Saturday, 28 February 2015

Oaty bread

Ingredients to make three 1lb loaves

100g oats, zizzed into flour, plus extra for sprinkling over
200g strong wholemeal flour
300g strong white flour
1 and a half tsp dried yeast (the kind that works straight away)
ditto of salt and sugar
1 heaped tbsp dried milk powder (optional)
between 30 and 40g vegetable oil
390mls warm water

Put the flours in a bowl, add the dry ingredients and the oil, then add the water.  Mix until all the flour is incorporated, then turn out and knead until the dough is stretchy and smooth.
(Or, if you have a Thermomix as I do you could bung in all the ingredients and zizz on the knead setting for ten minutes.  Dead easy)

Place it in an oiled bowl, rub oil over the top, cover and leave to double in size.

Take the dough out of the bowl and knock back the dough briefly.  Cut into three equal pieces.

Knead each piece and shape to fit the loaf tin.  I line my tins with paper liners - it makes it all so very easy.

Sprinkle over some oats and gently press into the dough.  Cover and leave until double in size.  Heat the oven to 230.

When double in size, put the loaf tins into the hot oven and immediately turn it down to 180.  Bake for half an hour.  Check that they are done by knocking on the underneath - if the knock sounds hollow then they are baked.

Place on a cooling rack to cool before wrapping and, perhaps, freezing.

It's tasty!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Storecupboard: Sausage meatballs in a rich tomato sauce

Actually, I used Jack Monroe's romesco sauce, of which I had some in the freezer, but it would be simple to make a sauce with a can of chopped tomatoes, etc.

The link to the romesco recipe is here (I had to Google to find it) and you need to scroll down.

I had thawed out three reasonable quality sausages as I needed some sausage meat to add to a packet stuffing.

Ingredients to make two portions:  amounts can be variable, follow your instinct!
3 sausage, skins removed
a good dollop of dijon mustard
1 level tbsp plain flour plus extra for rolling
half tbsp vegetable oil

a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
some frozen mixed peppers
garlic puree
a can of chopped tomatoes
about half a can of strong tea
herbs of choice
some balsamic vinegar
seasonings - salt/pepper/pinch of sugar, etc
tomato puree

Place the sausage meat in a bowl, add the mustard and flour and squidge together with your hands until everything is well mixed.  Wash your hands!
Divide the mixture into between ten and twelve little heaps and, with floured hands and a floured board, roll into balls.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the meatballs and gently sizzle until they are turning golden. turning several times.
Lift the meatballs out onto some kitchen towel and set aside, leaving the oil in the pan.

Add the onions and peppers to the pan and gentle sizzle until softened.  Towards the end, add some garlic and mix well.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, the strong tea and herbs.  Bring to a simmer, stirring well.
Add the meatballs and simmer gently, stirring now and again until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened (the flour round the meatballs helps with thickening).
Add some balsamic vinegar, seasonings to taste and a good dollop of tomato puree.  Mix well before serving.

Either eat immediately with pasta or rice, or divide into two freezer containers, cool, cover and label and freeze until wanted.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Frugal fun: sort of flapjacks

I say 'sort of' because they're really a cross between flapjacks and shortbread.  Very simple, very easy, very frugal and - very important - very delicious despite the lack of butter and golden syrup.  Thay're not chewy or 'heavy' as flapjacks are and they have more crunch than shortbread.

The recipe is here, on Thrifty Lesley's site, together with plenty of other likely looking recipes.  It's just about the easiest thing I have ever made, an absolute doddle and very, very quick to put together as you simply put the four ingredients in a bowl and mix.
I used my small baking tray and I lined it with parchment that I had scrunched up under the cold tap, then opened up and shaken out.  It fits into the corners of the tray very nicely that way and makes for easy removal when baked.

I can see myself making this recipe fairly often and I think it would also do as a base for a no cook cheesecake - you'd have to bake the base, cool it and then spread over the topping.

This recipe made 12 'fingers' the way I cut it.  By the end of the day they were all gone - but remember that I did have daughter and hungry teenager grandson over during the day.

It would add a little to the cost, I know, but next time I might try it with some sort of brown sugar to change the flavour.  Or maybe a blob or orange or lemon oil might be nice.  Plenty of variations to try there.

Definitely one to try - go on, take a look.

Frugal fun: Jack Monroe's carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers

In the interests of using up what's in the freezer as well as making sure there's a selection of vegetarian options for my daughter when she comes round, I thawed out three containers of home cooked kidney beans and made what has become Jack Monroes 'signature' recipe - or one of them anyway.  It really is remarkably simple to make and quite delicious too!

As always, I changed something.   I used a lot more beans that the recipe requires but didn't really change the rest.  Perhaps I used a bit more carrot, I'm not sure.  Also, instead of mashing everything down I used Thermione, which gave a smoother texture although I was careful not to completely puree it.  A stick blender or other type of zizzer would do just as well.  Finally, I left the mixture overnight in the fridge and I think that helped the flavours to develop.

The outcome was seven really decent sized burgers which I open froze before bagging.  One would be fine in a bap with the trimmings or two if eaten as part of a main meal without bap, etc.

I won't reproduce the recipe here but here's the link and a photo borrowed from Jack's site.  Well worth making!

Photography by Susan Bell.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Frugal fun: mini quiches

Yesterday I had lunch at a friends.  She made quiche.  I love quiche but hardly even have it because  - well, quiche is for several, isn't it.  Or is it?  I came home and started thinking and this is the outcome.

As I am sure you know, you can use so many different things to fill a quiche.  I used pepper, onion and some bacon, but the choice is as wide as your storecupboard!  So this is adaptable.

I used two diddy little quiche dishes (with removable bases so I was careful not to have holes in the pastry) which are between 9 and 10cms in diameter, depending on which bit of the flute you start from.

Ingredients to make two individual portions.
45g plain flour (I used value)
20g butter plus a smear for oiling the dishes
40g frozen mixed peppers
20g nion, finely sliced
a rasher of value back bacon, chopped (or you could use leftover chicken, ham, tuna, whatever)
1 smallish egg
75 mls milk
a good pinch of cornflour (about half a tsp, I guess)
25g grated cheese
salt, pepper, herbs

Put 1tsp oil in a small pan.  If using bacon, fry the bacon first, then add the peppers and onion.  If using leftover chicken or ham or some tune, no need to cook that.  Fry until the bacon is properly cooked and the vegetables are softening.

White that is frying, make the pastry, wrap it and pop it in the fridge for a short while.  Using your fingers or kitchen towel, smear a little butter around the inside of the baking dishes.

Mix the egg and milk together, add 15g of the cheese and season with salt, pepper, herbs, etc.  Not too muc salt because the cheese will be salty.

Tip the contents of the frying pan onto some kitchen towel and pat off as much oil as possible (in the interests of healthy eating).

Divide the pastry into two equal amounts, roll each ball out and line a dish.  Carefully push into the corners and make sure there are no holes.  Trip the top.

Divide the filling between the two little dishes.  Pour over the batter.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top

Place dishes on an ovenproof dish or tray.  Bake at 200 until done.  Eat immediately or allow to cool before freezing.

You could probably omit the pastry and make it as a crustless quiche.

There was enough pastry left over for me to use a mini muffin tray and make two tiny little jam tarts – in the interests of waste not, want not, you understand!  Nothing to do with being a little - I mean big - piggy!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Storecupboard: curry sauce

I like the idea of keeping portions of curry sauce in the freezer for when I fancy something flavoursome and spicy.  Diane (a blog friend) does it and finds it very useful.  I looked around for ideas and then created this, totally out of what I have in my stores.  It made quite a hot sauce so adjust the hot spices if you like.

Ingredients: to make six single portions
good knob of butter
A largish onion, peeled and chopped.
a can of coconut milk (I used half fat because that's what I had)
a knorr vegetable stock pot
a bit of water
about 20-ish mls red lentils (to help to thicken the sauce)
have some boiling water ready in the kettle

And for the paste:
1.5 tbsp curry powder (mine is mild, hence the added chilli lower down)
1 tbsp garam masala (mine is 'roasted', normal would be fine, I am sure)
1.5 tsp crushed ginger
1tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp crushed chilli (optional)
2 tbsp tomato puree
a splash of water.

Make up the paste by putting all the paste ingredients in a bowl and mixing well into a paste.

Melt the butter in a largish saucepan.  Drop in the onion, mix it all well and fry gently until the onion is softening and translucent.
Add the curry paste, increase the heat and stir it all in, mixing well.  Then allow to fry for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time (smells wonderful).

Pour in the coconut milk and mix well until the paste is all incorporated.  I rinse out the can with a little water which also goes in, to get the last dregs!.  Add the stock pot and some boiling water (about half a canful, maybe a bit more.  This was the one thing I forgot to measure!

Bring to a steady simmer and add the lentils.  Cover and simmer for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Taste and add salt if needed.

Allow to cool a little before zizzing into a smooth sauce.  I used my Thermomix but I am sure my hand blender would have done the job.  Then push it through a fine seive if you want a completely smooth sauce.

Portion out and freeze if not using that day.
 Use with leftover meat or pulses and vegetables.  I would fry more sliced onion, add the meat and veg, add the sauce, simmer for a short time and then maybe add cream or yogurt or milk.  I would use thickening granules if necessary.

Storecupboard: bread and butter pudding

I made this last Sunday and it was very delicious indeed.  It made four very good portions and would have been delicious with cream.  However, cream not being one of my storecupboard essentials, I didn't have any.  It was nice cold later on too.

The original recipe is here.

However, I changed a few things.

Earlier in the week I carelessly defrosted a fruit loaf when I actually wanted an ordinary loaf.  I used some in the normal way but the rest was becoming stale.
Because of the fruit in the loaf (dried cranberries), I didn't add any dried fruit and that was OK.  The loaf also had walnuts and they were a delicious addition.
Ditto with the spice and it was fine.
However, because it was a sweet loaf, I cut down too much on the sugar.  It was still delicious but would have been even nicer with just a tad more sugar.
I didn't bother with neat triangles of bread.  I just buttered it and tore it to fit gaps!  Nice and casual.
Finally, I added some vanilla essence to the milk and eggs.

I will definitely be making this again.  So easy.  It went in the oven as the roasties came out and by the end of the first course it was done to a turn.  Perhaps some hot cross buns could provide the bread next time!  Or a brioche would be good.  Perhaps one could drizzle the bread with a little cointreau or grand marnier before adding the custard mixture or sprinkle over some grated orange or lemon zest?

Lots of variations on a Great British classic that aims to preventing waste.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Frugal fun: butter tip

I found I was using way too much butter.  not good either from a health point of view or financially, although, to be fair, I use Morrisons at £1 a pack.

I have a diddy little butter dish.  It was one of those 'ah, that's so cute' purchases that I probably ought not to have made but did.  The internal dimensions are about 8.5 x 5.5 cms to show you how diddy it is.

So what I did was I cut the butter in half and half again to give me four cuboids (yes, I'm a teacher!), each one just the righ size to go into the little dish to last me all week.

You know what?  I still have some left!  And I've had butter when I've wanted it on my morning toast and on my beans on toast.  Just shows me how easy it is to waste when there's a lot in front of you.  And the little dish isn't wasted either!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Storecupboard: Cheesy crumble topping

I use this a lot.  It's tasty and easy and I have all the ingredients in my fridge or cupboard.  This time I remembered to measure everything out so here it is - my definitive version, if there is such a thing.

Ingredients to make seven of my size portion toppings
200g plain flour (Basics/Value is fine)
a pinch of salt
a grinding of black pepper
100g cubed butter or margarine
50g porridge oats
80g hard Italian cheese (in Sainsburys it is their Value range), finely grated*

Put the fat, salt and pepper iun a bown and rub the fat into the rest until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the oats and mix well (I use my hands but a spoon or fork would be fine.
Then ditto with the cheese plus any herbs or spices you may wish to use.

That's it!

Use it to top anything that you would usually top with pastry or with mash.  Bake at around 180 to 200C until browned with a bubbling underneath.

*you can, of course, use parmesan or similar but that's not vegetarian so I don't use it.  Also it is flippin' expensive!  Cheddar would also do well.

Sometimes I also add a good pinch of herb or spice.  Mustard powder is lovely and goes well with the cheese.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Frugal fun: versatile veggie mix

As there's a vegetarian in the family, I need to have a few 'bedrock' ideas at my fingertips (or in the freezer) so I always have something I can use.  I  realised that I am out of beany mix in the freezer (the one I got out
the other day turned out to be chicken based!  Ooops, bad labelling!) so this is what I made and what I used but just about everything is substitutable, one way or another and amounts are variable, according to availability and inclination.

A bit of butter or oil
1 smallish onion, peeled and sliced
A tsp crushed garlic and half a tsp of crushed chilli (both lazy but so, so useful)
Some frozen peppers, Morrisons
Some frozen mushrooms (I thawed these and cut them small), Morrisons
Some frozen mixed veg, Value, Morrisons
A can of chopped tomatoes, Morrisons (I didn't use value chopped toms as they tend to be more watery and there's not a huge difference in price)
A can of value kidney beans, Morrisons
One and a half tsps of Marigold stock powder
A good grating of black pepper
Herbs: I used oregano, marjoram and tarragon

Melt the butter in a largish pan, add the onion and gently fry until it is softening.  Add the carlic, chilli and peppers, stir well and continue gently frying for about five minutes, stirring now and again.  Then add the mushrooms.

Then tip in the chopped tomatoes, half fill the can with water, swish it round and add that too.  Add the well rinsed and drained beans, the Marigold, some black pepper and the herbs.  Mix well.

Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and leave to stew in it's own juices for about half an hour.  if necessary, take the lid off and allow some water to evaporate.

Taste and add salt if needed (the stock has some salt).

That's it.  I made a crumble topping and that sorted out dinner.  The rest froze in single portions - it made five portions (my size portions) altogether

After thawing, to ring the changes one could add extra chilli to turn it into a chilli without carne or fry some curry pices and add them.  Or add some tomato puree and toss it in pasta, served with grated Italian cheese on top.

It's very versatile and frugal to boot.  Also it must have tasted OK because daughter polished off the lot!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Frugal Fun: another web site

I wish I'd found this earlier.  I followed a link elsewhere and spent most of the afternoon catching up on all the postings in between stirring, chopping and so on in the kitchen.

It came about when the writer, Ricky (known as SkintDad), found that he and his family were in very serious financial hot water and they needed to sort something out and fast!  He started this blog as a way of recording the ups and downs and, I think, to provide some personal accountability.

It's not just a food blog, far from it.  There's all sorts of financial information there including offers, advice, warnings, updates . . . it's very good and very readable.

He now has a column in the Mirror (not reading the Mirror, I didn't recognise his name) as well as one with a local paper and the blog is starting to provide a fairly useful income for him.

I particularly like the recipes, of course.  I've printed several off and want to work through them.  Some of them are frugal recipes and some are what he calls 'Fakeaways' - his own take on popular takeaways created under fairly strict rules. For instance, they have to cost under a fiver for the whole family!

I'm perhaps the only person in here who hasn't discovered this blog before but if you haven't and are interested in all things frugal, do whizz over and take a look.  It's well worth it.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Frugal fun: keema curry

This is frugal in the sense that I used up freezer or cupboard ingredients rather than being inexpensive.  It wasn't dreadfully expensive as the mince, albeit a good 'name', was half price.

Anyway, the recipe is here on the wonderful 'all recipes' site.

I used red onion and I used frozen mixed veg (value so mostly carrot and peas) instead of the frozen peas.
I added some frozen mixed peppers.
I added some crushed ginger after reading the comments
I also added extra water and cooked some rice with it to make it a one pot.
 I added some salt.  Not a lot, but it was tasting a bit bland without it because of the rice, I suspect.

Next time I will parboil the potatoes beforehand.  They took a long time to cook, even though they were diced.

It made four very good portions and is one I will definitely make again.  Easy and not too expensive.  Do take a look.