Monday, April 18, 2011

Fishy Business

The first recipe uses canned red kidney beans, and a stores 'own-brand' can be really cheap. Dried beans can work out even cheaper when a whole pack is soaked overnight, cooked and then frozen in small amounts to use as we wish.
As well as the beans, stale bread (crumbed) is another 'almost freebie' ingredient, and the herbs can be either coriander or basil. Use the cheapest canned chopped tomatoes (or use home-grown), and for the 'icing on the cake' bake your own burger buns, grow your own mixed salad leaves, and make a dressing from your home-made yogurt. Meals can't get better than that!

Tex-Mex Burgers: makes 6
2 x 400g cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz (100g) breadcrumbs
1 - 2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
handful fresh coriander or basil leaves, chopped
1 egg
2 tblsp chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
Put the beans into a bowl and - using a fork or potato masher - roughly mash them up. Stir in the breadcrumbs, chilli powder, chopped herbs, the egg and the tomatoes, adding seasoning to taste, then mix well together. Divide the mixture into six, and using wetted hands, form them into balls, then flatten into burger shapes (Note: at this point they can be frozen). To cook, put on a greased baking sheet, then grill for 5 minutes on each side until crisp and golden. (To cook from frozen, bake in the oven for 20 or so minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6, until heated through). Serve in split buns that have been spread with a dollop of yogurt, topping each burger with salad leaves and more yogurt before clapping the bread 'lid' on top. Or serve alone with salad and perhaps oven chips.

For an easy pudding - more a method than a recipe - take ready-made pancakes and spread each with chocolate spread (aka Nutella)following with a layer of ripe mashed banana, then fold in half, then half again (to make triangles), slip each into a frying pan containing a little melted butter and orange juice and heat through before serving. Alternatively spread a few pancakes with the chocolate, a few more with banana, then layer one on top of the other to make a stack. Place on a plate, cover with a tent of foil and heat through in the oven for a few minutes before serving, cut into wedges like a cake.P,/>

This next recipe makes use of vegetables that most of us have around the kitchen at any one time. It can also use up the left-over chopped tomatoes that needed to be used up once the can had been opened for the burger recipe today.
Veggie and Lentil Soup: serves 4
1 tsp butter
3 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
5 oz (150g) carrots, diced
7 oz (200g) peeled potatoes, diced
5 oz (150g) red lentils
1 can (or part of - see above) chopped tomatoes
1.3 pints (800ml hot vegetable stock
1 tblsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (opt)
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the oil, then add the onion, celery, carrot and potato and stir to coat the veggies in the oils. Cover and cook over the lowest heat for 10 minutes, giving the occasional stir. Then add the lentils, tomatoes, stock and thyme (if using), raising the heat slightly, then when boiling half cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, then add seasoning to taste. Replace the lid - this time on fully - and reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for a further 20 - 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. More stock/water may need to be added if the soup is becoming too thick.
If you prefer chunky soup, eat as-is, or if you prefer smooth, then blitz the soup in a blender or food processor to a puree, and return to the pan to reheat.