Cooking on a Bootstrap – Basic White Loaf – 40p a loaf.

COOB - 1A.jpgBack to the real spirit of the blog: good food on a very tight budget. Obtained a copy of Jack Monroe’s new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, and started with recipe no. 1: “basic white” bread. The recipe is as simple as one can get, even simpler and cheaper than my previous bread post.


Cooking on a Bootstrap – Basic White Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 400 g plain white flour.
  • 1½ level teaspoons dried yeast.
  • Pinch of salt.
  • 250 ml warm water.
  • Teaspoon of oil.

What to do:

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Mix the flour, year and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, stirring everything together to make a dough.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Jack suggests rubbing a teaspoon of oil onto the palms of your hands first, and it does work well, stopping the fresh dough sticking to you.

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Let the dough rise under a tea-towel for 1 hour, then into the over at 180°C for 40 minutes.

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The result is an uncomplicated plain white loaf, which, including electricity and washing-up, cost about 40p a loaf using a mini-oven, or 4 pence per thick slice. (Baking it in a large, high wattage oven would, of course, raise the cost by 10p or more.)

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Subatomic Particle Cheesecake (£1.60)

Gell-MannI assume everybody has one or another favourite subatomic particle, whether it be the humble electron, muon, tau-particle, photon or ever-popular Higgs-Boson. Mine is, of course, the quark, simply because it was first theorised the year I was born and confirmed by scientific observations shortly after. Higgs-Boson particles were, of course, also theorised the same year, but they took half-a-century and billions of pounds, dollars and euros in expense to prove their existence.

quarksThe man who first theorised quarks, Professor Murray Gell-Mann, is now 88 and still an active individual persuing such interests as archaeology, linguistics, birdwatching, art and communicating his love of physics. He originally named his particles ‘quarks’ after a word he’d seen in a nonsense rhyme by James Joyce.

 

JoyceJames Joyce was referring to the name used for a kind of light, soft, saltless cheese, made from curdled and strained milk with no other added ingredients. It was seen as a simple, everyday product or even by-product of other processes – it was probably in this sense that Joyce was using the word as slang for ‘rubbish’ or ‘leftovers’.

Quark has been produced in Europe since at least medieval times. It was probably what Little Miss Muffet was eating, sitting on her tuffet, her curds-and-whey being milk curdled by the natural acids to the consistency of soft cheese.

 

This ultra-simple cheesecake recipe is sloppier than convential cheesecakes, so replace with Philadelphia or supermarket soft cheese if you wish, but I wanted to retain the natural lightness of fresh quark.

Ingredients:

quarkcake1

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 350g plain quark
  • 100g sugar (I used icing sugar here, but with hindsight I think castor or even ordinary sugar is better as it is not so overpowerfully sweet. All down to personal taste though.)
  • 50g butter or marg.
  • Some extra flavouring of some sort – whatever is about. Vanilla essence in the quark mix, chocolate or cocoa in the biscuit mix (mixed with extra sugar if using cocoa), lemon juice. I use a few drops of lemon essence in both the base and quark mix. A sprinkle of raspberries on top would also be very nice.

Method:

Crush the biscuits thoroughly and mix with the butter/marg. There are various clever ways of doing this, such as in a bag or rolled up inside a tea towel, but I simply whacked away at them in a bowl with the end of a rolling-pin. Useful therapy after a stressful day at work if you need one.

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Press this mixture into the bottom of a cake tin – the kind with a removable bottom if you have one.

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Mix the quark with the sugar thoroughly and spoon it over the top of the biscuit base.

Add any toppings such as raspberries or chocolate chips at this point, then put it in the fridge for at least half-an-hour – it’s best cold.

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A bit of a challenge to get out of the container on to a plate, but it can be done, or just serve straight from the container. £1.60 to make and theoretically serves six at 27p a portion, but I managed to personally eat half of the one I made within a very short time.

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Greek Tomato and Feta Bread (65p)

Another Greek recipe from Giota Nikolau at faghta-giagias.blogspot.com, this one a more-or-less direct copy. It is a simple bread recipe with olive oil added, plus sun-dried tomato and feta cheese. Using the tomato and feta did ramp the price up a bit, but cheaper alternatives could be found. The dough had to rise three times, so adding cooking time to this, it is not a quick one to prepare, but the results are very satisfying.

Ingredients:

001

  • 250g plain wholemeal flour.
  • 250g plain white flour.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon dried yeast.
  • 1 flat desert spoon sugar.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (normal or extra-virgin).
  • Pinch of salt.
  • 100ml luke warm milk.
  • 200ml (teacup) warm water.
  • Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine.
  • 80g feta cheese crumbled into small pieces.

How to make it:

Into a one bowl I put the yeast, half the luke warm water, the sugar and about 3 tablespoons of flour, mixing it to the consistency of porridge. Covered with a dry cloth and left aside of 15 minutes. The purpose of this is to wake the yeast up (‘activating’ the yeast).

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I put the rest of the flour and salt into another bowl and mixed it all together, then added the olive oil and yeast ‘porridge’ – I found using a simple metal desert spoon best to mix things together. Kept adding splashes of the warm water until it was a firm dough. (If it gets too sticky, sprinkle in more flour.) Kneaded this for 10 minutes, then left it in an olive-oil-greased bowl (stops it sticking to the sides) in a warm spot for 60 minutes to rise.

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Divided into 4 pieces and rolled these into mini-baguette shapes each with a groove into which I dropped the tomato and feta filling, pressing it into the dough. Pinch the tops together and kneaded each roll for a couple of minutes.

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After this, set them aside for a further 60 minutes to re-rise, then baked in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes.

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Cost:

Something like 50p a roll. Toasted, buttered, and with a sliced tomato or cheese on top (and not forgetting electricity and washing-up costs), a meal for around 65p.

As a Greek-style bread recipe (i.e. with the olive oil, but no tomato/feta filling), would be 15p a roll.

Traditional Greek Pizza (41p)

Kimolos mapPizza Ladeniaίτσα λαδένια, pronounced something like “PEET-sa la-THEN-ee-a”) has been produced on the island of Kimolos in the western Aegean Sea since medieval times. It is claimed to be the origin of the modern pizza, later developed, of course, by the Italians and which is now consumed the world over.

Whether Italian cooks really got the idea from Greece or were just developing traditions found throughout the Mediterranean is open to debate, but the Greeks are very proud of their own, more ancient version.

The main difference between traditional Greek and modern Italian-style pizzas is that the former is rich in olive-oil and baked slowly in a high-sided tray or pan, while the latter is a less oily creation rapidly roasted on a dry hot plate or oven shelf and which first appeared in Naples about the year 1800. The origin of the name, ‘pizza‘ is lost in time, but probably originally simply meant ‘bread’ or ‘bite of food’, while ‘ladenia‘ is derived from the Greek words for oil (‘lathi‘) and olive (‘elia‘).

Acknowledgments to Giota Nikolau at faghta-giagias.blogspot.com for this. In the photo below there are three tomatoes and two onions, but when I came to chop them up I found I needed one less of each.

2018-03-19A Pizza ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • Cup of warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A dozen chopped olives
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method

In a bowl add half the warm water, yeast, sugar, two tablespoons of flour and mix it all together. Cover and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Doesn’t need to be anywhere especially warm – mine rose very happily in a coldish kitchen. Stir in thoroughly the remaining flour and water to make a firm dough and knead this for 10 minutes.

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If it came out right it shouldn’t be sticking to your hands of fingers while you’re doing this. If it is too sticky, add pinches of flour until it is right. After kneading, put it back in the bowl, cover and leave for a further ½ hour to rise again.

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Flatten and stretch out the dough moderately thinly into one large or two small pizza base shapes. Press the sliced tomato, onion and olives on top and drizzle olive oil over them – traditionally this was quite an oily creation! Sprinkle on some dried oregano with some salt and ground pepper. I’m normally anti-salt, but this definitely benefits from it.

2018-03-19E Drizzled

Bake in a lipped dish or tray, lined with a generous smear of olive oil, for 20-30 minutes at 180C (all depends on how efficient your oven is, might need a little longer). Important to used a lipped dish or tray because otherwise the olive oil will run off and burn on the bottom of the oven. The pizza is cooked when it is browning all over and not flexible when lifted.

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Cost: This made two pizzas, each quite filling, and could happily have been shared between four people. The price per meal was therefore (assuming 4 people each with a mug of tea, and including electricity and washing up costs) … 41p.

I found I’d made mine a bit too thick – would have been better flattened to under 1cm height when making the pizza bases. Also might add a sprinkle of bacon bits or shreds of ham next time, but important to remember that originally this was everyday, filling food, not a fancy treat like modern pizza.

Mango, Partridge and Pasta

 

2017-06-10 bannerAnother game dish that gets in this ‘cooking-on-a-budget blog’ on a technicality – a kind person generously donated the partridge for me to experiment with. The following recipe could also be called ‘101 things to do with a dead peasant, no.6’, as the flavour and texture of the meat of the respective species is similar.

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The bird after cooking – as with chicken and duck, was simply dropped straight in the slow cooker and cooked in its own juices. Nothing else added.

Greedients:

  • 1 partridge.
  • 2 beef tomatoes.
  • 3 fresh medium-heat chile peppers (or a generous pinch of crushed chile).
  • Juice of ½ a lemon.
  • Flesh of ½ a mango.
  • 1 desert spoon of orange marmalade.
  • Schwartz ‘Season-All’ or any all-purpose seasoning (I like the Schwartz version because it is less salty than most).
  • Oil for cooking.
  • Pasta shells or twists ideally (or whatever there is – I used spaghetti on this occasion).

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Cooked the bird in my ‘slow cooker’ on high for two-and-a-half hours. Picked off the meat, examining it carefully for any dodgy-looking bits. There was enough for two or three servings. I did find it a bit of a pongy bird while cooking – needed the windows well-open

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Surprising quantity of meat considering the small size of the bird.

Fine-diced the tomatoes and mango (discarding the tomato seeds because I don’t like the texture of them). Finely chopped the chile peppers after removing the seeds.

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Broke the partridge meat up well and lightly fried it in extra virgin olive oil and with a generous sprinkle of the seasoning  I know food buffs say olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, but I like the flavour. Fried it well on a high heat so that some of the pieces of meat were going crispy at the ends.

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Threw in the rest of the ingredients, the lemon juice and – the secret ingredient – a desert spoon of orange marmalade. Heated for a couple of minutes more to soften the tomato and mango a bit.

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Served with quality pasta – any kind, although shells or twists would probably be better. I used wholemeal organic spaghetti on this occasion. Can be served hot or cold, and is easily reheated in the microwave. I prefer it as a chilled pasta salad straight from the fridge.

 

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I like it cold best, with a glass of fresh orange juice.

My own creation, this one, aiming for juiciness and tanginess with the ingredients to counteract the dryness and ‘seedy’ flavour of the meat. Could be done with chicken of course, or various off-cuts of meat, and makes a small amount go a longer way.

Pheasant in a Creamy-cheesy Greek Sauce with Greek Salad

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This is no. 5 in my ‘101 Things To Do With a Dead Pheasant‘ quest. The sauce recipe was inspired by Patra Martios at faghta-giagias.blogspot.com. (Google couldn’t translate the page very clearly, so the sauce is very much a ‘based on’ creation, plus my own version of Greek salad.)

Not one of my budget recipes. Even if made with chicken or some other bird, still pricey, although the sauce goes a long way and eeks out the limited meat yield when cooking a pheasant.

Clipboard02Pheasants were, incidentally, known by the Greeks from ancient times. Originally an Asian species, they were traditionally said to have been introduced by traders via the Black Sea city of Phasis, hence ‘Pheasant’, but they probably arrived in Europe in prehistoric times by a variety of routes.

They were imported and bred in Britain in large numbers only from about 1100 AD (although visiting Romans a millennium earlier must have been familiar with the bird and may have brought the odd one over). Today, pheasants breeds very happily in the British countryside, although the majority one sees while out are captive-bred and released for shoots – there are, amazingly, tens-of-millions released each year.

INGREDIENTS

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THE MEAT

  • Pheasant (or chicken / duck / goose / guinea fowl / quail / ostrich / pterodactyl / whatever), cooked, broken into small pieces and well-fried in a small amount of olive oil with a sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning.

THE SALAD

  • Tomato – any well-flavoured ones, like home-grown, cherry or beef tomatoes.
  • ½ a red onion.
  • ½ a cucumber, peeled.
  • A pepper (any colour).
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • ½ a lemon.
  • 75 g feta cheese.
  • Dried oregano.
  • Rocket.

Sliced up the tomatoes, finely chop the onion, chop up the pepper and cucumber, break the feta into rough cubes. Mix together (not too violently, or you’ll pulverize the feta) in a bowl with a fistful of rocket leaves, a splash of the olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and good pinch or oregano.

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Put this in the fridge while you’re making the sauce.

THE SAUCE

  • 150 g of unsmoked bacon, finely chopped.
  • ½ a punnet of mushrooms.
  • 100 ml double cream.
  • 100 ml milk.
  • Good splash of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 50 g grated parmesan cheese (or the strongest hard Cheddar you can get). This costs a bit, but it is worth it for the flavour. Don’t buy cheap or powdered Parmesan, it tastes horrible.
  • Ground black pepper.
  • Cornflour.

Finely chop and fry the bacon.

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Thin-slice and cook the mushrooms on a moderate heat until all the moisture has bubble off – no oil needed, just let them bubble away in a non-stick frying pan until (almost) all the water has boiled/steamed off. They’ll reduce down to about ¼ of their original volume and have a rich flavour.

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Put the bacon, mushrooms and everything else together in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring slowly, to melt the cheese in. Add a heaped desert spoon of cornflour until it is a moderately thick sauce consistency. If it goes too thick, stir in some more milk.

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Fry a small handful of the meat with a dollop of the sauce.

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On one side of the plate make a bed of rocket leaves, putting the meat/sauce mix on top, with the Greek salad on the other side.

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Happy to say the whole thing turned out well. Most delicious. The sauce, if thick enough, can also be used as a toast topping.

Pheasant (or any meat) Tortilla Wrap (78p)

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Simple, quick and tasty. This is my fourth ‘101 things to do with a dead pheasant‘ dish, but would work with any suitable meat – chicken, pulled pork or lean, thin-cut beef for example.

  • 1 tortilla wrap.
  • 75 g meat.
  • Salad.
  • Horseradish (or ‘creamed horseradish’)
  • Mayonnaise.
  • All-purpose seasoning.

First the sauce – a generous desert-spoonful each of horseradish and mayonnaise, well-mixed together. Got this simple idea from an episode of Man v. Food. Not a recipe for the waistline, this one.

Broke/cut the meat into thin pieces and fried in olive oil with a generous sprinkle of all-purpose seasoning. I’d already prepared the salad – a ‘peppery leaf salad’ picked up for a few pence from the Tesco end-of-the-day shelf – broken up into bite-size pieces.

Microwaved the tortilla for 10 seconds and smothered one half with the sauce, adding salad, meat and rest of the sauce.

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Keeping it all contained when rolling up is a bit of a trick. A flat spatula is a big help. Have to do this reasonably quickly while the tortilla is still warm as it goes more rigid, keeping the filling secure, once cooler.

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A pleasing, tasty and very filling result which can also be eaten cold. Price depends on where one gets the ingredients. This as a meal (pricing for chicken rather than pheasant), including electricity, cup of tea, etc., cost me 78p, but with careful buying of ingredients could be closer to 50p.

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