September was all about school books, bags and uniforms and trying to find digs. Children were apprehensive and excited, parents usually relieved and comfortable to be back into a routine. For many it’s the most expensive time of the year, the following weeks feel a bit like January where everyone tightens the belt for a while to recover from the extra expense. As soon as the younger ones have settled in, it’s time to concentrate on getting the older ones off to college, scramble for places, and scramble for digs – how will they survive on their students’ budget? Will they feed themselves properly or will it all go on beer – worse still have they any idea how to shop or to knock a meal together with a few inexpensive ingredients. It would be worth buying a copy book to start a survival kit to record recipes and a few basic shopping tips. Teach the kids how to judge when food is safe to eat by using their eyes, nose and sense of taste, rather than relying merely on use-by dates. Add a list of what’s in season – it’ll be better and cheaper then and far more wholesome and nutritious. Teach them how to make a big bowl of porridge, and maybe a scrambled egg, basic muesli and a smoothie to kick start the day.
In the UK many students and others have also got very clever about collecting out of date – but still perfectly good – supermarket produce, before it is dumped. There is even a name ‘freegans’ very enterprising and at least it reduces waste and benefits those in need. Students about to embark on the new adventure of housekeeping and cooking for themselves need a basic kit, so family presents could include a grater, whisk, chopping board, a wok, a decent saucepan or two, a non-stick frying pan, vegetable peeler, a few knives, Bamix and a simple reliable cookbook. There are several but I have just come across a new publication – From Pasta to Pancakes – The Ultimate Student Cookbook. Coincidentally it’s been written by a vivacious past student, Tiffany Goodall, but proud as I am my of ‘babies’ that is not reason enough for me to wax lyrical about something unless I reckon it’s really worthwhile.
Even when Tiffany was in her early teens, she knew she wanted to cook, she landed a job at her local fish and chip shop ‘Fishers’ in Fulham. Life at university was fast and furious and she soon discovered that being able to cook was one the easiest ways to win friends and influence people. Breakfast with Tiffany and Tiff’s Tuesday and Tiff’s weekends became legendary.
The latter began in her second year at Newcastle University where she was studying business after she had a few people round for supper one Tuesday. Her friends asked if they all chipped in a fiver for ingredients could they continue this on a regular basis and it was a done deal.
Since graduating from the Ballymaloe Cookery School Tiffany has combined writing with guest appearances on BBC Market Kitchen and demonstrations for Marks and Spencers, the Home and Garden Show and Chanel 4’s Taste Festival in London and Bath. Plus her first cookbook written by a student who is realistic about what it’s like to be leaving home and facing up to the prospect of cooking for yourself for the first time. No need to panic, this book really will show you how to cook the basics and prove that you don’t have to resort to a diet of expensive takeaways or anything on toast. It’s very cleverly designed so not only does it tell you how to cook but there are witty step by step processes for every recipe. There are loads of tips for storing or using up left overs and giving meals a funky twist – ideal for those who have limited cash and equipment. Start off by learning a few basic skills, how to cook pasta, bake a potato then move on to stir fries, soups, salads, roasts and even curries. Here are a few recipes to whet your appetite; the book – published by Quadrille – has been in the shops since mid September.
Tiffany Goodall’s Beef Noodle Stir-fry
If you go to a Chinese restaurant you’ll doubtless find a selection of chow mein dishes on the menu. It is the generic term used for a Chinese dish of stir-fried noodles. You could use chicken, vegetables or even small prawns instead of the beef in this recipe.
225g/8oz rice noodles or egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped finely
3 sirloin or rump steaks, sliced
juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
Cook the rice noodles
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan, and then add the chillies, ginger, garlic and green pepper. Stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add the beef, lime juice and soy sauce.
Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked rice noodles. Mix well and add the honey. Have a taste and add some more soy sauce if you think it needs it.
Tiffany Goodall’s Hot hot Lamb Curry
How brave are you? This curry is punchy and spicy, perfect for a lads’ night in with a few beers. It is very spicy, so if you want to tone it down leave out the chilli flakes and use a couple of fresh green chillies instead.
1kg/21/4 lb lamb, diced
4 tablespoons plain yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
2cm/1inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped finely
6 small green chillies, such as bird’s eye chillies
1–2 teaspoons chilli flakes
400ml/14fl oz boiling water
2 chicken stock cubes
large handful of spinach leaves
4 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
Mix the lamb, yogurt, turmeric and cumin together in a bowl. Put in the fridge for an hour to marinate. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger. Add the chillies and chilli flakes and mix around.
Add the yoghurt-marinated lamb, stir well and season with salt and pepper.
Mix up the boiling water and stock cubes, and then pour over the lamb. Cook over a low heat for 35 minutes until the lamb is tender. Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, hot, hot with a dollop of yoghurt to cool the flames!
Optional Extras: Feel free to use coconut milk instead of stock here. Red chillies would also be great and give the dish some extra colour.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with some buttered basmati rice with coriander, some naan bread and good mango chutney.
Tiffany Goodall’s Chilli con Carne
A hot and warming chilli con carne is quite simply an ultimate favourite and perfect for a house party when feeding the masses. I love a good bit of spice, so chillies and chilli flakes are brilliant in this.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped finely
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1.5kg/3lb lean beef mince
3 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 glasses of red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
800g/11/2lb red kidney beans
150ml/5fl oz soured cream
Finely chop the onions, garlic and chillies.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the red onions, garlic and fresh chillies.
Add the chilli flakes. Cook gently for 3–4 minutes
You should be hit with the smells of the garlic and spice – all great.
Turn the heat right up and add the beef mince. Season well and cook until brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, red wine, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Stir well and then add the kidney beans.
Simmer for as long as time allows. I like this to simmer for at least an hour, as all the flavours really intensify. Taste it after an hour and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Serve hot with a dollop of soured cream.
Don’t add the Tabasco sauce if you don’t like it too hot, but it does give it a real kick. Chopped parsley or coriander would be brilliant at the end, sprinkled over.
I like this with rice and some soured cream, Guacamole and maybe a side salad. It’s so easy to do for large numbers.
Fool Proof Food
Tiffany Goodall’s Ma’s Carbonara Sauce
This is a tasty carbonara sauce – creamy, garlicky and delicious! The ingredients are basic: eggs, cream and milk – items I often find lying around in my fridge.
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100g/31/2oz un-smoked bacon lardons or normal bacon, chopped roughly
1 medium egg, whisked
2 tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese
125ml/4fl oz double cream
15ml/1 tablespoon milk
Cook your pasta
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and add the garlic and bacon.
Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the bacon is brown, stirring regularly.
Tip the bacon onto a piece of kitchen paper to drain. Set your dirty frying pan aside for later. Mix up the egg, bacon, cheese, cream and milk, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Check your pasta and when it’s ready, drain it and tip it into the large frying pan you used earlier. Add the egg mixture and gently heat it for 1 minute over a low-medium heat. This is very important because if the heat is too high you will end up with scrambled eggs! Taste to check the seasoning and then serve.
Countdown to Christmas
To continue our count down to Christmas – only 11 weeks to go – how about getting the Christmas puddings made… This week I will use Myrtle Allen’s recipe, next week my mother’s plum pudding so you will have a choice. Last week I gave instructions on how to prepare your own suet, this week I include a tip for making homemade breadcrumbs from left over stale bread. Store the puddings in a cool dry cupboard so they will gradually ripen and mature in time for Christmas.
Myrtle Allen’s Plum Pudding with Brandy Butter
Making the Christmas Puddings (from The Ballymaloe Cook Book by Myrtle Allen)
The tradition that every member of the household could have a wish which was likely (note, never a firm promise) to come true was, of course, a ruse to get all the children to help with heavy work of stirring the pudding. I only discovered this after I was married and had to do the job myself. This recipe, multiplied many times, was made all at once. In a machineless age, mixing all those expensive ingredients properly was a formidable task. Our puddings were mixed in an enormous china crock which held the bread for the house hold for the rest of the year. My mother, nanny and the cook took it in turns to stir, falling back with much panting and laughing after a few minutes’ work. I don’t think I was really much help to them.
Christmas puddings should be given at least 6 weeks to mature. They will keep for a year. They become richer and firmer with age, but one loses the lightness of the fruit flavour. We always eat our last plum pudding at Easter.
If possible, prepare your own fresh beef suet – it is better than the pre-packed product.
6ozs (175g) shredded beef suet
6 ozs (175g) sugar
7ozs (200g) soft breadcrumbs
8ozs (225g) currants
8 ozs (225g) raisins
4 ozs (110g) candied peel
1-2 teaspoons mixed spice
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 fl ozs (50ml) flesh of a baked apple
2 fl ozs (50ml) Irish whiskey
1 x 3 pints (1.75 L) capacity pudding bowl
Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Whisk the eggs and add them, with the apple and whiskey. Stir very well indeed. Fill into the greased pudding bowl. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper or a butter-wrapped pressed down on top of the pudding. Put a large round of greaseproof or brown paper over the top of the bowl, tying it firmly under the rim.
Place in a saucepan one-third full of boiling water and simmer for 10 hours. Do not allow the after to boil over the top and do not let it boil dry either. Store in a cool place until Christmas.
How to Make Bread Crumbs
I’ve just been to the shops and seen breadcrumbs for sale for more than the price of a loaf of bread for a 250g (9oz) bag, so let me share the secret of how to make your own.
There are two options. First save all left over white bread, for white bread crumbs, cut off the crusts. Tear each slice into 3 or 4 pieces, drop into a liquidiser or food processor, whizz for 30 seconds to a minute, hey presto – bread crumbs. Use immediately or freeze in convenient size bags to use another time.
Secondly, ff you include the crusts, the breadcrumbs will be flecked with lots of crust but these are fine for stuffings and any other dish where the crumbs do not need to be white. Uses for bread crumbs, stuffings, coating fish, meat, croquettes etc. Use for bread sauce and buttered crumbs for gratins.
Coeliac UK Gluten-free Chef of the Year Competition is being judged by Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc this year. Submit recipes for a three course gluten-free menu to email@example.com by 6th November 2009. Get more details about the competition including the prizes at www.coeliac.org.uk/glutenfreechefoftheyear