Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pound Stretching

Pizzas can be a very good, and healthy way, to extend meat. So here are a couple of toppings to add to the basic 'tomato sauce spread over the base'. All amounts given are said to serve four or six (which might mean using two medium sized bases) although I am sure one teenage son could manage to eat one medium one all by himself.
chicken tikka pizza: to serve four
mix together 5 fl.oz (150ml) natural yogurt with 1 - 2 tblsp tikka curry paste. Add 8 oz (225g) chicken breast cut up into small chunks, mix well, cover and leave to stand for at least half an hour. Or all day in the fridge if you like.
Fry some onion, drain and place this on top of the sauce covered pizza base. Scatter over the chicken and cover with grated cheese, pref (or some of it) mozzarella. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted (as the chicken has been cut small, this allows time for it to cook through). Serve hot or cold with a green salad.
chilli beef pizza: to serve six
put 6oz (175g) lean mince steak in a bowl and sprinkle over 2 tsp sunflower oil. Work this in with your fingers (this helps to keep the 'grains' separate when frying), then put the meat in a dry frying pan with a tsp. of chilli powder and fry for 4 - 5 minutes, stirring all the time, until the meat has browned. Add a teacupful of drained red kidney beans, cook for one more minute then drain onto kitchen paper. Spoon the meat and beans over two mediuim prepared pizza bases (dough covered with tomato sauce), then finish with grated or sliced mozzarella cheese. Fried onions, thinly sliced chorizo sausage could also be added. Bake at 200C etc. for 15 - 20 minutes. Serve immediately with a salad.

With fish being another expense, here is a dish which makes the most of what we can afford. Although cod is suggested, there are other less expensive white fish which can be used instead. Often frozen fish can be cheaper than the fresh. The choice is up to you.
Peppered Cod with Citrus and Coriander: serves 4
2 tblsp crushed peppercorns
4 x 4 oz (100g) cod fillets
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
juice of 2 limes OR 1 orange
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Remove any skin and bone from the fish (if any) and place the crushed pepper on a plate and press the fish onto this, coating both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and fry the fish for 6 - 8 minutes, turning once. Do not overcook, it should still be slightly opaque in the centre, but should flake easily.
Mix together the chosen citrus juice, the soy sauce and the coriander. Pour this around the fish in the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Lift out the fish with a fish slice, placing on serving plates and spoon over the dressing. Serve with salad or cooked peas and new potatoes.

For a really inexpensive supper dish you can't beat this next recipe.
Chilli Stuffed Cabbage: serves 4
8 oz (225g) lean minced beef
2 tsp sunflower or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tblsp each: ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder and paprika
4 oz (100g) long grain rice
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
7 fl.oz (200ml) beef stock
8 large outer Savoy cabbage leaves
1 bottle (680g) bottle passata*
Add the oil to the minced beef and work it in, then fry the meat in a dry pan for 4 minutes, then add the onion and fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, all the spices and the rice. Stir/cook for one more minute, then add the tomatoes, beans and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, remove the thickest part of the stem from each cabbage leaf and add a few at a time to a pan of boiling water, cooking each batch for 2 minutes before removing with a slotted spoon, then place the leaves in a bowl of cold water.
To complete the preparation, remove the leaves from the water and pat dry. Divide the filling between the leaves, and starting at the stem end, roll up, folding in the sides to form a package. Place folded side down in a frying pan, add the passata, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with rice.
* Tip: make your own passata by sieving canned plum tomatoes.