Thursday, 30 August 2012


We're off for our first holiday today since the birth of Pea and will return on the 8th September. So no recipes while we're gone, but we're going to a village renowned for it's independent restaurant culture, so I might just blog a few photos of the yummy food while I'm away. Have a great week x

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Soufflé omlette

A year ago I was strictly of the opinion that eggs were good for going in cake batter and not much else. I hate the smell of them, texture, taste. In short, I was pretty egg phobic. But everyone kept telling me how good for me they are, a superfood even, so I made it my personal mission to find one way of eating eggs that didn't involve sugar, and this is what I came up with.

The recipe is an adaptation from GH 200 Favourite Quick and Easy Meals ("Good Housekeeping") which at under £3 is in my opinion one of the best cookbook bargains there is. The recipes all have photos, nutritional information, and they're all easy to prepare after work, this is certainly one of my go to cookbooks.

2 eggs
5 or 6 mushrooms
100g leeks
clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
60ml half fat creme fraiche
10g Grana Padano/Parmesan
knob of butter

Serves: 1
Cost per portion: £1.32
Nutrition: 526 calories, 11g carbs, 28g protein.

Turn on your grill to heat - I tend to have mine at the maximum.
Separate your eggs, put the yolks in a small bowl or mug, the whites in a mixing bowl.
Take an electric whisk to the whites until stiff peaks form (you don't need to hold it over your head, it just needs to have some shape to it). Set aside.
Add around 1-2 tbsp of water into the yolks, mix well and set aside.
Chop the leeks and mushrooms into slices, add to a frying pan with the butter and a small drizzle of oil to stop the butter burning. Stir frequently to stop the leeks sticking.
Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper as desired (I never use salt due to high blood pressure but appreciate many do so will always add to recipes). Add the creme fraiche, heat briefly (around 30 seconds) so it doesn't split, then remove from heat and tip contents into a bowl.
Wipe out the pan and return to the heat, grease the pan with a little butter or oil (very important, this omelette will stick to even non stick pans without some grease)
Pour the yolks into the whites and fold together, some of the volume from the whites will be lost but not all. When well mixed tip into the hot pan and spread to cover the base with the back of the spoon. Cook for around 2-3 minutes (DO NOT TOUCH - this cooks more like a pancake than an omelette) until a spoon inserted under the edge of the omelette can lift the edge from the pan.
Stick under the grill for another 2 minutes. It will lose most of the puffy volume and appear more like a pancake. It doesn't matter if your pan has a plastic handle, it won't be under the grill long enough to heat.
Remove from the grill, slide onto a plate and spread the crème fraiche mixture over half the omlette. Fold and enjoy.

If you have some leftover cooked ham, chicken or bacon throw some shredded bits into the frying pan along with the crème fraiche to up the flavour and your protein. The one in the picture had left over prosciutto in, so felt a bit fancy, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Getting the most from your mushrooms

I promise, a real recipe will come soon. I was writing one up this morning and I thought this deserved a post of its own. My husband once asked why I cooked my mushrooms in butter, and just used a spray of olive oil for most other veggies. While butter undoubtedly gives them a better flavour, it's not that simple. Mushrooms contain high levels of vitamin D, something many of us are in short supply of, white mushrooms have the least, darker and wild varieties contain more. However all this is useless if you dry fry your mushrooms, as vitamin D is fat soluable, meaning it needs fat for your body to absorb it. Butter is better than oil in this case as it contains vitamin A, which assists the absorption of vitamin D. You can even up the vitamin D content of your mushrooms by leaving them in direct sunlight for a few hours (use straight away or they might get a bit shrivelled). I took the picture above in France last summer at a market, all the mushrooms sold there were wild and packed with flavour, to try to replicate this on the cheap try throwing a handful of dried mushrooms in hot water half an hour before you need them to plump up. Dried mushrooms are pretty expensive (usually working out at over £60 a kilo/£2 for a 25g portion). If you can afford to order in bulk do it - I buy these ones at Amazon of all places, £10 for a 500g jar and you can throw them into all kinds of things at a more affordable 50p per portion.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Planning Ahead

Have you ever stood in a supermarket paralysed by indecision? So blindsided by the array of products that you grab whatever happens to take your fancy, dart to the tills and rush home, only to discover £50 lighter you still don't have anything that can actually be called a meal. I've tried taking a list with me, I've tried going accompanied, alone, full, awake, tired, nothing works for me. I can never find what I want and so I grab the next best thing, which all to often bears no relation to what I was after (even the most delirious of online shopping packers wouldn't think to replace AA batteries with sausages).

So I've switched to online shopping. I love the ease with which I can compare products, find the right size or the best value one. I love that the delivery guy doesn't turn up on my doorstep with 2 packs of kitkats and a litre of ice cream because he thought I might like them and they were on offer. I even love our delivery guy, he always brings our shopping to the kitchen, and even gave our baby daughter his pocket change when she came home from hospital. I do like to buy local, but for the next few weeks I may be a delivery only zone, until I learn to stick to my budget.

Picking an obscure delivery time means it is only £3, a bargain unless you happen to live a stone's throw from your nearest supermarket or have very strong arms. There are also usually a few codes floating around for money off certain products, extra points, or easy to spot offers.

It does however make me feel old, as online shopping gives me the chance to say 'back in my day' (with a strong Yorkshire accent, I feel it's needed to pull off such a sentence). Back in my day, I used to order my groceries to my uni flat, which sounds a bit uppity but actually was strictly nessisary, with not having a car and having been told off by a policeman for borrowing a trolley and pushing it back and forth across the town moor once a week to refill with groceries then park behind my flat until it's next outing. Mr T used to use their online shoppers a bit like guinea pigs, and would offer free products they were thinking of stocking to get your feedback. One summer they sent my flatmates and I a 24 pack of ice creams on the hottest day of the year, I think they had 5 customers for life from that day on.

The worst part of online shopping is the complete detachment from your food, you can't handle it, test the quality, see what looks great and what is actually a bit ropey. For that reason I'd always try a market or farm shop for fruit and veg when possible, but save the heartache and bank balance agony for something more deserving. Like a holiday.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hello to the blogging world

There comes a point in everyone's life where you find yourself staring financial reality in the face, and you don't quite like what you see. For my little family that was this week, when maternity pay ran out two months before we were expecting it to.

So we need to cut our cloth a little differently, we have some well stocked cupboards, and a fairly empty freezer. Our challenge from now on is to feed ourselves for £35 a week without turning to exclusively beige foods.

Currently we average around £70 a week. We love food, not just any old food, well cooked, flavoursome, locally produced, homemade meals. Sometimes I wish we didn't when I see the prices of ready meals in the supermarket compared to a basket of fresh ingredients. A miserable day at work is immeasurably cheered by coming home to a good meal, and life is too short to miss out on the simple pleasures. I'm hoping to discover some shoestring recipes which are both healthy, tasty and cheaper than a processed dinner, and maybe meet some like-minded folk along the way. Come, lurk, follow, share ideas for how to improve the recipes, and lets get our families eating well for less.