Thursday, 29 December 2016

Leftover turkey biryani

I found this recipe via a link someone posted on Facebook and made it this morning.  It is very, very tasty and I am looking forward to dinner tonight when I will reheat it thoroughly in the microwave.

First of all, here's a link to the recipe.

Some notes:
I made half amount and it's made loads.  Enough for two big portions, possibly three if I'm not too hungry!
I used turkey dripping instead of butter and oil.
I used a mixture of turkey chunks, ham and chestnut and cranberry stuffing balls (cubed).
Thee curry paste was rogan josh.
Parsley (dried) instead of coriander as I am one of those unfortunates for whom leaf coriander tastes 'soapy'.
I shall add creme fraiche this evening as I have no natural yogurt right now.

I'm keeping this one.  It should work with other leftover roasts and it is very easy and delicious.

Christmas Hash

Hardly a recipe but so tasty and as simple as ABC.

In a large bowl, put your Christmas leftovers cut up small or roughly mashed.  I had turkey, ham, roasties, roast onions, stuffing, sprouts, broccoli, roast parsnips and carrots - not much of any of them.  Oh, and a bit of Beth's vegetarian crumble and her cranberry and chestnut stuffing.
I also had a few small slices of bread that had dried up so I zizzed them and added them too.
I mixed it all well and added some turkey fat from the top of the stock after I had boiled up the carcass.  Then I seasoned it with salt and pepper.  It was a right old mix-up!

I melted some butter in a pan, piled in the mixture, squashed it down a bit and let it brown before turning it over (in bits, it didn't turn whole) and doing the same again.
I ate it with some soy sauce.  Brown sauce would have been nice too.

I have some leftover mix and am going to use my burger press and freeze the results.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Nigella's parmesan shortbreads.

Beth brought these over on Sunday, having made them at home, and they were absolutely delicious, very more-ish so I thought I'd share the link.

She lest one 'sausage' of dough here and it is now in the freezer.  When I use it, I will slice it more thinly and watch the baking time carefully as it will be shorter.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Vegetarian stuffing

I always do a vegetarian stuffing for Beth and, to be honest, it is as nice as the conventional one that Mum makes for me, I think.

I got it from the Sainsbury's site so here's the link.  It doesn't half go on, sorry!

I made some changes, of course.  Don't I always?

I used garlic puree
The thyme and the sage were fresh but I also added some mixed dried herbs and some dried parsley.
The breadcrumbs were from a granary/wholemeal loaf (home made) that had gone dry and a bit stale.  Lovely flavour though!
I fried a little bit off to taste and then added some black pepper, some salt (not a lot) and some stock paste (home made) and stock powder (marigold).

I made patties rather than balls as they will be easier to cook, I think.  Oh, and I dusted them with flour as that, with a bit of spray oil, should ensure a nice, crunchy outside.

They are now on a baking tray, in the freezer, not looking great, I have to admit, but they will look much better after they are cooked.  They will come out on Christmas Eve and, on The Day and after the turkey comes out, I will spray them with oil and 'roast' them.

Another thing ticked off the list!  😀

Sunday, 4 December 2016

More fudge

I'm a great fan of 'The Frugal Family' blog.  If you like frugal stuff, it is well worth following and I do.

A short while ago Cassie posted about how she had made some very easy fudge using Nutella.  Well, my ears (or do I mean eyes?) pricked up because fudge is what I am making for people this year for gifts as I don't have enough chutney/jam for everyone (and have enough to last me over the winter too!).

The first batch of fudge I made turned out beautifully (the previous post has a link to the recipe) and I am going to make it again with flavourings and additions, like brazil nuts.  However, this one looked so easy that I thought I'd give it a go.

Here's the link because I'm not going to nick someone else's recipe.  This, hopefully, takes you straight to the relevant post but you might like to stay and look around a bit.

I used Thermione because it is easier and does all the stirring for me!  I also costed it out, just for interest.

200g milk chocolate.  I used Morrisons savers choc which is - well, OK - and is 30p a bar so that was 60p
1 can condensed milk - carnation, of course, is there any other - £1.35
25g butter - 10p (Lurpak was £1.00 when I bought it)
300g Nutella.  Well, I didn't use Nutella, I got the Morrisons savers equivalent and I think it's the very first time I have bought anything like that!  The jar was 80p so I used 60ps worth
Total:  £2.65

I reckon I will get four generous sized gifts from that so, even with the wrappings and ribbons, it is going to be a great gift, made with love and care but not breaking the bank!

Of course, I am posting before the mixture has had time to set so it could all be a disaster but it has started to set before it's cooled enough to go in the fridge so I am optimistic.  And if it doesn't, it will make a brilliant sauce, it can be swirled into ice cream, it certainly won't be wasted!

It looks less than it is - the baking tin is a biggie - fruit cake size!
And here's the star of the show.  The most used piece of equipment I have ever had!  How did I ever manage pre-Thermione?  😉

Later:   It set.  It's a bit soft so next time I will cook it for longer.  It is absolutely delicious!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fudge - a Thermomix recipe

I know people follow this occasional blog who have and use Thermos so this is for you.

It is not my recipe so I won't 'steal' it, I will post a link.  Just want to say it is so, so simple and absolutely delicious (it's not frugal but it's not outrageous when you think how much good fudge can cost to buy).
I shall be making more for Christmas presents.

Here's the link:

Go on - have a go.  Spoil yourself.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Caramelised red onion chutney

I found this on a Facebook group I help to admin. It's a Slimming World  recipe, but I haven't found it exactly anywhere online so I will reproduce it in full and if anyone has the link, please let me know.

Here it is, as it was given to me.

For those on slimming world, 4 syns for the lot (it said - I'm not sure.  It's a lot of sugar!)

Frylight or about 1 tablespoon oil
8 red onions, sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (I used chili puree
4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated (I used lazy garlic from a jar)
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I used lazt ginger from a jar)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
150ml balsamic vinegar
150ml red wine vinegar
8 tablespoons sugar  (I used demerara)

Gently fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli on a very low heat until soft, dark (not burned or crisp) & slightly sticky, this takes about 20 - 30 minutes.
Add the allspice & cook for a minute or two to heat the spice & release the flavour/aroma, stirring gently.
Add the sugar/sweetener & vinegars & simmer very gently for about 30 minutes or until thick, dark & sticky.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars, seal & leave to cool.
Ideally should be left for a month or more to mature the flavours.

If made in the next few days this will be matured & delicious in time for Christmas. 

I actually made it in  Thermione and it was great.  Just one thing - for goodness sakes open the kitchen windows, close the kitchen door and use the extractor fan, if you have one.  The pong lingers.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Cranberry and apple chutney

I got this from another blog and it is so simple and uncomplicated to make, thickened well and tastes lovely.

Great in a bacon roll (I had no brie, sadly) and in a cheese sarnie and it will also be fantastic as an alternative to my cranberry jelly on the Christmas table.  It's a lovely colour too.

Here's the link - do go over and look and maybe give it a go.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

My sweet pastry

I won't go into the long rigmarole of how and why, that has been chronicled elsewhere, but suffice it to say, after various trials and tribulations (I'm a terribly pastry maker), I made this up.
That's not to say it is original.  I am absolutely sure that exactly the same recipe will be out there, probably in many different places, but I didn't see them or use them.
This turned out soft and short and melt in the mouth.  Most unusual for me!  It made lovely mince pies!

Ingredients (can be reduced down or increased, of course)
200g plain flour
30g icing sugar
70g Trex (I use Trex because of family vegetarians)
30g butter, diced (I use salted and don't add any other salt.  If you use unsalted, also add a pinch of salt)
1 egg, beaten
milk for glazing

Thermione method
If using granulated sugar, pulse it three or four times to powder it

Add the flour (and salt if needed) and the fats, butter cut into small bits.  Pulse twice, then check and pulse once more if needed (twice was enough for me)

Add the beaten egg and mix on speed 6 for five seconds.  Check and if it hasn't all come together, give it another five seconds.

Tip onto a floured surface, briefly knead into a dough, shape it, wrap it in a poly bag or similar and chill - the longer the better.  I chilled mine overnight.

Then use as needed

The usual method
Put the flour (and salt if needed), the icing sugar and the fats in a bowl and rub the fat into the flour until a breadcrumb consistency is achieved.
Add the beaten egg.  Mix it in with a knife until it all comes together, then knead it briefly with your hands.
Then wrap and chill as above.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Prepping for Christmas

This isn't a recipe as such, more a time saving idea.

I always prepare my roasties and parsnips for Christmas early and this is what I do.

Peel the veg and cut them into whatever size you will want to serve them as.  Par boil them for about five minutes.

Take them out of the water and place them on a tray with a tea towel under them and leave them to dry and cool.
 Like this
parsnips . . .

. . . and potatoes (I used King Edwards)

When cold, dust them in a half and half mix of flour and semolina.

Then space them out on a tray with parchment or easy-leave underneath.

Cover them with cling film and freeze them.

Once frozen, bag them.  They will stay separate.

Roast as you would normally do.  They come out beautifully crunchy and the spuds are so fluffy.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Banana pancakes

A great way of using up those over-ripe bananas and frugal too, especially as otherwise the banana might be chucked.
It's not my recipe although I added the milk as the batter was too thick.  I think it might be a Slimming World recipe although I am not sure, so apologies.

Ingredients (made enough for two for me)
1 very ripe banana
1 medium egg
50g rolled oats, zizzed down a bit if not using a thermo
50g milk
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
coconut oil for frying

Normal Method
Put all the ingredients apart from the oil in a bowl and mix together really well to make a thick-ish batter. There should be some texture in the oats but the batter should be fairly smooth.
Thermomix method
Briefly zizz the oats.
Add the banana, cinnamon, milk and egg and zizz again. There should be some texture in the oats but the batter should be fairly smooth.
Rest of method
Heat the oil. When hot, add a ladleful of batter. Reduce heat to low and fry for 3-4 mins before flipping over and cooking the other side. You may need to flip over more than once as the batter is thick and it does take some time. Don’t over-brown.
I found it made enough for two in my small pan but turning them was tricky. Next time I might use my bigger pan and my crumpet rings to make smaller, more easily flipped pancakes
Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey

Edited 24-10-16:  MUCH better done with crumpet rings.  Add a small ladleful of batter and remove the right immediately.  Worked a treat and you get three for one bigger one so you can make a mini stack!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Carrot and lentil soup

I found this one on the BBC site and it's good.
Here's the link

I only changed it a bit .
I didn't do the dry fry thing at the beginning as I had ground cumin rather than seeds and used chili puree.  Instead I sauted the onions and the cumin in a little oil before adding the chili puree and the other ingredients.  I used half amounts of both chilli and cumin because I don't like the sprinkle over the top thing.

It made a smooth, almost creamy but not quite soup with a wonderful flavour.  Worth a try!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Two soups

As October has entered our year, so has the chillier weather and my thoughts turn to soups.  Delicious, filling, warming home made soups for lunch.  Perfect.

Here are a couple that I made over the last few days.  Please bear in mind that I made them up as I went along so amounts are somewhat vague.  Also, I am sure they are not in any way original but they are adaptable so use your imagination and what you already have, whenever possible!  These are quite frugal but won't be if you go and buy special ingredients for it.

Cream of tomato soup

Ingredients to make enough for one
A bit of onion, carrot and celery, all chopped finely
A blob of butter
A squeeze of garlic puree to taste
Some tomatoes*, halved
about one level tsp chicken stock powder (or veg stock powder if you want it to be vegetarian)
Water (see * below)
A splash of cream (or milk but cream is better!)

*  This is the problematic bit.  I used tomatoes from the garden - lovely, juice sungolds.  They are small tomatoes and I suppose I used about 15 to 20.  You could use a can of chopped or plum tomatoes or tomatoes that are going soft, I reckon.
Because they were so juice, I didn't add any extra water but firmer tomatoes would need some water.

Soften the onion, carrot and celery in a blob of butter.  Add the garlic puree and continue to cook, gently, for a minute longer.

Toss in the tomatoes, the chicken stock and a bit of water (see * above).  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until everything is soft.

Zizz everything until super smooth, then push the lot through a sieve to get rid of any residual gunk.

Return the soup to the saucepan, check seasonings and adjust, if necessary.  Add a splash of cream and reheat to just under boiling.


Additions such as more cream, croutons, etc, would be delicious!

Sort of non-traditional minestrone - ish soup.
This one is so vague that it's really an idea, not a recipe.  I don't care: it was gorgeous and filling and I shall make it again soon

Ingredients to make enough for two
A splash of olive oil
One can of chopped tomato, zizzed smooth (or you could use the equivalent amount of passata, I guess)
A small onion, a small carrot, a mushroom or two and about a third to a half of a rib of celery, chopped to the size you want in the soup
A smallish, waxy potato, chopped as above.  I left the peel on
Some haricot beans (I had some baked beans left over so I just roughly rinsed off the sauce)
A few frozen broad beans, peas, sweetcorn . . .
Bit of chilli puree and a bit of garlic puree
A level tsp chicken stock powder (or the vegetable equivalent)
A good pinch dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper (be careful of the salt as the stock powder is already salty
A little water, if needed

Zizz the canned tomato and set aside

In a saucepan, soften the chopped onion, carrot, celery, mushroom and potato in a little olive oil, adding the chilli and garlic purees towards the end.

Then add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until all the vegetables are soft.  The sauce should be quite thick but add some water if it seems to be getting too thick.

Check and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Serve piping hot with some nice crusty bread.  Lovely!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Crumble cream cookies

These are lovely and made from leftovers.

The other day I made an apple crumble and made more topping than I needed (on purpose), thinking to freeze the rest

But then I had an idea.

The topping was just flour, butter and sugar, the basic recipe.  Almost the same as shortbread really.  So, into what was left, I added a dash of cream (also left over from the crumble)enough to mix it all into a stiff dough, broke off walnut sized pieces, rolled them and then flattened them on an oven tray with parchment on.

The oven was 160C and I baked them for around 15 to 18 mins, until done.

They are absolutely delicious and this is definitely one to make again, maybe at Christmas as I have decided not to get a tin of posh biscuits this year - my own home mades are much nicer!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Broad bean pate. - using up leftovers

There were some broad beans left over after Sunday dinner so I made some broad bean pate.  It was very tasty with a clean, light flavour and a fresh green colour.

Ingredients to make enough for one (because, after all, it was leftovers)
36g cooked broad beans
20g soft cheese
a little bit of garlic puree
half tsp olive oil
half tsp natural yogurt
2 or 3 fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper
a lemon wedge

Using a mini zizzer, put in all the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper and zizz until everything is pureed and nearly smooth.  Push the mixture down the sides now and again, if necessary.
Add a bit of seasoning, mix and taste.  Adjust if necessary.  Chill, covered, in the fridge.

Serve with crackers, oatcakes, pitta bread or similar, with a wedge of lemon

Monday, 22 August 2016

Posh bread and butter pudding

It's been a very long time since I posted anything in here.  My apologies and thank you to everyone who pops in to check anyway.  I will try to be a bit more talkative in here!

Yesterday I made a very delicious bread and butter pudding.  I used some stollen that I had popped in the freezer before Christmas and it had slipped to the bottom and hidden itself.

I followed an ordinary recipe, such as this one

I sliced the stollen fairly thin.  I cut out the dried fruit because the bread already had plenty but it was a home made stollen so it had been generously endowed with a variety of dried fruit - use more if you want.  I cut out the cinnamon completely because the stollen was spiced.  I cut back the sugar to just a little sprinkle because stollen is a sweet bread.  I used the full 500mls milk and two eggs and had just a bit left over after allowing it to soak in for half an hour and topping up twice.

I wish I had taken a photo because it baked beautifully, rising almost like a loaf of bread and browning to golden.  The marzipan was indescribably delicious.  And there was none left by the end of the day!

You could use any kind of sweet bread to make this.  Hot cross buns that have gone a bit stale would work well.
I will definitely be doing this again.

Friday, 29 July 2016

freezer oaty bars

These were showcased on Eat Well for Less this week.
The recipe is available online, here.

I reduced amounts down to a quarter because I was just trying it out and I had to make some substitutes.
I had no agave so I used more honey, I used walnuts instead of almonds and plain puffed wheat instead of rice pops.

It all worked fine and the final results were sweet, sticky and delicious.  I cut it into very small chunks and each bit is now wrapped and in the fridge.

It's nice to have a recipe that is so versatile.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Egg muffin

Eat Well for Less is back on.  Three cheers.  There's been some great recipes so far: this one is very, very simple but doesn't appear on their recipe site, so here it is here.

Put a little bit of butter in a cup and microwave it for ten seconds.

Add an egg and some milk, some salt and some pepper and a bit of grated cheese.  Mix it all together - just mix, not whisk.

Cook in the microwave.  It took mine 90 seconds on 6.  In the programme it said a minute so I guess they used higher power.

Split and toast an English muffin.

Pop the cooked egg on one half of the toasted muffin and top it with the other half.  Done.  It's so, so simple and tasty and I found it surprisingly filling.

(the muffin is home made, but it doesn't have to be)

Friday, 15 July 2016

Egg and tomato bake - delicious lunch

Tasty, easy, pretty frugal and low-ish in calories.  What more could you ask for.

Ingredients for one
vegetable bits and bobs - the only crucial one is tomatoes - I used a quarter of a red pepper, a largish chestnut mushroom and several squashy tomatoes.  I was out of onions, much to my dismay!
A little bit of oil - I use coconut oil
some seasonings - I use garlic puree, mixed herbs, salt and pepper
one egg

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pepper and mushroom and sizzle until softening.
Then add the tomatoes and seasonings, sizzle and stir for about five mins.

Tip the veg mixture into an suitable oven-proof dish.

Using a spoon, make a 'hole' in the mixture.  Crack an egg into the hols.

Bake in an halogen oven for about eight mins on 180.  I guess an oven would be about the same up would cost more and take longer because of the heating up period.

Eat and enjoy!

Overnight oats - courtesy of Thrifty Lesley

I have finally discovered overnight oats and they are so tasty I will direct you to a great entry about them on Thrifty Lesley's fantastic blog.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A quick and fake 'pizza'

A cheat, for sure, but it was actually very tasty so I am sharing

The base was a small tortilla wrap which I placed on some parchment on a circular plate that goes in the halogen.

The sauce was ten mls each of tomato ketchup, tomato puree, a home made spicy sauce (use brown sauce) and a squeeze of garlic puree, all mixed together.  Spread that over the base.

I gently fried some thinly sliced onion, yellow pepper, one baby corn and a few mushrooms in a bit of coconut oil, then spread it all over the base.  Grate over some pepper and sprinkle over one dried herbs of choice.

Halve six pitted olives and spread them over.

The cheese was some feta, about a quarter of a small, savers pack, crumbled over the toppings.

Then it went in Handy Andy for ten minutes at 175C.

Dead easy and surprisingly tasty, if a long way from traditional!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Strawberry jam - the template

This works for me, every time

strawberries, hulled and wiped over, if necessary with any bad bits removed.  Don't wash them.  Cut any enormous ones in half
jam sugar

I know jam sugar is more expensive but it is reliable, more reliable than adding lemon juice, in my experience.  I've never had a failure with jam sugar.  You find it with all the other sugars in the shops.  Don't mistake it for preserving sugar, it's quite different.  Jam sugar has the added pectin that you need to get a good set.

Weigh the hulled and cleaned strawberries.  Whatever they weigh, you need three quarters of that weight in jam sugar.  So 1k of strawberries will need 750g jam sugar.

(an easy way if you have a calculator is to input the weight of the berries and multiply by 0.75 to get the weight or sugar)

Put the berries in a large bowl.  Pour over the sugar.  Stir it in gently so that all the berries are in contact with the sugar.  Cover and leave for a few hours, I would say a max of three hours.

Place your saucers in the fridge or freezer.

Put the berries and sugar in a large pan.  Slowly heat them on low, stirring regularly.  Don't allow the mixture to boil until every bit of sugar has dissolved.

Bring to a rolling boil, then take off the heat and leave it to stand for a few hours or even overnight.  This is my own discovery and I find that setting point comes so much faster if I do this and therefore the taste is 'fresher'.

Put your clean jars in a warm oven - the sort of temperature for heating plates.

Reheat to boiling, stirring.  Allow to boil for a couple of minutes and take off the heat while you use a saucer in the fridge to do the wrinkle test.  I usually find that the jam is has reached setting point but if it hasn't, reboil and retest.  Take the pan off the heat while you are testing or it may over-set.

When ready, pour the jam into your clean, warmed jars and put the lid straight on.  Be careful, it is VERY hot at this stage.

Allow to cool, wipe the jars if they are sticky, label and store in a dark place.

Plum, apple and strawberry jam - frugal fun.

I know I rabbit on about jam quite a lot in here but I had to post about this.

I was sorting out the fridge and found two wizened eating apples, five very squashy but still 'sound' plums and I had six strawberries that were in various stages of having been nibbled

I stoned and quartered the plums, peeled, cored and sliced the apple and cut all the nibbled bits off the strawberries.

Into a pan they went with a splash or two of water - not too much - and I simmered them for a while.  One apple more or less mushed, the other didn't but softened so the resulting jam has lumps of apple in it.

I measured what I had in pints (3/4 pint) and added jam sugar, pound to pint (so 12 oz).

I took the fruit off the heat, added the sugar and stirred well, then left it for the sugar to slowly and completely dissolve into the warm fruit.  Then I did what I always do - bring it to a good boil, take it off the heat and leave it.  Somehow, it always sets better when I do that.

As it cooled I could see that it was going to be a quick set and so it was.  An hour or so later I reboiled and immediately tested for setting point (I use the saucer method).

Sure enough, it was ready to pour into clean, warmed jars.

So now I have three pots of gorgeousness made from fruit that would most likely have been thrown away in my less frugal youth.

And it is scrape-the-pot-and-lick-the-spoon-and-wish-I-could-have-made-more delicious.
Ignore the cherries - it was the best picture I could find.  

Peanut butter chicken noodles

I made this last night with some changes.  It's a 'Lean in 15' recipe.

It's on You Tube so here's the link:

It was utterly scrummy and I will use the sauce again in other contexts.

A few changes.  I only used half a chicken breast and I used egg noodles because that's what I had.  I used mushrooms instead of courgettes because ditto.  It is adaptable!

It made loads and loads and was very filling

Next time:  fewer noodles.  I cooked a one portion amount and it was so much!  Have of that would be fine.  It will also take more veg - perhaps some mange tout or some runner beans if they're in season.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Strawberry gin/vodka

I've posted about this before, ages ago, so it's time for an update and it's the right time of year too.  I've used my own strawberries but you don't HAVE to, shop bought ones are just as good in this.

200g hulled and chopped strawberries (no bad bits)
160g granulated sugar
700ml bottle gin or vodka (or 750ml, it's not too important)

You will also need a couple of bottles with air tight lids.  A 1 litre bottle is not big enough.

After picking over the fruit to remove any bad bits and washing, if necessary, put the weighted fruit and sugar in a bowl and mash well together.
Then add the gin or vodka and stir well.

Using a funnel, ladle the mix into the bottles - if the fruit bits stick, push it through with a spoon handle or (what I did) a clean finger.  Just use your eye to judge if there's an even amount of 'mush' in each bottle.  Leave a bit of air space at the top.

Screw on the lid and give the contents a good shake.  Label the bottle.

Shake the bottled every day until the sugar is completely dissolved.  You can tell because before shaking, any undissolved sugar will settle at the bottom.  Then store in a dark, cool place, shaking them when you think of it, until Christmas (or whenever, but several months later).

You could sieve off the fruity pulp but last year dad didn't and it was delicious in the drink.  If you do, don't waste it, use it in a trifle or in yogurt or on ice cream or . . . well, you get the idea.  Don't waste it - it is wonderful!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Chicken, strawberry and walnut salad

I made this the other day and it was so unexpectedly delicious that I'm sharing.  I just wish I had taken a photo or two.

Ingredients: to serve one

half a cooked chicken breast, chopped
four walnut halves, roughly chopped
four strawberries, quartered
another strawberry for garnish

for the salad base:
shredded lettuce
other salady bits, cut small - to own choice

For the dressing
10 mls mayo
10 mls of natural yogurt
10 mls balsamic vinegar


Put the salady bits in the plate/bowl and spread out.

Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together until smooth

Put the chicken, walnuts and strawberries in a bowl, add the dressing and mix.  Pile onto the salad base and garnish with a strawberry.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Yogurt scones

I made these this morning, reducing the quantities to a quarter because it was just a try out for next week.

Very nice, very easy, a lovely, fluffy interior, so I'm sharing.

The recipe is here.   I made four so the full amount would make about 16, depending on the size of your cutter.

The quarter quantities are
125g plain flour
25g caster sugar
6g baking powder
tiny pinch salt
30g cold butter
about 60mks natural yogurt
beaten egg to glaze

I followed the instructions in the link above and baked them in the halogen oven.  Very, very nice indeed.  Another way of using my home made yogurt.

I have eaten one (well, you have to, don't you?) and shall freeze the other three

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Mediterranean smoked cod

To serve one

a piece of smoked cod for one - I asked the fishmonger to cut a piece off a larger amount and he was quite happy to do so.
A mixture of suitable veg - I used red pepper, mushroom and tomatoes chopped into smallish bits
half tsp olive oil
some chives, snipped small
some black pepper.  No salt as the cod is salty.
squeeze lemon juice

Preheat oven to around 200

Take a piece of foil large enough to wrap the fish and more.

Put the veg into a bowl, pour over the oil and mix well.  Stir in the chives and some black pepper.  Spoon onto the foil.
Put the fish on top.

Wrap the veg and fish with the foil, making sure the edges are all sealed.
Place the parcel on an oven tray and bake for half an hour.

Unwrap carefully.  Remove the fish, wrap in clean foil and keep warm.
Place the veg back in oven open and bake for another five minutes or so on high to reduce the liquid and just very slightly char the veg.

Serve with green veg and a squeeze of lemon juice.

It was very nice indeed.

Oat bran galette

This isn't my recipe.  I found it on the Internet and adapted it to match what I usually have in store.  It's from something called the Dukan attack phase which probably sounds more alarming than it really is.

I made it this morning and had it with natural yogurt (home made), blueberries (bought) and strawberries (from the garden) and it was scrummy and so easy that I thought I would share.

Ingredients to make one pancake.
1 egg (I used medium)
one and a half tbsp oat bran
one and a half tbsp natural yogurt
a tiny pinch salt (might miss this out next time)
half tsp Stevia (a sugar substitute I am trying out) or you could use real sugar.  I might try it without.
a tiny bit of veg oil

Brush a tiny bit of veg oil on a pancake sized frying pan (you could use a bigger one but I like one in particular because it is just the right size) and put on a fairly hot hob to heat.  As it is non stick, I am wondering how necessary the oil actually is.  One to test, I think.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine them well.

When the pan is hot, pour in the mixture and fry for about three minutes or so on either side.

Remove, cover with fruit and yogurt and eat straight away!   Mmmmmm.

You would think - oat bran, must be heavy - but it's not, it's a bit fluffy and filling too.  I think this is going to be a regular breakfast from now on, it is so easy.

I am sure it would freeze so you could make more, wrap them well and pop them in the freezer

Friday, 17 June 2016

Dead easy smoked salmon pate

Not only is this dead easy, it is also dead delicious too!  I've just made it and one little pack of trimmings makes four good portions.

small pack smoked salmon trimmings
some soft cheese (I used Morrisons value and it was fine)
lemon juice

(Amounts are to eye really - you can always add more soft cheese or lemon juice if you haven't added enough.

You could add black pepper but I didn't want to.  No salt needed because the salmon is salty.

Place the salmon, cheese and lemon juice in a small processor or in a jug into which you can get a stick blender.
Zizz it all up together until more or less smooth.
Taste and add more cheese/lemon juice if you want.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Spicy sauce

This is my favourite sticky sauce.  It's adaptable and can be used as a marinade too.

It is from that lovely old Readers Digest book, The Cookery Year which has now been out of print for many a year (mine is dated 1974) although you can get hold of it second hand as I discovered last week.  As it's no longer generally available, I think I am OK to post the recipe, especially as I have adapted it a little bit.

Here's the recipe for the sauce.
4 tbsp clear honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp ketchup
garlic, crushed
mustard powder
salt and black pepper
juice of a small orange
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
lemon juice
(many of these are to taste - the recipe doesn't give specific amounts)

Bung all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine.  Taste and adjust if necessary

How to use it depends on what you're doing and the oven temperature.  It doesn't take long before it thickens and you have to watch it doesn't burn.

Spare ribs.  Bake the ribs, covered, until nearly done, then spoon over the sauce and pop back in the oven, uncovered, until sticky.

Sausages.  As spare ribs but I don't cover them.

Salmon.  I add a bit to the uncooked fish, then do it up in a parcel and bake, uncovering for just the last little while.

Chicken:  Spoon over for the last 15 mins or so.  I have yet to try it on stir fried chicken chunks.

You get the idea, I am sure.

I make up a batch and divide it into 5 portions which I pot and freeze.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

oatcakes (bannocks)

This was the recipe I used.  I'm really sorry but I can't remember where I got it.  If it comes to me, I will post a link.  It is not my creation and I take no credit for it.

I made half these quantities as I didn't want loads.

From Google Images.
225g oats
60g wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
60-80ml hot water

Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Mix together the oats, flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
Add the butter and rub together until everything is mixed and has the consistency of large bread crumbs.
Add the water (from a recently boiled kettle) bit by bit and combine until you have a somewhat thick dough. The amount of water varies, depending on the oats.
Sprinkle some extra flour and oats on a work surface and roll out the dough to approx. 1/2cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes (the final number of oatcakes depends - of course - on the size of cutter you use. 

Place the oat cakes on a baking tray and bake for appprox. 20-30mins. or until slightly golden brown.

I used Thermione so the oats became oat flour really.  I only had wholewheat bread flour so used that in preference to white.  
They are maybe a bit too salty for my taste.  I'll cut the salt down somewhat next time.

But very tasty!  They're in the freezer right now as I won't want them until the end of next week.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Microwave popcorn

Thank you, Google Images.
Popcorn is delicious but it can be laden in fat and other nasties, it can be a bit of a scary process, requiring very hot oil on the hob, etc, and there always seems to be unpopped kernels left over.

No more!

After an exchange in a facebook group, I googled and then tried microwave popcorn and, you know what, it's not bad.  Nice as a snack anyway.

Popcorn is just under 4 calories per gram.  Pretty good.  It's what is added to popcorn that makes it such a health disaster!
You need a good microwave proof dish and something to fit snugly over the top - I used a pyrex bowl and a plate.  Oh, and some popcorn kernels.  Health food shops have them but so do supermarkets - look where the dried pulses are.

Put the kernels in the bowl - not too many as the 'pop' much bigger.  I used 20g which is 20 calories, more or less: not very much at all.
Cook on your highest setting until they start popping.  After a short time (30 secs-ish) of popping, take the bowl out (it will be VERY hot, so be careful) and remove the popped corn.  You can keep it warm, if you like.
Cover and re pop.
Repeat until just about all the kernels have popped.
You need to do it like this because the first ones to pop will 'catch' otherwise.

That's it.  I just sprinkled some salt over and munched my way through what would be a nice little snack with plenty of 'crunch' satisfaction.  I guess you could add sugar, honey, maple syrup etc, for a sweet taste but I like it savoury.

I think I shall be building this one into my food planning.

(I wonder if I could soak and cook dried corn?  Might give it a go.)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Repeat post: tomato ketchup

I made this quite a while ago.  It came out very spicy and I haven't really used it much recently.  However, the other day I was brave and tried some with the turkey patties I was having for dinner and wow!  So, so delicious.  The flavour has mellowed so much.  It still has a spiciness but not one that tastes 'raw'. It's improved so much and is so tasty that I thought I'd repost, especially as the tomato season will be on us in a couple of months.  Guess what I will be making . . .

One change - it will definitely go into wide necked jars this time!

Here's the copied post.
Borrowed from Google but very like what I made - quite dark and very thick after all the zizzing.
I made this recipe today.  Someone posted it in a Facebook group and apart from that I have no idea where it comes from, sorry.
I'll share the recipe first and then make some comments.

2kg (4lb) ripe tomatoes
450g (1lb) onions
450g (1lb) sugar – light brown is best but could use demerara or granulated
12 cloves – or thereabouts
10g (1/2 oz) allspice – I use 1 tbsp of whole berries
25g (1 oz) salt
375ml (3/4 pint) cider vinegar – also works with others but not malt vinegar
10g (1/2 oz) black peppercorns – again, about 1tbsp will do
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper or chilli powder


Slice/chop the tomatoes and onions. Put everything in a heavy based pan and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 hours. Whizz with a hand held blender and push through a sieve after that (do this whilst it is still hot). Bottle into sterilized, wide necked bottles or jars.

This makes about six 310g bottles (Reggae Reggae sauce bottles are brilliant for this) or 4 or 5 1lb jam jars. Store in a cool place and it will keep for months. Pop in the fridge once opened.

My comments:
1.  I used a tin of chopped tomatoes and made it up to 1k(I did half quantity) with cherry toms.  I then added a good squirt of tomato puree as the fresh tomatoes weren't as flavoursome as they could be (shop bought).

2.  It's quite spicy.  Really, really good but spicy.  When I make it again, which I will, I will halve the peppercorns and the cayenne (which is what I used).
(Edited:  no I won't, it is now just perfect!  Give it time to mature)

3.  I needed to add some water half way through the boiling as it was getting too dry.  Given that I needed to do that, maybe next time I will add some coca cola or pepsi.  I love the flavour that imparts.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Al's roasted vegetable pot pie

Use whatever veggies you fancy.  As long as they roast, they can be used.  It would be lovely with some chunks of chicken or other leftover meat.  You don't need anything else on the side; it is filling and absolutely delicious.

This was made for a friend with food allergies/intolerances, hence the lack of things like mushrooms and garlic, but it is very adaptable.

You could use roasted veg leftovers for a Meatless Monday Meal!  Just cut out the first stage.  Leftover gravy doesn't happen very often but, if you had some, use that!

Ingredients to serve 2
one small sweet potato
one carrot
half a smallish leek
one parsnip
one medium onion
some veg oil for baking

for the sauce
Marigold vegetable bouillon*
some thickening granules
a dollop of soft cheese (Morrisons value)
a pinch of mixed herbs

for the pastry
140g plain flour (I used savers as I always do nowadays)
pinch of salt
35g Trex (it needed to be vegetarian - I gather lard makes the best pastry!)
35g butter
a little milk for glazing

Put the oil in a roasting dish and pop into the oven.  Heat the oven to around 180C

While the oven is heating, peel and chunk the carrot and pop into the roasting dish, stir in the oil and roast the carrot for about 30 mins because carrot takes longer to roast that the other veg.
The chunks are to your own liking.  Mine weren't too big.

Peel and chunk the other veg.  Keep the parsnip and sweet potato in water until ready to roast.
Pop the veg in the roasting dish with the carrot.  Stir well until they are all covered with oil and put back in the oven for another 20 to 30 mins until they are all soft.

Then make the pastry.  Rub the fat into the flour and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add three tbsp very cold water and mix gently until it comes together.  Shape into a ball, wrap and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

Make the sauce by adding water to a good tbsp Marigold powder in a sauce pan, bring to a simmer, add some thickening granules until it is the thickness you want, then add some soft cheese.  The idea is to get something you can pour over the vegetables, cover with pastry and bake!  Too thin and it will make the pastry wet, too thick and it will be dry and unappetising.  The vegetables do absorb some of the sauce.  I didn't add salt as the stock is well seasoned.

When the vegetables are cooked, spoon them into a couple of oven proof individual dishes (or you can make one larger pie)  Mine were oval, as you can see in the photo, but use whatever you have really!
Pour over the gravy.
Roll out the chilled pastry and cut to the size you need.  I used a third dish as a template so the top fitted exactly.
Top the veg/sauce with the pastry.  Cut a criss cross in the middle and brush over some milk.  I used not to bother but it does make the pastry look tastier.  However, I resent using a whole egg when just a bit is needed so milk it has to be!

Put the dishes on a baking sheet (in case of spills) and bake in the oven at between 180 and 200 C until the sauce is bubbling and the pastry is cooked and a 'golden' brown.  Mine took 40 mins.

I served them in the dishes they were baked in, on a plate.  Nothing else needed.  They were delicious and filling and dead easy!

* Marigold bouillon powder is not cheap, there's no denying that.  However, it is tasty and you can use just what you want rather than having to chop up a stock cube or a stock pot.  I reckon it is better value in the longer term.  Not using it would be penny wise, pound foolish for me!
However, any stock can be used in this recipe.  It's the taste for the sauce that is important.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Oaty soda bread

I sort of made this up this morning and it's delicious.  It takes next to no time to make and is very frugal

Ingredients for one small loaf (easily doubled)
100g oats, zizzed into a coarse flour
100g SR flour
half tsp sugar
half tsp bicarb
half tsp salt
around 150 mls natural yogurt

Preheat the oven to 230 (lower if it's a fan oven)

Sift the dry ingredients, add the yogurt and mix.  I tend to use the handle of a wooden spoon when mixing.  Add a little more yogurt if needed but the dough shouldn't be wet.

When the ingredients have all come together, tip them out and continue working them for a short time until you have a soft-ish dough, flouring the working surface if necessary.  Form the dough into the shape you want.  I made it round and pressed a deep cross into it using the handle of a wooden spoon.

Bake for about 15 mins, then reduce the heat to about 200 and bake for another 20 minutes or so.  it is done when there is a hollow sound when you tap the base.

Cool on a wire rack.

Soda bread stales quickly so if not needed right away, wrap and freeze.

I might try adding a bit of parmesan (or frugal equivalent) and mustard powder next time.  You could glaze the top with milk or beaten egg and sprinkle over some whole oats.

Apple and chicken stir fry

I've had this recipe in the file for a very long time.  I first discovered it in a magazine in the last century (!), thought it looked likely, gave it a try and thought it delicious.
It's not frugal, nor particularly low in calories, it's just plain scrummy.

I made it again last night for me and a friend who is staying over and decided I really ought to share it so here it is.

Ingredients: to serve 4
4 tsp butter (I used less)
2 granny smith apples, cored and cut into slices
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (about 1 lb in total)
1 red onion, finely chopped or very thinly sliced
1/4 pint apple juice (dry white wine is nicer and that's what I used!)
3 fl oz half-fat creme fraiche (I might have used more!)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
optional - chopped fresh parsley to garnish and thickening granules if you prefer a thicker sauce

Heat half the butter in wide pan over medium heat, add the apples and stir fry for 2 mins or until just tender.  Remove with slotted spoon and keep warm.
Increase heat to high and melt the remaining butter in the pan.  Add the chicken and stir fry for 3-4 mins or until browned.  Remove and keep warm.
Add onion and 2 tbsp of apple juice (or wine) to the pan and stir fry for 2-3 mins until onion is going soft.  Add the remaining liquid and bring to the boil.  Stir for one minute, then add the creme fraiche and cook, stirring, for 2 mins.  If you want to thicken the sauce a bit, use thickening granules at this point.
Return chicken and apples to the pan and mix thoroughly.  Season and serve hot with rice or a green salad*, garnished with parsley if required.

*  Last night I served it with new potatoes and steamed broccoli and it was absolutely delicious.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Black cherry jam

I didn't realise, until a friend pointed it out to me, how difficult it is to get black cherry jam nowadays.  She loves it and can't seem to get it (reasonably priced) anywhere.  I said I'd look out so, when I remembered that Sainsbury's does bags of frozen black cherries, I knew what to do!

I had two bags of the cherries which I defrosted and simmered in a little water.  I asked my friend if she wanted whole cherries or cut up cherries and, in the end, mashed them a bit with a potato masher which worked great.

Then I measured what I had and added sugar in the proportion pint to pound - in other words for every pint of fruit I added 1 lb sugar.

Now, cherries are pretty low in pectin so I used jam sugar and also added a good squirt of bottled lemon juice.

I added the sugar and lemon juice to the cherry mix, gave it a good stir and left it, covered, overnight.  I've discovered that when I do that, less boiling is needed and setting point comes very quickly.

So the next day, when the sugar had all dissolved, I boiled it up, checked for set (got it first time) and bottled it.   Today I will be off for coffee with my friend, with several jars of jam and a jar of marmalade.  I love bearing gifts!

As for cost, well, no, not cheap, certainly not frugal!  The cherries were £4 (although they are sometimes on special offer) and the jam sugar is more expensive than the ordinary sugar at £2.00.  But, when you can't normally find that jam, it is worth it and it's not more expensive than comparative quality bought jam (I checked My Supermarket).

And making jam is a very satisfying experience!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Top tip: scum


A little tip for home jammers.

That 'scum' that you are told to scrape off - I do sometimes, it depends how much and whether it will spoil the look of the jam. Well, there's nothing wrong with it and it is packed with fruity flavour. Keep it and mix it into yogurt for a most delicious breakfast or dessert.

I've just had the scum from some black cherry jam with my breakfast yogurt and - wow, delicious!
No waste either!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Stewed rhubarb and strawberries

This is so simple I hesitate to post it but, I thought, my blog, why not?

Thank you, Google images!
We've started pulling rhubarb from the allotment and I had some strawberries that I bought on impulse but which were a little hard and not that juicy.  Berries like that do improve with cooking and strawberries and rhubarb is a flavour combination that the angels sing over so . . .

Wipe the rhubarb and cut into inch chunks.
Pop them in a pan with a little water and some sugar.  I err on the side of caution because you can always add more later.
Gently stew the rhubarb until it is almost soft.
While that's going on, hull the strawberries and cut them in half (or quarters if they are large.
Add them to the nearly soft rhubarb and simmer for a short time more.

That's it.  You can add flavourings like ginger and I have an idea that a dash of balsamic vinegar might go rather well but I love it straight.

You can have it with custard, cream or yogurt.  You can make a pie or a crumble.  It would be wonderful on pancakes or waffles.
You could add it to vodka or gin to make a fruit liqueur.
Or swirl it into ice cream.

I usually mix it with my home made natural yogurt and it's wonderful!

Here's a link to my own original strawberry, rhubarb and cranberry jam which is just wonderful!

Sunday, 17 April 2016


I've had back to back visitors for a few week so haven't been recipating very much (is that a real word - no, probably not!)

I Will Be Back!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

No knead crusty bread.

The actual recipe is here.

Just scroll down until you get to the recipe.
I changed nothing so won't reproduce ingredients, etc, just share some photos.

I didn't take a photo of the original mix but it was not a pretty sight, not confidence inspiring in the least little bit.  Imagine the four ingredients, roughly stirred together.

 Half way through the long rise.  Still not looking wonderful
Shaped into a boule.

And after baking . . .
. . . there you go - a rather attractively rustic looking loaf.
 And inside?

And it is pretty frugal too.

I'm going to try a half wholemeal, half granary loaf next.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Top tip: drying pasta

Making your own pasta?

You can buy a lovely wooden drying stand for a tenner or a lot more.  They're gorgeous but take up room.

or . . .

You can do what I've just done!   :-)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Frugal: Tomato soup

I've just made this for lunch.  I would estimate that it costs around about 40p to make, so it's pretty frugal.
It makes enough for two and it's nice so, although I have posted something similar in the past, here's what I did.

a dab of butter
half a smallish onion, peeled and chopped
half a small carrot, peeled and chopped
a 3" piece of celery rib, chopped
(these three were just what was left over from another recipe, hence the vague amounts)
a squidge of garlic puree
1 tsp marigold stock powder
a can of chopped tomatoes
a pinch smoked paprika
a pinch mixed, dried herbs
some pepper
two halves of sun dried tomatoes in oil (the secret ingredient)
a pinch of sugar

Conventional way
Saute the vegetables in a bit of butter until softening.  Add the garlic puree and mix well.  Cook for another minute.
Add the stock, the chopped tomatoes, swill the can out with some water (about a third of the can) and add that too.  Add the paprika, dried herbs, pepper, sun dried tomatoes and a pinch of sugar.
stir well, cover and simmer until everything is soft.
Blend the soup well, check seasonings and adjust.  I didn't add salt because the stock already has salt in it.

Thermomix way:
Saute the veg and the butter for six minutes on 100, speed 2
Add the garlic puree and give it another minute on the same setting.
Add the stock, the chopped tomatoes, swill the can out with some water (about a third of the can) and add that too.  Add the paprika, dried herbs, pepper, sundried tomatoes and a pinch of sugar.
Cook on 100, speed 2 for 20 mins.
Allow to cool just a bit.
Blend at speed 10 for 1 minute.  Check seasonings and adjust.

I then pushed it through a sieve to get rid of the last little bits of tomato pips but you don't have to.

I will have some for lunch with maybe a little dollop of yogurt or some soft cheese stirred in.

Photo to follow if I remember to take one.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Spiced Bread and Butter pudding - a Thermomix recipe

I'm using my Varoma a lot more than I used to and starting to get adventurous - well, a bit adventurous anyway.

I had some drying hot cross bun loaf that was still fine for toast but I had a thought, tried it out and it worked so I am sharing it with some of my readers who are Thermo owners.
You could make this with ordinary bread.  Just add spices to the custard.  Left over hot cross buns, tea loaf, etc - no problem!  You could use some cream instead of some of the milk.  You could use a brown sugar.  You could add citrus zest.
Oh, you get the idea.  Adaptable is its middle name!

Spiced Bread and Butter Pudding
Really delicious and filling too.

Ingredients to make two good helpings.
Two slices of hot cross bun loaf (made using a 1 lb loaf tin), buttered and cut diagonally into quarters
a little more butter for greasing the dish
Some sugar - I used about 1 tsp-ish as the bread is quite sweet.  If you use ordinary bread, you'd need more
More sugar from sprinkling over the top
Some dried fruit.  I used sultanas.  The loaf already had dried fruit in it

For the custard.
250 mls milk (or mix of milk and cream)
1 egg (medium)
A good grating of nutmeg.

You also need an oven proof dish that is not too deep and, most importantly, fits in the varoma.  You can see what I used in the photos: the dimensions are 12x18cms

Grease the inside of the baking dish with butter.
Arrange the half of the buttered bread in the dish, then sprinkle over some sugar and some dried fruit.
Put the rest on top and again add sugar and dried fruit.

Mix the milk with the egg (I used a hand blender) and add the nutmeg.  

Pour it carefully over the bread and butter.  Push the bread down with a fork and then leave it for about half an hour so that the liquid soaks into the bread.  There should still be some milk visible, it won't all soak in.

Cover with cling film (the photo doesn't show this) and place in the varoma.

Boil some water and add it to the bowl - my timing relies on the water being boiling.  Put on the bowl lid and add the varoma with its lid.  The middle shelf isn't needed.
Cook on varoma heat, speed 2 for 12 mins.

Preheat your grill.  Remove the cover from the dish and sprinkle over some sugar (I didn't do this and I wish I had).  Put the dish on the grill pan and pop it under the grill for about two to three minutes - ish, until brown and crisp on top.  Keep checking.  This is the one stage where you cannot go away and do something else.
Or you could use a blow torch but I don't have one - they scare me to death!

Serve hot or cold.  If I'd had cream, there would be some in the photo!