Sunday, 28 October 2012

Frugal Cooking: Two Excellent Meals

I'm trying to save money and be a little better with managing kitchen waste, so I'm taking our sojourn in Berlin as a good opportunity to try out my skills. I've been indulging in cooking as a hobby for about seven years now, so if I can't put those skills to good use when I need them it is sort of a massive waste. 

I was going to blog meal plans, but part of the current frugality thing is to use leftovers up as suppers instead of lunches, so the whole meal plan thing gets boring quickly. On the plus side it is so nice to have leftovers to either reheat or recycle into new meals, since it is one less thing to worry about on days when Walter doesn't want to co-operate with my plans for the day.

Last week I did manage to turn out two meals which were a good use of leftovers. The first was a delicious pork stroganoff, which I made using the leftovers from Sunday's roast. I'd spent a stupid amount of money on the roast, because I bought it at the butcher's counter and my math was off, so I needed to get two meals out of it in order to justify the money spent. The problem was the it would only comfortably serve three people and I needed to stretch it to four servings. Solution, stolen from careful British housewives, is to take the scraps of meat and round them out in a veggie laden sauce. I don't normally like stroganoff, but I found a basic recipe (I only needed to buy mushrooms & paprika) and adjust it to my tastes. It was delicious! It is as follows:

Leftover Roast-Pork Stroganoff
1 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely sliced
225g/8oz white mushrooms, quartered
leftover pork roast (enough for 1-2 servings), roughly cut into bite-sized pieces
1 heaping tsp of paprika
50mls gravy
70mls soured cream
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Sautee the onion in the butter. When the onion is nearly cooked, add the pork and mushrooms and continue sauteeing until the onions are done. Stir in the paprika, as well as salt & pepper to taste (good to add enough pepper to put some bite in the sauce). Add lemon juice, sour cream, and gravy. Reduce heat and stir occasionally until heated through. Serves two.
The other win for the week was a bean goulash I made in order to use up the remainder of a package of haricot beans. I can't claim any credit for this recipe -- I got it from Rose Elliot's Bean Book, which is one of the cookbooks any kitchen concerned with either vegetarianism OR saving money should have. I don't even like eating beans, but her recipes are so good and her tip of cooking beans in low-sodium vegetable stock has really raised the humble bean to gourmet heights. It is quite cold in Berlin, with the nighttime temperature getting below zero, so a warming stew that also fulfilled our Friday obligation was just the ticket. Take-and-bake buns are easy to get in Berlin, so even our bread was nice and warm. And there is just something so perfectly homely and comforting about a pot of beans simmering away on the stove...

Beany Goulash
250g haricot beans, soaked overnight & then cooked for 1hr until tender
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lb onions, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large green peppers, deseeded and sliced
2 x 14 oz cans of whole tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato purée
4 tsp paprika
salt, sugar, & pepper
soured cream

Saute the onion & garlic in the oil for about ten minutes, until the onion is tender. Then add the green pepper slices and saute for another five minutes or so. By this point everything should be smelling delicious. Next, stir in the spices & tomato puree (paste to you Canadians). Salt, sugar, & pepper should be added in whatever quantity you like -- I went heavy on the pepper. Then add the beans. Finally, stir in  the tomatoes, with their juice, and break them into hearty chunks using a wooden spoon. Bring everything up to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for fifteen minutes. Serve with a nice dollop of sour cream.

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