Saturday, 23 April 2011

Peanut Butter Jelly Bread

I am going for a trip to the States over the Easter break, so to mark the occasion I decided to make something for the charity bake sale at work. I happened to have Linda Larsen's Everything Meals on a Budget Cookbook handy, so I decided to leaf through it to find something cost-effective to make and yet distinctly American.

Sure enough, there was something which fit the bill. The book had a recipe for peanut butter bread, described as a good and cheap source of protein and carbohydrayes, lending itself to a cost-effective breakfast. To make things even more American, I made use of the Basics strawberry jam I had remaining in the fridge as the jelly part of today's post; what they refer to as "jelly" is actually fruit preserve without seeds. I made a few tweaks to the recipe to simplify the ingredidnts list. I started with a jar of Basics peanut butter, combined with brown sugar (250g, though I used half of that), and three eggs.

In another bowl, combine about 500g Basics plain flour with bicarbonate of soda and half a teaspoon of salt. Mix this into the peanut butter mixture alternately with 250ml of milk.

Pour the resulting mixture into a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Dribble Basics strawberry jam onto surface, and use a knife to work through it, creating a marble effect.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until you can dip a toothpick in and out of it cleanly.

The initial impression left on the bake sale organisers was very good: I suppose it was due to the visual appeal of the final product. A colleague of mine also had the chance to try it, and while the taste wasn't memorable due to my messing up the proportions, at least she didn't fall ill.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Courgette Rice with Feta & Olives

While searching for ways to use up my courgettes, I came across the BBC Good Food magazine. I tend to associate it with the well-heeled, having found it prominently in Waitrose and the like. They had a recipe that got my attention, since it only needed ingredients that the Sainsbury's Basics range can cover adequately.

The recipe calls for Feta Cheese though, something available only in the form of Greek-style Salad Cheese. PDO labelling regulations stipulate that real Feta cheese has to be made in Greece using at least a mixture of sheep's and goat's milk. As cow's milk is cheaper, the Sainsbury's Basics Greek-style Salad Cheese is not entitled to the shorter label enjoyed by its more upmarket cousins.

It's not going to stop me from enjoying this though.

So roughly chop up the courgette and finely chop some onion. Put the cheese into a bowl of Basics sliced olives and some Basics herb mix. In the meantime, soften the onion in a pan, before adding the courgettes. When the courgettes are slightly brown, add Basics long grain rice and stir until the rice is well coated in oil.

Prepare some vegetable stock from Basics stock cubes, about 1 litre to 250g of rice. Stir in a small amount of stock into the rice until completely absorbed. Repeat this until all the stock has been used. Simmer until rice is tender. Combine with the feta-olive preparation and serve.

This was pretty simple to whip up. The only drawback is the time spent waiting for the rice to cook in the wok. The cheese tasted like most feta cheese I have come across, so no complaints there. Considering how cheap it is, I wouldn't mind exploring other recipes involving feta.

[Special thanks to my flatmate who kindly provided photography for today's blog post.]

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Courgettes£1.641kg+£0.11 for 500gNone. Buy loose for £1.80/kg.
Greek Style Salad Cheese£0.77200g+£0.72Proper feta, from sheep's and goat's milk.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Salmon and Courgette Pasta

In the time that I have been running this little corner of the Internet I have been recommended by at least two blogs. I was browsing through one of them, Dulwich Munchies, one evening, for inspiration, during one of those times that I needed ideas. From what I can see, she also lives near a Sainsbury's and tries the recipes they publish on a regular basis. One in particular caught my eye - Salmon and Courgette Pasta .

I have not been eating very well for the past two weeks, and so I figured this would be an opportunity for me to start including vegetables in my diet again by trying a version of this made exclusively from Sainsbury's Basics items. £1.64 would buy you 3 oddly-shaped courgettes totalling 1kg in weight. That should be good for about six meals. Squ1rr3l, the author of Dulwich Munchies, followed the Sainsbury's recipe more or less to the letter, but I made two modifications. I skipped the creme fraiche as I prefer a lighter pasta, and I avoided boiling the courgette, as advised by the BBC Good Food guide, which suggested light sauteing to preserve flavour.

While the pasta is boiling in a pan, slice the courgette into thin slices and saute with oil, adding a little water halfway through.

Once that is done, toss everything together, including the salmon trimmings and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Basics black pepper.

This is by far the easiest recipe I've ever done on this blog, kudos to Sainsbury's and their Try Team for coming up with the recipe. The flavours also blend well together, the tanginess of the lemon, the saltiness of the salmon and the bite of the black pepper all contrasting against each other. The addition of creme fraiche would probably have smoothed things over, but I think you can make do without it.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Courgettes£1.641kg+£0.11 for 500gNone. Buy loose for £1.80/kg.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Strawberry Lamb Roast

I have a jar of Basics strawberry jam that has been sitting in the fridge for quite some time and have been looking for a way to get rid of it. A few weeks ago my friend actually suggested strawberry lamb. I recoiled in horror until she revealed that she has already tried it herself, putting roast lamb with jam and other condiments in sandwiches. The more I thought about it, and the more I researched on the Internet, the more it sounded like a nice idea. 

I have come across recipes involving the combination of mint, strawberries and pepper in various permutations, and while not personally keen on the idea, have heard people rave about it. Effectively, you combine that with the ingredients for a spritzer (see above), and use it as a lamb marinade. This sounded like a great adventure. I get to try new tastes, and I also get to muck around with alcohol-based marinades. Other than a chance for a decent meal, I don't have much to lose..

The lamb has to be prepared 24 hours in advance, to allow for time to marinade. Begin by slicing onions and lemons and adding to a bowl.

Add the lamb, and about two and a half tablespoons of strawberry jam. Season with Basics pepper, and Sainsbury's Mint, or Sainsbury's Basics Mint sauce.

Add a glass of Basics rose wine, and marinate for 24 hours. Place on aluminium foil and roast in oven for 2.5 hours at 180 degrees Celsius.

While the lamb is in the oven, reduce the leftover marinate by about half. Take the lamb out of the oven, cover with the reduction, and return it, leaving it there for the remaining time.

While the lamb tasted good, I think the strawberry marinade did not manage to permeate beyond the surface of the roast. In addition, the roast was very fatty; I can see why not everybody sees this as a good cut of meat. Still, it's very cheap - even cheaper if sourced from a local butcher - so if I can find an open roasting spit or something or other that would allow the fat to drip away that would be great. An open fire could even plausibly be fed by the melting fat to sustain itself.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Rosé Wine£2.85750ml+£variableMany
Lemons£0.874+£0.63 for 5More consistently sized lemons
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