Tag Archives: Recipe

Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Now!

26 May

Chocolate Chunk cookies, fresh from the oven

My attempts to clear out the cupboards did not stop with the end of the spendthrifts challenge. I am still trying to clear the cupboards of all the weird and wonderful ingredients that are lingering on in a number of our kitchen cupboards.

I tend to prefer using dark chocolate in my baking, which means that for some time I have been wondering what to do with the bars of milk chocolate for cooking that I seemed to have stockpiled (no doubt when they were on offer)

The answer came courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His fab choc chunk cookie recipe was recommended on a couple of foodie sites, so yesterday, my two year old and I made these, as a gift for a friend that we were visiting for a playdate and tea (with a few left over for us to test, for quality control purposes of course!)

Chocolate Chunk Cookie anyone?

The joy of these is their simplicity. The ingredients list are all store-cupboard staples, you need no fancy equipment to make them, and they take less than 10 minutes to make, and only 10 minutes to bake.

INGREDIENTS LIST

  • 125g unsalted butter (I used salted. No complaints were received)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar (I only had 20g brown left so topped up with caster sugar)
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark or milk chocolate, chopped into smallish chunks

METHOD

As this is Hugh’s recipe, I have attached a link to the instructions  here.

TIP

The mixture spreads when it bakes so leave a large gap in between each cookie. I cooked 6 on each baking tray.

DISCLAIMER

I ate 2 of these, but as I was full of a summer cold, I could not taste them (not sure why I ate 2?!!) All reports came back positive, and they didn’t see out the day, so I am relying on anecdotal evidence that they taste as good as they look. I may have to make some more when my taste buds get back to work!

Gift wrapped and ready to go

Hummus, Pavlova and Jam on Toast (Day 7 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

24 May

At last, my week of fiscal restraint is almost over.

Today we were invited out to a bbq and asked to bring a dessert.  With £1.92 left of my self-imposed budget, I could have rustled up a cake based on the contents of our fridge and cupboards, but that was about it. And a steaming hot barbeque perfect day like today, deserves no less a treat that a large, crunchy, gooey chewy Pavlova, generously piled with soft whipped cream and abundantly laden with fresh summer fruits.  I made a large pav (to serve 12), piled with raspberries and passionfruit. Yum! I broke the budget, but it was soooo worth it!

And I also made some focaccia (just because I love it), and, for the first time ever, some hummus. I have always been a bit ‘on the fence’ about hummus. I am not sure if my indifference has been influenced by my dislike of tahini, or if it is a result of one bad shop-bought hummus experience too many.  Using the template of a recipe provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, I adapted it altering the time needed from a his proposed 15 hour cookathon ( in a book with Everyday in the title no less?!!), to a more realistic 5 minute affair.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin cooked chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne chilli pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Reserve a handful of chickpeas for garnish, then add all the ingredients into the blender. Whizz until you have a smooth creamy mixture. If it’s too thick add water/olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Decant into a serving dish. Scatter remaining chickpeas on top, along with a little cumin powder. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

Hungry for Hummus?

Tonight , after a lovely lunchtime barbeque, I am out on the town with a girlfriend. I shall not be breaking the budget as this is her treat, in anticipation of my birthday in 11 days.  Mr Mummyinahurry can have some leftover lentils, or jam on toast for supper.

All in all this has been a great week. I feel like we have feasted like Kings, and I have spent only £39.14. Not quite on a target, but a good result nonetheless.

I have also learned, that by not filling the children up with their usual snacks like rice cakes and breadsticks, and by involving them a bit more in the cooking, they have been eating their meals with far more enthusiasm, and have even eaten, carrots, mushrooms and spinach, all of which they have been refusing for weeks.

This is the week that we hope to exchange contracts on our new house, and I find out if I have 3 weeks or 5 weeks to pack (5 weeks please!).  So I intend to continue with my attempt to empty out the cupboards.  There may be a few weird and wonderful concoctions in the offing.   Peaches and evap* anyone?

*evaporated milk

Leftovers Lunch and Mushroom Risotto (Day 6 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

23 May

Leftovers Lunch

Luckily, today’s lunch was more of case of put all the leftovers on the plate and serve. I did make one concession to my non-cook lunch but hardly a big one. I found a large supply of puy lentils in the cupboard. If, like me, you were scarred by the experience of lentils in your childhood by the experience of stodgy orangey or green coloured mush, then set aside those thsoughts. These are in a different league. Think of them as the chic and elegant french cousin of the lentil family. They are almost like small capers in appearance, with a dark muddy green colour and a firm almost meaty texture that would please even the most ardent of carnivores. They need little to compliment them other than a dressing. I added a few cherry tomatoes and spring onions and dresssed with lemon oil. With the minimal effort of cooking the lentils over I simply re-arranged yesterdays leftover salads from dinner, alongside the odds and ends of blue cheese and feta that were lingering in the fridge, some parma ham (bought on offer a couple of weeks ago) and some chargrilled artichokes that I had found at the back of the cupboard. All served with a couple of ready to bake baguettes (my last ones) from the freezer. It couldn’t have been easier, and was the perfect day to sit in the garden to eat.

Puy Lentil Salad

Puy Lentil Salad

  • 300g Puy Lentils
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes chopped
  • 3 spring onions chopped
  • Lemon Oil to dress

METHOD

  • Wash the lentils.
  • Place in pan of clean water.
  • Bring to boil.
  • Add a sprinkle of vegetable bouillon. Stir.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Taste to check. They should be soft enough to eat but still have a little bite.
  • Add tomatoes and onions and anything else you fancy
  • Dress with lemon oil, olive oil or salad dressing
  • Serve

DINNER

I love weekends, because we can all eat together as a family. If we are staying in (which is most weekends) we tend to eat early with the children, which means we are all cleared up once they are in bed and can just curl up on the sofa with a DVD (and some wine).

I seem to have been suffering from a burst of risotto mania earlier in the year, and found the odds and ends of 3 different bags of risotto rice in the cupboard. When I saw that mushrooms were on offer at Sainsburys this week, that was tonight’s dinner sorted. The only thing is, I can’t really be bothered to stand over the stove cooking. An internet search found a simple recipe from Donna Hay for a baked mushroom, bacon and spinach version. We didn’t have any bacon to hand, so I decided to add the remaining parma ham from lunch. And we only had spinach from the freezer. This did take about 15 minutes to get going, but after that I just left it to do its thing in the oven. If you have one of those saucepans that can go in the oven, then this is a great one pot dish. It worked really well. It perhaps wasnt quite as al dente as if I had stood over it lovingly stirring and tasting it like the archetypal Italian mama, but was really very good. And, amazingly, I persuaded my son to eat spinach by putting some leftover garlic butter and grated parmesan on it. And he did!

To serve I did add one slightly decadent touch of my own, which is to add a few drops of truffle oil to the finished dish. The heady, concentrated aroma will lift the dish to another level. Although truffle oil is very expensive, it is to be used sparingly, just a few drops at a time, so it will last for ages. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have even been known to put a couple of drops on a dippy egg!!

Mushroom, Spinach and Parma Ham Risotto

Day 6 Summary

The cupboards are thinning out as is the freezer, and our fridge has not been so bare for a long long time. Tomorrow we are out for lunch, and I have been asked to bring dessert. Not sure I can make it on the £1.92 remaining!

Happy Chickens Moroccan Style (Day 5 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

22 May

Todays Menu  

  • Breakfast. Cereal and yoghurt and fruit
  • Lunch. Wraps with cream cheese for the kids. Leftover pizza heated in toaster for mummy
  • Snack. Banana Iced Yoghurt
  • Dinner – kids – chicken thighs with couscous and broccoli
  • Dinner adults – Spicy chicken legs, chickpea and coriander couscous, morrocan style carrot salad.

 

 

 Banana Iced Yoghurt  

Did you know you can freeze bananas? I didn’t until I had a glut last year and threw a few in the freezer to see what happens. They freeze brilliantly. You can even leave the skin on. It will go black, but keep them all pristine inside, and ready for action when you want to bake banana bread or, some banana iced yoghurt.  

While I was rummaging in the freezer looking for inspiration for dinner, I came across some long ago frozen bananas. So, when the kids wanted a mid afternoon snack, it was delivered, courtesy of the blender.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • 4 medium sized bananas, broken into chunks (they should break easily, no kit needed)
  • 200ml plain yoghurt/greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of half a lemon
  1. Blitz banana using ice function on the blender.
  2. Add yoghurt/vanilla and juice until you have a slightly melting ice cream consistency.
  3. Serve

    Slightly melting Banana Iced Yoghurt

     

  

Total prep time. About 2 minutes. From the taking of the bananas out of the freezer to the placing the used blender in the dishwasher. Now that’s what I call fast food! The bananas are so sweet you don’t need to add sugar. My kids love this as a snack. I tell them its ice cream, while secretly feeling quite pleased that they are eating just a piece of fruit with some pro-biotic yoghurt.  

DINNER  

The food stocks are getting low, as is this weeks kitty, so I was getting a bit concerned about dinner. Then I remembered one of my staple after work meals when I was working. Seasoned chicken legs, Couscous, Salad. Very little prep time required, and on the whole a very thrifty dish. M&S quite often do a promo on their organic chicken legs at 4 for a fiver, so not really a budget buster. In fact, this is a great dish to serve up if you are feeding a large group, as the preparation is minimal, and the ingredients are not too expensive.  

Happy Chickens  

Chicken with Ras El Hanout

 

I was vegetarian for over 20 years until about 5 years ago. When I gave up meat, ‘free-range and organic’ were nowhere to be seen in my little corner of South-West London. When I finally started to eat meat again I vowed only to eat meat where the animal welfare standards were high. That raises a bit of a dilemma when you are invited to lunch and are asked if you have any special requests. Its sounds a more than a little picky and snooty to say ‘I’ll eat your meat but only if it’s up to my standards’. So unless I know people well, I either say I am veggie or offer to bring some food along.  

Which brings me on to todays food. Happy Chickens. The Organic Free Range kind are not cheap. So when I see them on offer I tend to stock the freezer. Obviously I took this step 9 months ago, with a batch of chicken legs that I found, this morning, lingering in the back of our ‘spare’ freezer. Sell by date 29 August 2009. Eaten by date, today 21 May 2010!  

If like me, you are using previously frozen chicken, do make sure it has defrosted fully. I left mine out on the worktop today (I am sure the health inspectors would be tutting) and it was still cold but thoroughly defrosted.  

I have a selection of spices in the cupboard like Cajun, Sumac, and todays choice, Ras El Hanout. Its a lovely, fragrant moroccan spice blend. To prepare the chicken you need do nothing more than to rub a little oil on the chicken legs. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Cook for about 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees. Thats it.  

The couscous  

I love couscous. I always keep a supply of this in the cupboard. Boil the kettle. Pour on water. A few minutes later and its ready. What could be easier? Today I decided to add a few ingredients and flavourings from the cupboard, but it was simply an add, mix and cover with boiling water exercise.  

I have made this, and variations of it so often, that I tend to just add, mix and taste rather than following any strict recipe.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • Couscous. Enough to fill the bottom of a soup bowl by about 1cm. Maybe 300g
  • Vegetable bouillon. A dessertspoon. Add and mix
  • Raisins. A large handful
  • Chickpeas. A standard tin, drained and washed.
  • Cumin (seeds not ground). 1 dessertspoonful
  • Pine nuts (toasted if you have time) 25g
  • Chopped coriander (from freezer)1 tablespoon
  • Butter. About 25 g

METHOD  

  • Mix all ingredients in bowl
  • Pour over boiling water until mixture is just immersed a little in the water
  • Agitate mixture with a fork
  • Cover with a cloth or plate for 5 minutes or so
  • Fluff with a fork and serve

Moroccan Style Carrot Salad. Inspired by Stephanie Alexander.  

Moroccan Style Carrot Salad

 

If you have not yet discovered the cookery genius that is Stephanie Alexander, then you have been missing out. I was introduced to her only last year by my foodie friend Annmaree. This is not a glossy, picture filled cookery book. It is a tome. A reference book filled with a lifetime of cooking knowledge.  It is arranged alphabetically by ingredient (why aren’t all cookery books organised that way?). So, when you have a weird or wonderful, or perhaps just a very boring ingredient that you want to use up, look it up, and Stephanie will provide you will a selection of ideas and recipes for it. Today I was wondering how best to use the carrots in the fridge, when Stephanie came to the rescue, and gave me the inspiration for this dressing.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • about 500g carrots, grated
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 dessertspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Large glug of olive oil (1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 dessertspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chillis

METHOD  

  1. Place cumin, garlic, salt, sugar in pestle and mortar and crush to a paste
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until you have a glossy dressing.
  3. Check taste and adjust seasoning
  4. Grate the carrots.
  5. Add the coriander and chilli and mix throughly
  6. Add dressing making sure salad well coated
  7. Serve

The biggest effort today, was not the cooking. Each dish probably took about 5 minutes preparation. The real effort was putting a little thought and imagination into the food available, and making an appetizing meal from it. The carrot salad exceeded all my expectations. It was not something I had tried before, but will definitely be one to use again.  

Dinner is served

 

DAY 5 SUMMARY  

A great use of some very neglected food from my freezer. 2 days of the challenge left. I am missing chocolate, and not at all optimistic that I wont go over budget. Food (or chocolate) donations anyone?  

Chickpea Couscous