Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said.....

Good afternoon, fellow bloggy peeps, friends and family who read this blog, my apologies for my absence once again but the holidays are over with, my plans have evolved and I now have time to sit here at my favourite indoor place and talk about grub!   Isn't life grand?

The food budget remains at £50 per week and I find it easier as the good weather comes in; salads, light soups, citrus-y chicken and feta dishes all are the order of spring and the best quality still costs low.   Meals this past week:
Salmon Nuggets

2 salmon fillets, cut into bite sized chunks
Either: 1 packet plain crisps, crushed or two good handfuls breadcrumbs, seasoned
1 Egg, beaten and seasoned
Oil, if frying

Dip salmon bites into seasoned, beaten egg and then into bowl containing crushed crisps or breadcrumbs.   If frying, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until outside is crispy brown and inside cooked.   Cut one open to check; they shouldn't take long because of their size.

Alternatively, place them in a hot oven for approx. 8 minutes.   Serve with petit pois and broccolli.

I use a lemon Madeira cake recipe for the cupcakes and a butter icing with vanilla, food colouring and little iced flowers.   I had friends coming over so this was for them and for the kid's tea.
Sausage n' mash

1 packet of sausages
6 large Maris Piper potatoes, peeled or equivalent, suitable for mashing
Knob of butter
Dash of milk
Sea Salt
Gravy to taste 

Boil potatoes in salted water until very tender, drain and dry for 20 seconds over heat, making sure not to burn.   I do this with the heat off.   Mash potatoes with a masher and then add butter, salt, pepper and milk.   Mash some more until soft, adding more butter if required.   Using a fork, mash through once again to ensure the potatoes are soft and fluffy.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, fry sausages in a pan over a medium heat.   I prick a few of the sausages and therefore don't need to add oil to the pan as the fat comes off the sausage meat.   Turn every few minutes to ensure even browning.

Place mash in a bowl, stick sausages in and pour a little gravy round the side with the rest served in a gravy boat.   This is lovely served with fried onions or beans.

Tomatoes stuffed with cheese and herbs

Small, ripe tomatoes, approx. two per person
Handful of basil leaves, chopped
Handful of grated Parmesan
Optional: chopped feta cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

Halve the tomatoes and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper.   Stuff with feta, if using and a good teaspoon of basil leaves.   Drizzle with a little more oil and top with a teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.

Bake in medium oven for approx. 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are soft and cheese has coloured.   Serve with scallops, salad, pasta or as a side with lamb escalopes, chicken or anything else that takes your fancy.

 Serving the tomatoes with pan roasted scallops and salad with pine nuts

Tomato Sauce

I use this tomato sauce as a base for pizzas, pasta sauces, pies and dips.   It is very simple and easy to make and freezes beautifully.
1kg Passatta (sieved tomatoes)
Quarter pint vegetable or chicken stock
Two tablespoons olive oil
Tablespoon sugar
Teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on taste

Place garlic and onion in a food processor or blender and blitz to a pulp.   Scrape out into a pan with olive oil and coat by stirring.   Cook for 10 minutes until soft, over a low heat, ensuring the mix doesn't colour or burn.   Add passatta and bring to the boil.   Simmer for five minutes and add stock, sugar, salt and pepper.   Simmer for a further 10 minutes and taste.  It should be pleasant, with a slight sweetness and saltiness.

Keep it as is for pizza or for pasta, add a good handful of finely chopped basil.   For meatballs, add milk.

Tomato sauce used for pizza

Coloured Pancakes

 Pancake mix of 4 oz each of flour, sugar, milk and eggs (1 large, 2 small) with added food colouring.  

Blend until mixed and cook in pan.

Serve with coloured drinks.   Watch kids be happy.

Feta and Chorizo Pasta

Spaghetti (100g per person)
Chorizo, diced, small handful per person
Knob of butter
Dash olive oil
Onion, chopped
Garlic clove, crushed
Thyme leaves from a few sprigs
Feta, chopped
Light chicken stock, approx. 2 oz. (and white wine, optional)
Double cream or creme fraiche, 2 large tablespoons
Freshly grate Parmesan
Lemon juice, optional
Boil spaghetti as per instructions

Fry onion and garlic and thyme in butter and oil for a few minutes, without colouring.   Add chorizo and leave for a minute or so before stirring to coat the onion mix in the lovely red juices from the sausage.   Simmer for 5 minutes, add wine and simmer until reduced by half if using, then add stock.   Bring to the boil and then simmer until a coating consistency is reached.   Add cream, stir and take off heat.   Add a handful of Parmesan and feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.   Check seasoning, add some freshly ground black pepper and throw in the spaghetti, toss in sauce and serve with more grated Parmesan.

Pan-Fried Salmon with Linseeds, Spinach and Baby Potatoes

1 salmon fillet per person
Sea salt
Golden linseeds
Handful spinach per person
Baby potatoes
Sesame Oil
Green peppers
Lime juice

Boil baby potatoes until tender, crush lightly with a little margarine, butter or olive oil and some sea salt.   Set aside.   Score the skin of the salmon and rub in a little sesame oil (or flavoured oil to taste).   Get a frying pan really hot and place the salmon skin side down.   Thrown in the peppers.   When the skin side is brown, turn salmon over and turn heat down slightly; cook until a lovely golden colour.   Depending on the salmon fillet thickness, at this point, I sometimes shove the salmon into a pre-heated hot oven for 4 minutes.

Thrown in a handful of linseeds and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil to coat the peppers.   Squeeze over some lime juice.   Place dry spinach leaves on a plate and place the peppers and linseeds on top with another squeeze of lime juice.   Plate up the fillet of salmon and the potatoes; the salmon is ready when it has lost it's opaqueness, has turned from orange to pink and flakes away easily; do not over cook.   Enjoy.

Dolly for Anna

The competition will resume in the next few weeks; everyone already entered will be put forward.


Little Ms Blogger said...

Okay, the cupcakes look YUMMY! That icing is amazing and I won't try because I'm a terrible baker.

I love reading your recipes because there are nuances in your staple recipes I wouldn't see here in the States.

Chicken stock in tomato sauce? Hmmm never heard of that.

Maris Piper potatoes would be Russets or Yukon Golds here. You called Mashed Potatoes just mash and I use a hand mixer to make my mash.

aladdinsane12 said...

yay! you're back!

oh man, so much to comment on! first, i have no idea how you make such incredible looking desserts all the time- the frosting on those cupcakes is absolutely perfect!

second, those bangers and mash cracked me up! they look like fingers coming out of the snow or something!

and, mmmm, anything with feta cheese and i'm there! that pasta looks delish!

SamiJoe said...

wow! wow! wow!
All of those meals look fab!
How cool that you add pine nuts when cooking scallops--that's MY secret! LOL
Did you use a special food colouring to get that gorgeous purple/lilac colour?
Nice to have you back!

Janice said...

Welcome back Helen! The coloured pancakes look like fun.

Anna said...

dearest Helen,
you have inspired me to start cooking rather than spend twice as much on eating out everyday. for this, i thank you.

i can't wait to show you what i manage to concoct! : )

love to you and your cute family, too!

Hanneke Nelson said...

Nice to have you back, Helen. Very inspirational recipes you have here. I think I just might cook one of them tonight (I was browsing the web for dinner inspiration and got distracted in blog land. Happens a lot.) And your Easter cake is impressive!

Mhel said...

Hi! Im always amazed with your cupcakes and recipes. I cannot imagine that you're able to whip up fancy looking and tasting dishes all for only £50 a week. Tasty and frugal it is. I always wait for your cupcake designs too.

Catherine said...

WOW! That's a lot of food! So much yummy, delicious looking food!
What a feast! :)

Helen McGinn said...

LMB, Thank you hon, it's lovely to see you. I know, it sounds weird, veg stock or water would do just as well but I make a nice, thin chicken stock which adds just the right amount of flavour and veg stock does just about the same. Hand mixing or blending Maris Pipers...my favourite for mashing...makes them glutonous and sticky which is why I stick to old fashioned elbow grease! I think I may try to get my hand on some Russets, I'm sure we can get them here and try them in a hand blender; it'd certainly make my life a wee bit easier... ;O)

aladdinsane12, hullo lass, it's great to see you. Thank you for your lovely comments re: cupcakes, it's a phase I'm going through. ;O) The bangers and mash..usually with a lot more bangers....do look a bit creepy, even more so a friend of mine who for some reason, puts tomato ketchup round the outside so it looks like an amputated hand...urgh.

SamiJoe, how are you my dear?? I used a mix of pink and blue to get the purple but I buy food colouring gel; it's amazing as it gets great colours. I love pine nuts with scallops, you're my scallop twin! ;O)

Janice, thank you, how may returns is that I've had now?? ;O) The kids went through a phase of wanting everything coloured; we had to draw a halt after the blue pasta.... ;O)

Anna! I have sent you a wee something in the post, look out for it. I hope you've taken photos! xx

Hanneke, thank you, how are you? I'll be over to visit today. I saw a girl on Friday night wearing 'hair' like yours and I immediately thought of you. xx

Mhel, thank you hon, LOVE the new blog btw!

Catherine, thank you, it is always fun cooking it. xx

scrappysue said...

to speak of many things, saiing ships and sealing wax and cabbage and kings. my grandmother taught me that. love your blog - thanks for stopping by! how you get that ribbon effect on the cupcake icing?

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm glad you're back! The salmon recipes look delicious!

linlori said...

Oh, my goodness. You had me at the salmon nuggets. I'm definitely going to be trying those! And the feta and chorizo pasta. My husband will love you for the chorizo in that recipe - he's a huge fan, hehe.

Debbie said...

Yum! I do love salmon. We eat a lot of it. And that sauce looks great.

Helen McGinn said...

scrappysue, it's my favourite! :O) I used a large ribbon nozzle with an icing bag for that effect. I think it's pretty too. x

The Blonde Duck, thank you hon! x

linlori, I'm a huge fan of chorizo too and love a little of it in a lot of dishes. :O) x

Debbie, thank you, we too love salmon and I'm forever trying to think up new ways to cook it! x

Virginia Mom said...

YUM..... pasta!:) The colored pancakes were cute- they remind me of a birthday cake my mom used to make for us when we were little- she'd take a plain butter cake batter and swirl different food colors in it and bake- then frost the cake with chocolate icing. It was always neat to slice into the cake and see what kinds of colorful swirls you got!

Anastasia said...

Thanks for making me hungry while I'm stuck at work ;)