For those of you who only pop by here for the Austerity Bites series, I am delighted to tell you that Austerity Bites has a new home.
While I initially thought I’d only blog about food and cooking for six days, I found I enjoy it so much, I really want to continue. From now on, my recipes and musings on food can be found at http://www.austeritybitesblog.wordpress.com
I posted my recipes this past week pretty much as I cook them, so I thought I’d add a few words here about things that go on in my kitchen that I didn’t address properly/at all in the recipes I posted.
First, a word on… salt: At the moment, I’m using Pink Himalayan Salt – because it’s pretty (!) and because it’s inexpensive – but otherwise I use Maldron Sea Salt. That table salt stuff I buy to use for cleaning and for salting certain ‘squashy’ vegetables – courgettes, aubergines etc.
We need salt. We don’t need lots. The pink salt I use is very ‘salty’, so a pinch is enough. Otherwise, the average adult needs about 1.5g of sodium per day, and we all need more in the heat (when we’re perspiring more than usual).
Himalayan Pink Salt
A word on…..portions: I’m a big fan of cooking once to eat twice. The recipes I used last week allowed us to do just that – and even have some left for sharing/freezing. Few things were finished. The exception being the masoor (red) lentil dish on Day 6. You could easily halve the ingredients I listed and feed an adult and 2 kids with moderate appetites.
A word on…..utensils: We don’t use non-stick utensils in our house. For years, we kept pet birds. Teflon is not kind to little birds (in fact, it kills them) and Kashmira reasoned that if it’s not good for them, it can’t be much good for us, either. In order to ensure things don’t stick, I don’t increase the amount of fat I use – I just cook a little more slowly, and add a bit of water if I need to.
A word on…..chilli: I don’t use buckets of chilli. I think that the purpose of chilli – and other spices – is to add flavour to dishes, not mask the flavours of the food you’re cooking. Being able to eat really hot food is not a sign that you are ‘hard’, ‘tough’, or ‘cool’. It means you need to find a new hobby. And possibly that you’re lacking in zinc.
A mixture of dried and fresh chillies.
Finally, a word on…..spices: Spices are wonderful to add something special to your food. Don’t be too heavy-handed, though. While a little is good, more is not necessarily better. Again, you want the taste of the spices to enhance the taste of your cooking, not overwhelm it.
When it comes to buying spices, don’t forget that they are far more expensive in supermarkets than in Asian stores. In Asian stores, however, they can often come in larger quantities than you’d like. If you don’t use spices a lot in your cooking, why don’t you consider buying with a friend or two (or three)? For about a fiver each, you could buy a bag of each of the basics and divide them up between you. That way, you can each get ‘starter’ packs of all the basics for way less than you’d get them in a shop with a well-recognised name.
Peel the garlic (this is the only time I’m not heavy-handed with garlic; because it’s not cooked, the flavour really can overpower the dip).
Juice the lemon.
Pop all the ingredients into a bowl (again, I find 1kg yogurt pots excellent for this purpose) and blend with a stick blender, adding the water as needed until you have a smooth – but not runny – mixture.
Paprika is generally used in hummus, but I substituted ras-el-hanout because I happen to like it. A dash of chilli pepper will give a slightly spicier hummus if that’s your thing.
400g Tin of Tomatoes
60g Dessicated Coconut (unsweetened)
2 Teaspoons of Garlic-Ginger Paste
8 Whole Cloves
8 Whole Peppercorns
6 Dry Red Chillies
1 Teaspoon of Poppy Seeds
1 Teaspoon of Fennel Seeds
4 Tablespoons of Oil
1/2 Turmeric Powder
Salt to Taste
If you’re using eggs, hard boil one for each diner. Maybe you know this already, but a few years ago, I realised that boiling eggs works best if you start with cold water. (Even if you don’t keep your eggs in the fridge, boiling water can shock them into cracking. Using cold water means the water and the eggs rise in temperature at the same time) When the water comes to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave them for ten minutes. When they are done, take them off the heat and drain them. When they are cool (covering them in more cold water can speed the process up), peel and halve them.
While the recipe calls for 2 onions, I only used one because I only have two left, and I want the other for tomorrow’s dhal.
With regard to the oil, we are down to a dribble, so I used 3 tablespoons of mustard oil instead. It gave a lovely sharp taste to the mixture.
I had two green bell peppers, so I added them to the pot as well.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and add the cloves, peppercorns, chillies, poppy seeds and fennel seeds. Sauté the mixture until the spices yield their fragrance.
Add the onion until it’s softening then turn the heat down and add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry until the vegetables are browned, but not burnt. Garlic burns really easily, so you’ll need to stir the mixture continuously.
Add the coconut and continue frying until it browns.
Add the tomatoes and continue frying for about five minutes.
Grind this mixture to a paste – adding in a little water if you need to.
Prepare the peppers – top and tail, then quarter and cut out the white membrane – and cut into chunks. Sear them in the wok/frying pan and then leave them to one side.
Transfer the paste back into the pan and add the salt and turmeric and a splash of water (if needed) to make your desired consistency.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes and add the peppers, after another 5 mintues, add the kidney beans.
Vegetable for shallow frying (I’ve little oil left, so used ghee)
1 large aubergine
4 green cardamom pods, bruised
1/2 tsp fennel powder
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp dried ginger powder
Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
300g natural yoghurt
I salt aubergine before I use it (unless I’m roasting it). This is seen by some as ‘old-fashioned’, but I find that it removes excess moisture and ensures that the vegetable crisps up nicely when fried, and doesn’t go ‘spongy’ when you cook it any other way. Often, people who don’t like aubergine find the texture objectionable, not the taste. Anyway – to salt the aubergine, top and tail it, cut it into discs and pop the disks into put it in a plastic sieve or colander (metal, salt and water not being the best combination). Shake a generous amount of salt over the eggplant (you can use cheap salt like Saxa for this job!). Leave it to drain over a bowl or in the sink for about half an hour. Then (and I know this seems counter-intuitive) rinse the salt off under running water and gently squeeze the discs against the sides of the sieve to get all the water out. If you like, you can pat the discs dry in kitchen paper or a tea towel.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan until it is very hot.
Fry the aubergine on both sides until it’s golden brown in colour.
Drain on kitchen paper and keep to one side.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of oil.
Drop the cardamoms, spice powders and asafoetida into the oil.
Add the yoghurt immediately.
Season with salt and heat through, stirring constantly, until the gravy is heated through.
Add the fried aubergine and serve immediately. If you have coriander, it’s nice to garnish the dish – I’ve none the moment, but we survived. 🙂
There are two types of urid dhal. One is whole urid – which is black – and the other is split urid – which is white. For this recipe, I used the split urid, which doesn’t need much soaking.
1.2 Litres of Water
150g Urid Dhal
1 Teaspoon of Ginger
2 Green Chillies
1 Teaspoon of Cumin Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
Pinch of Garam Masala
Squeze of lemon juice (I’ve loads of lemons – they were on special 2 weeks ago!)
1/2 Tin of Tomatoes (I still had half a tin in the fridge from Day 2)
Wash the urid dhal – put it in a sieve and run cold water over it until the water runs clear.
Put the lentils in a pot with enough water to cover them and soak for about 15 minutes.
Change the water on the lentils and bring to the boil.
Simmer the lentils until they are soft, but not mushy – 30-40 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the masala.
Peel and chop the onion.
Cut the chillies into small pieces (I use a scissors).
Bash the ginger with a pestle in a mortar. If you don’t have those, bashing it on a chopping board with a rolling pin or wooden spoon works just fine.
When the dhal is nearly cooked, start the masala.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the cloves, bay leaves and cumin seeds.
When they start to splutter, add the onion and ginger and green chillies.
Fry for a few minutes then add the dhal, lemon juice and tomatoes. Stir gently over a medium heat for about 3 minutes.
Add in the garam masala and serve immediately.
I’m not sure I should post this seeing as I didn’t get it right, but I will anyway! 🙂
300g Plain Flour
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
150 mls Hot Milk
120 mls Hot Water
2 Teaspoons of Nigella (Onion) Seeds
Take the racks out of your oven and cover them with tin foil.
Turn the oven on to maximum.
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
Mix the baking powder into the hot milk and leave it for about a minute. When a few bubbles pop up on the surface of the milk, add it to the flour and mix well.
Knead the mixture, adding the water to make a soft dough. Keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Keep it covered, in a warm place, for 3-4 hours, until it rises.
Divide the dough into 6-8 balls. Shape them into oblongs and pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes. The bread is done when it rises slightly and brown spots appear.
Add the carrots, orange juice and water (or stock) and bring to the boil.
Simmer for ten minutes, until the carrots are al dente.
Blend the whole thing and serve. We had it with rice because there isn’t much bread left and because we tend to eat soup with rice.
3 Medium-sized tomatoes (I used canned because we have no fresh)
2 Green Chillies
5 Cloves of Garlic
1.5 Tablespoons oil (I used ghee – stop laughing down the back!)
1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
1 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Chilli Powder
Pinch Turmeric Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
250g Mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms)
Salt to taste
3 Tablespoons of Natural or Greek Yogurt
Halve (or quarter, depending on size) the mushrooms.
Peel and quarter the onion and blend it with the tomatoes, chillies, ginger and garlic.
Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the blended mixture and spice powders.
Stir – being careful not to let the masala stick or burn – until the oil begins to separate from the rest of the mixture.
Add the mushrooms and stir gently.
Season with salt and add a splash of warm water.
Cook for about ten minutes until the fungi are soft but not pulpy.
Take off the heat and stir in the yogurt.
450g Atta Flour (plain flour is fine)
2 Teaspoons of Melted Ghee (or oil)
We love chapatis and they are quick and easy to make. I have friends in India who pride themselves on how perfectly round their chapatis are. I don’t get it – I think they taste the same no matter what shape they are. 🙂
Mix the ghee (or oil) into the flour and slowly add enough warm water to make a soft dough. (The amount of water you’ll need depends on the type of flour you’re using and how hard or soft your water is – so apologies for being vague!)
Now comes the fun bit – knead the dough for about 10 minutes. I know this sounds like a long time, but I normally only knead it for about 5 minutes. Last night, however, I lost the run of myself and kneaded it for at least 10 (could have been 15). The result? The best chapatis I’ve ever made.
You need a flat pan to cook these on. I’m lucky – I have a purpose-built tawa that I got in India which does the job perfectly.
Separate your dough into between 12 and 15 lime-sized balls. Dust them with flour and then roll them out until they’re quite flat.
Dry fry these on your flat pan.
When they bubble/puff up, turn them over and use a clean tea-towel to gently press them down. Each one only takes about 3 minutes to cook.
Keep the chapatis warm in tinfoil and serve straight away. If you’re keeping them for later, re-heat quickly on the stove or in the microwave if you have one.
There are many ways to cook lentils. This recipe is for a Red Lentil Curry
200g Red Lentils
2 Teaspoons of Oil
3 Teaspoons of Curry Paste
2 Teaspoons of Curry Powder*
1 Teaspoon of Ground Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder
Pinch of salt
3 Teaspoons of Ginger Garlic Paste**
200g Tomato Paste
Tip the lentils into a sieve and rinse them under cold running water, until the water runs clear, otherwise the lentils will get scummy).
Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high temperature.
Turn the heat down and simmer the lentils until they are soft but not mushy – about 40 minutes.
Combine the curry paste, all the spice powders (including the curry powder) and salt in a bowl.
While the lentils are cooking, caramelise the onions.
Add the spice paste and poweders to the onions and cook over a high heat for about 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and reduce the heat. Allow the curry base to simmer away while the lentils finish cooking.
There should be little or no water left on the dhal when it’s finished cooking. If they are very watery, drain (most of) the water off – you don’t want the curry to be sloppy.
Tip the lentils into the curry sauce and mix well.
Serve with chopped coriander, if you have any.
*I make my own curry powder. It’s easy and cheap if you already have the spice powders
3 Tablespoons of Coriander
2 Tablespoon of Turmeric
1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon of Chilli Powder
1 TAblespoon of Fenugreek
2 Teaspoons of Amchoor (mango powder)
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cloves
1 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cardamom
Mix all the above together and store in an airtight container.
** Ginger garlic paste can be bought in any Asian shop, and in some supermarkets, but it’s easy to make your own. Just take equal amounts of ginger and garlic and pound them together in a mortar and pestle.
Holding your hand over a bowl to catch all the juice, peel the grapefruit and pop the segments out of the pith.
Peel the avocado and cut it in strips off the stone.
Chop in the spring onions and chilli.
Add the ginger, sprinkle salt and pepper over the fruit and drizzle the oil over the salad.
Honey & Garlic Roasted Tomatoes *
500g Cherry Tomatoes
5 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Honey
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 180.
Cut the tomatoes and put them in an ovenproof dish, cut side up. They should be slightly squished in the dish, with little or no space between them.
Pound the garlic before adding the salt and pepper. Beat in the honey and olive oil. Spoon this lovely, icky-sticky mixture over the tomatoes. Don’t panic if you think there’s not going to be enough – there will be just enough to cover the fruit. Roast them for about 30 minutes until they are soft and juicy. When you’ve finished eating the tomatoes, the oil and juices will be perfect for mopping up with bread.
Courgette & Mozzarella in Garlic Lemon Oil *
5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, slivered
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Ball of Mozzarella
Salt & Pepper
Trim the courgettes. Then, using a vegetable peeler, slice them thinly. Put the slices in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Mix them up with your implement of choice (I used my hands) to ensure the strips are all oiled.
Heat a large frying-pan over a fairly high heat and sear the courgette (you may need to do this in batches). Transfer to a dish and take the pan off the heat.
Add the rest of the oil, the garlic and lemon zest to the pan. Heat gently for a few minutes. Pour the infused oil over the courgettes and season. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, the Mozzarella and a few fresh mint leaves if you have them.
Toss together and leave to stand, at room temperature, for about an hour before serving.
Dry Roasted Chickpeas With Lemon Juice & Panch Phoran
1 Can of Chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
2 Teaspoons of Panch Phoran
Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas.
Pop them in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the lemon juice and panch phoran over them.
Stick them in the oven (which is already pre-heated to 180 for the tomatoes) and roast them for about half an hour.
Patatas Bravas *
1kg New Potatoes
5 Tablespoons of Oil
For the Tomato Sauce:
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 Garlic Cloves
400g Tin of Tomatoes
2 Teaspoons of Ras El Hanout or paprika
1 Teaspoon Jaggery or Brown Sugar
Sea Salt & Pepper to Taste
Make the sauce first. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli. Cook, stirring, for a minute
Add the tin of tomatoes, ras el hanout, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
Put the spuds in a large pot, cover with cold water, add salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are nearly done, but before they start to fall apart, drain them and tip them onto a clean tea-towel to absorb excess moisture before frying them.
I melted 5 teaspoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan, and sautéd them for about 15 minutes, until they were lovely and crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.
Drain the potatoes on some kitchen paper and tip them into a bowl. Pour the sauce over them and serve warm.
Spiced Molasses Cake
The oven was on for the tomatoes and the chickpeas, so I thought I’d make a cake. The molasses in this cake ups the nutritional value, so it nearly counts as healthy.
2 Tablespoons of Butter (Softened)
50g Dark Brown Sugar
150g Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
120mls Hot Water
Grease a loaf tin or 9″ cake pan.
Beat the butter and the sugar.
Add in the egg.
Stir in the molasses.
Sift the flour, baking soda and spices into a large bowl.
Add the egg and molsses mix and the water.
Stir the whole mixture together and pour the batter into the greased tin.
Put it in the oven (pre-heated for the tomatoes!) for about half an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.
* These recipes were adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg every day!
I went grocery shopping shortly after I’d published my last post. Before leaving the house, though, I warned my daughters that there probably wouldn’t be any chocolate this week. My eldest ran upstairs and returned with the contents of her purse for me.
“I don’t want to take your money!” I told her.
“I don’t need it for anything right now,” she replied. “And now you can get some chocolate. And maybe some ice-cream?”
The forecast was for weather in the mid-twenties for the next few days. Definitely ice-cream weather.
As I added her money to mine, I discovered another €2.70 in my own wallet, bringing the grand total at my disposal to €37.96.
Putting my mental maths to the test, I went to the first supermarket and spent €19.72. In the second, I spent another €14.89 before stopping in the last place for chickpeas and ice-cream; a total spend of €37.84.
For breakfast, I had coffee and the girls had cereal. Lunch was pasta and fresh pesto (which was already in the fridge).
At 4pm, the girls had a bowl of ice-cream and some frozen berries each. I tried to soothe my coffee-craving with various types of teas and infusions.
Dinner was a mezze of sorts: I made a grapefruit and avacado salad, honey and garlic roasted cherry tomatoes, courgette & mozarella in garlic lemon oil, dry-roasted chickpeas with lemon & panch phoran and patatas bravas. Pudding was spiced molasses cake.
I’ll post up the recipes next in case you want to recreate the veggie-fest.