There’s been a lot of it in this flat recently. Supporting two people (well, one person and a giant with the appetite of a starved woolly mammoth) on a teacher’s salary requires tight budgeting. We’ve had a lot of chicken liver dinners over the last term and I am always looking to find good deals.
I seem to have inherited my father’s love of food bargain hunting and, now that we have reasonable food storage space, I seem to have picked up his tendency for hoarding too. Before the pheasant season finished, we had two whole birds and four packs of breast meat in the freezer. We also had four ducks and 2 kilos of pork leg. Damn Sainsbury’s and their half price temptations!
Goon is not so good at budget shopping. He rarely checks the pricing on fruit and veg so he doesn’t even notice if what he’s picking up is organic or conventional and he never thinks to seek out the bargain bin. I suppose I can’t blame him really. During the time in between leaving his home in Leeds and acquiring me as his personal chef, he lived solely on tinned tuna with rice and, on special occasions, minced beef with rice. However, I have been trying to train him to shop more frugally and he does seem to be learning*.
One day, Goon noticed that the strings of garlic at our corner store were considerably better value than the individual bulbs** so he picked one up. Of course, Goon didn’t think to check on the quality of the garlic and, when he got home, I wasn’t too amused at being presented with a string of 10, slightly sprouted garlic bulbs. A week later i still had six of these on my hands.
Sorry about the blurring. The garlic was by then very much alive and trying to escape.*** I’m told that garlic in this form is just about useable if you pull out the shoots, but it wouldn’t be long before I had to bin the remainder of the heads. So what could I do in this situation? I had no time to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. There was only one thing for it: soup.
Lots and lots and lots of garlic soup. It’s very nice, although possibly not what you want on a first date and it would seem it develops in strength the longer you leave it. Still, it’s been doing a very good job of keeping the vampires away. I haven’t seen a single one since I made this****.
Garlic Soup (makes around 10 portions)
- two pinches saffron threads
- 175g butter
- 6 heads garlic, peeled, shoots pulled out, chopped
- 4 small/medium onions, finely diced
- 4 sticks celery, chopped up finely
- 2-3 bay leaves
- generous splash dry sherry
- 2 1/2 litres chicken stock
- handful long grain rice
- 250 mls double cream
- croutons, parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve
- Leave the saffron tosoak in a little hot water.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the garlic, onion, celery and bay leaf. Stir. put a lid on the saucepan and allow these to sweat until soft.
- Add the sherry, stock and the saffron and its soaking water. Bring to the boil
- Add the rice and boil until the rice is cooked. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Take out the bay leaf, add the cream and liquidise the soup.
- When ready to serve, reheat and top with some croutons, freshly grated parmesan and parsley.
* The learning is well motivated. The last time he turned up with a £2 aubergine, half the kitchen crockery was projected towards his head.
** The fact that going to Sainsbury’s and picking up a three pack of bulbs would have been even better value is beside the point. To do that, Goon would have had to walk for a whole 8 minutes which is, of course, unthinkable UNLESS I have given him some money to pick up some fried chicken on his way back.
***Or perhaps it had been so long since I’d taken a photo in daylight I’d forgotten how to operate the camera without flash.
****(geekery) My hobby: pointing out the flaws in the assumption that correlation implies causality.(\end geekery)