Sunday, January 14, 2007

Food Facts and Figures

With the second week of this year almost over, time for another audit. Last week's panic about running short of money has abated. My new allowance of £5 a weeks to cover food 'bought from myself or from the shops now seems more than adequate. This week's attack on my storecupboard worked out at £2.58p (couscous 20p), tomato puree (10p), flour (1p), canned tomatoes (17p), bread mix (70p), custard powder (10p), mango chutney (20p) baked beans (17p). pkt. jelly (28p), banana 5p, trifle sponge (5p), sherry (5p), short pastry (50p), sugar (10p) From shops, £1.02p for three packs of Ryvita. Total £3.60.

My milk bill allowance of £10 per week also seems to be underspent. The Greek yogurt lasts for up to three weeks, the creme fraiche sometimes two. I've got two tubs of cottage cheese untouched, so won't need that next week. Likewise can cut down on the hard cheese and butter. As I keep all my milk bill receipts, these will be totted up at the end of the ten weeks.

Yesterday was easy as far as meals went. The leftover spag.bol meat sauce for me with a salad, and a large leftover helping of (frozen) beef casserole for Beloved, with a jacket potato. Tonight's meal will be chicken curry with rice. Puddings during the week have been TOPud, sherry trifle, banana and custard, jelly and custard, ice-cream, apple and blackberry pie with custard one day, cream another. The blackberries were free by the way. Picked from bushes last year.

There are many lovely recipes out there worth trying, so let's find some.

Bean 'n Banger Bake: serves four
8 sausages
2 onions, sliced
1 can baked beans in tomato sauce,
about 200g canned or home-cooked mixed beans
1 heaped tsp. tomato puree
dash HP or Worcestershire Sauce
dash Tabasco sauce
Skin the sausages and cut each into five or six pieces. Roll each piece in floured hands. Put some oil in a frying pan and fry the little sausage balls for a few minutes until just beginning to crust on the outside (they will finish cooking in the bean sauce). Remove the sausages, and add the onions to the pan. Fry until light gold. Add the puree and the sauces and stir. Then add the baked beans, stir again, and finally add the rest of the beans and the sausages . Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Ring the changes by serving with mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes, chips, rice or noodles.
Tip: The cheapest baked beans are best for this dish as they usually contain plenty of tomato sauce. If necessary, add a little more liquid by way of chicken or beef stock or just water. A pinch of mixed herbs gives more depth of flavour.

Five Minute Flan: serves four or more
1 7" pre-baked pastry case
2 tblsp. mayonnaise
2 tblsp. Greek yoghurt
8 oz (225g) cooked fish, white or smoked
2 oz (50g) cooked peas
2 oz (50g) cooked carrots, diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced.
Flake the fish (removing skin and bones), and fold into the mayo and yoghurt with the peas and carrots. Season to taste. Pile into the flan case, smooth the top and decorate with the sliced eggs and tomatoes.
Variation: Instead of the flan case, fold the fish and vegetable mixture into some cold cooked rice. Decorate with quartered hard-boiled eggs and quartered tomatoes, plus a sprinkling of parsley.

Pasta, Peas and Home-cooked Ham: serves four
This is a great way to use up any chunky bits from the joint of Xmas ham.
4 oz (110g) butter
4 oz (110g) frozen peas
4 oz (110g) ham cut into small strips
12 oz (350g) pasta bows, or any shape you have
grated cheese
Melt the butter in a pan, add the peas and ham and cook until the peas are ready. Season to taste*. Meanwhile cook pasta as per packet directions. Drain and mix with the peas and ham. Either add or stir in grated cheese of your choice.
Tip: *When using salted butter, season only with pepper. Use less butter if you wish but it does add flavour and remember - butter is a natural product. Margarine isn't.

not your average Bread and Butter Pudding:
Try changing the flavour next time you make and B & B pud. Make sarnies using chocolate spread instead of using just the buttered slices. Or add cocoa to the custard sauce to make a chocolate version. Try marmalade spread on the buttered bread and add orange zest to the custard. Or make banana sandwiches, or even jam with banana sarnies before covering with custard.
Tip: If possible, once the egg/milk mixture has been poured over the bread, leave it to soak for several hours before baking. It can either be baked just in the dish, or the dish can be stood in a bain marie and cooked for longer at a lower temperature, in which case the pudding will be less crusty and have more of a souffle texture.