Chef Skills: Eggs Benedict, How to Hollandaise and poached eggs

making me hungry

Considering it was one of my new years resolutions I have done really badly. My chef skills series was suppose to document my attempts at trying and practising professional kitchen techniques but I have so easily stumbled back into my usual healthy, big bowl based veg meals which although pack a punch of flavour don’t teach me anything new. I am quite use to creating these meals and know how to season and spice correctly but for me they don’t have the precision that I want to advance my cooking with. So to get back on the horse I thought I would attempt a relatively easy task with ingredients I already had, a classic hollandaise sauce, atop a poached egg, i.e. Eggs Benedict. And boy was it the best brunch I’ve made in a while (other then my classic eggy bread nom nom)

Brilliant Brunch to kick start your day, eggs benedict with salmon

Ingredients Serves 2

2 or 4 Eggs , 1 tbsp White wine vinegar, 2 English Muffins

For the hollandaise

2 Egg yolks

1/2 tsp White wine vinegar

100g Butter

A splash of water

A pinch of salt

Juice of half a lemon

how to hollandaise

To make the Hollandaise

1. Gently heat the butter in a pan till melted. Scoop any white solids off the top and discard. Keep warm

2. Whisk the egg yolks, vinegar, salt and water till combined in a heat proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water.

3. Gently whisk the egg mixture over the heat till it starts to thicken and becomes paler in colour

4. Take off the bowl off the heat and slowly whisk in the still warm butter. The most important thing here is to do this very slowly, like when making mayonnaise, add the butter in a little at a time and wait till combined before adding more butter.

5. Add the lemon juice in a little at a time to taste. I don’t like it too lemony but others like alot. Keep the sauce warm till your ready to plate.


Eggs benedict and salmonTo poach an egg.

There is no mystery with a poached egg, just a little bit of practice and then sometimes there are just eggs which are evil and won’t behave

1. Use your biggest pan and fill with at least 1.5 litres of boiling water and add the vinegar.

2. Once the pan is boiling, stir it in a clockwise direction (this will bring the water to just under boiling and allow the egg to wrap around it self.

3. Once you’ve got a whirlpool going, slowly slip an egg into the centre of it. ( I first break the egg into a little bowl to slip it into and always use eggs that have come to room temperature)

4. Allow the egg to cook for 2-3 minutes, the white will curl around the yolk to form a circular egg.

5. Lift out of the water with a slotted spoon and rest for a minute before putting it on toasted muffin slathered in your home made hollandaise. mmm tasty. Repeat with your remaining eggs.

Eggs benedict salmon brunch


ooooooooo yolky eggs benedict

The only problem with poached eggs is that you have to do them one at a time which renders them a bit cold if your trying to serve them all in one go. I would recommend maybe trying to keep them warm in a very low temp oven till your ready to serve but be careful about over cooking them. A poached egg is nothing without a gooey centre. I added some cooked salmon to one half of my muffin for a bit of decadence and a sprinkling of dill or parsley goes very well in the sauce as well as on the egg and any fish you might use. Don’t forget to season your egg before you put the sauce on, it makes all the difference.

Lorna

x xxx

On Happiness

happy

This blog post has been inspired by A) I finally got a job last week (obligatory happy dance) and b) A reminder for myself on how to be happy. The first thing I want to say is that this post isn’t about money as the key to happiness but I completely understand that in order for us to live in this world and be happy we need a basic amount of income to remain sane and explore our own happiness. Having been unemployed for just over 6 months, until last week, was such a struggle both financially, emotionally and physically and it is a sad truth but a real one that we all need to pay our bills, buy food and spend our money on necessities whether we have the cash or not. So with this in mind the musings below are generally for when you have the ability to pay your bills and don’t have the pressure on as much but at the same time I believe lots of these ideas can be applied for when you don’t have any disposable income either. The part B of my inspiration is because naturally I am a very anxious person and when the chips are down my anxiety can knock me for six. Though I have come on leaps and bounds when it comes to dealing with my worries and fears I still feel like I need help along the way sometimes. Having a check list or a cheat sheet for happiness may seem like a strange thing but it can help you focus on positive rather then negative aspects of your life and even change the way you think about your individual life. I hope that by writing out how I try to be happy it may help some one else as it helps me.

Anna LappeKnow why you are unhappy

If you know why you are unhappy you can fix or change it. Unhappiness can be bred from many things and with the exception of relationship problems/ loss of loved ones/serious mental health issues , which is totally understandable, I believe that changing our mind set is more important most of the time then what we are actually unhappy about.

Worry– I often worry when I am I get into bed probably because something is weighing on my mind and I can no longer do anything about it but these feelings can strike throughout the day at any time. I find that I worry more and more about something because I am putting off  a task or need to chase someone else up to resolve the problem. Procrastination is the real problem here . As soon as I do the task I don’t want to do I feel so much better

Want– Once our bills and necessities are taken care of, any money is ours to spend on what we want but if you don’t have enough money to buy what you ‘want’ then maybe it is time to re-evaluate what we want and think more about what we need.  Not living within your means is the real problem here.

Health– Now I am no way any kind of health professional but when we do not feel our best physically that can affect us mentally as well. Taking care of your health can make all the difference when It comes to illness relating to lifestyle choices and your environment which are minor but can have a bigger impact then you might realise.

Loneliness- Humans are sociable creatures and they need to interact. When I wasn’t working I found it incredibly lonely and isolating as I couldn’t visit friends and family or even go out to the pub to socialise in my new city. You cannot rely on even just the people you live with as you need interactions from different sources. Getting out there is hard but key.

happiness stop worrying

How to combat unhappiness

Worry– For me when worry strikes it can disable me. It creates such an anxious feeling, my chest can tighten, I feel sick and I can get into such a state as my worry comes in cycles. I understand that I create worry cycles and often, as I said, it’s because I am not doing the right thing to resolve the issue that is worrying me. Recognising that I am in the middle of doing this is the first and biggest step because then I can speak my little mantra.  ‘Can I do anything about it now?? ‘ if the answer is yes = do something, if the answer is no = forget it and stop worrying till you can do something about it. A simple phrase but it gives me the  control to stop worrying and get on with what I need to do.

happiness in gift from a loved one

Want– We want lots and lots of things in life but it’s not always possible. As someone who does want this and want that but is really against the rampant consumerism which is encouraged in our society It can be challenging to balance these two sides of myself. I try and step back and think whether I really need the item, whether it will improve my life, improve my happiness and what it’s effect on others could be. I know not everyone thinks about these issues when it comes to consumer goods but for me it makes me really think about what I want in life. The second point I want to make is that if you can’t afford something that is a ‘want’ rather then a need you shouldn’t feel unhappy. Instead you should look to the things in your home and life that you really love, mean something to you or just make your life easier which you already own. The big French poster we have in our living room H gave to me when he lived in France, it is a beautiful poster which makes me smile everytime I look at it, it reminds me of H obviously a lovely person to be reminded of and links the great times we have in France when we visit.

happiness in food

Health– When I am stuck in a rut I find it hard to look after myself and will not make healthy choices. If you see yourself doing this you should try and stop it but as with all good health, preventative measures are better then the cure. We all know that exercise, good diet, sleep, water and de-stressing can prevent illness and improve our happiness but we seldom stick to it. Making a conscious effort to improve at least one aspect of your health is definitely the way to start. When I am really focusing on improving a part of my life I feel so much better and it makes it easier to implement the things you need to focus on. I love food and I believe this is the easiest way to improve our health and happiness because we all have to eat. Good food=Happy people. As an added note I think keeping your house in a clean and tidy order really helps to improve your mindset, plus housework counts as exercise ;)

Loneliness– Whether you are lacking money, feel too busy or out of touch with people, you need to get up and go. Simply having someone round for a cup of tea or coffee, lunch or dinner doesn’t have to cost alot as you will be enjoying a homemade meal anyway, and means you can really connect with someone by having a really good chin wag. Make your family and friends aware that you want to see them and are feeling a bit down in the dumps. Your loved ones will always do what they can to make you feel better but they won’t if they think everything is fine. There is no need for false pretence so let people into your inner circle and enjoy them. Sharing problems and joys is part of the human life so find people you can share them with. Finding people as crazy as you also helps ;)

happiness in crazy people

I hope this has been an interesting read and has helped someone thing about happiness that we all deserve and can have. Please leave a comment of anything that helps you stay on the happy train.

Take care and smile

Lorna

x xxx

Keep Calm & Eat Pesto

Keep calm and eat lettuce pesto

I have always loved pesto ever since my teens when one day my sister cooked us up a batch of pasta with lashings of pesto mixed
into it. Both store bought but the flavour and almost immediate satisfaction that filled our bellies after just 15 minutes cooking time has always left the classic pesto and pasta combination as a staple in my household. I have always enjoyed the taste of store bought pesto but nothing can beat a fresh pesto made from scratch. It’s flavour is always lighter and fresher tasting, pairing brilliantly with more then just a simple pasta dish. I often make pesto for the start of the week as a go to dressing for quick meals when I’m busy. It can be a little expensive to make your own pesto as you need quite alot of fresh herbs but there is a solution. I use lettuce to bulk the pesto out yet it doesn’t detract from the flavour as I still uses the herbs plus all the other classic ingredients. It is the perfect way to use up salad leaves which are often one of the most thrown away items in British households and you know how I hate waste!

Lettuce pesto ingredientsIngredients to make a small jar: 1 good handful of fresh herbs,2 good handfuls of salad leaves, 2 large handful of nuts or seeds, A small lump of hard cheese, 2 garlic cloves, 2tbsp of olive oil plus extra for jar. sprinkle of salt and pepper.

1. I have given these vague ingredients as you can pretty much choose whatever combination of items you want. A classic pesto is basil, pine nuts and parmesan but you can adapt it with anything. Here are some ideas

Mint/parsley, almonds, mature chedder

Coriander, cashews, manchego , abit of chilli and ginger

Dill, sunflower seeds, pecorino

Lovely ingredients for lovely lettuce pesto A spoonful of lettuce pesto helps the leftovers go down2. Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor, slowly adding the olive oil as you go, till you get a think paste that isn’t too wet.

3. Add to a jar, press down with a spoon and cover with a layer of olive oil. It should keep for 1 week, topping up with oil to cover if you use a little at a time. (My oil looks horrible in this photo, it has no colour weirdly. That’s what you get for cheap olive oil)

Lettuce Pesto Ready to Go

You can add pesto to loads of different dishes other then pasta, here is a few and please feel free to add your own uses in the comments.

Dolloped on pizza either as a replacement to a tomato sauce or as an addition blobbed on randomly

Mixed into potato salad

On top of a baked potato

A sandwich filling with some fresh salad veggies (tomato, pesto and mozzarella sounds good)

A salad dressing, mixed with some more  oilve oil and a little lemon juice or vinegar

A crust or rub for fish or meats

Basically anything

Lorna

x xxx

Kohlrabi, celery and potato Gratin

Kohlrabi, celery and potato

This is a really quick recipe for a gratin because who doesn’t like food smothered in cream! I had a Kohlrabi in my veg box and having never cooked it looked to the internet for some inspiration. I found a several gratins with varying ingredients so I settled on a mix of Kohlrabi, celery and potato. It’s another great dish that can be prepared ahead of time, kept in the fridge and whacked into the oven when you get home. Kohlrabi has a slightly sweet appley taste but has a root vegetable like texture so it lends well to savoury dishes but it would be interesting to see if you can make it work in a sweet recipe. Any ideas people?

sliced veggies for gratin

Ingredients Serves 2: 1 smalll kohlrabi, 2/3 medium potatoes, 2 celery sticks, 1 garlic clove, 150ml of  double cream, 150ml veg stock, a small handful of fresh rosemary or 1 heaped tsp  of dried rosemary

1. Peel the kohlrabi and potatoes, slice in to thin slices (having a mandolin works well here) Dice the celery into thin slices also. Slice the garlic and chop up the rosemary.

2. Heat the veg stock up gently in a pan and add the milk to mix together (DO NOT BOIL) add the garlic and rosemary and allow to infuse for 5 mins on a low heat.Tasty Ingredients for Kohlrabi Gratin

3. Layer the kohlrabi, potato and celery in a baking dish and slowly add the liquid, and continue to layer until your dish is full. You don’t want the liquid to be full right to the top, at least 1cm from the top is good. I prefer to finish with a layer of potato on top as it browns nicely.

4. Pop in the oven for 40 mins at Gas Mark 5. A good grind of black pepper on top never goes a miss. Serve with a crisp salad to offset the gorge on creamy goodness.

Kohlrabi Gratin

There we have it! Has any one got a brilliant recipe for kohlrabi, would love to hear?

Lorna

x xxx

p.s. Sorry about the lack of finished photos, as always I ate it before I had a chance to photo it, nom nom

Simple Soup, Grains, Veg and Stock

Soup Glorious Soup!Soup is a wonderful thing. Its good for you, keeps the cold from your toes when it’s winter and it’s super thrifty. You can put just about anything into soup and it will come out tasting fantastic and for me this is the perfect meal for the end of your shopping week when your running low on fresh produce. Me & H get our veg box delivery on a Thursday so by Wednesday we normally only have a few bits and bobs left over to make dinner from. A brilliant but healthy way to bulk up this veg into a soup is using a wide selection of grains as your base. Add the produce as a lighter edition to the filling flavours of the grains. You can get a generic dried ‘soup mix’ from all food shops and supermarkets for around £1 or less which normally include pearl barley (I bloody love it), red lentils, split peas, a mix of beans and peas. They are cheap and filling but the perfect way to use up those rogue carrots or sticks of celery that may be languishing in the chiller of the fridge.

Selection of Veggies for Soup

Ingredients Serves 2

2 generous handfuls of soup mix, 500ml of veg/chicken stock,1-2 garlic cloves, A selection of veg I used 1 Carrot, 3 small sticks of celery, a bunch of radishes and a random tiny piece of fennel leftover.

1. You will need to soak the soup mix overnight or throughout the day. 8 hours should be enough time.

2. Cook the soup mix in plenty of water for 30-40 mins on a rolling boil. You will need to skim off the impurities off the top of the water and discard throughout the cooking process.

3. Meanwhile dice the vegetables and slice the garlic

4. Once the grains are cooked you can create the rest of the meal in two ways. One just on the stove or one in a slow cooker.

Lovely Grains for Lovely Soup beautiful fresh vegetables5. For on the stove: Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Once warm add the garlic and veg and slightly brown if you want. Add the grains in with any of the remaining cooking liquid plus the 500ml of stock. Gently heat to a simmer. You can then cook the veg to your liking. I like them pretty crunchy so I generally heat it through just to warm the veg and not really cook them

6. For in the slow cooker: I like using the slow cooker as I can prep the meal the day before and then I just have to turn it on when I am home. I turn the heat on for the slow cooker and add a little bit of oil into the bottom, when it is warmed I add the garlic to slightly cook through and mellow the flavour. I add the veg, the grains with cooking liquid and the stock. I can then pop the cooker on throughout the day or when I get home

warming, guilt free comfort food

This is such a simple dish but I really enjoy the flavours and that I get to use up any left overs I have. You can use whatever vegetables you have left at the end of the week and create some thing wholesome and tasty for you and your family. If you don’t cook the veg in time and that onion is getting pretty manky, fear not, here is a post on composting. Also check out this little review I did on this Soup Maker to get inspired to make more soups!

Lorna

x xxx

Vegan Lasagne

Vegan Lasagne looks so tasty up close even better in your mouth

I’m becoming more and more interested in both vegetarian and vegan food at the moment. The ethical and environmental reasons behind switching to a non meat/ animal product diet are vast and I really do support them. But on a wholly selfish note, eating more fruits, veg, nuts and grains improves your health and wellbeing considerable and even more so when you avoid processed foods that contain chemicals and toxins. A switch to a veggie/vegan or even a mostly veggie diet can be hard but as I have said in several other veggie recipes, you can use a much loved ‘meat’ recipe and turn it into a veggie delight and ‘trick’ yourself. A perfect example of this is my veggie lasagne, a simplified version of a recipe from Emily @ This Rawsome Vegan Life which uses fewer ingredients. Some of the wonderful but unusual ingredients Emily suggests may be harder to find for those those of us who may not follow a strict vegan diet .

Vegan lasagne 'pasta' 'mince' 'bechamel'

Ingredients, Serves 2

For the ‘Pasta’

1 Medium Courgette

For the ‘Mince’

1/2 a head of broccoli, 1 can of chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp dried basil, sprinkle of pepper

For the ‘Béchamel sauce’

1 Cup of sunflower seeds (or any other nuts or seeds), 2 tbsp Tahini, 2 Garlic cloves, 1 tbsp lemon juice, water to loosen

Vegan Lasagne for one

1. Blend all the ‘béchamel’ ingredients together, in the vegan community they call this nut cheese. Blend to a rough paste adding a little water to loosen, you don’t want it too sloppy more like a rough pate.

2. Chop the broccoli into tiny pieces so the little buds are basically little green grains, this will be your ‘mince’ In a bowl mix the broccoli with the chopped tomatoes, basil and pepper

3. Slice the courgette length ways, using a mandolin is best, cut off the ends if you want them to sit flush against your baking dish.

4. Layer! Courgette, ‘Mince’, Courgette, nut cheese, repeat till your baking dish is full

5. Bake for 30 mins on gas mark 5 or enjoy raw!

Vegan Lasgne with courgette pasta, broccoli mince and nut cheese crunchy topping

Pretty simple recipe really for a quick and delicious dish. It definitely matches a ‘regular’ lasagne on flavour and I was so pleased by the textures as well as taste. The top with nut cheese came out really golden and crunchy making it even more appetising. I used the left overs to make myself a single serving for my lunch, the photos are of this meal and I made it a circular little stack by cutting slices rather then lengths of courgette. This is a great recipe to experiment with too, you could swap the sunflower seeds for any other seeds or nuts and the broccoli with maybe cauliflower or minced carrot and onion. The choice is yours, just make it a healthy one ;)

Do you have any favourite meaty meals you’d like me to turn veggie? just ask

Lorna

x xxx

3 Fruity Toppings for Toast

fruit on toastI would definitely say that British breakfasts are boring for the most part. On weekends we indulge and do a proper meal, a full English is a staple of the Saturday after the Friday night before and a continental mish-mash of a brunch is satisfying to graze on during a lazy Sunday morn. The rest of the week appears to be a combination of the same sad cereal, bread and butter or for the lucky but unhealthy a bacon or sausage sarnie from the cafe next to the bus stop. One of Britain’s favourites is toast for a quick warm meal but it normally doesn’t really have that many calories or nutrients to really set you up for the day unless it’s got a tasty topping! Here are three easy ones to start with.

chocolate banana on toast

1. Chocolatey Bananas

Serves 1 Ingredients: 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 banana, 1 tsp coco powder,1 cup of soya milk, a handful of flaked almonds, some toast

Melt the coconut oil in a pan with the coco powder and when warm add in the banana cut into slices. The pieces will start to sizzle, mix gently to get the banana coated in the oil. When fully combined add enough of the soya milk to make a chocolatey sauce. Heat till warm. At the same time toast the almond flakes in a pan till golden. Make your toast, top with the chocolate banana mixture then sprinkle over the almonds. Delicious!

Amaretto Apples on Toast

2. Amaretto Apple Sauce

Serves 1 Ingredients: 2 medium eating apples, 1tbsp butter, 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar, 2tbsp Amaretto liqueur, some toast

Melt the butter in a pan and add the apples chopped in to bite size pieces (you can peel or leave the skin). Stir the the apples till they start to colour. Add the sugar, mix until melted. Add the amaretto and warm through. Though only optional I think it adds a luxurious treat to breakfast and works really well with the apples. Pile on to toast and enjoy.

tomatoes on toast

3. Tomatoes on Toast

Serves 1 Ingredients: A good handful of cherry or plum tomatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, a small handful of parsley, salt and pepper, 1 garlic clove, some toast.

Tomatoes are fruit you know! Simple chop the tomatoes into quarters or smaller for larger ones, add to the oil once heated in a pan. Allow them to reduce down, season and then add finely chopped up parsley at the last minute. (Optional for Garlic lovers) Slice a length off the garlic clove, and while holding the uncut edge, rub the cut edge all over one side of your toast and add a splash more olive oil if you wish. Add the tomatoes and you’ve got one more tasty breakfast to start your day.

Simple recipes that only take 5-10 mins to make but will give you something just a little bit more inspiring and more nutritious to get your ready for the rest of the day. Why not try one tomorrow morning.

Lorna

x xxx

Chef Skills: Homemade Pasta

pumpkin ravioliAs part of my new years resolution I wanted to learn more technical kitchen skills and hone my knowledge of the essentials that make a great chef. My first attempt is to practice making pasta. H got me a beautiful pasta maker for Christmas so seemed like the perfect place to start plus I love pasta! I did my first attempt New Years Eve with a classic tagliatelle carbonara and it went really well. It could definitely be improved though as it took me a while to get the right consistency and I think it was a little bit to thick but the flavour was perfect.

pasta mix at the start

The ingredients are simple and I normally do measuring by eye but to serve 4 you need 2 cups of flour, 3 medium eggs or 2 large, tsp of olive oil. Mix ingredients in a bowl until combined but it will probably be crumbly at first. Turn out on to a floured surface and need for about 5 minutes. I think my initial problem was that I didn’t kneed it for long enough time. After kneeding, rest in the fridge while wrapped up for 30-45 minutes. I like to cut the dough in to pieces and work one piece at a time so as not to dry out and keep the rest wrapped up.

pasta doughRoll the pasta through the press starting with the largest setting normally marked as 1, keep rolling the pasta through the maker tightening the gap until you reach the desired thickness. Do not try and force the pasta through by notching up the number but do it one at a time as you may break the pasta maker. If you are making something other then flat sheets like ravioli or lasagne you will need to pass the pasta through another attachment, I am lucky to have both tagliatelle and fettuccini (although it says fettuccini it’s more like spaghetti)  I found oiling and occasionally flouring the machine made the pasta pass through much easier. You then need to dry the pasta out a little by hanging it on a flour dusted drying rack, which for most people will be an improvised piece of housewares. Mine consisted of balancing a floured rolling pin on some kitchen canisters.

pasta maker

As the pasta is fresh it will take not much time to cook, 6-8 minutes seems about right, just taste it after 6 minutes and see. It has a softer texture to al dente dried pasta but it still has bite. Pasta is such a versatile dish you can add any flavours to it. My second attempt I went for ravioli as I really wanted to try it out and I was pretty pleased with the taste, texture and shape. I had a few problems again but the dough was much easier to work with this time. For Ravioli you want to pass the dough through the machine to the desired thickness. You want to add a small spoonful of your filling in the centre of your sheets, depending on how long your sheet is spread them out. Place another sheet over the top and wetting the edges so they stick. You need to press the pasta down around the filling to make sure there are no pockets of air otherwise they will explode (some of mine did) You then want to cut out your pasta shapes either using a knife or a cutter. I used a round cookie cutter. Cook as the instructions above.

Nom nom nom pumpkin ravioliI created pumpkin and garlic ravioli with a beurre noisette and toasted pumpkin seeds and I loved the taste. Definitely will be having that meal again and experiment with some different flavours

Lorna

x xxx

Thrifty & Nifty Food: Slow cooker Risotto

Slow cooker to the rescueMany a food purist might say you can’t do a risotto in a slow cooker but they would be wrong. If your strapped for time, have a bundle of things to do and still have to make dinner; the slow cooker can be a life saver. Most recipes I do require little more then putting everything in and letting it go. This risotto recipe does require a little more prep but a lot less then if you did risotto the traditional way. The prep took me just 10 minutes and though the cooking time is longer (1 hour and a half) it is a better option when your busy especially if you did the prep earlier on in the day. This recipe is for a mushroom risotto but all flavours are possible.  Ingredients serves 2: 1 cup of risotto rice, a medium onion diced, 1 or 2 garlic cloves diced, 6 medium mushrooms sliced , 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 500ml veg or chicken stock, olive oil

1. I used one frying pan to do the prep (cuts down on washing up) Sauté the onion and garlic till translucent. Meanwhile coat the inside of the slow cooker with olive oil and set on a high heat

2. Once the onions and garlic are done add to the slow cooker, turn the heat up on the pan and add the rice so it takes on the flavours of the pan, just like a regular risotto, add the vinegar and let it bubble till all is absorbed. Add the rice to the slow cooker

3. Add the stock to the slow cooker and add any dried herbs you might want. Stir once to make sure no rice has stuck to the bottom and then leave for between 1 and 2 hours till most of the liquid has been soaked up

Slow cooker risotto4. When there is still a little liquid left to be absorbed turn the slow cooker off as the rice will continue to cook and doesn’t need any more heat (or electricity wasted on it) Sauté the mushrooms in butter and olive oil till soft then mix through the risotto

5. Serve in bowls with fresh herbs and a light side salad, this is comfort food at its best

The risotto definitely doesn’t have the same bite as when done from scratch in a pan and has a softer sticker texture but it tastes just as good and really warms you up on those cold nights. I also wanted to highlight that I love using the slow cooker because it hardly uses any electricity so its good for the environment and your pocket :D I have a electricity monitor from British Gas and it uses only 2p an hour which is way better then using the oven for meals(a whopping 30p) but unfortunately can’t compare it to the stove top as we have a gas one. I still imagine the slow cooker is cheaper then using gas.

Please share your own slow cooker recipes that you love for winter

Lorna

x xxx

p.s. sorry there is no final picture of the end result, this happens a lot with food posts I plan to do, I end up forgetting to take the last picture because I wanna get the food in my belly asap and only remember after I’ve finished, DOH!

Thrifty & Nifty Food: Veggie Burgers

One of the main ways me and H save on our food shop is that we hardly buy any meat. Its expensive and not essential to healthy living so we don’t buy it unless its on offer or a special occasion. I know some people find it hard to give up meat especially if it is what you are use to cooking and eating so a great way  to make the switch is to recreate meaty meals with a veggie alternative and make meat free Mondays a possibility for more people. One of my fav alternatives is super tasty veggie burgers.  The recipe below I’ve used carrots but you can use any root vegetable to make veggie burgers. My other favourite is beetroot burgers which have an earthier flavour and I want to try celeriac as well.

veggie burger mix

Ingredients to make 4 burgers: 3 large carrots, 1 small onion, 1 garlic clove, 3 tbsp of flour, 1 medium egg, herbs and spices of your choice.  Grate the carrot and onion into a bowl, adding thinly diced garlic and your choice of herbs and spices. Mix the ingredients so they are well distributed. Add the egg to the mix and combined well. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. It’s important to let it rest or the mixture will not stick together later. Sprinkle the flour in and mix again. Form the mixture into patties by rolling equal sized balls and then flattening them with the palm of your hand about 2 cm is a good depth. Sprinkle a touch of flour on each side. Add oil to a frying pan over a medium heat, once hot fry the patties on each side for 3-5 minutes until golden.

carrot burgers

I like to serve mine in burger baps with salad and homemade chips, just like a classic burger meal. A pint of beer never goes a miss or if your being good a tall glass of lemonade with fresh lemons and mints. My creation this time came with roast potatoes, sweetcorn and cherry tomatoes plus some herby dressing on the side. Apologies for the naff photos, Its still dark at 4pm so terrible kitchen lighting overhead never makes for pleasant photography.

Lorna

x xxx