Recipe: Chicken & Sausage Pie

This seems like a bit of a strange recipe to write on a student blog, as it seems so expensive – and I must admit the price did make me wince slightly when buying ingredients. But actually it makes a huge amount, and the cost spreads out. Each portion of pie is roughly £1.50, and whilst that’s not the cheapest meal around, its far cheaper than buying a ready meal.

Pies are so fun to make too! There’s so many different stages, but none are complicated (unless you are attempting to make your own pastry, with a cling-film roll instead of a proper rolling pin), and you can tailor the flavours to your own tastes completely. They are perfect for crowds – I made this when it was my turn to cook the house Sunday dinner and it was very well received. Not only did I make enough to feed four hungry girls, I made four individual pies for my freezer too – 2 hours work (and a lot of washing up) but I filled my freezer, relaxed from revision, and generally made a mess in the kitchen. Something I recommend!

2013-11-24 19.16.25And who wouldn’t want a dinner like that?! Served with plenty of mash and veg, this would have actually served at least another person, so I got at minimum nine servings out of this recipe, and I can’t wait to eat some of the ones I have stashed away in the freezer! I originally made a similar recipe from a Times magazine – I no longer have that recipe, so improvised with what was in my cupboard and what I remembered!

Ingredients

2013-11-23 16.16.15

  • Four chicken breast (£7 from Tesco)
  • 6 sausages (I bought 16 for £5, also in Tesco, working out at £1.88)
  • 1 slice of bread, this recipe is perfect for using the ‘end bit no-one wants’ (5p)
  • Two regular onions (40p)
  • A large knob of butter (20p)
  • A handful of the cheapest mushrooms, optional (20p)
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (10p)
  • Two tablespoons of flour (5p)
  • Some herbs and seasoning (5p)
  • 1-2 packs of ready-rolled puff pastry (£2 from Sainsburys)

Splitting the recipe into eight servings, this works out at £1.49 per serving.

Let’s make pie!

First of all, cook your chicken – preheat the oven to 200C, and get four large squares of tin foil ready. Spread each with a little oil, place a chicken breast in the centre, and season with salt and pepper (I also added a bit of thyme). Wrap the foil into a parcel, it should look a little like a Cornish pasty in shape. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then leave to cool.

2013-11-23 16.20.42Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, and sweat down with the butter until soft.

2013-11-23 16.44.00And while that is going on (see, we’re multi-tasking here!) remove the sausages from their skins. Pulse the bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs, and mix this into the sausage meat – a kneading movement works well here. If you want, add a bit of lemon juice to this mixture – but don’t worry as it’s far from essential. Shape the mixture into balls – it makes lots, the picture below shows half of mine…

2013-11-23 17.03.57By now your onions should have sweated down. Make the stock up (you need 1.5-2 litres). Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux, then slowly add the stock whilst stirring. Once it’s all in the pan, add some herbs, salt and plenty of pepper, and your mushrooms (if using). You could also add vegetables at this point, I imagine some chopped carrot would work well.

2013-11-23 17.06.11Leave your sauce to simmer on a low heat for a bit, whilst you brown the sausage balls in a little oil. Make sure the pan is hot when they go in, or the bread will absorb oil and the final result will be greasy.

2013-11-23 17.34.48Back to the chicken. Remove it from it’s foil parcels, and drain any grease on a piece of kitchen towel. Cut up into bite sized pieces.

2013-11-23 17.43.15Once all of your elements are prepared, put some chicken and sausage in the bottom of your chosen dish.

2013-11-23 17.49.14Ladle in the sauce until it is roughly this full…

2013-11-23 17.49.19And bake for around 30-45 mins at 160C. If you are making a day in advance, keep the filling in the fridge, top with pastry when ready to cook, and bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for 30 minutes. If freezing, use pastry that has NOT already been frozen (I made my own for my individual ones), defrost fully before cooking, cover and bake for 40 minutes, and then uncovered for 30 minutes. Remember to only use my timings as a guide – everything should be fully cooked and piping hot.

2013-11-24 19.10.14If you want, you could get fancy with your pastry and make some pretty shapes on top…mine was a little rough looking though!
2013-11-23 19.17.58Serve with plenty of green vegetables and mash, and you have a filling dinner for under £2.

2013-11-24 19.16.25

Having made this, I’ve been inspired to make more pies – I’m planning on making some steak ones over my Christmas holidays! Does anyone else make double portions and freeze meals to save time?

What’s Cooking Wednesday (#5)

Can you believe it is Week 5 already? Weeks are just flying by! I used to think people were being cliched when they said univesity will go quickly, but it truly does…check out last week’s updated post here.

Anyway, here’s this weeks menu:

Wednesday

2013-11-27 19.40.26After this disaster, I wanted to prove I could cook Toad in the Hole again. Thankfully I can!

Thursday – Bacon Carbonara

Friday/Saturday/Sunday

I’m heading home for the weekend as it’s my birthday on Monday, so expecting to be spoilt rotten with lots of yummy food! My boyfriend is cooking for me on Friday night, then I’ve chosen to have Spicy Chipotle Ribs on Saturday, with a big Roast Beef dinner on Sunday. Looking forward to it!

Monday – Birthday Meal

As it’s my birthday, me and a few friends are heading out to Prezzo for a meal. I’ve already salivating at the menu!

Tuesday

I haven’t really thought that far ahead, but depending on the amount of vegetables I have left it will be either a pie or some form of pasta. Maybe. I reckon this will be a ‘decide on the state of my fridge’ meal!

Do you have any celebration meals planned this week?

Domestic Goddess? Or Not…

I’ve always seen myself as a pretty decent cook. I’m hoping from the recipes on here that most of my readers will agree with that! However I have a problem, and it seems to be a pretty big one – I cannot cook anything for my boyfriend!

The first time I cooked for him I blew the electrics in the house after putting the oven on. As it turned out, the oven died its least death that night (it had been threatening it for a while!) and so it wasn’t technically my fault, but it still happened, and it’s still brought up pretty regularly.

I had numerous disasters whilst cooking for him at other times – overcooked rice, a particularly sloppy mince-potato-bake thing, too-spicy chillis and bland curries. But since moving into my second-year house I don’t think I’ve managed to cook him a single meal where everything has been faultless, or even edible.

  • I bought a ready-made pie from the butchers (see here). Didn’t notice that one of my housemates had turned the oven to 250C, so I served up burnt pastry and cold filling.
  • Trying to redeem myself, I bought another pie. This turned out to be a mushroom instead of a ham one (and he hates mushrooms!). Not only this, I managed to boil the broccoli to slop…
  • I scrambled a carbonara, although luckily he really enjoyed it. He claims I always undercook egg though, so maybe it was properly cooked?!
  • Somehow (and I really don’t know how!) I managed to burn potatoes that were boiling in water. The pan didn’t boil dry, there was plenty of water, but the spuds were stuck to the bottom. The mash that night tasted distinctly chargrilled…

Whilst all of the above were bad, the other night really took the biscuit. I know, and everyone else knows, that I can cook a pretty damn good Toad in the Hole. I can do it without measuring, without checking cooking times, with my eyes closed basically. But one Friday night I decided to follow a recipe. Bad plan. Resulting in this (ps – the featured image at the top of this post is how it is MEANT to look!):

2013-11-15 19.12.22

Yes, that is the ‘batter’ of my cooked Toad in the Hole. It was hideous! Completely doughy and flour-tasting, and utterly inedible. Thankfully we bought amazing sausages from the butchers, infused the gravy with cooking liquor from a twice-cooked pork belly dish, and I managed to make decent mash. Moral of that night – don’t follow a recipe when you know what to do!

 

Does anyone else have the inability to cook for someone they are trying to impress?

 

Baking: Mayonnaise Brownies

Remember this brownie post, where I compared some of the brownie recipes I’ve tried? And this one, where I made amazingly good peanut butter brownies? Well tonight I whipped up some healthy-ish brownies for a friends birthday treat, using her favourite food – mayonnaise. I’ve made these multiple times before, and they are a pretty fail-safe recipe. As long as you don’t overcook them (a hideous crime to brownies!), they always seem to work well.

2013-11-11 20.26.51

I’ve based mine on this recipe, but made it a little more budget friendly – what student really has several types of sugar (even though I do quite a bit of baking, I only ever buy cheapy cheap granulated and soft dark brown types) and buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk by ‘curdling’ normal milk using lemon juice but (1) I’ve never tried it, (2) it doesn’t really appeal to me, and (3) I’m trying to avoid *too much* dairy at the moment.

If you are a brownie addict and looking for a less-sinful version to snack on, look no further. If you have mayonnaise to use up, try this. If you just want an easy no fuss, no beating with electric whisks (as in my all time favourites) brownie recipe, then this is definitely one for you. Let me know if you try it!

Ingredients

2013-11-11 16.28.41

  • 100g of (preferably dark) chocolate
  • 80g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 of a mug of coffee – made black, and very strong (I used two teaspoons)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g of mayonnaise (I bought  big jar of Aldi’s own brand for 40p)
  • Extras – chopped nuts, or chopped chocolate (or anything else you fancy) – I went for chopped milk chocolate as that’s all I had, but white chocolate works very well

Turning these rather odd ingredients into yummy brownies…

Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool slightly. Weigh out the other ingredients whilst it cools, or do some of the reading you’re meant to be doing.

2013-11-11 16.39.46

In another bowl, mix together the flour and cocoa powder.

2013-11-11 16.40.00

By now your chocolate should have cooled! Add the sugars to the chocolate, mixing well. It will look gritty and not particularly pleasant.

2013-11-11 16.47.52

Gradually add the coffee and it should look something like this:

2013-11-11 16.52.51

Then add your beaten egg and mayonnaise. Mix in your extras at this point too. Mmm chocolate…

2013-11-11 16.55.04

Gradually sift in the flour/cocoa mix. In between siftings, fold the mix together gently. Eventually it will look all fudgy and yummy;

2013-11-11 17.02.59

Put the mix into a baking tin I should have told you to prepare earlier (it needs to be greased/lined). Ease into the corners and smooth down the top. I recommend NOT licking out the bowl in this recipe – you will taste the mayonnaise in the raw mix.

2013-11-11 17.07.10

Bake for 20-25 minutes (there should be a slight wobble in the middle). Then turn the oven off, and leave to cool in there. This works perfectly for me everytime when making brownies, especially with a temperamental oven.

2013-11-11 17.39.52

Once completely and utterly cool, remove from the tin and cut into pieces – I got 12 good size pieces out of this amount of ingredients, but this recipe is excellent for scaling up. I’ve made it for parties before and it’s gone down very well!

Now all that’s left is to enjoy, and feel slightly smug that you’ve made a healthier version of something totally yummy.

2013-11-11 20.26.51

Do you have any tips for making ‘naughty’ recipes healthier?

Recipe: Tomato-Free Spaghetti Bolognese

Please note, this recipe has been revised and reposted here – it’s taken nearly 5 years, but I’ve finally developed the best no-tomato spagheti bolognese. Super easy (and easily made vegan with mushrooms and lentils) and so, so tasty!
 photo Nomato Sauce_zpsxouvsbyd.jpg

Has anyone else managed to recreate recipes they thought were ‘no-goes’ due to allergies?

What’s Cooking Wednesday (#3)

This post is going to be quite short and unplanned, simply because this week’s meals are, well, unplanned. I have a vague idea of the next few days, but other than that I have no clue! My boyfriend is here until Sunday so some of these meals are a little ‘extravagant’ for my usual tastes, but for a treat a couple of times a term I quite like it!

Wednesday – Full English Carbonara

Ignoring the lack of photograph (carbonara is horrible to photograph steps of, and even more so the finished article!), this was a very yummy dinner. I make my carbonara pretty simply – just egg, pepper and cheese. Fry off the bacon and/or sausage meatballs, add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, take off the heat, and add the egg mixture, keep moving until it has thickened and then serve immediately. Yum yum!

Thursday – Chicken & Ham Mushroom Pie

2013-11-14 19.05.47

One of my favourite things about this university year has been discovering the butchers near to my second-year house. Their meat is very good quality, the service is wonderful, and their pies are amazingly yummy. I especially love their Chicken & Ham one (when I don’t burn it…) and that’s what I asked for yesterday. When cooked it turned out to be with mushroom and lacking ham, but it was still very good, and W (my boyfriend if you hadn’t guessed!) even ate his mushrooms!

Friday – Toad in the Hole

2013-11-15 19.12.22

Gross photo right? Yep, this meal was a complete and utter fail – that will teach me for trying to follow a different recipe to the one that always works. I will be blogging about my latest cooking fails soon! But for now, see here for a Toad in the Hole recipe that actually works.

Saturday – Stuffed Peppers, Pork Belly AND Chocolate Fondant Puddings

My boyfriend and I, and another lovely couple, decided to have a joint dinner date. They provided the starter (no pictures unfortunately) of stuffed peppers, with chicken – which was lovely, spicy and light. Then my boyfriend took over the cooking (with me on washing up duty). For mains he cooked pork belly (a two day cooking process), potato fondants, apple sauce, apple crisps, savoy cabbage and a cider jus. Unfortunately lacking n cracking, but bloomin’ lovely all the same. It was presented much better, but I started eating before photographing so did a quick re-arrange to hide the missing bits!

2013-11-16 19.34.45

He then finished off the meal with his ‘signature dish’ of chocolate fondants. I think this next picture saying it all…

2013-11-16 20.39.39

Sunday – House Dinner

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a tradition in my new student house, and I’m really loving it! This week T cooked chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese and peppers, wrapped in parma ham, served with roast potatoes. I sauteed some spinach in garlic, chilli and lemon to have with mine.

2013-11-17 19.35.40

Monday – Meatball Pasta Bake & Salad

I really enjoyed this quick and easy dinner – meatballs (Aldi – split into 1/3 of the original size for ease of cooking) fried til cooked with some mushrooms, mixed with Waitrose Red Pepper & Almond pesto, stirred into pasta, topped with cheese and grilled until melted and gooey. Served with a big salad it felt healthy but filling too.

2013-11-18 19.32.28

Tuesday – Chilli (from Freezer), Rice, Tortilla Chips

No picture tonight, as it was a quick reheated freezer meal as we were off out to do our Aldi shop. I really am enjoying add more beans to my chilli’s though, and am looking forward to making a completely vegetarian version soon!

And that round off my meals for the week! Have you tried anything new and interesting lately?

Recipe: Garlic And Herb Roasted Chicken

I have another favourite blog I want to share with you, Lavender and Lovage, this time through the guise of their monthly cooking challenge to cook/bake with herbs. This month I am taking part with one of best dishes I’ve ever made, and the first roast chicken I have ever, ever cooked. To say I was excited at this feat would be a rather large understatement.

I have always been really cautious about cooking chicken in general, checking it multiple times to ensure it is properly cooked (and thus serving up overcooked tough meat in the process) and before summer I would have never cooked a whole chicken. I then found this recipe on the lovely Lottie’s blog and resolved to make it over my holiday. Then my operation got in the way of things, and I didn’t get the chance. Until my turn to cook Sunday dinner in my house. I decided to test my meat cooking skills on my housemates who probably weren’t of full realisation that they were at risk of food poisoning. Luckily that didn’t happen!

This chicken turned out to have a lovely flavour, and was incredibly moist. I would have liked it to get a bit more bronze and crisp…but I’m blaming the oven for that one! If you have never roasted a chicken before, I highly recommend you try this recipe as I think the coating really stops it from drying out. Definitely a hit!

And on the thrifty-ness, saving money, budgetting side – I really think a whole chicken is great value for money! Our large chicken cost us £4.57. It fed five people at dinner, and then I filled three freezer bags of shredded meat for use in stir fries etc at a later date. Pretty sure spending £4.50 on chicken breasts would not get 8 meals! Per serving that equals 57p, which is a bargain in my books! I’d have loved to have made a stock out of the bones, but unfortunately I didn’t have a pan big enough to do so – that will be a holiday project I think!

Ingredients

2013-10-27 15.15.49

  • 1 whole chicken – it should be at room temperature when you start cooking, so take it out of the fridge about 90 minutes before
  • 300ml of creme fraiche
  • 5 cloves of garlic (I upped the amount!)
  • Some fresh herbs – I chose to use thyme (which I got at a marvelous discounted price in Waitrose) and some rosemary
  • A little oil

So how do you make a flavourful and moist roast chicken? Read on!

Preheat your oven to 180C. Lightly grease a roasting tin, pat your chicken dry with kitchen towel, and place in the tin.

Make the coating – finely chop the garlic, and the herbs (we used about four sprigs of each), and add to a bowl with the creme fraiche. Mix together well.

2013-10-27 17.31.25

Untie your birds legs, and stuff some of the creme fraiche mixture into the cavity. I warn you this isn’t the most pleasant experience!

2013-10-27 17.35.35

Smother the rest of the creme fraiche mixture all over the rest of the bird. Massage it in and, if you can, get some under the skin.

2013-10-27 17.37.56

When your chicken is fully covered, it should look a little like this:

2013-10-27 17.42.41

Add some less finely chopped herbs to the top, just for fancy-pants decoration.

2013-10-27 17.44.21

Then roast for the length of time your chicken packaging should indicate. Ours took 1 hour and 45 minutes.

2013-10-27 19.38.26

If you check out Lottie’s post, you will see how it SHOULD look. Crisp and bronze – not pale and insipid! But mine still tasted good, it just lacked the visual wow factor…

Resist temptation to dive straight in – cover with foil and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes (we used this time to crisp up our potato dauphinoise). Then carve up and serve.

2013-10-27 19.47.48

Remember to strip off all the meat from the bones – it would make great sandwiches, and I’ve shredded it for use in stir fries and maybe a risotto in the coming weeks.

So that’s it, a simple and delicious garlic and herb roast chicken recipe. Don’t be like me and let a fear of food poisoning put you off cooking whole pieces of meat – I really regret not doing this sooner!

Does anyone have an other easy and delcious roast chicken recipes?

Recipe: Potato Dauphinoise

We’re getting posh with this recipe! But really, despite the fancy-pants name, and the fact that these taste AMAZING (even if I do say so myself) they are really simple to make, and not toooo expensive. I wouldn’t make these all the time, but for a treat meal they are perfect. Easy to cook for a crowd too (as I did) as you just use the whole pots of cream, and scale up the potatoes.

I would definitely advise making a recipe similar to this, where the potatoes are not pre-boiled before baking. I just think it works better. The potatoes keep their uniformity and don’t turn to mush, and the top gets crispier. Everything tastes better, the flavours kind of meld together if you know what I mean. I certainly know I’m not doing this recipe justice – just go and make it yourself!

Ingredients (I have done this to serve 5 generously);

2013-10-27 14.38.14

  • 1 large potato (or the equivalent smaller ones) per person. Just to let you know, that’s a LOT of potatoes that need peeling, so draft someone in to help if possible!
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 250ml of soya cream, and around 50ml of milk (I used soya cream as I have a slight lactose intolerance and I knew that if I did all dairy things wouldn’t end well – you can just used 600ml of double cream instead, or all soya if you need to). If you are using soya cream, Alpro is the best I’ve found, I can’t tell the difference!
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Some fresh herbs, if you have them (I had some thyme from another recipe), but no worries if not
  • Seasoning – salt and black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (or other strong cheese of your choice), grated finely.

Method

Begin by making your cream mixture.

2013-10-27 15.59.26

Pour the liquid into a pan, add the whole sprig of herb, and a crushed garlic clove. Leave on the lowest heat possible to infuse (such a good word…and such a foodie one too!).

2013-10-27 16.02.50

While the cream is infusing, get on with peeling those potatoes. Thinly slice the potatoes whilst you are at it – ideally they need to be thinner than the thickness of a £1 coin.

2013-10-27 14.55.49

By now the cream should be infused, so you can get on with assembling! Grease the dishes you are going to use well (use ceramic rather than tins!), then build around two layers of potato slices, over lapping slightly. Season each layer with plenty of salt and black pepper.

2013-10-27 16.13.40

Add around half of the cream mixture, then repeat the layers. Add the cheese to the top.

2013-10-27 16.55.37

Cover with foil, and bake in a preheated oven for about 1 hour – 1 hour & 20 minutes at 180C.

2013-10-27 16.55.43

Uncover, turn the heat to 200C, and cook for 20-30 minutes more until browned, crisp and bubbling.

2013-10-27 19.47.52

I like to serve my potato dauphinoise with a good roast chicken (recipe coming soon!) and a nice crisp salad. Yum yum! Oh and by the way, once you have dished up pour washing up liquid into the dish and add boiling water. Otherwise it WILL stick.

Do you have any favourite side dish recipes?

Guest Post: Chocolate Overload Torte

Here is a guest post written by my lovely boyfriend – as he did the cooking for this recipe, I decided it was only fair he did all the hard work of writing too! Any of my annotations are written in italics, so you can easily differentiate between both of our witty comments. He found the original recipe here.

Upon trying to think of a pudding to make for a house of 4 girls plus yourself, the best option by a long mile is chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Cue lots of googling around for a sensible recipe that won’t break the small student bank balance or ask for all kinds of fancy kitchen gadgets.

In the end I settled on a delicious chocolate torte (plus a raspberry coulis – how fancy, right?). It went down extremely well with the 4 girls plus myself and another boyfriend; even if I do say so myself! Perhaps, dare I say, slightly too rich? Hmm… No. I wouldn’t actually. It was lovely! Onwards with the recipe for the torte…

2013-10-27 20.15.38

Ingredients:

  • 75g of Unsalted Butter (split into 50g and 25g)
  • 200g of Dark Chocolate – at least 70% cocoa – and please please please don’t skimp on the quality. As cheap as supermarket ‘Value’ chocolate is it simply won’t taste anywhere near as good! Split the 200g into 50g and 150g.
  • 100g Digestive Biscuits – about 7 biscuits
  • 1tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 250g Mascarpone Cheese – this tends to be available in tubs of 250g which is great because trying to weigh out mascarpone out isn’t fun
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g Dark Muscovado Sugar or Dark Brown Soft Sugar

Now, you’ll also need a heatproof bowl (Pyrex or metal – just not plastic) and a 20cm/8inch loose-bottomed cake tin. Sadly, we didn’t have the latter in the house, so I had to make one out of a cereal packet and tin foil – if that’s not budget lifestyle then I don’t know what is! You could of course buy a tin, but where’s the fun or cheapness in that?!

2013-10-27 10.38.40

And how do you turn these ingredients into something amazingly yummy? Keep on reading!

First of all, melt the 50g of butter with 50g of the chocolate in a saucepan over a LOW heat and stir to combine. Definitely a low heat though – otherwise bad things will happen to your chocolate. Horrible bad things…

2013-10-27 10.38.53

Meanwhile, crush up your digestive biscuits. I like to do this in a sealed sandwich bag using a bashing-type tool. Usually a rolling pin; in this case a potato masher.

2013-10-27 10.34.16

When the chocolate and butter have fully melted and combined add your crushed biscuit and stir well until fully combined before pouring into the base of the tin, levelling out, patting down, and shoving in the fridge to cool for a bit until firm.

2013-10-27 10.40.31

2013-10-27 10.41.22

2013-10-27 10.44.42

Then, put the remaining 25g of butter, 150g of chocolate and cocoa powder into a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or you could use a bain-marie on the off-chance you own one). Stir occasionally and allow to melt together. Once it has melted, set it aside and allow to cool slightly.

2013-10-27 14.18.13

Beat the mascarpone in order to soften it before beating into the chocolate mixture until it is thoroughly combined.

2013-10-27 14.18.22

2013-10-27 14.27.49

2013-10-27 14.32.18

In another heatproof bowl (or the same one with the previous contents moved into a different bowl of any kind) put the eggs and the sugar together and, again, place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Now, if you have an electric whisk, definitely use it! You need to use a whisk to beat the egg and sugar mixture until it is much lighter, paler and thicker than when you started. Much, much thicker. It will also increase in volume!

2013-10-27 14.34.33

2013-10-27 14.38.20

2013-10-27 14.45.03

This egg and sugar mixture should then be folded into the chocolate mixture. Be patient with it (unlike myself who usually gets far t0o bored by the slow folding process – I will add here that I did this part!) to make sure you keep as many air pockets in the mix as possible – making for a nice light chocolate torte.

2013-10-27 14.49.39

2013-10-27 14.52.50

Then pour this combined mixture on top of the chilled base in the tin, smooth out the top and fill all the gaps, then place in the fridge until it has firmed up and you are ready to serve.

2013-10-27 14.54.36

2013-10-27 14.55.59

Now time to lick the bowl!

2013-10-27 14.58.35

When it comes to serving it, remove the side of the tin and leave the torte on the base. Cut into the desired wedges, place on a plate and add the optional coulis.

2013-10-27 20.15.38

2013-10-27 20.26.48

Eat, enjoy and be very, very happy in chocolate heaven!

For those interested, for the coulis, blend about 50g of raspberries per person with icing/caster sugar and a splash of lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Then force the blended mush through a sieve into a jug. The seeds won’t pass through the sieve and the coulis will be nice and smooth! I used frozen raspberries as they are much cheaper than fresh at this time of year – simply heat slightly in the microwave to defrost them before attempting to blend them.

This chocolate torte really was amazing, especially paired with the coulis. 

Does anyone have any favourite easy-to-make dessert recipes for entertaining? That question was a huge mouthful!

Saving Money: Buying & Eating Meat on a Budget

I’m hoping this post reaches you all before you do your weekly shop!

This is somewhere that I should make note of the saying ‘practise what you preach.’ I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of eating meat simply because of its cost – I generally have a list at the end of term of the meals I want to eat at home. Beef stew, belly pork, toad in the hole, roast chicken. I generally really struggle to justify the cost of meat. However during the last year of university I really noticed the difference that a diet lower in protein made, and so this year am making the effort to buy and cook meat more often, and hopefully grab some great bargains and learn some lovely budget meals. So far I think it has been going well, as some of the posts I’ve linked to above will hopefully show.

I would like to add that I ate remarkably healthily compared to quite a few of my fellow students. I just shied away from eating meat under the pretence that it was too expensive. I’ve learnt that on the whole I was wrong, and today I am going to give you the tips that I have learnt so far.

  • Check out the clearance section. I always tend to pick up some really good bargains here – just yesterday I managed to get 750g of Tesco Finest lean steak mince for under £4. I will be getting at least 10 meals out of that, so under 40p for a portion of meat is I think excellent value. Obviously only buy things that (1) you know what to do with, and (2) you will have room in the freezer for.
  • Have a browse in the butchers. I never thought that meat from a butchers would be  cheaper, but it actually seems to be. For certain things at least (not, as I unfortunately found out, fresh chicken). One of the main advantages in shopping in this way is that you can buy exactly the amount you need, you get advice about how best to cook things, and they often have cheaper alternatives ‘out back’ if you discuss exactly what you need. That’s how I got the steak for my beef stew.
  • Bulk buy. This is in conjunction with the first point really – if you have space, buy things when you see them cheaply. At the beginning of term I like to take advantage of the “three for £10” offers that all supermarkets have. Of course check the shelves first to grab any bargains!
  • Make the most of your freezer. I couldn’t live without decent freezer space. I like to make up meals and freeze them as ‘ready meals’ and I also like to freeze meat bought cheaply. I buy these bags, which make freezing meals easy, and take up far less space than boxes. Normal freezer bags are fine, but its difficult to prevent spillages when they haven’t quite frozen.
  • Bulk out meals with inexpensive ingredients. I always try and throw a spoon or two of lentils into a mince based dish, my beef stew is well bulked out with carrots (I LOVE slow cooked, stewed carrots) and I like spinach in my curry. Not only do these additions mean I need to use less meat per meal, but they also add a lot of health benefits.
  • Buy better quality. Two contrasts points next. Buying better quality is something hugely important to me. For one, I just think better quality meat tastes nicer. I also like to think that the meat I buy is as cruelty-free as possible. And secondly, I find spending just that little bit more than your basic price means that the meat is less fatty and gristly. To put it simply – I believe that cheap meat is a false economy.
  • Buy cheaper cuts. This appears to contrast with the statement before. But it does mean different things. Buy the best quality level of meat you can afford. But stick to cheaper cuts. For example, boneless chicken thighs are just as good (if not better) than breast, and there are multiple cuts of stewing steak that work differently in different situation.

Does anyone have any tips for buying meat on the cheap?