Workshy Scrounger

Tag: budget menu

Save with Jamie

Jamie Oliver is doing a programme on food poverty. The problem is that he does not believe in it.

The Naked Chef said: ‘I meet people who say, ‘You don’t understand what it’s like.” I just want to hug them and teleport them to the Sicilian street cleaner who has 25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence, and knocks out the most amazing pasta. You go to Italy or Spain and they eat well on not much money. We’ve missed out on that in Britain, somehow.’

Here are my predictions as to what the programme will advise:

– use local markets they are cheap (we all live in London after all)

– splash out on olive oil, it’s healthy (not if you use a bottle a day)

– use cheap cuts of meat and slow cook them (I am yet to find those in my local supermarket and, sadly, there is no butcher here in non-London)

– fresh herbs will liven up any meal (yeah at 80p a pop, they are totally worth it)

With a bit of planning, you too can live on 50 pence a day (doesn’t matter that the recipe is three quid per portion – eat less and lose weight).  Just think and acquire some cooking skills. Food poverty? I don’t think so. You are just a lazy and incompetent if you think otherwise.

I am a glutton for punishment though and I will watch it. On the off-chance that just one of the recipes will prove affordable. After all, the Great British Budget Menu gave me corn fritters. At the same time, I do not hold high hopes that his low-cost recipes can be replicated here. Not to mention that his version of budget grub is probably a big birthday bash in my world.

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Budget menu – gnocchi review

The only recipe from the 50 featured on the BBC’s Great British Budget Menu website that I had all the ingredients for was that for Gennaro Contaldo’s gnocchi.

When I say I had all the ingredients, I exaggerate. I didn’t have sage and instead opted for a mixture of fresh parsley and basil (growing on the window sill) and frozen wild garlic. I also didn’t have King Edward potatoes (too expensive), which proved to be a deal breaker.

The recipe seems to be a scaled down version of the posh gnocchi made for Jamie Oliver’s food tube. The original version utilises rice flour (as it is more absorbent), warns us against simply mashing the potatoes and finishes the dish off with fontina and parmesan. No such considerations for the precariat.

It was a lot of hassle to put the potatoes through a sieve (the ricer is broken). The potato dough was too sticky (possibly because our budget did not stretch to the recommended tatties). We lost hope that we would ever manage to get the gooey mass off the worktop but with a lot of flour (closer to 600g than the suggested 300) we succeeded. For a good 10 minutes, I was scared that I have just wasted a kilogram of potatoes and nearly as much flour. Also, it was quite late at night.

The gnocchi took a while to cook (possibly because there was so much flour in them). The butter turned out lovely though. Then we put it all in a roasting tin and into the oven for about 15 minutes to brown it as the oven was on anyway since the bread just came out. It didn’t brown but we were too hungry to care. We made the recipe for four people so had the leftovers the next day – it was quite tasty even cold.

Gennaro Cotaldo's gnocchi

Gennaro Cotaldo’s gnocchi

I had a lot of washing up to do (bowl, pot, frying pan, roasting tin). It took a while to scrub the worktop. I have to admit that I cursed Gennaro every step of the way. I’m sorry – I will always use King Edward potatoes for gnocchi from now on.

The dish turned out really nice – especially the herby butter. However, considering that for such a high price (I try not to think about the energy used) and a lot of work all I basically got is starch with some fat leaves me a bit disappointed. Next time, we won’t bother with gnocchi, we will simply use the herby butter on steamed veg. Hang on. Isn’t that what we have been doing before the Great British Budget Menu came along?

Let’s compare the calorific value of gnocchi and the ready meal we sometimes have (two potato waffles, two chicken burgers, half a can of mushy peas each). Our ready meal at 55p per portion is 515kcal (you put it in the oven for 20 mins and it’s ready). The gnocchi at 70p per portion is 665. So the “healthy” home cooked meal it is not saving me money, increases my calorie intake, does not provide me with a veg portion and requires a lot of work. Waffles 1 – GBBM 0.

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