Foodie Life & Learning
Find me on
Find me on
Find me on
Find me on
How to eat well, spend less, keep healthy: week 1

Eat well, spend less, keep healthy

5 weekday meals and 2 treats from an affordable shopping bag. Use meal planning to help keep you organised and healthy.

The shopping bag needs to contain

1 packet of part baked bread rolls, 2-3 smoked mackerel fillets,     1 pkt ready roll of puff pastry,  150g minced beef,  1 hake or haddock or cod portion,  80g portion fresh cooked prawns,  3 pork sausages,  1 tub creme fraiche,  Pkt noodles

Fresh fruits and vegetables: butternut squash, 3 onions, 3 tomatoes, 2 cox apples, small bunch green grapes, pack walnuts. pecans and 1 lemon.
Check your fridge: 3-4 eggs, margarine or butter, cheddar  Store cupboard: couscous, horseradish sauce, worcestershire sauce and sugar.

Day 1: Mackerel pate with hot crusty rolls, pastry twirls and crunchy apple, grape and walnut salad  Prepare smoked mackerel pate by peeling off the skin from the mackerel fillets and mashing the fillets with a fork. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and pile into a serving dish.
Cook the part-baked rolls (or baguette) according to the packet. Open the puff pastry and slice the thinnest slices from  the block, twist them and place on a baking tray. Cook in the same hot oven as the bread rolls for about 7 minutes.

Side salad: Chop apple into quarters and remove the core, dice up the apple portions, add halved grapes and a few crushed walnuts or pecans with about a tablespoon of any salad dressing or mayo that you have.
Day 2: Omeletta with salsa style salad and crusty bread
Use your eggs to make omeletta. You need a good non-stick pan for this if you want to make it on the hob. Crack the eggs (2 or possibly 3 if you are starving hungry!) into a mixing bowl and beat them well, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grate about half an onion, wrap the remaining half with cling film and store in fridge. Slice some pieces from a red pepper and about half a courgette. Shred some boiled ham, or chorizo slices.
Smear the cooking pan with butter, as butter gives the golden look to the outside of the omeletta, and put the pan on the hob. Tip in the eggs, onion, veg and meat strips. Gently, using a heatproof spatula, draw the egg mix from the sides to the middle of the pan bringing the ‘set’ or cooked egg layer with you. This will form a pile in the middle of the pan from which the still ‘raw’ egg mix will drain onto the hot edges of the pan.
Side salad: Salsa tomato salad. Dice tomatoes the sprinkle with sea salt flakes and a good pinch of sugar. Add cucumber cubes and sliced gherkins. Drizzle with French dressing or separate oil and vinegar.
Day 3: Roasted squash and minced beef hot-pot with crust
Peel a potato and slice into very thin slices. Cut an onion into quarters and place in the bottom of a casserole dish. Pop this into the microwave for 6 minutes. Put minced beef over the onion and potato and scatter with black pepper. Add a layer of chopped butternut squash. You can leave the skin on as it melts away during cooking. Add stock or water with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce or Marmite stirred in. This will add a darker meaty colour and richer flavour. Put the lid on and leave in the oven for 40 mins at Gas 6 or Electric 200ºC. Roll out a portion of puff pastry block and cover the hot pot dish, trim the edges and brush with milk. Cook on for 15 - 20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.
Day 4: Coconut, Haddock and Prawn hot tub.   Frozen Hake (Haddock or cod) portions can make a quick affordable meal. If using frozen fish remove the fish from the freezer and place in a frying pan greased with butter. Add 2 slices of fresh lemon, a small diced chilli and the whole can of coconut milk with some sea salt and ground black pepper. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and simmer very gently for 10 – 12 minutes. Rapid cooking will break up the fish so keep it gentle and just poach and steam the fish until it is cooked. Once the fish is tender add the prawns. Quickly shred a whole pak choi very finely and add to the fish pan covering again to create steam to cook the vegetable. Peel a carrot and using a potato peeler shave thin ribbons into the coconut milk. Soak rice noodles in boiling water. Drain and add to the coconut. Serve piping hot.
Day 5: Onion Fondue with sausages and potato topping.  Peel a potato and slice to make really thin slices. Melt a little butter in the microwave and toss the potato slices in this butter with some seasoning. Fry the potato slices very gently turning them several times. Whilst this is cooking, peel and quarter a large onion and cover with boiling water in a pan. Add the sausages and boil for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and drain through a colander. In the saucepan put a glass of white wine and 100g grated Gruyere cheese and 1 clove of garlic. Very gently heat this mixture until it forms a smooth sauce. Stir it constantly and once it is blended add the onions. Serve the sausages and the onion sauce topped with the golden crunchy potato slices.
Treat 1: Noodle soup   Using a pan on the hob. Use up half of the onion, chop it up and fry off in butter until it is softened, add any left-over vegetables cut into small pieces, Tear up a few of the basil leaves, drop in a thin chilli and remove it prior to eating, stir in a stock cube and add water. Add 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes and drop in thin rice noodles (and float any remaining mackerel pate to use it up) and heat until piping hot. Serve in a deep bowl.

Treat 2: Apple wrap snack.  Unwrap the ready roll puff pastry. Peel and core a Bramley apple and cut into 4 quarters. Place a piece of apple onto a portion of pastry and add a teaspoon of jam, curd or mincemeat. Wrap the pastry round and seal the edges by pinching the pastry together. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 200ºC or Gas Mark 6 until crisp and golden. These are delicious warm but can also be eaten cold.

Foodie sights in Hong Kong street markets<p>Walking the streets of Hong Kong brings sights and smells that are unique. Take a look at some of these images.</p><p><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_23.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></p><p><strong>Dragon fruit</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_22.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></p><p><strong>Chicken feet</strong></p><p><strong><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_21.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></strong></p><p><strong>Lobster waiting to be cooked</strong></p><p><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_20.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></p><p><strong>Preserved eggs</strong></p><p><strong><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_24.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></strong></p><p><strong>Scallops</strong></p><p><strong><img alt="" src="/images/blog/foodie-sights_19.gif" style="height:396px; width:589px" /></strong></p><p><strong>Bean curd</strong></p>
Food Markets in Madrid<p>I must tell you about the food markets in Madrid. I went to three.&nbsp; One was a tourist hot spot that was in all the &lsquo;Visit Madrid&rsquo; books. It was an old iron-framed market place that had been upgraded and re-styled.&nbsp; It was called Mercado de San Miguel.</p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width:100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/images/blog/mercadodesanmiguel.jpg" style="height:366px; margin:10px; width:590px" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>There was a buzz about the place and a tourist hype that was infectious, so much so I bought a garlic holder with &lsquo;Mercado de San Miguel&rsquo; painted on the lid from the souvenir stall promoting the market.&nbsp; Most of the market was geared up to showcase produce and offer visitors tasting samples of foods carefully presented for sale. Tapas, tostas or mini toasts (&lsquo;Todo los Pinchos&rsquo; at 1 euro each!) were topped with every type and part of fish you could think of.&nbsp; Each product was beautifully hand-crafted to tempt. They were like the canap&eacute; you imagine you will make but never quite achieve.&nbsp;&nbsp; Eating areas were set out well with tall tables and stools enabling everyone to enjoy the frenetic market vibes and indulge in delicious food.&nbsp; There were fruits, vegetables, fish and seafoods, coffee, cheeses, cured meats, olives, oils and spices alongside cakes, pastries and other foodie gifts.</p> <p>The second market Mercado de la Cebada was less for the tourist and more for everyday life in Madrid.&nbsp;&nbsp; It was open in the morning and again from 5.30pm in the evening. It had been an iron frame market but after it had fallen into disrepair had had to be completely re-built.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/uploads/images-2020/madrid.JPG" style="height:331px; margin-bottom:10px; margin-top:10px; width:600px" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>I saw the market open after the siesta. I stood watching the stall holders clean their glitzy stands that looked akin to those in the fairground.&nbsp; Shiny shutters and metallic fronts displayed colourful trade names.&nbsp; You could almost see your face on the swept and cleaned floors. The displays emerged one by one, as blossom on trees. Each stall holder proudly and beautifully presented their produce ranging from fruits and vegetables to meats, cheeses, eggs and condiments.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/images/blog/spanishmarkets.jpg" style="height:411px; margin:10px; width:590px" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>I enjoyed looking at the cheese made from the milk of goats, sheep, ewes, and cows.&nbsp; (I remember being surprised how many Spanish cheeses there were when I visited the Good Food Show last year at the NEC and saw the prize winning cheese display.)&nbsp;</p> I found an egg stall, selling pure white eggs that later inspired me to select mushroom omelette for a snack meal.&nbsp; Huevos (eggs) are popular and because they are available in towns, cities and villages they form a base for many Spanish dishes.&nbsp; Hard boiled eggs are beautifully served as tapas or as main course salads.&nbsp; Eggs are used in the omelettes, croquettes and &lsquo;set&rsquo; puddings both in the home and in restaurants.&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/images/blog/omlettetapas.jpg" style="height:420px; margin:10px; opacity:0.9; width:590px" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Even the humble &lsquo;eggy&rsquo; bread, fried until golden and served with citrus jam rather like marmalade, is a favourite breakfast dish on cafe menus.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/images/blog/whiteeggsinspain.jpg" style="height:332px; margin:10px; width:590px" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>The final market was in a smart shopping and business area.&nbsp; This seemed somewhat strange but as the daily shop forms part of life in Madrid it provided a much needed one-stop shop for local office workers and those about town. Centro Commercial la Paz was tucked away yet as busy and vibrant as the other two larger markets.&nbsp; It sold the same produce, the same fresh ingredients but to smartly suited business workers and designer clad women straight from the expensive shops on the neighbouring streets.&nbsp; It was obviously valued as the source of &lsquo;deli&rsquo; style ingredients that formed part of daily shopping life in Madrid. My market visits were complete and I pondered later on how I might take inspiration from what I had seen.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/images/blog/mercado.jpg" style="height:332px; margin:10px; width:590px" /></td> </tr> </tbody></table><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width:100%"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>Entrance to Centro Mercado Commercial la Paz</p> <p>Taking ideas forward &ndash; a personal view</p> <p>I could see that colours, textures and flavours come easily when you select from good quality fresh ingredients.&nbsp; Regular shopping is the way to achieve this and something that I believe is part of the way of life for people in Madrid whether it be purchasing from markets or shops.&nbsp;</p> <p>During my visit the weather was balmy, not too hot, and at that temperature I felt comfortable when picking from a range of small portions of food. Not only was it a nice way to relax and take a break but also it was not over-facing. I wondered if perhaps portion size was something the &rsquo;Brits&rsquo; need to consider for improving health and weight in the long term. Certainly I enjoyed smaller and tasty morsels of food and going through the process of choosing from tantalizing selections.</p> <p>I loved the simple dishes such as Tostas. These &rsquo;on toast&rsquo; snacks looked so beautiful and tasted good too.&nbsp; I could imagine making them slightly larger for a mid-day light snack and dressing them with tapenade (olive pate) let down with olive oil.&nbsp; I suppose what impressed me was just how good simple ingredients can be when served this way.&nbsp;</p> <p>I noticed the use of garlic, pimento and saffron to enrich the flavour of &lsquo;bland&rsquo; products like rice, bread and some potatoes.&nbsp; I think I could be more liberal in my use of these products and also with the addition of splendid olive oil.&nbsp; I vow to spend more on good oil.</p> <p>My use of some of the spices may increase. I tasted smoked paprika that worked in &lsquo;unison&rsquo; with pork in the tiny Chorizo and rather enjoyed the oil that oozed from the sausages when they were warmed.&nbsp; I began to think of using Chorizo to replace bacon in some dishes or using finely diced Chorizo with peas or Brussells sprouts as a way to introduce more flavour and colour.</p> <p>I recognised the value of the egg, from its use in mayonnaise, cakes and pastries to dishes</p> <p>based on hard-boiled egg, omelettes (tortilla) and set puddings (caramel cr&egrave;me). Long live the egg.</p> <a href="">In a hot country using cream to decorate cakes and pastries is not possible and therefore they use more icing, glazes, coatings and nuts to make their products look really special.</a></td> </tr> </tbody></table>
Key Words