Monday, 30 September 2013

Half a recipe: a very nice crumble bottom

Better than one of Mr Hollywood's soggy bottoms anyway!

I simmered some Victoria plums in demerara sugar for too long and they went all liquid.  So I peeled, cored and sliced a cooking apple and ditto for a pear that was refusing to soften.  In they went with a titchy bit more sugar.  Finally I added a small handful of dried cranberries.

It was absolutely delicious so I'm sharing it.  I suppose I could call it 'Autumn fruit crumble'

Store cupboard Monday

Loads of stuff left over from the weekend so here we go!

B:  Toast with home made jam
L:  Turkey sarnie, mini tomatoes, banana cake
D: turkey pie, runner beans, courgettes, mixed fruit crumble and custard


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Recipe: banana loaf

I have to start with an apology.  I found this recipe on the internet somewhere.  It might have been a blog, it might not, I don't remember.  I've googled and can't find it.  I'm very cross with myself and if anyone knows where it came from, please do let me know so full credit can be given.
It's the very nicest and simplest recipe for banana bread I have ever made.  Usually, banana bread tends to be pudding-y whereas this is much more cake-y, which is what I like, and there's a good banana flavour coming through.

I adapted it for Thermione so will give both methods.

Ingredients: (with apologies for the old fashioned imperial measurements)
3 oz margarine (I suppose butter would do too)
3 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium banana, peeled
5 oz SR flour
a pinch of salt

Whisk together the margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and banana.  Then fold in the flour and salt.
Bake in a suitably sized loaf tin at 180C for about 40 to 45 mins - until it's done!  I used a paper liner.

That's it!

Or, if you are lucky enough to have a Thermomix:

Place the margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and banana in the bowl and puree at speed 5-6 for about 10 seconds or so, until it is a batter.

Add the flour and reverse stir at speed 2-3 until the flour in incorporated.  You might need to push down the sides with the spatula.

Bake as above.

There's lots of variations: you could add chocolate or I think some crystallised, chopped ginger would go well, for example.  But it's really lovely just as it comes, very easy, very simple.  Also pretty frugal.  I used value flour and it rose fine.

Definitely one to do again.

Edited on Sunday to say I've found the source but it's not attributal as such.  If you go to Shirley Goode's blog, it is here, in the comments third comment down, from Kate, who says it was going the rounds a long time ago.
It's a good blog although it takes ages to read.  Shirley is a character!!!

Definitely NOT cheaper than chips storecupboard weekend

. . . and I'm not the least bit sorry!  I have visitors and we are going to enjoy ourselves and be very grateful that we can!

B:  Hot buttered toast with spiced apple cheese (utterly delicious)
L:  tomato soup (tinned, sorry, but it's been a busy week and I need a rest as much as anyone) with baguette followed by banana bread or fresh fruit.
D: Out to the Hare.  Yesssssss!

B:  toast with things to spread
L:  something at Hyde Hall
D:  turkey and mushroom pie with fried potatoes, carrots and runner beans, cranberry sauce and a few solitory pigs in plankets that didn't get used last Christmas.  Then apple and plum crumble with custard, scrummy stuff!

Actually, most of the home meals are storecupboard things, in fact, looking at the menu.  Maybe not as bad as it sounds.

Recipe: plum jam with star anise

Very delicious and definitely cheaper than chips when someone gives you the plums!!  The star anise gives it a delicious tang, nothing over the top, just a hint of the spicy stuff.  One of the easier jams to make.

900g prepared plums (washed, cut in half, stone taken out)
900g (ish - I used a little less, in fact) sugar
150 ml water
1 or 2 star anise (I used two but they are quite old.  If it's a fresh packet, one would suffice)

Place the prepared plums, the star anise and the water in a preserving (or other large) pan, bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes or so until the plums are soft.
Remove from the hob and when the simmering has stopped remove the star anise and add the sugar, stirring well.  Then just leave it to dissolve, which it will do without any need to stir.
While it's doing that, get your jam jars and sterilise them and put two saucers in the fridge for testing the setting point (if that's the way you test).
Just before you start boiling the jam, pop the sterilised jars into a warm oven (about 120C)
When the sugar has all dissolved and you're ready to start, bring it back to a good boil for about five minutes, then test for set.  If it isn't setting, boil again for five minutes.  Repeat until setting point is reached, scrape off any scum, then carefully ladle into the hot jars, seal and label.

Mine set the first time - must remember to take the second saucer out of the fridge!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Store cupboard Wednesday

Well no, not really.  I'm thinking of having a school dinner today as I do occasionally.  We have our own kitchens and the meals the cooks serve up can be delicious.  Not restaurant quality, obviously, but a good 'home cooked' meal for £2.50 (main and dessert) isn't to be sniffed at!

Today it is roast turkey with veg, Yorkshires and roast potatoes.  Makes me feel hungry just thinking about it.  Then, when I get home, I can use up some of the eggs and veg in a frittata type thing.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Recipe: slow cooker spiced apple butter

Borrowed from Google Images
I was wandering around some of the blogs I so enjoy visiting and reading now and again and my eye alighted on something on the right.  I clicked and arrived here, at a recipe for slow cooker spiced apple butter.  Having just sung the praises of my retro slow cooker I was intrigued and decided to have a go.  It's even better that I had some apples left that a friend gave me plus all the other ingredients needed.  Perfickly frugal!

I won't reproduce the recipe here as you can see it via the link, but I was just a little nervous about leaving it gently simmering away all day while I was at school.  However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes, so this morning I set it all up, gave it the hour on high, turned it to low and left for school.  When I came home I used Thermione to blend it down to a very smooth, buttery consistency and poured it into jars.

And now I wait to see if it will set.  If it doesn't I can either boil it up until it does gloop or it will be great for sauce or to make ice cream, etc..  Can't lose really.

Oh, and most important, it tastes wonderful!

The blog I got it from - Allotment to Kitchen - is lovely.  It has some intriguing and delicious looking recipes and is well worth a visit.  Go on, take a look!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Storecupboard Monday

B:  banana bread with blackberry and apple jam.
L:  beany tomato mix with pasta, fruit, tomatoes
D:  Savoury mince pie, runner beans, carrots, spiced stewed plums with yoghurt

Most of this is leftovers.
The banana bread is from the freezer and the jam is actually what I scraped from the top as 'scum' but it still tastes great!
The beany mix is the leftovers of what I made Beth for dinner yesterday.
The pie, beans and plums are also leftovers and the carrots will be fresh pulled from the garden.

How's that for eating like a queen on pennies!!!

One more thing - the Thermomix pastry worked like a dream.  Cheers!!!  I can now make pastry!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Recipe: seedless apple and blackberry jam

Borrowed from Google Images
I was given apples and blackberries so I felt perfectly OK about using more expensive jam sugar for this, but ordinary sugar is fine.
I was dealing with dinner while making the jam so it all got done in sections, not continuously.  It works just as well.

About 800g or blackberries and 800g of cooking apples
jam water
the juice of half a lemon

Put the blackberries into a large pan.  Wash and chop the apples, discarding any bad bits.  Add them to the pan too.  No need to peel or core.
Just cover the fruit with water and simmer until the blackberries are soft.  Push the resulting goo through a fine sieve or a mouli (a sieve makes for a smoother texture)
OR, if you want a jelly, mash the mixture and allow it to drip through a jelly bag or a muslin cloth in a sieve without pushing anything through.  I prefer the jam to the jelly as there's less waste.

Measure the liquid and allow 100g sugar for each 100mls of liquid.

If you're going to make the jam straight away, now's the time to pop two saucers in the fridge if that's how you test for set, and wash and heat the jam jars in the oven at around 120C.  If you're using lids, make sure they are good and clean too.

Place the liquid in a maslin pan or any large pan.  Pour in the sugar.  Slowly heat, stirring continuously, until all the sugar has dissolved.
(I tend to warm up the liquid, take it off the heat, stir in the sugar and just leave it to dissolve slowly.  It just needs a stir now and again.)
Then add the lemon juice, bring the lot to a boil and allow to boil away, stirring fairly often, for about five minutes.  Then turn the heat right down and test for setting point using whatever method suits you.  If it's not set, turn the heat up again and re-boil for about five minutes before retesting.

When the jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat and stir in a knob of butter to disperse any scum.  Scrape off any scum that is left and have it on hot buttered toast - it's delicious..

Carefully ladle the hot jam into the jars, pop over a waxed disc and screw on the lid very firmly.  Leave to cool and don't forget to label each pot with name and date.  You think you are going to remember, but you don't!

Store in a cool dark place.  It seems to last for ever!

Not very storecupboard Sunday!

B:  Eggs in some shape or form, lots of them because I have loads and loads!
D:  Savoury mince pie, runner beans, carrots, fried potatoes.  Stewed plums, yoghurt or cream.
T:  Something else eggy.

I'm useless with pastry - always have been.  I don't know why: maybe it's my warm hands, my technique, I have no idea but I've never managed a really successful short pastry.  However, today I am going to have a go with Thermione, accepting that it might be a total waste of ingredients.  And just in case, I have a block of ready made, which won't be wasted because if, by any remote, chance, I don't use it, I will freeze it in singpe portions.

I have loadsa tomatoes so I'm thinking of making a BBQ sauce I found on Thermoblitz, one of the Thermomix pages on Facebook.  I'll let you know!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Recipe: roasting a chicken in the slow cooker

There are loads of different ways but this is what I did.

Chop up a couple of onions and a carrot and throw it all into the slow cooker.  Add any seasonings you want plus a goodly glug of white wine.
Place the chicken, breast side down, in the slow cooker and put on the lid.
Cook for as long as you want!!  I have three settings, low, high and auto (which starts on high and then switches to low).  I cooked it overnight and it made the house smell absolutely wonderful but it was in too long - the chicken absolutely fell off the bone as soon as the knife touched it. delicious though and melt in the mouth texture.  I then boiled up the remains and got another nice lot of stock.

If you roast it for about six hours, I gather you can then take out the chicken, put it breast up in a roasting dish and slam it in a hot oven for about five to ten minutes to brown the skin.

I shall do it this way again - it works - and next time I shall try different seasonings.  I love lemon with chicken.

And later on, I am making a soup with the second stock.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Recipe: slow cooker mince

This made a really delicious batch of savoury mince.  It was quite frugal because I had bought the mince on a very special offer from Aldi.
The ingredient list looks long but it's mostly basics and veg I had in the fridge.  The only thing I bought specially for it was the wine. You could use any veg you fancied really.

a splash of oil
2 small onions, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, de-seeded and chopped
some courgette (I used half of a big one), peeled and chopped and I also removed the seeds.
1 potato, peeled and chopped (because I had it in the fridge and it needed using)
1 chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
some mini tomatoes
300g beef mince
garlic puree
a good glug of red wine
a can of chopped tomatoes
a handful or orange lentils
a handful of porridge oats
salt, pepper, dried mixed herbs
a good tbsp marigold vegetable stock powder
tomato puree

In a large pan, heat the oil and saute the onion, carrot, pepper, courgette and potato until slightly softened.  Tip into the slow cooker and turn it on.  Add the mini-tomatoes.
Fry the mince, breaking it up in the pan as it browns.  Add the chilli and fry a little longer.
Pour in the red wine, the chopped tomatoes and half a can of water.  Bring to a simmer and add to the slow cooker.
Stir in the lentils, oats, seasonings and stock.
Put on the lid and cook on slow for ages - I did mine overnight.
In the morning (or many hours later) revel in the savoury aroma pervading the house before stirring and checking seasonings.  Add the tomato puree (I used about half a tube) and stir well.

That should be it.  You should have a hot, savoury, deliciously thick mince mixture that will be great for all sorts of meals.  I had some yesterday over chopped new potatoes.  Today I'm having some on rice.
You could add more chilli and some kidney beans for a con carne, you could top it with potato or crumble or pastry, you could use it in a lasagne or have it over pasta.  Lovely and useful.  And it freezes well!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Store cupboard month: Wednesday

Comfort food day.

B: porridge
L:  savoury mince with new potatoes, fruit
D:  roast chicken, vegetables, pineapple and yoghurt

I got the old (very old) slow cooker out and over Monday night I slow roasted a chicken and last night I made a pot of savoury mince with loadsa veg.  Mmmmmmmmmmm
(some will be going back in the freezer again)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Storecupboard month: Tuesday

B: porridge
L: ham and baked beans, tomatoes, fruit
D: roast chicken, new potatoes, runner beans

Monday, 16 September 2013


The cold and blustery weather has clicked the comfort food urge on so this morning I shivered my way out to the shed and removed from the freezer a chicken and a block of mince.  The chicken I shall slow roast in the slow cooker and I will make a big pot of savoury mince with lentils and loadsa veg.  I'll add my one ripe chilli to it for some zing too!

And then most of it gets frozen again!  :-)

Store cupboard month

See the change of name?  It's been going so badly recently I need to straighten up and get back in control again. So here goes, hopefully for the rest of the month.

B:  bacon and tomatoes
L:  ham roll, more tomatoes, red pepper sticks, fruit,
D: ham pizza with lotsa veg on top

It's all store cupboard and beautifully frugal because:
The tomatoes are from the garden
The roll is from the freezer
The ham was given to me by mum and dad - some of the joint we had on Saturday - and needs using up fairly quickly
The pizza dough is from the freezer, as is the tomato sauce and grated cheese
The veg (onion, mushroom and pepper) are in the fridge
The fruit is in the fruit bowl
Photo from here and it's a recipe I might try sometime too.
Fingers crossed I can stick with it.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Home, sweet home.

I've been away up to mum and dad's.  The most frugal way is when someone else pays, isn't it.  Oh, I've eaten well!  Home baked ham, steak and kidney pie (great timing after we went to see a concert performance of Sweeney Todd!!), scrummy.

Home now and I need to plan the coming week's food.  I brought some ham back with me so I reckon ham, eggs and chips will do the trick very nicely for this evening.  Thanks, lovely parents!

Saturday, 14 September 2013


. . . or 'what I made with zillions of tomatoes'.

All that's needed is a good glug of olive oil (not EVOO though) and your tomatoes.

Put both in a large pan and heat.  Cover and zizzle slowly (juice comes out so after a while it is simmering really) for a while.

Then push first through a mouli to get the big bits out and then through a fine mesh sieve to remove the remaining little seeds (it's surprising how many there are).

That's it.  I will season at point of using with whatever I want.  For now it's going into the freezer.  It looks and tastes great. Just tomato, home grown and flavoursome.

(with thanks to Diane for the info)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight

B:  don't ask!!!
L: beans on toast, apple
D:  freezer meal, probably lasagne as it's been  so dull and I need comfort!

I seem to have not posted yesterday.  So sorry, I've been very busy!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 10--9-13

B:  bacon and tomatoes
L:  beans on toast, tomatoes, piece of fruit
D: pork curry and dhal, pineapple and yoghurt

water, decaf, fruit tea, playtime fruit as a morning snack

I hate there being no time to check out new recipes but there you go!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 9-9-13

Still loadsa tomatoes!

B:  porridge with tomatoes - no, not really, pineapple and yoghurt will do!
L:  vegetable pasta (left over from yesterday), piece of fruit, mini tomatoes
D: veg omelette (left over from yesterday) with a side salad and potato salad (and tomatoes!)

Or I may swap lunch and dinner around.

Still plenty to go!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Recipe: Roasted tomato sauce: cheaper than chips

If you have a glut of home grown tomatoes, this recipe really is cheaper than chips.  If you don't, it isn't!

There are loads of ways of making a tomato sauce.  My blogging friend, Diane, cooks hers in a pan after frying some garlic in olive oil first.  I will do her way next time, I think.  This is what I did yesterday.

Ingredients: (amounts are vague - I didn't weigh or count the tomatoes, for example)
tomatoes (halved if they are not too small)
A small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
A red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a very good glug of olive oil
some good vegetable stock, such as marigold
herbs to own taste - I used some mixed herbs

I didn't add salt or pepper as the sauce was destined for the freezer.  I will add those when I use the sauce.  Diane also suggests adding a very little sugar to dispel any bitterness.

In a roasting dish add the tomatoes, onion, red pepper and garlic.  Pour over a good glug of olive oil and mix it all well.

Pop the lot into a moderate oven (about 140-160) and roast slowly, stirring occasionally, until the mix is starting to char at the edges and everything is soft.
Add some boiling water and some stock powder, stir well and pop back in the oven for about 15 mins.

Pour and 'push' the lot through a mouli using the finest setting.  This will catch all the pips, skin, etc.  I encouraged the last flavour through with a little more boiling water as the sauce was thick enough to cope with it.  Next time, I will try zizzing in Thermione first before pushing it through a sieve, just to see if there's any difference.  There might be a little bitterness but perhaps a little sugar will take care of that.  Worth a try, anyway.

That's it!  I put single portions into little pots, lids on, bagged up and in the freezer they went.  Well, yes, I did taste first.  Very nice too.

Store cupboard fortnight: 8-9-13

B: most likely bacon and tomato, possibly porridge.
L:  vegetable omelette with runner beans for me and Beth; pork steak with tomatoes and runners for Alex; fruit for dessert
D:  Not sure but I think pasta with more lovely home made tomato sauce and vegetables.

I've broken the store cupboard rules a few times this last week so I reckon the fortnight ought to start here and now!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 7-9-13

It's tomato day today!

B: bacon and tomatoes
L:  salad with - tomatoes!!
D:  A tomato/veg sauce with home made pasta - yum.

. . . because they still keep coming, and there's loads more yet.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 6-9-13

B:  Porridge, pineapple and yoghurt
L:  Tuna dip, crackers, carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, pineapple and yoghurt
D:  freezer meal (home made), mini tomatoes, plum

Water, decaf, playtime fruit, mini tomatoes

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 5-9-13

Yesterday went fine as long as we ignore the cake in the evening.  It was a store cupboard (aka freezer) item so that was OK, but not so good from the healthy eating perspective!
Today features tomatoes.  Gorgeous, sweet, juicy, flavoursome, mini-tomatoes.  Not so much  store cupboard but garden!

B:  poached egg on a bed of tomatoes (fried or roasted, I need to decide!)
L:  Tuna dip with carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, slice of cake, plum
D:  Hairy Dieters freezer meal, rice, strawberry yoghurt

Decaf, water, more tomatoes!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Store cupboard fortnight: 4-9-13

No blips yesterday, thank goodness.

B:  Bacon and tomato
L:  tomato and tuna pasta (with pasta left over from yesterday and tomatoes from the garden so a change from the planned lunch)
D: chicken in lemon and coriander, runner beans, courgettes, rice pudding

playtime fruit, water, decaf and fruit tea.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Store-cupboard fortnight: 3-9-13

Slight slip up yesterday evening but back on track today.

B:  porridge with pineapple and yoghurt
L:  last of the tortilla, carrot sticks, mini tomatoes, apple (because I forgot to make flapjack biscuits yesterday - ooops)
D:  chicken in lemon and coriander, runner beans, courgette, rice pudding

Playtime fruit, water, decaf, fruit tea

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 2-9-13: store cupboard fortnight

The meals are all planned, up to Friday anyway, and I know I have everything I need.  Lots of frugality there too.

Here's today's meals B:  poached egg on a crumpet, pineapple and yoghurt
L: vegetable tortilla and salad, apple
D:  cheese and onion drop scones, bacon, fried tomatoes, pineapple and yoghurt (again)

No snacks if possible and drinks are decaf and water.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Cheaper than chips menu: 1-9-13

Breakfast:  porridge with fruit and yoghurt
Lunch:  vegetable tortilla, salad, coleslaw
Dinner:  any leftover tortilla with runner beans and broccoli

Yesterday I made six single portion lasagnas for the freezer - perfect for tired evenings.

Today I will make the first batch of tomato sauce from the freezer, based on the roasted tomato mixture from earlier in the week but then pushed through the mouli to get rid of the skin and seeds.  Yum!