Tag Archives: hob


Just thought I’d share a tip I heard a while ago, and a resultant lightbulb moment.

When chopping vegetables, save the offcuts and peelings in a plastic bag in the freezer for future stock-making. It saves you using fresh new veg just for boiling, and reduces the amount of chopping you have to do. Sure, the compost heap suffers a bit, but as we can’t get into ours anyway I’m willing to take that hit.

Just the other day I used my bag of frozen offcuts and a chicken carcass to make some awesome stock. Now this was good, and I felt thrifty enough, until I suddenly thought hey, I have stock simmering, why not make risotto the way they always tell you to.


I have never seen a recipe suggesting this before. Recipes for risotto often say ‘have a pot of stock simmering’ but no recipe for stock ever says ‘Making stock? Why not use some of it as it’s simmering to make risotto for that evening’s dinner.’ Outrageous.

For each cup of stock I removed, I added one of water back in. Because it was still simmering, it continued to take up flavour from the kitchenkill and so I still had enough left for an entire ice-cube-bag of stock for future use. Not only that, but because the carcass was from a whole chicken I’d jointed myself, there was loads of meat left on it to shred back into the risotto. In fact, there was not a single item of non-waste-food used – the bacon was on its last legs and even the rice was a bag of pudding rice that had been sitting in the back of a cupboard for a year and given one last chance to prove itself useful.

I can’t say I had as much fun the other day, having cold polenta and chilli for breakfast. But the layer of thrifty smugness (and bacon) definitely made it and my day more palatable.

Italian-Style Potato & Bean Soup

Don’t cook the spinach too long or it tastes good but looks like a sort of manky camouflage colour. Ask me how I know.

Italian-Style Potato & Bean Soup
Serves 2-3

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
40g baby new potatoes
3/4 pint vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp dried sage
splash white wine vinegar
150g spinach, defrosted if frozen
1 can red kidney beans, drained

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until softened. Drop in the potatoes, stock, purée, vinegar and sage. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins or until the potatoes are cooked. Add the spinach and kidney beans and warm through. Season well and serve with crusty bread.

Paprika Mushrooms

I love paprika. Absolutely adore the stuff. Back when the folks lived in Cambridge, I would always buy my paprika in 75g bags from the Daily Bread co-op across the road, buying them two at a time because I went through it so quickly. Yum. This recipe is the veggie equivalent of my favourite way of cooking chicken, and is brilliant with a huge jacket potato with loads of butter. I’ve just eaten it and I could have another one right now. Yum.

Incidentally, and this is more a note for me than anything else, they run an online store from the Northampton store… www.ecofair.co.uk. Might have to get me a 500g bag of paprika.

Paprika Mushrooms
Serves 2

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
150g mushrooms, sliced
a splash of vegetable stock
1 tbsp paprika
dash of dried chillies
4tbsp plain yoghurt

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft; add the mushrooms and sauté until they’re just short of how you like them. Add the stock, paprika and chilli, and bubble for a bit. Remove from the heat for a minute or so and stir in the yoghurt (if the pan’s too hot when you put it in, the yoghurt will separate. Doesn’t taste any different but looks a bit icky.). Ta-daa!

Wild Quinoa Pilaf

I wish quinoa didn’t look like quinoa. I mean it tastes good, it’s easy to cook, it’s a nice ingredient to have in the cupboard. It just looks grim, more like stuff you’d find embedded in a chalky cliff than something edible. Cooked – well, I’m not going to say what I think it looks like cooked for fear of putting everyone else off it. Ick.

Anyway, here’s how to cook it to make it look a bit better than it does on its own.

Wild Quinoa Pilaf
Serves 2, probably.

1/3 cup wild rice
1/3 cup quinoa
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
handful of mushrooms, chopped

Cook the rice for however long the packet tells you, but 15 minutes before that time shove the quinoa in. Drain, trying not to fall into the ‘I’m sure quinoa isn’t too small to be drained in this colander. I could use a sieve but it seems a shame when I have a perfectly good colander’ trap – just use the sieve straight off. Trust me.

Meanwhile(ish), sauté your bacon and garlic and onions and mushroom, perhaps adding a dash of chilli flakes, perhaps a light sprinkling of nice earthy herbs. Then mix in the drained grains and either serve as is or stick in the oven a bit to crisp up the top.

OK, so Camargue red rice isn’t that wild. Nor is quinoa… although it was organic and about two years past its use-by date so it’s about as wild as it’s ever going to get without starting to move.

Courgette & Cumin Soup

I’m achingly close to finishing the scarf. Four more rows of the main pattern and then 8 of ribbing. This is a good thing, as it has been becoming increasingly more obvious to me that my knitting method is completely and utterly wrong. Sure, it all comes out as knitting in the end, but I don’t think my backwards-one-hand-contorted-style that I developed age 8 and have never bothered to sort out will stand up to projects any more demanding than a scarf. And since eBay has just made me buy a set of circular needles, I may as well do them some justice by using them properly.

Apart from that, I have a cold. So soup was inevitable.

Courgette & Cumin Soup
Serves 1 sniffly female

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 courgette, sliced
couple of potatoes, diced
1 green chilli, diced
300ml vegetable stock

Sauté onion, garlic & cumin in a little oil until soft. Shove everything else in, cover and simmer 15 mins. I had mine chunky but you could zuzz it if you so wished (and if you want to drink icky green goo, I don’t think the colour’d be quite right). I left a good number of chilli seeds in there, in the hopes of burning out the little bastard cold germs with which I am riddled. I don’t think I left enough in, so I’m hoping the the garlic will follow it up with a delayed reaction.

I’m a firm believer in the old adage ‘feed a fever, feed a cold’. It forms part of my general guidelines for life:

Ill? Sad? Angry? Confused? Drink through it!
If you can’t drink through it, eat through it.
If you can’t eat through it, sleep through it.

After that point the emergency services should probably be called. Such a serious situation should be left to the professionals.

Pepper & Fish Stew

This is just something I made after spotting a similar recipe in a recent delicious.

Pepper & Fish Stew
Serves 2

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 green chilli, de-seeded & finely chopped
250ml water
1 tbsp soy sauce
splash lager
v small splash white wine vinegar
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
212g tin pink salmon, drained & broken into chunks
handful cooked prawns, if you have any lying around

Dead easy this, as usual. Sweat the garlic, onion, pepper & chilli in a little oil until softened. Add the liquids and simmer a few mins. Add the tomatoes & seafood and warm through. Season with pepper and a sprinkling of basil and serve with crusty bread.

Y’know, I surprise even myself when stuff comes out this well this easily. Don’t stir too much after adding the salmon or it’ll end up soupy. You could perhaps grill up some salmon separately and serve it on the top of the pepper stew. Only if you’ve got the grill on already, of course. Think energy savings.

Pepper & Fish Stew

On another note, I also surprise myself with my inability to hold the camera steady while taking a picture. Quivering in anticipation of the coming meal, I suppose.

Mexican Potato Soup (kinda)

Just a collection of ingredients from fridge and cupboard, made to soothe a stupidly long-lasting headache.

Mexican Potato Soup
Makes about two gigantic mugs (as pictured) or about 6 cups.

1 baking potato, peeled & diced
1/3 of a butternut squash, chopped
1/2 cup sweetcorn
veggie stock
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
about a pint of milk

So. Stick everything but the milk in a saucepan and simmer til done. Zuzz up in a blender with the milk. Sprinkle with pepper and fresh coriander and serve.

Use less stock for thicker soup, use more milk for a richer soup – hell, you could always experiment with cream. I know it’s not really Mexican without red bell pepper or onion but I have no peppers and I completely forgot about onion til just now. Curses.

Chicken & Mango Stir-Fry

Well, cheers to Pete Ashton. Not content with watching my Gig Slut blog and thereby forcing me to make a proper concerted effort with that, he’s now seen this one. In his link to me, he wonders where I find the time. Well, now I’m going to have to find even more of it, aren’t I?

Pete, you’re a cruel man.

Anyway this recipe was something that occurred to me as I was desperately trying to relieve the utter tedium of compiling the gig listings for t’other blog. Just a simple lil thing but it was pretty nice, so I’ll put it here to sate the blogosphere.

Chicken & Mango Stir-Fry
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
half a tin of sliced mango, cut into bite-size pieces
juice of 1 lime
dash of cinnamon
dash of chilli flakes
splash of beer

Ok. Fry up the chicken in a little oil (I used leftover bacon grease because I’m grebby like that. Shame to waste bacon bits though). When just sealed, add the onions and fry until translucent. Chuck everything else in and cook until warmed through/reduced/whatever.

Erm… that’s about it. I had mine with salad and tortilla chips, but it’d probably be good with rice or noodles. I just don’t know. Maybe some fresh coriander. The beer was because I had some open and thought it needed to be a bit wetter. Oh and the chilli flakes… I got a bag of those East End Foods chilli flakes and they’re bloody lovely. I have to keep going to the bag just to sniff them, they smell really sweet and delicious. *drools*. Oh and they blow your head off too. 49p from a co-op in Harborne. Chilli oil beckons.

Sorry for lack of picture… I ated it too fast. 🙂

Hot Mushroom Soup

Just a quickie rustled up from leftovers in the fridge.

Hot Mushroom Soup
Serves 2

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125g mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup rice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
veggie stock*
good dash cayenne pepper
dash white wine vinegar

Soften the onion & garlic in a little oil until translucent. Sauté the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then shove in the remaining ingredients (to taste, etc). Simmer for about 15 minutes. Er. That’s it. You could use noodles instead of the rice… and actually, I tarted it up by whisking an egg and then dropping it by spoonfuls into the soup. Looked like shite (hence no picture) but tasted pretty good.

*when it comes to amounts for the stock, just use as much as looks right. Put in enough to cover everything by a couple of inches. If you like your soup thicker, go find a different recipe. 🙂