Sunday, 3 May 2015

Falafel, Carrot Salad, Baba Ghanoush

After five days of austere eating, going out and buying loads and loads of different salad veggies today was just splendid. The plate looks so pretty, but I can't really claim much credit for this beauty. It does make me think, "I want to eat middle eastern food all summer". The falafel mixture was given to me by a foodie work colleague, Egyptian by birth. I bought the Baba from Sainsburys in a tub. I have never made it from scratch, as you need to cook aubergines over a flame, so they get charred and the whole thing tastes smoky (believe me, once you get a gobful of it with something hot and fried, and something else cool and crisp, it becomes incredible).
I shaped the falafel mixture into little patties and deep fried them at about 170f for just a couple of minutes.
For the carrot salad, I grated two very large carrots, and added a good grinding of salt, a big squeeze of lemon juice, a slug of olive oil and some finely snipped up coriander, including the stalks. This is one of those things you just have to taste, and adjust quantities as you like. Or add different things of course.
The food in the picture was served with a bread wrap (as I had some in already) but pittas were recommended by my colleague - I am sure they would be better. Nevertheless, this was a belter.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Live Below the Line Day 5: Sardine Spaghetti with Tomato and Pesto Drizzle

My last tea of the challenge was also the most expensive, totalling a whopping 56½ pence. How extravagant of me. Some people have commented that we are eating quite well this week. If I have made something delicious, maybe living on £1 a day is easy, after all. Well, no I don't think it is. I think I've tried my best with what I could get.
But one thing which is difficult to afford is fruit or vegetables with a bit of zing. I have desired the sharp sour tang of vitamin C in my mouth, it just makes everything more delicious. I had half a tomato with this tonight, which cost 6½p. Precious fruit.

125g spaghetti - 5p
1 tin of sardines in tomato sauce - 34p
pesto sauce, 20g - 10p
lemon juice (bottled) 5ml - 1p
Half a vine tomato - 6.5p
Total: 56½p

Cook the spaghetti as usual. Remove the bones from the sardines (unless you like them). Mix the pesto with the lemon juice so it reaches "drizzling" consistency. Chop the tomato. Drain the spaghetti and stir the tomato sauce from the sardines into it, with a pinch of salt. Then mix in the sardines; stir the spaghetti so they break up a bit. Tip onto a plate. Tumble the tomato on top, followed by the pesto. Enjoy.

Daily total:
Breakfast & coffee: 6p
Lunch: 24.6p
Carrot snack: 3p
Tea: 56½p
Total: 90.1p

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Live Below the Line Day 4: Egg & Chips

Something really has gone wrong in my life. Tonight I have been moved. I'm actually slightly upset.
Just .. WHEN did I stop buying real potatoes? And why? Except for roasties and mash? And even that is not very often. I will be blunt; tonight's tea, whilst the simplest and most unassuming so far, and certainly the least photogenic, has taken me back to my childhood in a way which oven chips just bloody well do not. I did not even know I had fallen into this darkness, or quite when it happened. Tesco Value White Potatoes, the shittiest and cheapest spuds in the shop, might just have saved me.

500g potatoes = 24p
2 eggs = 13.2p
Total: 37.2p

Daily total:
Breakfast & coffee: 6p
Two more coffees during the day: 3p
Lunch (as yesterday): 24.6p
Carrot snack: 3p
Tea: 37.2p
Total: 74p

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Live Below the Line Day 3: Nasi Goreng (sort of)

My son thinks of "stir fry" as the worst thing to eat you could possibly imagine. He hates the idea of lots of things being mixed together, so that when you dig in, you don't really know what you are going to get and put in your mouth. Well, I think he is weird and it is precisely the mish mash of textures and tastes, crunchy soft savoury sweet salty bouncy pea-y spicy ricey oniony carroty runny eggy (and maybe meaty and fishy when I am flush again) which just completely bloody Blows. My. Mind.
I have never made Nasi Goreng before but have always thought it looks really pretty with the egg sitting on top rather than mixed in. What I have gathered from reading about the dish is that it is for using up leftover rice and other tasty bits and pieces, and is supposed to taste spicy, salty and sweet (cwoooorrr!). So I improvised by using curry powder, chinese five spice, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.
I will get stuck in with the ingredients and prices. As usual I bought the cheapest I could find in Aldi & Tesco, except the soy & sweet chilli, which came from the chinese supermarket.

70g white rice = 3p
40g peas = £0.028p
1g (½tsp) chinese five spice = 2.7p
2g (1tsp) curry powder = 3p
1 carrot = 3p
¼ cabbage = 11p
½ onion = 1.75p
1 egg = 6.6p
20ml oil = 2p
15ml sweet chilli sauce = 5.6p
½ tsp soy sauce = 1p
Total: 42p

Cook the rice as you normally would and have it ready. Fry the onion, carrot, cabbage and peas in the oil. Add the powdered spices and  mix them into the vegetables. Then add the rice, and mix all that in too. Just before the end of cooking, stir in the soy and sweet chilli sauce. Let it sit off the heat for a moment while you fry your egg. Pile the rice onto your plate, and sit the egg on top. 

Daily total:
Breakfast & coffee = 6p
Lunch (same as yesterday) = 24.6p
Another coffee = 1.5p
Carrot snack = 3p
Tea = 42p
Total: 77p

Monday, 27 April 2015

Live Below the Line Day 2: Cheesy Potato Wedges with Coleslaw

I am quite excited about this tea because I can say in all honesty that I could eat it any goddamn night of the week, very happily. I just sat down and hoovered it up. I was reminded of that book, "Potatoes not Prozac". I think that perhaps a few decades ago, potatoes were the cheapest carb here in the UK, but not any more - I think they are all beaten by pasta, rice, oats and maybe even bread, as the most carb you can get for your pennies. I actually feel a bit sad about this. Long live the humble spud. "In Praise of the Potato" (yeah that is another book).

My very generous helping of potato wedges weighed 500g before cooking, which cost 24p. These were the cheapest taties I could find in Tesco. I roasted them with 10ml oil (1p) and 5 minutes before the end, sprinked over 50g grated cheese which cost 22p (from Aldi).

I served them with ¼ of the coleslaw I made, at a cost of fractionally under 9p.

Total cost of this meal: 56p.

Total for the whole day:
Breakfast & coffee: 6p
Lunch (soup with 2 pieces of bread): 24.6p
Snack: a carrot, 3p
Tea: 56p
Total: 89.6p

Live Below the Line Day 2: Coleslaw

A simple coleslaw, a very cheap way to fill your belly and get some raw veg and fibre inside you.

I whizzed half a cabbage (22½p) , and two carrots. Then added 45ml (3 exact 15ml tablespoons) of the cheapest mayo. I am not keen on adding onion to coleslaw but if you like it, do it!

Total cost: 34½p

There is probably enough here for about 4 portions.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Live Below the Line: Pesto Spaghetti with Special Garnish

So my tea has cost me 15p! (I am hoping to snaffle a tiny bit of cheese later). Tesco value spaghetti, at 20p a packet, is lovely. I had 125g which cost 5p.
I weighed out 20g of pesto which some may feel is not enough. This only cost 10p so you could have a bit more if you wanted. Delicious.
By the way, dandelion leaves out the garden do not taste that nice.

I finished the day with a chunk of brie which was hanging around in the fridge from yesterday and needed a home. It cost 29p.

Total spend for day 1: 6p + 22.8p + 15p + 29p = 72.8p

Live Below the Line: Spicy Carrot & Dal Soup with Toasty Triangles

Onwards with the challenge, and now for lunch. I have made a soup and divvied out some portions to take to work. I used yellow split peas for this as they seemed to be the cheapest pulse on the supermarket shelf, at 53p for 500g. So here goes:
Oil: 10ml vegetable oil = 1p
Onions: 18 little ones for 63p from Aldi = 3½p each.
I used 2 = 7p
Carrots: 16 for 49p from Aldi = 3p each
I used 8 = 24p
250g dal = 26½p
2 veg stock cubes = 6p
1 tin tomatoes = 31p
A few pinches of cheap salt - a twentieth of a penny!
2 grams (1 tsp) chilli powder = 3.4p
2 grams (1 tsp) cumin powder = 4p
Total cost: £1.03p
Per portion: 21p

The bread came from a loaf which cost 40p. I counted 22 slices, which makes a slice cost 1.8p

My lunch therefore reached a grand total of 22.8p

Live Below the Line - £1 a day challenge: Coffee & breakfast

Today I began the "Live Below the Line" challenge, where I will live on £1 a day for five days. A few of us at work are doing it together, and I have slightly enjoyed the research and meal planning, and finally the shopping. The weighing and calculating I have enjoyed slightly less (headache). However I think I have just about got my 5 day menu together, and I am going to post it all here, with the recipes and everything!

Coffee - a serious bloody consideration. I got Tesco value coffee granules which cost 50p for 100g. I measured out two exact 5ml teaspoons, and the coffee weighed 3 grams. The cost of my cup of black coffee is 1½p. With coffee, I can cope with anything ...

This is porridge with lemon curd. Tesco value oats cost 75p for a kilo. I used 50g (which is pretty much half a measuring cup) and this comes in at 3¾p. Just made with water of course and it is actually lovely, I won't make it with milk again. (It is nice to drizzle a bit of cold milk or cream on top .. but not this week).

The lemon curd cost 22p a jar and was slightly cheaper than the cheapest jam. I weighed out 15g  which costs ¾p.

My breakfast therefore costs (including the coffee) 6 pence.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Slow Cooker Beans & Sausage with Pangritata

I have cause to celebrate: a slow cooker recipe which WORKS and is DELICIOUS. Although, yes, the final stage did involve whizzing up the pangritata and finishing off the whole thing in the oven. Can I also thank the obscure, relatively unknown cookery writer Mr Jamie Oliver for showing me how to make pangritata, cos it is amazing. It is basically like crumbled up crispy garlic breadcrumbs all over your dinner. 
This is what I did:
Soaked and boiled up about 250g (half a bag) of dried cannellini beans
Put them in the slow cooker and add a jar of good tomato pasta sauce, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and some nice sausages (I used toulouse sausages).
Cook on low for 10 hours or whatever. 
When you get in from work, transfer the contents of the slow cooker into an ovenproof dish.
Lightly toast 2 thick slices of bread.
Whizz them up in a food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic. If you feel you would like to add say, some lemon zest or oregano, I say bloody go for it!
Melt a nob of butter with a splash of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlicky crumbs and fry them for about 5 mins. Keep moving them around. When they are toasty, tip them over the sausage and beans and spread them out gently. Don't press them down though.
Bake in a hot oven for 30 mins.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Beef Short Ribs

Wine, meat and long slow cooking = SICK. And I mean sick in a good way of course; not vomit. Like someone said on Towie the other night, "this is such a sick club!" and they were clearly having a very nice time. Anyway, anything involving meat, doused in red wine, plus some veg, herbs and whatever, then braised slowly all afternoon to tender unctuousness .. just cannot fail.
So I had a beef short rib in my meat box from Field & Flower. It was quite long actually, a bit too long for my casserole pot. I had to do it in a roasting tin, but this was no hardship.
I seasoned the rib with salt & pepper, then browned it on all sides in the roasting tin, over the heat. This took a couple of mins. Then I let it sit on one side, while I gently softened some chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a pan. I added a bit of dried thyme and a spoon of flour, and stirred that in. 
The next step was to pour red wine into the hot pan. It was about a third of a bottle. I let it boil and reduce quite a bit. Then I added some stock, about half a pint I'd say. I gently poured the contents of the pan into the roasting tin, around the rib. I added black pepper but not salt (best not to until the end).
It cooked for three hours at about 150c. I checked it every hour and added a bit more water to the liquid, so it didn't dry out. If you had it in a casserole with a lid, you might not need to worry - however, I liked cooking it uncovered because the meat and fat on the rib went a bit crispy and burnished. You do want this to happen. 
So it kept on roasting, and I topped up the liquid a couple of times. All ovens are different aren't they, so twiddle with the temperature as you see fit. 
When it was done, the bone just pulled away easily. I lifted the meat out and let it rest. Then I poured the winey, meaty, vegetables and juice into a saucepan. It would be possible to do whatever you liked to this gravy. Strain it if you want (I didn't) or increase its volume by adding more water or whatever. It was necessary to spoon off some of the fat. It tasted amazing. 
I cut the meat into two pieces, sat them on some mash, then ladled the gravy on top. 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Spicy Parsnip & Apple Soup, with Onion Bhaji Onions

A very simple soup, with a special garnish.

The soup was made by chopping, peeling and softening 2 onions, 3 apples and about 4 parsnips in a nob of butter. It felt good to say "nob" there. Then I added a spoonful of curry paste (I like Mr Hudas) and then about a litre and a half of vegetable stock. It then simmered until everything was very soft, then I whizzed it with a whizz stick.

The onion bhaji onions were made as follows: Slice 2 onions thinly. You want to get them as dry as possible, so dab them with kitchen paper. Sprinkle on salt, leave them a bit, then dab them very well again. Then sprinkle on (and don't be shy) turmeric, chilli powder, any other kind of spicy powder you are interested in, black pepper, then a generous tablespoon of gram flour. Shake the onions and toss them around with your hand to distribute everything evenly. Heat up  some oil, about 1cm deep, in a frying pan. When its really hot, in with the onions. I did them in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Just make sure they are nicely spread out so they don't clump together. Keep an eye on them and when they are golden, scoop them out with a strainer.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Welcome to Slutty Kitchen 2015

Welcome to my relaunch. Here is a light snack to keep you going: