eggs in baskets- Frugal Friday

I always thought Toad in the Hole was an egg cracked into a slice of bread and then fried. Turns out I’m wrong. (Thank you for the correction wikipedia) Apparently Toad in the Hole involves a sausage and instead my fried egg is called Egg in a Basket. I’m not sure that’s got quite the same ring to it, but it will have to do until I think of something else. I always liked the sounds of Toad in the Hole… makes me think of Wind in the Willows.

What you’ll need is some

small round bread rolls and

free range eggs

hollow them out, enough to hold a whole cracked egg

into a low oven (they are a good thing to pop in on your second shelf of the oven while something else is cooking up top)

eat them when you think they are ready

and serve with a little capsicum chilli sauce

(For me an egg is ready when it’s cooked right through, Mr Chocolate likes ’em runny.)


As for a new name…any ideas?

Bunnies in Burrows?

Fat Cat on a Cushion?

red food dye? I don’t think so

He was scampering that was for sure. Up and down the hall with an obvious focus to those little feet. He caught me watching him and seemed to push away the raised eyebrow look and what are you up to question on my lips. I couldn’t hear anything that I shouldn’t be and he really was quite busy. So I left him to it. Back and forth, back and forth. Scurrying like a little bug, taking huge bundles 4 times his body size and wrangling it to his chosen destination.

Little Monkey was building a castle. He called out, declaring he was ready now, and in I went to inspect the wall building. Foundations looked a little shonky, brick work was a little sloppy, but there he was sitting on top of his castle, pleased as a 3 year old would be…sitting on top of his castle. Every cushion, pillow, blanket, soft anything had been dragged in and utilised. Just perfect for a mama to make a flying leap on to….

Now if you are the kind of person that likes looking into what you are eating or what your kids maybe eating, you may have looked up red food dye before. You may have also heard, that just like my little cushion carrying bug of a son, red food dye can be made from a certain bug… Or it could also be made from a coal tar derivative. Either way, these days I don’t particularly want to ingest anything that is fire engine red unless there is a really good reason to.

So with that in mind I was mighty annoyed to get a jar of tandoori paste home a while back. Only to find out, that one of the main ingredients was red food dye!

Not a tomato ingredient in there. All that lovely red was thanks to some good old red food dye. I was annoyed, as I would never normally buy a jar like this but was feeling generous as I had been at some great farmers markets and was seduced by all the lovely food stuffs around me… the seduction however, had not carried over to the tandoori paste I had just bought home.

Surely I could make something that wouldn’t give me the heebie-jeebies just looking at the colour?

Let’s give it a crack…

Tandoori Paste

In a pan add

a couple of slurps of vegetable oil

diced onion, knob of ginger, and a couple of cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 tbls tomato paste

salt to taste

chilli to taste

fry it all off for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Then whizz to a smooth paste with a hand held mixer.


Now authentic? Perhaps not, but I think a whole more so than a jar full of red food dye, and salt.

 I cooked this up with the obligatory chicken and yogurt dish, but I also had some left over and sourdough on the go. So Tandoori Flat Bread it was.

Just the thing to go and snack on while sitting on top of a castle.

calzone…or little parcels of goodness

First time I ever had one of these doughy little parcels of goodness, I was sixteen. I was walking on a crowded street with school friends on a Saturday night in southern Italy. It was cold, the middle of winter kind of cold. Cold enough for the wind to whistle up my slightly too short jeans, and leave a chilled to the bone feeling.

My jeans in those days were frequently too short, as I was quite tall. So in winter time, the wind would whistle around my ankles, attaching its cold breathy fingers to me.

Biting into a calzone was the perfect antidote. Two bites in and you would reach the molten lava that is the tomatoey mixture inside. Hot enough for you to start gasping, waving a useless hand in front of your gaping mouth. Hoping to god, that the mouthful of food would cool in your mouth before you had to spit it out and look like an idiot. In those days I would choose burning the roof top of your mouth until all that remained was a flapping bloody mess of skin, over looking like an idiot any day.

These days, the jeans length has dropped. My ankles stay warm, I don’t tend to keep molten hot food in my mouth and the happy taste memory of calzone are still with me.

Calzone to make are dead easy. It’s basically a folded pizza. What ever you like on your pizza, can go in these. I used this olive oil bread dough, (I like making up extra bread dough and keeping some in the freezer for a quick weekend lunch.) Rolled out a rough circle, shoved some cooked tomatoes, salami, mozzarella in and then folded it over. Pinch the sides and place on an oiled or lined tray. Into the oven at 240C, cook until golden and sounds hollow.

Eat…when slightly cooler.

Submitted to the lovely yeast spotting.


gai lum potatoes- Frugal Friday

Thanks to the lovely BM@ Living a Little Greener, a little book now sits by my table. Food Rules by Michael Pollan. A handy little book that is full of wise advise like,

41# Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks– People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than those of us eating a modern Western diet of processed foods. 

With that in mind, I’m not quite sure which food culture this Frugal Friday dish is trying to harness. Olive oil in a wok with gai lum? Chinese or Italian? Would both cultures be quietly drawing in their breath and shaking their heads?

Possibly. Either way though, I still say it’s easy, it’s healthy and I was making good use of that fantastic mixed bag of potatoes and soul filling local olive oil I had got on the weekend. I didn’t want to cook the potatoes in any old fashion as I didn’t want to lose any of the flavours. So I cut them into long quarters, and dinner was quickly made up.

Gai lum Potatoes

In my trusty flat bottomed wok, (or pot)

a generous couple of slurps olive oil

added 2 stems of spring garlic

an assortment of rocking potatoes cut length ways

Cook until lightly golden on one side. Whack a lid on to steam a little.

Add chopped gai lum (chinese broccoli) or other seasonal greenery,

add lid again for a little steaming

season and drizzle with olive oil.


This dish might seem too simple, but it worked because everything was super fresh, cooked fairly quickly, and the flavours of what was in there easily held their own. An easy, healthy Frugal Friday dish that had Mr Chocolate  fast becoming Mr GaiLumPotatoes.

Food Rules 14# Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.

Basmati Kale- Frugal Friday

Kale is something that has been sneaking into more and more of my cooking lately. It’s an easy one to chop up and quickly cook, provided you are not using the stalks which can take a little longer. (It’s also known as tuscan kale or cavolo nero.)

I find it a subtle taste, which somehow quite often gets by The Monkeys.  They seem to ignore the obvious green foliage in their dinner and any time that happens I’m certainly up for making the dish again. Being a dark leafy green it’s also loaded with all things exceptionally good for you.

The leaves cook up quickly like spinach or silverbeet, in a wilty kind of fashion that doesn’t require a whole lot of stove time. Perfect for a Frugal Friday dinner.

I used my flat bottomed wok with this little number because, 1/ I’m addicted to using the thing and 2/….actually there is no two. I just really like using the flat bottomed wok. Easily done in a regular pot though.

Basmati Kale

A couple of slurps of olive oil in the pan

add some diced garlic

the chopped kale leaves

and some basmati rice

cover the rice and kale mixture with water until it’s just over the top

add a good couple of shakes of dried cumin, coriander, (don’t be shy) and salt to taste

pop the lid on

keep a beady eye on the pot, add some more water to the top of the rice mixture when it’s all absorbed

give it a stir around and pop that lid on again

when the water has disappeared again, check to see rice is juuussst about cooked

turn hot plate off and leave the lid on for 5-ish minutes (it’s still doing it’s thing)

serve with natural yogurt or fetta and some local nuts*

for a vegan option just drizzle with extra olive oil and local nuts

and a dusting of dried chilli if you like a kick in the pants.

* I used pecan halves here. Pine nuts, walnuts, cashews etc. would all taste great though. Use what ever you can get that is grown locally. Alternatively try your local bar at closing time on a Saturday night… local nuts a plenty, (although not so great on top of your kale.)

Frugal Friday #2

Its the end of the week again, and the fridge is looking a bit slim. I actually don’t mind when it comes to Frugal Friday, as it’s a bit more of a challenge to make something tasty out of not much.

I have a few different breads on my brain this week. Flicking through the lovely ‘Bourke Street Bakery ‘ cookbook there is much to be inspired by. Each recipe makes my heart swell. If there is any cookbook to lay under my pillow at night this would be the one I would choose.

I have been toying with the idea of making a sourdough starter, but have been holding back as it just seems so much work for something I’m not sure of what I am doing- lazy I know. Also lack of space in this little kitchen. Also lack of time, the monkeys they take a lot of it. Excuses, excuses I know. Who knows maybe next week I will change my mind.

I ever entered a bread phase. All I feel like doing is surrounding myself with beautifully risen doughs. There is something quite soul uplifting in kneading, proving, baking, and then eating a food that has been around for ever. I love the science of it and the fact that one tiny little change can completely change the end result.

I grew up with the smell of fresh bread in the air. My mother would make it every third day for the majority of my child hood. When I think of bread, I think of huge rising mounds of proving doughs, rising on the same table that I made pasta on 2 weeks ago. Filtered winter sun coming through the windows, and the kitchen already warm from loaves already baked. It’s such a feeling of comfort to eat bread still warm from the oven.

So I settled on a olive oil bread recipe in the cook book. A little different to any bread that I had made before, but timing it with a monkey nap I could actually put in the mindful attention that it needed and ‘voila‘. Some happy little bread rolls. Sure they didn’t look exactly like the picture- but thats a only a guide right?… and I reckon the next time they just might though.

So budget meal- yes indeed. Resourcefully using a few ingredients that are floating around the fridge with mutterings of”eat me, please eat me”.

Leek and Potato Soup– In a pot put a lovely dollop of olive oil, 2x sliced leeks, 4x potatoes, some vegetable stock, a little  seasoning- and whizz it up. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

Serve with some delicious warm bread.