Eggs are a fantastic source of protein. Boiled, poached, baked, scrambled, or fried. With a few extra ingredients you can have a cheap and filling meal.
My brother introduced me to merguez sausage Made with either uncooked lamb or beef stuffed into an intestine casing. Merguez sausage is heavily spiced with cumin and harissa, sumac, fennel, and garlic Native to the north western countries of Africa known as Maghreb, historically called the Barbary Coast. Merguez sausage is now available in most supermarkets.
The region is predominantly Islamic, and halal meat is most often used. Cuisine of the area is influenced by French and Italian cooking and includes: seafood, red meat, nuts, fruits, legumes, couscous, and spices.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Peel and dice 1 onion. Only half the onion is needed. The other half can be used at a later date if stored in the fridge for a maximum of 48 hours. Slice the merguez sausage into bitesize pieces. Crack 4 eggs into a bowl and whisk.
In a large frying pan heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat.
Add the onion and merguez sausage to the frying pan. Stirring regularly allow the sausage to brown and onion to turn translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Throw in a handful of spinach and heat until wilted.
Pour the eggs over the sausage, onion, and spinach. Give the egg time to set, loosening the edges from the pan. Pop under a hot grill for a minute to ensure the egg is cooked through. Serve with crusty bread and side salad.
Here in the UK it went cold over the Easter period. To make things worse my boiler decided to pack up. The oven has been working overtime cooking stews, just to keep the edge off the chill. This warming beef keema was done on the hob. Although I enjoyed standing before a hot oven; the warmest place in the house.
From a family of five children. Cheap and cheerful meals with more stretch than Stretch Armstrong was essential in our house. Traditional homecooked food was what I grew up on. I still look forward to a meal at my mums.
However mince beef became one of those ingredients that got moved round my plate to make it look less. Too much of a good thing was definitely the case here. For many years I didn’t touch it. Recently it has squeezed its way back into my diet. I have eaten some tasty meatballs, bolognaise, and cottage pie. This beef keema was a hit with the whole family.
500g mince beef
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp ginger puree (fresh or dried ginger can replace puree)
1 tbsp medium curry powder
2 tbsp tomato puree
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 litre beef stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 spring onions
Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion for 4-5 minutes with the ginger, until the onion is translucent and starting to brown.
Add the mince beef and garlic to the pan. Fry for a further 5-6 minutes, until no pink meat remains.
Stir in the curry powder for 1 minute until well incorporated. Then add the tinned tomatoes, puree, ketchup, and stock. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced. Add the peas a couple of minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with your choice of rice. Garnish with chopped spring onions.
From student life to raising a family on a tight budget, pasta dishes have to be something special to tickle my taste buds. This one was quick and easy to make, a comfort to eat, and for less than a fiver put on a smile at the checkout. I always recommend making your own meatballs, getting more for your money and the chance to experiment with flavours. This recipe feeds four as a snack or two as a main meal.
500g mince beef
1 crust of bread (or 1/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs)
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp cumin
200g dried pasta
tomato and mascarpone pasta sauce jar (or whatever favour you have available)
1 broccoli head
200g grated cheddar
Preparing the meatballs takes no time at all. They can even be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. Add the mince beef to a large bowl and break down with your hands or a wooden spoon. If making your own breadcrumbs simply blend in a food processor or using a stick blender. To the meat add the parsley, basil, cumin and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. If the mix is a little sticky add a few more breadcrumbs. Make into 18 meatballs and place on a baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 200C°/Fan 180°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Add the pasta to a medium pyrex dish. Pour the sauce on the pasta. Fill the jar to the top of the label with water and add to the dish. Lightly combine and cover with foil. Place the pasta bake and the meatballs into the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the head of broccoli into florets and steam for 10 minutes. Then grate the cheese.
Remove the pasta bake from the oven and take off the foil. Add the broccoli, cooked meatballs, and cheese. Place back inn the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve on its own or with crusty bread and side salad.
Derived from the Latin word simila meaning fine flour, from which the word semolina also comes from, simnel cake is a traditional fruit cake from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Dating back to the middle ages, it is associated with more myths and legends than Robin Hood. Bread regulations relating to weight, price, and quality (including leavened or unleavened bread) suggest they were boiled and then baked. The technique led to the telling of a mythical couple named Simon and Nelly. They came to blows while baking a simnel cake. One wished to boil it and the other wanted to bake it. After beating each other with a range of kitchen utensils they agreed to compromise, by part boiling and part baking the cake.
Typical characteristics of a simnel cake include a middle and top layer of marzipan, crushed almonds, or almond paste topped with eleven marzipan balls to represent the twelve apostles minus the treacherous Judas. Due to its long history, many variations of the cake are available. One major difference to other richer fruit cakes is the replacement of alcohol with orange blossom (although brandy is sometimes added). Unlike most fruit cake, simnel cake needs no time to mature and is ready to eat straight from the oven.
Simnel Cake Recipe
For the Almond Paste
250g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 tsp almond essence
For the Cake
175g butter (plus extra for greasing)
175g soft brown sugar
1 egg for glaze
175g plain all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground mixed spiced (optional)
350g dried mixed fruit
55g chopped mixed peel
zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp apricot jam
pinch of salt
dash of orange blossom or brandy (optional)
To make the almond paste, add the ground almonds and caster sugar to a bowl. Add one beaten egg and mix until combined. Add the almond essence and knead until smooth and pliable. Roll out a third of the paste into an 18cm/7inch circle. Save the remainder of the paste for the cake topping
Grease and line an 18cm/7inch cake tin
Preheat the oven to 140C/Fan 120C/Gas Mark 1
To make the cake, cream the sugar and butter together until light in colour and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Sift the dry ingredients and add gradually. Finally sir in the dried mixed fruit, lemon zest, and mixed peel.
Add half the cake batter into the prepared cake tin. Smooth and cover with the rolled disc of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake batter and smooth the top.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 1 3/4 hours. If an inserted skewer comes out clean the cake is baked. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Once the cake is cooled brush the top with apricot jam. Half the remainder of the almond paste. Roll out another circle with one half, and place on top of the apricot jam in the centre of the cake. Form eleven balls with the rest of the almond paste, and set round the top outer edge of the cake.
Brush the top of the cake with some beaten egg. Use a cooks blow torch or a grill to brown.
Simnel cake is traditionally eaten on Mothering Sunday when a break in Lent fast is allowed. And again traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday.
A passionate supporter of sustainable eating, I am sorry to say I haven’t the willpower to give up meat and dairy altogether. My compromise is to incorporate vegetarian and vegan food into my carnivore diet.
I recently came across vegan friendly meringues. Intrigued by the egg free concept, I researched this further. I was surprised to discover the ingredient replacing egg white was in fact the water from a can of chickpeas. More recently acquiring the name aquafaba, which joins the Latin words aqua meaning water and faba meaning bean.
So How Does It Work?
When egg whites are whipped, pockets of air become suspended in the liquid. This occurs because of the presence of protein. Aquafaba contains protein, starch and saponins ( a chemical foaming agent found in many plants). These all work together to achieve the same chemical reaction, which occurs in traditional meringues. Essentially the viscous water from most legumes can be whisked into meringue. Chickpeas are ideal because of their neutral colour.
Aquafaba Meringue Recipe
400g tin of cooked chickpeas
75g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C/250°F/Gas Mark 1/2.
Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Drain the chickpeas and measure 150ml/5fl oz of aquafaba. The chickpeas and remaining aquafaba will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days.
Whisk the aquafaba for 2-5 minutes until white, light and forming soft peaks, using a stand or hand whisk on a medium setting.
With the mixer on high speed slowly add the sugar to the mixture. The sugar needs to be fully dissolved and the meringue firm and glossy. This can take about 5 minutes.
Using a piping bag or two dessert spoons pipe/drop 14-16 large meringues onto the baking parchment.
Bake for 2 hours and then cool in the oven.
These meringues are best served the same day. They can be stored in an airtight container but will soften and become sticky the longer they are stored.
<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg. Instead of cracking a whole egg directly into water, it cooks in a dish (often a ramekin) placed in a lightly simmering water bath (bain-marie), for approximately 6-8 minutes depending on the water temperature. The word coddle refers to the soft texture of the egg yolk achieved by gentle cooking. Like poached eggs, the yolk should remain unbroken and slightly runny and the white should be set. The dish is greased with butter or oil to prevent sticking. Depending on the size of the dish more than one egg can be cooked at the same time. A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg. Instead of cracking a whole egg directly into water, it cooks in a dish (often a ramekin) placed in a lightly simmering water bath (bain-marie), for approximately 6-8 minutes depending on the water temperature. The word coddle refers to the soft texture of the egg yolk achieved by gentle cooking. Like poached eggs, the yolk should remain unbroken and slightly runny and the white should be set. The dish is greased with butter or oil to prevent sticking. Depending on the size of the dish more than one egg can be cooked at the same time.
Coddled eggs can be cooked in the oven or on the stove. Preheat the oven to 350°F, 177°C, Gas Mark 4 and heat a bain-marie until it is almost bubbling. The steam produced by the bain-marie helps gently cook the egg, while keeping it soft. On a stove fill a roasting tin with hot water and place over two burners. Place the ramekins in the water and cover with foil until cooked.
Coddled eggs are a traditional ingredient in a classic Caesar salad. Nowadays the dressing for Caesar salad is made with raw egg yolk. They are sometimes called eggs en cocotte. Other ingredients can be added to the ramekins with the eggs.
Lately my family have gone off meat finding pork bland, lamb fatty and steak tough. So I decided to turn to the ocean for meal inspiration. As a child the humble fishfinger was the extent of my fish eating. Now I love fish, influenced by the abundance of variety available in Mediterranean fish markets.
Fish has a range of health benefits. We should be eating at least two portions a week including oily fish. White fish are extremely low in fat. Oily fish are a good source of vitamin D which aid the bodies absorption of calcium, and enhances the immune system. It is also rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers. Consumption of oily fish also improves vision and memory. Pregnant and breast feeding women should include a portion a week of oily fish, because it helps the development of babies nervous system. However no more than two portions a week are recommended, because they contain low levels of pollutants called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins, which build up in the body and can affect foetal development. Dioxins are toxic. Humans exposure occurs through animal products, including fish. Extreme exposure can cause skin lesions and damage to the immune system. Most fish contain traces of mercury so consumption should be limited.
Fish in Foil
Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Peel and thinly slice 1 red onion. Deseed 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green bell pepper and chop into quarters. Peel and crush 4 cloves of garlic. Grate a 1cm piece of ginger. Share the vegetables and ginger between 4 sheets of foil and top with a fish fillet of choice. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and fold into parcels. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Alternatively these fish parcels are great cooked on a barbecue or open fire.
A bunch of bananas were sitting in my fruit bowl turning ripe and brown. My new years resolution was to have less food waste. I normally would give them to my mum who happily eats them turning black and syrupy, but lockdown makes that impossible. Banana bread it is then.
Bananas are associated with a number of health benefits. One of the most prominent is blood pressure. They are a good source of potassium which helps maintain blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular strain. Combined with their fibre, folate and antioxidant properties bananas are a great food source for all round heart health. A high fibre diet can help lower blood sugar, which may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Bananas are linked to preventing certain types of cancer. A carbohydrate binding protein called lectin occurs in bananas. They act as an antioxidant, helping to remove free radical molecules from the body. Cell damage can occur with a build up of these molecules. This cell damage can lead to cancer cells developing, in particular leukemia. Their vitamin C content may also play a role in this. Finally bananas are considered beneficial to good digestive health because of their high fibre content.
Amountin One Medium Banana
Approximate Daily Adult Intake
1,800 – 3,000
27 (14.4 are sugars)
25.2 – 33.6
46 – 56
320 – 420
425 – 550
Vitamin C (mg)
75 – 90
Beta Carotene (mcg)
Alpha Carotene (mcg)
Folate (mcg DFE)
Nutrition in a medium sized banana
Low Fat Banana and Walnut Loaf
250g Plain All Purpose Flour
30g Fat Free Yoghurt
110g Soft Brown Sugar
5 Medium Ripe Bananas
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Preheat oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/356°F/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 900g loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and yoghurt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy and pale in colour. Mash the bananas with a fork and crush the walnuts in a food processor, or using a pestle and mortar. Add eggs and banana to the butter mix and stir until combined. Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and walnuts.
Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 60-65 minutes. Use a skewer to check if loaf baked. To avoid burning crust, cover loosely with parchment paper for first 40 minutes of cooking.
Christmas is essentially cancelled as the the south east of England wades into stricter tier 4 lockdown restrictions. All that is left to do is eat, drink and get through the festive period as best you can. Keeping sweet I decided to make homemade marshmallows today. Before you start a cooking thermometer and stand electric mixer are essential.
4 Medium Egg Whites
2pkts Powdered Gelatine
700g White Castor Sugar
11/2tbsp Liquid Glucose
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks and set aside.
Mix the gelatine with 200ml of cold water and the vanilla extract.
In a large saucepan stir together the caster sugar, liquid glucose and 300ml of water. Heat over a medium-high heat until the sugar syrup reaches 130°C. Remove from the heat and carefully add the gelatine mix. Sugar syrup is really hot and this process can bubble up so be really wary. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
Returning to the egg whites. With the whisk on low add the sugar syrup and gelatine mixture. Then slowly turn the speed of the mixer up to high speed. Whisk for 8-10 minutes until the marshmallows thicken.
Meanwhile line a deep sided tin with clingfilm and then coat with a little sunflower oil. Add the marshmallows to the tray, flatten with a knife and leave to set for a minimum of 2 hours.
Once set remove from the tray and cut into squares. Dip the squares in desiccated coconut and drizzle with melted chocolate.
Feeding a family with all their various likes and dislikes is a juggling act. I once met a woman who cooked different meals for her kids so they were all happy.
“When I’ve cooked you get what you’re given: eat it or go hungry.”
I choose balance throughout the week: meals that cater for everybody. My daughter likes chicken, but the man in my life only likes it processed and fried in batter or breadcrumbs. I have been on a mission to tempt him with marinades and flavours. This variation got a moderate reception and my daughter mopped the plate clean, so it will definitely be on the menu again.
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
1tbsp Sunflower Oil
1tbsp Plain All Purpose Flour
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh (or breast)
1 Pint Chicken Stock
1tbsp White Wine Vinegar
Peel and slice the onion, deseed and slice the yellow bell pepper. Heat the sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion and pepper, season and fry until soft but not brown. Stir in the paprika and cayenne pepper.
Add the flour to the pan, stir until it combines with the fat and evenly coats the onion and pepper. Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two before adding the chicken stock in batches, stirring constantly so it thickens evenly without lumps. Add a dash of white wine vinegar, to offset the bite of the spices.
Halve the chicken thighs and add to the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes while the chicken cooks.
Stir in a dash of cream. Season with salt and pepper and add a handful of chopped parsley. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a choice of cooked vegetables.