Help! I only have two pork chops!

And really what can you do with 2 pork chops? A nice stir fry actually if you don’t mind a few veg and once you add rice or noodles to the equation, a tasty and filling meal. The chops were left over from a pack of 6, an awkward number for us as we are 3. The previous day we had eaten 4 and the remaining, lonely pair were sitting forlornly at the bottom of the fridge. I put them between 2 sheets of cling-film and gave them a good bash with my trusty rolling pin, then cut them into small strips. I marinaded them with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey before adding them to my pan of stir fry veg. My son asked for more, so a successful meal as far as I am concerned!

It’s not been a normal week, what with half term and BGT every night! so we’ve had a few TV dinners. My favourite being satay chicken, which I can’t take any credit for as I found the recipe online, I think it’s a Nigella gem. It is delicious and so easy, we chomped on these beauties with some plain basmati rice and a simple salad of cucumber and carrot. The great thing about this is a little chicken breast goes a long way and once you thread them onto skewers, they look amazing. Give them a go, they won’t disappoint.

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On the subject of making a little go a long way, I fancied a bit of salmon but only had a pack of two in the freezer, (£2.59 for 2 fillets- Aldi) so I decided to make a kedgeree. This is fab for feeding a family. Most children will eat salmon, especially like this, flaked and therefore not so obviously fish, and combined with eggs and basmati rice, garlic and ginger and garnished with lime juice and fresh coriander, it really is a glistening, golden, delight to eat.

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All these recipes are on my recipe page, have a look, better still have a go and save yourself some money!

Well that’s all folks! A Greys Anatomy fest awaits me, tune in next time for some lunchtime recipes!

A word about gravy!

I love gravy! In fact I love a ‘wet meal’ as a friend of mine used to say. I am not enamoured, however, of gravy granules which seem to transform any meal into a school dinner. We had roast pork on Sunday, an outdoor bred, tasty joint from ALDI at £4.99 a kg. My joint cost £5.33 and was plenty for four people and as we are only 3 I had some left over as well as some gravy. Now, back to my gravy. Just a little bit of work makes for a delicious accompaniment which can be used the next day with any leftover meat.

In the roasting tin scatter 1 chopped onion, 2 or 3 peeled, whole cloves of garlic and some fresh thyme if you have it.( I have some growing in the garden as I use it often). Place your meat on top and then add a good glug of white wine, about a glass and the same of water. I have to disagree with TV chefs here, who tell us not to use any wine we wouldn’t drink, in our cooking. I buy a bottle of the cheapest white wine I can find every time I do a big food shop, in my case ALDI Baron St Jean Blanc at £2.99 a bottle. It’s kept in the fridge and used throughout the week for cooking purposes only. The thought of pouring a £7.99 bottle of wine into my food is just too much for me, but each to their own!
I cook the meat slowly so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate, but if it starts to, just top up with more water. The level should be about 1.5cm in the tin. Once cooked, remove the meat to relax and pour the liquid and onions and thyme through a sieve into a small saucepan, then with the back of a spoon, press the onions through the sieve, scraping the underside into the pan from time to time, until you are left with a dry lump of mush which can be discarded. To the liquid in the pan add about a heaped dessertspoon of flour and mix well with a whisk until amalgamated. Turn on the heat and cook gently, stirring all the time. Gradually begin to add hot water from the kettle and stir, until you get a nice thick gravy. You may need to add more flour if it is not thick enough, don’t worry, just keep whisking and any lumps will disappear. I add an oxo cube at this point, just crumbled in to add more flavour. Check for seasoning, and leave on a very low heat for 5 minutes or so. The gravy is delicious, fragrant from the thyme and onions, and flavourful with the juices of the meat.

I had around 6 slices of meat left over and some gravy and I used this up on Monday to eat with some pasta. I fried a couple of  finely chopped leeks and garlic until soft (mushrooms would be nice too), added the gravy and stirred in some double cream, around 150ml, another glug of white wine, just a splash this time and then my pork, cut into small pieces. I served it with flat, long pasta. The best thing? It took around 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

Now to eggs. A lot of us have not tapped into the full potential of these relatively cheap, nutritious and tasty ingredients. They can provide a filling weekday meal, and are quick to cook, there are not many of us who do not love a good plate of egg and chips! However, this week I  broadened my egg horizon and cooked them in the oven with a tomato, chorizo and pancetta sauce. They are delicious with fried chips, but as these are messy and not that good for you (!) we had them with oven cooked potatoes, cut into cubes, with a little olive oil and some cayenne pepper and some crusty bread. Have a look on the recipe page for how to make them.
The eggs cost whatever eggs cost. (I have 2 chickens so haven’t bought eggs for ages). The Italian ham cubes cost £1.49 for 2 little boxes, I used just 1 and the chorizo sausage I had in the fridge. This recipe fed 3 of us, my son had 1 egg, I had 2 and my husband had 3!

Friday is fish day in our house, mainly because it means we eat it at least once a week and also because we have a fab chippie just up the road. Sadly, no chippie this week, but we did have some delicious tilapia fillets cooked in the oven with, you guessed it, white wine! If you are a fish eater, please try this recipe, it smells heavenly as it cooks and tastes wonderful. It is effortless as well, involving no more than a little peeling and slicing of potatoes and onions. Those of you who read my blog last week will have read that having eaten chicken and rice on the Wednesday, I made a small amount of stock with the bones from the chicken, I used it for this dish, waste not want not! Learn to make a simple stock on my recipe page.

I paid £3.89 for the tilapia and there were 5 large fillets. Tilapia is a relatively cheap fish and nice and firm. ALDI sell it frozen for around £3 for 500g, cod works well here too which frozen in ALDI is £2.79 per 500g.
I hope some of you have gained some inspiration this week. Cooking meals day in, day out for your family, can become really tedious, with the added stress of having to do it on a tight budget. Please feel free to share your recipes on this blog as well, I would love to try some of them!

This week we shall mostly be eating……mince!

Well, this month is a 5 week one as far as pay-day is concerned and with this in mind, I decided not to do a big shop this week, but to use up what I had in the freezer, which turned out to be mainly mince and chicken! Pork, beef and lamb mince to be precise, 4 chicken breasts and a pack of 5 chicken thighs. The beef mince is still residing within the icy confines of my freezer as even I have my limits.Oh! and a pack of sausages too, which we had on Monday with mash and baked beans!

Saturday is curry night! The chicken breasts were enrobed in a delicious blanket of fragrant curry sauce, made with fresh ginger and chilis and coconut milk. (I know some will frown at the use of coconut milk here, but I like it!) Plain basmati rice and a cucumber and yoghurt relish took the heat out of it and refreshed the palate. The cost? Well the chicken was £4, the biggest cost, and the remainder of the ingredients £2.30ish so £6.30, but it was Saturday night after all and I fancied a curry to go with BGT! By the way, if you are a vegetarian, don’t sigh and log off! This recipe and most of the others can be adapted, have a look at the recipe page and see what you think.

On Sunday I eschewed the traditional roast and opted instead for spicy  lamb meatballs in a sauce of tomato, paprika and coriander, which I served with roasted baby new potatoes (which the previous week were one of ALDI’s super 6 offers and were therefore just 69p!) and a spring cabbage, again a super 6 offer at 69p. Total cost just £4.00.

On Tuesday we feasted on a spicy pork chili sprinkled with grated cheddar, and some fried dumplings jamaican style. This recipe is so versatile and can be adapted for vegetarians too. You could serve with basmati rice and a salad or wrapped in tortillas and covered with grated cheese and baked until the cheese is melted and golden. The fried dumplings are my personal favourite and the recipe comes from my lovely mother in law, who was, as far as I am concerned, the Queen of the dumplings. They use just 3 ingredients, S/R flour, cornmeal and milk and are utterly moreish, so not to be made too often! I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love them. The pork cost £1.99.

On Wednesday we enjoyed rice and chicken, I have many variations on this recipe, the one I cooked is on the recipe page and I will include more over the next few weeks, as we all love it.  You may think that 5 chicken thighs is not sufficient to feed a family, but if you cut the chicken and cook it together with rice and vegetables, it really goes a long way. This pack cost £1.99 plus the cost of rice and a few veg, negligible. It fed 3 of us with another portion left over. (I’d like to point out here that my husband is 6 foot 2 and has a healthy appetite, we are not a dainty meal type of family).

Now, all of these meals used some basic foodstuffs which I almost always have to hand, namely passatta (under 30p a box in Aldi), garlic, onions, red peppers, rice and basic spices such as cumin, coriander etc. nothing out of the ordinary and most very cheap. Another thing they all have in common is that they all contain plenty of vegetables, which are still cheap, plentiful, and as we are constantly being told on the news, very good for us! The recipes I have shown you this week cost around £16, plus the cost of some basics. Obviously costs will vary according to appetite, size of family, etc. but it does show that it is possible to eat fresh, tasty, healthy food on a tight budget and without spending hours in the kitchen using 5 different pots!

I hope that some of you will try at least one of the recipes, if you do, let me know how you got on. I would love to hear!