Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cheap tarts! Live Below The Line

After deciding to substitute home made oatcakes for digestives, I am now going to spoil myself with a value jar of lemon curd.  It'll be nice in yoghurt, on porridge, it might even make a nice drink, you never know.

So I thought of lemon curd tarts.  But what to do for pastry as I'm not using butter, etc.  Oil!  (hmmmm?)

So I tried.

40g SR flour (value)
10g oil (cheap veg oil)
a tiny pinch of salt
a titchy bit of water
a little plain flour for rolling

Put the SR in a bowl and add the salt.
Then add the oil and mix it in with a fork.
Then add enough water to make a dough - very little needed.

Form into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Make the tarts the usual way and bake in an oven at 180C until done (about 15 mins).  Cool on a wire rack.

Well, it's not jam tarts as I remember them as a child but then it wouldn't be, would it? But it's not bad at all, it really isn't and with a dollop of yoghurt on top it's rather scrummy.  My pastry is usually dire and this wasn't which really surprised me.  The mix made five little jam tarts (so it would be three or maybe four normal sized ones) and suffice it to say, they've all gone.
The jam/lemon curd is already costed in.  The flour (value SR) is 1.5p and the oil is 0.5p (a little less for both but I rounded it up.  3p for four rather nice jam tarts.  Definitely a winner!

So that's another thing to make if I can and maybe a treat for the last evening?

Oat Biscuits: Living Below The Line

When I do LBTL I have budgeted for some digestives (value, of course) at a cost of 31p.  They're mostly for having with a smear of soft cheese and a dab of jam for afters and/or snacks.

Then I remembered that I created a recipe for oat biscuits a while ago so looked it up, then found one by googling and compared the two.  In essence they are very simple, although I will be making some frugal changes for LBTL, and I will have them instead of digestives.  At least with mine I will know what's in them, won't I?  That will be a saving of about 23p, huge when you only have a pound a day!  You see, the oats are already accounted for.

Here's the recipe I will use.

200g porridge oats
1 tsp salt
a grinding of black pepper
50 mls oil (in the original recipes this was either butter or EVOO)
a little boiling water

Put about 3/4 of the oats in a blender (I used Thermione, of course) with the salt and pepper and zizz them until they are fine oatmeal.
Pour into a bowl.
Add the remaining oats and the oil and mix well.
Pour in a little boiling water, enough to turn the oats into a kneadable dough.  Knead briefly.
Turn on the oven to about 160C (fan)
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll until about 5 mm thick (or less if you want thinner crackers, it doesn't matter)
Cut into rounds or squares, whatever you fancy.
Place the oatcakes onto a prepared baking sheet (I used a teflon liner) and bake for around 15 mins until they are crisp and a little browned.
Cool on a wire rack and keep in an airproof container.

The dough rolls best when it is warm.  If it cools, just pop it in the microwave for ten seconds.
For a finer oatcake, you could zizz all the oats.
I'm just umming and ahing now about what they would taste like if I used some of the syrup from the tinned pineapple instead of water.  Thoughts?

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lamb pate

Not really a pate, more a meat paste made with the slow cooked lamb, but lamb paste doesn't sound right.

Friday's leg of lamb was huge so there was/is a lot of leftovers.  This is what I did with some of it.

Into a blender or mini chopped (depending on how much) put the lamb bits, some butter, some mayo, some redcurrent jelly and some mint (just a bit and it was out of a jar) and then zizz it all together to make a smooth paste.  The amounts are to taste.  I kept zizzing, tasting and adding until it was what I wanted.  I didn't add any salt or pepper and it was fine.  Perhaps some chilli might be tasty or whatever herbs/spices you think go with lamb.  I wouldn't recommend rosemary as it is very hard and might spoil the texture.

It was tasty with fresh bread and butter and I am putting the remains out for our toast this morning..

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Recipe: Jack's creamy salmon pasta with a chilli lemon kick

I've just made this and cannot believe how delicious it is for such simple ingredients.

The lemon and the chilli really lift it into something that tingles the tastebuds and makes one wish that the (substantial) single portion was just that little bit more, even though one is full and satisfied - totally stuffed, in fact.

You can find the recipe here, on Jack's siteIt; also in The Book (page 144), just slightly modified.  I used lemon zest as well as the juice, as in the book, the chilli was chilli puree as that's what I had, I added a wee bit of garlic puree and, instead of yoghurt, I used some cream that really did need using up before I have to discard it.  I'm sure Jack would approve.

I will be making this again, without a doubt.  And n ot too far in the future either.  I wonder how it would work with chicken paste.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Jack's Smoky Red Lentil Burgers

Well, I finally got these finished.  I reckon keeping the mixture in the fridge for a day makes them easier to handle and well as allowing the flavour to develop.

I couldn't find the recipe online, just a page that says what ingredients are used.  Better than nothing, I guess so here's the link.
I also used half a beaten egg to help bind the mixture.  The other half was used to glaze the cheesy scones!  I also used smoked paprika rather than the ordinary kind.
The mixture is very soft and needed flour to prevent it sticking to the working surface or my hands as you can see from the photo but it wasn't difficult.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that I think they are delicious, easy to make using store cupboard ingredients, filling and did I say delicious?

The only issue I have with Jack's recipes is that the portions are so large.  She said that it would make four burgers; I ended up with nine.  OK, so they weren't huge, but they were fine for me.  I had a couple for breakfast with three cherry tomatoes and some chutney and I feel full.  I have seven to deal with so I guess that's lunch with a salad and maybe Beth will take some for her dinner.

If you haven't got the book, go on, treat yourself!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Very cheesy scones

I fancied some cheese scones so I found a nice recipe and off I went.  They are, indeed, very cheesy and most delicious, so here's the recipe in case anyone else has that certain craving for something savoury!

Very cheesy scones


250g self raising flour
55g butter
pinch of salt
good pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste) - I actually used dried mustard
100g mature cheddar cheese, plus extra for on top
150ml full fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees
2. Sift the flour, salt and cayenne pepper into a bowl
3. Rub in the butter, either by hand, or in a food processor, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
4. Mix in the cheese, then add the milk slowly and mix until you have a soft dough
5. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed lightly
6. Roll out the dough to approx 2cm thick, cut out the scones and place onto a lightly greased baking tray. Sprinkle the tops with cheese.
7. Bake for 12-14 mins until the cheese is bubbling on top and the scones are browned. Place on a wire rack to cool

The original recipe can be found here

Saturday, 12 April 2014

'American' pancakes

This is a golden oldie but so good that it is worth repeating.  There aren't any acknowledgements as it is as old as the hills and a generic standard, I should think.

It is frugal too, especially if you use value flour.  Ten thick American pancakes is great value!

Igredients to make about ten pancakes
one egg
one cup of milk
one cup of  self raising flour
a pinch of salt
a little water
butter for frying
(just use the same cup or mug for the flour and the milk and it will be fine)

Place the flour, milk, egg and salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth.  It doesn't have to be perfect but don't leave any big lumps of flour.  Add a little water to slacken the batter slightly.

Heat a medium frying pan and brush around with butter.  Pour small ladles of the mixture carefully into the hot pan - it should spread a little but not very much.  The ones I make are around 10cms diameter and, because they are made of SR flour, they puff up to about three quarters of a cm in thickness.

Fry for around a minute or so, then flip them over and brown the other side.  Remove from the pan and place on kitchen towel (they can be stacked).

That's it.  The mixture makes around 10 pancakes (depending on the size of the cup) and they can be frozen for reheating another day.  I interleave them so that they don't stick together.

I had two this morning with bacon, pineapple, yoghurt and maple syrup and it was absolutely delicious!

If you use plain flour they are like our English pancakes - thin and more like crepes.  Still delicious though!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Jack Monroe's Cola Chicken with Joy's additions

First of all, acknowledgement to Jack Monroe for the base recipe which is great in its own right.  It's from her recipe book, A Girl Called Jack, which I would urge you to consider buying.  It's one of the few recipe books I keep re-reading.  The recipes are simple, sensible and adaptable (adaptable in important for me) - and they taste jolly good too.
There's a great review of the book here, if you are interested.
Borrowed from Google Images)

This what I did with her Diet Coke Chicken.  Apologies for the long list of ingredients - it's not as bad as it looks as I already had it all in the freezer, cupboard or garden.  As I've added so many side comments, I will underline the ingredients for the sake of clarity!

Ingredients to make enough for five or six people
a good glug of oil
one large or two smaller onions (I actually used half a white onion I had left over and one red onion), peeled and sliced, not too finely.
two red peppers, seeded and chunked
a good squidge of garlic puree (or the equivalent in fresh garlic)
two little chorizo sausages, skin removed, cut into little bits.  You can buy mini ones that are basically fat-thumb sized.  I have some in the freezer after buying a pack of them a while ago for a recipe
three large chicken fillets (or the equivalent in smaller fillets), skinned and cut into chunks (size to suit you - mine were quite big)
a tsp or so of smoked paprika (ordinary paprika just doesn't wing it in the same way - it's well worth having smoked paprika as a store cupboard staple, I think)
two cans chopped tomatoes
the equivalent amount in volume of cola (I used the full fat version) - I measured it out in the tomato cans which also made sure I used all the tomato too
half a chicken stock pot (or stock cube)
three good sized chestnut mushrooms, sliced.  I used the stalks too as they are very flavoursome and waste not, want not!
a good tsp sundried tomato puree (again, because I had some - ordinary puree would be fine)
a cupful of frozen peas
chopped parsley (mine was free from the garden)

Interestingly enough, no salt or pepper.  It didn't need it!

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and saute slowly until softening.  Add the red pepper, stir well and continue to fry gently, stirring occasionally, until it's all softening.  Be careful not to let it catch.

Remove the veg with a slatted spoon, increase the heat just a little bit and add the chorizo and chicken.  Fry, stirring, until the chicken is white all over.

Add the smoked paprika and the garlic puree, stir well and cook it out for another minute or so, stirring.

Put the vegetables back in the pan and add the chopped tomatoes, stock pot and cola.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, lid off, until the sauce is reducing.  Stir now and again to prevent any sticking.  When it has reduced to about a third of the original volume it is about right.  The book underestimates how long this takes unless you are boiling it madly and risking it burning!
(I felt that the chicken and veg were properly cooked before the sauce had reduced enough so I removed them, reserved them and put them back in towards the end.)

When the sauce is thick, add the mushroom, the tomato puree and the peas, stir in and continue simmering.
Just before serving, add the chopped parsley, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  I didn't feel it needed any salt (the stock pot is quite salty) but tastes differ.

I served it with rice and garlic bread

A few notes
Most of the ingredients are cupboard/freezer staples.  However, don't waste anything
Chorizo sausage freezes well.  Just chop up (of necessary) whatever is left and freeze in portions that suit you.
Sundried tomato puree is expensive but you don't need a lot and it lasts for a while in the fridge.  Add a spoonful to anything tomato based for extra flavour.  Normal tomato puree would be fine instead.
I used chestnut mushroom because I love their flavour and texture and because I find they keep longer in the fridge than the ordinary ones.  However, you can use the normal ones and the value version is just as nice and MUCH better value!
If you buy a bunch of leafy herbs, so often the remains ends up in the bin.  Don't!  Cut off all the useable parts (the leaves and the tender stems), place them in a poly bag, seal the bag and pop it in the freezer.  When the leaves are frozen and friable, just crush them in the bag and, lo and behold, chopped herbs which can be used a spoonful at a time as needed.  Alternatively, you could mix the chopped remains with butter to make a herbed butter which also freezes well.

Another simple idea: strawberry yoghurt

So simple I am ashamed to include it here as a recipe but never mind.

I had some strawberries in the freezer that I had picked and frozen last year.
I thawed them and zizzed them up with some icing sugar to make a sauce for a dessert.  There's plenty left over so I added some to natural yogurt and 'marbled' it around.
Borrowd from Google Images and can be found here.

It made a very delicious breakfast.

Note to self - make more yoghurt!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A delicious leftover idea

I had apple crumble left over.  I had custard left over.  I had home made yogurt.
Combine all three for a truly scrummy dessert.

That's it - short, simple and very, very sweet!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Creamy Curried Carrot soup

aka not a bad curry sauce.

Another soup.  Carrots, onion, celery, sweet potato and a left over jacket potato from yesterday.  Also some oil, two bay leaves, some mild curry powder, a vegetable stock pot thingy, some water and some cream and milk.

Roast all the vegetables in the oil in a medium oven until it's all going soft with roasty bits all over.  Add some curry powder and roast a little bit longer.  Remove the bay leaves.
Tip into a saucepan, add the stock and the water and simmer until really soft.  Then zizz, add cream and milk and zizz again until nice and smooth.
Reheat to just under boiling and serve.

What was good is that not only did it make a most delicious spicy soup, it will also make a good mild and gentle curry sauce for either more veg or chopped chicken or whatever.

So I am glad that there are four portions left for another days!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Crumble topping

Crumbles are wonderful, aren't they?  So down to earth, warming, packed with earthy, wholesome flavours and, of course very frugal - well, they can be when you use windfall apples from your, or a neighbour's, tree, blckberries picked in the country or fruit from your own garden.  I love plum crumble when the plums are brilliant value in the autumn and strawberry and rhubarb crumble - well, I reckon the angels are glad to have it when they get tired of their milk, honey and absrosia.  A flavour combination  made in heaven.

It's a bit miserable today with rain and some wind and, of course, it is dull, gloomy and overcast.  So I decided that a crumble with custard would be the perfect dessert.  As I have a guest, I decided not to do my usual 'chuck it all in and hope for the best' with the topping but look up a 'proper' recipe.

As I searched, I came across this - how to make perfect crumble.  The secret is, it seems, to make up the mixture as usual and then to sprinkle on some cold water and rake it over with a fork until it starts clumping.   The custard will, of course, be the Thermione version, fool proof and absolutely delicious!

So that's what I am trying.  Fingers crossed!

Will update later and might even remember to take a photo, you never know!

No photo, sorry, but it was very nice and I shall do it again.  I think I had the oven a little too low but it was still yum.  It came out quite different to my usual crumble but I liked it very much.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sunday leftover sauce

Just a quick one.  I had some sauce left over from Sunday's Cola Chicken so I defrosted some good chipolata sausages, removed the skins, rolled them into little balls and fried them in a little oil.  Then went in the sauce to heat up and lo and behold, a delicious dinner waiting for me tonight, yum.

Next time I make cola chicken (and I will), I shall make double the sauce so I have pots of it ready in the freezer for speedy meals.