Winter Warmers

Two’s Company is a book with a positive message that cooking for two is exciting, fun and worthwhile. More than that – free from the demands of family or guests, liberated from a strict timetable, you can follow your mood, whether you fancy something homey, a fake-away or a creative culinary adventure.

Chicken with Olives and Butter Beans

This lush chorizo and chicken stew recipe is inexpensive but delicious. Try serving it with crusty bread.

Serves Four

You will need

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 350g can Fragata stoneless Manzanilla olives filled with chorizo, drained
  • 8 dried apricots, sliced
  • 8 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess skin
  • 100ml white wine
  • 400g can butter beans, rinsed and drained


In a large mixing bowl or resealable food bag, mix the oil, vinegar, garlic and honey. Stir in the oregano sprigs, olives, apricots and chicken thighs. Season, cover if using a bowl, and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to 12 hours).

Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Pour the wine into a large roasting tin, then add the chicken, skin-side up, and the marinade ingredients. Roast for 40 minutes, basting the chicken in the juices every 15 minutes, until cooked through and the juices run clear, with no pink meat. Lift the chicken out of the tin and arrange on plates. Stir the butter beans into the tin and return to the oven for 6-8 minutes.

Spoon the hot olives, beans and juices over the chicken (or add the chicken back to the tin if taking the roasting tin to the table) and serve immediately with couscous, rice or mashed potato and some steamed greens, if liked.

Cook’s Tip

Plating the chicken while you heat the beans in the sauce allows it to rest and become more tender.

Chocolate Lava Pudding

This could not be more different from lemon lava pudding – intense, fudgy and utterly decadent. Under the chocolate crust is a pool of chocolate sauce. To turn this into a delicious mocha lava pudding, swap the boiling water in the sauce for a strong, freshly brewed coffee.

Serves Two

You will need

  • 25g butter, plus extra for the dish
  • 20g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 4tsp cocoa powder
  • 4tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg yolk, any size
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 25g self rasing fl our, or
  • 25g plus 1/4tsp baking powder (see Trick of the Trade)
  • a pinch of salt

For the Topping

  • 3tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 4tsp cocoa powder, plus a little extra to finish

For the Sauce

  • 120ml boiling water, or a mixture of boiling water and coffee
  • double cream or whipped cream to serve


Melt the butter, chocolate and half the cocoa powder together in a medium jug/pitcher or bowl in the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, milk, egg yolk and vanilla, then the fl our and a pinch of salt. Transfer to the prepared dish. Mix the topping ingredients in a small bowl with a fork, and sprinkle evenly over the pudding. Finally, carefully pour the boiling water gently over the top.

Bake the unpromising mixture at 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3 for about 35 minutes, until the pudding is firm in places, and gently bubbling. Leave for 5 minutes, dust lightly with cocoa powder, if liked, then serve with cream, because why not?

Trick of the Trade

I know from experience that many a cook gets hot under the collar with regard to plain and self-raising flour. I keep both in my storecupboard, purely for convenience, but you can convert plain to self-rasing by whisking 100g plain flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. It’s that simple – but don’t use bicarbonate of soda by mistake.

While talking flour, scientific experiments have shown that whisking and sifting flour achieve the same thing. By all means sift flour if you wish – hold the sieve high over the bowl if you want to get flour over the entire kitchen – but a quick whisk in the bowl does the same job, believe me.

Recipes taken from Two’s Company by Orlando Murrin, published by Ryland, Peters & Small (£18.99) with photography by Clare Winfi eld.

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