I am a big believer in using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. It is something that I try to do at home and is also something I look for when I am eating out at a restaurant. Not only does buying local ingredients support local businesses, the quality of the produce is so much better than buying processed and manufactured alternatives. The meats are fresher and the fruit and vegetables are in season and taste so much better.
I am lucky in terms of the location where I live. I live in a semi-rural village in Lancashire, just across from the coastal towns of Fleetwood and Morecambe and at a mid-point between Blackpool and Lancaster. This means my village is surrounded on one side by the sea and on the other side by farmland. Both are fantastic sources of delicious ingredients.
The coastal location means there is a fresh supply of fish and seafood available and I usually shop at a seafood shop on the docks at Fleetwood.
Two of the best cheese manufacturers in the company are located within driving distance of my home; Dewlay and Butler’s. They both produce delicious ranges of cheese from their farm factories. These are sold directly from their own shops, local farm shops and many other retailers locally. My personal favourite is Lancashire crumbly.
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Pork, beef, chicken and lamb are all available from local sources and sold in local butchers. There is also one of the biggest game hatcheries in the country, Hi-Fly, just one mile from my house and there are even ostrich farms in the surrounding area.
The area in which I live is fantastic for anyone who enjoys farmers markets as these are held regularly in many locations in the local area. Not only are these a good place to buy the produce that is raised and grown locally, it is also a great place to sample foods created using locally sourced produce. This includes everything from pies to chutneys. Similarly, there are amazing farm shops in Lancashire and there are events that cater to food lovers throughout the year.
I am a big fan of spice and Indian dishes are my favorite type of cuisine. Occasionally, I also enjoy eating vegetarian food. Therefore, it makes sense that saag aloo is one of my top Indian vegetarian dishes to make. This spinach and potato based dish is meat-free, budget-friendly, packed full of flavour and easy to make. My family either enjoy it as a main dish served with rice or as an accompaniment to a curry. Here is a quick and simple recipe for how to make saag aloo.
Ingredients for Saag Aloo
- 3tbsps ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
- 1 red and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 level teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 level teaspoon turmeric
- 500g potatoes cut into chunks
- 250g bag washed spinach leaves
- black pepper
How to Make Saag Aloo
- Put the chopped potatoes into a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions, chillies, ginger, and garlic.
- Drain the potatoes as soon as the water begins to boil.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.
- Add the onions, chillies, garlic, and ginger to the frying pan.
- When the onions have turned golden and softened, add the turmeric and cumin.
- Next, add the par-boiled potatoes.
- Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pan.
- As the spinach begins to wilt, stir in the mixture.
- Cook for a further five minutes on a medium heat to allow the flavor of the spices to infuse the potatoes and the spinach.
- Serve with rice or naan bread.
- Meat lovers– you can easily adapt this to a meat dish by adding chicken, beef or lamb.
- Different textures– you can leave the spinach leaves, whole, roughly chop them or finely chop them.
- Spice levels– you can experiment with different levels of spice to suit your taste by adding more or less of ingredients including garlic, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and cumin.
France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside. However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses. In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups. To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time. However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.
This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named. The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour. Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.
Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk. Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture. In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.
This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced. This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars. There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.
The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola. Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green. Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour. In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.
Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese.
The other day I posted about using up your leftovers and said I was planning on adding some of my leftover recipes to the blog. I also posted a recipe for corned beef hash. Therefore, it made sense to me that the first recipe for using up leftovers was corned beef fritters. If you have used my corned beef hash recipe and have leftovers, then making fritters is a great idea. It takes just seconds to transform the dish into something that tastes completely different. Here is how to make corned beef fritters.
Corned Beef Fritters
- Divide your leftover corned beef hash into balls about the size of your fist.
- Roll each piece into a ball and then press down to create a thick disc.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan until it is sizzling.
- Add the fritters and cook for a few minutes until the underneath has turned golden brown and crispy.
- Flip over the fritters onto the other side using a flat fish lift.
- Cook the second side for a few minutes until the fritters are hot in the centre and both sides are golden and crispy.
- Serve immediately to retain the crunch.
- Add vegetables- You can change the flavor each time you make these by adding different cooked vegetables to the leftover corned beef hash. Garden peas, sweetcorn, or cooked carrots work particularly well.
If you missed the corned beef hash recipe, you can read it here.
Many people are dubious about cooking with leftovers. However, there are many delicious things you can make and it makes economic sense for those on a budget to make the most out of the food they have paid for with their hard earned money. This is certainly the case in my house as I have to sit in front of the computer writing for many hours to earn the cash to put food on my children’s plates. Therefore, I quite often transform the leftovers into new and delicious meals for the children. The saying in my house is ‘waste not, want not’!
Something that I cook every week is a joint of meat and I usually serve this as a roast dinner. There are three reasons why I cook a joint of meat:
- The whole family loves roast dinners
- There is always enough meat left for a meal the next day
- It saves both time and money
On the second day, there is a wide range of meals I make with the leftovers, depending on the type of meat I have cooked. Typical meals include stews, curries, and stir-frys. Even a novice in the kitchen can make a delicious sandwich or salad with the leftover meat.
As my ethos is not to waste food, you will see several recipes and cooking suggestions for ways to use leftovers on this blog over the next few months. Hopefully, I can help to give others some ideas that will stop them wasting food while also saving them time and money.
Corned beef hash is not one of the most glamorous meals and it certainly isn’t something that you could classify as a fine dining experience. However, it is absolutely delicious, quick and easy to make, a budget-friendly option, and the kids love it. Here is how to make corned beef hash.
Ingredients for Corned Beef Hash
- 1 x tin of corned beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 kg white potatoes
- 2 tbsp gravy granules
- Salt and pepper to season
How to Make Corned Beef Hash
- Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.
- Add the potatoes to a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
- While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop a large onion and dice the contents of a tine of corned beef.
- Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil before adding the onions.
- Cook the onions until they are softened and brown and then add the corned beef to the pan.
- When the potatoes have softened (check with a fork) drain most of the water from the pan. You will need a little if you want a small amount of gravy in your corned beef hash.
- Transfer the potatoes and the remaining water to the frying pan and mix into the corned beef and onions.
- Sprinkle over the gravy granules and season the dish with pepper.
- Cook the ingredients together for a further five minutes before serving.
Leftovers- If you have any leftover corned beef hash, do not throw it away. Instead, refrigerate it overnight and use it the next day to make delicious homemade corned beef fritters.
Serving– I usually serve this with peas and some pickled red cabbage. My partner and kids also like sliced bread and butter with corned beef hash.
Although pancakes are traditionally eaten on Pancake Day, they are just as great at any time of the year. Often, people associate pancakes with desserts. However, they are also fantastic as a savoury dish. There are many different fillings you can add to a pancake, but cheese, ham and mushroom is a great combination. Here is how to make savoury pancakes with a cheese, bacon and mushroom filling.
NB: This recipe makes 12 European-style thin pancakes, also known as crepes, and will serve six people if you each have two savoury pancakes.
Pancake Batter Ingredients
- 3 1/2 oz/ 100 g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 10 fl. oz/ 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable, plus extra oil for frying
- A pinch of salt
Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Filling Ingredients
- 2 x 180g tubs of soft cheese
- 8 rashers of smoked bacon
- 4 oz/ 100g chopped button mushrooms
- Black pepper
How to Make Pancake Batter
- Put the flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Crack the eggs into the centre of the flour and add the oil.
- Gently combine with a whisk to create a thick mixture.
- Gradually add the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the pancakes.
How to Make the Savoury Filling
- Make the savoury filling before starting to make your crepes.
- Cook the rashers of smoked bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat.
- When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan.
- Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan in which the bacon was cooked and fry until brown.
- Add the two tubs of soft cheese and turn down to a low heat.
- Season with black pepper and stir mixture.
- Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces before returning to the pan.
- Stir well for even distribution.
- Keep the filling on a low heat while making the pancakes.
- Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
- Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
- Once hot, pour some pancake mixture into the centre of the pan and tilt to coat the base with a thin layer of the batter.
- Cook for one minute before turning the pancake over. Either, use a flat fish lift to do this or, if you are brave enough, toss the pancake.
- Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.
- To serve, lie a pancake on a plate and add some of the filling in a line down the centre of the pancake.
- Fold the pancake over the top of the filling and then roll.