8 May 2011

More dinners on a budget....

OK – bargain should probably be my middle name and at times I really just live right. I’m at the right place at the right time. I’ve gotten fresh organic buffalo mozzarella for £0.10p, tons of blueberries for the same price, and the list could go on. This isn’t to say I lead a charmed life. I get my fair share of bad luck as well but that’s part of life – take the good with the bad – just make the bad something better!

So the other day we were out getting some flour as it was on offer at one of the stores. We also as usual looked for any reduced that we might want. We got some lovely Sockeye Salmon which was expensive by my usual standards but not something I come across every day so it was our treat at £3.99 for two fillets. So that was our dinner that night.

We also came across some ricotta reduced. One was normal ricotta (organic) at £1.75 and the other was buffalo ricotta at £1.19. It’s a shame I didn’t get two of the buffalo because I could tell from the carton it was going to be good. It was not a ‘wet’ as the normal kind you find here in England. So figured I had a bunch of eggs at home along with some pasta flour that needed using. Instant dinner of cannelloni was on the menu for the next night. I also found some organic mushrooms for £1.39 so decided it would be a twist in the mix with the mushrooms being in the sauce. I normally don’t make sauce from scratch when doing say cannelloni or lasagne as that’s just too much fuss for me.But I will make the pasta now – I never used the dried kind that’s reconstituted but in days of old I did use the dried/cooked variety. It really just is so much better and so worth the effort.
Now to making the pasta, I have found that Jamie Oliver’s recipe of 100 grams of pasta flour to 1 large egg is perfect. I used to make my own pasta before but from a recipe my aunt gave me which is perfectly good but was variable in its water as often flour takes different amounts due to humidity, etc. This recipe works for me and always has done. If all I have is say medium eggs I will weigh the eggs so that I get the same weight as a large one. This often means having to make more pasta than I want for the dish but I can save it and use another day. I’m sure there is some technical reason why it discolours (it turns a weird grey/brown colour) but underneath it’s the normal yellow colour and cooks up just fine. I’ve left it up to a week in the fridge without a problem. This time however, I added a few cloves of garlic to the pasta – which I love. It isn’t over powering and gives the pasta just a hint of the taste. I've added all manner of herbs to the pasta as well which come out so pretty when flattened by the pasta press - it's not an everyday thing with me but when you want something different throw something new in there for variety.
I also use the food processor and not by hand – it just goes faster and isn’t that what this is all about? Dinner in a hurry and fast!
I pulse it until it comes somewhat together like this. If it begins to gather into a ball you have too much liquid and it will be sticky. I then wrap it in cling film and let sit out for at least 30-45 minutes before I roll it out on the pasta machine.
I then prepare my sauce which this time was dry frying the mushrooms until each side has some colour and I threw in a chopped onion. I sauted for about another minute or two and then added a tin of chopped tomatoes and the jar of pasta sauce.
I then mix up the filling which is the ricotta, some chopped spinach (I used some frozen kind I had in the freeze), and shredded mozzarella, salt, pepper, dried oregano, coriander, cumin and an egg to bind it all.
I then move on to rolling out the pasta into sheets and then cooking them for 1 minute in boiling water and then rolling them up with the filling and into a pan. Often I have some extra sheets so I layer some on the bottom and top of the dish. I then top it with the sauce and some more mozzarella.
Into the oven which is about 180-190 degrees Celsius and it cooks for about 45 minutes.
I also made a salad to go with the dinner which included the home-made croutons (recipe below).
All in all this meal cost me about £10.00 or so for the ingredients (that’s everything – including the salad fixings). I’ll get three meals out of the main dish which makes that about £3.33 per meal for two (or £1.67 each). I don’t know what ready-made meals cost these days but I am sure that this is much cheaper for two people than any ready-made meals would cost – and taste would certainly surpass that by a mile. Enjoy!


blog template by suckmylolly.com