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Lent Potato Salad (39p)

greece-flag-17A hot (or cold) potato salad inspired by a recipe on Giota Nikolau’s ′Grandma’s Food′ blog, a site which has many wonderful recipes. It is all written in Greek, but with help from Google translate and the wonderful photos on the site, her recipes and ideas can be followed.

It is still Lent in the Greek Orthodox church calendar, their Easter day being Sunday 19 April, making this their Orthodox Holy Week and a time of fasting – no meat, fish, wine, oil, wine, dairy or eggs, so my version of the recipe almost meets the criteria, bar the splash of oil for frying and knob butter for flavour.

Ingredients (serves four):

  • Three baking-size potatoes.
  • One onion, red or white.
  • Dried oregano.
  • Tin of beans – I used a tin of Flageolet beans that I found at the back of the cupboard, but would normally use the cheapest kidney beans, or indeed anything suitable hanging around in the cupboard or fridge that needs using up – some fresh green or string beans, for example.
  • Salted butter.

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Method:

  • Slice the onion up and fry until soft and translucent, then put it aside. Don’t over-fry the onion, keep it a little al dente.
  • Peel and chop the potatoes into inch-sized lumps, then simmer them in a saucepan for 15-20 minutes until soft. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t dissolve and you end up with a watery potato soup.
  • While they’re simmering, empty the can of beans, rinsing them under the cold tap, and add them to the simmering potatoes half way through.
  • When the potatoes are ready, pour off the water and transfer to a bowl, sprinkling in a pinch of dried oregano.

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And that’s it. Makes about four portions. Serve hot in a bowl with a good knob of  butter on top, or can be eaten cold.

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Estimating electricity use and washing up costs, and with a mug of Earl Grey tea, that’s a meal for about 39p.


 

Messy Gnocci (50p)

This is the last of my transfers of recipes from Facebook to Cooking For Nothing. The posts will now go back to their normal frequency.

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Facebook post 2 Nov 2016.

polish-flagHad these not infrequently in Poland – how I miss that country – but they were not a particular favourite, being rather squidgy and tasteless. Not a criticism of the chef, just something my palate is not used to or keen on. Had a go at the recipe in A Girl Called Jack, with modifications.

The ingredients:

  • 1 egg.
  • 500 g tinned pots.
  • Big pinch of dried parsley.
  • 100 g flour

Jack said boil the pots, mash them with the other ingredients, roll the mixture out like dough, cut into shapes – drop them in boiling water and when they float, they’re done. Not quite so …

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The mixture was ridiculously sticky, so I kept added more flour, 100g or more, until it was manageable. The ‘cooked’ gnochettes tasted half-raw (I’d made them too big), so had to boil them for another 10 minutes. And messy! A lot of clearing up afterwards, flour and gnocchi dough all over the place.

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Gnocchi are bland things on their own, so made a sauce with what was to hand – a fine chopped onion, tin chopped toms, good pinches of oregano, thyme and paprika, spoon of horseradish, crushed garlic clove, all fried and mashed together.

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It worked. With the mandatory mug of tea and including electricity, tasty and 50p a meal.

Bacon, Pea and Mint Casserole (75p)

Facebook post 12 Oct 2016.

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Bacon, Pea and Mint Casserole, based on https://agirlcalledjack.com/…/16/ham-pea-mint-casserole-30p.

  • 300 g bacon.
  • Tin of peas.
  • Teaspoon each of dried mint and parsley.
  • 12 new potatoes.
  • 2 white onions.
  • Chicken stock cube.

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Really struggling to get close to Jack’s claimed prices, this coming to 94p a serving (£1.11 including electricity, bread & butter and a cup of tea). One reason is that being in a semi-rural area, prices are hiked and choice limited. The bacon I used, for example (http://www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=292312017), is £1.50 a pack, not even the £1.35 they claim online.

Fried the bacon and onion separately. The bacon shrank down to less than half its original size on cooking through water and fat loss. It’s one-seventh added water! They add water!! They’re charging us for water!!!

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Boiled the potato with the herbs and stock, adding everything else when it was almost done, and kept it bubbling until the potato was cooked through – needed to add extra water from the kettle.

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It was really tasty and there was enough for four. Even though full, I felt I could eat another lot.

Potato and onion soup (51p)

A while back I got hold of a copy of ‘A Girl Called Jack‘ for £4.47. It’s a recipe book with very low-cost meals and inspired me to do a bit of cooking. Initially posted my experiences on Facebook, but it’s getting tiresome hunting back in time there to relocate recipes, so here’s the blog – a personal notebook and reference point for anyone interested. Here goes, with recipe no. 1  …

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Inspiration: cookingonabootstrap.com

  • 500g tinned potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • sprinkle of cumin
  • chicken stock cube dissolved in a mug of boiling water
  • 150 ml plain yoghurt. (I used Greek yoghurt, which was 50p, compared to 75p for plain yoghurt. The latter would have been better though, the tangyness of the Greek yoghurt overpowers the flavours of the other ingredients.)

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After soft-frying the onion with the cumin and simmering the potatoes with the stock for 10 minutes, the idea is to blend everything.

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I don’t have a blender, so mine was more a broth, having mashed the potatoes and finely chopped the onion. My eyes are still stinging.

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Didn’t feel it needed the cumin. Maybe single cream or even milk would work. Very filling with a slice of bread, and the above quantities made enough for three such meals.

Estimated cost of each meal, including cup of tea, bread, butter and electricity used, 51p.