Saturday, December 06, 2008

Economise, Prioritise

When made with beef burgers this is a variation of Cottage Pie. Made with 'lamburgers', call it 'Shepherds...'. Because this recipe is geared up to use frozen food (always convenient - as is the instant potato), it can also be made using 'fresh' ingredients.
Cottage 'burger: serves 3 - 4
4 frozen beefburgers
4 oz (100g) frozen mixed vegetables
1 x 226g (8oz) can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 oz (75g) instant potato
half ounce (15g) butter
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
2 oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Grill the burgers until cooked through. Meanwhile cooking the vegetables is boilingsalted water until tender, then drain and stir in the tomatoes to heat through. adding seasoning to taste.
Make up the potato as per packet instructions, and beat in the butter and egg. Season to taste.
Place the tomato/vegetable mixture in the base of a heatproof dish, cut the burgers into strips and place these over the veggies, then pile the potato on top, spreading to cover, then roughly fork up the surface. Sprinkle over the cheese and put under a hot grill until brown and bubbling.

Pauper's Strongonoff: serves 2
4 frozen beefburgers, partially thawed
1 oz (25g) butter or marg
1 small onion, finely sliced
3 oz (1--g) frozen or fresh mushrooms, sliced
sa;t and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) creme fraiche or sour cream
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Slice the beefburgers into thin strips and fry until nearly cooked (about 5 minutes) then stir in the onions and mushrooms. Fry gently for a few minutes until these too are cooked, then add seasoning to taste. Stir in the cream and serve immediately with boiled rice or noodles.

Here is an unusual and economical dish made with pilchards (or sardines if you prefer), and although the cannelloni can be bought as dry pasta tubes, they can also be made using dry lasagne strips that have been soaked in hot water, and then rolled around the filling. Or make them using home-made pasta.
Pilchard Pasta: serves 4 (F)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) mushrooms, finely chopped
1 oz (25g) butter or marg
1 lb (454g) can pilchards in tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1 tblsp lemon juice
12 cannelloni tubes (or lasagne sheets)
1 pint white sauce (see recipe below)
Melt the fat in a frying pan and saute the celery and mushrooms until softened. Tip the contents of the can of pilchards into a bowl and mash with a fork, adding the vegetables, pepper and lemon juice. Cook the pasta tubes in boiling salted water until just tender (do not over cook or the pasta will split). Rinse with cold water then stuff with the fish filling and arrange in a baking dish (if wishing to freeze, line the dish with foil, or place the tubes in a foil container in a single layer, pour over the sauce, cover, cool rapidly and freeze. Eat within 2 months. To use: remove wrappings and heat in an ovenproof dish, from frozen, at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 45 minutes.
To bake without freezing, pour the sauce over the pasta and bake at the above temperature for 30 minutes or until heated through. If you wish, add grated cheese on top of the sauce, before or after baking.
2 oz (50g) butter
2 oz (50g) flour
1 pint (600ml) milk
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan, then remove from heat and stir in the flour, then gradually blend in the milk. Return pan to the heat, keep stirring while you bring the milk to the boil, and cook for one minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste, then pour over the pasta making sure it is covered completely.

Final two recipes today use mincemeat. Although mincepies are traditional at Christmas, we can often have too much of a good thing, so by all means eat one 'proper' mincepie, and then have a go at making (and eating) these.
Christmas Ice-cream: serves 4 (F)
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
half tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
2 tblsp mincemeat
1 tblsp brandy
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream
Put the milk and vanilla into a pan and heat gently. Cream together the egg and the sugar until light and fluffy, then slowly beat in the hot (but not boiling) milk. Strain through a sieve back into the pan and place over a low heat, stirring all the time, until it begins to thicken (just coating the back of a wooden spoon). Take care the custard does not 'split' and the eggs begin to 'scramble'. If it does, a chef would normally start again, but rub it through a sieve and add a little slaked cornflour to the sieved custard, reheat very gently and it should then be fine. Pour the custard into a bowl and leave to cool, then stir in the brandy and mincemeat. Whip the cream lightly, then fold this into the mixture. Pour into a container and freeze until firm. With any luck the sugar and brandy will keep the ice-cream fairly soft-scoop, if not, allow to stand 15 minutes (or less) at room temperature to scoopable consistency. Return unused ice-cream immediately to the freezer.

Mincemeat Meltaways: makes about 16 (F)
8 oz (225g) plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder
half tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 oz (100g) butter or marg
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
8 oz (225g) mincemeat
flaked almonds
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Rub in the fat until like breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and the egg. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and roll out to about an eighth of an inch (0.3cm) thick (either on the same surface or between sheets of baking parchment). Handle the dough carefully.
Stamp out both circle and lids to the size required to line 16 bun tins (top diameter 2.5"/6.5cm). Place a circle of the dough in the base of each tin and cover with 1 tsp of the mincemeat. Top with the lids (these will seal themselves when cooking), and scatter over the nuts. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 15 minutes. Leave in the tins for five minutes, then slip the 'meltaways' onto a wire rack to finish off cooling.
To Freeze: open freeze, uncovered, until firm. Pack in rigid containers, seal and return to the freezer. To serve: unwrap, place on a wire rack, and thaw at room temperature for about an hour.