Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cost: The Yummy Food Budget Week

Hi guys. So ever since this year at University I have been getting better and better at keeping my weekly food shopping as low as possible- i'm sure a lot of people will learn honestly how much food costs when they become a student and therein become strapped for cash. I thought I would write out an example week's worth of dinners, for two, as an example of how to plan a food budget. And unlike a lot of these budget food blogs/ recipes, where they say recipes cost "less than £1 a portion", but that portion wouldn't fill up a 3 year old child- this week's meal ideas/budgeted shopping list makes dinner for two, for 7 nights, with very generous portions- for only £24.51 (based on Sainsburys' prices!) !! That's only £3.50 a night- for delicious and healthy home-cooked meals. The shopping list is literally based on if you had nothing in the cupboards to start with!

The Yummy Food Budget Week- Total price £24.51
400g beef mince x 2= £2.92
1 x Large 2.3kg Whole Chicken= £5.75

Garlic heads x 2= 33p
1.5kg onions= 95p
1 x 335g head of broccoli= 69p
400g loose carrots= 32p
300g white mushrooms= £1
500g courgettes= 50p

2.5kg Desiree potatoes- £2
1kg white rice- 40p
1x 800g white or wholemeal sliced loaf- 50p

Kitchen Cupboard
2 x 400g tin tomatoes= 70p
1 x  400g tin kidney beans= 30p
1 x 150ml Sharwoods rich soy sauce= £1

Herbs and Spices
80g medium curry powder- £1
13g mixed herbs- 35p
44g mild chilli powder- £1
25g ground black pepper- 35p

12 x Oxo chicken stock cubes- £1.25
750g bottle of salt- 30p
500g cornflour- £1.20
500g Flora Spread- £1.70

Meal Plan
Roast Chicken Dinner, with buttered potatoes, gravy, and broccoli (Chicken, potatoes, onions, garlic, mixed herbs, chicken stock, broccoli).

Chicken curry and rice (Chicken, onions, garlic, chicken stock, tin tomatoes, curry powder, rice)

Chicken and Carrot Casserole and mashed potato (onions, garlic, chicken, carrots, chicken stock, mixed herbs, potatoes, flora spread).

Chicken and mushroom stir fry with rice (chicken, mushrooms, soy sauce, garlic, chicken stock, rice)

Cottage pie, with sautéed courgettes and gravy on side (beef mince, onions, garlic, chicken stock, mixed herbs, potatoes, flora spread, courgettes)

Chilli con carne with rice (beef mince, chilli powder, onions, garlic, chicken stock, tin tomatoes, tin of kidney beans, rice)


“Everything and Anything Soup”, with bread and flora spread (boil any leftover veg/ potatoes/ anything in the fridge that needs using- in chicken stock, using whatever herbs and spices you like).

Important Notes
  • It is important on the Sunday that once the chicken is roasted (just with a bit of flora spread, salt and pepper on top of it), and you have got all the meat off it, that you portion it out into 4 portions- about 250g/300g each- so you know you have enough chicken for recipes Sunday-Wednesday. 
  • I tend to buy "Flora Spread", or a type of low fat spread, as it can be used for anything- frying anything, mixed into potatoes for mash, put on top of steamed vegetables on the side, or spread onto bread. I find it more versatile than oil. 
  • The cornflour is on the list, as with any of these dishes, if you need to thicken any recipes/sauces, just add 1 or 2 tsp of cornflour mixed in with water and it should thicken up in a couple of minutes. I find it an essential kitchen cupboard staple. 
  • A basic gravy can easily be made by frying onions and garlic in the flora spread until caramelised, add chicken stock and mixed herbs, a little cornflour mixed with water, then cook until thick. Season to taste and its done! This simple gravy is also made infinitely better if you have a splash of wine or cider to add to it too. 
  • If doing a weekly shop, you may want to buy the bread a little later in the week for the soup- might not have a sell by date of 7 days?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Recipe: Tandoori Chicken with Coronation Macaroni

Rather an unusual combination but it works marvellously! First time I've used one of these "knorr flavour stock pots" too- very nice actually. The curry one has a sort of mild korma-y feeling to it. I would normally serve tandoori chicken on the bone, but as the boyfriend is funny with "meat on the bone" I served it boneless. The red food colouring is optional- it's just for if you want to create the traditional "bright red" tandoori chicken that you find in restaurants. If you follow the link above, there is a recipe competition running until 30th September, by bangers and mash .com- enter an indian spice or indian themed recipe by this date and you could be in to win a Natco ingredient hamper! Good luck all!

Tandoori Chicken, with Coronation Macaroni (serves 2)
2 chicken thighs (bone in)
2 chicken drumsticks (bone in)
100g low fat natural yoghurt
15g ketchup
30g banana habanero pickle (or any other preferred Indian relish/chutney)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp Chinese 5 spice
20g ground cumin
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp red food colouring (optional)
Salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter
3 white onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ tsp celery salt
400ml chicken stock
1 x 50g creamed coconut
240g dried apricots, halved
1 x Knorr curry flavour pot
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
225g macaroni

1. Mix together all the chicken ingredients (except the chicken!) in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces, coat in the spiced yoghurt, and marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to 25 hours).
2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a roasting tray with greaseproof paper. Place the pieces of chicken on the roasting tray, and cook in the oven for 35 minutes (reserving any leftover marinade).
3. Meanwhile, fry the onions, garlic and celery salt in the butter for 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, coconut, dried apricots, curry flavour pot, and any leftover chicken marinade, and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes stirring often.
4. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and boil the macaroni accord to the packet instructions. Drain, return to the pan, and add the curry sauce mixture to it. Season to taste.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven- either serve on the bone, or allow to rest for 20 minutes, and then de-bone. Serve the tandoori chicken on top of the coronation macaroni. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Recipe: Cajun Chicken Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain from South America- it is often used in "gluten free" cooking, instead of using couscous or pasta. I must admit I've only had quinoa once in a salad (from Boots I think? haha), but have never tried cooking it before. Turns out it's really easy- this dish is fab, it's really healthy, tasty, takes less than 30 minutes to cook, you only need to use one pan, and if you have any coeliac friends it's the perfect dinner party dish.

Cajun Chicken Quinoa (serves 2)
25g butter
1 large white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
25g Cajun spice
¼ tsp celery salt
130g quinoa
700ml chicken stock
1 tbsp (or to your preferred spiciness!!) Aji Panca (a peruvian chilli paste)
270g leftover roast chicken
80g dried apricots, diced
1 tin green lentils, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
15g pumpkin seeds for garnish

1.       Fry the onion, garlic, Cajun spice and celery salt in the butter for about 6 minutes. Add the quinoa and chicken stock, and cook on a medium high heat for 8 minutes. Add the chicken and apricots, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2.       Add the lentils and coriander and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring often, until the quinoa has cooked and absorbed most of the liquid. Season to taste, and serve, garnished with pumpkin seeds. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Recipe: Roast Pork Leg, with Stewed Rhubarb and Minted New Potatoes

This recipe is my entry into Rix Petroleum's Seasonal Recipe Competition- this month with rhubarb being the challenge ingredient! I expect many will submit dessert recipes- but you guys know what I'm like, I'm not really into puddings, so I thought I would experiment with a savoury rhubarb recipe. Just like how roast pork goes well with apple sauce, it goes just as well with this tangy stewed rhubarb. I've taken another step in making this recipe even more seasonal, through using delicious Jersey Royal potatoes- they're on offer in most supermarkets at the moment.If you fancy entering yourself, you'll find all the competition details here:

Roast Pork Leg, with Stewed Rhubarb and Minted New Potatoes (serves 6)
2kg Pork Leg (boneless) joint
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
25ml sweet chilli sauce
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
600ml water

1440g rhubarb, diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
240g sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

2kg new potatoes (jersey royals if poss!), halved
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried mint
Salt and pepper

1.       Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the pork leg in a roasting tray, and pour in the water. Blitz together the olive oil, cider vinegar, sweet chilli sauce, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub this herby garlicky mixture all over the pork leg. Roast in the oven for 2 hours. Remove from the oven, allow the pork to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving (reserve the pan juices).
2.       Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and boil the new potatoes for 20 minutes. Drain, add the butter, mint and seasoning, allow the butter to melt and coat.
3.       Meanwhile, put all the rhubarb ingredients, plus 300ml of the pan juices from the pork, and cook on a high heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes- or until rhubarb have thickened into a sauce, with a few chunks still.

4.       Carve the pork, and serve with the stewed rhubarb and new potatoes. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Recipe: Spiced Pear and Apple Chutney

This spiced pear and apple chutney is perfect on a cheeseboard, in a cheeky cheese baguette, and also really nice as a sort of "relish" for veggie burgers- once it actually get's nice enough outside for a Barbecue!!! 

Spiced Pear and Apple Chutney (makes about 1.2kg)
3 red onions, chopped
700g dessert pears, peeled cored and diced
400g apples, peeled cored and diced
¼ tsp dried mint
¼ tsp celery salt
1 tsp mixed spice
800ml cider vinegar
500g malt extract

1. Put all the ingredients into a large preserving pan. Bring to the boil, and then keep on a medium high heat, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes.
2. Take the chutney off the heat and allow to settle for 10 minutes. Stir and spoon into sterilized (clean) jars. The chutney is best if you leave it at least a couple of weeks to mature- the longer you leave it the nicer it is. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Recipe: Duck, Sausage and Red Onion Pastilla with Spicy Peppers

A pastilla is a Moroccan spiced pie, traditionally filled with "squab" (pigeon), but I have made this with leftover duck and cooked sausages instead. The meat and the mixed spices and the clementines work well together. I like to use Brik or Filo pastry with this recipe, as it's closest to the traditional "werqa" dough that they use- I just love the texture combination of the crispy filo dough and the sweet soft meaty filling.

Duck, Sausage and Red Onion Pastilla, with Spicy Peppers (serves 3)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
9 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Pinch sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cumin
80g leftover roast duck, diced (or supermarket “crispy duck”)
4 cooked sausages, diced
200ml chicken stock
¼ tsp lemon juice
60g pine nuts
2 clementines, peeled and segmented
Salt and pepper to taste
1 x Jus Rol Filo pastry sheets
About 1tbsp vegetable oil (for brushing)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp dried mint
1 ½ green pepper
1 ½ red pepper
3 green chillies
260g tomato salsa
400ml chicken stock
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onions, garlic, sugar, mixed spice, and cumin in the oil for about 6 minutes. Add the duck, sausages and chicken stock, and cook for a further 5 minutes, on a high heat, stirring often. Add the lemon juice, pine nuts and clementines, and stir for 1 more minute. Season to taste, pour into a bowl, and put into the fridge to chill (at least 40 minutes).
2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a roasting tin with greaseproof paper, and brush the greaseproof paper with a little oil. Cut the filo pastry in half. Place one half of the filo pastry onto the roasting tray, spoon the filling on top, smooth over evenly, and then put the other half on top. Scrunch and pinch the pastry around the sides to seal the filling in. Brush the Pastilla all over with vegetable oil, and cut a couple of holes in the top. Bake in the oven for 23 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, fry the peppers, chillies and mint in the vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Add the salsa and chicken stock and cook on a high heat for a further 10 minutes. Add the cornflour, and stir until it has all thickened. Season to taste.
4. Remove the Pastilla from the oven, and serve with the spicy pepper mix. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Recipe: Warm Duck and Chinese Noodle Salad

This is just the nicest, freshest tastiest salad ever! The warm duck goes so well with the noodle salad, flavoured with the cool flavours of cucumber and coriander, with a little kick from some fresh red chilli. If you don't have leftover roast duck like I had for this recipe, you can buy ready-made "crispy duck" (like the kind you put in pancakes) from the supermarkets which works just as well, or maybe even you could get some from a local takeaway? 

Warm Duck and Chinese Noodle Salad

400g leftover roast duck (you can use crispy duck for this too)
250g dried egg noodles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
3 red chillies, deseeded and sliced thinly
½ large cucumber, diced
4 spring onions, sliced finely
70g fresh coriander, chopped roughly

50g oyster sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
20ml dark soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ tsp Chinese 5 spice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Wrap the duck up in greaseproof paper, put on a tray in the oven for 20 minutes, until heated through.
2. Cook the egg noodles according to packet instructions. Drain, and mix with 1 tbsp vegetable oil (to avoid the noodles sticking together). Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until all well combined, and season to taste.
3. Mix together the warm noodles with the carrots, chilli, cucumber, spring onions, coriander, and the dressing. Plate up the noodle salad, and top with the warmed up roast duck. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Recipe: Maple and Black Pepper Roast Duck, with Wild Mushroom and Tarragon Sauce, and Braised Carrots.

This was the most marvellously luxurious dinner I have had in AAAAges!! Less expensive than what it would be normally, as I got a half price duck from Ocado (£4.25 per kg), but still, a very sumptuous supper. Requires a little multi-tasking but the results are worth it. The skin of the duck does tend to go quite dark- but don't worry, you haven't burnt it, it's just the skin has gone all sweet and crispy, it's lovely. By the way, the water you soak the wild mushrooms in- you can keep this if you want and use it in soups and risottos and things. 

Maple and black pepper Roast Duck, with Wild mushroom and tarragon sauce, and Braised carrots (serves 4)

1 x large duck (weight about 2.1kg)
2 tbsp maple syrup
Plenty of black pepper
A little salt
600ml water

Wild mushroom sauce
1 tsp vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced
30g dried mixed wild mushrooms
300ml chicken stock
200ml double cream
20g fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Braised Carrots
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
8 carrots, peeled and sliced
100ml chicken stock
125g baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the duck in a roasting tin, prick it all over with a fork, brush all over with the maple syrup and season with lots of black pepper and a little salt. Pour the water into the roasting tin and roast for 1 hour 50 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the wild mushrooms in a bowl with boiling water. 
2. Remove duck from the oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, fry the carrots and fennel seeds in the vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and braise for a further 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for a few more minutes until the spinach has wilted. Season to taste.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan sauté the garlic in the vegetable oil for a couple of minutes. Drain the wild mushrooms, and add to the garlic with the chicken stock and double cream. Cook on a medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the fresh tarragon and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season to taste.
4. Carve the duck, and serve with the braised carrots and the wild mushroom sauce. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Recipe: Chicken, New Potato and Savoy Cabbage Curry

This is a really fresh tasting curry- not stewed for ages like some types, only taking 19 minutes to make! It's almost like a cross between a stir-fry and a curry really. Lots of garlic I suppose but I just got a big selection bag of heads of garlic really cheap from Ocado so I'm using a lot at the moment. This recipe is also nice with some mango chutney, or a fruity salsa on the side of it.

Chicken, New Potato and Savoy Cabbage Curry (serves 2)

200g baby new potatoes, quartered
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 spring onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Handful fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 red chillies, seeded and finely sliced
3 tbsp Pataks Tikka Massala Paste
200ml chicken stock
270g leftover roast chicken
200g finely sliced savoy cabbage
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1. Pre boil the new potatoes for 7 minutes, drain and set aside. Fry the spring onions, garlic, coriander, fennel seeds and chillies in the vegetable oil for 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and pre-cooked new potatoes, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken stock, roast chicken and cabbage, and cook for a further 8 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste, and serve- with white rice, and extra coriander on top if desired. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Recipe: Oyster Sauce Roast Chicken, with Mango and Apple Salad

This is such a delicious way to roast a chicken- the oyster sauce brushed all over, once cooked, gives the chicken the most beautiful juicy savoury flavour it's fantastic. The coconut sauce/ dressing is out of this world too- best served slightly warm- if served hot it's too much of a gravy which doesn't suite the salad, if you serve it cold then the coconut in it solidifies and goes a little odd.

Oyster Sauce Roast Chicken, with Mango and Apple salad (serves 4)
1 x Large (about 1.7kg) Chicken
30g oyster sauce
20ml vegetable oil
15ml dark soy sauce
Black pepper
700ml water
50g creamed coconut
Splash toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

2 mangoes, peeled and diced
4 apples, cored and sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
20g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
10g coriander freshly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the chicken in a roasting tin. Mix together the oyster sauce, vegetable oil, soy sauce and black pepper. Brush all this oyster sauce over the chicken. Put 700ml water in the roasting tin and roast the chicken for 1 hour 45 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken, reserving the pan juices. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, heat the pan juices in a small saucepan with the creamed coconut and a splash toasted sesame oil, until the creamed coconut has dissolved into the sauce. Season to taste and set aside.
3. Mix together all the salad ingredients and season to taste. Serve the roast chicken, with the mango and apple salad, with a ramekin of the warm coconut sauce on the side as a dressing. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Recipe: Sausage, Chicken and Vegetable OnePot

A really tasty dish that takes less than half an hour to make- with all sorts of bits and bobs thrown in! I added roasted butternut squash as I had it leftover from my sausage and squash salad the other day- you can either pre-roast squash then add it in, or if you just want to add it raw, add it to the pot at stage 1 to ensure it cooks through.

Sausage, Chicken and Vegetable OnePot (serves 3)

25g butter
1 white onion, diced
7 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried mint
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
600ml chicken stock
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
1 courgette, sliced thickly
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
100g roasted butternut squash
3 cooked sausages, diced
100g leftover roast chicken, diced
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Fry the onion, garlic, mint, fennel seeds and smoked paprika for 8 minutes. Add the chicken stock, peppers, and courgette, and cook for a five minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the beans, roasted squash, cooked sausages and chicken, and continue cooking on a medium/high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the cornflour mixture, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, until sauce has thickened. Season to taste and serve. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Recipe: Sausage and Spiced Squash Salad

A salad fit for a king! And probably not suitable for those with a lisp. This dish proves to people, including my boyfriend, that if the common question "what's for dinner?" is replied by "salad", that the response to this should not be a crest-fallen face and several thoughts about getting crisps and ice-creams for afters, it should be a greedy smile.

Sausage and Spiced Squash Salad (serves 2)

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 white onion, sliced fairly thickly
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt, sugar and pepper
5 plump sausages
170g baby spinach
40g pumpkin seeds

2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together the squash, onion, paprika, cumin, oil and seasoning in a roasting dish. Pop the sausages in with the squash mixture, and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
2. Remove the sausages and vegetables from the oven. Slice the sausages on the diagonal. Evenly portion the spinach onto two plates. Top evenly with the hot sliced sausages, and the onion and squash mixture.
3. Shake or whisk the dressing ingredients together and season to taste. Pour evenly over the two salads. Final flourish- sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top of the two salads. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recipe: Asian Beef and Potato Pie, with Chinese Gravy

An absolutely lovely fusion dish here- classic British steak pie makes friends with the wonderful Chinese Beef in black bean sauce! The dish takes a while, as the filling takes 1 hour and a half, then needs to be cooled- but if you are doing this for a dinner party, you can make the filling, and the pie the day before- then all you need to do is pop it in the oven and it's ready for your guests in 25 minutes. I have served this with buttered spinach, but feel free to serve it with whatever you fancy. I reckon stir fried pak choy would go well too.

Asian beef and potato pie, with Chinese gravy (serves 2)

25g butter
1 white onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10g ginger, finely chopped
220g braising beef, diced small
700ml water
45g Lee kum kee black bean sauce paste
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet Jus Rol shortcrust pastry (or homemade, rolled thin).
Egg-wash, or melted butter, to brush on top.

20g butter
½ white onion, sliced
Pinch sugar
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml white wine
500ml chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Splash toasted sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the onion, garlic, ginger and beef in the butter for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the water and the lee kum kee sauce, and stew on a medium heat for 1 hour 10 minutes.
2. Add the diced potato, and continue to cook on a medium heat, stirring often, for 18 minutes.  Season this to taste, pour into a bowl and put in the fridge to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the pastry sheet in half, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place one of the sheets onto the greaseproof paper and top with the cooled beef and potato mixture. Top this with the other sheet of pastry, and fold and crimp round the edges to seal the filling in.
4. Brush pie with egg or melted butter, and bake in the oven in 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, fry the onion, garlic, sugar in the butter for about 6 minutes. Add the white wine, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
5. Add the chicken stock, oyster sauce and sesame oil and cook on a high heat for a further 8 minutes. Add the cornflour mixture, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the gravy is thickened. Season to taste.
6. Remove the pie from the oven, plate up, and serve with the Chinese gravy, and some buttered green vegetables if desired.