Tomato tart

We have had a rather trying week, and I felt in need of food that was super easy and quick to cook but which was tasty and oh-so-good to eat.  It may be the way I was brought up, where my parents would hold wonderful dinner parties that always seemed to feature beef wellington and vol-au-vents (It was the 80s after all!) but pastry to me always has a sense of something special about it. I rarely use pastry in my everyday cooking, but after tonight’s ridculously easy supper I think I have to make ready made jus roll a more regular addition to the shopping list.

I spread out the puff pastry and cut into squares. This I smeared with a good dollop of basil pesto and sliced tomatos. Baked in a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) until it looked cooked- about 18 minutes. The leftover pastry was used to make B-G jam tarts for breakfast the next day. Served with broccoli and corn and my favourite beetroot salad which is just diced cooked beetroot mixed with crushed garlic, spring onions and sour cream.

Good, easy and an excellent way to get more vegetables into a recalcitrant 6 year old. What’s not to love?

 

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Frugal February – Shakshuka

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Every time I make this I wonder why I do not make it more often. Shakshuka makes the perfect quick and easy supper dish. In it’s simplest form it is just eggs poached in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce. I serve it with chopped coriander sprinkled over the top, crusty bread and butter.

Ingredients (serves two).

1 tablespoon vegetable oil- I used sunflower oil

1 brown onion diced very small

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 red pepper diced

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup red wine

1 bunch parsley

1 large bunch chopped coriander

vegetable stock cube

1 tbs chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin

4 free range eggs

Sautee onion and garlic in oil. Add cumin and chilli powder and cook lightly, don’t let it burn. Add diced red pepper and cook until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, chopped parsley, sugar, vegetable stock and wine and simmer until cooked through. At this point I turned off the heat and let the mixture sit for several hours so the flavours all came together. Just before you want to eat, turn the heat on again and simmer. Make 4 wells into the mixture and crack the eggs into the tomatoes. Cover with a lid and gently poach. When eggs lightly cooked, scatter with fresh coriander.

Tonight my choice was to make Shakshuka or omelettes. Shakshuka takes a little bit of chopping and simmering, but is somehow easier than watching over an omelette pan.Much more satisfying to eat too.

 

Frugal February- Spicy Sausages and Polenta

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I was really pleased with how these turned out. We have had a packet of polenta sitting in our larder for months, and I had never really registered that it was there…simply because I have never before cooked with polenta and very rarely eat it. This ended up being  a delicious, simple supper. Perfect for a cold wintry Sunday evening.

From the larder

One packet of polenta or cornmeal

I jar of spicy tomato pasta sauce

From the freezer

1 packet (6-8) vegetarian sausages or other sausages of choice

From other parts of the kitchen

Butter-lots

freshly diced bell pepper

1medium sliced onion

1 stick celery sliced

Score

10/10

I placed the diced vegetables in an oven prof dish then laid the sausages on top of them. I poured in the jarred sauce then cooked at 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.

I then cooked the polenta according to the packet instructions…. about 1part polenta to 3parts water and simmered until tender. I used quite a bit of salt and a good knob of butter right at the end which lifted the taste considerably. When the polenta was at the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes it was ready.

Dinner is served!

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Frugal February – Tuna and Egg casserole

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Yes, really.

This was another staple from my childhood that I just loved. I suspect that any Australian growing up in the 70s and early 80s had some version of tuna and egg casserole in their life. I cannot be sure, but guess it may have come from a Woman’s Weekly cookbook. It sounds bonkers, but here in the UK tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake is pretty common, and the component parts are really pretty similar.

From the larder

tinned tuna in brine

white flour

rice

From the fridge

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced.

milk

butter

From other parts of the kitchen

1 medium onion diced

2 slices stale bread.

This is really simple. Sautee diced onions in butter then remove onions from the pan and set aside. Make an easy white sauce using butter, 1 tablespoon flour and milk as required. Add onions. Add tinned tuna in brine…. don’t drain all the brine… about half is needed for that true tuna flavour. Add sliced eggs and stir through. Serve hot over rice. I was doing the complicated version in that I topped it with homemade croutons using the diced stale bread which I pan fried in a little bit of leftover butter. The combination of creamy, salty sauce with crouton crunch cannot be beaten.

I plonked this down in front of Baby-Gusto and made no comment and provided no explanation as to what he was being presented with.  He hoovered it down with nary a whimper. Any meal that gets eaten is a good meal.

score

9/10.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Retro-Cookbook-Australian-Womens-Weekly/dp/1742451039

Frugal February – Kidney Bean Chilli

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Once or twice a year I survey our groaning larder and  then our diminishing bank account and have a complete shit fit. Husband-Gusto likes to buy in bulk. I like to buy for the next day or so. The result, inevitably, as I insist on doing most of the cooking, is that we have thousands of tins, pulses, pasta and frozen food- most of which is nearing a use-by date. For a few days I impose a household ban on food shopping and try and cook my way through our store cupboard.

Hence, Frugal February. Granted, considering we have things like caviar and marinated artichokes in our larder, the term ‘frugal’ is a stretch, but I am determined that until our stores are depleted I am going to cook from what we have.

Today, at H-G’s request we had red kidney bean chilli. It was a pretty simple concoction of onions, garlic, red kidney beans, tinned sweetcorn given a bit of spice with diced fresh hot chilli.

From the larder.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tub passata

1 tin sweetcorn

6 squares dark chocolate

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup rice

Fresh food

1 diced onion (medium)

1 sliced chilli pepper

1 sliced red bell pepper

parsley

Method

Chop and chuck.

Chop all items that need to be chopped. Chuck all chopped items and fresh diced vegetables into olive oil. Add passata and water to cover. Simmer for as long as you wish.

Serve with rice.

Score

7/10.