Ricotta Gnocchi – with lemon, parsley and chilli

One of the purchases which made up my £10 budget for this week was a pot of ricotta from the reduced section of the supermarket; 250g of ricotta cost me 86p. I hadn’t decided what to do with it when I bought it, but a bit of googling and I had the answer – it was time for me to learn how to make gnocchi! I used the basic recipe from this website – for the simple reason that it used the amount of ricotta that I had and I didn’t want to do any maths! I added fresh parsley from the garden to the mixture and used cheddar cheese because I had no parmesan, apart from that I followed the recipe pretty faithfully.

This isn’t the most camera-friendly dish I have ever made, but it was truly delicious.

Ricotta Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 8 oz / 250g Ricotta Cheese
  • 3/4 cup / 75 g freshly grated parmesan cheese (I substituted in cheddar cheese)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup / 110 – 150g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • A splash of lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Method

Combine all of the ingredients – except for the flour – in a bowl and mix together. Add the minimum amount of flour to the mixture and combine until it makes a sticky soft dough. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time, until you have a consistency that you can work with.

Turn it out onto a work surface which is lightly dusted with flour, sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top then pat it down to a disc about an 2.5cm thick. Cut it into 8 pieces. Next, roll a piece into a log about 1.5 cm in diameter and then cut this into 1.5cm pieces. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Ideally, the gnocchi should go into the fridge for about half an hour at this stage. It can keep in the fridge a day or more if you want to be organised and make it in advance.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Tumble the gnocchi in and cook for a couple of minutes, or until the gnocchi is floating on the surface for around 30 seconds.

Once the gnocchi is drained put some butter, pepper, chilli flakes and lemon juice into the pan and then return the gnocchi to the pan for a couple of minutes. Alternatively the gnocchi can be served with a pasta sauce, such as this favourite of mine (which is the first recipe I ever shared with you!).

Cost

  • 250g Ricotta – £0.86
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese – £0.40
  • 150g Plain Flour – £0.06
  • 2 Eggs – £0.31
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – £0.01

Total Cost = £1.64

Ricotta Gnocchi

Spicy Tomato Pasta

This was a very quick, cheap and delicious midweek meal – the chilli was a bit wicked though! I’m not sure that the picture does it justice, I find pasta particularly difficult to photograph (any tips welcome!).

This served two people, with extra for a lunch.

spicy tomato pasta

Ingredients

  • a red onion
  • a large clove of garlic
  • a large red chilli
  • a small handful of olives
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • a teaspoon of dried basil
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • a splash of white wine (not compulsory, I just happened to have some open)
  • half a tin of tomatoes (the other half was used in curry yesterday)
  • three tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • a few handfuls of wholewheat pasta
  • grated parmesan

Method

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry in a little olive oil along with the mustard seeds, basil and pepper. Chop the olives and add these to the pan along with a splash of wine.

When the onion has softened add the tomato, rinse out the tin with a little hot water from the kettle and add this too. Put the pasta on to cook. Allow the sauce to simmer slowly while the pasta is cooking, adding more water if it looks like it is drying out.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and stir it into the tomato sauce along with the creme fraiche. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

As usual, I am starting the year cooking in a very frugal fashion. My aim is to get to the back of my cupboards and to the bottom of my freezer by the end of the month and to have spent very little on food.

Today I was very organised; I cooked my dinner in the slow cooker, using beans that I had soaked overnight, before I left for work. Those of you who have experienced my severe aversion to mornings will be very impressed!

This is very different from the way that I would usually make chilli; because I am in serious fridge-emptying mode I used the remains of a jar of spicy tomato salsa dip and finished off a bottle of peri peri sauce for the base.

The chilli was incredibly cheap to make. However, I did spend money in the co-op on some (very unseasonal) salad, wraps and soured cream (which was in the reduced section). Steve is very good at making Tortillas, I will ask him to share the recipe with you sometime.

There was enough the next day to make enchiladas – yum.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

Ingredients

  • Slow cooker bean chilliTwo cups Black-eyed Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Kidney Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Puy Lentils
  • 1/2 pot Tomato Salsa
  • approx 3rd bottle Peri Peri Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli & Lime Flakes (you can use chilli flakes without lime – I happened to already have this and am in using-up mode)
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Vegetable Stock powder
  • an Onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Water, enough to cover the beans

Method

Soak the beans the night before. Drain before using.

Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker on it’s lowest setting. Leave to cook for at least eight hours.

Serve with wraps or rice.

For the enchiladas – put a large spoonful of the Bean Chilli into the centre of a wrap, fold two ends inwards and then roll up. Place in an oven proof dish. When you have got as many wraps as you want into the dish put sour cream on top (I didn’t measure it out, I just used the remains of the pot from the previous day) and cover with grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180oC for approximately half an hour.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

enchiladas

Apple Sponge Cake

Apple Cake

I must say that I am enjoying Simple September so far. Receiving lots of courgettes, runner beans and apples from my parent’s garden has helped; although it does take rather a lot of imagination not to quickly get bored of courgette!

Some of you will know that I use the same basic sponge recipe for many of the cakes I make – Delia’s ‘all-in-one-sponge’ recipe. I find it incredibly versatile; sometimes I add lemon zest and then add a lemon-drizzle topping, other times I add chocolate followed by coffee icing… the possibilities are endless. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 4oz golden caster sugar
  • 4oz margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • two eating apples
  • two tablespoons demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Quarter the apples, remove the core and then cut into thin slices. Place the apple slices in the base of a round cake tin lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkle them with demerara sugar. You could also add a little sprinkle of mixed spice at this stage if you so wish.

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl and combine well with an electric whisk. Cover the apples with the mixture and bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25 minutes. You will recognise when it is cooked because the mixture will have shrunk away from the edges of the cake tin.

Turn the cake onto a cooling rack. When cold put the cake upside down onto a plate, so that the apple is at the top.

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apple sponge cake

Norfolk Marrow Tart

You may have gathered from the previous couple of posts that I have quite a lot of courgette and marrow to get through! I rather like having a glut of a fruit or vegetable because it tends to lead to the invention or discovery of new and exciting recipes.

I found this recipe in one of my mother’s 1970’s cookery books. I was a little sceptical but thought I would give it a go – it’s delicious, my new favourite thing! The cooked marrow and egg makes a kind of egg custard, and the nutmeg gave it a wonderfully autumnal feel which reminded me a little of American pumpkin pie (although friends who tried it thought it was apple!). I have made it a couple of times now and intend to make it a few more times as I try to get to the bottom of the pile of courgettes and marrows.

Norfolk Marrow Tart
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I find that older recipes tend to assume that you know what you are doing, so I add the following clarifications:

  • You can buy shortcrust pastry but it is pretty easy to make. I tend to use a recipe from another of my mum’s old books, where the proportions are 8oz flour, 4oz fat (half lard half margarine is best) and 2 tablespoons of water. I am very lazy and bung it in a food processor; this time I was even more lazy because Steve made too much pastry the previous day (he is renowned for his pies).
  • It works best if the marrow is mashed while it is in a colander or sieve, so as to get as much liquid out of it as possible. The first time I made it it didn’t look like it would set; I took some beaten egg, added some more sugar and nutmeg and put this as a layer on top of the tart and cooked it for another five to ten minutes which rescued it nicely.
  • The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sugar; I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the pie which made it nice and caramelised.
  • I used quite a small, deep dish because I like thick flan filling; this is a matter of taste.
Norfolk Marrow Tart

Marrow stuffed with vegetable chilli

Ahh marrows – if you have one you have a hundred! I have inherited my mother’s glut of courgettes and marrows because she is away on holiday (not that she would have had a hope of getting through them anyway) so I have been putting them in everything. Some I have ‘hidden’ – grated into curry sauce, thinly layered in lasagne, used to make an egg custard (no, really!). Others I have fried in butter and garlic as a delicious side dish, sometimes with added leeks or mushrooms. This one I stuffed.

Am I bored of courgettes and marrows yet? Certainly not!

stuffed marrow

There are many variations on stuffed marrow; I remember my mum stuffing them with minced beef when I was younger which was rather nice. This particular version was vegetarian, and included some good using up of leftovers as well eating into the glut of marrows.

I had cooked far too much rice to go with a curry I had made the previous day (the curry of course had grated courgette in it…), and also had a part pack of cooked lentils and kidney beans in the fridge from a previous meal. I added this to fried onion, garlic,  fresh chillies and a couple of tomatoes to make the filling.

While the filling was cooking I cut a marrow in half longways (one marrow is more than enough for two people), scooped out the middle, and then put them skin-side-up on a lightly oiled baking tray. I then put them in the oven (preheated to about 180oC) for 10 to 15 minutes. When I had tasted and seasoned the filling I took the marrow out of the oven, turned them over, filled them and then covered with grated cheese. Another 20 minutes or so in the oven and they were done.

Delicious, cheap, and incredibly filling!

 

Harvest Time

A sad thing about moving house at this time of year is that I didn’t get to harvest the vegetables which I had lovingly grown. Thankfully my mum came to visit last week bearing gifts from her own garden. This picture was taken about a week ago and I have just polished off the runner beans, and only have a few  apples and over-sized courgettes (zucchini) left.

So how have I used this great abundance?

The courgettes I have of course stuffed – I will share this with you later in the week. I have also fried them in butter and garlic as a side-dish and ‘hidden’ them in other dishes, some sweet and some savoury.

The apples are delicious eaters and I have been munching on them as they are, as well as making rather wonderful cake with them.

The new potatoes were mostly a lovely variety called Pink Fur Apple; they are delicious just boiled and then smothered in butter and pepper, although I also had a go at roasting them.

… and of course everything has been served with runner beans (apart from the cake).

I still miss my garden.

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Simple September

Following a very decadent summer (getting married is a good excuse!) it is time for a ‘Simple September‘.
My husband Steve and I are having a near-complete shopping-ban this month; we are combining two very well stocked kitchens into a much smaller space, plus we have been eating and drinking rather well recently and some simpler fare won’t go amiss.   The exceptions to the shopping ban will be some seasonal vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs, milk… and the occasional treat of nice cheese or meat from the reduced section of the supermarket.
As well as saving money and kitchen space, I’m hoping that Simple September will kick-start my recipe writing again after a five month hiatus (I’ve been a little distracted!).

As a reward for getting the kitchen in our new house tidy, I decided to start Simple September with a (reasonably) healthy treat; coconut and apricot flapjack. All of the flapjack I make is based around the same basic recipe which I have shared with you previously. This time, I decided to have a go at using coconut oil; I substituted it for half of the butter because I wasn’t sure how it was going to behave. I’m glad that I didn’t make the switch to coconut oil in one go because it made the mixture rather more liquid; I recovered the situation by taking it out of the oven part way through cooking and covering it with a layer of drinking chocolate followed by desiccated coconut.

A delicious mistake which I fully intend to make again!!

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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

Mushroom Soup 

mushroom soup

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!

mushroom soup