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Mock lobster (vegetarian)

11 Mar
Mock lobster, vegetarian recipe, tomato, onion, egg, rice, colourful food, cheap supper, flavour

Mock lobster and rice

Anyone else know this one? It may be a family thing, I’m guessing from World War 2 when rationing in the UK meant cooks got creative.

This is a delicious variation on tomato-and-onion sauce for rice or pasta; the pink colour is the only link with lobster – there’s no fishy taste at all.

Definitive cheap, easy and delicious recipe.

What:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tsps tomato paste

1 large onion

1 clove garlic

2 eggs

1 tbsp cream or sour cream*

4 basil leaves, ripped

Parsley to garnish

* my variation. Would definitely not have been in a wartime-rationing recipe.

How:

Chop onion and garlic finely and sizzle gently in oil till transparent and soft.

Add tomato paste and stir for two minutes till everything’s bubbling.

Add tinned tomatoes and let everything sizzle for another couple of minutes.

Add basil and seasoning (salt, pepper, etc to your taste)

Beat eggs with sour cream and a little bit of water, then add into tomato mix. Turn up the heat and sizzle hard, till egg is cooked and everything is bright pink.

Serve with rice or carb of your choosing; scatter parsley on top, and eat.

Smoked salmon a la Preston

22 Aug

Inspired by Heathcotes Brasserie's more elegant photograph

Smoked salmon might not sound exactly cheap, but as a starter, it goes quite a long way with a big flavour and some pretty trimmings from the garden. It might fall into the not-exactly-cheap bracket of cheapeasydelicious, but it’s certainly easy and definitely delicious.

This was inspired by a photo on the Heathcotes Brasserie Facebook page, of smoked salmon with radish and sour cream. No recipe, so I’ve guessed. And – unlike the Heathcotes chefs – as a food stylist I have a long way to go…

cheap easy deliciousWhat

smoked salmon

3 radishes

sour cream

chives

lollo rosso leaves

quarter of a lemon

black pepper

How

Squeeze the lemon into the sour cream and mix well.

Slice the radishes and chop the chives.

Arrange on a plate prettily, and serve

Weed salad

27 Jul
All picked less than 10ft from the back door - weeds and home grown lettuce

Goose-foot orache, comfrey, red and white clover, vetch, woodruff, ox-eye daisy flowers, basil, thyme, chives, feta and salami; with a lemon and olive oil dressing

It’s been a bad summer for growing things here – two weeks of wind and rain when the seeds were just planted, then unrelenting sun ever since. Result – lots of seeds never germinating, and anything that did start growing has not thrived. Except, that is, for the weeds. Hurrah for weeds! Many of them are good to eat, most are packed with nutritional goodness, and some are both. One of my favourites is goose-foot, which is a form of orache which grows with abandon on turned earth – building sites, dug over gardens, and so on. Another is Good King Henry, which is a relative, and grows happily in meadows and fields. A third is comfrey, which I thought was good for healing wounds and feeding other plants until I picked one of the pretty purply-pinky-mauvy-creamy flowers and ate it, just to see. Delicious, sweet with nectar, and so pretty. More than just a decoration on top of the salad – a distinct honey flavour.

I picked about fifteen fresh new tips of goose-foot, and two leaves from each little lettuce plant (cut and come again type); I cut a few chives and basil leaves, and added one spring onion (from neighbour’s garden) and an inch or so of cucumber. A slice of feta and a few slices of salami, a dressing of olive oil and freshly-squeezed lime juice, with cracked black pepper.

Delicious, very cheap, as easy as it gets, and capital H, capital EALTHY.

Arabella FullofLife photo of self-seeded garden orache or goosefoot

Goose-foot or orache, self-seeded and growing abundantly in lime-rich soil.

Pick-me-up porridge

23 Jul

Pick-me-up recipe with cocoa, oats and spices

Good-for-you chocolate oats – what better to perk you up when you need it?

This morning I wasn’t hungry, so breakfast (unusually for me) was just a cup of coffee. I felt a bit bleurgh, a bit soggy. Not enough sleep, a bit too much stress… you know how it is.

But around 11.30am  I was feeling a bit light-headed as well as soggy, so although still not hungry, I knew I needed something.

Oats. Easy, quick. Boring. But jazzed up with gusto (did you know that ‘gustos’ in Romanian means taste or flavour? from the Latin, of course…) and rude health, I’m waiting for the zing to zap through me any minute now.

For oomph, the oats. For pick-me-up yum, organic cocoa. For zing, cayenne. For zap, cinnamon. For vim, raw cane sugar. For vigour, flax seeds. For a bit of extra zing, a sprig of mint.

Needless to say the closer you can get to home-grown, organic, free-range, etc, the better. In this picture the mint is from my garden and the cherries from my orchard. The rest is from packets, but organic packets. If organic, home-grown etc is out of reach, then it’s still a pretty damn’ good indulgent health-kick.

What you need

1 mug rolled oats (I like them coarse, but fine if you prefer)

1.5 mugs water

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar (or soft brown)

2 shakes of cayenne pepper

3 shakes of cinnamon

1 tablespoon flax (lin) seeds

 What to do

Put it all in a pan and bring gently to the boil and simmer till it all goes gloopy. Add a bit more water if it needs it. Should be no more than 10 mins.

Decorate with a sprig of fresh mint and some fruit – cherries, strawberries, pear, raspberries all go well.

Add a few flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts if you like, and top with some milk or a slug of double cream.

Positive health ingredients: oats, cayenne, cinnamon, cocoa, flax, fruit

PS I’m feeling the zap and the zing already.

PPS This does at any time of day – breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, supper or midnight snack. As well as or instead of – a purely pleasurable pick-me-up.

PPPS Oops – I forget to mention the coconut. Half a handful of organic unsweetened coconut flakes gives you lots more health benefits, a bit of extra bite, and a subtle extra flavour.

Coronation slaw

10 Jul

I love coleslaw. I love coronation chicken. This way I get both in one mouthful. 

What you need:

– cold chicken

– cabbage (white or green, possibly red – your fave cabbage to eat raw – or a mix – very pretty)

– carrots

– greek yoghurt (full-fat)

Curry in the spice-bazaar (egypitan) in Istanbul

Curry in the spice-bazaar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– curry powder

– olive oil

Optional: sultanas, flaked almonds, toasted sesame seeds

What to do:

– Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a small pan, and add two tablespoons of curry powder. Over low heat, warm through for five minutes to release the flavours of the curry powder. Let it cool.

– chop the chicken into bite-sized bits and put in a large mixing bowl

– slice the cabbage finely or grate in a food processor; add to chicken in bowl

– grate the carrots

NB ratio of cabbage : carrot : chicken = 3:2:1, but change if you prefer.

– Spoon yoghurt into a separate mixing bowl and add the curry-flavoured oil to yoghurt and mix well.

– Pour spicy yoghurt over cabbage mix, add optional sultanas, almonds, sesame, and mix well.

– Serve with tomato and onion salad and crusty bread.

Delicious for summer lunch or as a dinner party starter.

The great chicken plan

10 Jul
English: Chicken and rabbit meat pie

Ah, yes, and chicken pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s cunning. It’s cheap, easy, delicious and cheap. Did I mention easy? This is my once-a-week thing.

Step 1 – acquire chicken.

Step 2 – put chicken in big pot and fill with water.

Step 3 – bring to boil then simmer for 2 hours on low-ish heat.

Step 3 – let it cool in the pot

Step 4 – when cool, take most of meat off bones for humans and put in fridge

Step 5 – take all the rest of the meat, gristle, skin, unidentifiable brown bits from inside, put in another container in fridge.

Step 6 – put bones, now reduced to small heap, in third container, in fridge.

Step 7 – pour delicious rich stock into container and put in fridge.

Now you have:

a) tender meat for making into risotto, pasta sauce, pate, potted chicken, sandwiches, salads, stir fries, fricassee, etc.

b) stock for soup, risotto, etc

c) bits of meat that you would discard that your pets will eat with enormous pleasure

d) heap of soft bones for stray dogs or foxes – or if none of those hungry creatures are local to you, for the dustbin.

Result: every day I have soup for lunch, made from the chicken stock, a little seasoning, any leftover rice, barley, pasta, potato, white sauce, cream cheese etc that’s in the fridge, and a bit of fresh or leftover veg. Cram in small saucepan, heat through till everything’s yummy, and eat.

I also have the makings of creamy chicken risotto, quick sandwiches, salad of chicken bits, leaves, cucumber, celery, fresh herbs, with olive oil and fresh lime juice dressing; there’s my delish coronation slaw, too (more later).

Cats are veryvery happy with their bits, and hungry dogs get the bones – soft enough not to splinter and choke them.

Everyone wins (except the chicken).

Tuna and cauliflower barley pilaf

3 Jun
English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι

English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love risotto and pilaf dishes, which are endlessly versatile, easy to cook and easy to eat, gentle on the pocket and as healthy as you like.

Last night I was running out of fridge potential. A shopping trip is looming, today or tomorrow, but there’s still plenty to work with, despite the almost-empty fridge. One of my perennial store cupboard ingredients is pearl barley (barley – arpacas – in Romania, pearl barley in UK). Cauliflowers are cheap at the moment, and high on the simple-to-prepare-and-cook chart. Tinned tuna is always on standby.

What: barley/pearl barley, cauliflower, tin of tuna, fresh herbs, black pepper and tiny bit of salt

How: Boil the barley. This can take about 40 mins or a bit longer, depending on the eficiency of your stove, so put the barley on and go and do something else, because everything else takes 10 mins. When the barley’s done, drain and put the lid back on the pan to keep the barley warm.

Put a little oil in a pan (or drain the oil from the tuna, if canned in oil. If canned in brine, add that to the oil in the pan). Wash and chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and lob into pan. Sizzle gently for 5 minutes, then add the tuna, seasoning and most of the herbs (eg basil, thyme, chives) and sizzle for another 5 mins till cauli is done to your preferred balance of crunch/tender. Stir in the barley and serve, topping with the rest of the chopped herbs. If you like a bit of yoghurt on top, a spoonful or two is good, but naked is also good.

Healthy stuff: cauliflower, esp if not overcooked; tuna, herbs. I have no idea of the health value of barley, but it’s a whole grain without the gluten of wheat.

Enjoy!