I love budget cookbooks; I think that they’ve improved a lot over recent years and they’re now providing food that’s both cheap AND looks good. So I was keen to check out The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack.
After surgery at the end of last month, I’m still gearing myself up for getting properly back in the kitchen, but Izy’s Oaty Snack Cake recipe looked simple enough (it’s all done in a food processor), and I was after some healthy-ish cake.
What makes the cake healthy is 😲 chickpeas, I wasn’t convinced. Now I like hummus as much as the next person but chickpeas in a cake? Well, after making said cake, all I can say is wow! It’s not the most attractive looking cake ever, it’s a bit anaemic looking, but even without butter in the recipe (it just uses olive oil) and not that much sugar, it’s still really moist, and most importantly, you can’t tell that there are chickpeas in it.
I reckon that the cake (which is quite small) is enough for six portions and each portion contains about half a portion of chickpeas, so two slices are one of your 5-a-day! I can definitely get behind that sort of healthy eating (I know that some would say, with just under a tablespoon of sugar per slice, it’s not that healthy but bah humbug, it’s not like the sugar magically steals away the protein and the fibre from the chickpeas). And also, it is indeed savvy, as although this book doesn’t claim to make dishes under a certain cost (i.e., like Miguel Barclay’s One Pound Meals – new book coming out soon, I’m excited), I was curious to see how much the cake did cost. *Drum roll* it was only 34p a slice (and I was using posh olive oil, as that’s what I had, supermarket own brand would have made this cheaper)! So I was very impressed.
Another Savvy Cook recipe, Roasted Squash with Brown Rice. This one was quite heavily adapted, as the actual title of the dish, for a start, is Roasted Squash with Brown Rice AND Halloumi but I didn’t fancy the cheese. The recipe also has pomegranate seeds, which I also didn’t fancy, Hossack does give quite a lot of alternatives (I love the book for this, it knows that, especially when you’re on a budget, you’ve got to cook with what you’ve got), one of the alternatives being cubed apple, which I was going to do but then the dish seemed to be piling up quite a bit, so I decided to give that a miss too. I think if I had gone for the halloumi, then it would have been even more of a feast and I tend not to eat massive meals (unless it’s pasta or pizza, the girl has her weaknesses). So, anyway, this dish has lots of things in (oh, and I made another change too, I didn’t have any lemon juice either, so I used a little bit of white wine vinegar in the dressing instead, it was okay) and I don’t normally associate long ingredient list dishes with being cheap. I’m not going to price this one, as I substituted/missed out too many ingredients but I don’t think it cost that much. I think one of the keys to budget eating is to have a well-stocked kitchen (Hossack covers this at the beginning of the book) and so this dish could be made with a combination of stuff you already had and a trip to the market to buy some veg. Anyway, the most important bit, did it taste nice? And the answer is yes! It was a little bit of a hassle to make, with the increased list of ingredients but I think I would probably use this as an inspiration when making my own bowls in the future.
I also made the No-Knead Loaf from The Savvy Cook; now I’m definitely not anti-kneading, kneading is fun, but sometimes you want your bread baking to be the absolute minimum effort possible. Anyway, it’s a wholemeal loaf, and you can add seeds, I added linseeds. It takes 8-12 hours to rise, and so I made the mistake of starting it too late (9 am-ish), and it wasn’t ready for the kids’ tea. I think, if I were to make this again (and I well could, as it’s rather nice and has a gorgeous crispy crust and that was just on a baking tray not in a casserole dish), I would have to remember to start it first thing, at about 7 am. You could make life easy for yourself by weighing out the ingredients the night before, as although it’s still nice the day after, it’s absolutely gorgeous the day it’s baked.
Again, not priced, as I always have yeast, strong white and strong wholemeal bread flour, so of course it cost something but it felt like it was sort of free (and I know, because I’ve worked it out before, homemade bread is always cheaper than shop bought).
If you would like to check out the recipes in The Savvy Cook, you can find it in Google Books.