Category: recipe

yet another risotto


Actually, that’s unfair, because we haven’t had a risotto in ages. But we did last night.

We bought a pack of chicken thighs in Aldi last week. Pete manfully skinned and filleted them on Saturday, and they’ve been stowed in the freezer (yes, for this was just *before* PumpkinGate) for stir fries or whatever; the cats had the skin, with much enjoyment but no gratitude *at all*, and I slung the bones in the baby slow cooker with some water, with a view to soup making. But then, after the Graet Pumpkin War of 2014, soup was already well over-catered, and I couldn’t freeze this stock either.

I reboiled the bones yesterday, and it made a lovely gelatinous stock. Which seemed absolutely ideal for a risotto, especially as there were little shreds of chicken as well. So I strained the bones out, and rinsed them off with boiling water, to get every drop of chickeny goodness from them, and then topped that up to a pint*.

Sliced a leek and a red pepper, and set them to saute off in a little olive oil and butter. Then added 5oz of Arborio rice and stirred it round to coat it, and then started adding the stock bit by bit, stirring all the time. During the process, I discovered that making risotto is yet another thing that doesn’t go with  watching Borgen with subtitles; no wonder it’s taking me so long to get through it. I digress.

When about 75% of the stock was added, I seasoned with salt and black pepper, and when all the stock was absorbed, I added half a block of feta cheese and stirred until it was melted.

And I can tell you that, although a bowl of risotto in those quantities (we halved it, obviously) doesn’t look much, it’s plenty, and it was delicious.


*This is one of the few recipes I still cook in imperial – easier to remember the mantra of 1 pint / 5 oz.

the desiccated orange made a chocolate orange cake

an orange

Dear Reader, I have a confession to make. I had to throw out an orange. Oh, the shame. We’re not very good with fruit – we buy it, and then we don’t eat it, so this orange had languished in the bowl for quite a while, and had gone mouldy. It was accompanied by a companion orange which had not yet succumbed, and turned out to be really quite dry, still …  as we were out of cake, I did a quick Google, and adapted a recipe I found, thus:

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 180ml water
125g butter, softened (I used baking marg)
180g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 orange
85g dark chocolate, chopped

(The recipe called for 200g chocolate, which would have been overpowering, I think).

Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4.

Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the water and set to one side. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, then add flour and salt.

Roughly chop the whole orange into chunks by hand and then blitz in a food processor, skin and all. Add this to the cake batter along with the water and bicarbonate of soda, and stir.

Add the chocolate and stir through gentlye. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin with a liner, and as always, blessed whoever made these available for sale, otherwise grease and flour) )and bake about an hour  until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. The recipe I adapted said 40-45 minutes, but that wasn’t nearly long enough, but check and check.

everyday bread


Inspired by A Girl Called Jack’s recipe, I make a loaf of this most weekends. It keeps well, makes lovely toast, and never goes wrong. But I have tweaked it a bit. so here’s my version.

250g wholemeal flour
400g plain flour – or strong white flour, or even a mix of the two
7g packet dried fast action yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
400ml warm water (*not too hot*)

You can jazz this up with, e.g., fennel or pumpkin seeds if you like.

Put the flours into a large mixing bowl (or you can use a mixer with a dough hook, but it’s not as much fun), and add the yeast, sugar and salt. And the optional seeds.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Too hot will kill the yeast. And if you want to prove the bread overnight, you can use cold water. Stir it all in gently, then tip it on to a clean, floured worktop and start kneading. Plenty of tutorials on YouTube if you don’t know how. It’ll knead^H^H need about five minutes or so of working.  Take a tiny piece of dough, stretch it and hold it up to the window – if you can see through it, it’s ready!

Pop into a clean bowl (you can grease it if you like, but I often forget), cover with clingfilm, and leave to rise for a couple of hours, or even overnight. When it’s about doubled in size, tip it out, knock it back, and form it into something loaf-shaped – I generally do a sort of sausage because it’s easier to slice, but it can be round if you prefer. Put it on a baking sheet, floured if you’re very confident of its non-stickness, or greased if not, make a couple of deep slashes in the top, and sprinkle some flour over the top.

I usually leave it another 40 minutes or so before baking for about 50 minutes at Gas4/180C – preheat the oven, of course! It it’ll be done if it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Then wait for it to cool before eating – that’s the difficult part.

pasta with chicken, mushrooms and blue cheese


We bought some chicken breasts from our fabulous butcher up t’road, wrapped them individually, and froze them. And then fetched one out at the weekend to make a stir fry and, readers, it was *huge*. Well, huge to us, because we don’t eat much meat. So we used half in the stir fry, and the other half was confined to the fridge for another day.

Regular readers will know that Tuesday night is pasta night, so last night I chopped up the remaining chicken into small pieces and fried it off in some olive oil. Added four wizened mushrooms, half a wrinkly red pepper, and a chopped onion (£1.80 for 4kgs from the Turkish shop). Added about 30g of Danish blue and stirred it round till it had melted, and a good grinding of black pepper.

Served over spaghetti – delicious.  It’s worth keeping a chunk of blue cheese in the fridge, as it livens up pasta sauces, and makes great cheese scones (although you get quite sticky making them).

slow cooked spuds and onions

This was by way of an experiment, and I didn’t photograph it. It was as cheap as, well, chips. and really nice. I made it to accompany some roast venison, a piece of which I found lurking in the bottom of the freezer. It did two days – one with red cabbage, and one with green.

Put a slug of olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker – I did this to stop it sticking.

Thinly slice potatoes and onions, and layer them up in the slow cooker – I think I did three and a half layers, starting and ending with potato. Season each potato layer as you go with salt and black pepper. I hurled some chopped garlic in part way through as well. Pour in some gravy (i used about half a mugful of Bisto granules*, which was about right for a small slow cooker).

Switch it on, walk away. It had about five hours, I think. Next time I’ll add carrot, I think, and possibly swede. Lovely with roasted meat, or sausages.

*Lets not pretend we don’t always use them from time to time, eh?

green beans and pasta

green beans and pasta

This is another ridiculously quick and easy supper, and pretty cheap too (depending where you shop) – certainly well under £1 per serving. Works well with runner beans as well.

serves 2:

1 pack green beans (89p from Aldi, I think)
125g of pasta (fusilli, quills, whatever – Aldi fusilli is 49p for 500g, so that’s (counts on fingers) 12.5p)
1 chopped onion (20p)
1 dessert spoon (ish) of olive oil
lemon juice – a bottle is easier, and cheaper, than fresh
black pepper
about 25g grated parmesan (35p?)

Top and tail the beans, while you put a decent amount of water on to boil. When it has, put in the pasta and set a timer (mental, if necessary) for 10 minutes. I put the beans in that pot when there was eight minutes left, which left a nice crunch to them.

While the beans and pasta are cooking, cook the onion off in the olive oil. Add to the drained pasta/bean mix, stir in a good slug of lemon juice, the parmesan, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Light, quick, simple, healthy, cheap. Vegetarian, and vegan if you leave out the cheese.

indian black-eyed peas

I made a batch of these for a friend’s curry evening, and they were so nice, I’ve just made another huge batch for us! I might have gone ever so slightly overboard with the quantities, so think on if you’re going to try this 🙂

1kg black-eyed peas (£3.69 for 2kgs from our local Indian shop)
1 carton Sainsburys passata (£0.55)
2 chopped onions (£1.80 for 4kgs from the Turkish shop so – 30p max)
⅓ big carton of Aldi mushrooms, sliced thinly (about £0.50)
groundnut oil (about a dessertspoon)
various spices to suit (listed below)

12 generous servings for a fiver, absolute max.   I made this in the slow cooker, but if you don’t want to/don’t have to, I’d give it a couple of hours on the hob to get the flavour right through.

Put the black-eyes in to soak for about 12 hours/overnight. They do say you don’t need to soak them, but I always soak beans and peas. They will absorb water at a rate of knots, so use a bowl rather bigger than you might think you’ll need.

Put them in the pot, add the mushrooms and passata, and about half a passata carton of water.

Grind/mix some Indian spices; Pete always does this, but it’s not writ in stone. Cumin, coriander seeds, cardamon, bit of chilli, turmeric – whatever works for you. But we tend to go for Lots, because you want the taste. Fry off the onions in some oil (i use groundnut) until they’re just starting to catch, then add the spices and cook them off a bit. A small splash of water is a good idea here. Decant that lot into the pot, add a bit of salt and black pepper.

if slow cooking, about eight hours on low. If hobbing, bring to the boil then a very gentle simmer for a couple of hours. Sprinkle fresh coriander on top if you have any (ours has bolted, sadly).

Freezes beautifully, makes a tasty vegan meal on its own, or a great accompaniment for a curry.

basic lentil mix

This is one of my standards – you can use it for lasagne, moussaka, shepherds pie … anything you do with mince, really.

There are just two of us in the household, but I always cook for at least six so I can freeze some. Also, this recipe is a bitsa, using up what I have in the fridge.

Into the slow cooker: one chopped onion, three diced carrots, one diced courgette, half a red pepper, 4 cloves garlic, small slug of olive oil, and any spice you fancy. I usually use Ras el Hanout, but anything middle eastern is good. Left on low for about an hour. Add 1 pint of red lentils and 2 pints of water, switch to high, leave for about four hours. If you didn’t fancy the spices, substitute a splash of red wine for some of the water, and bung in some herbs.

I made a lentil bake with this yesterday, which I shall write up in a bit.

chicken and coconut curry

I had a yen for a chicken curry at the weekend; we make (and eat) a lot of chicken and coriander, but I wanted something different, dammit. So I trundled up to the Jacksons at the top of t’rerd, and came home with two packs of mixed thighs and drumsticks for a fiver, which Pete manfully deskinned for me; it’s a horrible job, and my arthriticy fingers really don’t enjoy it. We put them on a roasting tray, seasoned, drizzled with a little olive oil, and bunged them in the oven while the pizza was cooking. (Well, browning chicken is a boring task, and the oven was on …)

So, there was lots of skinned and part cooked chicken on Sunday morning. Looking at us. I skimmed through various books, but nothing quite appealed, so we winged it, pretty much.

Into the big slow cooker went, variously:

two tablespoons each of  ground almonds and dessicated coconut,

two onions fried in some groundnut oil until they were just starting to catch

a paste of garlic and ginger, and a little water, fried off, then spices added: cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili, fenugreek, cardamon, black pepper, and a little salt. All fried down into a paste

a can of coconut milk, and about a third? a half? can of water

a bunch of coriander

And then we just left it alone for about 7 hours. It was really, really nice, except it lacked … something. Not sure what. We’re going to have some more tonight, with some saag aloo, to see if that helps.

That fiver’s worth of chicken made 10 portions, by the way. Plus £0.80 for the coriander, and £1.25 for coconut milk, and maybe another couple of quid’s worth of ingredients. Well under £1 per portion.

p.s. we always cook chicken pieces on the bone – the flavour is better, and the meat falls off when it’s cooked anyway.


up to my elbows in vegetables, and some venison

vegetables ready to be roasted


We seemed a bit overrun with veg, for some reason, so something had to be done.

So into the medium slow cooker, diced small, went:

2 leeks
4 carrots
½ swede
2 (manky) courgettes

They were cooked off with a little olive oil, on a low setting, and made two big tubs of veg for soup.

Into the Remoska went:

2 onions, cut into wedges
3 sweet potatoes
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
2 decent courgettes

I had also slow cooked a butternut squash on Saturday – means no peeling – and added that in towards the end.

That made 8 servings of  roast veg – 3 tubs for the freezer, and one for tonight.

And then, I cut into large dice:

4 potatoes with their skin on
1 onion, cut in half, and sliced
4 carrots

These went into the bottom of a big roasting tray. And on top of that went a small (750g) piece of roasting venison that has been languishing in the meat drawer in the freezer for some time. I marinated the venison in olive oil, lemon juice, chopped rosemary, and sea salt and black pepper, and I stirred the marinade through the veg.

Into the oven at 235C for 15 minutes, then I added about 300ml of beef stock and a slosh of red wine, and turned the oven down to 200C for another 25. I took the meat out and gave it a foil hat, and let it rest for 15 minutes, and continued to cook off the veg.

I’m going to use that method again to cook a small joint – the potatoes were sort of roasted, and there was enough of the veg left to eat with something else. We’re going to have cold venison and roast veg tonight, but I think those veg would go very well with sausages, don’t you?

Oh, and I found a tin of plums in the pantry cupboard, best before 2006(!). Opened it, they smelled fine. They were in syrup, so I gave them a good rinse under the tap, and put them in a bowl. 100g flour, 50g walnuts, 60g sugar and 60g marg made a nice crumble topping. Rude not to, really.

And I’d like to say that I chopped every one of those vegetables by hand. It took bloody ages.