Thursday, October 09, 2008

Food Stretching

Whizzed through yesterday's posting at a rate of knots, and quite pleased to discover time truly can stretch when the mind is focused. With that thought, after returning mid-morning, decided to write up some recipes on 'Word' so that they could be 'cut and pasted' today. This will give me more time this morning to prepare for guests expected mid-afternoon. May do that regularly, as more often than not it is lunch time before I leave the comp. what with the blog, correspondence etc to deal with.

One advantage with writing the recipes up first on Word is that the fractions (weight) appear as they should, blog doesn't seem able to do this (unless perhaps am using the wrong font) and even more importantly (to a cook) words that are French appear with the correct accents in place. Not that they make the food taste any better, but somehow add that touch of class.

To your comments. Janet have always found that cheese seems to go further when it is grated. Perhaps you do this anyway, but when making sarnies with sliced cheese have discovered this uses up more than if it had been grated, same when making cheese on toast. Just a tablespoon of grated cheese sprinkled over a few lettuce leaves after adding a little dressing (helps make the cheese stick to the leaves) makes the salad more flavoursome. All our ends of cheese (usually mild or mature Cheddar and Red Leicester) are grated up and stored in boxes, usually in the fridge (for it keeps well enough) or in the freezer. The stronger the flavour the cheese (eg extra-mature Cheddar), the less you need to use when grated. When topping pizzas, mozzarella is good for that is what I call a 'stretchy' (stringy when melted) cheese, and sometimes buy that to grate up and mix in with the rest. Several recipes today use grated cheese as one of the ingredients.

Have not heard about energy prices going down Moira, other than perhaps oil/petrol and that is only a possibility. As to lentils, managed to get a large plastic (sweet type) bottle from the Indian and Asian shelves at Tesco, full of red lentils and much cheaper (by weight) than if I had bought the normal 500g packs. If you have any Asian shops in your nearest town, then worth popping in to see what prices they charge. Often rice, lentils, even chicken joints are cheaper than supermarket prices, and on a recent cookery programme heard that Pakistani mangoes have far more flavour than those grown in other countries. Many European and especialy Asian countries seem to have far more knowledge about the best uses for and take pride in using fresh produce, so worth exploring any ethnic supermarkets.

Late last night watched two runners for the American Presidency replying to questions from the audience. Appears their finances seem to be in a worse plight than ours, although we possibly are swimming in the same melting pot. Perhaps we are not told the true story, or America throws too much money away keeping wars going.
Having tried to get my head around why, all of a sudden, there seems to be a lack of money, where has it all gone to? Doesn't money work like most of life - what goes around comes around? Beloved tried to explain, although am none the wiser. All I know recessions, depressions, call them what you will, have come and gone over the centuries, and we just have to 'go with the flow' and learn as much about how people coped in the 'olden days' during times like this.

Remember in the very early days of this blog, some man writing in saying there was never any need these days to go to the extremes that I do. Who wants to live as we used to do in war-time? No thank you very much! At that time wondered if he was right. Now I think he may not have been. As I write so often in this blog 'forewarned is forearmed', and once we have mastered cost-cutting-cooking, we can move from strength to strength, saving money with each step we take. Sometimes I feel this blog is full of cliches or mixed metaphors or whatever they are called. Perhaps because I am unable to express myself very clearly without using them.

Today have come up with recipes for this blog that might have the touch of the miserliness about them, but once we understand that each ingredient has a place in the great scheme of things (there I go again), we should not think of these as economical 'padding', but as an alternative and cheaper source of protein (as with the oats) and any veggies used are all to the good.

This first recipe for beefburgers - when made correctly - should contain little other than good quality steak mince (with maybe a bit of onion) but when these other ingredients are added this makes the meat go a lot further to make a burger that is both (if not more) nutritious and cheaper. Not to mention - healthier.
All good things go into this burger, so if you wish to use even less meat, add more of the rest. Although beef is used in this recipe, it would work with minced lamb, turkey or chicken (even a meat substitute). Choose the best herbs to suit the meat (mint with lamb for example, sage with pork).
All things nice Burgers: makes 6
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp grated onion
3 oz (75g) streaky bacon, chopped
2 oz (50g)mushrooms, chopped
1 lb (450g) minced steak
3 oz (75g) porridge oats
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
half tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tblsp tomato ketchup or tomato puree
Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients in the order given. Remove from heat, cool slightly then gather the mixture together and turn out onto a floured board.
Divide into 8 equal portions and shape each into a flat round burger. Place on a baking sheet, slightly apart, and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 15 minutes, turn the burgers over and continue baking for a further 10 minutes.
Alternatively, fry the burgers over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side,, making sure they are cooked through. Serve in any way that you would serve burgers.

Before the next recipe, the earlier mention of using grated cheese has led me to offer these suggestions:
Ice-cream wafers:
Spread thinly with butter and sprinkle with grated cheese. Brown lightly under the grill.
Cream Crackers:
Allow 2 per person and butter each, sprinkle thickly with grated hard cheese and season with pepper. The butter can be seasoned with a little made mustard before spreading to give an extra kick. Brown under the grill until the cheese bubbles.
Spread slices of hot toast with butter and a smear of Bovril or Marmite. Spread over sweet pickle, then cover this with thin slices of tomato, topping the lot with slices of processed cheese. Pop under a hot grill until cheese melts, then serve.

Next comes a recipe for pasta sauce that contains apples. Am not suggesting you need to go out and buy apples, for there are plenty of recipes on this site to make a basic tomato sauce without them. But for those who grow their own and maybe have a glut, or for anyone who has one languishing in a fruit bowl, then this recipe is for you. This is also a good sauce to serve with fish,
Tomato and Apple Pasta Sauce: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
2 tsp cornflour
1 small tin tomato puree
half pint of water
1 tin chopped tomatoes
pinch sugar
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Stir in the apple and cook that for a few minutes until softened, then stir in the tomato puree. Blend the cornflour with the water and add this to the pan along with seasoning to taste. Stir and simmer until thickened and cook for 5 minutes (this removes the taste of the cornflour) then add the canned tomatoes. Simmer for a further 4 minutes adding seasoning to taste and the sugar. Serve with pasta and meat or fish balls.

Another cheapie coming up, and how cheap depends more upon the brand of curry sauce you use. By now think most of you are aware that curry sauce is on sale for only 4p a tin, and this can be upgraded by stirring in a little curry paste (of the strength and flavour you wish) with the onions or whatever is being cooked, before adding the sauce and mixing it together.
My son-in-law cannot eat spiced foods – unless fairly cool as regards heat (spice not temperature) - and so usually has to avoid them. But he did love to eat curries, and now the cheap 4p curry sauce is proving to be his saviour. He gets the taste of curry without too much spiciness and heat.

This next recipe uses chicken joints - the drumsticks and thighs - as these have the most flavour and are much cheaper than chicken breast. Quite often it is possible to pick up a pack of these at a reduced price. Even if you have not planned to use any or all from a pack on the day, store the surplus in the freezer first wrapping each separately so that when needed, you pull out only the amount you want and not have to thaw out a whole pack. This is such a simple dish to make think it ought to be filed under ‘student’s recipes’. Although it may not seem much protein as regards the chicken (joints can often be quite small) the lentils contain enough vegetable protein to make up any shortfall. By all means add other vegetables if you wish – carrots and cauliflower go well with curries, and also frozen (thawed) peas can be put on top of the rice to cook for the last few minutes in the steam (cooking peas too long and they tend to change colour to khaki).
Chicken Dhansak: serves 4
6 oz (175g) red lentils
4 skinned chicken joints
1 onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tblsp sunflower oil (optional)
1 can (approx 14fl oz/400g) curry sauce
1 tsp curry paste (optional)
6 oz (175g) long grain rice
Soak the lentils overnight in cold water (or can be soaked during the day). Drain when ready to use.
If intending to use curry paste, then fry the onions in the oil until softened, stirring the paste in at the end, then blending in the curry sauce. If not using paste, the onion/oil can be omitted if you wish, but will add extra flavour to the dish.
Place the chicken joints in a 3 pint casserole and spoon over the lentils and the curry sauce (with or without the onions etc). Cover and cook at 180C, 350F, gas 6 for an hour, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. It may need a few minutes longer. If you wish turn out the oven a few minutes before the end of the cooking time and leave it to cook on in the residual heat. While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice in salted boiling water until tender (takes about 4 – 5 minutes if you have allowed the rice to soak for several hours before cooking. To serve, make a bed of rice on a serving dish, place chicken joints on top and pour over the sauce.

Yet another easy recipe worthy of a student fest. This recipe was discovered in a pamphlet printed in the late ‘50’s, when food had not quite progressed to the heights it has now. Even so, worthy of making when (let’s say) living on the breadline. Packs of bacon (indeterminate rashers and bits – the fatty parts VERY useful to render down for later use) can be bought quite cheaply, so why pay for expensive pre-cut rashers, when we can usually find a cheaper way to buy them? Seek out cans of pineapple rings at a sensible price. When using one or more, drain and freeze the rest. These are great to use in a dish such as this, or chopped up and used in a stir-fry or to add to a fruit salad. The syrup or juice can help to make up a pineapple jelly.
Upsey-Downsey Bacon Pie: serves 4
1 oz (25g) butter
8 oz (225g) streaky bacon rashers
3 pineapple rings (quartered)
3 oz (75g) margarine
10 oz (275g) self-raising flour
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
Melt the butter and brush over the base of a Swiss Roll tin. Remove any rinds from the bacon (if any), and lay over four bacon rashers and 4 pineapple quarters to form a pattern in the tin.
Rub the marg into the flour, adding salt and pepper to taste,. Cut remainder of the bacon into very small pieces and stir into the flour. Mix to a soft dough with the egg and enough milk as necessary, and roll out on a floured board into an oblong to fit the tin. Lay this over the bacon rashers and pineapple and press down firmly.
Bake on the top shelf of a hot oven 220C, 425F, gas 7 for 20 minutes. Upturn onto a serving plate or board and serve with perhaps a salad.

Still thinking frugally, this next dish is a most unusual way to serve white fish. In the old days this would be made from two plaice that had been filleted (making four fillets), but less expensive white fish could be used instead. – and these being thicker than plaice, one each should be enough, and if really thick need not be rolled, just laid flat. Note the use of ‘bacon dripping’ – this adds so much to the flavour of the dish and is what I call a 'free' fat, thus saving the more expensive oils and butter to use another time..
Chef’s Fish Special: serves 4
4 fillets of white fish,pref skinned and boned
salt and pepper
tomato ketchup
1 lb (450g) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 oz (50g) mushrooms, sliced
bacon dripping, melted and hot
2 oz (50g) plain flour
2 eggs, separated
half pint (300ml) milk
Wash and dry the fish. Season on each side with sat and pepper and spread the top only with the tomato ketchup. Roll each up.
Arrange the sliced tomato over the base of a buttered shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Drizzle over the bacon fat then lay the fish on top.
Sift the flour with a pinch of salt and stir in the egg yolks. Beat until smooth, adding the milk gradually. Cover and leave this batter to stand for one hour, then beat the egg whites until stiff then fold gently into the batter. Pour this over the fish.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 45 minutes. Serve with what you will.

This next recipe is both seasonal and cheap and a good way of using courgettes that were hiding under a leaf secretly hoping to grow into a marrow. In other words used oversized courgettes. Gardeners usually have the last of the tomatoes hanging indoors still clinging to the vine so that they will eventually turn red, some of these can also be used for this dish.
Baked Stuffed Courgettes: serves 6
3 large courgettes
1 tblsp grated onion
1 oz (25g) butter. melted
half pint fresh white breadcrumbs
quarter pint fried and peeled tomato
salt and pepper
6 bacon rashers
Cook the courgettes whole in boiling salted water for 10 minutes (keeping the pan covered). Drain and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the centres and mix this pulp with the onion, butter, crumbs, tomato and seasoning, making sure the mixture is well blended. Pack this mixture back into the shells and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 180F, 350C, gas 4 for 15 minutes, meanwhile grilling the bacon.
Serve each courgette garnished with a rasher of crispy bacon. Alternatively serve with a slice of fried gammon.

There you go, not yet eight of the clock and have just about finished for today. May take an hour to write up some more recipes on Word ready to cut/paste tomorrow. Still time though for a bit more update on the Goode Challenge. The food is lasting out well, so far it has been only bananas that needed replacing. Plus a loaf of bread, the rest of the bread being home-made (but sometimes get fed up of making it). We had a beef casserole the other evening which was excellent, and instead of using a packet 'casserole mix' to make the gravy, decided instead to stir in a heaped teaspoon of AWT's gravy mix (comes in a jar a bit like Bovril). Not wishing to give free advertising in the normal way, and if so only when I feel the product is worth having, have to say this 'gravy mix' is the best thing (for me) since sliced bread. It not only has an excellent flavour but also thickens at the same time, and very good to stir into a chunky vegetable and lentil soup. I use it a lot.
Making the casserole was easy. Fried some stewing steak with onions on the hob, poured over water and simmered away for an hour then added one thinly sliced carrot, and stirred in the heaped tsp of gravy mix. Kept it simmering for a further hour, needed to top up with a bit of boiling water from time to time as, although the pan was covered, the cooking reduced the liquid somewhat. All that was needed was to add a green vegetable, some string beans or peas (not that I used either). We just ate it as it was - and it was good.

Yesterday had a real craving (could it be I am pregnant?) for fish and chips, and not the home-made, the ones from the chippy. Beloved fetched them and we discovered that the two fish had ended up as three as one had stuck to the base of the other and not noticed when packed in its polystyrene box (bring back newspapers I say). The batter in the local chippy is so crisp, I could just eat the fish and no chips, but had the lot plus mushy peas (having run out of my home-made), and have to say my peas are better (and much, much cheaper) than theirs. With plenty of tomato ketchup on top (they say that is now good for us), some vinegar and salt, I was on cloud nine.

Today our guests have said they will be providing supper - a meal from the local Chinese take-away - so again feeling rather good about life. Sometimes cooks need to take a couple or so days off. Maybe I will get around to making the marmalade today as I have time to spare.

Two minutes to eight and am all ready to move on to my household chores. Even though finished far earlier than normal, hope you feel you have got your money's worth. Considering this blog is free, that perhaps doesn't count for much. Even so.
Back again tomorrow - have a good day.