Coca-cola Ham

I like solutions that I can use to save money.

So, I was thinking about the ham I normally buy to put in my sandwiches for work – the ham from the deli is better value than that from the aisle, but I thought I might be able to do one better.

Enter this recipe from Nigella.

Well, this was very simple – put in water, raise to boil, pour out, pour in coke and onion, boil, then simmer for 3hrs.

The ham as a result is very crumbly and moist. The coke I think makes it a bit more tender, and the sweetness is quite nice.

Coke, after all, is a ‘vegetable extract’, and we cook with marmite and stock cubes, don’t we?

I like my ham thickly cut, I got about a month’s worth of ham this time but I think once my carving skills improve I can beat that. I might add that that’s three slices per week, haha.

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Sweet Chilli Meatball and Prawn Noodles

Another cupboard meal.
I had sweet chilli beef meatballs knocking around in the freezer, and my original idea was to go with pasta but noodles and pasta are very similar after all.

I used some more chopped vegetable mix so nothing groundbreaking there. I threw in some prawns for added novelty.

The sauce is predominantly sweet chilli sauce from a bottle, soy sauce and fish sauce (maybe 2tbsp, 1tbsp and 1tbsp) with a dash of lime juice for flavour and encona hot sauce to get the chilli kick.

Finished off with a bit of sesame oil and sesame seeds. Maybe a bit too much sesame oil this time but otherwise not at all bad.

I used dry noodles from my local asian supermarket, boiling them separately with the prawns and adding them in later.

Beef Steak Ramen with Mushroom

This was a bit of an experiment – I always use chicken stock as a base but this time I saw I had mushroom, onion and a steak knocking around so I thought I’d make it a much more beef-centred dish as the ingredients lean that way.

I use stock cubes, I put two in this, along with a small tablespoon of miso paste and a splash of soy sauce. Pretty simple, and it tastes great. Not too salty, I think I have about 1.5 pints of water in there which waters it down somewhat.

I fried the steak on its own first, I’m not too good at judging steak timing, to be honest :/ I seasoned it with salt and pepper which has done a fine job. I put it aside while I made the soup in its own pan, and sliced it and put it on top.

You can make pretty good stuff just with what you already have in the cupboards – I hope it comes across in this blog that I don’t often go out and buy an ingredient just for one meal, or even for a few. There’s a handful of staple ingredients that can be juggled around to make all sorts of stuff!

Ugli Fruit

So yeah, I wanted to show you this. It’s called an ugli fruit.
Wikipedia describes it as a hybrid between grapefruit, orange and tangerines.

Apparently it is indeed called ugli because of the way it looks. I shouldn’t eat too many of them, then, just in case you are what you eat, haha.

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It’s delicious. It doesn’t taste like orange or tangerine, but it certainly isn’t bitter like grapefruit. It’s nicely sweet and sour.

I strongly advise you to try it if you can find it.

Chilli Ramen

A personal favourite of mine.

This dish can be pulled off cheaply, with more or less any meat or veg, and in one pan.

I used a turkey breast fillet this time that I picked up reduced from the supermarket today. I also used some frozen peppers and some frozen stewing vegetables because I had them knocking around. It was finished off with lettuce and so me sesame seeds.

This meal can be made really nicely with beansprouts (one handful per person) which go in right at the end, just after the noodles so they stay crunchy. Alternatively stir fry mixes come with beansprouts and other good veg.

Today I fried the turkey breast til golden and then put it in the serving bowl so I could use the pan for the soup.

Now, the soup base, which is what you’re waiting for –
It’s about 1 pint, 1/2 litre of water per person – I generally cook in single portions. This is going to need probably two stock cubes per pint.
You also need fish sauce / nam pla – I used about 3 tablespoons.
Stir in rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.

This is a great ramen base on its own, but to get the chilli flavour going, add maybe 3 tablespoons of sweet chilli dipping sauce.
To get extra heat, you can either add fresh chillis to taste or add a bit of hot sauce. I used encona extra hot sauce, only a teaspoon because encona has a powerful flavour.

I cook this type of thing regularly, so stay tuned for more variations! I want to try a seafood and a vegetable soup. I’ll post up the results.

Souped up Instant Noodle Soup

This is something my girlfriend taught me to do – this dinner is great for students, or anyone super short on time.

 

Instant noodle soups are a good time saver, but they are woefully low on nutrition and bulk, so they quickly get burnt off and leave you feeling hungry.

However, you can add extra veg to make up the nutritional value, and meat for more flavour and protein.

Frying chicken and then pouring the water in the pan to start the soup saves on dishes and the boiling softens the chicken, making it tender. You might want to fry beef separately to preserve the rareness, if that’s how you take your beef.

Throwing some lettuce in after you serve it adds some nice green colour and extra crunch. Don’t add it earlier though, else it will go totally limp.

Here in the UK you can get hold of instant noodle soups as low as 10p from the value range at your supermarket. However, I fully recommend scoping out a nearby asian supermarket. They will likely stock imported Chinese, Japanese and Korean noodle soups which come in a greater variety of flavours and a larger pack size. They cost between 40-60p, still a damn cheap meal, especially teamed with value chicken on the bone and stir fry veg mix.

This post has a few good tips value-wise, but it is a bit of a cop out recipe-wise. Tomorrow I will post up a noodle soup made from scratch!

Student Peri Lamb

Sometimes all you need is a bottle of peri peri sauce to make something respectable. The sauce pretty much does it all for you! However, if you want to make it go further, to make it into a kind of curry, you can add a few spoons of tomato purée.

Last time I checked, the sauce or marinade is around £2 a bottle, and purée is 70p, tops. It’s good economy to thicken it out.

This stuff also goes great in wraps. You could make a few portions of it and take one for lunch with a few tortillas and a bit of sour cream sauce, and eat the rest with rice later. Then you get a little bit of variety out of the same pan.

The sauce goes with so much. If you really want to, you can make the sauce on its own and fry chicken for your tortilla wraps and lamb for to go with the rice. You can even just add fresh peppers and eat it vegetarian, which would be seriously good value.

Lamb and Mint stir fry

Today I tried out two new ingredients – dried mint and saino’s frozen finely chopped vegetables.

It’s certainly fresh-tasting. I slung loads, loads of dried mint in there – I recommend using fresh if you can, at least as far as basil goes you get more bang for your buck and you can freeze it to make it last longer.

Pretty standard stir fry seasoning – a dash of soy sauce and rice vinegar. I wanted to put in some fish sauce but alas, I ran out.

I’m going to acquire some fresh mint leaves and give this another go, then I will do a more detailed post about making it.

That said, part of the point of this blog is to show you that you can make a respectable dish for good value.

Sweet and Sour Pork Mince

I have cooked this once or twice before but I’ve had mixed results.

This time it is pretty damn good.

I used pork mince because, well, that’s what I had to hand! I was going to make meatballs but I wanted something quicker. Anyway, it proves that you can make ingredients work.

I cooked it earlier, maybe 5 o’clock, and ate half of it then. I quickly reheated it now and threw in a few more veg.

The recipe for the sauce is based on Ken Hom’s version in his Complete Chinese cookbook, which is why I feel bad if I copy out the exact quantities of it, haha. I don’t really use them anyway!

The gist of it is chicken stock, tomato purée (or ketchup, but that’s got extra vinegar which you need to account for), soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar.
I also added dashes of lemon and lime juice, which makes it a little bit more fruity, to your taste.

Now, I’m not one for really following recipes to the letter, I prefer to experiment to see what each flavour does.
However this recipe has guidelines that, when followed, produces a sweet and sour sauce that is more sour than sweet. This is good – this makes a clear difference between this and the stuff you get down at the takeaway.

Obviously you can play with proportions and get a sweeter sauce if that’s what you want, but the general amounts are to dissolve the stock cube in water and add a good couple of spoons of purée – this is the backbone of the sauce – with a dash of dark and maybe 4 times as much light soy sauce. A similar amount of rice vinegar in there too. Bear in mind that soy sauce and vinegar are quite salty!
Sugar to taste, maybe a tablespoon or maybe more.

The way I made it the sauce was lovely and thick, but if it’s runny, you can always whip up some cold water and arrowroot or cornflower and stir that in. Beware for lumps – that’s why you don’t toss the flour in dry.

I want to add that onions in oriental food are nice very crunchy, and as such you slip them in close to the end.

First post

This blog is called ‘Plate of Whoop-ass’.

I will show you whoop-ass plates of food!

Coming up today is Sweet and Sour Pork mince.

I often upload pictures of food to facebook so this is a way to keep this away from there where it has been making people all hungry.

I would like to say I am handy in the kitchen. I specialise in quick and simple dishes; It’s rare for anything I cook to take longer than 30 minutes. Therefore if there’s anything I want readers to take from this, it is that you don’t need a whole lot of time or effort to make satisfying food.