This …. was …. absolutely …. delicious, balsamic sausage casserole from ‘One Pound Meals’, it has knocked off the chicken tartiflette as my favourite meal from the book so far. Sausages cooked in a pepper, onion, tomato and balsamic vinegar sauce, this was intensely savoury and filling. I used veggie sausages for this too (Cauldron ones) and I was a bit worried about how they would hold up with all that extra cooking but they were fine. This one came to £2.
I was taking requests from the kids the other day about what they would like me to bake next,
I laughed and said I didn’t think brownie cake was a thing, that surely a ‘brownie cake’ would just be a chocolate cake but oh I was wrong.
‘Tanya Bakes’ has recently come into my possession, now I normally try to avoid those sort of books these days, you know the ones, a (probable, I don’t know, I don’t know who she is) Instagram star on the cover looking impossibly glamorous and probably spouting about healthy cooking in a way that is totally unaffordable (and not much fun). ‘Tanya Bakes’, at first glance looks like that sort of book, I gather Tanya is some sort of celebrity but I had a flick through the book and it grabbed my attention because a) it wasn’t actually a book full of fad recipes b) the recipes actually looked nice and c) the recipes actually looked doable, so I succumbed. And ooh on the basis of the Brownie Cake recipe alone, I am very glad that I did.
And yep, as I said, I was wrong, Brownie Cakes are very much a thing. This recipe, at least, somehow manages to capture a good brownie (although not an extremely good brownie, my perfect brownie would probably have a little bit more chew in it) and puts it in cake form. This cake is definitely not just a chocolate cake.
Both kids adore it, as do I. As the intro to the recipe says in the book, it’s very rich but somehow everyone always wants a second slice and I can totally agree to that. I made brownies only relatively recently and that attempt wasn’t a particularly good attempt, as although the kids liked them, I wasn’t as keen, they were a bit too rich for even my chocolate loving taste buds. Brownie cake on the other hand, I could eat again and again and again.
Also from ‘Tanya Bakes’, this is Frying Pan Pizza, actually it’s really just homemade flatbread with pizza toppings but it is really nice. When I was making it I was like “Hmmm, this isn’t going to work is it? It’s just going to be a sticky / holey / burnt / undercooked mess that will probably be really difficult to turn,” but no, it was easy to cook and it turned out fine. Will definitely make again.
Also from One Pound Meals and also delicious, this is butternut squash risotto, however, if I were to make this again (which I will), I will make some changes to the recipe next time. The way how it’s cooked, those pieces of roasted butternut squash on top of the risotto were cold by the time I came to eat them and cold roasted butternut squash isn’t that nice. You see, you have to roast the butternut squash first (in paprika, drool, I am having such a paprika kick at the moment, I’m being very controlled and not mainlining paprika pringles and trying to get my paprika in more healthy ways instead) and only after the squash has finished roasting do you start on the risotto, as you need some of the roasted butternut to mix in with the rice (which works really well by the way, it virtually melts in). I think if/when I make this again, as nice as the idea of having chunks of roasted butternut squash on top of your risotto is, I think I’ll roast slightly less and use all of it to melt into the risotto instead. Anyway, this came to be my cheapest meal from this book yet, at £1.31.
Wednesday aka Pineapple Day
Hmmm, this did not go well, pineapple upside down cake from the ‘Tanya Bakes’ book, unfortunately the golden syrup that’s meant to coat the ‘top’ of the cake, went everywhere but the top of the cake. It still tasted okay though.
Now this went much, much better. The pizza recipe from the ‘One Pound Meals’ book, it’s cooked in a similar way to the Frying Pan Pizza from the ‘Tanya Bakes’ book, except this time the base is actually a yeasted dough and the fact that it’s a yeasted dough makes it 100x better, although to give the ‘Tanya Bakes’ recipe credit, you can at least make her Frying Pan Pizzas with less planning. However, the ‘One Pound Meals’ pizza recipe doesn’t require as much planning as the recipe actually suggests, it suggests making the dough the night before, which leaves an extremely long rising time, specially for something that is meant to be left to rise at room temperature. It would be a particularly long rising time because if I did make the dough the night before, I’m not exactly going to be eating pizza for breakfast am I (if only)? So, I made the dough about 10am in the morning, my only change to the recipe being to use luke warm water with the yeast instead of cold water (to give the yeast a little bit of a shove). By lunch time the dough had risen plenty enough, so I went on to make the pizza. Like the ‘Tanya Bakes’ Frying Pan Pizza, you start the base off in a frying pan and oh it so works! I’ve tried to make homemade pizzas before, I’ve even invested in pizza stones before but have never been 100% convinced by them and anyway, I’ve never been able to get the base quite as ‘proper pizza’ nice, you know, they’ve been edible, it’s just that my oven has not got quite the fierce heat. Starting the base off in a frying pan though (and finishing the top off under a hot grill), now that’s got the heat, it was the best pizza I’ve ever managed to make at home. And it only came to £1.64 too (I had made one other change to the recipe, swapping mushroom for pineapple). In fact it was incredibly filling, so I think one of these could probably be stretched to two people, with maybe a salad.
This is the lasagne from the ‘One Pound Meals’ book, it certainly felt luxurious to be making myself a lasagne just for me on a weekday lunch but it didn’t take that much hands on time and in the waiting around bits in between, I caught up with the housework. It may have felt luxurious to be making myself lasagne but at both being an easy cook and only £1.64, it was okay but nothing special. I don’t think it had helped that I had substituted the beef mince with veggie mince, as a lot of the flavour in ‘normal’ lasagne comes from the browning the mince stage I think. It could also have done with a bit more veg in it I think, maybe some parmesan and some more flavourings but that would have pushed both the cost and the time it took to make it, up, so for what it is, it was fine.