Sunday, 1 September 2013

Cheap Eats #2

This past week has been a funny one; I've been off work, but I've been really busy. We were also without a fridge freezer for two whole days and the in laws visited (which was great - especially as they took us out for tea!).

Anyhoo... my cheap eats for this week kicked off with another recipe from A Girl Called Jack's blog. Creamy Salmon Pasta With a Chilli Lemon Kick was good, but I made it with potted mackerel (not salmon) and soured cream (not yoghurt). To be honest I did put a bit too much lemon in (and the potted mackerel I bought came with lemon in it, so I didn't really need to add much, if any), but it was good and I was stunned at how I could create a meal out of a 34p jar of potted fish. All in all I think the meal came out at about 65p a portion and I'd do it again, but with a lot less lemon!

Chicken Livers with Mushrooms and Soured Cream was one I'd been wanting to try for a couple of weeks. I'm a real fan of offal; especially as it's so cheap and this recipe really did do the liver proud. Although cooked through, the meat was soft and tender and the nutmeg in the soured cream topping worked very well. I just did half the recipe as I don't think it's one I'd either want to eat cold or reheat. I think it came out at just over a quid a portion and served up with some cabbage, it was a really wholesome tea.

I've started making a lot of lentil 'salads' recently. I just cook up some green lentils with a chopped up carrot and a bay leaf in the water. Then once drained, but whilst still hot, I stir the lentils and the carrot in to a bowl of chopped up herbs, a garlic clove, spring onion, chilli, celery, tomatoes and capers with some lemon juice. The heat of the lentils softens the rest of the veg a little and this week I served it cold with some Stilton for lunch.

I use a lot of fresh herbs (I am only trying to cut back; thankfully I am not in a position where I have to watch every penny I spend) and I always buy them from Castle Market. The bunches of flat leaf parsley from All Seasons are simply huge and enough to keep me going for a couple of weeks. They're about a quid a pop too which makes them so much better value than the stuff at the supermarket. And as I get the whole shebang (from the delicate leaf to the thick, dark stem) I wanted to find a way of making the most of the whole bunch. Sure some of the stem is ok to chop up and use with the leaf in salads etc, but some of it is too thick and actually unpleasant to eat. So, I chopped the thick stems off and blitzed them with a couple of garlic cloves, a chilli, some pumpkin seeds (it was the only nut/seed item I had to hand), seasoning and some oil. Hey presto... Parsley pesto! Stirred into cooked pasta with cheese, this is pretty delicious and I'm quite chuffed with it as I managed to get a decent tub's worth and I've covered it in a layer of oil so that it will keep me going for a while yet.

However, the meal of the week has to go to my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Unsurprisingly, this wasn't a particularly cheap one, but the end results were stunning.and it probably works out at around £1.50 a lunch sized portion (and that's taking into account that I used high quality pork from Moss Valley), which isn't too bad given that it was f**king gorgeous. I served mine with some bread rolls, cheese, mustard and some homemade coleslaw (1/4 finely sliced cabbage, 2 grated carrots, 1 finely sliced onion mixed in with a dollop of mayo, some lemon juice, a minced up garlic clove and a bit of wholegrain mustard). I'm glad to report that it's also good cold and I'll be serving it for lunch with more of the coleslaw and a rice salad (rice, chopped coriander, parsley, tomatoes, spring onions, carrot and celery).

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