Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flicking the Bean....3 Bean Salad

Growing up, my only real experience of beans was the kind that are smothered in tomato sauce and served with toast as a cheap and filling meal. Thankfully my haricot-related knowledge has expanded somewhat and I now enjoy a much better relationship with the oft forgotten legume.

Last week I got a massive craving for a bean salad; something that I've seen a lot but never really had much of but knew I wanted. Perhaps it is the high amounts of protein that appealed to me.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can use any type of beans that you wish. You could use cannellini beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, green beans etc. Basically any beans that you can place your hands on. This recipe can be made in minutes and is great as a side salad with a main course, as lunch, or just a snack.

1 Tin Red Kidney Beans
1 Tin Cannellini Beans
1 Tine Garbanzo Beans
1 Red Onion (Finely Chopped)
1 Clove Garlic (Finely Chopped)
100g Flat Leafed Parsley (Chopped)
100g Chives (Chopped)
100ml Appl Cider Vinegar
50ml Olive Oil
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Mustard
Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper

  • Rinse beans under cold water. Drain.
  • In a bowl, mix the Beans, Onion, Garlic, Parsley & Chives.
  • In a seperate bowl, add the Vinegar. Whisk in the Olive Oil, Mustard & Honey.
  • Season with Salt, Pepper & Cayenne Pepper to taste.
  • Add to the Beans & mis in thoroughly.
  • Enjoy

Sunday, January 15, 2012

About Time: Chicken with Sage Cream Sauce

First of all I must apologise for my lack of postings. I've been extremely busy of late. But never fear, I'll be posting more regularly from now on.

I made this for my parents when I was home at Christmas. As my mom said "I forgot what good food tasted like!", so that is definitely a seal of approval. Either that or they've been dining on frozen food since I moved away.

As with all of my recipes, this one is quite simple to make and very versatile. It's a succulent chicken breast topped with a creamy sage infused cream sauce. You can cook the chicken whole and serve with vegetables or chop the chicken into chunks and serve over a perfect meal for a weekday or for entertaining friends (or feeding hungry parents).

4 Chicken Breast Fillets
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
6-8 Sage Leaves (Chopped)
600ml Cream
Salt & Pepper

  • Melt 2 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan & fry the chicken until nicely browned & the juices run clear. Remove from pan & set aside. 
  • Melt the rest of the butter in the pan, stirring any bits from the bottom of the pan. When the butter begins to foam, add the chopped sage leaves & cooked for a few seconds.
  • Add the cream, bring to the boil & allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Add the chicken & any accumulated juices and simmer for another few minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Enjoy

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hey Pesto!!

Okay so I have a double recipe for you today. 2 types of pesto: Basil & Sundried Tomato. Both are real simple to make, healthy, cheap and very versatile. Simply stir into cooked pasta for an instant meal or use on crunchy slices of bread for a snack. Even use to flavour soups.

The measurements here will make a normal amount of pesto (good for 2 servings etc). When I made it I upped the measurements to make a lot which i can keep in the fridge and bring out when I'm too lazy to cook. You can also also add more olive oil than indicated if you want. This just makes the pesto a bit more fluid but makes it cover the pasta better.

Basil Pesto
60g Fresh Basil
1 Clove Garlic
40g Pine Nuts
6 tbsp Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Salt & Pepper

  • Put all ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor & blend roughly. Alternatively place in a bowl & use a hand blender.
  • Slowly pour in the oil and blend until smooth.
  • Enjoy
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
2 tbsp Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Chopped)
2 tbsp Fresh Basil
2 tbsp Black Olives (Chopped)
40g Pine Nuts
2 Shallots (Chopped)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
5 tbsp Olive Oil
Slat & Pepper

  • Put all ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor & blend roughly. Alternatively place in a bowl & use a hand blender.
  • Slowly pour in the oil and blend until smooth.
  • Enjoy

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthy Starters: Garlic Mushrooms

 I promised to post this recipe ages ago, but didn't so I thought I'd better post it now. A few weeks ago I got a craving for garlic mushrooms. It's strange because for years I would never it them but now I love them. This is a recipe I've come up with by myself as there wasn't a satisfactory recipe anywhere online. As with all my recipes, it's very simple to make and really cheap. You can use normal white (closed-cup) mushrooms or, if you like, experiment with different varieties for different flavour combinations.

10 Mushrooms 
3 tsp Garlic Butter
10g Flour
50g Breadcrumbs
1 Egg (Beaten)

  • Melt the garlic butter. Add the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly to make sure the crumbs are coated. 
  • Preheat oven to 190°C.
  • Clean the mushrooms. Coat each mushrooms in flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip in the beaten egg before coating thoroughly in the breadcrumbs. 
  • Place on a baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Alternatively you can deep fry them until crispy.
  • Enjoy.

A New Winter Warmer: Roasted Aubergine Soup

So now that the evenings are darker and things are feeling generally wintery, it's time to make some delicious soups.

I've been waiting for this for ages because soups are easy to make, filling and cheap. You can make a big pot that will do you for lunches or dinners for the week, or simply put into freezer bags and freeze for use in the weeks to come. This worked great last year when we were snowed in. Simply open the freezer and pull out some warming and morish soup.

So this soup came about more through necessity then design. I was in the local super market (I was going to type souper market for a soup related pun but have decided against it) and they were selling Aubergines for £0.07p. ; Bargain! A quick google for recipes and I've come up with an easy to make soup. Hope you enjoy.

2 Aubergines (Halved)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Large Onion (Chopped)
2 litres Vegetable Stock
Olive Oil

  • Place the halved Aubergines on a baking tray, season with salt & pepper and roast until the flesh is soft. Once cooked, cube the aubergines.
  • SauteĆ© the onion & garlic in a pot. Add the the aubergine and sautee for a few minutes. 
  • Add the vegetable stock and allow to cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add some mint.
  • Blend using a food processor or hand blender.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and mint. 
  • Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Tasty Treat: Semifreddo with Raspberries

This is a lovely, simple dessert that is great for serving if you have guests over. It's also delicious if you want to eat it straight out of a bowl while watching your favourite weepy (not that I've ever done that.....honest). It's quite a rich dessert because of the white chocolate and Greek Yogurt so it's best to serve small portions, especially after a large meal.You can either place the mixture in individual moulds (if you have them) or a larger single mould and serve sliced (as in the above photo). "Semifreddo" means "half frozen" so you only have to put in the freezer for a few hours before serving.

250ml Whipped Cream
4tbsp Sugar
250g Greek Yogurt
100g White Chocolate (grated)
150g Raspberries

  • Whip cream & sugar in a bowl until stiff.
  • Fold in the yogurt.
  • Add grated white chocolate & 2/3rds of the raspberries.
  • Cover moulds with cling-film. Add mixture & freeze for 2 hours.
  • Serve with the rest of the raspberries.
  • Enjoy

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gourmet on a budget: Weeks worth of meals for under £15

I've decided to do a very different blog post today. I am always asked how I survive on about £10-£15 pound a week on food. So I've decided to show my typical weeks shop and the various different recipes and dishes I can make that will do me for lunch and dinner for the next week or so. I wont give the recipes this time but will tell the ingredients I use. Obviously the meals made using the items in this list are supplemented by food everyone would have in their fridge and cupboard at home (pasta, rice, noodles etc.), as well as items I didn't use last week. Basically the purpose of this exercise is to show how, with a bit of imagination and time, anyone can make delicious, healthy meals on a budget.

I do look for deals and special offers as well as items on sale. You don't always have to buy them, but you can use them to compliment your normal shop. So here is what I bought today:

Mayonnaise £1.27
Sun-dried Tomatoes £2.49
Tin Tomatoes 3 x £0.33
Parmesan Cheese £2.92
Anchovies £0.73
Goat's Cheese £0.99
Beansprouts £0.35 (Sale)
Cooking Bacon £0.75)
Mushrooms 250g x 2 £0.29 (Sale)
Salad Leaves £1.05 (Sale)
Organic Red Onions £0.35 (Sale)
New Potatoes 1kg x 2 £1.35 (Buy 1 get 1 free)

Total Price: £13.82

Okay now that I have my food for the week. This is what I can make:

  1. Using the Anchovies, Mayonnaise, Parmesan, cooking bacon & Cos Lettuce (from last week), I can make a large amount of Caesar Salad that will do you for lunch for 2 or 3 days (depending on the portion size)
  2. Using Mushrooms, Red Onion, Stock & Rice, I can make the Mushroom Risotto which, again, will do for both lunch and dinner. 
  3. Cook the baby potatoes, chop and pan fry, add to sun dried tomatoes, red onion and goats cheese and mix with the salad to create a gorgeous crispy potato salad. And/Or...
  4. Simply cooking the potatoes and mixing with some herbs and the mayonnaise, have a more traditional potato salad.
  5. I'd freeze some of the beansprouts for use in stir fries in the future. But you can use some with the red onion, mushrooms & any other vegetables you may have for a quick and easy stir-fry, served with rice or noodles.
  6. Use some of the cooking bacon and Parmesan with eggs and pasta to make a traditional Carbonara
  7. With the potatoes, Onions and tinned tomatoes you can cook the gorgeous Spanish Patatas Bravas (without the chorizo).
  8. Use a tin of tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic & red onion to make a pasta sauce to serve over pasta. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
So there's 8 dished you can make. You can make them for one meal or make a larger amount to do you for a number of meals. It just takes some imagination. Look at recipes online that contain ingredients you have at home. There are more dishes out there than you think. I have just given a few but if you were to search online with these ingredients you could find plenty more.

I really hope I've helped to show you what can be done on such a tight budget. It doesn't have to mean trips to iceland and ready-made meals. It can still be gourmet on a budget.