Cheap and Cheerful Recipes
Now the colder weather is coming and we turn to thoughts of comfort food, but it should be food that is both nourishing, warming and cheap! My favourite recipes use ingredients that are in season and are quick and easy to prepare and I have found that a good hearty soup fits the bill perfectly. The following soup is delicious when served with warm soda bread which can be baking while the soup is being prepared.
Heat the oven to 200C.Into a mixing bowl sieve 12oz of strong brown flour,4 oz of white flour, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the middle and add approximately 550 mml of buttermilk, mix quickly to combine the ingredients and shape into a ball, turn on to a greased baking sheet and pat it down until it is a circle roughly 6-7 inches across. With a sharp knife score a deep cross on the surface and put it in the middle of the oven to bake for approximately 30 minutes. To check whether it is baked turn it upside down and tap the base with your fingers. If it sounds hollow it is done!. Speed in mixing is the essence of making soda bread , it does not want kneading as with yeast bread, for as soon as the bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk combine they start working. Soda bread is quick and easy to make and very tasty. When the bread is baked, wrap it in a clean cloth to keep the crust softer and let it cool.
For the soup dice 1lb onions, 1lb carrots, 2 lbs potatoes and 1 small green pepper. Melt 1oz of butter in a pan and fry the diced vegeatbles until soft. Add 1/2 pint of water , 2oz lentils, salt, pepper and a bay leaf and boil them simmer for 30 minutes . Mix 1- 2 oz of flour with 3/4 pint of milk and blend into the soup. Stir until thickened. Grate 4oz of cheddar cheese. Stir in 3oz and sprinkle the rest on to the individual bowls when serving. Cut the soda bread into thick slices and serve with the soup - a very filling dish.
For the meat lovers, this pie is a variation on the traditional meat and potato pie or shepherds pie as it does not contain potatoes. Of course it may be served with potatoes but it is not necessary.Put 1lb lean minced beef into a pan over a medium heat and cook in its own fat until it browns a little. Add 1 medium chopped onion and cook for 2minutes. Add1/2 pint of beef stock and a good dash of worcester sauce, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Into a bowl put 8ozs of self raising flour, 1 oz cornflour and 3oz of shredded beef suet and gradually stir in 1/2 pint of fresh milk to make a thick batter. Season well. Put the meat into a pie dish and cover with the batter mixture. Bake at 180C for 30-35 minutes until well risen and browned. If you have any leftover mashed potato you can make potato scones as they will bake in the same oven. For these take 8oz of self raising flour, 1 level teaspoon of salt, siieve them together and then rub in 4oz of butter to make a crumbly mixture. Add 4 fl. oz of milk and 8oz of warmed mashed potato and knead with your hands until you have a soft dough. Roll it out into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife divide into 6 triangles without cutting all the way through. Bake in the oven with the pie and they should both be ready at the same time. Potato scones can be eaten hot or cold and are a good way of using up leftover mashed potato.
None of the above recipes are difficult or use expensive, out of season ingredients but I can assure you that they are very comforting on a cold winter day!