Yes, you can buy humous ready made and it’s not expensive and it’s not nasty. But I prefer home made. It’s different. I think it’s better. See what you think.
About the ingredients:
You can make this with dried chickpeas, which involves soaking overnight and then cooking for a few minutes with a heaped teaspoon of bicarb, then adding water and boiling for about twenty minutes. But it turns out that tinned chickpeas might be better for humous. They’re softer and give a creamier consistency.
Fish soup can be very complicated to make. It can start with fish stock, often made out of several different kinds of fish, with the heads and the bones boiled and stinking the house out. This is different. This is the quickest thing imaginable. And delicious.
About the ingredients:
Lidl sometimes sells whole big Greek anchovies on special offer and they are fantastic for this soup. You can use any oily tinned fish such as sardines or mackerel. You could make it with tuna but it probably needs a good hit of some very salty anchovy fillets to go with it.
You can serve it just plain, or with a bit of cream in it, perhaps with some chives chopped in. Or you can serve it the traditional French way with croutons (just little bits of toast), some garlicky mayonnaise and some grated cheese.
This couldn’t be easier. Smoked mackerel is still cheap even when it’s a quality posh version, and this will be much nicer with a really deep-flavoured fish, properly hot-smoked and not just with some smoke-tasting chemicals thrown on it. This means buying it from a fishmonger – I have a great one called Brighton and Newhaven Fish near me – or a good supermarket, (ahem, Waitrose). Having said that, if all you can get is cheap mackerel it will still taste pretty good. The cream cheese can be plain old Philadelphia or similar. I use an own-brand version that costs 40p!
I’m not going to beat about the bush, I’m just going to get on with it. This will serve four people as part of a lunch spread.
This isn’t so much a recipe as a serving suggestion. But hey, some professional cooks make a lot of money from glossy books which take up a whole page telling you how to drizzle honey on something and put it on the table. But everything on Life is Jam is free, and some of you may not have thought of this way of doing carrots.
- 3 medium carrots serves 2 peeps as a side vegetable.
Slice them into English chip-sized pieces. Put in a single layer in an oven proof dish with 2 egg-cupfuls of water. Salt and pepper them, and scatter on a few bits of butter. Bake at 200º for half an hour, or at the same temp as your roast. Keep an eye they don’t shrivel up. Take them out and simply warm them back up later if they do.
Other things you can put on:
- A pinch of ground cumin
- fresh herbs like thyme or tarragon (thyme is in my picture)
- some feta cheese just before serving
- Some pine nuts added half way through cooking, or toasted in a small pan and added at the end.
These carrots are also pictured on the Roast Chicken post. The carrots went in after the chicken had been in half an hour.
And I have to say my dinner that day was…..lush.
Our mum always called them that, and I’ve never known if she did it because I liked them or because that’s what they’re called. Perhaps she called them Cathy potatoes to my sister, and Jon potatoes to our brother.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. I have them on my plate in the roast chicken post. If you’ve ¾ of an hour rather than the usual 15 mins-to-boil-your-spuds then you can have them with anything. Sometimes if I’m cooking just for myself I’ll have them on their own with just a few salads. Yup, that’s how rock ‘n’ roll I am.
For two people to have with a roast or whatever:
- 400 g potatoes. Waxy salad ones work best
- Butter, slivers of garlic, salt and pepper
I eat this all the time. It goes beautifully with a couple of other dishes in a meze style meal – particularly with something creamy like tuna mayonnaise, or fried halloumi – and it also goes very well with a creamy gratin such as smoked mackeral gratin or with spanokopita.
About the ingredients:
You can choose what leaves to use – baby spinach, rocket, watercress, lamb’s lettuce etc. but they need to be strong-flavoured. If you have preserved lemons they’re good instead of the fresh lemon but not essential. You can cook your own beetroot but the cooked beetroot in packets is absolutely fine. Just be sure that it’s not ice-cold from the fridge.
Most soups start with softening onions and other vegetables and then adding other vegetables and possibly other things too, and finally blending the whole thing. This one, from the divine Elizabeth David, is very different. It’s a lovely simple soup – Elizabeth David knew everything there was to know about unfussy food – and it doesn’t start with onions and doesn’t need blending. Like most soups, it freezes well and possibly tastes even better when it’s been left for a while or frozen.
About the ingredients:
You can use any kind of mushroom. It works fine with normal supermarket mushrooms but if you’ve got something special to add, go ahead. Also, Elizabeth David puts bacon rinds in with the mushrooms when she cooks them. I don’t eat meat so I might use a bit of parmesan rind (be sure to remove after cooking).
Makes about 8 generous servings. Cost per serving 30p
There are plenty of foods (..er..most of ’em I fink) that I find it possible to sit dreaming about during the day as I look forward to my meal that evening. Plain white rice isn’t one of them. I’d much rather have a potato. BUT there are three rice dishes that I adore, and they’re all on the comforting side of the spectrum. No dry tasteless bits of starch here. One is kedgeree, which I posted about recently, the second is risotto, which we’ll post about soon. The third is this ‘ere paella. It is, in no uncertain terms: lush.
It’s inspired by a fantastic recipe from Rick Stein. Actually it’s not ‘inspired’ at all – it’s basically his recipe, I just alter bits and bobs depending on which ingredients I have available. Like a lot of recipes on this blog, it doesn’t matter if you’re not exact with the quantities or if you change things. Good home cooking is NOT about putting exactly the teaspoon of that and exactly the weight of the other or following a recipe like a slave. Mostly it’s about making it so that it tastes the way you like it. I hope Rick Stein will forgive the mash-up of his recipe.
I had this last night, it is one of my favourite comfort foods. The brilliant thing about kedgeree is that it’s incredibly moreish but is also good for you. It uses a decent amount of butter, but on this blog we believe that butter is good for you, unlike sugar, which we believe isn’t.
A word on ingredients.
I implore you not to be put off by the fact that I use brown rice. Our mum Mavis uses brown, which is why I do. Catherine uses white rice in hers. It’s a matter of preference. What I like about brown is that it makes it more chewy. So it’s a buttery smokey creamy chewy bowl of moreish loveliness. The fish can be fresh or frozen, but if you make it for the first time and think ‘…hmm… This dish is chewy but it’s not the rice, it’s the FISH that’s chewy’!’, then one of two things has happened to mess with Kedgeree Heaven: 1) the fish was not so great to start with, or more likely 2) you’ve cooked it too long. Tips on this below.
The main tip about this dish is not to stint on the butter and onions. Or it will not be as nice. You have been warned.
I’ve put it as a commuter cook (half hour) as well as a longer cook, as strictly speaking if you put the rice on and cook it for 20 minutes, you can cook the rest of the ingredients within that time, so you could cram it into half an hour.
Happy Tuesday! Ok, so couscous is really simple – you probably know all about it, but demonstrating the ease and versatility of homemade food is what Life Is Jam is all about, and we want to include all the basics. So.
You make couscous by pouring boiling water onto it, covering it with a bowl or cloth to keep the steam in, and leaving it for ten minutes. I often put the dry couscous straight into a tupperware lunchbox, pour the water on, shut the lid and leave it in the fridge overnight. Then I’ve one less thing to do in the morning when I’m making a lunchbox.
You can of course make the whole lunch shebang the night before, then all you have to do after inhaling your breakfast is grab it from the fridge and shove it in your work bag.
The quantities are easy – after a few goes you’ll be doing it by eye, but at first you might want to measure:
- 100g couscous
- 100ml boiling water.