Day 7 - Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes with Pasta, Cheesy Garlic Bread.
This is the first meal that John ever cooked for me. It's easy but feels a little fancy. We don't really have it that often, honestly. MIL is here for the weekend so we're pulling out the stops. Kind of 😉 .
Tip cherry tomatoes into a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast at 200C for 15 or 20 minutes until most of the tomatoes are burst. .
Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente.
Garlic bread - I mix mayo with plenty of garlic and a bit of cheese. Spread very generously on some crusty bread. Put it under the grill to melt the cheese and make it quite crispy.
Once the toms are ready squash them down with a fork and stir in a generous glug of balsamic vinegar. Stir into the pasta and serve hot.
Day 6 - Beans on Toast. .
Not fancy beans on toast. Not posh beans on toast. Just regular old beans on regular old toast. There is no making this look glamorous; it is what it is. I try to always plan in one of these super-easy, super-cheap basic meals. Others include tin tomato soup, fish finger sandwiches or jacket potatoes. I actually hate these meals. I feel they are my penance for cooking more exciting and indulgent things the rest of the time. John, on the other hand, loves them. He looks forward to beans on toast. He gets all childish and nostalgic about it. I will never understand this.
So why do I even have this for dinner if I hate it? Honestly, it's SO cheap. And one meal like this a week goes a long way for stretching out the paycheck and making sure we just have a few extra pounds to go into savings. It's such an easy sacrifice to make. And if you're anything like John, it's not even a sacrifice - it's a treat (how are we even married???). .
No recipe. Obvs. #nofilter
And the main course I cooked, was a Goat’s Cheese Pastry Parcel with a Three Nut Nougatine - served with salad! #MyVikingStory#VikingSea#Excursion a fun excursion this morning with Viking Sea on my West Indies Explorer cruise with @vikingcruisesuk
Day 5 - Stir Fried Rice
Here's another recipe from Part Time Vegetarian. And this time it is full veggie, promise. .
Cook some rice and set it aside to cool.
There are two sauces going on here: an aromatic peanut paste and a sweet and salty soy/curry sauce. .
First for the peanut paste blitz a few cloves of garlic, a good chunk of root ginger, some chillis (I used dried), and a handful of peanuts to a lumpy paste. It takes some time, be patient. Make sure you have some peanuts left over to add at the end of the dish. .
Now, mix 2 tbsp soy sauce, a tsp brown sugar, a tbsp ketchup, and 2 tsp tumeric. There is sauce number 2.
Next up, make some omelettes. Beat 2 eggs at a time, season, tip into a hot pan coated with a little oil, tipping the pan to spread the omelette nice and thin. Once cooked, roll up into a cigar shape and set aside. Repeat with 2 more eggs. You should do 1 egg per serving. I'm making 4 servings = 4 eggs. Once cooked, cut the omelettes into strips.
From here we're just stir frying. Get your wok really hot and cook your desired vegetables. I've got red onion, spring onion, carrot, red pepper and spinach. Use whatever veg you like. Once the veg is softened a bit stir in the peanut paste and keep cooking for another minute or so. Then lower your heat and add your rice and soy mixture. Stir really well here to get everything mixed together evenly and make sure the rice is hot. Towards the end add your omelette strips and stir them in too. Serve out into bowls and scatter with some spring onion and peanuts.
Dessert - Carrot Cake
Obviously I could save money by just not having dessert. But then, would life even be worth living? I jest. But John and I are both massive sweet tooths and hardly a day goes by that about an hour or so after dinner one of us doesn't look at the other and say in the most forlorn of voices, "what's for pudding?" We've been known to make late night runs to the shop for giant bars of Cadbury fruit & nut that we then scoff in all of 30 seconds. So, yes, I could try to avoid dessert. But really who am I kidding?
This week Aldi had half off a 500g bag of carrots. So it was 12p. I already had flour and other baking things at home. We also picked up cream cheese and icing sugar for frosting. Really not very pricey.
I used the carrot sheet cake recipe from Mary Berry's Baking Bible. You just can't go wrong with Bezza. This cake made 15 big portions. It keeps well in the fridge so it will last us the whole week and into next weekend.
I didn't use her frosting recipe though because I don't like it. I just mix butter, icing sugar and cream cheese until I like the consistency.
This cake rises a lot! So use a quite deep baking tray. Also, I added mixed nuts and dried fruit to mine. Go crazy!
I have a love-hate relationship with breakfast. I cannot function without it. If I don't eat first thing in the morning I am miserable all day, my brain doesn't function properly, and I will be falling asleep all over again in like two hours. On the other hand, most food makes me feel sick in the morning. Cereal, toast and jam, bacon, fruit, yoghurt - all of these are a no-go if I want to keep my meal down. Then there's the fact that I get up at quarter to five most mornings and have all of ten minutes to prepare and eat breakfast before I leave the house. So it's a challenge for me.
I try to get organised on the weekend for the week ahead. Waffles are a favourite. Muffins are another good option. I almost always prepare boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge ready to be peeled and scoffed. These waffles are banana peanut butter. I had an old banana that needed using up and an end of peanut butter in the fridge. I almost always have flour in (#baker ). I made a whole batch on Sunday and put them in the freezer. The defrost easily in the toaster. Then I just put a little butter and eat with my egg. .
Here's my recipe:
1 cup plain flour (~250g)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
2 tsp caster sugar
1 cup milk (250ml)
1/4 cup butter (50g)
1 over ripe banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
Melt the butter.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another (except butter). Stir the wet into the dry. Let the mix rest for five mins or so while you heat up the waffle iron. Just before you're ready to cook stir in the melted butter. Cook per waffle iron instructions. Let cool before you put them in the freezer. Defrost in the toaster.
Day 3: Lemon Crumb Pasta 🍝🍋 This is from one of my favourite books at the moment, Part Time Vegetarian.
I've really made some changes from the original idea though. The vegetarian version calls for fried capers, and the variation calls for crispy parma ham. Well, I happen to have some leftover bacon in the fridge that needs using up, so that went in. I actually think it would be way better with capers. Also, the original asks for linguine, but I always buy pasta in bulk. We get the biggest bag we can get from tesco and it lasts ages. It's much cheaper by the unit so we really do save in the long run. Fusilli it is!
Cook your pasta quite al dente (it's going to cook more in the sauce later) and set it aside. Keep about a cup of the water you cooked it in.
Cook your bacon as you like it. For me - extra crispy! In the same pan, add a little olive oil and about a cup of stale breadcrumbs. Cook until nice and crisp and golden. Stir in the zest of a lemon, tip into a bowl and set aside.
Give the pan a quick wipe, then add some more oil and set over medium heat. Cook 6 small tomatoes (chopped) and 2-3 cloves if garlic, just until everything is soft. It should only take a minute or two. Now add half of the pasta water you kept earlier, the juice of the lemon, and the pasta and toss everything together. If the sauce seems a bit dry, add more pasta water. If it seems wet, turn the heat up and let it cook down a bit. Season with black pepper, but don't add salt 'cause the bacon will add the saltiness. Remove from the heat, stir in some chopped parsley, and spoon into bowls. Top generously with the lemony crumbs and crispy bacon.
Day 2: Mexican Corn and Chilli Soup 🌽
This recipe is from Thomasina Miers' Mexican Food Made Simple. I've adapted it a bit. It calls for lots of coriander which I just leave out because John doesn't like it. Also, she asks for fresh corn but I use tinned corn, well, because it's cheaper.
Cook onions, garlic, celery, fennel, green pepper, chillis, and corn in a saucepan with a little butter (I believe the mexicans would use lard?) just until everything starts to soften - about ten mins or so. Then add some veg stock (I use stock cubes) just to cover all the vegetables. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 mins or until everything is really soft. Then blitz it in a standing blender or with a hand blender. You can sieve it if you like, but I only do that when I'm cooking for guests.
Saute some left over corn kernels in a little oil until they begin to take on some colour. Then stir into the soup with a generous amount of lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also added some hot sauce because I wanted it more spicy, but that's totally optional. Serve with a little sour cream, pickled chillis and fresh herbs.
You could, and should, make corn tortillas on the side. Husband and I stood in the kitchen doing the 'should we or shouldn't we' dance until both of us admitted that we just could not be bothered to make tortillas... if you live somewhere you can just buy them, good for you.
I’m on a low FODMAP diet at the moment. I can’t explain I’m just a few words so have a google if you are that interested. At first I cried. Then the dietician looked at my food diary and explained I’m already eating 80% in accordance with the principles anyway so a few tweaks here and there would be all I need. I was bought @shecanteatwhat book and a first glance left me really rather uninspired as those who know me know how much I love to cook and experiment. But what I do fall down on are lunches so today I hit the supermarket armed with book and decided to batch cook for the week. Another foreign principle. This is the first recipe. 10/10 for actually looking the same but 2/10 for taste. It’s like eating baby food - over cooked broccoli and bland. So I sizzled up an onion and garlic free tarka and it lifted it to another level. To be fair, I am an experienced cook and I love (live on) well spiced food so please don’t let it put you off. Recipes are there to be adapted to taste after all and one week ago I was a crumple of self indulgent tears so having even the most simplest of guidance can be a supportive boost. Fingers crossed the next creation of the dal hits the spot. I am soooo missing lentils!