Monday, 30 January 2012

Chicken Soup

I feel faintly embarrassed giving a recipe for chicken soup, but this is such a tasty soup I thought it was a shame not to share it! 

I know I should make the stock myself, from the carcass; but I’ve never had any success with stock making and it’s been a complete waste of good vegetables and hours simmering on the hob.  Instead I use a good ready-made stock instead. 

I always make this with leftover chicken, and usually toss in the sticky wings too.  They impart a lovely flavour to the soup.  Just remember to fish out the bones before dishing up! 

The quantities below are what I used today, and this made four generous servings.  As always, it improves on keeping so could well be made today for tomorrow.
½ to 1oz butter
1 large potato
1 large stick celery
1 leek
1 carrot
¼ large swede
Quantity of leftover meat (I never weigh, just toss in generously!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock (I use a Knorr chicken stock pot). 

Optional – ½ cup Orzo 

Wash and dice the stick of celery, peel and dice the carrot, swede and potato. 

Cut the leek in half lengthways and wash thoroughly under a running tap, from the white end down to the green to wash out any trapped dirt. 

Lay the cut sides down side by side on the chopping board and cut in half lengthways again.  Slice across the leeks to dice them. 

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper and sweat very gently for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often to stop them sticking to the pan. 

Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables and add the powdered / cube of / pot of stock.  Stir well and add the leftover cooked chicken.  If you are adding the orzo, do that now too. 

Leave to simmer quietly for a further 20 minutes.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Rice Pudding

We’ve gone all retro here today!  Hubby doesn’t have any cricket today (outdoor during the summer, indoor during the winter – it rules our lives!) so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to make a proper Sunday Dinner.  I’ve bought a huge chicken, so that we’ll have plenty of leftovers!  Chicken soup and chicken pie here we come! 

Since we’ve stepped back in time to the 50’s, I thought I’d also make hubby a rice pudding.  This is a real taste of our childhood.  My grandmother used to make the best rice puddings, popped in the Rayburn to cook quietly until it turned into a dish of creamy unctuousness. 

This is how I make them today.  The quantities given below will provide four sensible servings.  I’d like to say we have leftovers for tomorrow ...... but we don’t! 

2oz short grain pudding rice
2tb sugar
Small knob of butter
Grated nutmeg
1 – 1 ½ pints of full cream milk* 

* I often add a small pot of single cream to the milk to make this extra creamy – it’s an occasional treat after all! 

Simply place all the ingredients into a buttered dish and bake in a low to medium oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours.  Stir two or three times during the first hour but leave for the remainder of the cooking time so that a lovely brown nutmeggy skin forms.  I always add a second grating of nutmeg after the final stir. 

You can cook this in the same oven as the Sunday roast, just pop it into the bottom of the oven. 

I serve it as it is, but some people like a spoonful of jam added.  The choice is yours!

N.B.  Pop your dish on an old baking tray to cook- I've lost count of the number of times mine have boiled over and it makes a terrible mess.  A baking tray contains the mess!

Grampa's Creamed Cheese

I love this!  My Grandfather used to make it for me when I was a little girl, it was always a real treat!  I often make it today – as a light lunch, or tea.  I usually make it on toast, but I only had muffins in the house today so they had to do instead! 

It’s very quick to make, and can be done in the time it takes to toast the bread, or muffins.  Have everything ready before you start! 

Per person : 

  • 2 eggs, beaten with half a teaspoon of English mustard powder (or made mustard) and a pinch of cayenne pepper. 
  • 2 or 3 oz of grated cheese – I prefer it with strong cheddar 
  • Small knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 slices of bread, or one English muffin halved
Toast the bread/muffin 

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the eggs, swirling them around.  As they begin to set stir with a wooden spoon to scramble them and add the cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted and season to taste. 

Spoon onto the toast/muffins and eat hot! 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Kidneys in Gravy

This is a lovely frugal dish – I bought the kidneys from a butcher for 37p each.  Yes, you can actually buy meat for pence, still!!  Kidneys have so much flavour that you’d never believe that they cost as little as they do.  If you think of the flavour in a steak and kidney pie, all that richness comes from the kidney.  For the cost of an onion, a couple of potatoes, a stock cube and the kidneys you have an absolutely delicious meal. 

This is another of my one-pot-wonders – why make washing up! 

For two people you need : 

4 - 6 lambs kidneys
1 medium onion
2 medium/large potatoes
1tb chopped fresh rosemary
1 tb flour
1 pint lamb stock, with a dash of Worcestershire sauce added

Halve the kidneys, cutting out the fatty core and rinse well under running water – we all know what kidneys process! 

Cut the halves into half again and toss the in the flour. 

Peel and slice the onion into thin half moons.  Peel and slice the potatoes thinly. 

Place a layer of potato at the bottom of an oven dish, season with salt and pepper, add a layer of onion, half the kidneys and a sprinkling of rosemary.  Add another layer of potatoes, season, then onion, kidneys and rosemary again, and any flour left from the kidneys.  Pour over the stock, to come ¾ of the way up the dish – or a little more if you prefer a thinner gravy.  Finally add a layer of potato and cover loosely with foil.   

Cook in a medium oven for an hour and a half, or a little longer depending on how thickly you have sliced the potatoes.  I cooked mine at 180 degrees C.  Uncover for the last half an hour to brown the top layer of potatoes. 

Serve with a green vegetable alongside. 

My hubby is far too fussy to eat kidneys so I made a separate dish for him, replacing the kidney with cooked beef.  If someone in your household won’t eat kidney you could do the same there.  Actually, if you fancy trying it but are a bit unsure, just make enough for one person (with two or three kidneys) and try it out.  You could even make it with kidneys and cooked beef – steak and kidney! 

I hope you like it.  I love it, the kidneys have so much flavour – and offal contains lots of iron too.  It’s practically a vitamin!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Mediterranean Vegetable Pasta Bake

Frugal cooks plan ahead!  Buying out of season food like peppers, courgettes and tomatoes in January, when you only need half of each for a dish, is only really justifiable if you give them more than one outing.  As I’d bought them for the roasted vegetable medley I made yesterday I decided to make this lovely pasta bake to stretch them further.   

I added the second half of the sausage meatballs I made yesterday too, hubby doesn’t do vegetarian food! 

I was astounded at how far this stretched.  I had anticipated four serves, but I have in fact made enough for two small serves and four sensible portions! 

1 large or 2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
½ courgette
½ bulb of fennel
2 sticks of celery
1 carrot
2oz of thin green beans
Handful of black olives
1 large tin of tomatoes 

300g pasta 

Peel and dice the onion/s and carrot and sauté in 1tb of olive oil for 10 minutes.  While the onion is cooking dice the celery sticks and fennel and add to the pan, then de-seed and dice the peppers and courgette, and add those too, together with the crushed garlic.  Add the tin of tomatoes and season to taste.  Cut the green beans into short lengths and add those to the pan and then add the rinsed black olives. 

Cook for 20 minutes over a low heat so that all the flavours get a chance to cook together. 

Cook the pasta according to packet directions, I used a mix of regular and chilli penne – the chilli penne will add an interesting twist to the pasta bake. 

When the pasta is cooked drain and add to the sauce and mix well so that everything is evenly distributed. 

Spoon into your oven dishes and add a generous grating of parmesan cheese. 

I added the second half of the sausage meatballs from yesterday’s dish too.  If you want to make those the link for yesterday’s recipe is here: 

Pop into the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes at 200oC (until the cheese is melted and golden). 

From cold it will need 30 – 35 minutes in one of these enamel dishes, slightly longer if you are using an earthenware dish.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Mediterranean Roast Vegetables, Pasta and Sausage Meatballs

This recipe was inspired by various holidays I've had over the years in the Mediterranean.  Vegetarian dishes are making an appearance more and more often these days! 

Hubby is a big meat fan so I made some sausage meatballs for him, and cooked them at the same time as the vegetables in the oven.  To make these simply skin some sausages and roll into balls with your hands.  Lay on a greased baking sheet and pop them into the oven to cook.  It's worth bulk cooking these as they freeze and reheat well.

For the roast vegetables, I just went with a selection of Mediterranean veg that took my fancy.  You can vary them to your own particular tastes but what I used for two of us was : 

½  green pepper, de-seeded and cut into medium sized dice
½  red pepper, de-seeded and cut into medium sized dice
½  courgette, cut into quarters, the seeds cut out and discarded and the remainder diced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 or 3 cloves of garlic cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 stick of celery, diced
½ fennel bulb, diced
Handful of black olives, rinsed 

1tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

Simply prepare all the vegetables and pop into a shallow oven proof dish as you go along.  Add the olive oil and seasoning and mix together. 

Pop into the oven and cook at a fairly high heat (I cooked at 200oC) for 35 minutes. 

Cook the pasta according to packet directions.  I used Farfalle because I wanted big sized pasta shapes with this dish but just use whatever you have, it makes no real difference! 

Drain the pasta and tip into a serving bowl, add the roast veg, scraping up any sticky bits from the dish, and then add the sausage meatballs.  Finish with some freshly torn basil leaves and a grating of parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cream Horns

I have to confess up front, these were bought not made!  Hubby and I are supposed to be dieting but we fancied a treat and I reasoned that by the time I’d made and cooked them, bought the cream to go in them it would be (a) more costly and (b) too tempting to stop at just one!  I threw caution to the wind and bought them instead!! 

These are a real taste of childhood for us.  We were both brought up in mining villages, and both our grandmothers had a huge influence on our upbringing.  These cream horns were very fashionable during the 50’s/60’s and only ever made an appearance in my family at the most auspicious family celebrations.  My grandmother used to make them and I can remember staring at the plate for hours, mouth watering in anticipation!  Many years later she handed her cream horn tins on to me for me to make them.  Needless to say, I still have them, 25 years on, and some of them date back to the 50’s!   

Making them is a doddle and nothing could be simpler. 

All you need for the horns themselves is a batch of flaky (puff) pastry.  
The filling is simply jam and double/whipping cream. 

Roll out the pastry and cut into long strips. 

Well grease the cream horn tins and wind the strips of pastry (one per tin) around the horn.  Lay on a greased baking sheet and continue until you have used all your tins.  These can be batch cooked and freeze well. 

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with caster sugar.  Or, just brush with beaten egg and dust with icing sugar when you serve them. 

Either way, pop into a hot oven until the pastry is cooked. 

Carefully remove the cooked pastry from the tins and cool on a wire rack.  

If you only have a few tins keep cooking in batches until you have made enough or run out of pastry. 

To finish the horns you simply drop a teaspoon of jam into the bottom of the pastry horn, and then either pipe or spoon in whipped cream. 

And that’s it!

Lakeland Ltd are now stocking cream horn tins if you want to try making these. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Pan Haggerty

Pan Haggerty is a wonderfully frugal yet tasty dish from the North of England, specifically the mining towns of Northumberland.  It comes from a time of poverty when families knew how to feed themselves for little cost.  Consequently it’s a wonderfully simple dish to prepare, although somewhat calorie laden – a cheap filler! 

Traditionally it was cooked on the range in a large frying pan, cooked on one side and then inverted and cooked on the other.  These days I layer everything up in an oven-proof dish and cook it in the oven simply out of convenience.  Also, I add a layer of ham to the dish, which isn’t traditional! 

When my aunt was a newly-wed, her mother’s advice for her was to always keep bacon, eggs, cheese and potatoes in the house – then you always have the wherewithal to put a meal on the table.  As a woman who reared 16 surviving children on a miner’s wage, I take her advice as golden!  I have to say, they are things that I always keep to hand in my own kitchen.  I never, ever run out of cheese or eggs!! 

To make this lovely dish, for two people you need: 

2 medium/large potatoes (depending on appetite), peeled and sliced fairly thinly
1 onion, peeled and sliced
6-8 oz grated cheese, I used a mix of Cheddar and Caerphilly cheese
Salt and pepper 

Optional, 2 or 3 thick slices of ham 

Well butter your oven dish and add a layer of potatoes, season well with salt and pepper and add a layer of onion and then cheese, another layer of potatoes, seasoning, onion and cheese.  Keep layering up like this, finishing with a layer of potatoes, dot with butter and add a final generous sprinkling of cheese. 

If you are adding the ham just tear the slices roughly and add with the onion and cheese layers. 

Pop into a hot oven, 200oC for approximately 45 minutes.  The actual cooking time will vary and depends on how thickly you have sliced the potatoes.  It could take an hour if they are thick.   

If you have a hubby like mine who won’t eat cheese you can do what I do and make the pan haggerty in one-serve dishes and make a separate one without the cheese for hubby – in that case I’d add a little vegetable or chicken stock, or even milk. 

This is a VERY calorie laden dish so if you wish do cut down on the amount of cheese you use.  I was very generous with the cheese!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Slimmers Creamy Mushroom and Ham Pasta

 I find pasta such a convenience food.  At only 10 minutes cooking time (or thereabouts) what could be easier, especially on working days.  This sauce is quick to prepare, cooks in the same time as the pasta and is light on calories to boot.  What could be better! 

8 or 9 good sized mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 thick slices of ham cut into thin strips
1 cup of chicken stock
2tb of light Philladelphia
200g pasta
2tb freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. 

At the same time, simmer the mushrooms in the chicken stock, adding seasoning to taste.  Cook over a fairly high heat so that the stock reduces and thickens.  Add the cream cheese and stir so that it melts completely and coats everything, then add the parsley. 

Drain the pasta and add to the creamy mushrooms and stir well to combine everything. 

Serve pronto presto!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Hot Smoked Salmon Risotto

We had hot smoked salmon fillets in the freezer that were left over from Christmas, and delicious as they are with a salad, a cold and rainy day calls for something more comforting so risotto it was! 

Such a strong fish as this calls for lemon juice, plenty of lemon juice, but other than that I like to keep the risotto itself quite simple! 

This is my favourite way to cook risotto.  I know it’s not the traditional Italian way, but truth be told I’m quite a lazy cook and the thought of keeping a pan simmering just to add stock bit by bit is a no-no!  I add the stock all at once, in the beginning, and then give the risotto a good old stir from time to time. 

You could, of course, add an egg-yolk and a little cream to finish, but we’re trying to keep the calories down at the moment so I didn’t do that. 

This is what I used for two of us: 

1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 lemon
1 cup of risotto rice
2 cups of vegetable stock
2 smoked salmon fillets
1tb of chopped fresh parsley 

Heat 1tb of olive oil in a pan and add the shallot, garlic and celery and cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables are softened.  

Add the rice and stir around in what little juices there are in the pan.  Add the vegetable stock and stir. 

Pare three strips of rind from the lemon using a potato peeler and add in big pieces to the risotto. 

Cook the risotto, stirring from time to time until the rice is cooked.  Give it a good stir to make it creamy. 

While the risotto is cooking, juice the lemon, chop the parsley and cut the salmon fillets into bite-sized pieces.  Add the salmon to the risotto for the last few minutes of the cooking time, just long enough to heat it through. 

When the risotto is cooked, fish out the strips of lemon rind and add the lemon juice (if you are adding the egg yolk and cream, now is the time to add that too) and then the parsley.  Give everything a good stir to combine and then serve, pronto! 

The sharpness of the lemon contrasts beautifully with the richness of the salmon and made this a lovely comforting, yet refreshing meal.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Beef Cacciatore

Hubby loves a beef casserole and after two days away from home in London, a long train journey and a drive home in the dark and rain I knew it would be the welcome home he needed.  As good as the food was, I suspect that the greeting the dogs gave him was more appreciated! 

This is my version of this lovely classic Italian dish.   

500g diced casserole beef
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 anchovies
1 sprig rosemary
1oz dried mushrooms
5 or 6 fresh mushrooms
1 jar of Dress sun-dried tomato sauce (or large tin of chopped plum tomatoes)
1tsp mushroom ketchup
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
250ml of red wine
250ml of beef stock 

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add a cup of boiling water, leave to soak while you get on with everything. 

Add a little olive oil to a pan and brown the beef pieces a few at a time, removing to a dish as you go. 

When all the beef is browned, add a little more oil and then the chopped onion, and cook for 5 minutes or so before adding the garlic.  Cook for a further 5 minutes and then add the anchovies, pushing them around the pan with your wooden spoon until they ‘melt’. 

Drain the soaking mushrooms, reserving the water, and chop.  Add the chopped mushrooms to the onion and garlic, and then chop and add the rosemary to the pan.  Give everything a good stir and add the meat, and stir well around the pan again. 

Add the Worcestershire sauce and mushroom ketchup, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go to pick up any sticky bits from cooking the beef.  Add the contents of the jar of Dress sauce (or the can of tomatoes) and stir in.  Pour the reserved mushroom soaking water into the sauce jar and shake around, then add to the pan and stir.  Add a cup of red wine, a cup of beef stock and stir in.  Season and bring to a simmer.  Once the pan is starting to simmer cover with a lid and pop into the oven to cook at 150oC for 3 hours. 

Clean and slice the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan for the last hour of the cooking time.

If you feel that it is becoming too dry add some boiling water with a little Worcestershire sauce added. 

I served this with some buttery garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Bacon, Leek, Potato and Cheese Omelette

This little baby contains three of my favourite ingredients – bacon, eggs and cheese – how could it fail!  It’s more akin to an Italian frittata than it is a traditional omelette, but I like it thick and substantial as a main meal rather than a light supper.  It’s another one of those convenient one-pot wonders that I love so much and if you have leftover cooked potatoes even more convenient; not that it’s a lot of work if you don’t! 

I’ve been feeling out of sorts and really quite fragile for a few days but had a craving for this yesterday!  This is really not hubby’s cup of tea, frankly he’d rather chew his own arm off than eat cheese or eggs so I made it for myself while he was out playing cricket!  The recipe (such as it is!) below served one person but can easily be doubled, or more depending on how many people you are cooking for. 

As always in my kitchen, this is a very adaptable little dish. I treat a frittata as a fridge clearing exercise a lot of the time; anything and everything that needs using up can be tossed in! 

Today I used : 

2 small new potatoes
The green part of a medium leek
3 rashers of bacon
2 eggs
½ tsp English mustard powder (or ½ tsp of made-mustard)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2oz of grated cheddar cheese
Small knob of butter 

·         Firstly, cut the rashers of bacon into strips and cook over a low heat until browned.
·         At the same time, cut the potatoes into chunks and pop in a bowl with a little boiling water and microwave for a few minutes until cooked.
·         Remove the bacon to a dish and add a small knob of butter to the pan and melt.
·         Cut the leek in half lengthways and then slice widthways, add to the melted butter and cook gently for a few minutes.  Add the cooked potato pieces and cook gently together. 
·         While the leeks and potato are cooking together, beat the two eggs with ½ tsp of mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.
·         Add the bacon to the pan and combine everything together.
·         Add the beaten egg to the bacon, leek and potato mixture and stir in, swirling around the pan until the egg is evenly distributed.  Add the grated cheese to the top of the mixture.
·         Cook gently on the hob until the egg is set and then pop under the grill to finish cooking and brown the cheese. 

A dusting of cayenne pepper after it comes out from under the grill finishes this off a treat! 

You could serve a nice light salad alongside this but I usually just go with the traditional Welsh Valleys accompaniment of good bread and butter!   

This is the sort of dish that always reminds me of my grandparents.  It’s the sort of thing that the old ladies would prepare for a late supper for the menfolk – not that they ever called it anything as fancy as a frittata in those days!