Thursday, 3 August 2017

Bits and bobs bake

I call it this because really you can use whatever you like as long as it's roastable.  I'll detail what I used but you don't have to stick with that.  Amounts are also variable - just think of what you would normally do for the number of people for which you are cooking

Ingredients
Oil
new potatoes, well scrubbed and cut into chunks
courgettes, onions, red or yellow pepper, small tomatoes, all prepped and chunked to same size as spuds
(I would also have used a few cloves of garlic if I'd had any)
some herbs from the garden (I used rosemary and thyme) or dried herbs
salt and pepper

some passata (not much) or make a tomatoey sauce from puree with water.
cooked meat - leftovers are perfect - or some pulses if you want to go vegetarian

grated cheese

Method
In a roasting dish, add the vegetables, seasonings and herbs, pour over some oil (you don't need a lot) and mix to  'ensure maximum retention'  (I've been reading Harry Potter!).  I use my hands for this.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven (about 170 C) until all the veg is soft.
Remove the foil, turn up the heat, stir and pop back in so that they can start browning.  It doesn't take long.
Add the cooked meat and the tomato passata/sauce and mix.
Pop back in the oven until the liquid is bubbling and everything is hot.
Sprinkle over grated cheddar and bake for around ten minutes more.
Serve immediately while bubbly hot.

With what I had, I went all Mediterranean-ish but you could use so many other veg, depending on availability.  A good way to finish off those odds and ends.  Also, really filling.

walnut and mixed seed wholemeal bread

https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/mixed-seed-and-nut-wholemeal-loaf


I've just used the recipe above to make THE most delicious 'posh' bread.  It's the recipe I always use for my breads but with the added nuts and mixed seeds.

I did half amounts to make a 1 lb loaf and it's just as well really because I'm eating it like it's the last loaf on earth.

The halved amounts are:
250g strong wholemeal flour
half tsp fast acting yeast
half tsp each of salt and sugar
a splash of oil
175 mls warm water

45g chopped walnuts and 30g mixed seeds (it looks quite a lot but it is just right)

The method is as in the link except that I cheated and used Thermione for the kneading and the knocking back.

It's so scrummy I can't stop going at it . . . which rather defeats the frugality of it all but never mind.

The basic loaf is very frugal anyway and while the additions take it out of extreme frugality, when you think of what you have to pay for a loaf of that type and quality, it's extremely good value.
Next time I will use half and half wholemeal and granary.

Rhubarb jam

It's been a long time, so sorry.

I had sticks and stacks of rhubarb after we sorted out the rhubarb patch at the allotment.  I froze some but I made some gorgeous rhubarb jam which is very frugal despite the jam sugar because the rhubarb itself was free so I'm sharing it with a clear conscience.




Trim, wipe and chop the rhubarb. Weigh it (important so don't forget)

Stew the rhubarb in a little water in a large pan until soft. I'm lucky enough to have a maslin pan but any large pan would do.
Remove from heat and add the same weight of jam sugar as the rhubarb weighed. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice (from a bottle is fine). Stir well and leave for the sugar to dissolve into the fruit.

While that's doing or when you're ready, whichever is later, thoroughly wash your jam jars and lids. Put the jars on an oven tray in a cool oven (about 80 to 100 C fan) and place two saucers in the fridge to check for set.

Put the fruit/sugar on a lot heat , stirring regularly, until it starts bubbling. Turn up the heat and cook it (still stirring) for about five minutes and then take it off the heat and check for set. If it hasn't reached setting point, boil for another five minutes and check again.  Mine set first time, despite the low pectin.

Rhubarb is low in pectin, but the jam sugar and the lemon juice should sort that one out.

This link is the best article on setting point that I have seen - point 4, the wrinkle test, is what I use and it always works.

http://www.kilnerjar.co.uk/setting-points

Once set, ladle into the warm jars, screw on the clean lids and allow to cool before labelling.


Basically, this is how you make all jam although if the fruit is high pectin I use ordinary granulated (a lot cheaper), not jam sugar.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Chorizo and bean stew

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/simple_chorizo_and_bean_62033

Above is the inspiration for this, taken from the helpful'Eat Well For Less' site.  I really enjoyed those programmes, even if I did get a bit 'frustrated' with the participants at time!  I've taken the recipe and adapted it to match what I have available.

It makes enough for six of my portions

Ingredients:
1 tbsp veg oil* 
72g chorizo, sliced lengthways and each half then sliced thinly (I had some left over which needed using up, hence the odd amount - 70g-100g would be fine, just adjust the cost) 
some onion, roughly chopped (I had half to use up plus one small 'wonky' one) 
100g cooking bacon, chopped 
a squeeze of garlic puree 
1 chicken stock cube 
1 can chopped tomatoes plus half the can of water 
20g drained sundried tomato, chopped (an optional extra but I love the flavour they impart) 
2/3 tin baked beans, rinsed (I had this in the fridge to use up but a whole can would be fine.  I drained them because I didn't want the baked bean sauce taste) 
45g chopped mushrooms 
some dried parsley
some tomato puree 
seasonings, if needed


(*I missed a trick here as I have some sundried tomato oil to use up.  Don't ever throw this away, it is packed with sunshine flavour.)

Method:
Gently saute the onion and chorizo in the oil until the oil runs from the chorizo and everything is a lovely orange shade.  Add the cooking bacon, and continue frying it gently for about five mins, stirring now and again.  Add the garlic puree and cook for another minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes and extra water, the stock cube, the sundried tomato and the rinsed beans with a little grating of black pepper.  Mix well, bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and allow it to simmer, covered, for about half an hour, stirring it now and again to stop any sticking.
Then add the mushroom, parsley and tomato puree, stir well, increase the heat a little and let it bubble, uncovered, so that the mixture thickens a bit, stirring now and again.


Taste, adjust seasonings if necessary (I didn't need to) and it's finished.  Eat with pasta, rice or , maybe, mash. or use as a filling for cannelloni or even on top of a pizza base.  You could do lots of things with it.


I shared it into 6 portions which are, as I type, cooling ready for freezing.  Very flavoursome and very frugal.   I wanted every mouthful to be a real burst of flavour and this certainly fits the bill in that respect!


Friday, 17 February 2017

Pork meatballs in a tomato sauce: frugal

Ingredients for one portion

For the meatballs
cooking bacon, very finely chopped 
1 sausage (I used a higher meat version from Lidl) 
20g dry stuffing mix (I used Morrisons Savers stuffing) 
spray oil 
a little flour

For the sauce
spray oil 
quarter of an onion, thinly sliced 
25g peppers (I used frozen ones from Morrisons because I waste less that way) 
1 or 2 mushrooms, thinly sliced 
squidge of garlic puree 
passata made from last year's tomatoes (or you could use about half a can of chopped tomatoes)  
a squeeze of tomato puree
herbs as liked

Method
The meatballs and sauce can be made in the same pan without needing to wash the pan in between.

Meatballs (start beforehand to allow the bacon and stuffing to cool before mixing with the sausagemeat)

In a pan, gently dry fry the chopped cooking bacon until it is cooked - it won't take very long at all.
Reconstitute the stuffing with a sufficient amount of boiling water - don't make it too sloppy.  No need for salt - the meats are already salty enough
Allow the stuffing and the bacon to cool until just warm.

Remove the skin from the sausage and discard.  In a bowl, mix together the bacon, sausage meat and stuffing.  With floured hands, shape the mix into little meatballs.  I made them big marble sized using a 10ml measuring spoon as they cook faster and it looks as if you have more!

(they're on a tea plate - they're not as huge as they look!)

Spray the pan with oil, pop in the meatballs and gently fry until they are colouring, turning them now and again.
Remove from the pan and keep warm.


Sauce
Before you start the sauce, pop on the spaghetti to cook, then drain and keep warm.

While the spaghetti is cooking, spray oil into the pan, add the onions and fry for a few minutes until they start to soften and change colour.  Then add the peppers, mushroom and squidge of garlic and fry for a bit longer.


Add the passata/chopped tomato and whatever herbs you want to use plus a tiny bit of salt.  Bring up to a simmer, add the meatballs and let it all simmer gently away until the passata has reduced a bit and thickened.  Taste and season if needed.  If you want to add a squidge of tomato puree, do so.  I did.


Taste and adjust seasoning.
Toss in the spaghetti.  Serve.


(a bit of hard Italian cheese (called Not Parmesan in my home) would be nice grated over - or some of the genuine stuff)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Home made spicy wedges

I made these yesterday, some to eat and some to freeze.  Really nice so I'm sharing.

Ingredients
some floury potatoes, suitable for roasting - mine were Maris Pipers
spray oil

For the spicy coating
equal amounts of smoked paprika, garam masala and garlic salt, mixed together

Method:
I didn't peel the potatoes as they were sound apart from a few sprouts which I rubbed off.

Cut the potatoes into wedges.
Steam cook them for about seven minutes.  I prefer to steam than to boil as they don't end up so wet.  It's like par-boiling them.

Spread them out to steam dry and cool.

When they are cooler, put them in a bag with the spice mix and gently toss them in the mix until coated.

Spread them out on a tray that will fit into your freezer with parchment underneath tp prevent them sticking.  Cover with cling film and open freeze until hard.  Then pop them into a labelled bag.

To cook, preheat the oven to about 180C (fan) and spread out what you want on an oven tray (I do it on parchment as it makes the tray a lot easier to clean afterwards and prevents sticking.
Spray with oil - I have a spray oil gizmo that I find incredibly useful - see below.
Bake until cooked and nice and brown and crisp on the outside.
Serve immediately.

They really are tasty and so much better value than the ones you buy.  You can do a whole lot at a time and you can ring the changes with the spices.  I might do a bit of research and pick up some other ideas

And here's the oil gizmo with a link, although I am sure you can buy them elsewhere too.  I'm going to get another one for my olive oil as the one I have is for veg oil.  There's no excess use of the oil, making it a frugal and health aid.

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/70289/Misto-Oil-Sprayer

I ought to add that I'm a great fan of Lakeland produce but I have no commercial links with them.  I haven't been asked to do any kind of review and I bought my own sprayer quite a while ago now.



Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tomato and lentil soup

Tomato and lentil soup

Ingredients to make two portions
half a smallish onion, chopped
about 25g celery, chopped
a small carrot, chopped (no need to peel unless the peel is manky)
a splash of oil (I used some oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes that needs using up)
a squidge of garlic puree (or a small clove, crushed)
a can of chopped tomatoes and half a can full of water (use the water to wash around the can so none is wasted)
some vegetable stock  (a stock pot, stock powder, whatever you have)
a couple of pieces of sundried tomato (optional – see above)
20g dried red lentils
a grinding of pepper (I don’t add salt until the end because the stock usually makes it salty enough for me)
a pinch of dried herbs (I use mixed herbs)
a good splash of milk
A squidge of chopped tomatoes

Method.
You can bung everything in together except for the milk), simmer it all gently until the lentils are cooked and the vegetables are soft, then zizz it down, add the milk and tomato puree (if using) and push it through a sieve if you want to, before bringing back to just under a boil and serving.  See below for other adjustments.

Or this is what I do.
Put the three veg in a saucepan with the oil and saute until they are softening and just turning golden.  Add the garlic right at the end, in the last few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and water, the stock, the sundried tomatoes (if using), the lentils, pepper and herbs.  Bring up to a gentle boil, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked and the veg is soft (15 to 20 mins).

Zizz the soup until it is all blended, add the milk and water if the texture is too thick and taste.  If there’s a slight bitterness, add a pinch of sugar.  If it needs salt, add some.  I didn’t need either but you never know.

It is fine to eat now, re-heated, but I like a very smooth tomato soup so I then push the lot through a sieve.  It just traps the bits that haven’t zizzed and I prefer it that way but you don’t have to.