How to feel rich for a quid: lemon posset

You’ll have to forgive me for my absence over the last few weeks and for the fact that, for the next few weeks I’ll either be writing about things I made a while ago or that someone else has made for me. Because I’ve got a bloody fractured wrist.

A bloody fractured right wrist, to be precise (yes, I’m right-handed) and I can’t cook a thing. Not only can I not cook, I can barely open the milk (try unscrewing the top off one of those plastic cartons, and removing the protective film one-handed), can’t spread butter on toast (the toast moves and my left wrist just can’t get the hang of a knife) and am reduced, when alone, to eating whatever I can tip out of a packet (washed salads are featuring highly). I have finally understood what, or who, ready meals are for. Continue reading

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How to feel rich for a quid: cornbread

I’ve had cornbread many a time in the States. On the last occasion it arrived baked in a flower pot which was charming, if a little twee (and, for those of you fed up with being served food in odd things, amuse yourself with this), and I remember thinking I must try and make it. But I didn’t think of it again until I saw a recipe in Waitrose Kitchen for cornbread with chorizo and avocado. It used instant polenta, the sort of ingredient I would never touch but, although I ignored that recipe, it did lead me to Felicity Cloake’s article in the Guardian. Which, I have to say, lives up to its ‘Perfect’ name. Continue reading

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How to feel rich for a quid: Puy lentils two ways

Lentils were, once, something I avoided. They were red or green and reminded me of primary school, where we stuck dried split peas and lentils onto pictures, and I had no desire to eat them.

But in the last twenty years, the lentil, particularly the beautiful, dark greeny-blue Puy lentil, has dusted off its dour image and become the pulse du jour. No longer the poor relation of Caran d’Ache, these days you’ll find them starring alongside steak not stuck to cardboard shapes. I am a convert for lots of reasons: a) they’re easy; b) they’re carb-free; and c) they are really cheaper than chips (in the realms of north London they’re all of £1.20 for 500g, in Waitrose, and about 75p for 250g in the Turkish shops).

You can eat them simply, just cooked, drained, then tossed with some oil, salt and pepper. Or you can make them into lunch by dressing them up a little. The recipes below are a good starting point: adjust or tweak them to your taste and you may find, like me, that you are never without a pan of this once-unloved ingredient, cooked and ready to go. Both of these are lovely served hot but just as nice the next day, for lunch, from a plastic box. And, yes, you could quibble that this isn’t quite a quid’s-worth (though it’s close; it depends on where you buy your feta and anchovies) but what’s a few pence between friends?  Continue reading

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Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes: a weekend short-rib

You may know Tom Kerridge from the telly or, if you’re very lucky, you have eaten at his two-Michelin-starred pub in Marlow. As a non-telly-owning freelancer neither applies; I learnt about him via my lovely friend Debora who, when editing and recipe-testing his last book, invited me round to try out some of its delights.

And, oh, what delights they were: sticky drumsticks, duck and watermelon salad, roast red pepper soup with anchovy salsa and, possibly the greatest chocolate pudding ever, chocolate cakes with orange mascarpone. I put the book on my Christmas list long before it came out and, aha, my gorgeous nephew bought it for me.

For someone like me, who wants quick, simple and cheap, it at first seemed, I have to admit, like a book that might become a tad dusty on the shelf: the recipes are quite complicated, often take a couple of days and require Ottolenghi-long lists of ingredients. But, having tried some of the results in the summer, and remembering the sheer depth of flavour, the inventiveness of some of the combinations (that pudding is worth the price of the book alone), I got my Post-it notes out and started to read. Continue reading

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How to feel rich for a quid: mangoes and granola

This is a post which is, I apologise, very much aimed at my city-dwelling friends. Because, for this to make (financial) sense, you need to live somewhere where there are ‘bowl men’ (and they are always men): on every street corner near my flat you will find tables covered in plastic bowls, filled with fruit and vegetables, every one being sold for a pound. Amongst the over-priced carrots and potatoes, you can often find three or four mangoes and I, for one, feel complete joy carrying home one of those thin plastic bags heavy with such a weight.

The next morning, I’ll peel and chop half a mango, top it with this granola and a spoonful or two of Greek yogurt and, honestly, could not want for anything more. I start the day feeling like I’ve had the best hotel breakfast, for almost nothing.

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How to feel rich for a quid: marinated feta and mashed sardines

There aren’t many things that will tempt me into Lidl, despite the apparently jaw-dropping prices. The queues are so long, and the experience so abrasive, that I would rather pay more for things than brave it. However, they do have the cheapest tuna in brine in the world (the cats’ favourite, and mine at 62p a tin), the best walnuts (Californian, sweet and £1.99 for 200g) and feta that is all of 89p, at least £1 cheaper than anywhere else. Oh and I recently discovered their sardines which, though I can’t remember the price exactly, are definitely sub-40p. So every so often I venture in, taking a couple of paperbacks to help me survive the queue.

None of this, I grant you, sounds very glamorous but, as a freelancer, I am constantly on the lookout for affordable and simple lunches and snacks, things that will get me through the day at my desk without too much hassle and washing-up. And a packet of feta for under a quid and a tin of sardines can, it seems, be transformed and scrubbed up rather nicely to make perfect treats, either for midday or, if you prefer, to snack on pre-dinner. Continue reading

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Made in India’s coriander chutney chicken and Jaipur slaw

The ‘Indian’ cookbook has, for me, always suffered from the ‘too many ingredients’ and ‘ones you can’t get hold of’ problem so I have never owned one. And I’ve always felt that my efforts were not really as good as the professionals so I didn’t bother. So spiced food in my life has mostly come via Thai, Vietnamese or, more recently, Sichuan cookery books, if not on a moped from down the road. But Made in India has totally changed my relationship to ‘Indian’ or, in this case, Gujarati food.

I got it months ago, have cooked from it several times and think I could probably cook from it every night for weeks without getting bored. I think you’ll love it too, for lots of reasons. Continue reading

Posted in Chicken recipes, Gluten-free, One pot | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment