Korean so galbi with Fuchsia Dunlop’s magic greens

Living on my own, I never order takeaway. I can’t think of anything sadder in some ways, or anything more likely to raise my price-sensitive hackles. However, at the same time, I love the sense of ‘treat’ that it embodies: paying to have someone else cook, yet being able to enjoy it without the faff of going to a restaurant. And, of course, often you order things you would never cook (pizza, for example).

Which is why I am always on the lookout for recipes that give me a sense of a takeaway − they offer ease and simplicity and a certain different ‘non-homemade’ flavour − without costing much. So galbi, a dish from the rather marvellous Kimchi, is a perfect example. Combined with Fuchsia Dunlop’s greens with dried shrimp, which is possibly my favourite cabbage/green dish ever (I’ve made it so often that I can write the shopping list from memory…), this is an affordable yet treat-like alternative to picking up the phone. Continue reading

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Kefta Mkaouara, or Moroccan-spiced meatballs

Oh the joy of a sale when you have no money. Right now my local supermarket has loads of stuff half-price so I am stocking up (as far as that is possible without a freezer) on cheap cuts whilst I can. Like meatballs. Which have the virtue of being not only thrifty but also quick and, aha, depending on the ones you get, wheat- and carb-free too. Continue reading

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Zuppa alla Valpelleunenze

It’s Monday, a day, in my world, for clearing out the fridge and using up whatever is in there and this is my favourite way to do that so far this year. Once again it comes from Diana Henry’s Roast Figs Sugar Snow and, though I feel like I should apologise for posting one of her recipes two weeks in a row, well, I’m not going to. I have a five-recipe rule for buying a cookbook: if it has five recipes in it that I want then I will buy it. And this has ten times that number. I think it’s the best book ever for this time of year and every time I leaf through it I find something else to make. I truly urge you to get a copy as soon as you can, or in readiness for next winter. It makes staying in, keeping warm, and not spending much an absolute joy. Continue reading

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Nigel Slater’s pig cheeks braised in cider and the joy of thrift

Thrift is a habit of mine all year round but especially at this time of year. Being freelance, it is very useful to know how to survive on very little for months at a time and even when I don’t have to think about it quite so much I still hate waste. And, in January, I rather love the inventiveness of trying to shop and spend as little as possible whilst still eating great food. This year I have the added task of cutting down on carbohydrates a few days per week which makes thrift a tad harder, since it means I can’t rely on potatoes and couscous and need to buy protein. And, whereas I can live on lentils, beans and soup in the week, by Friday I want something a little special, something that tells me that it is the weekend and there will be treats, however thrifty. Continue reading

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Happy New Year, a birthday cookbook, and a cold-weather soup

Hello and Happy New Year! As I write this I can feel the cold around my ankles, despite being indoors, wearing two jumpers, jeans, socks and slippers, despite the heating being on and despite the consumption of many cups of tea. It is the sort of weather for staying in and stoking up fires but, since I have no fire, I am reduced to stoking my internal one, via food. And Diana Henry’s book, Roast Figs Sugar Snow is the perfect kindling for such a fire. Continue reading

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The twelve days of Kickstarter: mini Flamiches

At Christmas, actually at any time that you are having a party or entertaining and need speedy ingredients and ideas, ready-rolled pastry is your friend. And, though I might be tempted to make shortcrust, since it is so little work, I am really very very unlikely to make puff pastry. Here, for example, in the last of the apéritif posts, is an idea that takes about 20 minutes to make and will probably disappear into your, or your guests’ happy faces in about two. Continue reading

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The twelve days of Kickstarter: mini-Gruyère cakes

A ‘cake’ in French is, confusingly, not what Anglo-Saxons might call a gâteau. It is usually a loaf shape for a start, sometimes served at breakfast and, often savoury not sweet. The first one I ever made, for example was a Roquefort, walnut and raisin version. The mixture reminds me of muffins, since it tends to contain oil rather than butter and needs only the barest of beatings. They are therefore quick to make, especially if you make mini versions like these, as well as relatively low on ingredients and shopping.

Technically, this recipe makes 12 but I made them in US-bought mini-loaf tins which, since I only ended up with eight, might be somewhat larger than the French standard size…If you don’t have mini-loaf tins, mini-muffin tins might work, though I have not tried them. They come out quite soft and their flavour is delicate, rather than full-on, so they make an ideal Christmas party snack, or they’d be great, once we get outdoors again, for a picnic.  Continue reading

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