Saturday, 30 November 2013

Recipe: accidental pork

I meant to get beef mince out of the freezer and I got out pork mince instead.  How stupid.

This is what I did yesterday, cooked in the slow cooker

I chopped two smallish onions, two medium carrots and about an inch of a celery stick (whole stick, not just one rib) and sauted it all in some oil and butter.  Then they went in the slow cooker bowl.

To the pan I added a squeeze of garlic and half a tsp each of cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon.  I fried it out and then put it in the SC too.
Then in went the pork mince to brown before being added to the rest.
I boiled a can of chopped tomatoes and added them, than popped in some marigold stock powder, some water, some lentils and some oats, some salt, pepper and a dollop of balsamin vinegar.
After stirring it all round, I left it on low all day while at work.

In the evening I added some tomato puree and checked the seasoning.  It was quite nice and I had some under mash.

Today I want more veg in it so I intend to saute some red/yellow peppers with some mushrooms and chilli before adding them to the mix.  I might also add some frozen peas and a dash of red wine before heating the lot to a simmer and allowing it to gently steep for a while.

What a right mix, but I bet it will taste OK!!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Super soups

As you may have gathered from the last several posts, I am a bit of a soup fan.  I reckon there's nothing better than a hearty, healthy home made soup on these cold, dull and damp winter days.  Lettuce time is over and gone.
Borrowed from Google
If you have a few veg, a can of chopped tomatoes and some seasonings and stock, you have the makings of a great soup.  Add some pulses and it's a meal in a bowl.  Shreds of left over meat or some grated cheese over and it's gourmet.  Well, maybe not entirely but you know what I mean!

Let's forget about Thermione for now.  the basic process is this.
1.  Chop up your veg and saute them in a little oil or butter until they are soft and cooked.  Try not to brown them although it's not a disaster if you do!

2.  If you're adding spices, add them now and cook them out for a short time.  Ditto for fresh garlic and fresh chilli.

3.  Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock (or stock powder and water).  Unless your stock is totally unsalty, don't add any more salt now but pepper is a different matter!

4.  If you're using lentils or canned pulses add them now too.

5.  Bring to the boil, add herbs if you want, cover and simmer until everything is soft.

6.  You could eat it just as it is, chunky, or you could mash it up or, for a really smooth soup, zizz it with a stick thingy or in a blender.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If adding shreds of cooked meat, now is the time to add them: stir them in and they will heat very quickly

A few notes:
Check the chopped tomatoes as tomato seeds taste bitter and value chopped tomatoes can contain seeds.  If necessary, push the contents through a sieve.  You don't have to use tomatoes and I don't always but it adds a good flavour.

Butter beans make for a delicious, creamy, smooth texture.

Sometimes it can come out very thick, especially if you cool the soup for reheating next day.  You can slacken with water, but slackening with milk adds a creaminess which is very pleasant.  A dash of cream is luxury itself!

I almost always use onion, carrot and celery as the base.  The Hairy Bikers call it a 'trinity' and certainly they can make for a great flavour but really you can use other veg too - potato makes for a good texture and peppers go well with lentils and tomatoes.

Good stock = good soup (usually!)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Using up carrots: frugal:

OK, so you could make one of the recent soups I have posted, all of which are incredibly tasty, but suppose you don't fancy soup.
If you have a freezer there's no problem.  Freeze them.

This is what I do.
1.  Prepare your carrots as normal and cut into chunks - I always cut them into roasting chunks as that's really what I use frozen carrots for.

2.  Place in a saucepan with water, bring to a boil and simmer for around ten minutes, maybe a little less.  You want them heated through but not cooked!

3.  Drain and cool.  you could plunge into iced water but I don't bother, I just let them cool in the sieve.

4.  Get a baking tray that will fit in your freezer.  Start with a sheet of easy leave or other suitable surface.  Spread the carrots out so they are not touching.  if necessary, lay over another sheet of easy leave and make a second layer (or more if necessary).

5.  Cover your top layer and place the lot in the freezer to 'open freeze'/

6.  The next day, when it's all nicely frozen, pour the carrots into a poly bag, such out the air and seal with a baggie or whatever.

Use as you would use any other frozen veg.  I particularly use them for roasted carrots, just pop then frozen into a roasting dish with the oil already heated, toss in the oil and roast as you would anything else.

I did this yesterday with the rest of the carrots from the garden and that's my Christmas dinner roasted carrots sorted.  I shall do the potatoes today, in the same way, except that I dredge them in flour before open freezing because they then go extra crunchy when they are roasted.  And when Beth brings round the parsnips I will ditto for them too.  It all makes for a much easier Christmas morning for the cook.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Recipe: Carrot and butterbean soup: Thermomix: frugal

Made with what I had available . . . the usual method is below.

1 medium onion, peeled and chunked
six or seven carrots, peeled if necessary and chunked
Three 'rounds' of celery (I don't separate the celery ribs, I just cut across  the top - using the leaves is fine) - check for grit
about 40g butter
a good half tsp ground coriander
1 good tsp cumin
1 large can butterbeans, drained
2.5 tbsp marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon powder
ground pepper


Place the onion, carrot, celery, butter, coriander and cumin in the bowl and chop at speed 5-6 for a short time.
Cook at 90, 10 mins, speed 2

Add the remaining ingredients with water to reach to about 1.75 litres with the other ingredients
Cook at Varoma heat, speed 2/3 for about 16 minutes.

Allow to cool
Puree at speed 8/9 for a good time - over two minutes - until the soup is velvety smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings (I didn't need to, nor did I add any salt)

When I reheat it tomorrow for Sunday lunch, I will add a dash of cream.

Ordinary method.
In a large saucepan:
Chop all the veg into dice
Saute in the butter until soft
Add the spices and saute again for a short time.
Add the remaining ingredients (I guess it would be about 1-ish litres of water)
Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins until everything is cooked and soft.
Puree using a stick blender or a processor.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary

What will I have with it?  Why, these, of course.  Five strand plaited loaves.  I'm getting the hang of plaiting now!   These loaves are made with 150g oats (finely ground) and 350g strong white.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Recipe: Spicy carrot and lentil soup: Thermomix and frugal

Another soup.  You see, I have friends over for a lunch tomorrow and I also want all my lunches this week to be made and ready.  It's going to be a very busy week!

For such simple ingredients, this turned out very flavoursome, smooth and warming.  Definitely frugal. at between 25p and 30p per serving (a bit vague because I used cupboard ingredients mostly)  With a good chunk of bread (home made!), that's a filling lunch for under 50p.

an onion, peeled and cut into chunks
some celery, not too much, cut into chunks
about 600g carrot, topped, tailed, washed and chunked
a good half tsp or so of cumin
about 100-ish g red lentils
2 tbsp marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon
a squeeze of garlic puree
boiling water

Put the onion, celery and carrot into the Thermomix bowl and chop for about 10 second on speed 6
Add a lump of butter and the cumin and briefly zizz again to distribute it

Cook on 90, speed 2 for about 7 minutes

Add the lentils, the bouillon powder, the garlic puree and enough boiling water to just below the full mark

Cook on Varoma, speed 2/3, about 16 mins.  You can always give it a little longer if necessary.

Allow to cool for a while, then zizz at speed 8 for 2 mins.  If it is a little too thick, add more water or some milk.

Reheat to piping hot and serve with whatever you fancy really.

It makes about seven good servings (assuming two ladels-full per serving)  It doesn;t have salt or pepper except what is in the bouillon, but it can be added at the end, if needed.

The usual method:
Chop the vegetables finely
Saute them in a large pan in the butter with the cumin.
Add the lentils, bouillon, garlic puree and about 1 litre of boiling water, maybe more.
Simmer until cooked and zizz until smooth.  Check seasonings and adjust, if necessary

Recipe: Vegetable and lentil soup: a thermomix recipe: frugal

1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 carrots, peeled or scraped and cut into chunks
1 medium leek, root and top cut off, cur into chunks.
Celery - I use one celery, cut off the very top and discarded, then cut across the top three times, to use the green celery and leaves
some butter (I supposed I used about 40g)
2 medium-small potatoes, peeled and cut into dice
2 or 3 handfuls of lentils
two heaped tbsp Marigold stock (I use the low sodium kind)
A squeeze of garlic puree and a squeeze of chilli puree
Some dried mixed herbs
A good grinding of pepper
boiling water

Into the Thermomix bowl put the carrots, onion, celery and leek and chop on 4 for about 10 seconds.  Add the butter and chop again to distribute the butter.

Add the potatoes
Cook at 90, speed 2 for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, marigold, garlic and chilli purees, herbs and pepper.  Fill up to the maximum mark with boiling water.
Cook on Varoma, speed 2/3 for around 20 mins.

It's nice just like this with the bits but if you prefer a smooth soup (I do), allow the mixture to cool a little and then zizz on 8 for 2 minutes.

Serve piping hot with swirls of cream on top.  To eat later, cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

I added no more salt, it wasn't necessary, even with low sodium stock.  I will serve it with bread or croutons and with some grated cheese.   Scrummy!

Variation:  make with a good chicken stock and add shreds of cooked chicken to the soup as you are heating it up.  Obviously, it won't be vegetarian friendly then.

To make it the normal way, melt the butter in a large pan, add the vegetables (which need to be more finely chopped, and saute them gently for a while.  Add the remaining ingredients and water to make for a total volume of around 2 litres.  Cover and simmer until everything is soft, then blend to make a smooth soup.

I haven't costed it out but it can't be very expensive, it has be be fairly frugal and it's good for using up vegetables that are a bit tired.  The only thing that is not so good is the colour!

Melba toast

Not exactly a recipe really, frugal in one sense and decidedly unfrugal in another sense!!

I had quite a lot of bread left over this week.  I had intended to freeze some but didn't get round to it and I don't need breadcrumbs.

I very thinly sliced the bread (it was plaited loaves and firm enough to slice really very thinly indeed) and laid each slice on a baking sheet lined with one of my faithful teflon sheets.  i then popped it into the non-fan part of my oven set on the very lowest heat I possibly could.  The intention was to take itn out before I went to bed but - ooops - I was so sleepy I forgot!  However, being the lowest possible heat, no harm was done except to the electricity bill and I have no idea whatsoever how much electricity my oven uses at its very lowest setting, not a clue!
However, when I woke this morning and was lying in bed reading, it suddenly came back to me and for a moment I panicked before realising that it had to be OK or there would be, at the very least, a bad burning pong over the house!

You know what - they're absolutely delicious!  Light and crunchy all the way through and just very lightly coloured to a sort of beige.  However, I do need to try and work out how much the electricity was - any ideas how I can?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

This and that

Yesterday I made butter from last week's left-over cream as described here.  I also made wholemeal oat bread as described here except that I used wholemeal, not white, flour and I made a plaited loaf rather than rolls.
This morning I am having wholemeal bread and butter with cheese and chutney for breakfast.  An odd breakfast, sure, but everything but the cheese is home made.  The chutney is quite old so very, very flavoursome and goes perfectly with the nuttiness of the bread and the creamy (over-salted) butter.

The chutney is a Delia recipe.  it is called Christmas Chutney and you can find it here.  It's one of those chutneys that just gets better and better and better over time and it is now absolutely wonderful.  I first made it as gifts for family many years ago and it was such a hit I have made it several times since.  I shudder to think how old the batch I am eating right now is, but it doesn't matter with chutney!

Today Beth is coming over with red cabbages from her allotment and we are having a mega 'Delia's braised red cabbage with apple' making session.  It's a wonderful recipe, spicy and fruity and full of flavour and we always have it as part of our Christmas dinner main course.   I think she expects us to make loads as she wants quite a lot to go in her freezer as well as for Christmas dinner for eight.
Here is the recipe - do take a look:  it's well worth a try.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Recipe: vegetarian sausage rolls

This is an old recipe, a Delia recipe.  It's a family favourite that Mum has made for years and years now.  They are so popular that they all get eaten while the normal sausage rolls (also delicious and also home made) don't really get a look in.

It's not particularly frugal, as such, but it's certainly not expensive, especially if you use value strong cheese' herbs from the garden and have your own breadcrumbs in the freezer by zizzing up bread that is a bit past it!

Here's a link to the original recipe.  I hasten to add that I did NOT make the pastry, I bought a block of puff pastry from Morrisons which I rolled out really very thin indeed - you know what puff pastry is like!!  I also used Thermione for the 'grating'/zizzing but any processor would make light work of it all.

 Vegetarian 'Sausage Rolls'
Photo taken from Delia's site - please do go over there are take a look - it's brilliant with so much information and advice.  My sausage rolls were filled more than these and were very rounded.

Delia’s vegetarian sausage rolls

Ingredients to make about 36
A block of puff pastry - or you could be a glutton for punishment and make your own as Delia's original recipe does, I suppose.  Not for me though!
For the filling:
10 oz (275 g) fresh breadcrumbs - dried breadcrumbs just don't wing it but they can be fresh and then frozen

8 oz (225 g) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 large onion, grated
3 tbsp thick double cream - I used creme fraiche because that's what I had in the fridge
1 level tbsp fresh chopped herbs (chives, parsley, thyme, etc) - I used parsley, chives, sage and rosemary because that's what I have in the garden right now - or you could use dried mixed herbs.
1.5 level tsp mustard powder
good pinch cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C) or 200°C fan

For the filling, simply place all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl, season well and mix very thoroughly. Then roll out the pastry on a floured surface to form an oblong (as thin as you can). Cut this oblong into three strips and divide the filling also into three, making three long rolls the same length as the strips of pastry (if it's sticky, sprinkle on some flour).

Place one roll of filling on to one strip of pastry. Brush the beaten egg along one edge, then fold the pastry over and seal it as carefully as possible. Lift the whole thing up and turn it so the sealed edge is underneath. Press lightly and cut the rolls obliquely, so that they form little diamond shapes. Snip each one on the top in two or three places with the end of some scissors or a sharp knife, then brush with beaten egg. Repeat all this with the other portions of filling and pastry.  

Bake, on greased baking sheets, on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 mins and eat while fresh or freeze separately before bagging and bake from frozen – they just take a few minutes longer.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Making butter

I had a go at this lest week because there was some cream left over from the party and I have to say it was easy, quick and made great butter.
I used Thermione but you don't have to, you could use any food mixer, including a hand held electric whisk.  You could use a balloon whisk but I think that would take an awfully long time.

I just tipped the rest of the cream into Thermione and beat it at around speed 6 to 8 until I could hear a slooshing sound that meant that the fat had separated from the buttermilk.
I then used a sieve to separate the liquid from the solid but next time I will use a muslin as shown by Mary Barry in Bake Off Master Class this week.
I was very, very careful to get every bit of buttermilk out of the butter.  I had it in my head that there would be loads of liquid and was surprised how little there was.
The buttermilk went into a little pot and I used it in my bread making yesterday.
Then I washed the butter, just in water and, again squeezed all the water out.  I did this about three times - I think perhaps it wasn't necessary to wash it so many times.
I then salted the butter (it didn't need much) by puitting the butter in a bowl, sprinkling over a little salt and mixing it in well, tasting to check it was OK before making a cylinder of it and wrapping it in greaseproof paper, twisting the ends to seal it.

I think this might be something I will do on a regular basis and if double cream is reduced in price, I could make more and freeze some.  Ditto with the buttermilk that comes out.  When I made some wholemeal and oat rolls yesterday I added the butterlink in lieu of some of the water and I've never had a wholemeal dough rise so well or so quickly and the results are delicious.

Here's the video clip showing Mary making butter, in case you didn't see it.  On my screen it is on the top line, second one from the left.  I've taken you to this page because there might be some other clips that interest you too.  :-)