This is one of my children’s favourite meals, so it is something I make fairly often. Yesterday, I posted a recipe for loaded potato skins and I wrote a note that you shouldn’t waste the insides of the potatoes as you can use them for many other dishes. I used mine to create the fishcakes that are photographed here. However, I have written the recipe in the way I make the fishcakes when I do not have leftover potato flesh making mashed potatoes from scratch. If you are using leftovers, then simply skip that part of the recipe and move straight on to the stage where you are combining the potatoes with the other ingredients. These fishcakes are good for those on a budget and really simple to make. However, it can get a little messy assembling them, but this is why my kids love cooking these with me. You can serve them one fishcake each for a starter or two for a main course. Here is an easy recipe for tuna fishcakes with lightly spiced mayonnaise. This makes enough for eight fishcakes.
Ingredients for Tuna Fishcakes
- 6 large white potatoes
- 2 tins of tuna
- 1 200g tin sweetcorn
- 2 eggs
- 5 tbsp plain flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for Lightly Spiced Mayonnaise
- 8 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
How to Make Tuna Fishcakes and Lightly Spiced Mayonnaise
- Peel the potatoes and quarter them.
- Add to a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pan but not over the heat.
- Mash the potatoes with either a masher or a fork.
- Put the mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl and leave to cool for ten minutes.
- Drain the tins of tuna and sweetcorn thoroughly.
- Add both the tuna and the sweetcorn to the potato.
- Using a fork, work the potato, tuna, and sweetcorn together.
- Beat one of the eggs in a cup or bowl and then add to the tuna and potato mix.
- Stir the beaten the mixture as this will help to bind the ingredients together.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir through again.
- Divide the mixture into eight balls and press into patties on your work surface.
- Put them on a baking tray and transfer to the refrigerator for ten minutes. This will prevent them from falling apart when you are adding the coating.
- While the fishcakes are in the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
- Beat the second egg in a small bowl.
- Add the flour to a side plate and season with black pepper.
- Crush the packets of ready salted crisps and then put half of them onto a side plate.
- Remove your fishcakes from the refrigerator.
- One at a time, dip them on both sides in the seasoned flour first, then into the beaten egg, and finally pat them onto the crushed crisps.
- As each one is coated, put it back on the baking tray.
- Repeat this until all the fishcakes are coated. When you have run out of crisps, simply add the other two bags fo crushed crisps to the plate. If you have crisps leftover in the bowl, pat the crumbs into the top of the fishcakes.
- Put the baking tray in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the top of the fishcakes are turning golden.
- Remove from the oven and turn the fishcakes over using a flatfish lift.
- Return to the oven for a further ten minutes, or until the fishcakes are golden and crunchy on both sides.
- While the fishcakes are cooking, spoon the mayonnaise into a bowl.
- Add the chilli powder and smoked paprika. Stir in well.
- Serve the fishcakes with a side salad and a generous dollop of lightly spiced mayonnaise.
Pre-recipe warning, this one is not good for the waistline. However, it is absolutely delicious! This is the sort of comfort food that you can serve at any time of the year and as either a starter or a main meal, depending on the size of the portion. Here is an easy recipe for loaded potato skins that makes 24 skins.
Ingredients for Loaded Potato Skins
- 6 large white potatoes
- 250g hard cheese, such as Cheddar, grated
- 6 rashers of bacon
- To serve- soured cream and chives
How to Make Loaded Potato Skins
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
- Wash and dry the potatoes and put on a baking tray.
- Put the tray in the oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the skins are beginning to brown and the potatoes feel soft when you squeeze them (using an oven glove).
- 10 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, add the rashers of bacon to another baking tray and put in the oven so they are cooked and ready to remove at the same time as the potatoes.Turn off the oven.
- Leave the potatoes on the side to cool and break your bacon into small pieces.
- When the potatoes are cooled, cut in half.
- Scoop out most of the soft potato flesh to leave hollow skins with just a thin layer of potato. (See tip for ways to use the leftover potato).
- Turn on your deep fat fryer and set to around 180C.
- While this is heating, cut the potatoes lengthways so that each potato skin is a quarter of a potato.
- Fry the potato skins in batches for five minutes until browned and crispy and then transfer onto the baking tray.
- Sprinkle over the cheese and pieces of bacon.
- Turn on the grill and place the loaded potato skins under for long enough to melt the cheese.
- Serve the skins with a dollop of soured cream sprinkled with chopped chives.
Don’t waste the potato filling! There are plenty of things you can do with it. Since cooking the loaded potato skins yesterday, I have made crunchy tuna fishcakes for tea tonight. You can also mash it up to serve with meat or as a topping for a fish pie or cottage pie.
Over the past couple of months, I have heard several celebrity chefs raving about whole roasted cauliflowers on various television series. As my family loves cauliflower, it is something I have been meaning to try for a while. I did a bit of recipe research on the Internet and then developed my own idea for a recipe last night. This is now tried and tested and was a big hit with my clan. It also smells amazing while it is cooking. Here is a simple recipe for a whole roasted cauliflower with lemon and garlic butter.
Ingredients for Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Garlic Butter
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 50g butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make Whole Roasted Lemon and Garlic Butter
- Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
- Remove the leaves and the base of the stalk from the cauliflower and sit in an ovenproof dish.
- Put the butter in a dish and melt in the microwave on a medium setting for one minute.
- Add the crushed garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the butter.
- Drizzle the mixture over the top of the cauliflower.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cover the ovenproof dish in kitchen foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Take the dish out of the oven and remove the kitchen foil.
- Using oven gloves, tip the dish slightly so the butter pools in the lower section of the dish.
- Use a spoon to scoop up the juices and drizzle over the top of the cauliflower.
- Return to the oven without the foil for a further 15 minutes or until the top of the cauliflower is beginning to brown.
- Serve either whole on a plate for people to help themselves or broken into florets and added to their plates.
- Drizzle over any remaining lemon and garlic butter.
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
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for one minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and sugar to the pan.
- Increase the heat to bring the tomato sauce to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
- Add the torn basil and season with salt and black pepper.
- Cook for another two minutes and then stir into cooked, drained pasta.
Everyone has their own style of cooking and there are several factors that contribute to this. I think one of the main factors is an individual’s thoughts on the process of cooking. Some people see it simply as a means to an end while others consider it as one of their hobbies as it is something they love so much. The former will generally just choose something that is easy to cook while the latter prefers to carefully select their ingredients, spend time using a variety of cooking techniques, and presenting plates of food in a visually appealing manner.
Life experiences can also impact on your style of cooking and the types of food you like to cook. If you cooked with your parents or grandparents as a child, then they are probably a major influence on how you cook today. Similarly, if you have traveled to various locations across the globe and sampled a variety of cuisine, then it is likely that you are more willing to experiment with different flavours in the kitchen to recreate the dishes you have experienced during your travels.
Lifestyle factors can also play an important role. For example, I have worked in the catering industry, grew up cooking, and have international influences, so I am fairly experienced in the kitchen and have the capacity to cook elaborate dishes. However, I am also a working mother of a large family and a house that still needs a lot of work. Therefore, I regularly make simple dishes just to feed everyone in the limited amount of time available.
Overall, I would say I am somewhere in between an elaborate chef and a simple cook, depending on the situation and my mood. I am interested to know, which best describes you?
Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Elaborate’ on The Daily Post.
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
- Measure your ingredients first and preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.
- Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
- Cook for two minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
- Season with the salt and white pepper, add the mustard (optional) and stir through.
- Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
- Drain the pasta when cooked and transfer to either a large ovenproof dish or individual ovenproof dishes.
- Using a ladle, spoon over the cheese sauce evenly.
- Shred your ham and stir into the mixture.
- Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top of the dishes.
- Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
- If you have cooked one large macaroni cheese, spoon onto plates. If you have cooked individual portions, transfer the individual bowls to plates.
- Serve with salad, vegetables, or garlic bread.
Braising steak is usually one of the cheaper cuts of beef, so it is a fantastic choice for those on a budget. It is also a good choice if you are a fan of slow-cooking techniques and like to prepare a meal in the morning before leaving for work so that serving dinner takes very little effort when returning home. I made this delicious braising steak with onion gravy for tea yesterday and served it with potato gratin (recipe here), fine green beans, and julienne potatoes. Below is a picture of how much the boys in my house were enjoying eating their braised steak, which was literally falling apart because it was so tender. Here is an easy recipe for braised steak with onion gravy to serve 4 people.
Ingredients for Braised Steak with Onion Gravy
- 4 braising steaks
- 2 onions, sliced
- 4 heaped tbsp gravy granules
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
How to Make Braised Steak with Onion Gravy
- Preheat the oven to a low setting.
- Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the hob.
- Season the braising steaks on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Put two of the steaks in the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side to brown.
- Transfer the steaks to an ovenproof dish.
- Repeat with the two remaining steaks.
- Add the onions to the pan and fry for approximately 3 minutes or until turning brown
- Transfer the onions to the ovenproof dish with the braising steaks.
- Boil a kettle of water and pour enough over the steaks and onions to cover plus an extra inch.
- Add a lid to the dish or cover with kitchen foil.
- Put in the oven and cook on a low heat for 4-5 hours. (If you are out of the house for longer, it is fine)
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the gravy granules. Stir into the water and juices.
- Turn the oven up to 180C/ gas mark 4.
- Recover the dish and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve with your choice of potatoes and vegetables.