21 June 2012

Satisfying the meat eaters

A woman asked me the other day for a couple of tips to keep her husband and teenage son happy at the dinner table. She's been trying to cut down the amount of meat they eat, mainly to keep to her budget, but also because she thought they were eating too much meat and wanted them to cut back. Unfortunately, when she made up  spinach pie or vegetable soup, they complained, said they were still hungry and didn't feel full unless they had meat.

Bacon can be added to any quiche.

I think the trick to this is to put a small amount of meat in most meals. In a spinach pie you could add a small amount of bacon, either as a garnish or in the pie itself. A vegetable soup can be made with home made beef stock, this will give a wonderful richness and a meaty taste to the soup, but also add a small amount of diced beef - maybe 250 grams/½ pound, 250 grams/½ pound of minced steak/ground beef made into tiny meatballs or a small amount of sliced up chorizo sausage. All these could be added to the soup and cooked in it.

If you think they're not getting enough and are still hungry, make some dumplings for the soup or bread and salad to go with the spinach pie.

DUMPLINGS - these are very much like scones

  • 1½ cups self raising flour or plain flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder added
  • salt and pepper
  • 75 grams coldish butter
  • herbs - such as parsley, chives, thyme, or tarragon or sage of you're cooking with chicken
  • water
Place flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and add butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the flour looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the herbs then a small amount of water to make a fairly stiff dough and mix. Form small balls about the size of a walnut. Drop the dumplings into the soup to cook. They'll rise to the top and stay there. When they're cooked they'll look fairly light and if you break one in two, it will be like a herby scone. They take about five minutes to cook.

Another way to fill those tummies is to serve a pudding. I have found that many men (and women) will feel like they've had a good hearty meal if they're served a good old fashioned pudding. The one I regularly turn to is Jam Roly Poly but it could be apple pie, apple crumble, stewed fruit with baked home made custard, lemon tart or bread and butter pudding. If you add a pudding, it seems more like a treat, but you're also adding fibre, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

This is an old favourite from my childhood. My grandma made it using suet, I use butter instead. It's very similar to a scone dough or a rough pastry dough.
  • 2 cups self raising flour OR plain/all purpose flour with two teaspoons of baking powder sifted in
  • 4 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Enough milk to make a firm dough

Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour. When it's combined, add the milk and mix in. When it's mixed, cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to firm up. About 30 minutes should do it.

Onto a lightly floured board or bench, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Cut off any bits that poke out too far so you have a neat shape. Cover the dough with raspberry jam (or any jam of your liking) and carefully roll the dough into a sausage shape. You might need the help of a pallet knife or egg lifter. Brush with egg wash and place into an oven proof baking dish. You can curl it around to fit the dish. You need a dish with sides because this will spread out if cooked on a flat tray.

Cook at 180C/350F for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve with warm custard.

What little tricks and add ons do you turn to when you hear "where's the meat?!!"?

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