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.

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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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Mushroom Soup 

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Autumn is drawing in, and as far as I am concerned that equals soup weather (and pie weather of course!). This one I find particularly warming, I think partly due to the mace which I very much associate with autumn and winter cooking. Mace is a truly wonderful spice; if you do not have any in your store-cupboard I highly recommend that you get some. Mace comes from the same tree as nutmeg but has a rather more savoury taste, it is fantastic in all sorts of wintry stews and I recently put it in a rather delicious beef pie.

This mushroom soup recipe is vegan;  I put soy milk in it rather than cows milk because I had some in the fridge which needed using. I have to say that I don’t like soy milk in tea or on cereal but it is really good to cook with. I am also rather fond of almond milk – it’s great to cook with and rather good in hot chocolate.

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms! I used quite a big bowl full (see picture below) which were left over from Punk Night – I don’t like to waste things! Mushrooms shrink more than you think they will, so don’t worry if they fill the whole saucepan because they will reduce.
  • A small red onion
  • Half a teaspoon of Mace
  • A teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • A couple of grinds of black pepper
  • A tablespoon of cornflour

Method

Heat some oil in a frying pan and then add the onion, mustard seeds, mace and pepper.

When the onion is nicely softened, add the mushrooms. Give it all a stir, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pan allowing the mushrooms to ‘sweat’.

Keep an eye on it;  you probably won’t need to add any liquid because a lot will come out of the mushrooms,  but if it looks like it is drying out then add a splash of hot water from the kettle.

When the mushrooms are cooked, put them in the blender along with the cornflour. Give it a good whizz, adding the soy milk (or other milk) a bit at a time.

Put the mixture back in the pan and heat slowly, allowing the cornflour to thicken.

Taste, and add further seasoning if required. More milk can be added, depending on how thin or otherwise you like your soup.

Done!

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Leftover Beef Pie

This was a proper make-it-up job.It wasn’t something that I  would have thought of if I didn’t happen to have some cooked beef, mushrooms and cream in the fridge which needed  using up and puff pastry in the freezer.

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I went rifling through the cupboards for further inspiration and decided to add to the mix some walnuts, shallots from my mum’s garden, a little white wine, mustard powder, mace and black pepper. I had a sneaky suspicion that this would be a winning combination, what I didn’t expect is that the spice combination would strongly remind me of haggis – one of my favourite things. But for for the squeamish it is minus the offal!
It was so delicious! I will definitely make it again.

Filling

  • A couple of handfuls of cooked beef ripped into bite-size pieces
  • A couple of handfuls of finely chopped mushrooms
  • A couple of finely chopped shallots
  • A handful of walnuts, broken into pieces
  • A good splash of cream
  • A small splash of white  wine
  • Teaspoon mace
  • Teaspoon Mustard powder
  • Good grind of pepper
  • Salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 oC.

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl.

Take the ready-roll pastry and cut it into two pieces. On each piece, pile up your beef mix on half of the pastry and then fold it in half, then turn the edges over and press down with a fork. Brush with beaten egg and grind some salt onto the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

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Omelette.

I didn’t know that I could make omelette. In the Allcock family it is traditionally something that only my Dad makes, so when Emma requested it for her cooking lesson I have to admit that my heart sank a little. I wasn’t confident to make it up as I went along as I usually do so I dutifully scouted the internet for a recipe and came across one by Jamie Oliver – I reckoned that he probably knew what he was talking about so I went with using his basic recipe.

Emma and I added artichoke, bacon and olives to our omelettes which was delicious. The joy of this recipe is that you can add all sorts of things, and can do each one differently if you have picky people to cook for. It’s good for using up leftovers – I am quite tempted to make one with some leftover roast chicken tomorrow – and you can throw all sorts of store-cupboard bits at it to make it more interesting.

Basic Ingredients
For one person

  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 small knob butter
  • 1 small handful Cheddar cheese , grated

Method for a Basic omelette:

  1. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Beat well with a fork.
  2. Put a small frying pan on a low heat and let it get hot. Add a small knob of butter. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, add your eggs and move the pan around to spread them out evenly. When the omelette begins to cook and firm up, but still has a little raw egg on top, sprinkle over the cheese.
  3. Using a spatula, ease around the edges of the omelette, then fold it over in half. When it starts to turn golden brown underneath, remove the pan from the heat and slide the omelette on to a plate.

Method using added yummy stuff:

Follow the recipe above; but prepare the extra bits (some may need cooking first) and then when you get to Stage 3 put them on top of the cheese before you fold it over.

Some examples of things you might like to add:

  • Mushrooms
  • Ham
  • Tuna
  • Sweetcorn
  • Spinach
  • Bacon
  • Onion
  • Cooked chicken
  • Courgette

Some of these will need grilling or frying first, such as the bacon, courgette and onion.

Please do share with me your omelette creations – I would love to know what weird, wonderful & delicious combinations you use!

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Michelle’s ‘fridge gravel’ supper with lamb

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This recipe comes from a lovely lady who I met volunteering at Stroud District Foodbank. Michelle is a writer who is in love with her slow-cooker – a lady after my own heart!

Michelle and I bonded over conversations about frugal food and storecupboard cooking, and I have rather fallen for her phrase ‘fridge gravel’ which describes the ‘stuff’ that accumulates at the bottom of your fridge (unless you are a super-organised meal planner!). Here is a ‘fridge gravel’ meal which Michelle cooked last week, and kindly wrote up for me to share with you.

Ingredients
This dish comprised mainly from what was found lurking in the bottom of my fridge, the end of a bag of frozen vegetables, and some cheap diced fresh lamb that was marked down at the supermarket (300g for around £1.50 I think).

The vegetable mix consisted of:
1 small courgette, sliced
1 yellow pepper (that was crushed and discounted), sliced
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 red pepper, sliced (from the freezer)
About 4 cherry tomatoes, whole (leftovers from a larger tub)

Method
Throw all the prepared veg into a mixing bowl and pour over a generous glug of Olive oil. Sprinkle over some salt and ground black pepper and about a teaspoon of any dried herbs of your choosing that you may have hanging around in your kitchen cupboard.

For this dish I used dried Basil and Oregano, but I often change this according to whatever meat I am including with the dish. For example I have made similar mixes before using diced chicken pieces with Chinese five spice and a shake of soy sauce, or dried mixed herbs and parsley when using diced beef.

In a separate bowl mix the diced lamb with a little Olive oil, salt and ground black pepper, and again whatever herbs you fancy. I added a bit of dried tarragon to the meat to give it a slightly different flavour than the more Mediterranean style herbs used for the veg.

Line a baking tray with tin foil and spread out the vegetables evenly in one layer. Put the pieces of lamb on top of the veg – making sure to spread the meat out evenly and not letting it all clump together.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes at 200 Celsius or Gas mark 7 until all the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through.

Divide between two bowls and sprinkle over some grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and serve hot.

You can use whatever combination of vegetables you may find lurking in your fridge or freezer, even if they are looking a bit sad and old! I tend to do my ‘fridge gravel’ tray bake once or twice per month when cleaning out the fridge and using up any leftovers I find along the way.

Cheap, tasty and filling. Enjoy!

Chocolate and Almond Bread & Butter Pudding

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Bread and Butter Pudding is a good old-fashioned frugal recipe, which uses up dry bread which would otherwise go to waste. The traditional recipe uses bread and butter, dried fruit, sugar, eggs and milk.

There are many little twists that can be made to this basic recipe; for this one I used Almond Milk instead of cows milk and mixed coco-powder in with the demerara sugar to make nice chocolatey layers.

Ingredients

  • Dry sliced bread (about 1/2 loaf)
  • Butter
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 or 3 eggs (I only had 2 which was fine, but 3 would have been better)
  • 1 pint almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Mix the sugar and coco powder in a bowl.

Place a layer of buttered bread in the bottom of your dish, as closely fitting as possible. Cover with a layer of the chocolate mixture and a sprinkle of raisins.

Repeat until you have at least three bread layers.

In a jug measure out a pint of milk and beat the eggs into it.

Pour the mixture onto the bread layers; all but the top bread layer should be covered. Add more milk if necessary.

Sprinkle flaked almonds and some nutmeg on the top and bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour.

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Odds and Sods Soup

I have decided that it is time to go back to my £5 a week food budget – I have become lazy recently, and although I have maintained the discipline of not wasting food it has become too easy to spend more than I need to and to do ‘lazy cooking’.

I have not yet spent my £5 this week, and I did not top up my storecupboard before commencing my budget cooking – no cheating! Before I spend my £5 I need to use up some fresh ingredients; my lovely lodger is working away for a week and has left me with a fridge full of yummy things which I cannot let go to waste, so what I have to start with is:
– a couple of rashers of bacon
– a bag of green salad
– an avacado
– salami & parma ham
– red peppers

Thanks Amy!

I also have carrots which very much need using up, onions, garlic, a lonely potato, a lonely tomato, fresh bread, and of course my trusty spice cupboard.

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So of course I started with soup.

Ingredients

– one onion
– one potato
– one big tomato
– one red pepper
– six carrots
– 2 cloves of garlic
– smokey paprika
– stock from the freezer (or a vegetable or chicken stock cube)
– salt and pepper to taste

Method
Finely chop all of the vegetables apart from the tomato. Fry in a large saucepan with the paprika and a little oil or butter.
Put the tomato in a bowl of boiling water straight from the kettle; when it has been in there a few minutes you will find that the skin peels off easily.
Add the tomato to the other vegetables along with a pint of stock – I used my turkey stock from the freezer, but you could equally use a vegetable stock cube.
Simmer until the vegetables feel soft when you put a fork in them – about 20 minutes – then blend using a food processor or hand blender.
Return the blended vegetables to the saucepan and continue to cook on a low heat, adding more liquid (water or milk) if you think that the consistency is too thick.
Taste, and season with salt and pepper if required.
Serve with toast and lots of butter.

… and I have plenty left for lunch tomorrow – hurrah!