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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Rainbow Chard and Leek Quiche

We have an abundance of rainbow chard at our allotments and some leeks ready to harvest so I decided to make a Rainbow Chard and Leek Quiche for our lunch.  The stems of the rainbow chard are so colourful and a contrast to the rich green leaves.  Both are delicious, it is such a shame that the stems don't retain their vibrant colour after cooking.  They do make a great addition to a salads when finely chopped and lightly blanched, I also use them in stirfries, stews and other dishes to ensure nothing is wasted.  We have chard and spinach regularly as a side dish but I wanted our colourful homegrown rainbow chard to be the main feature of a dish instead of being relegated to 'steamed greens' status.

Rainbow Chard and Leek Quiche

For the pastry:
225g plain white flour 8p
pinch salt
110g cold unsalted butter, cubed 49p
1 medium free range egg yolk 9p
Cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Add the butter and rub into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add the egg yolk and a little water.

I add a tablespoon of cold water then add more, if necessary, a teaspoonful at a time.  Mix to a firm dough and press out to a disc shape.  Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for half an hour before you attempt to roll it out.
For the filling:
1 Tblsp oil 1p
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
1 large bunch of rainbow chard, leaves shredded and stalks finely sliced
5 free range eggs 90p
200ml milk 10p
100g grated cheddar cheese 13p
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and freshly ground pepper 

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Roll out the pastry into a circle about 0.5cm/5mm thick.  Line a greased loose based tart tin with the pastry, mine measures 25cm in diameter.  Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper and baking beans or dried rice and blind bake it for 15 minutes.  Leave to cool whilst you prepare the filling before removing the baking beans and paper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or saucepan over a moderate heat.  Add the leek and chard, cooking until the leek softens and the chard wilts slightly.  Pour the vegetables into the blind baked pastry case.

Beat together the eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, a few grinds of pepper and a large pinch of salt.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and bake the quiche for 25 - 30 minutes or until set and golden brown.

I'm entering this quiche into Extra Veg, a monthly blog challenge created by myself and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours to encourage us all to add extra vegetables to our meals.  Helen is hosting this month.

I am also entering this recipe into Credit Crunch Munch, created and hosted alternately by Helen and Camilla.  Camilla is hosting this month.  The chard and leeks were free and the rest of the ingredients cost £1.80 (not including energy costs to cook the quiche).  This quiche was a thrifty and filling lunch for our family of 5, we did have large slices and it could have been stretched over 2 lunches if accompanied by more salads and crudites.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Delicious Hot Cross Buns - thrifty and tasty!


I decided to try out yet another variation of my Hot Cross Bun recipe as I wanted a rich and flavoursome bun packed with fruit which was inexpensive and easy to make.  Basically I wanted a Hot Cross Bun that would give the supermarket premium brand buns a run for their money but cost much less than posh store bought buns.  These buns cost £1.47 for ingredients to bake a dozen, energy costs to bake them would of course be extra.  Asda and Sainsbury's sell their premium Hot Cross Buns for £1.35 per 4 pack, Tesco Finest are on offer for £1.20 (was £1.70) for a 4 pack and Waitrose Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns are £1.59 for a 4 pack.

This means that the cost of baking this batch of 12 Hot Cross Buns is about the same as buying only 4 buns from a supermarket premium range.  You don't have to be a master baker to make them either, just make sure the milk isn't hotter than 38C and that you knead the dough well until it is springy and elastic. That's all there is to it! You don't need a stand mixer, you can make them by hand.  Kids love kneading and shaping the dough, great for keeping them amused in the holidays.

You could add some peeled and finely chopped eating apple for extra fruit content or use a mixture of sultanas and dried apricots for a slightly different flavour.  My kids aren't fans of mixed peel so I normally leave it out and add some orange or lemon zest instead.

Delicious Hot Cross Buns

180ml milk, lukewarm 10p
4 tsp instant dry yeast 20p
75g sugar 6p
3 medium free range eggs 48p
125ml vegetable oil 15p
560g plain flour 18p
finely grated zest of an orange (optional)
3/4 tsp salt 1p
1 tsp mixed spice 1p
160g sultanas or raisins 18p

If you're using a stand mixer: Measure all of the dough ingredients, except the dried fruit, into the bowl of your mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix the dough on a low speed until it comes together, then increase the speed a little.  Knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  

If making by hand: Measure the ingredients, except for the dried fruit, into a large bowl.  Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead  until smooth and elastic.  Don't be tempted to add too much flour to the work surface or it will dry the dough out too much.  

Once your dough is smooth and elastic, knead through the dried fruit, either in the mixer or by hand.  Transfer the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave for rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute to knock the dough back.  Divide the dough evenly into 12 pieces, ours weighed about 100g each.  Shape each piece into a ball and put onto a lined baking tray, leave a little space between them as they will be left to rise again.  Cover the baking tray with greased cling film and leave the buns to rise for another 45 minutes.

3 Tblsp plain flour 1p
2 Tblsp cold water

Mix together the flour and water until a smooth paste forms then transfer to a piping bag, If you don't have a piping bag don't worry, just use a plastic sandwich bag and snip a small piece off one corner.  Pipe crosses on the buns.

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.  Uncover the buns and pipe on the crosses.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are are cooked through and a dark caramel colour on top.  Quickly make the glaze whilst the buns are still hot from the oven.

110g sugar 9p
50ml water

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat.  Heat gently, stirring constantly, until all the sugar has dissolved and a thin syrup has formed.  Brush this mixture over the buns, until it has all been used. Let the buns cool completely so the glaze can set.