FRUGAL FOODIE: Eggs-ceedingly good ingredient for a quick meal

The Frugal Foodie's toad-in-the-hole.
The Frugal Foodie's toad-in-the-hole.
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Gazette columnist The Frugal Foodie, Christine McAllister, has been aiming to spend £50 a month on food shopping each month until her cupboards are bare! She’ll then use the lessons she’s learnt to make eating as frugal as possible.

Eggs are one of my go-to ingredients when I want something on the table quickly and without too much thought. They’re cheap and nutritious and the kids love them.

We have four hens at the moment and we’re getting a few more over the coming weeks.

They’re really easy to keep and they’re lovely to have around. When I’m in the vegetable garden and they’re clucking around me, it’s so calming.

They’re like our dustbins. They eat anything that is left on our plates along with fruit and vegetable peelings, grass cuttings and weeds and they turn it all into the most delicious eggs.

As well as the obvious – fried, poached, scrambled and boiled eggs – I make omelettes and frittatas, pasta, pancakes, Yorkshire puddings ... and lots more.

I make poached eggs for breakfast most days and add them to lots of other dishes.

If you fancy a weekend treat with your poached egg, try my fail-safe hollandaise sauce (right) and you’ve got homemade eggs Benedict. It’s certainly not slimming but it’s seriously yummy.

Or how about this? Combine flour and an egg and you’ve got pasta. Add some herbs or wild garlic and you’ve got something really special.

This is so worth the initial kneading. It’s so tasty and really easy. And really, you can’t get much more frugal than this so your piggy bank will thank you too.

Tweaking it with whatever you fancy can create a unique dish that you’d be proud to serve to friends.

I don’t have a pasta machine, I just make the dough, roll it out as thinly as possible and cut it into the shape that I fancy.

I like wild garlic flavour cut into thick tagliatelle. It’s so tasty that you don’t actually need any sauce. A knob of butter or a grating of Parmesan will do nicely.

A combination of 150g of plain flour, 1 egg, a tablespoon of oil, a handful of wild garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper will serve two people.

If you like pancakes (of course you do! Who doesn’t?), why not try stuffing them (sautéed leeks or mushrooms are particularly good), covering with a sauce (I love a cheese sauce) and some crunchy breadcrumbs and baking them.

It’s real comfort food and about as cheap as it gets.

Talking about comfort food, toad-in-the-hole is a particular favourite in our house.

We often have it as a roast dinner substitute.

I also like to add extra flavours such as sautéed leeks, onions or peppers into the dish just before I pour the batter in. You could also add some robust herbs to the batter – rosemary or thyme would both be great.

Here is my basic toad-in-the-hole recipe that always provides a fantastic rise and never hangs around very long in our household.

We usually serve it with peas and gravy. It’s the law, right?

It is quite a naughty dish so feel free to serve with loads of veg to lessen the guilt! A nice walk might also be in order!

RECIPES

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE

Ingredients

8 fat sausages

3 eggs

115g/ 4oz plain flour

285mls/ half-pint milk

Pinch of salt

(This can be easily be doubled, and usually is in our house!)

Method

Preheat the oven to 240c/ gas 8.

Heat some oil in an oven tin. Add the sausages and cook them for around 15 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients together and whisk until you have a smooth batter that just coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the batter over the sausages and cook for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven for at least 20 minutes or it will deflate.

Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too brown. Turn the heat down slightly, if it does. When it’s huge, golden and crispy, it’s ready.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

Method

Melt 100g butter.

Separate 2 eggs. Put the egg whites in the fridge or freezer, for future use.

Add the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper to the egg yolks.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks on a medium speed until they go paler and start to thicken.

Up the whisk speed and gently pour the melted butter into the egg mixture until you’ve got a nice thick, creamy consistency.

Pour it over your freshly poached eggs for eggs Benedict and serve immediately.

Now, shut your eyes and pretend you’re sitting in a trendy cafe in downtown New York.

That might just be my daydream, though. Sorry.

See Christine’s blog here

Follow Christine on Twitter @thefrugaldiary