Mix it up!

If you’re a Granny like me, then you’ll probably remember the Kiwi food of the 50’s and 60’s. (If you don’t, you didn’t miss anything!)

Blah, Blah and more blah. (Don’t tell my Mum!) Sausages and Mashed potatoes, Boiled mutton with Parsley Sauce, Shepherd’s Pie with the left-over minced mutton (actually I really like Shepherd’s Pie, but like to give it a bit of pizazz!) Fish and Chip Friday, Corn on the Cob with bread and butter – not exactly an inspiring mix was it!

These days, with the InterWeb, and TV Travel Cooking shows, it’s easy to find recipes from all around the big wide world, and lots of these are very Cheapskate friendly. Many cultures eat a lot less meat than Kiwi’s tend to, and don’t appear to suffer from it! Since meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, having less of it is bound to help the budget.

I have two approaches to my shopping – in one approach I plan frenetically and make a list and stick to it. In another approach, I look for the specials, and then I find a recipe to suit. While the making the list thing is good, I think because I buy extra ingredients for the lovely recipes I’ve found, it can be slightly more expensive than finding the specials, and adapting recipes to what I have.

This week, I found a great special on Lamb Mince. I got 350 grams for $2.50! That’s because it was on it’s last legs. It had that sticker on it that says, “Use or freeze today!” So I throw it in the freezer, and make sure I use it the day I get it out.

So I then got on the web, and found an awesome recipe. I may be jumping the gun here, because I’ve asked the owner of the blog I got it from if I can share it, and haven’t heard back yet.

The recipe is, Hummus with Lamb, and Nagi suggests it as an appetizer, but we had it for dinner and it was great.

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It also suggests eating it with Pita Bread. I hummed and haa’d over whether to buy Pita bread, because actually I find store-bought Pita bread tough, stale and expensive. So I didn’t. I set to and made my own. Pita Bread is really quick and easy to make, particularly if you have a Breadmaker, so it’s worth doing. I had enough for the dinner, and now have a stash of a half a dozen pieces in the freezer for future lunches and hummus dipping!

This is a link to the Pita Bread I made, but there are heaps of recipes out there.

Never, ever ever buy hummus. It’s so quick to make, and so much better! The Recipe Tin Eats Hummus with Lamb  recipe, does of course have the recipe for the hummus.

The recipe has spices in it, but is not particularly strongly spiced. However, if you’re concerned, you can halve the amount of spices.

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Coming to you FREE! from a stream near you…

It may be grey and stormy enough to have whipped the waves into galloping white horses, but in Auckland in January, it’s still hot and muggy enough to have the sweat dripping off you if you so much as look at a flight of stairs.

Still Salad weather then.

I found a gorgeous recipe for a Peach and Goats curd salad in my Xmas gifted Taste Magazine. It suggests rocket and watercress salad, with yellow and white peaches, parma ham, goats curd and pine nuts. I priced the watercress in the supermarket and it was $3.79 for a bag. Hmm I thought. I know where there’s a little stream…..

So I found proscuitto and goats cheese on special, picked three varieties of lettuce from my garden, along with chives, mint and lemon balm, and then went on the hunt for watercress. I usually have rocket in my garden, but haven’t planted it this year, so I thought my own salad leaves would be perfectly adequate for this, and I wasn’t wrong.

Watercress grows in shallow running water. It grows wild. I thought I knew a stream where there might be some, and sure enough there was! Neither of us had foraged for watercress before, but I’d taken a good look at what it looked like in the supermarket bag, and had a feeling I’d seen it growing before. We had a taste, and voila!

So, these ingredients don’t look exactly cheap do they! The secret is firstly buying on special. Secondly, don’t use it all, unless you’re feeding a lot of course. We just used half the packet of proscuitto, and half the goat’s cheese, so I can feel yet another salad dinner coming on. At the Bin Inn, you can buy tiny amounts of pine nuts. I think my two tablespoons was NZ$1.26 or something ridiculous like that. One tablespoon would actually have been enough. If fresh peaches aren’t in season or cheap for you, you could probably use a sale priced tin of peaches in juice. So by being smart, you can make a meal that would probably cost you NZ$35.00 each in a restaurant and be happy that it cost you NZ$5.00 each.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Peach and Goat's Curd Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp honey

2 bunches rocket (or other salad and herb leaves)

1 cup watercress sprigs

1 white peach, pitted and cut into wedges

1 yellow peach, pitted and cut into wedges (I couldn’t find one, so I used a nectarine. It was perfectly fine for the task.)

8 slices Parma ham (or proscuitto) coarsely torn

2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (buy raw and toast yourself – watch every second as they burn in a flash!)

100g goat’s curd (or goat’s cheese)

Method

  1. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange salad leaves, watercress, peaches and Parma Ham on a platter. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with pine nuts and dollop with curd.

Enjoy!!

 

Kumara and Corn Fritters

These are my favourite fritters.

The recipe comes from the Food in a Minute website. I made the mistake of not measuring the kumara (sweet potato) and put in far too much. This made the fritters very tender. They still tasted great though, but hard to turn and lift.  I also probably overdid the chives. Don’t buy chives by the way. They grow like mad. Don’t even buy the original plant – ask someone who has some in the garden, if they’ve got some they can give you.  Mine grow almost wild and I keep replanting odd bits that pop up all over the place because I use them a lot in Cheese and Chive Muffins.

Kumara and Corn Fritters

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 410g can Cream Style Corn
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (thyme or chives are great here)
  • ½ cup self raising flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup roughly mashed cooked cold kumara
  • 1 egg, separated
  • butter or oil for pan frying

Method

  1. In a bowl mix together the  Cream Style Corn , ginger, herbs, self raising flour, milk, mashed kumara and egg yolk.
  2. In a clean bowl beat the egg white until stiff. Fold the egg white and kumara into the mixture.
  3. Heat a little butter or oil in a non-stick frying pan (the butter helps to crispen the outside) and cook large spoonfuls over a low to moderate heat for about 3 minutes each side.Serve with crispy grilled rashers of bacon, grilled tomatoes and a drizzle of golden syrup.

Bean there, done that!

You know how you get home late after a rehearsal (or sports training or….) and you’re tired and hungry and really don’t feel much like cooking dinner, but you want something that’s easy and nutritious and filling.

This is that recipe! You serve it in ramekins, with a bean mixture in the base, topped with an egg, which you then bake in the oven to finish off.

Big Beans

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

1 450g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 slices middle bacon, chopped,  (or 1 very thickly sliced piece cut into lardons – cut off bits sold cheaply are good for this)

1 cup stock – your flavour choice

3 eggs – or the number of baked eggs you would like.

Method

Heat oven to 160 degrees C

Using a non-stick medium sized pot, brown the bacon. Add the celery and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the butter beans, and the cup of stock. Simmer for a few minutes until the beans are hot.

Put the mixture into a pie dish or separate ramekins. We have a big one for my big-eating husband, and a smaller one for myself. Using the back of a spoon, push a dent into the bean mixture and break an egg into the dent.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. I prefer my eggs runny inside, but the white cooked, so it’s a bit of a fine line when you take it out, but that’s up to you!

Enjoy!

Fast Food Cheaper? Update

I was delighted to read Nikki Bezzants column in the Herald on Sunday this morning, where she too debunked the idea that Fast Food is cheaper than home cooked food. I think it also showed that the newspaper had picked out a statement which actually didn’t mean that people thought it was more affordable to use as their headline. She at least had the full data which we didn’t get in the article, and was able to put this in perspective.

She also focussed on the health aspects which are important. Thanks Niki!

nikibezzant.com

@nikibezzant

Food writer, healthy cook, editor-in-chief of Healthy Food Guide magazine, columnist NZ Herald

Niki Bezzant Niki Bezzant