Saturday, 25 January 2014

The 99p Store-Cupboard...

Well, doesn’t time fly? It is now 2014 and looking at this sorry, neglected blog; I have not posted since the middle of LAST YEAR?! Seriously, how on earth did that happen? I feel like I have just popped out to the shops and suddenly half a year has gone; leaving you all with taunting reminders of sun-drenched Barbeques and balmy sips of ice-cold rosé, as you look out of the rain-splattered window and wonder if it is even worth drying your hair before it gets the all too familiar, slap in the face drowned rat treatment, and you throw yet another totally ruined umbrella into the overflowing bin...

But I do have some kind of measly excuse- As I have threatened to do since I left University 3 whole years ago (again, whaaaat?!), I have finally left the bike rides, car boot sales and endless fields of Suffolk behind and moved to the Big Smoke. Swapping tractors for the tube, the general luxury of Mum’s cooking and my own bed for what feels like a lifelong subscription to Tesco Value and a budget that makes a self-styled haircut with my nail scissors look like a very attractive option; I am actually threatening myself with the prospect of being a grown up. I have an actual real-life job, a house (well a room in one, good enough for me...) and, most importantly at this point, a colour coded, frighteningly in depth chart to track my increasingly depressing budget.

Yes; I have gone back to the endless tins of value chopped tomatoes, the toast, the shampoo-rationing and the sorry-looking cupboards stuffed with lentils and all other things dried and tasteless of my Student days. I freeze everything that sits still long enough, eat leftover like there is no tomorrow and currently spend so much of my time doing high-speed laps of the 99p Store that I am genuinely tempted to cancel my gym membership. Nobody would mind me bicep curling out of date baked bean tins in the cut-price Tuppaware section, surely?

But, I have to say, that I am strangely enjoying the never-ending treasure hunt of eating on a budget. There is something satisfying about creating a dinner that uses every last cherry tomato, leaf of spinach and grating of cheese that is left in the fridge. Every night is like a low-budget episode of Ready Steady Cook; without the shimmying of Ainsley and, usually, entirely consisting of the same, slightly withered ingredients as every single night of the week before. I mean, honestly, the excitement of finding a half-price pack of chicken in Sainsburys? Totally off the scale. I don’t even need to go out with thrills like that in my life...

It was on one of these fridge-raiding sessions that I created this absolute gem of a dinner. Making full use of my purse-friendly friends chorizo, tinned beans and a jar of roasted peppers from my new partner in cash-saving, the afore-mentioned 99p store; this was an absolute winner. Akin to my very favourite breakfast of Huevos rancheros; this Eastern inspired spicy bean and new potato hash, bursting with the paprika smokiness of chorizo, crowned with glistening eggs and scattered with salty feta and fragrant coriander, was a creation that would have had me voting Red Tomatoes without a second thought. Bursting with ridiculously fresh, vibrant flavours; delicately spiked with a punch of Harissa and fragranced with fennel seeds, this is a budget dinner with bells on.

Leftovers Harissa Hash, with Eggs, Feta and Coriander.

Eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between; this delicious one pan creation just shows that eating on a budget doesn’t just mean beans on toast...

Splash of olive oil

1 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ red chilli, finely chopped (use more if you like it hot!)

1tsp Harrisa paste

1tsp sweet paprika

1tsp fennel seeds

50g chorizo, diced

100g roasted peppers (from a jar)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin butter beans, drained

100g cooked new potatoes, thickly sliced

Splash of balsamic vinegar

1tsp sugar

1tbsp tomato puree

4 eggs

Feta cheese and coriander, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry the onion over a medium heat until slightly softened, before adding the garlic, chilli, peppers, potatoes and spices. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, butter beans, tomato puree, vinegar and sugar. Season and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced to a thick sauce

Using the back of a spoon or ladle, make indents in the sauce and crack in the eggs. Season again, cover and cook for 4 or so minutes, until the eggs are set.

To serve, scatter the hash with crumbled feta, and some coriander leaves. Serve with pitta bread, steamed kale, or just as it is...Enjoy!


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