Am I the only one, or does anybody else out there have a severe case of credit crunch fatigue? At first I was calm when the HBOS furore began this week. Then it dawned on me our mortgage is with Halifax, part of HBOS, and I felt a bit panicky – even though the sensible part of me knew it was unlikely to affect us much. If it went bust then the administrators would then hold our loans and the mortgage book would be sold to another institution. But with the endless hysterical news coverage, it’s difficult not to get caught up in it. The fear is contagious. My neighbour approached me the other day asking if I thought their money was safe in the bank. And a relative rang asking if they should split their savings between different banks in case one goes bust. People are obviously concerned.
However, I have to say I am now filled to the brim with credit crunch boredom. After the news last night and then 45 minutes of nothing else but the banking crisis on the radio this morning, I’ve had my fill. It’s time to turn our attentions to something positive or we will all go potty. And the obvious thing that springs to mind is grub. Many of us – me included – eat more when we’re stressed. And in anticipation I’ve been busy buying The Sun this week to collect my Jamie Oliver vouchers. Mr Oliver has a new book coming out called Jamie’s Ministry of Food, which is aimed at teaching even the diehard kitchen-phobics among us how to cook, and if you save up the vouchers you can get his dvds of tasty recipes.
So in the spirit of Mr Oliver’s crusade, I’ve been digging out my favourite tasty recipes that won’t break the bank. Here are a selection, and please feel free to tell me about yours as I’m feeling very hungry now!
Tasty Sicilian tomato pasta (adapted from Cook Organic by Gilli Davies). Ingredients: Pasta for two, 2-3 garlic cloves, olive oil, good quality tinned chopped tomatoes (one with herbs or olives is great in this), balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt & pepper. Add any extra veg you fancy. Feeds two people.
Cut up the garlic cloves into small slices, fry gently in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until light brown. Put the pasta on to cook in a separate pan of boiling water. Then add any extra veg you want to the sauce, although it doesn’t need it – courgettes, onions or peppers are nice – and fry for a few minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and heat through. Just before you serve it up add some herbs (fresh thyme is good) and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and stir in. Serve the sauce on the pasta with some grated parmesan/cheddar cheese and lots of black pepper.
Toad in the hole (adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe)Ingredients: sunflower oil, two eggs, 2-3 sausages each (depends how piggy you want to be!), ¼ pint milk, 55g plain flour, salt & pepper. Fresh rosemary if you have it. Feeds two people.
Put the oven on high – 230degrees Celsius/ gas mark 8. Get a baking dish – we tend to use two small metal loaf tins as it cooks better this way, but you can use a lasagne dish – fill it approx. 1cm height with sunflower or vegetable oil, and when the oven is hot, put it in to warm up. When the oil is nice and hot, put in your sausages. When they’re brown on one side, turn them over. Meanwhile make the batter – put the flour in a bowl, add the eggs and then the milk gradually, whisking. Add some salt and pepper. When the sausages are light brown on both sides, pour in the batter and add the sprigs of rosemary on top. Cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t keep opening it to check or the batter won’t rise! This is great with onion gravy. I could tell you my Dad’s gravy recipe but then I’d have to kill you! Serve with gravy and peas or French beans.
Chilli vegetable cobbler (various/Country Cooking edited by Valerie Ferguson). Ingredients: oil, 1 tin of tinned tomatoes, roughly 180-200g whatever veg you have in: potatoes, carrots, parsnip, swede, celery, peppers, leeks, celeriac is nice in this, aubergine etc., chilli or kidney beans, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, ½ pint vegetable stock, 1 garlic clove, 1 onion, herbs, black pepper & salt, 2 teaspoons flour.
For cobbler – 60g butter, 112g self-raising flour, 60g cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon chives or herbs, milk. Feeds two people.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or gas mark 4. Heat the oil in a casserole dish on the hob, add garlic and onion and fry for 5 minutes. Then add the chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add all the veg (if you’re using potatoes it’s a good idea to parboil them first) apart from the tinned tomatoes and kidney beans and cook gently for 5 minutes. Then add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Make up the stock and add to the casserole, along with tomato puree and tinned tomatoes, herbs and salt & pepper. Bring to the boil and then stick in the oven (with a lid on) for 30 minutes. While it’s cooking, make the cobbler. (If you’re watching your waistline it’s fine without the cobbler – just serve with couscous or rice). Rub the butter into the flour, add half the cheese and the herbs, then add enough milk to make a dough. Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface until it’s about 1cm thick and then cut into triangles. When the casserole has been cooking for 30 mins, add the kidney or chilli beans, then place the triangles on top and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on them. Cook for another 25 minutes or until light brown.
Egg fried rice (my own)
Ingredients: oil, 150g rice – short grain, basmati – whatever you have in the store cupboard, two beaten eggs, 1 onion, 1 ½ veg or chicken stock cube, leftover veg – a couple of mushrooms, spring onions, chopped up carrot, half red or green pepper, handful peas, handful sweet corn etc. chilli powder or Tabasco (or half a red chilli), plenty of soy sauce. Feeds two people or nice as an accompanying dish.
Cook the rice according to the directions on the packet. While you’re waiting, chop up your veg into small pieces. When the rice is cooked, take a wok or large frying pan and stir fry the onion and vegetables. Then add the rice and a generous helping of soy sauce, the stock cube and chilli powder or Tabasco to taste. Cook through. Then push the rice to one side and add the beaten eggs one at a time. When the eggs are cooked through then mix the egg up into the rice. Serve. (If you don’t have any eggs, it’s still nice without them).
Got a good cheap recipe? Spill the beans and tell me all about it.