Nadiya Hussain is, without doubt, The Great British Bake Off's most successful winner.

Two years ago this month, the Luton-born mother-of-three first appeared on our TV screens, all wide-eyes and eyebrows, and won the hearts of the nation as well as the competition. You might not remember anything she actually cooked all series, but there isn't a single Bake Off fan who wasn't stirred by her victory speech. "I'm never going to put boundaries on myself ever again," she declared, as we all watched on teary-eyed. "I'm never going to say I can't do it. I can. And I will."

And she has. From fronting her own TV programmes and appearing on talk shows, game shows and cookery shows, to releasing four cookbooks and being asked to bake a cake for the Queen, it's been a decidedly busy 24 months.

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"I can't believe it's been two years already," says the cook, 32, when we meet to discuss her latest project, a TV show and cookbook called Nadiya's British Food Adventure. "I've been so busy, it feels like a bit of a blur. It's all happened so fast. I'm having a blast though!"

She's as lovely in person as she comes across on TV. Those big brown eyes beaming back you as she talks so passionately about food and family life. Claiming "British food has become a melting pot of cuisines and cultures", Nadiya wanted to find out what was being eaten in the hubs of our homes, before getting creative in her own kitchen and coming up with her take on Brit-style cooking.

"Because I'm from Bangladesh, from England, Muslim, a mixture of a little bit of everything, I've always asked myself, 'What makes me British?' And if somebody asks me what British food is, I'd say it's what I eat at home.

"What I ate at home as a child was rice and curry, and then at school, I'd have pie and mash - to me, that's British food. And I think everybody's own experiences shape what British food is for them. So it was really interesting to go on that journey and find out what my interpretation is. And apart from what I grew up with and what I eat now, what I found, travelling between Scotland and Wales and parts of England, is that there's no hard and fast rule. It's actually about what British food has become - all these different cuisines and cultures, and that's exactly what the book's about. It's recipes that I love and think make up what British food is today. I'm really proud of it."

Cooking has always been a big part of Nadiya's life. She started around age 8, "copying her dad", who used to run restaurants, and asking her mum questions in the kitchen.

"My mum is an amazing cook. She was a stay-at-home mum who would cook for all of us [Nadiya has five siblings]. She never wanted us to learn how to cook. She always said, 'No, no, you will not be doomed with a life of cooking for your extended family. Do whatever you want, but don't cook'. She still doesn't enjoy it but she's amazing.

"For me, cooking is about being creative but sharing it as well," Nadiya adds, the royal blue fluted sleeves of her blouse (which she told me earlier were massively impractical when going to the toilet) wafting as she gesticulates. "That's the fun bit - knowing that somebody gets to eat something delicious."

Asked what it is that makes her so likeable and Nadiya is stuck for words. She shrugs her shoulders, cracks a beautiful open smile and says: "I don't know, I'm just me. Whether I'm talking to you, on telly or whatever it is I'm doing, I don't ever try to be anything other than myself. Perhaps that's what people see?

"Having kids means you've got to have a sunny disposition about everything too. I probably wasn't as happy as I am now, but since having them, I've learned to find the good in everything."

And she takes everything in her stride as and when it comes along. There's no life plan. "Nah, I don't set myself any goals," she says, without hesitation. "What's happened over the last two years, I didn't plan for any of it. I didn't plan to go on Bake Off - my husband did the application. I didn't plan on winning it, I just completely fluked that. I never planned anything up to this point, and I think that works because I'm a strong believer in 'here today, gone tomorrow'. I don't believe anything's forever.

"We all have to go and, as morbid as that sounds, that's what makes me enjoy every single day. Life is too short to be doing something you don't love."

Ploughman's cheese & pickle tart

(Serves 8)

Ingredients

350g shortcrust pastry

1tsp paprika

Plain flour, for dusting

4 medium eggs

150ml whole milk

200g Branston pickle (small chunks)

250g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Method

1 Take the block of shortcrust pastry, flatten it out slightly and sprinkle all over with the paprika. Fold the edges in over the top, then knead the pastry until all the paprika is incorporated. If the pastry starts to stick to the worktop, dust with flour.

2 Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 and put a baking tray in to heat up.

3 Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and large enough to cover the base and sides of a 23cm diameter, 3-4cm deep, loose-bottomed flan tin.

4 Line the inside of the tin with the rolled-out pastry. Press it into the edges, right into the grooves, leaving some overhang. Pierce the base all over with a fork. This stops it puffing up while baking.

5 Cover the base and sides with a large piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans to weigh the pastry down. Take the hot baking tray out of the oven and place the prepared tart tin on it.

6 Bake for 25 minutes, then take out of the oven, remove the paper and baking beans, and bake for another 15 minutes.

7 Meanwhile, put your eggs into a jug and lightly whisk. Add the milk and stir.

8 Once the tart shell is out of the oven, spread the pickle all over the base and cover evenly with the grated cheese.

9 Pour in the milky egg mixture and place the whole tray back in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set and golden, with just a very slight wobble in the middle.

10 Once the tart is cool enough to handle, slice off the pastry overhang using a sharp serrated knife. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Summer Fruit Semifreddo

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

400g frozen mixed summer fruits

100g caster sugar

3tbsp water

7 slices of white bread (about 170g), crusts removed, halved lengthways

600ml double cream

2tbsp golden syrup

Method

1 Put the frozen fruit, sugar and water into a medium pan and bring to the boil, then take off the heat. You don't want the fruit to break down too much but you want to extract as much liquid as possible.

2 Drain the fruit through a sieve, making sure to catch all the liquid in a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push through as much liquid as possible. Then leave the liquid to cool completely.

3 Line a 20cm round Pyrex dish with cling film.

4 Dip each piece of bread quickly into the fruit juice mixture and place around the edge of the dish vertically, slightly overlapping each piece with the next to prevent leaking. Do this all around the edges - you should have one piece left. Break that piece down to size, then dip it in the fruit juice and place it in the base of the dish. Set aside.

5 Whip the double cream to soft peaks, then add the golden syrup and mix well. Add the fruit and ripple through gently.

6 Put the cream mixture into the lined bowl and spread it level on top. If any of the bread pieces come up higher than the top of the cream, simply fold them over. Cover the top with cling film and place in the freezer for three hours.

7 To turn out, tip on to a plate and remove all the cling film. Cut into wedges and serve.

Beef skewers with puy lentil & chickpea salad

(Serves 4)

For the beef skewers:

4 beef fillet steaks (approx 600g), very thinly sliced

4tbsp olive oil

Peeled rind and juice of 2 lemons

2 small green chillies

30g fresh coriander, chopped

1tsp salt

For the salad:

1 large clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

1 large red onion, diced

15g fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1tbsp wholegrain mustard

3tbsp olive oil

250g cooked puy lentils (buy a ready-cooked pouch)

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained

Juice of 1 lime

1/4tsp salt

Method

1 Soak eight wooden skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. This will prevent them burning during cooking.

2 Slice the steak lengthways as thinly as possible and set aside in a bowl.

3 Put the oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, chillies, coriander and salt into a food processor. Blitz to a smooth paste, then add the paste to the bowl of steak pieces. Mix well, then cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, make the salad. Put the garlic, onion, coriander, chilli, mustard and oil into a bowl and mix well. Add the lentils and chickpeas. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix through the salt, then cover and set aside.

5 Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9 and lightly grease a roasting dish. Or if you prefer to cook your skewers on a griddle pan, grease it lightly and put it on a medium to high heat to start warming up.

6 Meanwhile, skewer the beef pieces in a zigzag pattern. Do this until you have filled all eight skewers. If you have any leftover marinade, just dab it on top of the beef.

7 Line the skewers on to the greased roasting dish and bake for eight to 10 minutes, making sure to turn them over halfway through. Or, if griddling, put them on the hot pan and cook for three to four minutes on each side.

8 Once cooked, serve the warm beef skewers with the salad alongside.

Nadiya's British Food Adventure by Nadiya Hussain is published by Michael Joseph, priced £20. Available now. The accompanying TV show is on BBC Two on Mondays, and also on BBC iPlayer.