Monday, 28 March 2011

Foodie-Movie of the Week: Julie and Julia

When you are feeling hungover - or generally tired and a little the worse for wear - there is nothing like settling down with a cup of (green) tea in front of a really comforting movie... more specifically, a comforting movie that heavily features FOOD. I thought it would be fun to create a list of the top ten Foodie movies, ripe for the picking on any given drab and headachey afternoon....

Julie and Julia
First in line has to be 'Julie and Julia', the perfect Hangover-Day film. It is extremely easy on the eyes, for one thing - one of the opening scenes sees Amy Adams' character making a chocolate pie thing, while Meryl Streep (playing Julia Child) swans and bellows her way around 1950s Paris. If you're feeling hungry but lazy, this film will evoke in you a desire to cook; and the scene near the end where Julie is celebrating with her friends (see below) makes me pine for a similar party! Food, booze, friends and a view of New York...

A Light Hangover Breakfast

Poached egg with mushrooms, tomatoes and watercress.

This is a really great breakfast hangover cure which will make you feel a lot better than a greasy full English would. A serving of watercress is alleged to have more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than a glass of milk and is packed with a large amount of anti-oxidants which keep your skin looking bright. Just the thing you need after a half a dozen more beers than necessary....

Handful of watercress
Handful of sliced mushrooms
Handful of cherry tomatoes (Cherry tomatoes give the dish a lovely, lovely touch of sweetness.)
1 egg (or 2 depending on the degree of your hunger/hangover.)
Chili oil for frying and dressing the watercress (Good olive oil will suffice - though chili oil will really aid your hangover recovery.)
Salt & pepper
A splash of balsamic vinegar

To Cook:
1. Fry the mushrooms in a large pan with the tomatoes - as the tomatoes heat up you'll be able to squish the juices out of them using your wooden spoon.
2. Meanwhile, heat the water for your poached egg.
3. Dress your watercress with chili oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
4. Once your water is simmering, poach the egg (do this by swirling the water with the end of a slotted spoon and crack the egg in, remove after 1-2mins with your slotted spoon.)
5. Arrange the watercress, mushrooms/tomatoes and egg onto a plate and eat slowly to ease your hangover.
(The addition of a good sourdough bread would be very welcome.)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Springtime Pasta

I made this when I was craving something fresh-tasting and reasonably healthy; it is incredibly straightforward - just roasted peppers, onions in a tomato sauce and topped with kalamata olives and fresh chopped parsley. I always uses fusilli but of course this would be great with spagetti or whatever really...


3x fresh peppers (for colour I love the orange, red and yellow ones - green peppers tend to be bitter)
1 x red onion
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes: preferably a good brand as this is such a frugal dish anyway
500g fusilli pasta (enough for three people in this case - one must allow enough for a proper gorge!)
A generous scattering of kalamata olives
Likewise fresh parsley
A dash of dried oregano
Likewise Lea and Perrins
Salt and pepper
GOOD olive oil to grill peppers and fry onion in

To prepare and cook:

Put three or four peppers on a tray with a generous amount of olive oil and place under the grill until the skins are charred enough to remove; slice into chunky slithers and put to one side. Slowly fry an onion before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes, followed by the peppers. Season with a good shake of dried oregano, sea salt and pepper. Reduce the sauce until it has thickened - add the olives and a swish of lea and perrins worchestire sauce, and finally throw on the parsley. When the pasta has cooked, drain and throw it into the sauce pan, before mixing it together; and voila!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Languid Lentils

This dish is perfect if you're feeling under the weather or a bit melancholic. It's easily to prepare as you can stand by the stove-top languidly stirring. What makes this dish so extraordinarily soothing is the dash of red wine - your spirits can't help but be lifted at the scent of hot red wine.
Best served with a sympathetic friend and a good loaf of bread.

Lentils (Organic green lentils have been used here, the angst-y colour seems to go well - allow two spilling handfuls per person, though there are no hard and fast rules in regards to quantities here.)
1 red onion
500ml Chicken Stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
A generous glass of red wine
A bunch of chopped coriander (optional)
Worcestershire sauce

1. Prepare the lentils according to the packet, most require a 20min soak in cold water followed by a 20min simmer on the stove.
2. Fry the onions and garlic over a low-medium heat (Chili oil is recommended for a nice kick)
3. Add the cooked lentils and chicken stock to the pan.
4. Add the red wine and Worcestershire sauce.
5. Simmer down until the liquid has reduced, you may wish to have more of a soupy mixture, which is particularly good if you are fighting an illness of some sort.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the chopped coriander and serve with bread.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Store Cupboard Brownies

These were actually made by my sister, but I had to post them! Give these to anyone and I promise they will like you, (a fact likely owing the extremely high sugar content.) They are particularly good with either fresh coffee in the afternoon or with a cup of roobios tea in the evening.

Unlike most brownies, they do not contain actual chocolate, so as long as you have a well stocked store cupboard, they should be fairly easy to knock up with little hassle.


175g butter
70g cocoa
3 eggs
335g caster sugar
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

1.Cream the butter, eggs and sugar together.
2.Beat in the flour & vanilla.
3.Melt the butter and cocoa together and fold into the egg/butter/flour/sugar mixture.
4.Put into a GREASED AND LINED baking tray (about 20cm x 20cm)
(A handful of chopped nuts or chocolate chips can be thrown into the mixture at this stage.)
5.Cook in an oven at 180 for between 25 - 35mins (you can tell they're cooked if they the mixture doesn't wobble and starts to crack on top.)
6.Cool for 20mins before cutting into bite-sized squares.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Ginger-spiced Vegtable Pie

This is a great pie to make if you're having friends over for supper. To start with, it's vegetarian - so there is no reason to worry about your guests dietary requirements. Also, it's rather frugal, though your guests would never realise!
If you're making the pastry from scratch, then the preparatory process will be lengthy. Though, overall, this pie is easy and pretty much foolproof.

For the pastry:
50g Butter (your life will be easier if it's room temp)
100g Plain Flour
A little water

Don't be afraid of making pastry, (it's incredibly cheap, and not that hard to do - children make it in school)
Absent minded-ly rub the butter and flour together between your fingertips until the consistency resembles bread-crumbs.
Add a little water at a time and bind the crumb-like mixture together using a knife to form a ball of pastry. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to firm.

(If you are using ready-made pastry, then you may enjoy sitting in front of the tv with a cup of tea instead of pawing at flour and butter.)

For the filling:
2cm fresh ginger
3 gloves of garlic
1 chili pepper (chili alterations such as dried chili, etc, will work fine.)
3 peppers
75g mushrooms
1 onion
1 carrot
1/2 courgette
sweet chili relish.
Oil for frying

(The aforementioned vegetables are merely suggestions, use whatever you can get your mitts on)
1. Chop your chosen vegetables up.
2. Crush the garlic, grate the ginger and chop the chili. Fry over a LOW heat for a few minutes.
3. Add the chopped vegetables and heat them over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until soft. 4. Add 3 tablespoons of your sweet chili relish and mix into the softened vegetables.
5. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface and arrange in a greased pie tin, or similarly suitable vessel.
6. Put the vegetable mixture into the pie case and create an artful pastry arrangement to form the lid of the pie.
7. Cook in a moderate oven for 30mins, until golden.

Nice served with new potatoes and a crisp salad.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Plum Crumble

Yet another comforting /frugal/British dish.

Sunday evenings seem to beg for some kind of pudding which could well have have been made in a war-time kitchen. Tonight is no exception; this dish is oh so comforting and homely. Plus, of course, exceedingly easy, the measurements are guidelines, there are no rules and regulations with dishes such as this!

A punnet of plums
Spoon (or 2) of sugar
125g plain flour
100g butter (room temp)
50g rolled oats (optional)
50g sugar (any kind.)

To Cook:
1. Cut the plums and remove their stones.
2. Place them in a saucepan with a splash of water and the spoon(s) of sugar- sweeten to taste. Heat over a medium flame, stirring occasionally until soft and approaching a jam-like state.
3. In the mean time, make the topping by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a bread-crumb like consistency.
4. Put the plum mixture on the bottom of a deep, oven proof, dish. Cover with the crumble top and sprinkle a spoon of sugar over it.
5. Place in a moderate oven (170/180) for about 30mins until the topping starts to brown.
6. Serve with cream or custard and alleviate your woes.