Mushroom and Stilton Wellington

The mushrooms in this are a great alternative to meat and make a substantial and delicious supper dish for a cold winter night.

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This serves 2, but you could easily double this to feed 4 people. I would serve this with a side salad, but the addition of sweet potato fries would be good too!

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5 field mushrooms – stalks removed and one of them chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1.5tbs olive oil
1tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of thyme – leaves removed and roughly chopped
Small bunch of Cavolo Nero – tough ribs removed and roughly chopped
100g mature blue Stilton cheese, crumbled
1 pack of puff pastry
1 egg beaten with a little milk to make a wash

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Heat oven to 220°C/425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick liner

Heat 1tbs of the oil in a large pan and fry 4 of the mushrooms for around 4 mins on each side until golden and cooked through. Set aside on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil and moisture.

Place the pan back on the heat and add the rest of the oil. Add the chopped mushroom, onion, thyme, salt and pepper. Fry until the onion is soft and translucent. Then add the kale and continue to cook until wilted, before setting aside to cool.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry until it is a little under half a centimetre thick.

Using a large cookie cutter or a small bowl; cut out two circles that are 2cm wider than the mushrooms. These will be the bases. Then cut another two circles about 8cm wider for the tops. You need the tops to be big enough to cover the mushrooms without stretching, so go bigger if your mushrooms are on the large size.

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Place the two base circles on the baking sheet and add a quarter of the vegetable mixture, taking care not to spread it wider than the mushrooms.

Place a mushroom, cap down and top with half of the cheese. Place another mushroom cap side up and add another quarter of the vegetable mixture.

Brush the pastry base border around each mushroom with egg and then layer the top circle of party over the filling, like a large ravioli.

Use your hand to gently smooth the pasty over the mushrooms and make sure you have not trapped any air in the parcel. Just take care not to stretch the pastry, as it can shrink in the oven and open up.

Seal the edges together using a fork.

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Trim any untidy edges – I used a small bowl over the parcels and cut around the edge.

Brush each wellington with egg and bake for 30-40 mins until golden brown and puffed.

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Serve with a green salad and sweet potato fries for a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Spinach makes a good alternative to the kale and feel free to up the cheese content for an extra indulgent treat.

Veggie Baked Eggs with Cheese

These are very quick to put together and are delicious any time of day, but make a particularly good brunch dish, served with hot buttered toast to dip in the soft egg.

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Knob of butter and a little oil
1 finely chopped onion 
2-3 large Portobello mushrooms, chopped
150ml double cream
150g of a good melting cheese – grated (I used a mixture of cheddar and Monteray Jack)
6 spears of Cavolo Nero kale, tough stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 red pepper – chopped with seeds and ribs removed
4 large eggs
Salt and black pepper
Hot buttered toast, to serve

Baked eggs

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Place the butter and oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, red pepper, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables for around 10 minutes until softened. Add the kale and stir until wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the double cream and cheese, the heat will melt the cheese.

Divide the mixture evenly among 4 ramekins and make an indentation in each one with the back of a teaspoon. Crack an egg into each and top with a little freshly grated parmesan.

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Bake for around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them. The white of the egg should be just set and the yolk runny.

Serve straightaway with hot buttered toast.

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Chocolate Espresso Brownie Bites

These are super fudgy, rich and indulgent little brownies and perfect to serve with coffee.

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You could cut larger pieces and serve as a dessert with cream, but I think they are best cut into small squares as a little treat with hot coffee.

These are very quick to make and rather than buttering and flouring the tin, I line with foil so there is no problem getting them out – just leave to cool and lift out.

I actually think they are at their best when they have fully cooled and been allowed to stand for a while. If you make them the night before, they will be perfect for coffee the next day.

If you want the full coffee taste, but not the caffeine, you could always use decaf.

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2 (100g) packs of good quality dark Belgian chocolate, broken into small pieces
120g room temperature butter, plus extra for greasing
2tsp vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
250g caster sugar
140g plain/all-purpose flour
3tbs good quality cocoa
2.5tbs espresso powder
½tsp salt
50g milk chocolate and chocolate espresso beans or chocolate covered coffee beans to decorate

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and prepare a 20cm/8inch square tin by buttering and lining with foil, leaving a little extra either side so you can pull the bake out afterwards. Butter the foil to ensure nothing sticks.  A tin with square corners is best.

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Melt the dark chocolate and stir in the butter until both are melted, smooth and shiny. I do my melting in the microwave and the residual heat should melt the soft butter, but you might need an extra 10-20 seconds if it’s a very cold day.  Leave to cool a little.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together, add the vanilla and stir in the melted chocolate and butter mixture. Do not beat, just stir, you don’t want air bubbles in your brownies.

Sieve together the flour, cocoa and salt and gently mix into the wet ingredients until just combined – taking care not to over-mix.

Pour into the prepared tin and give it a few taps to release any air that might be trapped in the mixture.

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Bake for 35 minutes until the tops are shiny. The centres will be fudgy and moist.

Leave to cool in the tin to firm up, before lifting out and cutting into squares.

If you are decorating, melt the milk chocolate and either spoon or pipe a little onto each brownie and place a chocolate espresso bean onto each one. White chocolate would work well here too.

Espresso brownie bite