Thursday, 22 August 2013

Crushed chillies

I do love spotting a 10p bargain!  When I saw some Bird's Eye chillies reduced I snapped them up.  Each wee pack had 11 so that it cost 30p for 33 chillies.

I sliced them longways and spread them out on kitchen paper.  They sat on my conservatory window for a week.  They were dry but didn't crumble between my fingers.

So I spread them on a baking tray and popped them in the bottom of the oven as it was cooling down after baking potatoes.

A quick pound with my mortar and pestle.

And then they went into a wee jar (recycled from a previous 10p bargain marinade)

They're a wee bit redder than the Schwartz ones but boy do they pack a punch!  A little goes a long way :-)

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Elderflower Cordial

A lovely summery drink that is easy to make and much cheaper than the posh shop bought stuff.  There are loads of recipes around but this is my tried and trusted version.

Pick the elderflowers on a dry day and gently shake them to get rid of any wee beasties.  Don 't wash them!!

You need:

20 elderflower heads
6 pints of water
3lbs sugar
4 unwaxed lemons (or just 3 if they're really big)
75g citric acid (available at pharmacy)

Slice your lemons

Add water and sugar to a large pan and gently bring the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.
When it's boiling remove from the heat and add flowers, lemon and citric acid.
Sir well and leave for 24 for the flavours to develop.

Strain the juice to remove all the flowers and lemons.  I use a jelly bag but a sieve lined with muslin or a clean hankie will work.  Make sure everything is scrupulously clean.  I tend to sterilise everything with baby sterilising fluid but not everyone does this.

Decant into clean/sterilised bottles
Adding citric acid means it will keep for months in a cupboard.  If it's going to be used quickly then it's ok to miss it out but keep it in the fridge.  And if everything sterilised it will also keep longer.

Serve diluted with water (still or sparkling), soda water or even tonic water.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

No fat tomato sauce

4 x 400g chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. of Worcester sauce (optional for vegetarians)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic left whole

Add everything to large pan and bring to the boil.  Turn down and simmer for about 20 mins until thick and pulpy.  If you don't want it too garlicky remove cloves before blitzing.  I blitz it as I have fussy eaters that don't like 'bits' You can also sneak in other veggies before blitzing ;-)

It's that simple!  No need for frying off onions and garlic in oil.  I use this sauce in pasta dishes, as pizza sauce and with the curry paste to make a very quick curry.

How to make a stuffed crust pizza

Roll out your pizza dough (I use my breadmaker to make the dough and use 1 part wholemeal flour
to 3 parts white flour without any adverse change in taste).  Cut some Cheesestrings in half lengthways and then half again.  Arrange round edge of pizza.

Fold over pizza dough to enclose the cheese and make up your pizza as normal with some pizza sauce and grated cheese.

Looks good

And there's the stuffed crust!

The tomato sauce freezes beautifully.  I freeze it in muffin cases then bag it. One muffin case is one portion.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chive flower vinegar

An easy frugal gourmet treat to make for yourself or to give as a gift and seen on a few blogs lately. Lovely as a fat free dressing on salad leaves.  Here's my version.

Pick some chive flowers when they are fully open.  Check for wee beasties!

Give them a wash in some clean water and gently pat dry or spin in a salad spinner

Now add the flowers to a jar of white vinegar.  Just plain distilled vinegar will do but you could use white wine vinegar if want to be even fancier.  My jar is half filled but I'm going to pick more today and add them.

Leave in a cool cupboard for a few weeks to let the flavour develop.  It will turn purple!!

Strain and bottle.

I checked mine this morning and it's already a lovely pale lilac colour :-)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hello again!

Hello, long time no posts but rest assured I have been cooking and creating.  Big changes are afoot here in the soup kitchen but it's all good.  To kickstart my food blogging here's a fab veggie burger recipe I've adapted. 
Aduki and sweet potato burgers

100g dried aduki beans, soaked overnight and cooked according to the packet instructions
1 can ready cooked aduki beans, drained
1 large baked sweet potato
50g oats
3 tbsp of chopped parsley
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp each of cayenne pepper, ground coriander and ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp salt

Sesame rolls, salad, mayo and relish to serve

Take half of the beans and mash them in a bowl. Add rest of beans
Scoop out the flesh of the sweet potato and mash it.  Add to bowl

Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
Take a small handful of mixture at a time and form into burger shapes.
Fry in a heated frying pan with a little oil until both sides are starting to crisp.
Finish cooking by popping burgers in a hot oven for 10 mins until heated through

Meanwhile split the sesame rolls and toast the insides (I did this on the Aga plate)

Serve the cooked burgers on the roll with salad, mayo and relish.

I've made these twice and discovered that they work better if they're really crispy on the outside but not burnt hence finishing them off in an oven.

Be brave with the seasoning as they need quite a lot.  The secret is the smoked paprika but any combination of your favourite spices will work with it.

And I've realised they are vegan friendly if you watch the rolls and mayo ingredients :-)


Monday, 30 July 2012

Chicken and kale broth

It's summer and I have a stinking rotten cold.  When I'm poorly I like my chicken and rice soup.  But I didn't have any rice or leeks today so improvised a chicken broth with what I had available.  I had pearl barley in the store cupboard, carrots in the fridge, chicken in the freezer and kale growing in the garden.  This can also be a veggie soup, just add beans of some sort instead of chicken.

Chicken and kale broth

50g pearl barley
2 carrots, grated
colander full of kale leaves, shredded
1 litre veg stock (or chicken stock if you have it)
100g cooked chicken

Put barley in a large pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil then drain and rinse.
Put back in pan with veg stock and bring to the boil.
Simmer for about 20 mins

Add grated carrot and shredded kale to the pan and continue to simmer for 10 mins
Add chicken (or beans) to warm through.

Serve with crusty bread

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Wild salmon

I'm lucky enough to get some wild river caught salmon through a family friend.  It comes to me already gutted and frozen but still whole.  It takes ages to defrost so I need to be organised when I want to cook it.  But even though I took it out on Friday morning and defrosted it overnight in the fridge, it still wasn't defrosted in time for cooking on Saturday night.  So it was Plan B for that night's evening meal!

So on Sunday I had 2 whole salmon each weighing about 1lb to cook.  I wrapped each one in foil and poached them in a roasting tin half filled with boiling water.  15 mins in a hot oven, switch off oven and then left in there to cool. Remove skin and bones.

So, what to do with all that lovely fish?

Mashed up on hot buttered toast for breakfast

Stirred through some risotto

Or how about some salmon pate? 

Mix 250g of flaked salmon with 2 tbsp of half fat creme fraiche, 1 tbsp of mayo, a good squeeze of lemon juice and season well.  Serve with melba toast.  Yummy!