Posted in Food, tagged bacon, beans, cooking, filling, Food, frugal, Italian, lunch, recipe, soup, tomato, vegetables, Vegetarian on 9 May, 2012 |
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This recipe is the favourite of Surfer, who is Godfather to the Joker. I used to make it when he came to pray with the Vicar back in the relaxed days of theological college. It’s loosely based on minestrone, but without the pasta. Pasta is a pain in soup cos it goes revoltingly soggy if you have leftovers, or want to freeze it. So this has beans instead and is easily made from things I normally have in the fridge and pantry.
- 4 rashers bacon, finely chopped, or small pack lardons
- Medium onion, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 leek, quartered lengthwise and then finely sliced
- Tin of beans – haricot, borlotti or canellini
- Tin of chopped tomatoes or jar/tetrapak of passata (sieved tomatoes)
- Olive (or other) oil, mixed herbs
Fry your onion in a little olive oil and then add the bacon and cook until the fat begins to crisp. Then add other veggies, fry a little and add tomatoes and tinful of water or more to dilute to a soupy consistency.
Bring it to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins until the vegetables are tender. Rinse the beans and add to the soup, along with a smattering of mixed herbs or just oregano. Heat through and serve with crusty bread. This is good for May lunches, given the temperatures this year!
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, chocolate, coffee morning, cooking, dried fruit, easy, Food, fridge cake, no bake, quick, recipe, store cupboard, tiffin, traybake, treat on 23 April, 2012 |
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Fridge cake aka tiffin is a very useful no-bake Vicarage staple. It uses store cupboard ingredients and can be made quickly, although it needs a few hours to set in your fridge – if you’re overeager to consume it, it can be rather too crumbly and sticky.
- 400g digestive biscuits (I use the cheapo range), broken into crumbs – in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, or in a food processor
- 200g butter (hard marg would work too but not soft)
- 4 heaped tbspns cocoa powder
- 3 tbspns golden syrup
- 3 tbspns brown sugar
- 4 handfuls sultanas/raisins/cranberries or other dried fruit as you like (approx 100-150g in total weight)
- 200-400g white chocolate, melted
Place the butter, cocoa powder, golden syrup, sugar and dried fruit in a large microwaveable bowl with lid and heat on full power for 2-3 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave, you can do this over a low heat in a saucepan. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, add the crushed biscuits and mix thoroughly.
Place the mixture in a small roasting tin (about 20cmx30cm) that has been lined with cling film and level it out into the corners. Cling film is the best way to avoid sticking AND excessive washing up. Place the tin in the fridge whilst you melt the chocolate topping.
I usually use 200g white chocolate for the topping for this, but it is a little skimpy – 400g would give you a really good layer on top. I melt the chocolate in a jug on defrost in the microwave, but also sometimes use the old method of a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water. Usually when the last lot of chocolate was burnt in the microwave, alas. Using a knife, spread the chocolate over the now slightly cooled base and then refrigerate the lot for a couple of hours – preferably overnight. Use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces to serve with strong coffee.
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Posted in Food, tagged cheap, cooking, food processor, Fun, gadget, kitchen, making pastry, paint scraper, pastry, Vicarage on 27 March, 2012 |
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I have a few favourite gadgets in the Vicarage kitchen. Today I’d like to introduce you to my best pastry-making tool: a paint scraper.
I used to make most of my pastry in my food processor, but I found that it was too easy to blitz it and end up with the fat chopped too small and the pastry too tough. Since I started using the paint scraper (NB I’ve never scraped paint with this one) I’ve been able to ensure that plenty of gravel-sized pieces of butter/lard/hard marg remain. This gives me a lovely flakey shortcrust pastry that seems to go down very well with consumers.
It’s therapeutic to chop the fat into the flour, too – sometimes I imagine that I am chopping junk mail into tiny pieces. And no fat in the fingernails either – my pet hate with pastry-making. So there you are – a cheap and useful gadget that can also be used to remove welded Weetabix from the kitchen table. Every kitchen should have one.
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Posted in Food, tagged budget, casserole, cooking, family meals, Food, frugal, hotpot, lentils, main course, recipe, sausages, slow oven, value, Vicarage Recipes on 3 January, 2012 |
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One of the things I love about my Vicarage cooker (my treat when we moved here) is its small slow oven. The slow oven is a bit titchy – only big enough for one large pot or only a single baking sheet of meringues, but I am using it more and more for winter casseroles. Tonight I cooked sausage casserole – one of our top favourites which has a few variations but is always very popular with the kids (and grown ups too).
I make this using Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference chipolatas. I’d recommend using good quality ones as cheap ones can come out rather spongey. And you only need to use a single packet to feed a family and can get that for about £2 if there’s an offer on.
The Vicar's dinner
- 1-2 onions, finely sliced
- Pack of sausages
- 2 cups (500ml) lentilles vertes or green lentils
- Bay leaves, mixed herbs
- Red wine (about a glassful) and stock
- Optional – tin of tomatoes, chunked carrots
Brown the sausages in your casserole dish and then remove them to a plate or bowl whilst you pop in a little oil or butter and the onions. Leave the onions to get nice and soft then return the sausages, chopped up into bite sized chunks, to the pan. Tonight I chopped the sausages with a spatula before I removed them and fried the onions, otherwise you can slice them with a knife once removed – I recommend pinning them to the chopping board with a fork rather than fingers (I speak from experience of burnt fingers and escaping sausages).
To the onions and sausages add the lentils, bay leaves and herbs and wine and stock (I use hot water and vegetable stock powder). This evening’s casserole also included a tin of chopped tomatoes. The liquid needs to be added to a generous level above the lentils and sausages – say 5cm/2″ in your pan. This gives space for the lentils to swell and liquid to evaporate.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for at least 1/2hr on the hob, or pop in a slow oven at about 140ºC (Gas Mark 1) for a couple of hours or more. The slow cooking method has the advantage of keeping the Vicarage kitchen warm, so this is obviously my preferred option.
I tend to check the casserole every hour or so if it’s in the oven, just to make sure that there is still enough liquid. If you’re adding carrots it’s best to do so about half an hour before the end of the cooking time, otherwise they can get a bit soggy. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving and add a little extra liquid if needed to ensure a bit of sauce to soak into the essential accompaniment of mash.
As you can see, I served the casserole with mashed sweet and normal potatoes, and some braised red cabbage. This is a great winter warmer and excellent value for money. We had leftovers that will do well with a bit of chunky bread for lunches whilst the kids are at shcool.
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Posted in Food, tagged cheap, cooking, diabetes, diabetic, diet, frugal, lentils, low GI, lunch, meal, money-saving, recipe, rural, Scotland, soup, vegetables, Vicarage on 20 September, 2011 |
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Things in parish have been a bit crazy since the new school term began and my blogging habit has rather dried up. But today I’ve just about got my act together and thought I’d share a great recipe for autumn – my mother-in-law’s lentil soup. The Vicar comes from a small town in the Scottish borders with views over heather clad hills and a high street of family run shops. This warming soup is very inexpensive and simple to make and feels like a little slice of old fashioned rural life. Lentils are especially great for those on low GI diets and for diabetics as they are low in carbohydrates and release their energy slowly.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 or 2 leeks, sliced
- 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
- Other diced vegetables such as swede, butternut squash or potatoes, even leftover veg from Sunday lunch such as mashed potato or runner beans can also be used
- 1 cup (250ml) orange lentils
- Ham stockcube (or genuine ham stock if you’ve cooked a ham recently, but usually I haven’t, or the ham’s been cooked in coke, which isn’t so great in soup)
- Approx 1.5l boiling water
Gently fry the veg until softened, then add the lentils, stock cube and hot water. Simmer for about 20minutes until veggies and lentils are soft. Then use a stick blender to create a smooth soup. If you don’t have a blender, a potato masher will give you a slightly chunkier soup. The Vicar likes to add a lot of pepper – no need for salt because of the ham stock.
Serve with crusty brown bread if you remember to pick some up. This soup is very filling. I often make a double batch, which fills a casserole dish and keeps us going for Vicarage lunches for most of the week. Lentil soup has the strange property of thickening every time it is cooled, so you may have to add a little water on reheating or after freezing. It freezes brilliantly.
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Posted in Food, Garden, tagged cooking, edible, Food, fungi, hunting, mushrooms, Vicarage, wild food on 27 June, 2011 |
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I found an impressive mushroom on our lawn yesterday and was wondering about eating it. I was under the misapprehension that there were only a few types of poisonous ones and it was likely to be fine.
Then I went googling and searching around the internet and it’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. So we’ve not eaten it – it’s sitting in my kitchen but I think it will just be going in the compost. I think I’m best to stick to the radishes and salad leaves I planted myself.
Bit of a pity, but best not to poison the family, eh?
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Posted in Food, tagged 4 ingredients, baking, biscuits, cooking, failsafe flapjack, flapjack, Food, frugal cooking, golden syrup, oats, recipe, Snacks, traybakes, treats on 26 May, 2011 |
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I can start with 4 ingredients in the cupboard and have 2 trays of flapjacks ready and out of the oven in less than half an hour. This is a delicious flapjack recipe – my absolute favourite, with a chewy texture and a delicious caramel taste. It’s my go-to recipe for home-made treats in a hurry. I was originally given the recipe by another ordinand’s wife when the Vicar was training for ministry and I must have baked these flapjacks at least 100 times since then without a bad batch. I usually make a double batch as it only takes a couple of minutes more than a single batch and there never seems to be any trouble in disposing of them.
- 150g granulated sugar
- 150g soft margarine
- 4 tbspns golden syrup
- 250g porridge oats
Melt the sugar, margarine and golden syrup together in a large microwave bowl (or in a saucepan on the stove if you don’t have a microwave) – it takes about 2 minutes on full power in my cheapo 750W microwave. To get the golden syrup out of my measuring spoon easily I dip the spoon (a metal one) in a mug of just boiled water before adding each spoonful. Once the sugar, marg and syrup have melted together, mix in the oats. Then pop the mix in a 8″x12″ baking tin, lined with silicone baking paper (or a reusable liner like I use), and flatten it down so that it’s evenly distributed and pop it in the oven.
Your oven needs to be pre-heated to 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC). In my fan oven, the flapjack takes 15 minutes to cook, but can take 20-30mins if your oven isn’t as speedy or isn’t quite up to temperature at the beginning. Once it’s golden on top, remove from the oven and leave in the tin for five minutes before cutting into slices sized to your flapjack appetite (generally 21-24 in my experience) and leaving to cool fully in the tin. If you cook it a little longer, it’ll be crunchy rather than chewy, so you can cook differently according to your flapjack preference.
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, coconut, cooking, date, Date and Coconut Chews, dried fruit, easy baking, Food, golden syrup, healthy, low-fat, recipes, sugar, traybakes, treats, Vicarage on 22 February, 2011 |
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Someone asked me recently for a low-fat traybake. Most of my cooking isn’t terribly healthy – I prefer to have a small slice of something delicious rather than a large wedge of something worthy. However, sometimes deliciousness and worthiness can combine, as is the case with these fantastic Date and Coconut Chews.
I was given this recipe by my friend Summer after we spent a very happy day off on a walk with her and her Vicar husband. We took a picnic lunch with us. I brought soup and Summer brought various treats including these. I’m not normally a fan of dates, but these slices are wonderful – chewy and sweet but full of fruit and coconut, which I think cancels out the butter and golden syrup.
- 6oz/170g plain flour
- 3 oz/85g dessicated coconut
- 6oz/170g stoned dates, chopped
- 6oz/170g caster sugar
- 3oz/85g butter (you could use hard marg, but butter is tastier, isn’t it?)
- 2 teaspoonfuls (1 dessertspoonful) golden syrup
- 1 egg, beaten
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup (I always do this in the microwave, but you can do it on the stove aswell). Stir the dry ingredients together then add the hot butter mixture and the egg. Mix everything well and then spread out in a lined 9″x11″ (23cmx28cm) tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC).
When cooled a little, cut into 24 slices. I did a little maths and reckon that each slice has about 3.5g of fat. This isn’t quite low enough to classify as ‘Low Fat’ in the US , but I think it’ll do.
[Late Edit: A Twitter pal tells me he's tried this recipe using prunes instead of dates and rice flour in the place of plain and that it worked really well. Good for those on a gluten-free diet then.]
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Posted in Food, tagged baking, brownies, chocolate, cocoa, cooking, cup, easy, fast pudding, microwave, mug, pudding, quick dessert, recipe, speedy, sponge on 31 January, 2011 |
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This week we had a quiet Sunday lunch at the Vicarage – it was just our family: Rocky had an invitation to lunch out and I’d been disorganised about having folk over. So for pudding I decided to trial a recipe I saw on 22 Words a while back. It’s a chocolate sponge speedily cooked in a microwave in a mug.
It was a great success with the Vicarage crowd, and two portions served four of us generously (the Engineer was not in a puddingy mood). It would be lovely served with vanilla ice-cream, which was lacking in our freezer so we ate it with lashings of double cream (a half pint between us – eek!).
The recipe was originally titled ’3 minute brownies’ but what you get is more like a hot sponge pudding. Although it takes about 3 minutes in the microwave, total production time was rather longer – a whopping ten minutes for two of them, I reckon. A perfect pause time between courses, actually.
- 4 tablespoons self-raising flour
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons oil
First, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa) in your mug. My mug (more an enormous cup, actually) had a capacity of 300ml, and I think this is about the minimum you need. Then break in the egg and add the oil and milk. Mix all together until you have a smooth batter.
Pop it in the microwave on high heat for 3-4 minutes. Mine took 3 1/2 minutes in our 800W basic Matsui machine. The sponge feels pretty wet, but is firm to the touch when cooked. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy with cream or ice-cream.
Next time I might mix up the batter in a jug for ease of stirring (although this would add to the washing up, always an important consideration I feel). And I’d quite like to try experimenting with making a lemon version. I’ll report back on that one. In the meantime, why not try it for pudding this evening?
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