Saturday, 30 April 2011

Birthday Indian Takeaway

For my birthday meal we ordered an Indian takeaway with Billy and my parents. We ordered a large selection and I had a big pig out with tandoori chicken massala, lamb bhuna, rice, garlic naan, and onion bhajis.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Lamb, Lentil and Mint Pie

Every time I go to the supermarket I can't resist visiting the reduced section to see what bargains there are to be had. This time I picked up some beef mince, that I turned into homemade burger, and some diced lamb. 

I knew the lamb would be tough and so needed some lengthy cooking and, because I have fresh mint in the garden, I was reminded of a favourite pie filling at a restaurant I use to work at: lamb and mint. My next problem was that I knew the lamb would not stretch by itself to feed a hungry family, so I turned to the store cupboard. Lentils. Perfect to bulk out the pie and add an extra dimension to the pie. 

All-in-all, I was rather pleased with the pie. It maybe could have done with a bit more sauce in the filling, but the flavours were certainly there and the mint gave it an additional freshness that was definitely needed. And with homemade pastry, it was certainly a lot cheaper than buying a pie from the shop.

  • Shopping in the reduced section saves the pennies. 
  • Check whether a product can be frozen, the defrost it at a later date that suits. 
  • Try and think up recipes using reduced items e.g. veg that is slightly past its best-before-date can be used in a veg soup, which can then be frozen.
  • Buying reduced items helps the environment, reducing the amount of waste dumped in landfill sites.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Stir-Fried Vegetable Noodles

I saw a recipe in Good Food Magazine for Stir-fried noodles and beansprouts, under the heading "Simple Sides", and I thought to myself "Hmmm, that's be nice as a main with a few strips of sirloin steak thrown in.

So, off to Tesco I trotted with this in mind. I already had some things such as noodles, oil and soy sauce so I had down on my shopping list spring onions and beansprouts. Now, at this point I should also have noted down steak, but alas I forgot. However, upon walking into Tesco I said to myself, "Must not forget steak!". Guess what happened :(
Luckily, though, I had bought a green pepper and a red pepper, and so Stir-fried steak noodles turned into Stir-fried vegetable noodles.
Although, steak would have been a welcomed addition to the dish, I don't think it suffered for lack of it. And its always healthy to be kept on your toes in the kitchen and to compensate in dishes where an ingredient is missing. Quite often it makes you try new things and experiment and, whether the dish turns out well or not, new culinary experiences are learnt.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Turkey Burgers

My local butchers, Scotts, in Ormskirk, sell a couple of different burgers including pork and apple, traditional beef and "healthy" turkey burgers. I was curious as to just how healthy they were and so Googled "turkey burger calories" and "beef burger calories" - turns out the former has 300 calories less. Obviously, this will vary from brand to brand and butcher to butcher, depending on fat ratios and other ingredients, etc.

As for the all important taste factor, nothing is lost. No, it doesn't have the same robust flavours as a beef burger may have, but it certainly brings a good alternative to the table.

Now for processed cheese. I'm expecting to be shot down for this, but on my burgers I like to have processed cheese slices. Don't get me wrong, if I'm in the mood I quite like to have blue cheese or gouda, etc. but I'd be just as happy with cheese slices. I love they way they melt under the grill, forming a lumpy terrain that follows the burger. I love the stringy-ness as I take a bite. I suppose I love way they are just the right size to sit nicely on to the average burger.

So, whether you're looking for a healthy burger or something not as heavy as a beef burger or just looking to save the pennies (90p/burger), turkey burgers aren't a bad choice at all.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian food doesn't have to be dull and boring. As long as the ingredients are of good quality and you have a sound recipe, the meat won't be missed.
The virtue of vegetarian meals, besides being generally cheaper, is that they usually carry a smaller carbon footprint than their carnivorous cousins. This is due to there being less energy consumed in the growing of vegetables than there is in the rearing of meat.
This is my first attempt at making moussaka and part of the fun of trying new foods is the anticipation and wondering how it will look and, more importantly, how it will taste!

I've made this by browning off slices of aubergine before covering with sauce made with sweated onions, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and passatta (sieved tomatoes) which is then covered in a white sauce. I've made this white sauce by mixing greek yoghurt, eggs and pecorino cheese (I would have added mozzarella too if I'd had it). It's then baked in the oven.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Beef Stroganoff

A way of eating well on a budget is to buy good products but reduce the amount. In this recipe, rather than buying a lot of cheap beef, I've opted to use a better quality beef but use less of it. The taste is always better and it hurts the pocket a little less.

400g Sirloin steak, cut into strips
1 Onion, sliced
400g Mushrooms, sliced
1tbsp Paprika
1tsp Wholegrain mustard
4tbsp Creme fraiche
Olive oil

In a pan on a low heat, gently sweat the onions and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil for 15 minutes, until soft. Transfer to a plate.
Turn the heat up (adding a bit more olive oil if necessary) and sear the sirloin strips. Add the paprika and wholegrain mustard.
Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan, also adding the creme fraiche, stirring until everything is mixed well. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste. Serve with rice.

For an extra flavour add a splash of sherry or brandy when searing the meat and ensure the alcohol is burnt off before adding the onions and mushrooms.