That was good, wasn't it – a lovely springy weekend. My real man and I did some gardening, we think, we don’t know much about gardening. Segue coming up!
And talking of things people don’t know much about I was asked recently, by Marks and Spencer no less (hopefully more about this later) what has been the inspiration behind Sudden Lunch and The Leftovers Handbook? I knew the answer immediately – irritation. I am amazed, discombobulated and yes, irritated by all the things people don’t know about food, eating, cooking, best before dates and so on.
I often joke that cooking is just cutting things up and making them hot but realise there is a fair bit more to it than that (plus maybe I’m a natural), cooking really is not at all difficult. I am not suggesting that people learn to cook like … I dunno … Heston Blumenthal or Ottolenghi (or me?!) but it would be time very well invested indeed to learn how to feed yourself quickly, easily, economically, deliciously and to your very own tastes.
To this end I wrote my book, The Leftovers Handbook, with ideas and recipes for over 450 different leftovers, am in the process of writing a series of ebooks on very simple recipes (more about these later too) and, of course, this ...
Whilst I am cooking I find myself quite naturally doing things that maybe don’t occur to everyone which certainly make my life easier and my food better and which could probably help others too, especially those just learning to cook. So here’s a free ebook (it’s in pdf but can easily be converted to read on kindle here) which might help.
Click on the link under the image below and it will take you to a sign up form and thereafter to the pdf. If you would like to received Sudden Lunch directly into your inbox in future you can check the appropriate box but if not, no worries.
|Click here - you know you want to!|
To illustrate my point ...
Because I can cook these are the last three meals I have eaten (not including breakfast) prior to writing this post. For me they take no forward planning whatsoever; as I say the header of this blog “spontaneous eating from store cupboard and leftovers”.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Leek & Chorizo Soup
I had half a butternut squash and half a leek in the fridge plus, of course, chorizo which to me is an essential store cupboard item. I was cooking a roast dinner for my real man so roasted the squash as the oven was already on. I gently cooked the leek in a little oil till meltingly tender, added the roasted squash and enough veg stock (half an oxo and hot water) to just cover. I also added 3 chopped slices of chorizo and simmered for about 10 minutes, puréed it (although just mashing would do) and served myself the result together with 1 small slice of bread which I had torn up, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil and another coarsely chopped slice of chorizo and popped in the hot oven to crisp up.
Time taken about 45 minutes but most of that was just waiting for the squash to cook alongside the beef. It made two portions so I’m guessing about 50p a portion.
Penne Pasta in a Rich Oxtail Sauce
We bought a small bag of oxtail in the bargain department of Tesco for £1.21. I braised it with onions, a little tomato paste, beef stock and splash of red wine and we both had a bowl of lovely stew with a chunk of bread. There was a little left so I reduced it slightly (by simmering), and sauced some pasta with it, Parmesan sprinkle of course. Easy peasy, maybe 15 minutes time and 40p for the meal.
Warm Boursin Scones with Cherry Tomato Salad
I bought two garlic and herb Boursin at a much reduced price so decided to play with some. I have often made a kind of pan-cooked scone called a Singin’ Hinnie (recipe here) and wondered how it would turn out if I used Boursin instead of butter or margarine. It turned out really well so whilst they cooled a little I mixed some chopped tomatoes with a little red onion, olive oil, drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Lunch …
These didn't take long or cost much – 50p say!
Take my advice ...
By simply learning a few basics; including perhaps some idea of what goes with what, and also keeping your favourite basics in the store cupboard then eating really, really well for not much time or money becomes a daily event. Which, incidentally, is wonderful!