Monday, August 02, 2010

More For Our Money

Still thinking about getting the most for our money, remembered that Tesco had delivered (as ordered) two of their 'Market' cauliflowers (ie cheapest). They had looked almost identical when I put them in the fridge, so decided yesterday to weigh them.
To prove I did have two, one was put on the scales,the second seen behind.
In the first photo the scales showed one cauli weighing in at 2 lb. The second (in the next shot and closer to the camera so looks larger, but isn't) shows that this one weighs 8 oz LESS. Yet each were the same price.
Just by holding a cauli in each hand it was easy enough to discover the one that was heaviest, but as I said they did look very much the same (should have taken a picture of them side by side. But didn't. Just take my word for it.
As you know, the outer cauliflower leaves are not discarded, these and the core are chopped finely then cooked in milk until very tender, whizzed with a blender with a bit of Stilton cheese and it makes a really good soup.

This third photo is even more important as it shows a really great way to make a low-cost meal. Being asked for courgette recipes, decided to hunt one out that is very easy to make, and - after cooking this - found it made me a very respectable lunch dish for very few pence.
If you grow your own courgettes, and use a cheaper 10p egg (as I did), and have a bit of stale cheese in the fridge to grate up (although I did use the end of a piece of Parmesan), apart from fuel used for cooking (and this can be done in alternative ways) the dish costs only pennies. Keep hens as well and this dish could be virtually free (there are times I can easily forget to allow for the cost of feeding hens and fuel used for cooking - although yesterday cooked something else while the oven was on).

Read the hints 'n tips below the recipe for alternative ways of making/cooking the dish to suit your own needs. Don't overcook, as the softness of the egg contrasts with the crunchiness of the lightly-cooked courgettes, so the cooking time needs to be precise.
Egg in a Courgette Nest: to feed four
8 courgettes
2 oz (25g) butter, melted
4 eggs
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Slice the courgettes and drop them into a pan of boiling water. When the water comes back to the boil, boil for 2 minutes and not longer. Drain immediately and line four 6" (15cm) individual ovenproof dishes with the slices, making a nest. Dribble the melted butter over them.
Break an egg into the centre of each and season with a little salt and plenty of pepper (or to taste). Sprinkle Parmesan over and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 8 - 10 minutes or until the eggs are lightly set (longer if you wish a firmer egg). Serve immediately.

Hints/Tips: to avoid putting the oven on to bake this one dish, poached eggs could be made and slipped into the centre of the 'nest', cheese put on top then popped under a grill to melt the cheese.
Poached eggs can be cooked ahead of time, then slipped into iced water and kept chilled in the fridge for several hours. When wishing to use, using a slotted spoon, remove one from the water and slip it into a bowl of very hot water, leave for one minute to heat through - then serve. Hotels cook poached eggs needed for breakfast the evening before and store/use them this way.

As I was making only one portion, to save the chore of melting butter separately, put all the drained courgettes into one dish (mine was also 6" diam) and popped a knob of butter on top, the heat melted the butter, so then arranged the then buttery slices as shown in the photograph, the egg then placed in the centre.
Same ingredients but cooked in a slightly different way would be to is to lightly fry the par-boiled courgettes in a little butter, frying an egg with them at the same time, then sprinkling over the Parmesan when plating up.