A world of fresh delicious thrifty food

Lime Marmalade and Coconut Sponge Cake

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I like to call this my Tropical Victoria Sponge. I made this recipe up and baked it for the first time today. Unfortunately the photo does not do it justice but I would urge you to give it a try as it is delicious, even my husband who doesn’t like coconut, liked this. The fact that you can only see half the cake is testament to its yumminess, as we ate half before I even  got round to photographing it.

Ingredients

For the sponge

150g Unsalted butter – room temperature

150g Caster Sugar

3 Eggs

150g Self Raising Flour + extra for flouring the tins

1.5 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence

Zest 1 lime

1 Tablespoon Desiccated Coconut

For the buttercream

75g Unsalted butter – room temperature

170g Icing sugar + extra for dusting

4 Teaspoons Desiccated Coconut

The Juice of 1 Lime

To fill

3 Tablespoons Lime Marmalade

Method

  • Heat the oven to 180c, Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease two round sponge tins with butter
  • Line the tins with baking paper
  • Flour the tins tipping away any excess flour
  • Place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl
  • Mix until pale and fluffy – I find this is better with an electric whisk
  • Add the vanilla essence
  • Add one egg and a tablespoon of flour
  • Whisk briefly until combined
  • Repeat this process with the other two eggs (always with a tablespoon of flour)
  • Tip in the left over flour, baking powder, lime zest, and desiccated coconut. Whisk well
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes
  • When ready the top should look golden and if you put a cocktail stick in the centre of the cake it will come out dry. If still wet, leave for a few minutes and check again
  • When ready leave to cool on wire racks removing the baking paper from bottom

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  • For the icing, add the icing sugar, lime, butter and desiccated coconut to a bowl
  • Whilst until you have a pale and fluffy butter cream, once again I find this works best with a whisk
  • When sponges have cooled take one cake and turn it over so the browner side is on top, place it on a plate or cake stand (I wish I had remembered to use mine!).
  • Spread it with the lime marmalade
  • Spread the other cake which should be bottom up – pale side on top (like the one in photo above) with the butter cream
  • Carefully place the cake with the buttercream on top of the cake with the lime marmalade and the buttercream are in the middle of the cake and the browner part of the cake is on top
  • Dust the cake with icing sugar using a sieve
  • Cut and enjoy!
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Spicy Chorizo Potato and Egg

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This simple supper is delicious, packed full of flavour and cheap to make. I always have a chorizo ring in the fridge. Although they are expensive in delis and some supermarkets, they are very cheap in places like Morrisons where they are just £2. This makes them very thrifty and a good way to add meat and flavour to dishes without breaking the bank.

Serves two

Do not freeze

Ingredients

2 Potatoes – large

100g Chorizo (the ring type, not the cooking sausage or the slices)

1 tablespoon olive oil + a drizzle

1 Pepper (I use red, but any will do)

1 Onion, red small

1 Teaspoon smoked paprika

1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper

2 Eggs

Method

  • Fill and boil the kettle
  • Peel and cube the potatoes into once inch pieces and place in a saucepan
  • Add the water boiling water to the saucepan, salt the water and bring the potatoes back to the boil
  • Simmer potatoes for about 7 minutes until they are just cooked, but still firm (important not to overcook at this point), then drain into a colander
  • While the potatoes are boiling cut the peppers into thin strips and slice the onion finely too
  • Chop the chorizo into cubes – about 1cm
  • Place chorizo in a non-stick pan and turn on the heat
  • Cook the chorizo, stirring occasionally until you can no longer the see white fat and it has melted into oil within the pan.
  • Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the melted chorizo fat and heat on high
  • Once boiling hot, reduce heat to medium
  • Add cooked potatoes to the fat
  • Whatever you do from this point onwards DO NOT STIR – it will turn the potatoes to mush
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Add the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika
  • Toss the potatoes by giving the pan a good shake, this should distribute the ingredents
  • Cook for 5 minutes, shaking once in-between
  • Add the red onion and pepper, cook for 8 more minutes, once again shaking once or twice in-between
  • By now the potatoes should have browned nicely and the peppers charred slighly
  • Add the chorizo back to the pan and toss
  • It should be starting to look like this

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  • Cook for 5 more minutes tossing once in-between.
  • Whilst you are waiting for the potato/chorizo to cook for the last 5 minutes, heat a drizzle of olive oil in another pan
  • Once the oil is hot, add the eggs and fry until they are just done, but the yolk is still runny
  • Place potatoes and chorizo mix on a plate
  • Place the fried egg on top
  • Enjoy with a crisp green salad

Crispy and Sticky Pepper Tofu

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In case anyone is about to turn their nose up at the thought of tofu, let me tell you that before I tried this dish, inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi, I never really cared for it either. It seemed a bit…well…bland and boring, probably the sort of thing that someone who doesn’t really like food would eat. However, since my good friend introduced me to this recipe, I love tofu – I believe it absorbs flavours far more than meat. This meal is one of the most flavoursome treats you will devour and, in my view, it beats a chinese takeaway anytime. Far cheaper too, so happy days all round.

I have adapted this recipe as, despite being a chilli fan, the original was too hot – even for me. This meal is vegetarian without trying. Replace the butter with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and it can be vegan too.

Some of the ingredients may not be in your store cupboard so I have offered some substitute ideas, however you will get a better result if you use the ingredients listed. I have also adapted the recipe to make it a bit less faffy than the original.

No freezing this dish – Gobble it up straight away

Serves 2

Ingredients

400g Firm tofu

2 x Tablespoons cornflour

Sunflower oil for frying

6 x Shallots or 1 x large onion -peeled

5 x Garlic cloves -peeled

1 x 5cm piece of ginger

1 x Mild red chilli – deseeded

75g x Butter

4 x Teaspoons light soy sauce (if you don’t have it substitute it with 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, mixed with 2 x teaspoons water)

4 x Teaspoons sweet soy sauce (available in oriental supermarkets but could be substituted with 2 x teaspoons honey and 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce)

2 x Teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 x Tablespoon sugar

1/2 x Teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

3 x Spring onions (shredded into strips or chopped finely)

Method

  • First open and drain the tofu. Wrap it in kitchen roll and place it on a clean tea towel. Put a chopping board on top of it. Place some full tins, or anything heavy you have lying around, on the chopping board to weigh it down. This method is called pressing – it makes the tofu firmer and easier to handle. The longer you leave it, the easier the tofu will be to handle. I usually do this a few hours before I plan to make the dish.
  • When you are ready the meal take the shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger and chop very finely. I use my food processor to make this part less time consuming. If you have one, I would recommend you do this too.
  • Heat the butter in a wok or frying pan and add the chopped up veg. Reduce the heat at let this cook for about 15 minutes stirring occassionally until the veg is very soft and translucent.
  • Whilst you are doing this, take another frying pan and tip in the sunflower oil until it is about 1cm in depth. Heat the oil on a high temperature
  • Unwrap the tofu
  • Cut the tofu into one inch cubes and dust in the corn flour
  • When the oil is sizzling hot , turn it down to a medium heat, then add the tofu.
  • Fry for 4 minutes, then turn over – I recommend using tongs for this

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  • Fry for another 4 minutes. The tofu should now be crispy on both sides
  • Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on a plate with kitchen roll
  • Turn the heat off for that frying pan
  • Add the three types of soy sauce and sugar to the transluscent veg mix. Allow the suar to melt and the ingredients to bubble.
  • Next add the pepper and stir well. This dish should not require salt as the soy sauce is salty enough.
  • Next stir in the tofu and heat for a couple of minutes
  • Add the spring onion
  • Serve with rice

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Easy Napoli Salami and Fennel Seed Pizza

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Who doesn’t love pizza? In our house we have it every Friday to mark the beginning of the weekend. I used to buy shop bought pizzas until I started making this brilliant recipe, which gives you all the taste, but at a fraction of the price. Most importantly it is really easy – so easy you don’t even have to hang around waiting for the dough to rise, but you still get pizzeria results. Perfect.

Makes two large pizzas or three medium pizzas

Freezes? Dough freezes well. See freezing section at the end

Ingredients

Base

300g strong bread flour (+ extra for dusting tins)

1 x teaspoon salt (this is essential for the texture of the dough)

1 x teaspoon fast action yeast

1 x tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

200ml Warm water

Topping

100 ml passata

16 x thin slices of Napoli Salami

1 x ball mozzarella

2 x red chillies

2 x teaspoon fennel seeds

1 x pinch coarse black pepper

 

Method

  • Preheat oven to highest temperature
  • Take a baking tray and place it upside down in the oven on a medium to high shelf
  • Take another baking tray and make it non-stick by drizzling with oil. Rub oil in so it is spread evenly across the whole tray. Dust the whole tray with flour tapping away any excess on your clean work surface.
  • Put the flour and yeast in a bowl and make a well
  • Add 200ml of warm water
  • Add the oil and salt
  • Stir until ingredients are well combined
  • Tip the mixture onto the dusted surface
  • Knead for 10 minutes – the dough will feel cold and smooth when it is ready. Dust with extra flour if necessary to stop it sticking.
  • When ready put it back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Take the ball of mozzarella
  • Squeeze out any excess water and pat dry with kitchen roll
  • Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and set aside
  • Slice the chillies into thin slices and set aside
  • Take the dough and cut it in half (or three pieces if you are making medium pizzas)
  • Roll into balls
  • Place each ball onto the flour dusted work surface
  • Take a rolling pin and roll each base into a large circle – the base should be very thin – approximately 4-5mm
  • Place bases onto the floured tins
  • Divide the passata and spread onto the pizza bases with the back of a spoon, leaving 1.5cm round the edges.
  • Divide the torn mozzarella between the bases

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  • Add the salami, chillies, fennel seeds and black pepper
  • Cover with foil being careful to lift it from the pizza so it doesn’t stick to the ingredients
  • Put the pizza in the oven on top of the upside down baking tray, which will be very hot and act as an even surface for the pizza to cook. Cook for 10 minutes
  • Remove the foil and cook for another 5 minutes
  • When the base is cooked the pizza should easily slide of the tray onto your chopping board. Cook for slightly longer if it doesn’t.
  • Cook the other pizza while you are enjoying the first.
  • You can bake both at the same time by putting another turned baking tray onto a different shelf, but you will need to increase cooking times by about 5 minutes.

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Freezing

Make double or four times the amount you need. Roll each portion into balls and wrap in cling film greased with oil (see photo below). Freeze and defrost a few hours before needed.

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Quick Easy (Holy!) Guacamole

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I have a confession. I am addicted to avocados. I spent most of my life disliking the things – now I eat a least three a week. I hear they are fattening, but it is good fat so that is fine by me.

This is my very simple guacamole recipe. I know some people like to add red onion, garlic or sour cream and by all means feel free to do that, however I use guacamole to cut through other strong flavours so I like to keep it fresh, light and zingy.

Enjoy this with my Smokey Bean Chilli recipe, quesadillas, in sandwiches or any other delicious way you can think of

1 Portion – serves 4 as a side dip

Do not freeze.

Keeps in the fridge for about 72 hours

Ingredients

1 x Ripe Avocado – (this will be slightly soft if pressed)

1 x Lime – Zest and juice

1 x Tomato (or 4-5 cherry tomatoes)

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method

  • Slice the avocado in half
  • Remove the stone
  • Get a spoon and scoop out the avocado onto a chopping board
  • Dice into little 1cm cubes
  • Transfer avocado to a bowl
  • Wash and dice the tomatoes into even smaller cubes. If you are using a whole tomato as opposed to cherry tomatoes, remove the jelly from the middle before dicing.
  • Put the tomatoes in the bowl with the avocado
  • Using a fine grater, grate the zest of the lime into the bowl with the avocado and tomato
  • Cut the lime in half, take a fork and squeeze the juice into the bowl with the other ingredients. (If the lime feels hard, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and it will be easier to squeeze)
  • Take a fork and mush all the ingredients in the bowl with a fork until you get a texture similar to the photo.
  • Season to taste

Smokey Three Bean Chilli

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This lovely chilli is the vegan alternative to chilli con carne that has the meat eaters asking for more. It is a delicious smokey  supper and despite being rather healthy, it is satisfying and filling. This is loved by adults and children alike, however if your kids aren’t keen on heat, then add then chilli at the end (if you aren’t keen, just omit it). This portion is more than enough for 6 adults. My family consists of two adults and two children so it makes two meals for us. I freeze half  and indulge a cooking free night another time… I hope you enjoy

Serves 6 adults (or in my case makes two dinners for 2 adults and two children)

Freezes well

Ingredients

1 x onion

3  x carrots

2 x celery sticks

3 x cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of red chilli or one chopped red chilli

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 x bell peppers (I use a mixture of colours)

1 x tin of tomato puree (or 2 x tablespoons)

2  x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

3  x teaspoons of smoked paprika

1 x teaspoon of chipotle paste

1 x 400g kidney beans

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans

1 x 400g tin black eyed beans

125ml glass of red wine

1 x teaspoon of sugar

1 x veggie stock cube

Salt and pepper to taste

3  x cubes of dark chocolate

Method

  • Chop onion, garlic, celery and carrots finely. I use my food processor, but you could grate or just chop as small as possible. The aim with this is to bulk the dish out and give it flavour. Chunky veg is a no.
  • Cut pepper is to 1 inch pieces
  • Heat the oil in a large (preferably non-stick) pan
  • Tip in the onion, celery, carrot and garlic mixture
  • Cook until the vegetables soften, this will take about 15 minutes
  • In the meantime open your tins of tomatoes and beans, drain and rinse the beans
  • When the veg has softened add the peppers to the pan and cook for a couple off minutes
  • Stir in smoked paprika
  • Stir in the tomato puree and, if using, the chipotle paste and cook for a few minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, wine, beans, stock cube and stir well
  • Add the sugar and dark chocolate and stir well
  • Bring to the boil.
  • At this point I either:  transfer to a slow cooker for several hours, transfer to an over proof dish and cook on gas mark 7 for about 90 minutes, cook on the hob on a low hear for 90 minutes.
  • If using the oven or hob method, I stir occasionally
  • The finish result is a thick rich chilli
  • Serve with rice or tortilla chips and cheese
  • I always make my fresh guacamole to accompany this dish but sour cream is great too

The Basics

There are some basics that you should have in your store cupboard/fridge, here is a good starting list:

Olive oil

Sunflower oil

Salt

Sugar

Pepper

Smoked paprika

Ground coriander seed

Plain flour

Vegetable stock cubes or frozen homemade stock

Chicken stock cubes or  frozen homemade stock

Malt vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Cheap bottle of red wine (yes I know everyone says it should be expensive but I think that cheap does the trick and we are on a budget here!)

Butter – unsalted

I also keep the following in my larder at all times. Pesto, Chopped Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Chipotle paste, Harissa Paste, Penne, Spaghetti, Arborio Rice, Cheap White Wine