Food On The Cheap

Summer holidays have just started but in just a few months, your little darlings may be heading off to University and having to fend for themselves. How do you manage your finances when ridden with debt? How do you ensure you can eat healthily when the local pizza joint offers you a meal deal for under a fiver? How can you eat interesting food for one, or share with your flatmates?

Well, stop fretting and send them along to my cookery class on 31st August. If you are leaving home, need some ideas for tasty, simple, but delicious meals, or just want to spend a morning cooking, chatting and eating, then this could be the course for you.

We start at 10am and will be making a brunch of baked eggs in a spiced tomato sauce (pictured). We’ll then be cooking a vegetable biryani, all in one pot to cut down on the washing up. We’ll also learn how to create a ragout that can be served with spaghetti, put into a shepherd’s pie or spiced up into chili so one batch can last you for a several days. Finally we’ll be making a dessert, then sit around my kitchen table to eat together before finishing up at 1pm.

Classes are £45 per person and take place in my kitchen in Chalfont St Peter. The price includes all ingredients, aprons, recipe cards and you don’t even have to do the washing up. Coffee and home-made treats are served for those arriving early.

To book your place contact me at foodfrom4@gmail.com

 

20141230_094153

Beetroot, Chick Pea and Quinoa Burgers

I now realise you can make burgers from pretty much anything provided you follow a few basic principles. You need something dry, something sticky to bind it together and lots of flavours. The dry part tends to be oats, or breadcrumbs, or nuts. The sticky comes from eggs, cheese or mashed pulses.

This came about as a somewhat random recipe. made from the sort of things I have lying about the kitchen. A few vegetables, a pulse I can mash to get the stickiness and some quinoa – yeh I know quinoa is becoming all a little bit too 2015, but it adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish and, when the burgers are fried, it’s the quinoa that gives it it’s crispy exterior, without the need to roll the burgers in breadcrumbs or the like. Apart from the quinoa, everything else is used raw until you cook the burgers themselves.

This made four large burgers – though I think dividing it into six would be more elegant perhaps

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium beetroot – peeled and grated
1 medium carrot – peeled and grated
2 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1x400g tin chick peas – drained
a handful of fresh parsley leaves and stalks
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
a splash of tabasco
juice of half a lime
a handful or so of rolled oats
olive oil for frying

Put the quinoa and water in a pan, bring to the boil, cover then simmer for 10 minutes. Leave the lid on and allow to cool.

Put the chick peas, garlic and tahini in a food processor and blitz to a rough mixture, a little bit like crunchy peanut butter. Add the grated carrot and beetroot, the parsley, paprika and oregano. Whiz for few seconds, then add the lime juice, tabasco, salt, pepper. Whiz again briefly then slowly add the oats and cooked quinoa with a quick pulse in between, until you have a firm, but still a little moist mix.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Divide the mixture into six (or 4, or even 8!). Roll each into a ball, squash into a flattish disc and fry gently in the oil for 7-9 minutes on each side. The top and bottom should be browned and crispy and the middle nice and hot.

I served mine with a red cabbage, carrot and chili slaw and a jacket potato. How are you having yours?

20161201_192823

Courgette and Halloumi Cheese Fritters

A tasty and simple meal that tastes of summer. This will make about eight rissoles – enough for four people.

3-4 medium courgettes
1 onion
1 pack halloumi cheese
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped dill (optional)
Olive oil for frying

Grate the courgettes, place in a clean tea towel or muslin and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Transfer to a large bowl. Grate the onion and cheese and add these to the courgettes. Add all the other ingredients except the oil. Mix well adding more flour if the mixture is a little on the wet side.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Grab a golf ball sized blob of the mixture and flatten it in your hands. Fry in the hot oil until brown on each side – about 5 minutes per side.

Serve with new potatoes, a watercress salad and a generous helping of natural yogurt with chives.

 

August cookery classes

I’ll be running two classes in August

 

First off an Italian themed class where we will be preparing, cooking and eating an aubergine parmigiana, nutty “meatballs” with spaghetti and a panzanella, a salad made with fresh tomatoes, capers, olives and bread. For dessert we will make a mascarpone cheesecake with an amaretto base and a fruit coulis. The Italian class takes place on the morning of Saturday 26th August from my kitchen in Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. Plenty of parking outside and just a short walk from Gerrards Cross train station which runs between London Marylebone and Birmingham.

Then on Thursday 31st August I will be running a morning class for students and those leaving home for the first time, looking for simple, tasty but cheap meals. We will be making a versatile and satisfying sauce that can be used as a basis for a meat free shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognese or veggie chili. In addition we will make a one pot vegetable biryani to show how you can make delicious meals without mountains of washing up whilst still getting your five-a-day. We’ll also make some desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Classes start at 10am with coffee and homemade treats for early birds. We aim to wrap up the cooking around 12:30 then gather round the kitchen table for lunch. The price is £45 per head and includes everything you need – ingredients, aprons, recipe cards and equipment.

Contact me at foodfrom4@gmail.com to answer any of your questions or to book your place

Broad Bean Falafel

Every street food market up and down the country surely has a stall selling hot falafel. These mildly spiced deep fried vegan treats are so delicious. A former colleague of mine used to travel far and wide, always insisting on trying falafel wherever he went. When I worked in West London I would sometime treat myself to a falafel wrap from Portobello Road Market – the most fully loaded, heavy sandwich I have ever come across. Later, I started working out east and stumbled upon Pilpel. Wow.

The relative healthiness of pulses, herbs and spices is offset by the deep frying, making them the perfect balanced dish.

Every year I grow broad beans on the allotment. They are relatively easy and can be sown from November through to spring so you get a lot of beans if you plan your planting a little. The debate around skinning continues. For me it’s a case of what dish you are making, salads and other delicate dishes need the somewhat tough husks removed. Slow cooked stews are just fine using them whole. For this dish, I removed the skins. It takes a little time but is well worth it.

So on to the recipe

1x400g tin chickpeas – drained and rinsed
about the same of broad beans – use fresh if you can and pod them, boil for 5 minutes, cool and skin. Else use frozen and boil them and skin them
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
parsley – roughly chopped
dill – roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
sunflower oil for deep or shallow frying
pitta bread
natural yogurt or mayonnaise
gherkins
shredded lettuce
tomatoes
chili sauce

Put all ingredients down to and including the cumin in a food processor and pulse a few times until you have a grainy, lumpy paste of sorts. Divide into around 20 or so small balls and flatten each a little.

Heat the oil. When hot, if shallow frying, fry on one side for around 4 minutes then turn and do the same on the other side. If deep frying pop them carefully into hot oil and fry for around 5-6 minutes until golden.

Toast your pittas until they puff then serve the hot pitta, falafel and sundries so your guests can assemble how the like. Choose from the ingredients above but you can also include pickled turnips, fresh chilis, a few coriander leaves, cucumber, ketchup. Experiment. It’s fun…..

Nutty Cauliflower Cheese

Regular readers of this site may have noticed I am a big fan of cauliflower. This is a slight twist on a classic, adding leeks and walnuts to add texture, flavour and a little bit of healthiness.

Makes enough to feed four adults

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower – cut into florets
1 leek
100g chopped walnuts
Large knob of butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon English mustard
500ml milk
150g cheese – something strong like cheddar, gruyere or red leicester

Start by cooking the cauliflower. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pan. When hot, add the cauliflower and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned in places. A little bit of black won’t hurt either. All that colour adds a rich flavour and a little sweetness. Once browned, add about 50ml water and cover. Allow to steam for around 5 minutes to help the cauliflower soften. Remove from heat and pop the cauliflower into a baking dish. Season with a little salt and black pepper. A little grated nutmeg is nice at this stage too if you have it.

Now for the sauce. Heat the butter and one tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. When the butter has melted, add the flour and the mustard. Stir over the heat for two minutes then add the milk, slowly, stirring all the time until you have a smooth liquid. Heat and keep stirring until thickened. Add more milk if it gets too thick but keep stirring to prevent the flour separating and burning on the base of your plan. Not only does that give the sauce a burnt flavour, it ruins your pan. When nicely thickened, add the cheese, either sliced of grated. Keep stirring over a medium heat until the cheese has melted and you have a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce. Pour this over the cauliflower.

Cut the leek in half lengthwise, wash well, then slice into fine half rings. Sprinkle these over the top of the sauce. Now sprinkle the walnuts over the top then pop the whole thing into the oven at 200C (or 180C for a fan assisted oven_ and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.

July Cookery School

Earlier this year I launched the Food From 4 Cookery School. Three hours on a Saturday morning, cooking, chatting and eating in my kitchen at number 4. Following the success of the previous schools the next one is scheduled for Saturday 1st July. We start at 10am (though if you arrive early you get treated to coffee and cake) and cook for a couple of hours, then sit down around the kitchen table to share our wonderful and delicious creations.

The theme for this session is Italian. We’ll be making Aubergine Parmigiana, Panzanella, Crispy Ricotta and Courgette bites and a deconstructed Mascarpone Cheesecake

Contact me at foodfrom4@gmail.com or via my facebook page at facebook.com/foodfrom4 for further details or to book your place