RECIPE: Basil Pesto

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If you want a quick, simple and tasty tea, then pasta served with green pesto is a great choice. Making your own pesto is simple and, in addition to serving with pasta dishes, you can use the pesto as an ingredient in many other recipes. Here is an easy recipe for basil pesto. 

Ingredients for Basil Pesto

  • 80g fresh basil
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 150 ml olive oil

How to Make Basil Pesto

  1. Put a small pan over a medium heat on the pan and add the pine nuts.
  2. Cook for five minutes, shaking occasionally, to lightly toast the nuts. 
  3. Transfer the pine nuts to a food processor with all the other ingredients.
  4. Blitz to combine the ingredients.
  5. Your basil pesto is now ready to use with pasta or as an ingredient for another dish. 
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RECIPE: Leek and Potato Soup

leek soup

Soup is one of the easiest and cheapest soups to make and there are so many variations. One of my personal favourites is leek and potato soup. This creamy soup is ideal for any time of the year and can be used for a starter, a lunch or as a main meal when served with a generous chunk of fresh bread and butter. Here is an easy recipe for leek and potato soup that serves four to six people.

Ingredients for Leek and Potato Soup

  • 3 leeks, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1.2 litres/ 2 pints vegetable stock
  • 150 ml/ 5 fl. oz. double cream
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped chives for serving

How to Make Leek and Potato Soup

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the leeks and potatoes and cook for five minutes or until they are beginning to soften.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Either use a hand blender to blend the mixture to the consistency of your choice or transfer to a food processor for blending before returning to the pan. 
  5. Put the soup on a low heat, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Stir in most of the cream, retaining just a little for the top. 
  7. Cook for a further five minutes.
  8. Serve into soup bowls and decorate with a small swirl of cream and a sprinkle of chives. 

RECIPE: Cottage Pie

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British food is all about using simple ingredients from Britain to create tasty, filling dishes. The perfect example of a traditional British dish is cottage pie. This simple classic is a family favourite in homes across Britain as it is easy and cheap to make and hit with members of the family of all ages. If you are not familiar with a cottage pie, it consists of a base made with minced meat and rich gravy that is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes. This is usually served with seasonal vegetables. Here is an easy recipe for cottage pie for six people.

Ingredients for Cottage Pie

  • 800g minced beef
  • 1.5 kg potatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200g mushrooms, chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 50 ml milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp gravy granules
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Cottage Pie

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks and put into a large saucepan filled with water.
  2. Season the potatoes with a little salt and put the saucepan on a high heat on the hob for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4 and heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the minced beef to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until meat is beginning to brown. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and make sure all the meat is browned.
  5. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for a further five minutes.
  6. Season the meat, onions, and mushrooms with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour enough boiling water over the meat to just cover it.
  8. Stir in the gravy granules and cook for ten minutes on a reduced heat.
  9. While the meat is cooking in the gravy, drain the potatoes and return to the pan.
  10. Put the saucepan on the hob over a low heat.
  11. Add the milk and butter and season with pepper. 
  12. Mash the potatoes thoroughly so there are no lumps. Using a fork to whisk the potatoes after mashing can help get rid of any remaining lumps. 
  13. Tip the mince and gravy mixture into a large ovenproof dish.
  14. Using a spoon, add the mashed potatoes to the top of the minced beef. Alternatively, use a piping bag to create a patterned topping.
  15. If you have spooned the mashed potatoes on, smooth them out using the back of a spoon and then run a fork along the top to create a pattern. This will help some parts to crisp a little in the oven.
  16. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15-minutes until the top is beginning to brown and the gravy is coming up the sides of the dish. 
  17. Serve with either seasonal vegetables or peas and pickles. 

 

RECIPE: Easy Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce

tomato and basil sauce

Italian food is a favourite in my house and I enjoy cooking this cuisine because it consists of simple ingredients and flavours. Italian food is also usually really quick and easy to make and well-suited to those who are cooking on a budget. One of the easiest things to make is pasta in a tomato and basil sauce. This is something that you can also liven up by adding a vast range of ingredients to this basic dish. Making your own sauce for the pasta is simple and far more delicious than anything you can buy out of a jar. Here is an easy recipe for tomato and basil pasta sauce.

Ingredients for Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce

  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A handful of fresh basil, torn
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the crushed garlic and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and sugar to the pan. 
  4. Increase the heat to bring the tomato sauce to the boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
  6. Add the torn basil and season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Cook for another two minutes and then stir into cooked, drained pasta.

 

RECIPE: Celery and Apple Soup

celery soup

Soup is one of the easiest and cheapest meals to make and there are so many different varieties you can try. They are a great option for a light lunch and soup is something you can make in batches in advance so you have it ready to warm through when hunger strikes. This recipe for celery and apple soup is delicious and refreshing. Here is how to make celery and apple soup.

Ingredients for Celery and Apple Soup

  • 1 head of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 250ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped chives

How to Make Celery and Apple Soup

  1. Heat the butter in a large pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the potatoes, celery, and onion and cook for five minutes.
  3. Add the apple and the vegetable stock and turn up the heat to bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Either blend the ingredients using a hand blender or transfer to a food processor and blend before returning to the pan.
  6. Add the milk and stir through.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Bring the soup back to the boil.
  9. Serve into soup bowls and sprinkle with chopped chives.

RECIPE: Ham and Cheese Macaroni

macaroni cheese

Whether you have some leftover ham from a gammon joint that you want to use up or you want a simple but tasty meal to make, ham and cheese macaroni is a fantastic choice. The addition of ham to a classic macaroni cheese dish completely transforms this meal. It is a great budget option and really easy to make. Furthermore, it will probably be a hit with all the family. Here is an easy recipe for ham and cheese macaroni.

Ingredients for Ham and Cheese Macaroni

  • 18 oz/ 500 g dried pasta (macaroni or a similar variety of pasta)
  • 3 slices of leftover ham
  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for the sauce
  • 2 oz/ 50g cheese for the topping
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • 2 tsp English mustard (optional)
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make Ham and Cheese Macaroni 

  1. Measure your ingredients first and preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Cook the pasta in a saucepan according to pack instructions. I would remove a few minutes from the cooking time so it is al dente as the pasta will continue to cook in the cheese sauce. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  4. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  5. Cook for two minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  7. Season with the salt and white pepper, add the mustard (optional) and stir through.
  8. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  10. Drain the pasta when cooked and transfer to either a large ovenproof dish or individual ovenproof dishes.
  11. Using a ladle, spoon over the cheese sauce evenly.
  12. Shred your ham and stir into the mixture.
  13. Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top of the dishes. 
  14. Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
  15. If you have cooked one large macaroni cheese, spoon onto plates. If you have cooked individual portions, transfer the individual bowls to plates. 
  16. Serve with salad, vegetables, or garlic bread. 

RECIPE: Bombay Potatoes

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Bombay potatoes is a traditional Indian side dish that also works well as a main course option for vegetarians. There are many variations of this dish as people often use different spices or add alternative ingredients. It is simple to make as it consists of just potatoes, tomatoes, and spices. Another bonus is that it is a really cheap meal option, so it is great for people on a budget. Therefore, even if you are an Indian cooking novice, this is a simple dish to make. Here is an easy recipe for Bombay potatoes.

Ingredients for Bombay Potatoes

 

  • 3 large potatoes cut into chunks
  • 1-inch chunk of peeled ginger, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 chilli, deseeded
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

 

How to Make Bombay Potatoes

  1. Boil the potato chunks in salted water until cooked (approximately 15 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, add one of the chopped tomatoes, the ginger, the garlic cloves and the chilli to a blender and whizz into a paste. 
  3. Add the oil to a saucepan and put over a medium heat. 
  4. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook for two minutes.
  5. Add the chopped onion and cook for a further two minutes.
  6. Add the ground spices and cook for one more minute.
  7. Add the salt and the paste of tomato, chilli, ginger, and garlic. Cook for two more minutes.
  8. Add the second diced tomato and cook for five minutes.
  9. Drain the cooked chopped tomato and add to the pan. 
  10. Stir through until all the potatoes are coated in the mixture.
  11. Cook for a further five minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb the flavour.
  12. Add the chopped fresh coriander at the last minute and then serve.