Saturday, 31 July 2010

Leftover Sausage Casserole

A really easy meal to prepare tonight. Just myself to take care of as everyone else is out, so I put a baking potato in the oven. This allows me plenty of time to do the dog walking duties, and start watching The Damned Utd with a mug of tea and a couple of cookies. The weekend begins here!

When the potato is nearly cooked I gently reheat the casserole for 20 min. The 2 days spent in the fridge have allowed the flavours to intensify and, if anything, it tastes even better than on Wednesday. Served up in a bowl with a buttered spud, this really could have fed another person, such is the size of the portion. I justify this with the fact that, apart from the 2 sausages, everything else is mainly vegetables and pulses.

Total Cost 0.20p

Thursday, 29 July 2010

1 Hour Rustic Sausage Casserole

From beginning preparation to serving it up on the table this took exactly one hour. Most impressively, there is no shortage of taste. It feels like it could have been simmering away for hours, such is the depth of taste and flavour. Next time I cook this I am going to substitute teh salami for chorizo, and the lentils for either butter or cannellini beans, which I think will make the finished casserole more hearty and filling. However, if you like lots of sauce and sliced crusty bread to mop it up, the below ingredients will be to your liking.

The pack of sausage were the 'healthier' Butchers choice variety, and were on special offer at half price.

1 Onion, thickly sliced 17p
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
100g Salami, sliced £1
8 Pork sausages, 454g £1
500g Passata 0.92p
400g tin Green lentils, drained and rinsed 0.46p
2 Bay leaves

Total Cost £3.54

1. Moderately heat oil in casserole dish and cook onion gently until soft.
2. Heat frying pan on another hob.
3. Add garlic and stir for a minute.
4. Add salami and cook for a couple of minutes.
5. Brown sausages in frying pan.
6. Add passatta, drained lentils, and 500ml water to casserole dish and bring to boil,stirring gently.
7. Add browned sausages to casserole dish. Add bay leaves.
8. Cover the dish with its lid and simmer for 30-40min until the lentils are soft.

No kids tonight so generous portions for 2 adults. A quarter of casserole leftover for another time.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Week of Cooking

I have just roughly estimated the cost of the last 7 days of family meals, and it works out at under £40. It has been hard work but looking at what I have cooked I am satisfied at the range and quality.

One of the mantras I have adopted from Nigel Slater is to enjoy better quality food, with slightly reduced portions. I have discovered that it is not the quantity of food that is piled onto the plate, but rather the quality of the final dish, the ingredients used, and how it has been cooked.

I am conscious of the need to reduce levels of salt and saturated fats in the family's daily diet. That is not to say that we don't enjoy treats. Life would be just too dull without the odd sweet or pastry to munch on. This week the Rolls Royce Carrot Cake was a big hit with everyone, and lasted 3 whole days.

But I am hopefully doing something correct as everyone in our household is of a normal build and weight. I myself have lost small amounts of weight gradually over the past 2 years since I grabbed hold of the main responsibility for cooking. I am just under 6 foot tall and weigh under 12 stone. My aim is to reach 11 1/2 stone at some point, but as long as I don't go over 12 I won't beat myself up about it. The best thing is I don't have any severe restrictions on chocolate, cakes, crisps etc. When the mood takes me I have it. But I have noticed that my intake of junk food has reduced as I don't enjoy the taste as much as I used to. Hopefully that means I am doing something right. Long may it continue.

Roast Crusted Cod, New Potatoes and Mushy Peas

I love white fish in breadcrumbs, and this recipe is an ideal weeknight meal - quick to prepare and make, healthy, and great tasting.

3 slices cod 300g £3.33
2 slices white bread, crusts cut off, whizzed into crumbs £0.15 approx
2 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
1 clove garlic finely sliced
1/3 lemon finely grated zest £0.20
Knob Butter, melted £0.20 approx
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and Pepper
1/2 bag Charlotte Spuds, approx 10 £0.30
Tin of Mushy Peas £0.33

Total Cost £4.51

1. Switch oven on 220C/Gas 7
2. Bring pan of water to boil. Add potatoes, simmer until cooked.
3. Season fish with salt and pepper
4. Mix together breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, zest. Add butter and lemon juice.
5. Put fish onto ovenproof tray, press mixture firmly onto fish's surface.
6. Bake in oven for 20-25min. Check halfway through that fish not sticking to tray.
7. While waiting for fish place mushy peas into pan and cook on hob gently until bubbling. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
8. Serve up and enjoy!

This fed the entire household of 2 adults and 2 children aged 8 and 13.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Spaghetti Bolognese - Here's One I Made Earlier

Monday's are always traumatic enough, what with kissing goodbye to the weekend and having to spend all day doing something that nearly bores you to death, and attempts to induce rigor mortis. Once at home it's time to wake up, walk the dog, pick up the kids, take oldest kid to and from her sports class etc. Thus, I always try and have a trick up my sleeve when it comes to having a quick, but classy meal. Today I am reheating what I tend to cook in heavy batches (4-5 family meals worth), before freezing in plastic containers and taking out when required. This is based on a recipe I used from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries recipe book. The slight difference with his Spag Bol is the addition of cream or milk, something I have never seen anywhere else. It does work though, and at last I can truthfully say my quest to find the perfect Spag Bol is well and truly over. Try it yourself and share your thoughts.

50g Butter 20p
80g Cubed Pancetta 80p
1 Onion 10p approx, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Carrot 7p, chopped
2 Stalks Celery 20p approx, chopped
2 Large Field Mushrooms 66p, chopped
2 Bay Leaves
450-500g Minced Beef (try healthy options - less fat) £2.50
200ml Passata 46p
100ml Red Wine (just use the leftovers from the night before) 70p approx
300ml Beef Stock 25p (I use the Knorr 8 pack jelly-type stocks)
2 heaped spoons of cream 25p approx
Salt and Pepper
Pasta/spaghetti of choice - 250g easily feeds our family serving 40p approx

Total Cost £6.59 The above makes one family pasta meal, and one where bol sauce used with jacket spud.

1. Melt butter on low heat in a frying pan. Add pancetta and cook slowly for 5-7min
2. Add onion and garlic and stir in. Don't cook so high that onions brown.
3. Stir in carrot and celery.
4. Add mushrooms and bay leaves to pan. Cook for 10min, stirring frequently.
5. Turn up heat to medium high. Add mince. Break up and then brown meat.
6. Add passata, wine, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to boil.
7. Reduce heat until bubbling/simmering gently. Partially cover with lid and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Check sauce doesn't get dry. Add extra water/stock where necessary. Stir now and then.
8. Add the cream a bit at a time, always stirring, 15 min before serving.
9. Check the seasoning and serve.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Pork Chops with a twist and Sunday Veg

It's Sunday. i forgot to defrost the Pork Loin joint last night so it's the Pork chop for Sunday lunch today - a reliable stand-in. To co-habit the plate are Charlotte spuds, garden peas, carrot, brocolli, and leek, all steamed apart from the spuds which are boiled. The Charlottes and brocolli were on offer at reduced price so too good to miss.

4 Pork chops £3.50 (normally £4)
1/2 bag Charlottes (9 medium size) 30p
1 carrot 5p
Broccoli head 50p
1 Leek 33p
Frozen Garden Peas 2-3 handfuls 15p approx
Knob Butter
2 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
Flatleaf Parsley, small handful
1 Lemon 20p
2-3 slices bread, into crumbs 15p approx
200ml Chicken Stock (homemade)
Salt and Pepper

Total Cost £5.18

1. Set oven to 220C/425F (adjust fan oven as recommended)
2. Season chops with salt and pepper
3. Melt butter in frying pan on lowest heat. Tip most out into bowl and set aside.
4. Add glug of oil to pan and increase heat. Brown chops until golden (appox 3 mins each side). When done, put into roasting tin.
5. Mix the mustard with melted butter and brush onto top of chops.
6. Chop the parsley, juice the lemon and grate 1/4 of its zest.
7. Mix parsley, zest, breadcrumbs, and seasoning together. Press mixture down well onto the chops.
8. Cook in top of oven until cooked, and breadcrumbs brown. Approx 10-12 mins.
9. Serve with veg cooked to your liking.

Enough for 2 adults and 1 picky teenager (Becky) and one boy (Jim) who eats until the plate is clean.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Turkey Shapes Whatever You Want To Call Them

Get the kids involved with this one. You can make burgers, meatballs, or something inbetween and give them a new name. Whatever you decide upon they taste great and give fantastic taste to what can sometimes be a dry and tasteless choice of meat.

1 Onion
1 clove garlic
Knob of butter
Cubed pancetta 80g
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripped from stalks and chopped
Turkey mince 500g
oil for frying
250ml Chicken stock

1. Peel both onion and garlic, chop finely, and soften in the butter in a pan on gentle to medium heat. You don't want them browned or burnt, just nicely translucent and soft.
2. Add the pancetta and rosemary; fry for a couple of minutes. Spoon contents of pan into a bowl to cool a little.
3. Mix the turkey with the mixture into desired shape. Season with black pepper and a little salt. Leave for 20min.
4. Set oven to 190C/Gas 5, or 170C fan oven.
5. Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little oil, and fry turkey shapes until lightly golden all over.
6. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, pour hot stock over, put on lid, and cook for 25-30min.
7. Serve on bed of greens of choice. I put a bed of baby spinach in a bowl, put the turkey shapes on top and spooned over some of the stock.

Rolls Royce of Carrot Cakes

I decided to make on the morning what I call the Rolls Royce of carrot cakes as it bests hands down all others I have ever tried. It is so easy too. If I can do it so can you. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

For The Icing
400g (14oz) icing sugar
100g (3 1/2oz) philadelphia cream cheese
50g (1 3/4 oz) unsalted butter

For The Cake
2 eggs
200g (7 oz) soft brown sugar
150ml sunflower oil
200g (7oz) carrot grated
50g chopped walnut pieces
75g (2 1/2oz) diced tinned pineapple pieces, chopped
50g (1 3/4 oz) dessicated coconut
200g (7 oz) plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp salt

Do Icing First
1. Beat the philadelphia cheese and butter together.
2. Slowly add the icing sugar in batches, beating each time until a smoothish paste.
Try not to cover any pets in vicinity in icing sugar!!
3. That's you icing done - put into fridge and have a cuppa to recover from all that beating.

SWITCH YOUR OVEN ON NOW 150C (300F/Gas 2); or 140C if a Fan Oven, like mine.
Line a 21cm (8 1/4 inch) baking tin with baking/greaseproof paper.

Do The Cake
Get out your electric beater of choice - mine's a good old Kenwood. I could have used it for the icing but the washing up inbetween is a chew on!
1. Whisk the eggs at high speed until doubled in volume.
2. Add the soft brown sugar and whisk away until fluffy and light in colour.
3. With whisk on, slowly dribble in the oil, and let it whisk until mixture thickens. You will know it is ready when you can hold the shape of a trail on the surface.
4. Get out your biggest metallic spoon and carefully fold in the carrot, walnut, pineapple, and coconut in a figure of 8 motion.
5. Sift in the plain flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold in gently.
6. Carefully get the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Mine took an hour and 5min and it was baked perfectly.
7. Take out of oven and allow to cool for 15min before turning out onto a wire rack.
8. When completely cold slice the cake in half horizontally.
9. Get your icing out the fridge. Give it a couple of minutes to 'warm' so it is easier to spread. Spread a third of the mixture over the bottom half. Put the top back on and cover the top with the remainder.
10. Cut yourself a thick wedge, make a cuppa, and taste carrot cake heaven. You are allowed to feel smug - you have just easily made the Rolls Royce of carrot cakes.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Chicken, Leek and Cannellini One Pot Stop

This is a good meal to make on a day off. I marinaded the meat on the morning, and started preparing it at 2pm. As there are only a few ingredients it was so hassle free. Literally the only prep was the slicing of the leeks! This was a quality tasting, but healthy meal. I bought the chicken on a half price offer at the supermarket which meant the overall cost came in at just under £2.90.

Pack of Chicken thighs and Drumsticks approx 750g £1.50
1/2 tin of 440g Cannellini beans 0.28p
2 Leeks, sliced 80p
2-3 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp dried Herbes de provence
2 large potatoes 32p
Salt and pepper to season
2 bay leaves

Total Cost £2.90

1. Put chicken into suitably sized dish, and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp of the olive oil.
2. Add the garlic,bay leaves, herbes de provence, and season. Leave somewhere cool/fridge for at least 4 hrs to marinade.
3. Heat oven to 200C/Gas 6. While waiting heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold 750ml water.
4. Shake off the marinade from the chicken and brown until golden on each side. When done, place into a large casserole dish. Turn the heat on frying pan down to low heat setting.
5. Mix beans into the chicken casserole dish.
6. Gently fry the leeks in the frying pan until soft. Add the garlic,leftover marinade, and 1tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add the 750ml water and bring to the boil. Pour all contents of frying pan into the casserole dish. Ensure the chicken is covered by the liquid. If not add a touch more water.
7. Add the 2 bay leaves from the marinade, season to taste and put into oven.
8. After an hour take out and stir. Ensure still enough liquid covering the chicken pieces. If not add water until covered. Check taste and add salt and pepper if required.
9. Cook for a further hour until chicken easily comes away from the bone.
10. Peel and quarter spuds. Bring pan of water to boil and cook until soft enough for knife to pass through easily. Mash, adding a little knob of butter/drop of milk and mixing in.
11. Serve food up. Bon Appetite !!

This fed 2 adults and a 8 yr old

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Japanese Wasabi Steak and Noodles

Tonights meal has a Japanese theme, consisting of a large Sirloin steak and a pack of Udon noodles. Considering it only took 20min from preparation to plate I am pleased with the results. It is the first time I have used wasabi and it is literally a more fiery, intense relative to horseradish sauce. Tahini is an ingredient I first used last year and have used it frequently. My only criticism, and something I will add the next time I make this dish, is that it needed a side salad of maybe raw carrot or mooli to freshen the palate to give a balance to the 2 sticky dishes.

1 large sirloin steak
1 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp Water
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
pack of Udon noodles
2 tsp Wasabi paste
3 tsp Lemon juice
2 tsp Vegetable oil
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
3 tbsp Mayonnaise
Black pepper and Salt

1. Season steak and drizzle with small amount of olive oil. Warm frying pan on oven.
2. Prepare the sauce for the steak by adding the water to the tahini and stir until smooth. Combine the soy sauce and lime juice until smooth. Put aside.
3. Place steak in pan and cook to personal preference. Turn every minute or so.
2. Prepare noodles according to packet instructions.
3. Prepare the sauce for the noodles by mixing together the wasabi paste, lemon juice, vegetable oil, cayenne pepper and mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir sauce into cooked noodles.
4. Allow cooked steak to rest for a couple of minutes; slice and serve onto plates. Drizzle with the tahini sauce. Add the prepared noodles.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Spicy Thai Chicken and Basmati Rice

No fancy restaurants for me on my 40th birthday. Instead, I make one of my favourite spicy meals for myself, Lesley, and Jim. This is a really fast recipe to prepare and cook and tastes heavenly.

2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 thick slices ginger, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
1 stick lemon grass, outer laters removed and inner section sliced
Glug groundnut oil
1 Red chilli, seeds discarded and finely chopped
2 chicken breasts, diced
2 handfuls mushrooms of choice, sliced
1 tbsp lime juice
Glug Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp light muscovado sugar

1. Cook rice as instructed by packet.
2. Heat oil in pan or wok. Add the garlic, ginger, spring onions, and lemon grass. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the chilli to wok, stir for a further minute, remove wok contents and put aside.
4. Add another glug of oil to pan. Once sizzling hot add chicken and stir fry until cooked through.
5. Add mushrooms and cook for several minutes until softened and cooked through.
6. Return the cooked garlic, ginger etc to the wok.
7. Put lime juice, fish sauce and sugar into a cup and give a quick stir until mixed. Stir into wok.
8. Serve with cooked rice.
Generous portions for 2 adults and a 8 yr old