Budget Bites: It’s time to throw out the cooking rulebook
Can you blend crisps into soup? Surely anything would work in a waffle maker? And who says you can’t use garlic bread in bread and butter pudding?
Learning the rules of cooking is one thing, but “rules were made to be broken... especially in food,” says Ben Ebbrell, chef and co-founder of Sorted Food. “In fact, those who make the rules often break them first.”
Take Auguste Escoffier, for example, the chef frequently credited as the father of modern gastronomy. “Centuries of dense, meat-and-two-veg food was thrown out in favour of his unique brand of refined, French-influenced cuisine – much to the shock of the dining elite,” Ebbrell tells me.
Sorted’s new and third cookbook, the aptly named Can’t Be Arsed With Rules, is all about challenging how we think we should cook. Eight chapters of dishes packed full of hacks – from using “cheat” ingredients to ingeninous ways to use your kitchen gadgets – saves time, effort and money, while still delivering maximum flavour.
The inventive lineup includes instant ramen e pepe, leek and Kettle chip soup, naanzanella, and waffle chive blinis with smoked salmon – because waffle irons are not just for waffles.
Whether your rotation needs a revamp or you simply CBA to cook (it happens to the best of us), say bye bye to boring dinners with our favourite dishes from the new book.
For the naanzanella:
2 naan breads, torn into chunks (250g)
2 tbsp olive oil
300g mixed ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp salt
For the dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced
2cm ginger, minced
2 green chillies, finely sliced
10 curry leaves, fresh
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
For the naanzanella
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chuck the torn up naan onto a baking tray and toss with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
Tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and toss with the salt. Allow to sit while you get on with the dressing.
For the dressing
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer and loosen, tip in the seeds, garlic, ginger, chillies and curry leaves along with a large pinch of salt and fry for 2 minutes until the garlic turns golden. Add the shallots, tamarind paste, sugar and remove from the heat. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Add the naan chunks, dressing and coriander to the bowl of tomatoes and mix well. Leave to sit for at least 5 minutes before sharing out and tucking in.
Butternut blue cheese orzo
½ butternut squash, peeled and finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ small bunch sage, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 tbsp crispy shallots
1 vegetable stock cube
100g blue cheese
Chuck the butternut squash into a large microwave safe mixing bowl. Add the oil, sage, garlic and shallots. Stir well then cover with cling film and microwave on full power for 4-5 minutes. Give everything a stir, recover and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
Fill the kettle and put it on to boil.
Chuck in the orzo, crumble over the stock cube and pour in 600ml of boiling water from the kettle – it should just cover the mix. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Microwave uncovered on full power in 3 minute bursts until the orzo is soft but still has a slight bite and the liquid has reduced to form a loose risotto-like consistency. Top up with a little more hot water if the orzo dries out before softening.
Once the orzo is ready, fold through ¾ of the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning and the divide between your bowls. Crumble over the remaining cheese, a few sage leaves, drizzle over a little more olive oil and tuck in!
Instant ramen e pepe
2 packets instant ramen, chicken or pork flavor (200g total)
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp black pepper
50g Pecorino Romano
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
Fill a medium saucepan with water and add the sachets of stock powder from the ramen. Place the pan over a high heat.
While the water comes to a boil, chuck the butter into a large frying pan and place it over a low heat.
Grind the pepper into the butter and toast for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant then take the pan off the heat.
Once the water has come to a boil, tip in the noodles and boil for 2-3 minutes, until tender but with a slight bite.
Once the noodles are ready, use tongs to transfer them to the frying pan with the butter and pepper.
Place the frying pan back over a medium heat and toss everything together. Add some of the cooking water from the noodles to make a loose emulsion that coats them.
Take the frying pan off the heat and grate over ¾ of the Pecorino. Toss everything together, then season to taste with salt.
Divide the noodles between bowls, grate over the remaining Pecorino, scatter over the sesame seeds and serve.
Instant vegan chocolate pudding
For the pudding:
125g dairy-free chocolate
300g silken tofu, drained
30g stem ginger
1 orange, zest
1 tbsp cocoa nibs
Melt the chocolate in a large glass bowl in the microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring after each burst to ensure the chocolate melts evenly.
Blitz the tofu with the ginger, 50ml of its syrup and the orange zest in a food processor until silky smooth. Slowly blend in the chocolate, the mix should resemble a loose whipped cream.
Spoon into bowls, finely grate over the zest from 1 orange and scatter over the cocoa nibs.
Leek and Kettle chip soup
For the soup:
100g butter, unsalted
2 large leeks, thinly sliced
500ml vegetable stock
75g salted crisps
½ small bunch parsley
½ small bunch dill
100g crème fraîche
Chilli oil, for drizzling
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Once the butter starts to foam, chuck in the leeks, cover with a lid and sweat for 8-10 minutes, until softened.
Tip the stock, crisps and a big grind of pepper into the pan, turn the heat up to high and boil, until reduced by â .
Chuck the herbs into the pan along with the crème fraîche and water and blend till smooth, adjusting the consistency with a little water as you go. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide between bowls and top with chilli oil. Serve with crusty bread.
Marmite garlic butter mushroom baked eggs
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
1½ tbsp Marmite
5 portobello mushrooms, cut into chunks
4 large eggs
2 tbsp sour cream
¼ bunch parsley, finely chopped
Sourdough bread, toasted
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the butter, garlic and Marmite. Allow the butter to melt then fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes. Tip ¼ of the mix into a small bowl ready for serving later.
Turn the heat up to high, add the mushrooms and fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden, sticky and glazed.
Create 4 divots in the golden mushrooms and crack an egg into each. Fry undisturbed for 1-2 minutes, then bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks still have a wobble.
Once the eggs are ready, drizzle over the remaining butter mix. Spoon over the sour cream, scatter over the parsley and serve with sourdough toast.
Waffle chive blinis with smoked salmon
For the chive blinis:
2 large eggs
60g butter, melted
1 small bunch chives
130g self raising flour
100g plain flour
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
1 tbsp caster sugar
Vegetable oil, for greasing
6 tbsp creme fraiche
200g smoked salmon
4 tbsp capers
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ bunch dill
Blend together the eggs, milk, butter and the chives in a liquidiser until smooth. Pulse in the flours, yeast, sugar and a generous pinch of salt. Set aside for 40 minutes, until the mix starts to bubble and foam.
Preheat the waffle iron to medium-high and preheat the oven to 150C – this is to keep your waffle blinis warm later.
Once the batter is ready, lightly grease the waffle iron and pour in ¼ of the mix. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden all over, then transfer to a tray and keep warm in the oven as you repeat with the remaining waffle blini batter.
Once the waffles are ready, serve with the creme fraiche, smoked salmon, capers, onion and dill fronds.
Recipes from ‘Can’t Be Arsed With Rules’ by the Sorted Food chefs, available to buy here (£30 or buy in a bundle here for £65 to get an annual membership).
In response to the rising cost of living, we have teamed up with Sorted Food to bring you easy, affordable, quick and (most importantly) tasty recipes once a month. Find out more about Sorted and their nifty meal-planning app Sidekick at sortedfood.com/sidekick.