Lentil, bean, tomato & anchovy stew

This is a true Kitty’s Store-Cupboard recipe – quick, easy and cheap.

I have had feedback recently that people miss my £5 a week challenge which I started in January last year. It probably hasn’t come across well in recent posts, but one of the things which I am passionate about is demonstrating how it is possible to cook very delicious and wholesome meals from a well stocked store-cupboard and a small weekly shopping bill.

This dish is one which I made up on the spur of the moment earlier this week… and by ‘spur of the moment’ I mean that I changed the whole direction of the dish half way through my cooking session! It started off as a pasta sauce recipe, but when  I realised that I had run out of pasta it morphed into a lentil and bean based dish.

Note, I was in the mood for something strong tasting when I made this so I used a whole tin of anchovies. You may want to start with half the amount. Also, if you are not a fan of fish then bacon is a good substitute.

Lentil Stew

Ingredients

  • two small/ one big red onion, finely chopped
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • half a teaspoon mustard seeds
  • teaspoon mixed herbs / ‘herbs de provence’
  • teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is good if you have it)
  • tin of anchovies
  • tin of tomatoes
  • packet of pre-cooked lentils and kidney beans (I got mine in Sainsbury’s – see photo below)
  • grated cheese to serve

Method

Heat approximately a tablespoon of oil (I tend to use rapeseed oil) in a medium sized frying pan.   Add the onion, garlic, mustard seeds, herbs and paprika and gently fry until soft.

Next, halve the anchovies and add them to the onion mixture.

Add the pre-cooked lentils & beans and the tinned tomatoes.

Simmer for approximately ten minutes and then serve topped with grated cheese.

Yummy with rice or crusty bread.

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Lentil, Bean & Anchovy Stew

January Challenge ‘de-brief’

I am almost exactly a month into my life as a food blogger, and I have to say that this is definitely the most difficult post that I have written so far. Those of you who have been following me for the last month will know that I set myself a challenge at the beginning of January to ‘cook using only what I already have in my cupboards and freezer, plus what I can buy for £5 a week’;  you will also know that I like to communicate what I have been cooking with minimal ‘waffle’. Now that February has arrived it is time to reflect on my January Challenge and I really hope that I can do so in a concise and interesting way. Please leave me a message if you make it all the way to bottom!

Most importantly, I must say that I have really enjoyed giving myself a ridiculous budget for a month; it reminded me of how much fun it is to be creative with my cooking, and in addition it ‘reset’ my shopping habits and prevented me from producing any food waste.

What I would really like to get across to you is how well you can eat on a small weekly budget if you keep a few ‘core’ things in your storecupboard. If you are not used to this style of food shopping and cooking then there will be some upfront expenditure (but not much, see below how much I spent on topping-up my cupboards at the end of the month); but once you have initially stocked up there will just be a small ‘rolling cost’ as you replace things.

So here goes a short retrospective on my January Challenge:

What did I buy with my £5 a week?

My first £5 was spent on onions, carrots, mushrooms, some good British sausages, a lime & soda from my local pub, and some reduced bread for my freezer.

Lesson #1 – lime & soda is totally pointless and a waste of money!

During the second week I spent the princely sum of £4.88 on free range eggs, carrots, new potatoes, frozen peas and a British lamb shank.

Lesson #2 – a box of mixed-sized eggs is considerably cheaper than buying a box of identical eggs, and unless you are doing high-precision baking they are just as good.

For the last couple of weeks of the challenge I was more ‘bitty’ in my shopping (I didn’t have time for a ‘big’ £5 shopping trip!) and I was not quite so disciplined in writing up what I had bought; in summary I topped up the onions, potatoes, mushrooms and carrots, and I had a cup of tea at a church coffee morning for a whole 80p – decadent!

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What are my new favourite recipes?

As I mentioned above, one of the best things about giving myself a ridiculous budget was re-discovering my creative ‘make-it-up-as-you-go-along’ cooking flair! I think that my favourite was probably the Roasties with Garlic & Coconut Dip – this was a very spur of the moment ‘snack’ using some coconut yoghurt that a friend had left in my fridge, I will certainly be making it again.

If I had to choose another top creation it would be a difficult choice between the vegetable curry and spaghetti with tomatoes and poached egg.

Lesson #3 – if you don’t allow yourself to ‘pop to the shops’ for additional ingredients you will discover new and exciting (or sometimes just ‘interesting’) recipes!

Please do let me know what your favourite recipe has been so far, and do do do give them a try and let me know how easy or otherwise they are to follow!

What did I run out of?

Early Grey tea – disaster! Tonic water – disaster! Garlic – disaster! Cheese, milk, almond milk, vegetable stock, pasta…

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… and, as the observant amongst you will note, cheap gin! Don’t worry, I haven’t yet stooped to cheap gin; the reason I require it is to make Cranberry Gin… a recipe for another day. (Retrospectively, here is the Cranberry Gin recipe)

Despite making a show of being organised, I actually managed to forget the shopping list when I went for my ‘top-up shop’ – so in the end I forgot a few things, got a few extra things, and spent about £30 (including the gin). Not bad.

What is in Kitty’s Storecupboard?

Having set myself a ridiculous budget for a month I have concluded that the following constitute the ‘core’ storecupoard ingredients which I would be hard-pressed to do without (although I’m sure I’d cope!); I hope that I have demonstrated over the last month that very little is needed in addition to these things to cook some rather delicious meals.

‘Dry Goods’

  • Lentils (Puy and Red-split lentils)
  • Rice (brown and white)
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Oats

Tins / jars / cartons

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato purée
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Pesto
  • Milk (‘cow’ or otherwise – I am rather fond of Almond Milk)

Baking ingredients

  • Plain flour
  • Self-raising flour
  • Margarine
  • Sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Baking powder
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • A selection of nuts and dried fruit

Freezer

  • Peas
  • Stock
  • Cooked vegetables for soup (from when I got portion sizes wrong!)
  • a bit of meat and/or fish, usually from the reduced section of the supermarket

Spices

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What can I say? A picture says a thousand words!

However, I would say that the ‘core’ herbs and spices for me are:

  • black pepper;
  • chilli flakes;
  • mustard seeds;
  • cumin seeds;
  • ground coriander;
  • mustard powder;
  • cayenne pepper; and
  • oregano, or some kind of mixed green herbs.

Garlic and onions are also very important!

and for my next challenge? I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time I have a number of January recipes to share with you which I ran out of time to write last month.

Well done for getting to the bottom of the page!

‘over and out!

Kitty

Kitty’s Soda Bread

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It is over two weeks since I posted this taunting photograph with the Leftovers Soup, and I have finally got around to writing the promised (and much requested) recipe. Apologies for being a bit slack.

Ingredients

  • 125 g / 4 oz Bread Flour
  • 125 g / 4 oz Plain Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 15 g / ½ oz Butter
  • 225 – 250 ml / 7½ – 8 fl oz Plain Yoghurt
  • Beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Poppy seeds (optional)

I usually use ½ wholemeal flour (i.e.  4 oz Wholemeal Plain or 4 oz Wholemeal Bread Flour).

If you do not have plain yogurt, milk can be used instead but make sure that you start with a much smaller volume and work up to the correct texture.

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oC.

Sift the flours with the salt and bicarbonate of soda and then rub in the butter.

Add 225 ml / 7½ ml of the yoghurt all at once and mix quickly to make a soft dough, adding the additional yogurt only if necessary.

Shape into a 15 cm (6 inch) diameter ‘cake’ and place it onto a floured baking tray. Score deeply with the back of a knife into quarters.

Brush with beaten egg, then grind some salt and pepper onto the top. Seeds can be added at this point if you have them.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

This soda bread is best served fresh from the oven. Enjoy with some nice butter, cheese and a lovely soup – such as this rather yummy one!

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Spaghetti with tomatoes and poached eggs

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Cheap, quick, easy and yummy – four of
my favourite things!
This fed two adults and a child (approximately 1/2 a tin of tomatoes per person and an egg each).

Ingredients:
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove garlic, crushed
A few mushrooms, chopped
Black pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1 & 1/2 Tins tomatoes
A couple of squirts of tomato puree
3 eggs
A handful of grated cheese
Spaghetti

If I had them I might also have included bacon or anchovies, olives or capers.
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Method:
Fry the onion, garlic, black pepper and herbs in olive oil until beginning to soften. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and mushrooms and simmer until the mushrooms have cooked.

While the sauce is simmering away put the spaghetti on to cook, following the instructions on the packet for the quantity and cooking time.

When the pasta is nearly done crack an egg into a mug, make a little well in the sauce and pour in the egg; repeat so that there is one egg per person. Note, if your pan is not non-stick you will probably need to put a bit of oil in each well before you add the egg.

After about a minute, turn each egg with a spatula and then sprinkle the cheese over the sauce.

Drain the pasta and divide between shallow bowls. Put an egg onto each serving of pasta and then share out the rest of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Kitty’s Vegetable Curry

This was rather good. I made it up on the spot but it was based on numerous other curries that I have made in the past.
As usual, there are things that you can add/ substitute if the contents of your fridge is a bit different from mine; I wouldn’t play around with the core spices too much though.
If you want this curry to be vegan then use coconut milk instead of the coconut yoghurt; the only reason that I had coconut yoghurt is that someone brought me a pot to go with a yummy pudding (thanks again Penny – I’m making it go a long way!). wp-1453118274768.jpeg

Ingredients:

These amounts would serve 2 to 3 people; I ate two portions last night (couldn’t resist seconds!) and then had the rest for brunch this morning.

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable stock/ 1 vegetable stock-cube
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 6 small new potatoes, halved
  • 1 large mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 tin of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt
  • Rice (1/2 cup per person)
  • Cardamom pods (approx 1 per serving of rice)
  • a pinch of Saffron wp-1453116265020.jpeg

Method:
Fry the onion, carrot, potatoes, garlic and spices in a high smoke-point oil (groundnut or rapeseed/canola); you need to be reasonably generous with the oil and keep a good eye on it.

After a few minutes add the tinned tomatoes, the chickpeas and about 1/3 pint veg stock. When this is bubbling nicely turn it down to a low simmer and leave until the potatoes and carrots are cooked (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Next add the chopped mushroom and coconut yoghurt; at the same time put the rice on, I use 1/2 cup per person and add a little veg stock, cardamom pods and saffron if I have it. A good rule of thumb for cooking rice is for the ‘height’ of the rice in the pan and the ‘height’ of the water above the rice to be approximately the same; then, when the water is gone the rice should be cooked (I’m sure that some of  my Asian friends would contradict me there, but that’s how I do it).

When the the rice is cooked take it off the heat and taste the curry, seasoning with a bit more salt and chilli if required.

Serve.

A Quick Sunday Lunch for One

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This was delicious!

I first defrosted some part-cooked stuffing wrapped in bacon which was in the freezer from my pre-Christmas food preparations; I’m pretty sure it was Delia’s chestnut stuffing.

Then, I roasted new potatoes, onions and carrots at 180oC in a very similar way to how I cooked the potatoes on Friday. After about 20 minutes I added the stuffing balls, followed after another 5 minutes or so by a handful of walnuts (at this point I added a little more olive oil).

When it all looked nice and roasty I cooked some frozen peas, took a pretty picture for you and then scoffed the lot!

Nutella Biscuits

This is a fantastic store cupboard recipe with very few ingredients. These particular yummy looking (and, I can report delicious tasting) biscuits were made by my favourite little neighbour and she would like to share the recipe with you in her own words.wp-1453045864132.jpeg

Ingredients:

  • 200g Butter (softened)
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
  • Nutella wp-1453045509683.jpeg

Method:

Preheat heat the oven to 180C.

Then, cream the butter and the sugar until smooth.

Add the flour and mix to a soft dough, you may have to add more flour to get the right texture.

Next, make the dough in to little balls about the size of a walnut. Put about half of them on a greased baking tray and push down with the back of a tea spoon, making a dent for the Nutella .

In the dent put about a third of a tea spoon of Nutella and cover with another piece of flattened dough. Sprinkle with some demerara sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with a cup of tea and Doctor Who.