Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Home made spicy wedges

I made these yesterday, some to eat and some to freeze.  Really nice so I'm sharing.

some floury potatoes, suitable for roasting - mine were Maris Pipers
spray oil

For the spicy coating
equal amounts of smoked paprika, garam masala and garlic salt, mixed together

I didn't peel the potatoes as they were sound apart from a few sprouts which I rubbed off.

Cut the potatoes into wedges.
Steam cook them for about seven minutes.  I prefer to steam than to boil as they don't end up so wet.  It's like par-boiling them.

Spread them out to steam dry and cool.

When they are cooler, put them in a bag with the spice mix and gently toss them in the mix until coated.

Spread them out on a tray that will fit into your freezer with parchment underneath tp prevent them sticking.  Cover with cling film and open freeze until hard.  Then pop them into a labelled bag.

To cook, preheat the oven to about 180C (fan) and spread out what you want on an oven tray (I do it on parchment as it makes the tray a lot easier to clean afterwards and prevents sticking.
Spray with oil - I have a spray oil gizmo that I find incredibly useful - see below.
Bake until cooked and nice and brown and crisp on the outside.
Serve immediately.

They really are tasty and so much better value than the ones you buy.  You can do a whole lot at a time and you can ring the changes with the spices.  I might do a bit of research and pick up some other ideas

And here's the oil gizmo with a link, although I am sure you can buy them elsewhere too.  I'm going to get another one for my olive oil as the one I have is for veg oil.  There's no excess use of the oil, making it a frugal and health aid.


I ought to add that I'm a great fan of Lakeland produce but I have no commercial links with them.  I haven't been asked to do any kind of review and I bought my own sprayer quite a while ago now.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Tomato and lentil soup

Tomato and lentil soup

Ingredients to make two portions
half a smallish onion, chopped
about 25g celery, chopped
a small carrot, chopped (no need to peel unless the peel is manky)
a splash of oil (I used some oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes that needs using up)
a squidge of garlic puree (or a small clove, crushed)
a can of chopped tomatoes and half a can full of water (use the water to wash around the can so none is wasted)
some vegetable stock  (a stock pot, stock powder, whatever you have)
a couple of pieces of sundried tomato (optional – see above)
20g dried red lentils
a grinding of pepper (I don’t add salt until the end because the stock usually makes it salty enough for me)
a pinch of dried herbs (I use mixed herbs)
a good splash of milk
A squidge of chopped tomatoes

You can bung everything in together except for the milk), simmer it all gently until the lentils are cooked and the vegetables are soft, then zizz it down, add the milk and tomato puree (if using) and push it through a sieve if you want to, before bringing back to just under a boil and serving.  See below for other adjustments.

Or this is what I do.
Put the three veg in a saucepan with the oil and saute until they are softening and just turning golden.  Add the garlic right at the end, in the last few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and water, the stock, the sundried tomatoes (if using), the lentils, pepper and herbs.  Bring up to a gentle boil, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked and the veg is soft (15 to 20 mins).

Zizz the soup until it is all blended, add the milk and water if the texture is too thick and taste.  If there’s a slight bitterness, add a pinch of sugar.  If it needs salt, add some.  I didn’t need either but you never know.

It is fine to eat now, re-heated, but I like a very smooth tomato soup so I then push the lot through a sieve.  It just traps the bits that haven’t zizzed and I prefer it that way but you don’t have to.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A slightly more healthy pizza base . . . perhaps.

In one of the Facebook groups I help to admin, the recipe of the month is yogurt pizza base.  I wondered if I could make it marginally healthier.

This is what I did.

I took 3 tbsp (using a proper 15ml measure) of red lentils and patiently ground them down in Thermione (it took a while) but any processor would do the job.

To that I added 3 tbsp strong flour and 2 tbsp natural yogurt and zizzed it until it formed a nice, smooth dough.
I then wrapped it up and chilled it until this evening. It made a beautifully pliable dough.

I used half for my pizza, rolled it out and put it in an oiled lose bottomed cake tin (so it has little sides). I made a sauce from a squirt of ketchup, a squirt of tomato puree and a little squirt of garlic puree, mixed together.

I softened some onion in a very little butter, adding some sliced yellow pepper and mushroom at the last minute.

On went the cheddar and into a 180C fan oven for about 15 mins.

And it was lovely!  Healthier?  I have no idea.  Cheaper - probably because with the lentils and the cheese, I needed no other protein.

I only used half so I have the other half for tomorrow. I think, maybe a calzone of some kind.

It was a very thin crust, which was what I wanted, but I think next time I will try using SR flour and see if I can get a more 'bready' sort of texture.
Excuses for the ropey photo - I only remembered to take one at the last minute.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Crispy kale

There's nothing new about this but it's lovely and I have just discovered it so I'm sharing.

You need
kale (take off the stems as it doesn't work with stems - throw them in the next veg soup you make!)
oil in a spray bottle
spices as wanted.  I have been told five spice powder is good

Preheat the oven to 130 (fan) - so a cool oven.  Don't be tempted to make it hotter.  It just burns.

Wash and dry the kale, if needed.  leave it as it is, tear it into bits or shred - whatever you like.  Spray over some oil - you don't need much.  Then 'massage' it in with your hands.

Place the kale on a baking tray and sprinkle over a little salt (it goes a long way) and any other seasoning you are using.

Bake in the cool oven for between ten and fifteen minutes - it took about 13 mins in my oven.

Enjoy hot or cold.  It is very like the crispy seaweed you get in Chinese takeaways.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A sort of sausage thing

I have no idea what this would be called - maybe you can help.

I had three chicken chipolatas which I cut into four chunks each.  I segmented some red onion and chopped some carrot, parsnip, sprouts, yellow pepper, mushroom, baby corn and tomato into chunks.   I mixed some balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic puree together.

I put the sausages, carrot, sprouts and onion in a roasting dish and sprayed it with oil and gave it a grinding of pepper.  After roasting it in a pre-heated oven for 15 mins, I added the rest of the vegetables, sprayed again and gave it all another 20 mins.
Then I poured over the vinegar-honey, mixed it well and gave it another ten minutes.

One more mix and it was done and very tasty it was too.  I won't add sprouts next time, the flavour wasn't quite right although they were nice.

Sorry for the darkness of the photo.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Leftovers: turkey casserole

. . . or, as we called it as children, turkey hotpot.

Whatever you call it, it's lovely, filling and frugal too, using up as it does, lots of Christmas/New Year leftovers.

Amounts are variable so see what you've got.  You can substitute (e.g. use oil instead of dripping)

I used
leftover turkey chunks, both brown and white
leftover turkey stock
some white wine
leftover ham, cut into chunks
bacon, cut up (or use cooking bacon - I didn't have any)
turkey dripping
carrot, onion, sweet potato, baby corn, celery, all cut into chunks - just use whatever veg you have really
bay leaves and dried mixed herbs
garlic puree
chicken stock powder (or a stock pot)
Boiling water
thickening granules

Heat the dripping in a large pan.  Add the bacon and stir.  Once that gets going, add the carrot, onion and celery and saute until the onion is going translucent.  Then add the sweet potato, baby corn, ham, mixed herbs, bay leaves and garlic puree, and saute for a short time more.

Add the wine, the turkey stock, some chicken stock powder and boiling water.  Stir, bring to a simmer, cover and allow to slowly cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally.  Taste the liquid and adjust seasonings or add more stock powder if you want.

Add some thickening granules to make the liquid just a little thicker.  Then add the turkey chunks and stir very gently to avoid the turkey breaking up.  Give a good grinding of black pepper, bring back to the boil and serve.

I didn't add potatoes to this but you can.  In fact, they make the liquid just a bit thicker anyway so you might not need to use the granules.

This freezes well.

If you don't have turkey, get yourself a turkey leg.  They're so cheap and so tasty and have so much meat, especially the more flavoursome brown meat, you wouldn't believe it!  Best value ever!

You could turn it into a curry by adding some curry paste, if you like.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Dead easy cheesecake

I made this for Christmas Eve and I made it again yesterday and both times it was a total doddle.  Yesterday I modified the amounts and changed the ingredients a bit and it was still a doddle.

Here's a link to the original recipe:

You can see that it is a no bake affair which makes it remarkably simple and trouble free.

What I changed
Each time I used ordinary digestives but the first time I did the rest exactly according to the recipe.

Last night I cut the base down to 3/4 the amount because it really made too much.  I could cut it down further, maybe even to half because I also used a slightly smaller loose bottomed tin.

For the top, instead of faffing around with lemons and limes, I looked up the equivalent amounts and Google told me that it is around 2 tbsp of juice for each lemon or lime.  I used bottled juice that I always have in the fridge and it has made a lovely cheesecake with a thicker top although lacking the zing that you get when you use the zest as well.

I think this is going to become a standard in this home and there are lots of similar recipes out there.  Worth a hunt if you want a delicious dessert that is dead easy.