Tag Archives: the frugal kitchen

quesadilla recipe, Mexican food

Our friend Paddy is an exceptional cook. And every time he makes quesadillas, I am blown away by just how delicious they are. I was even more amazed when he told me what was in his quesadillas: peppers and peaches? Who knew? I forgot to ask Paddy for the proper recipe, so I have just made it up based on a half-memory of the ingredients he divulged at our Mexican extravaganza on New Year’s Eve (okay, I admit, I was too drunk to write it down!). Mine were not as good as Paddy’s, but delicious nonetheless.

Serves: 8 as a starter

16 large flour tortillas (so easy to make, or use pre-prepared ones)

3 red peppers

Half a tin of peaches in juice (drained)

1 small red onion

1 bunch coriander

1 red chilli (seeds removed)

A generous heap of grated Applewood smoked cheddar (or other smoked cheese). I used a smoked Gouda, because my stepmother gave me one and I’m on a budget here people!

quesadilla recipe, Mexican food

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Roast the peppers until the flesh is soft and the skin is slightly charred. Remove from the oven and skin. Obviously they will be hot – if you don’t have hands made of asbestos, like me, drop them into a sandwich bag to cool and the skin will just slide off. Remove the stalk and seeds and throw into a blender. Peel the onion, chop into quarters, drain the peach slices and chuck into the blender with the peppers. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped, but not liquified.

Take a tortilla, spread with a layer of the peachy filling and sprinkle over cheese. top with a further tortilla and fry in a griddle pan until brown on each side. Cut into quarters and serve with guacamole.




Golden balls: parmasan crusted gnocchi with pesto: Wimbledon Men's Final

Cooking and watching the Wimbledon final is a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon in my book. Yesterday’s dinner naturally had to be Wimbledon-themed: here the green grass is represented by pesto, while my golden parmesan-crusted gnocchi are taking on the role of the sunshine-yellow tennis balls.

Serves: 6

For the gnocchi:

450g plain flour

600g mashed potato

1 egg

Salt and pepper

A generous handful grated parmesan

For the pesto:

1 large bunch basil

1 handful pine nuts

2 handfuls grated parmesan

A generous slug olive oil

1 clove garlic


In a large bowl, add the potato, flour and egg, season and mix by hand to form a dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Divide into four and roll each section into a long sausage. Use scissors to snip each sausage into individual gnocchi.

Pop a large saucepan on the hob and fill with boiling water. Maintain at a simmer and drop in the gnocchi in batches. When the gnocchi float to the surface, fish them out with a slotted spoon, plunge into a bowl of iced water and set aside.

Now make the pesto, simply bung all the ingredients into a blender and whizz to a smooth paste, add more oil if too thick. Line the bottom of a baking dish with pesto, then cover with the cooked gnocchi and finally sprinkle over parmesan cheese and black pepper. Grill for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.

Enjoy, hopefully without the bitter taste of defeat.

elderflower cordial, bottled

Drink anyone? LoveRichCashPoor makes elderflower cordial

As regular readers will know, I went on a foraging mission to appropriate some elderflowers from a local park at the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it was to find wild fauna and flora in London… I did not expect, however, for it to take me longer to find the key ingredients to make cordial from said elderflowers than it did to find the elderflowers themselves.

Mum’s recipe calls for citric acid. You can buy it in Boots, the recipe helpfully added.

Off LoveRichCashPoor toddled to Boots to ask the pharmacist for some citric acid. Suspicion flashed across the pharmacist’s eyes; I’ve received less disapproving looks when asking for considerably less savoury things.

“What do you need it for?” the pharmacist asked. “What is elderflower cordial?”

The pharmacist would not sell any to poor old LoveRichCashPoor. I guess people in central London do not make elderflower cordial all that often, and I would very much like to know what else citric acid is used for.

In fact, I visited no less than 11 pharmacies before I managed to score some elusive citric acid. In the end, an independent Turkish pharmacy on Kingsland Road came to my rescue. You can buy it on the internet, of course, but LoveRichCashPoor has sworn to use cash only and the interweb is not famed for accepting cash…

Anyways, I’m not sure who to attribute the recipe to, as my mum gave it to me. It’s a small, typewritten recipe that looks as if it has been passed down the generations. Mum, can you shed any light on this?

Makes three large bottles:

1.5kg of granulated sugar (yes, really – I was shocked, reader, I was shocked. The original recipe was in imperial measures. I am a metric gal, so I didn’t realise this until I started weighing out the sugar)

1.5 litres water

50g citric acid

3 lemons, sliced

25 elderflower heads

Pop the lemons, elderflowers and citric acid in a large bowl (check it will fit in the fridge first though).

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan and heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.

Add the cooled sugar syrup to the bowl, stir and refrigerate over night.

Strain the cordial and decant into bottles, store in the fridge.

You can dilute it in still or sparkling water to make a delicious, refreshing drink. I’m going to use it for all sorts of exciting things too – I’ll keep you posted.

Belle of the ball: I know, how gorgeous is my goddaughter?


Wake up with: £40

Go to bed with: £33

With a £53m jackpot promised for tonight’s Euromillions lottery draw, £2 seems like a fair investment—besides after last week’s overspend, I could do with a swift cash injection—so I break into my brand new budget to enter the office syndicate. The husband sends me an email just before I leave work, the subject is ‘one day…’ I open it to find a link to Rightmove. I click through and it’s the most beautiful country house—and way out of our price range. Come on Euromillions. Come on.

I bought the husband tickets for Belt Up Theatre’s Macbeth at the House of Detention in Clerkenwell for our anniversary, so I pedal off to meet him at the venue after work. I buy him a little interval beer and he picks up the tab for dinner at Pho after curtain down. What a date night: it was an incredible production, dark and innovative and the curry went down a treat too. The only dampener is when I have to get back on my bike and cycle home, leaving the husband at the bus stop with my Oyster card.

At this point, I should point out that the reason I have been limiting myself to a budget of £40 for the last three weeks (cough, except for Amsterdam, cough) is so I can buy birthday/ christening/ anniversary presents without going over budget. I’m afraid you’ll just have to trust me on this one, making a public note of how much you spent on a present just seems wrong (besides, it would ruin the surprise).


Wake up with: £33

Go to bed with: £13

The husband is working today, so I get up with him and manage to process the enormous pile of laundry and tidy the house before I’m due to meet a friend for brunch. It’s her birthday weekend, so the eggs are on me at café Z bar. After, we order take-out coffees and go for a walk around Clissold Park.

In the evening, there’s some big football thing on that is extremely important. I won’t attempt to explain what it is or why. I was hoping to escape to the two birthday parties I’ve been invited to but I’m feeling yucky and not at all sociable, so I (rather dramatically) take to my bed for the afternoon and emerge only to chow down a burger with the lads that have gathered for this momentous occasion. The husband has decided it’s barbecue season, sunshine or no sunshine—or should that be no sunshine or no sunshine (where is summer?)—and the barbecue goes down considerably better than the football, which is a disaster. Cue one very depressed husband. Poor boy.


Wake up with: £13

Go to bed with: £13

It’s my gorgeous god-daughter’s christening and the proud parents, godparents and spouses all gather at The Holly Bush in Hampstead to coo over the beautiful baby and the magnificent roast that has been laid on to mark the occasion. We have a wonderful time writing lists of all the films, albums and books Isabel should discover when she grows up, the food she has to try and the places she simply must go.

It turns out to be a very late lunch, and we get home just in time for some eggs on toast and a couple of episodes of The Bridge before bed.


Wake up with: £13

Go to bed with: £8.72

Supper club tonight and I’m not sure who is in the house… we’ve been promised a guest appearance, two of the regulars are flying in from Canada and another has a backgammon tournament and may or may not grace us with his presence.

Mmmh—potentially I’ll be catering for six. My mental inventory of our current food-stock reveals we have sausages leftover from the barbecue (and an extra pack in the freezer from the husband’s bank holiday bonanza). My mind is made up: meatballs with a difference. I pop to the shops at lunchtime and score a pack of parma ham, some tinned tomatoes and a huge tub of cherry tomatoes for £4.28.


Wake up with: £8.72

Go to bed with: £8.72

Sunshine! Finally, I can turn off the central heating. This is an all-time record, normally I turn it off in March and on in October and, as I have explained to the husband on numerous occasions, this is non-negotiable—or in other words PUT ON A BLOODY JUMPER. This year, however, with temperatures plunging below 10C at night, we’ve been naughty and every time the doorbell rings my pulse races as I’m currently hiding from the meter man.

I treat myself to a G&T and a long gossip with my sister on the new-and-improved balcony when I get home (and use the last of the tonic, alas) then the husband and I have our very first outdoors tea of the year. Bliss.


Wake up with: £8.72

Go to bed with: £0.37

Good grief stamps are expensive! It’s my other lovely god-daughter’s first birthday tomorrow and, naturally I need to send a card. Card and stamps purchased and this week’s budget is pretty much exhausted.

Now I have to work out a way to buy the cleaning supplies I need (Thursday is cleaning day in the LoveRichCashPoor household) with £2.37. The pound shop it is. I love the pound shop—I find exactly the same brands that I would have bought at the supermarket anyway and snap them up for a pound a piece.


Wake up with: £0.37

Go to bed with: £0.37

Out of necessity, this is a no-spend day, although I do take out the week’s remaining £40 to pay for the husband’s first birthday treat, which is lined up for this evening: a screening of Dog Day Afternoon in a pop-up cinema in Stoke Newington Town Hall. I treat him to a katsu curry and a beer to boot (lucky boy) and, with that, possibly one of the longest weeks in the entire world (budget-speaking) ends.

Tartine hollandaise

A simple supper: tartine hollandaise

I picked up some beautiful aged organic Gouda in Amsterdam and I’ve been itching to use it ever since. A tartine is French for an open-sandwich. I know, I know—where does French come into it? No offence, my Dutch friends but it just doesn’t sound as pretty (and probably isn’t very accurate—my Dutch is pitiful), but if you insist on my blundering translation, here goes:


Aged organic gouda all the way from Amsterdam

Boterham met kaas

Serves 2 (with a lot of additional sauce leftover for a macaroni cheese or lasagne):

50g butter

1heaped tbsp flour

400ml milk

Grated nutmeg (approx. 1/2 tsp)

Freshly milled black pepper

1 bay leaf

100g mature gouda, grated

2 eggs

2 slices rye bread

Cornichons (baby gherkins) and pickled silverskin onions

Salad leaves and/or chives to garnish

Melt the butter on a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to a smooth paste (roux). Gradually add the milk, a dash at a time. Add the bayleaf and simmer for approx. 10 minutes, stirring constantly in a figure of eight motion until the sauce thickens. Grate in the nutmeg and grind in the black pepper, add half the grated cheese and stir until melted. Fish out the bayleaf and leave to cool.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites and stir the yolks into the cheese sauce. Whisk up the egg whites until light and fluffy, then fold in to the cheese sauce.

Toast the bread, then cover with sauce and the remaining grated cheese on one side. Grill until the cheese bubbles and turns a lovely crispy brown. Serve with cornichons, pickled onions, wholegrain mustard and a side salad (watercress makes for a lovely peppery contrast).

Freeze any remaining sauce to use in a lasagne, cannelloni or more cheese on toast Dutch-style!


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