Friday, March 14, 2008

Add a pinch of Parsimony

Did you know that we would get as much nutrition from a can of sardines than from a good sized piece of expensive fresh salmon? And that when one lady was given details of 'healthy' foods ('healthy' by the manufacturers standards) to replace her normal shopping, and by the time she had bought her trolleyload it came to nearly £200 (at least double or maybe treble what she normally would spend). We should always be aware that many 'healthy' foods may be low in fat but often higher in sugar, so not nearly as healthy as they seem, and should be able to get all our nurtients by eating sensibly and as much fresh foods as possible. The sound tip when it came to the packs, was ALWAYS READ WHAT IS SAYS ON THE BOX. Then, I suggest, put it back on the shelf.

The recipes today come directly from the jottings of Mrs Scrooge (aka Shirley Goode). Despite their frugality, they have good flavour and, of course, are open to adding additional ingredients.
The ingredients in this first dish, almost all of us will have to hand at some time or another, and if not, why not?
Lentil Curry: serves 3 - 4
8 oz (225g) lentils, soaked for a few hours
1 tblsp curry powder or paste
1 tsp apricot jam or mango chutney
juice of half a small lemon
2 large onions, diced or sliced
2 tablsp sunflower oil
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
boiled rice
Using the soaking water, simmer the lentils until just softened. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and apple also until just soft. Stir in the curry powder and fry for one minute, then add the lentils and the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste. Heat through thoroughly, the serve over freshly boiled rice.

Onion and Potato Rosti: serves 4
4 large potatoes, peeled
2 oz (50g) plain flour
1 large onion, coarsely grated
few springs parsley, chopped leaves only
salt and pepper
oil for frying
4 eggs
Cut each potato in half, put into boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, then remove, cool under running water, and dry them thoroughly. Using a coarse grater, grate the potatoes into a bowl, adding a little salt and pepper, half the parsley, onion, and enough flour to bind.
Heat about 2 tblsp of oil in a frying pan, and when hot, drop spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot fat, flattening each to make a large round. Fry over medium heat until golden on the underside, then turn and cook on the reverse side until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with either fried or poached eggs for Scatter over the remaining parsley.
To turn into a breakfast dish, serve with the eggs and strips of fried bacon.

This next recipe saves no end of cooking time as against the normal method of dicing the vegetables. Also the vegetables can be varied according to season and your personal choice. The stock could be chicken stock (home-made of course), vegetable stock, or use a stock cube, or just use plain water. My personal preference is the Marigold bouillion powder when making up a vegetable stock.
Vegetable Soup at Speed: serves 4
approx 1 lb (450g) mixed vegetables after peeling
1 1/4 pints boiling stock
seasoning to taste
chopped parsley
grated cheese
Coarsely grate the prepared vegetables, and add to the pan of boiling stock, adding seasoning to taste. Boil rapidly for 5 - 8 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Serve, sprinkled with the chopped parsley and the grated cheese.
Tip: choose vegetables that have good flavour, such as carrot, celery, parsnips, and include potato.
Suggest adding no salt as stock cubes and powder usually have more than enough added. Always taste to check seasoning before serving, salt can be added at the table if you prefer.

Yesterday I mentioned the advantage of gaining a ham-bone, often discarded at the deli counter, so just let them know if you want one and they may keep it for you. Although the ingredients for this soup are cheap enough, the stock made from a ham-bone lifts it into the almost gourmet level. Instead of dried (green) peas, the yellow split peas could be used.
Pea Soup: serves 4
8 oz (225g) dried peas (any kind)
2 pints ham-bone stock
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 sprig mint
2 rashers bacon, crisply fried
Soak the peas overnight in the ham stock, then put into a pan with the vegetables, sugar, seasoning and mint and simmer for approx one and a half hours, or until the veggies are very tender. Either run through a sieve or blitz in a blender/processor until smooth. Taste, re-season if necessary, bring back to heat then serve, garnishes with crispy pieces of bacon.