RECIPE: Corned Beef Fritters

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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.

TIPS

  • 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.

 

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RECIPE: Savoury Cheese, Bacon and Mushroom Pancakes

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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 

  1. Make the savoury filling before starting to make your crepes.
  2. Cook the rashers of smoked bacon in a frying pan on a medium heat. 
  3. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan in which the bacon was cooked and fry until brown.
  5. Add the two tubs of soft cheese and turn down to a low heat.
  6. Season with black pepper and stir mixture.
  7. Chop the cooked bacon into small pieces before returning to the pan.
  8. Stir well for even distribution.
  9. Keep the filling on a low heat while making the pancakes. 

Cooking Pancakes

  1. Put some vegetable oil on a piece of kitchen roll and wipe around a medium-sized frying pan to grease.
  2. Put the frying pan on a medium heat on your hob.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cook on the second side for one minute and then serve.
  6. To serve, lie a pancake on a plate and add some of the filling in a line down the centre of the pancake. 
  7. Fold the pancake over the top of the filling and then roll.

RECIPE: Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

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This vegetarian dish is delicious as a meal on its own or as a vegetable accompaniment to meat. It is quick and simple to make as it just involves cooking broccoli and cauliflower and then adding a cheese sauce. I use double the amount of the basic cheese sauce recipe when I am making this and add some mustard for extra flavour. I also switch the white pepper to black. Here is how to make a delicious broccoli and cauliflower gratin.

Ingredients for Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

 

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 oz/ 50 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 50 g plain flour
  • 6 oz/ 160 g cheese for the sauce
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for topping
  • 2 slices of stale bread, crumbed
  • 2 tbsp English mustard
  • 1200 ml/ 2-pint milk
  • Black pepper and salt

How to Make Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Remove the leaves and main stem from the cauliflower and broccoli, then break into florets.
  3. Add cauliflower and broccoli to a pan of salted boiling water.
  4. While the broccoli and cauliflower are cooking, start the cheese sauce.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  6. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  7. Cook for two minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  9. Season with the salt and black pepper  and add the mustard.
  10. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  12. Drain the broccoli and cauliflower before adding to a large, oven-proof dish. Any excess water will cause the sauce to split, so dabbing with kitchen paper can help to make sure the broccoli and cauliflower are thoroughly dry.
  13. Pour over the cheese sauce so it is evenly distributed.
  14. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the dish and then add breadcrumbs.
  15. Cook on a high heat in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top of the dish is golden brown. 

TIPS

Meat lovers– If you do not enjoy vegetarian meals, this is delicious if you add your leftover ham

 

RECIPE: Creamy Chicken, Chorizo, and Tomato Pasta Bake

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Pasta dishes are some of the simplest and quickest to make. That makes them perfect for busy families who want something delicious and nutritious for their tea but don’t have hours to spare for food preparation. This creamy chicken, chorizo and tomato pasta bake is really tasty and very simple to make. Here is how to make creamy chicken, chorizo, and tomato pasta bake.

Ingredients for Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  • 10oz/ 300g dried penne pasta
  • 3 diced chicken breasts
  • 3 1/2oz/ 100 g chorizo, chopped
  • 400g chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5oz/ 150 g chopped mozzarella cheese
  • 3oz/ 75g soft cheese
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 oz/ 30g torn fresh basil
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  1. Prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220 C/ Gas mark 8.
  3. In accordance with the instructions on the packet, cook your pasta in salted boiling water.
  4. In a large frying pan, cook the chorizo for 3-4 minutes over a high heat until the oils from the chorizo are released.
  5. Next, add both the chicken and the crushed garlic to the pan. Cook for a further five minutes.
  6. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes and tip in the can of chopped tomatoes. Bring the mixture to simmering point.
  7. Add the soft cheese and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce and has a creamy consistency and appearance.
  8. Add half the oregano and three-quarters of the fresh basil.
  9. Drain the cooked penne pasta and transfer to the mixture.
  10. Stir well to make sure the pasta is thoroughly coated in the sauce and the chicken and chorizo are evenly distributed.
  11. Season with black pepper and stir through.
  12. Transfer everything from the frying pan to an oven-proof dish.
  13. Sprinkle over the chopped mozzarella, the parmesan and the remaining oregano.
  14. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the mozzarella and parmesan topping is bubbling and golden.
  15. Serve onto plates or into pasta bowls and sprinkle over the remaining basil to garnish.  

TIPS

  • Switch the meat– this dish works just as well with diced turkey if you prefer this to chicken.
  • Pasta alternatives– this recipe uses penne pasta, but most other varieties of pasta will work just as well.
  • Fresh pasta– If you prefer, you can make fresh pasta. However, you will need to adapt the cooking time as this cooks in just minutes.
  • Serving suggestion– This is fantastic with a tossed side salad and crunchy garlic bread.

Cooking Conversions Confusion

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One of the things that I find the most confusing about following recipes from the Internet is the different measurements used. Some are imperial, some in metric and others in cups.  I always want to ask if it is a big cup or a small cup?

This isn’t something that bothers me too much as I am not a strict follower of recipes. I have more of a tendency to use my senses, such as taste, sight and touch, to decide if a recipe is going well or not. I also have enough cooking experience to tell if the processes look right and if the quantities will do what they are supposed to be doing in a dish, whether this is adding flavour, thickening a sauce or changing the colour. 

To make things easier for other people who use recipes off the Internet, I thought I would add in this simple guide for cooking conversions.

Volume

  • 250 ml = 8 fl oz = 1 cup
  • 180 ml = 6 fl oz = 3/4 cup
  • 150 ml =5 fl oz = 2/3 cup
  • 120 ml=4 fl oz =1/2 cup
  • 75 ml = 2 1/2 fl oz = 1/3 cup
  • 60 ml = 2 1/4 fl oz = 1/4 cup
  • 30 ml = 1 fl oz = 1/8 cup
  • 15 ml = 1/2 fl oz = 1 tablespoon

Weights

  • 1/2 oz = 15 g
  • 1 oz = 30 g
  • 2 oz = 60g
  • 3 oz = 90 g
  • 4 oz = 110 g
  • 5 oz = 140 g
  • 6 oz = 170 g
  • 7 oz = 200 g
  • 8 oz = 225 g
  • 9 oz = 255 g
  • 10 oz = 280 g
  • 11 oz = 310 g
  • 12 oz = 340 g
  • 13 oz = 370 g
  • 14 oz = 400g
  • 15 oz = 425 g
  • 1 lb = 450g

The US cup measurements are more complex for weights as it depends on the ingredient. You can find an easy online guide here: http://allrecipes.co.uk/how-to/44/cooking-conversions.aspx

RECIPE: 15-Minute Pea and Ham Soup

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People often assume that making a soup takes a lot of preparation and that the ingredients take a long time to cook to get a decent flavour. However, there are ways that you can make a quick soup in under ten minutes without resorting to making a soup from a packet. This really simple pea and ham soup takes less than fifteen minutes to make and is a fantastic way of using up your leftover ham and ham stock. This is a light lunch on its own or a hearty lunch when served with a large chunk of warm bread. If the measurements of this recipe seem a bit vague, that is because they intentionally are as you can adapt this to your own taste. This will make enough for two bowls of soup. If you have more ham and stock left, simply make more and freeze for a later date. Here is how to make a 15-minute pea and ham soup.

Ingredients for Pea and Ham Soup

  • 2 tins of garden peas in water
  • 2 thick slices of leftover ham chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of ham stock
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 1 oz (large knob) butter
  • Black pepper

Instructions for Pea and Ham Soup

  1. On a medium heat, melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped onions.
  2. Drain two tins of garden peas.
  3. Once onions are softened, add peas to the pan and add enough boiling water to just cover the peas.
  4. Simmer for two minutes and then add the ham stock.
  5. Cook for a further two minutes before adding most of the cream and black pepper to season. Save a little cream for serving.
  6. Blend the ingredients in a blender to the consistency you want and then transfer back into the pan.
  7. Add the ham and cook for another two minutes to warm through the meat. 
  8. Transfer the soup to bowls and add a swirl of cream for decoration.
  9. Serve with warm crusty bread or croutons.

Cooking Tips for Students on a Budget

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When people leave home to become a student, it is the start of a new chapter of their lives. Along with the freedom and independence come additional responsibilities which require the development of new life skills. Two such skills are cooking and budgeting. The majority of students will have limited funds and will need to cover bills in their new accommodation as well as making sure they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To achieve this on such limited funds can be tricky, but it is manageable with a little thought and planning into shopping and the preparation of food. Here are some ideas of some staple foods that every student should buy and some ideas for student meals on a budget.

Pulses

These are a much cheaper source of protein than meat. They can be used to make vegetarian alternatives to meals or to bulk up a meal if only a small amount of meat can be afforded. Chilli con Carne is one such meal where meat can be entirely replaced, or kidney beans and haricot (or baked) beans can be used to bulk up the meal using only a small amount of minced meat.  Beans on toast are also a really quick snack or meal to eat that is cheap and packed with nutrients. Opt for tins with low salt and sugar content.

Rice

Rice is usually really cheap to buy and you can buy it in large bags to store for long periods of time, thus avoiding wasting money and food. You can use rice as a side dish to accompany another item, such as a curry, or to create a dish on its own. Adding spices, small amounts of meat or fish and as many vegetables as you like are quick, easy, cheap and tasty ways to use rice. Rice is also an ingredient that you can experiment with a little as it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients with which it is served.

Pasta

Similarly, pasta is inexpensive and you can but it in large quantities that store for long periods of time. There are countless ways of serving pasta.  One really easy and cheap option is to simply add a tomato sauce to the pasta.  You can do this either by using a jar of pasta sauce or making a homemade sauce using fresh tomatoes and some herbs. A simple ratatouille added to the pasta is another option for a cheap, tasty and nutritious dish. There are many variations of this but frying courgette, tomatoes and peppers together is really easy even for an amateur cook. Other options with pasta include tuna pasta bake, pasta carbonara (adding cheese, ham and mushrooms) or spaghetti bolognese. 

Experiment

Finally, the best advice that can be given to a student is to experiment with the food you create. Buy lots of things that store well and try out different combinations of ingredients together. Keep a stock of dried herbs and spices in the cupboard so you can get experimental with flavours in your cooking.