked salt. You can use smoked paprika or just brush the ribs with liquid smoke before applying the rub. The smoke flavor is nice because it helps give the ribs a cooked-on-the-grill flavor. Also, the easiest way to remove the membrane is to work a spoon, or I use the tips of my kitchen shears, into the bottom center of the membrane, work it back and forth to form a "pocket," then I slide my thumbs in and work the membrane off from the center outward to the ends.

Servings 6

    4 lbs pork ribs
    3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon hickory smoke salt
    1 tablespoon paprika
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1⁄2 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
    2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (mine is Sweet Baby Ray)


  •     Preheat oven to 300 degrees f.
  •     Peel off tough membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs.
  •     Mix together the sugar and spices to make the rub.
  •     Apply rub to ribs on all sides.
  •     Lay ribs on two layers of foil, shiny side out and meaty side down.
  •     Lay two layers of foil on top of ribs and roll and crimp edges tightly, edges facing up to seal.
  •     Place on baking sheet, bake for 2-2.5 hours until meat is starting to shrink away from the ends of  bone.
  •     Remove from oven.
  •     Heat broiler.
  •     Cut ribs into serving sized portions of 2 or 3 ribs.
  •     Arrange on broiler pan, bony side up.
  •     Brush on sauce.
  •     Broil for 1 or 2 minutes until sauce is cooked on and bubbly.
  •     Turn ribs over.
  •     Repeat on other side.

    Alternately, you can grill the ribs on your grill to cook on the sauce.

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