Friday, 31 May 2013

Recipe: Curried cod, carrots, leeks and potatoes

Curried cod, carrots, leeks and potatoes

Friday night after a long week at work and recovering from a cold... last thing I wanted to do tonight was cook dinner but Mr Kate was out at a meeting and duty called.

I dragged myself away from the sofa and quickly threw a meal together using a pack of Waitrose skinless and boneless cod fillets reduced from £4.73 £1.53.

Here's how to make this easy curried cod with carrots, leeks and potatoes:

1) Peel a carrot and a few potatoes and slice into rounds.
2) Par-boil for about 10 minutes.
3) Chop a leek.
4) Heat some oil (I used lemony olive oil) in a roasting dish in the oven.
5) Drain the potatoes and carrots and mix in the chopped leeks with a generous sprinkling of curry powder and a teaspoon or two of chopped garlic and ginger (I used a ready made jar of garlic and ginger that I keep in my fridge for when I'm feeling lazy!).
6) Chop a lemon into wedges and add to the veg mixture.
7) Throw into the roasting dish and pop in the oven for about five minutes.
8) Place the cod fillets on top and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
9) Serve and enjoy! The baked lemon wedges turn deliciously squidgy and you can scoop out the flesh and juice and spread all over the fish and veg.

Hardly gourmet but great for a quick midweek dinner.

And the grand total? Just £2 to serve the two of us. Friday night fish supper on the cheap - DONE!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Restaurant review: Brabenec's, Northampton

Three courses for £19.50 at Brabenec's, Northampton

Tucked away on Northampton's Wellingborough Road is the unassuming Brabenec's - an unpretentious, cosy restaurant which you would be forgiven for missing on the busy street. But it's well worth hunting out as I discovered last night...

We were tempted in by the set menu available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Two courses for £16.95 or three courses for £19.50 - got to be worth a try!

I plumped for a starter of in-season asparagus with a warm citrus dressing of grapefruit, lemon and orange. Deliciously light and fresh it was the perfect starter to get the tastebuds going without filling up before the main.

Mr Kate had pea and ham soup with crusty bread - the waiter proudly told us he had made the bread himself that day and you could certainly tell it was home-made.

We swapped starters half way through so we could try both dishes. I have a bit of a thing about soups as a starter as I find they always fill me up too quickly, leaving no room for the main. But this pea and ham soup was a revelation. Light, frothy, delicate and full of flavour. Best soup I've had in a long, long time.

For mains I went with the pan-fried salmon with brown shrimp and spring onion butter. The fish was cooked just how I like it - all the way through but still moist and juicy. Mr Kate had roast belly pork with apple sauce and was delighted with the quality of the crackling. Both were served with a mix of sauteed potatoes, new potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, green beans and carrots. Not much of a fan of potatoes, Mr Kate proclaimed these were the best potatoes he'd had for ages. High praise indeed.

We barely had room for a dessert but thought we should make the most of the three courses for £19.50 deal. I am CutPriceKate after all! Baked chocolate mousse cake and home-made ice cream it was then! And cor, it was good - moist, rich and verrrrrrry chocolatey. My kind of dessert.

Mr Kate went for the lemon treacle tart and commented that Mary Berry would have been most impressed with the light, thin, crisp pastry. Not a soggy bottom in sight...

All in all, I was most impressed with Brabenec's. Good, honest food, served with pride by a helpful and professional waiter who was eager to help without being over the top (nothing worse than gushing waiting staff). The quality of the food was spot on and at £19.50 for three courses it was excellent value.

I'm reliably informed Brabenec's has one of the best Sunday carveries in town - I may well have to make a trip to find out!

Well worth a visit.

Brabenec's, 187 Wellingborough Road, Northampton.
01604 634428
Twitter @brabenecsfood

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

His and hers haul - £53.24 worth of food for £18.78!

His and hers haul - £53.24 worth of food for £18.78!

Mr Kate is an absolute gem sometimes. I knew he would be passing Waitrose on his way home at about 6pm last night so gave him firm orders to pop in and see if there were any good reductions on the go. Whilst he was at one end of town wandering through Waitrose, I was at the other end meandering through Morrisons on the way home from work. Some might say that could have been a recipe for disaster and we'd end up buying the same things - but no, our cross-town hauls were the perfect match!

I came home laden with reduced breads, muffins, wraps and rolls whilst Mr Kate came up trumps with a host of cut-price meat and fish. Bingo!

Highlights from the his and hers haul include:

Chunky cod fillets - £2.79 down to 49p
Chorizo sausages - £2.99 down to 99p
Chicken breast fillets - £4.43 to £1.82
Thai green chicken kebabs - £4 to £1.49
Diced veal - £3.99 to £1.49
Aberdeen Angus steak burgers - £4.99 to £1.69
Chilli beef shish kebabs - £3.49 to £1.29
Mussels in Thai broth - £2.99 to 99p
Watercress, rocket and spinach salad - £1.99 to 35p
Nectarines - £3.49 to 75p
Tortilla wraps - 69p to 9p
Seeded loaf - 89p to 9p
Apple pies - 50p to 9p
Muffins - 75p to 9p

And much more!

Mr Kate was delighted to have mussels on a Monday night - a rare treat! Not being a shellfish kinda gal, I had some of the shish kebabs in a wrap with a touch of sweet chilli sauce and some of the watercress, rocket and spinach salad.

I made up more wraps with the leftover kebab meat for today's lunch and then finished the 9p wraps off tonight by making chicken fajitas for our dinner.

In total, Mr Kate's meaty haul should have cost £36.36 - it actually cost £14.40. My bread heavy haul should have cost £16.88 - it actually cost £4.38.

So in total, £53.24 worth of food for £18.78 - a 65% reduction overall. Not bad work for a Monday night and our freezer is now fully stocked for the barbecue season. All we need now is a bit of sunshine...

Monday, 20 May 2013

£14.20 worth of food for £4.04!

£14.20 worth of food for £4.04!

The best thing about the drive home from a visit to the parentals' house is that I pass four supermarkets on the way back! Would be rude not to pop in and see what's on offer, right?!

A lovely little haul on Saturday night - £14.20 worth of food for £4.04. In Waitrose I secured some chicken wings down from £2.45 to 79p and two packs of salmon grills down from £4 to £1.35. In Tesco I also picked up a pack of celery down from £1.25 to 25p and two bags of sprouts down from £1.25 to 15p.

Sprouts? It's not even Christmas! Time to get my thinking cap on and see if I can do something creative with everyone's favourite (??!) Christmas veg!

Any inspiring sprout recipes?! Do let me know!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Cut-price store cupboard staples

Cut-price store cupboard sauces

Most of my yellow-sticker hauls tend to be fresh food coming to the end of their shelf-life, but once in a while I find a basketful of bargains with several months' worth of life in them yet!

There's a shelf in our local Morrisons that is usually stocked with slightly damaged products. You know the sort - multi-packs of canned drinks with one missing, a broken flan base, dented tins and bashed boxes... unloved products that have taken a bit of a bruising and are just waiting for a home! Usually there's nothing worth taking home but from time to time it comes up trumps as it did on a recent trip...

Jars and jars of yellow-stickered sauces, pastes, salsas and dressings. Kerching! We stocked up our cupboard with two jars of curry paste down from 64p to 29p, Wahaca Mexican sauce down from 99p to 49p, soy sauce down from £1.15 to 59p and Old El Paso sauce down from £1 to 49p.

And the best thing? The best before dates! June, August and October! Why they were reduced I don't quite know - maybe it was simply the end of the product line and the supermarket wanted rid.

Next time you're passing the 'unloved' shelf take a look - you never know what you might find!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Two litres of cola for 17p!

Two litres of cola for 17p!

Friday night, a long day at work and Mr Kate is away... Whilst the cat's away, this mouse needs fizzy drinks and chocolate! So I took a quick stroll to our local Tesco Express (that'll burn off 1% of the calories about to be consumed in choc) to hunter gather some treats.

Chocolate - check. Next stop the drinks aisle. Tonight, however, my eyes were drawn away from the branded cola deals of two bottles for £3 when I spotted a bargain on the bottom shelf. Not sure how long this own-brand bottle has been around, but I was amazed to find a two little bottle of Tesco Everyday Value diet cola for just 17p. That's right - seventeen little pennies!

So what does it taste like? Well the branded pop purists might not be satisfied but I actually quite like it! I've got a glass on the go as I type (plenty of ice and a slice of lemon of course) and as far as fake fizz goes I'm more than happy!

I'll definitely be swapping the pricey branded pop for this cut-price pop in the future!