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What you need:

1 litre vegetable stock or cold water
250g polenta or coarse maize
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Fig and red onion relish
75g goat’s cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Combine the polenta, salt and oregano then quickly whisk them into the boiling liquid. As soon as it comes to the boil again, reduce the heat and exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon. Simmer the polenta, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes or until thick and porridge-like. Be careful as it will splatter volcanically.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and quickly spread the polenta evenly over it so it is no more than 1cm (½in) thick. Use a dampened pallet for at least 30 minutes. (The recipe can be prepared up to two days in advance to this stage.)

Using a 3-4cm (1¼-1½ in) round cutter, cut out rounds from the polenta. Brush both sides of each round with olive oil and cook the wedges either under a hot grill or in a griddle pan, turning once, until golden and crisp. Alternatively heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side.

Place the polenta rounds on a serving platter. Put a dollop of Fig and red onion relish on each round and top with a small cube or crumble of goat’s cheese and a grind of black pepper.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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What you need:

7 oz /200g dried mixed beans or Great Northern beans
2½ pts /1.4 L water
1 (14 oz /400g) ) tin whole tomatoes, with juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
2 oz / 60g pearl barley
1 bay leaf
1½ tbsp salt, plus additional for seasoning
2 tsp dried Italian herb blend
Freshly ground black pepper
½ oz /5g dried  mushrooms
3 oz  /85g cleaned baby spinach leaves
2¾ oz  /80g freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil

What you do:

Put the beans, water, tomatoes and their juices, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, barley, bay leaf, 1 1/2 tbsps salt, herb blend, pepper, and porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker; cover and cook on low until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about eight hours.

Stir in the spinach, cheese, and vinegar, cover, and let the soup cook until the spinach wilts, about five minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving with olive oil.

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What you need:

4 oz /110g unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
4.4 fl oz /125 ml medium-dry sherry
4.4 fl oz /125 ml  brandy or Cognac
0.7 pt /375 ml good dry white wine
1.8 pts /1 L beef stock
1.8 pts /1 L veal stock
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated parmesan

What you do:

In a large saucepan or stockpot on medium-high heat, saute the onions with the butter and bay leaf for 20 minutes, until the onions turn a rich golden brown color.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry and brandy and simmer uncovered for five minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes.

Add the beef and veal stocks plus salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf, taste for salt and pepper, and serve hot with grated Parmesan.

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What you need:

1 small head of broccoli ( trimmed into florets)
1 small head cauliflower or half a large head, (trimmed  into florets)
1 lb  of  Penne pasta
200 ml sour cream or reduced-fat sour cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

75 ml finely chopped chives (fresh)
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed into paste
A few drops hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
500 ml grated extra-sharp Cheddar

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 190C /375F / gas mark 5

Boil a large saucepan of water over a medium heat, then and add the broccoli and cauliflower florets. Boil the vegetables for 5 minutes, then remove them with  a  slotted strainer and drain.

Add the pasta to the water and undercook by about 2 minutes, drain.

In the meantime, in a large bowl mix the sour cream  with the mustard, chives, garlic, hot sauce . Add the pasta and cauliflower and 2/3 of the cheese. Mix all together then transfer it to a  oven proof  dish and cover with the remaining cheese.

Place on a baking tray and bake it in the  oven for about 40 to 45 minutes or until deeply golden.

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What you need:

4 carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 long strips lemon zest
4 sprigs fresh dill, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
1 1/2 – 2 lb of chicken ( diced)
2 pints  chicken broth
1 cup small pasta, such as pastina
1 cup frozen peas, (defrosted)
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, stemmed
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces feta cheese

What to do:

Combine the carrots, lemon zest, dill sprigs, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 5 litre slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt and add to the cooker. Add the broth and 4 cups water, cover and cook on low, about 8 hours.

Around 20 minutes before serving, add the pasta to the slow cooker, cover and cook until tender, around 15 / 20 minutes.

Stir the chopped dill, peas and spinach into the soup and cover until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and crumble the feta on top.

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