Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More about Mince

Thanks Janet for sending the link re the money-raiser on eBay for Rossendale food bank.  Have not yet seen it, but hope to find time a.s.a.p.  Today is especially busy for me as B is leaving at 8.00am to start his course, and so have planned to give a couple of rooms a turn-out (he hates me doing housework when he is at home for some reason), and also have to fit in baking bread, making a quiche, also a couple of trays of gingerbread for our own Foodbank to take at the end of the week (gingerbread needs to be 'mature' for several days before being eaten).
It's now almost 7.00am and am aiming to finish today's blog well before 9.00am so I can get an early start.

For several days, when writing this blog, a pink strip comes up with 'an error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again.""  These in red letters, followed by (in blue) 'ignore this warning'.
When this happens the page 'freezes' and I cannot continue typing for if I do, no letters appear on the screen.  It takes about a minute for this 'strip' to disappear, then I can continue again.  The few letters/characters I wrote before I realised the prob, but not visible, then DO appear, but as I tend to get mixed up because of this, often have to delete and write the words again.  When I edit at the end of writing the complete blog, this can also tend to 'freeze' for a few minutes when I either add or delete a word or two.  But every few minutes, this pink line keeps happening, so over the whole blog I probably have a total of 10 minutes (or more) having to wait - and it's just happened again - but at least this time vanished almost immediately.  This really slows me up.

It is good to know that my hints, tips, and recipes have been of use over the years Pam.  As you say I was 'first in my field' when it came to writing purely about cost-cutting.  There had been other books printed during the war years giving 'cheap' recipes, but all by professional cooks, and in any case then it wasn't money that was the problem, it was food that was in short supply
Even now, many 'cost-cutting' books are written by professional cooks who normally write books giving recipes where cost is not an issue, and don't think there is any one 'professional' cook today who just concentrates on 'budgeting' in the way I still do.  At least there are now many 'money-saving' books on the market written by people, like myself, who have learned the hard way how to cope, although most of the authors are far younger than I am (now), and those I've read (from the library et al) seem to include most of what has already been said in my blog/books.  They are not copying me, for when it comes to economical living, generations of us have done it all before. There is very little new that can be discovered about domestic cost-cutting.

Can never understand why farmers even bother to change their routine twice a year when we add or sutract that hour' Kathryn, for most things they do are not tied to clock-watching.  Surely it would be much easier to carry on milking cows, feeding animals etc., each day at the same 'time' rather than have to increase/decrease an hour twice a year.  Memories of feeding my babies in their early weeks/months, could have had the same problem in spring and autumn, so tended to keep feeding them by just keeping the 'four-hour' gap between feeds, rather than work with the clock.  In any case, this was only once a year as when six months later the babes were by then on more solid foods, and the times of feeding could be more relaxed.

Because minced meats are mainly the cheapest (because fat is added and with cheaper meats maybe something we'd rather not know about - as with the current situation). However, we can buy the meat in a block and mince it ourselves, or buy it already minced from a local (and reputable) butcher.  It is always worth making our own burgers and 'rissoles' (some recipes call 'burgers: 'patties' or 'rissoles', with no obvious difference in appearance between all of them when made).  Other recipes make 'patties' the same shape (flat) but slightly thinner than 'burgers', and 'rissoles' can be the same mixture but rolled to look more like short, fat sausages.
The recipes given today all end up looking like 'burgers', whatever they are called, but - having said that - we can make them thicker, thinner, round, flat, rolled....according to how we wish to serve them.  Just make sure they are cooked through.

First recipe is for beef 'rissoles', but - as I said above - these can be formed into small, fat burgers, or rolled into short, fat sausages.  We can use less minced meat than is given, adding more of the other ingredients to make up the shortfall.
Bacon rashers come in various thickness, so my 'economy' suggestion is to use bacon in those 'value' packs of bacon 'off-cuts' as we need about 5 oz (150g).  If using regular rashers, remove the rind before chopping.  Instead of the barbecue sauce we could use tomato ketchup, or another spicy sauce such as 'reggae, reggae', or chilli, but the spicier the sauce the less we need to add - judge this 'by taste'.

When using breadcrumbs when adding to burgers etc, the word 'stale' means fresh bread has lost some of its moisture, and not the same as 'dried' crumbs.  We can 'stale' fresh crumbs by first crumbing them in a food processor, then spreading them on a baking sheet and left - uncovered - in a warm place for several hours (or overnight).  Stale crumbs soak up more moisture than fresh, so even if freezing 'fresh' crumbs, always worth slightly drying them out first.  
Beef Rissoles and Gravy: serves 4
4 thick-cut rashers bacon (see above), finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce (see above)
4 oz (100g) stale breadcrumbs, see above
1 egg,
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley (opt)
12 oz (375g) lean minced beef
2 tblsp barbecue sauce (or 'to taste' - see above)
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
1 pint (600ml) beef stock
1 tblsp cornflour
2 tsp water
Fry the bacon and onion together in a large frying pan until the onion has softened, then remove pan from heat. Using a slotted spoon, put the bacon and onions on to a plate, leaving any fat in the pan, then set aside.
Into a bowl put the W. sauce, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, minced beef and HALF the barbecue sauce, then add the bacon mixture.  Using (clean) hands, mix the lot together, then shape into eight 'rissoles'.  Fry these in the same pan as above (you will need to do this in batches) until browned on both sides and cooked through.  Cover and keep warm until all the rissoles are cooked.
Meanwhile, place the mustard, stock and remaining barbecue sauce in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Blend the cornflour with the water and stir this in, and continue to cook/stir until boiling and thickened slightly.
Serve the rissoles (two per portions) with either basic mashed potato, or (even better) Bubble and Squeak, pouring the gravy over the rissoles.

Next recipe is an extension of yesterday's suggestion of using skinned sausage (can be beef or pork), then forming the sausagemeat into meat balls.  Something similar is done in this recipe, but with the addition of veggies, pasta (or rice) and stock, the meatballs turn a classic soup into a main meal.
Orzo is the name given to grains of pasta that have the appearance of rice.  We could use long-grain rice instead, or the very tiny pasta shapes made especially to add to soups.  Alternatively, break up some strands of spaghetti into very short lengths and use these. 
Minestrone with Meatballs: serves 4 - 6
4 thick sausages (see above) skins removed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 egg
1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
2 tblsp tomato paste
2 tblsp olive oil
2 carrots, diced
4 oz (100g) celery, chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 pint (600ml) chicken stock
1 pint (600ml) water
2 large courgettes, diced
1 x 400g can borlotti or cannelloni beans, drained
4 oz (100g) orzo (see above)
Put the sausage meat, paprika, egg, HALF the onion, and 1 tblsp of the tomato paste in a bowl. Mix well together, then form into small 'meatballs'.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the meatballs, in batches, until browned, then remove and set aside.  In the same pan, fry the onion until softened, then add the carrot and celery.  Continue cooking until just tender, then transfer to a large saucepan, place over medium heat, then stir in the remaining tomato paste.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the canned tomatoes, stock, and water.  Bring to the boil, then add the courgettes, canned beans, orzo, and meatballs.  Bring back to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer - covered - for about 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve in individual bowls, sharing the meatballs between each.

Final recipe today uses lamb mince.  The traditional way to serve this traditional 'snack' (not quite a burger) is in a split Turkish bread called a 'pide'.  We could use English muffins, or use one large baguette, split and filled, then - after baking - cut and sliced.
This lamb 'filling' would also eat well as a topping for jacket potatoes, or under a layer of mashed potato as a 'Turkish Shepherd's Pie'. 
Lamb Pide: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
9 oz (250g) lamb mince
1 tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Turkish 'pide' (or 4 English muffins)
1 oz (25g) grated mozzarella cheese
2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion for several minutes until softened, then stir in the garlic and fry for a further minute before adding the minced lamb, tomato paste, and the two spices.  Stir together, breaking the lamb mince up with a wooden spoon to prevent it forming 'lumps' and continue stir-frying until the lamb is cooked through.
Split the breads, and place the bases on an oven tray.  Spread with mince mixture and sprinkle the cheese and mint on the top.  Replace tops and oven-bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 10 minutes or until bread is crisp.  Cut each in half to serve.

Despite having sunshine most of yesterday, we suddenly had almost a blizzard of snow during mid-afternoon.  It didn't last long, but noticed signs of snow on our lawn this morning, so maybe we had more during the night.  The semi-detached house at the back of us had snow on one half of the roof (obviously insulated) and none on the neighbours who obviously haven't any (or enough) insulation in their half).  It's always worth going out and having a look at our roof when snow has fallen, to see if it thaws out sooner or later than others in the neighbourhood.  The better the roof insulation, the more heat is kept in our houses and the lower our gas/electricity bills will be.  Pensioners can usually get their houses insulated for free (certainly roof insulation and cavity wall insulation, but not sure about double glazing).

Beloved has left for his day on the water (Brrrrr! It will be cold, even though the forecast is for sunny and dry, temperatures said to be -7 last night and not much higher today). Myself now have to go and make a start with my 'spring-cleaning', cooking, and everything else that I can do whilst B is away from the house.  He may be back mid-afternoon, so the earlier I start the better.  He is training again tomorrow, so what has not been done today can be completed then.  Must make sure I get up early enough to write my blog before B leaves.
Hope you all have a good day, and can join me again tomorrow.  See you then.