I’m fully aware that we’ve had a bit of a run of lemon and oregano recipes but here me out with this grilled chicken – I’ve still got tonnes of that oregano my mate gave me and well, it’s coming up to Bank Holiday and time to get the BBQ out. So if you don’t like it, please feel free to pucker up and kiss my bum!
Just a very quick post today as lots to do, but I want to make a special plea to you lot following my bee-facts on Tuesday. If you’ve got a moment or two, pot up some nice bright flowers and stick them outside. Nothing fancy: a few flowers in a rusty beans can will do the job, hell, you can stick a lupin in your fundament for all I care, but let’s save the bees. We’re surrounded on our street by pristine laws of immaculate grass and mm-precision borders and it makes me sad: where are the bees to land if not on our dandelions? We’re deliberately letting the garden grow a bit wild, if only because it makes us laugh when some of the neighbours wince as they walk past. Now they know how I feel when I catch sight of their chinos and Daily Mail.
Seriously, it makes an amazing pesto for this recipe: spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta (3 syns). Though I recommend you choose the leafs away from the path, otherwise you’ll be accompanying your dinner with a light drizzle of dog piss.
This recipe for lemon and oregano grilled chicken is fresh from Martha Stewart's website, but that's OK, she probably stole it off someone else anyway. #topical
This recipe couldn't be easier, so even your hamfisted attempts at clarting about in the kitchen can't end in disaster. Make the marinade, leave it to sit and then grill it! BBQ or normal grill, who cares - end result is tasty chicken!
DON'T be tempted to skip the oil, for goodness sake. It adds a bit of succulence and for crying out loud, if you're having a BBQ, better to spend the syns on something tasty than an arseholes-and-eyelashes burger from Aldi? Yes?
as many chicken thighs as you want, though this makes enough marinade for about eight - boneless is better, but if you're alright with the thought of a bone in your mouth, and let's be honest we've all read the graffiti in the bogs which confirms that fact, go with the bone
2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
120ml of lemon juice (fresh, mind, don't you be cheap about this)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (12 syns, which I've dividing between eight)
two tablespoons of fresh oregano if you have it (finely chopped) or dried if you're a Dismal Deirdre
good pinches of salt and ground pepper
fresh oregano sprigs if you're that way inclined
look, there's two ways of approaching this - make your choice:
I'm a hussy: OK, leave the skin on the chicken, it's tasty, but you should syn it...should...but well, you know...
I'm a nun: take off the skin, throw it in the bin, sob silently into your sleeve at what a monster you've become
whichever way you choose, prick the chicken all over with a fork
the next step is to combine all the ingredients together and give those chicken thighs a good rub, you saucy minx
leave to marinate for as long as you dare
BBQ for however long it takes for the juices to run clear and the internal temperature reaches over 74 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken
you can, of course, grill in the oven - same rules apply!
Serve with salad!
nothing fancy to report here, but if you're sick of chicken thighs don't worry - you can use chicken breasts just as well - we recommend Musclefood's chicken because it doesn't shrink away to an epiglottis-sized piece of nothing when you cook it. We have secured a deal with them which includes a crazy amount of chicken, along with other syn-free meats, and I suggest you take a look right here (oh and full disclosure, we get a tiny bit of commission: but remember our rule, it we don't rate it, we don't sell it)
we've got a Weber BBQ and love it - this one, actually - but honestly, you don't need to spend a lot of money on a BBQ - as long as it gets hot, that's all you need
buy a meat thermometer for your BBQing though - seriously - unless you're a fan of spending all weekend trying to stop your innards falling through your hoop! Amazon do a proper cheap number here!
My question to you is simple: why aren’t you making this? Want more chicken ideas? Then I, being a merciful Lord, will oblige:
Just here for the peanut butter pork skewers? Don’t blame you, and the good news is that we’re going to go straight to the recipe! I, unsurprisingly, love a bit of pork: whether it’s bacon, ham or a good love-length, I’m all about it. Remember folks, buy the best meat you can afford in a dish like this, because it’ll make all the difference to your dinner!
Oh, before we do get to the recipe actually, I learned three animal facts today which I need to share:
queen bees carry the sperm of their suitors around inside them for months before fertilisation takes place: pfft, amateur. It only takes me about an hour before I’ve turned it into more moustache;
the baby of a horse is a foal – up until today, I would have told you entirely seriously that a baby horse is a pony. Apparently not, and every single person I’ve asked about this have looked at me as though I’m touched in the head and said ‘foal’ really, really slowly. Harumph; and
if a cow comes running towards you, the best line of attack that you have is to punch it square in the face as hard as you can – now I know this because I’m terrified of the cows on the town moor and they’re back for a fifth year. I can tolerate them if they stay at the other end of the town moor crapping all over the cycle path but recently they’ve become bold and started staying on the path. You better believe that if they come charging towards me with swishy tails and shitty arses, they’re going to get a left hook
Actually no, let’s be honest, there’s going to be about twenty seconds of screaming and flailing and power-mincing on my behalf, then they’ll bugger off to literal pastures new. I’m thinking I might use the punch defence when Paul gives me his come to bed eyes when I’m not in the mood, although, with his home and away eyes, it’s hard to tell whether he’s coming onto me or having a seizure.
Let’s do the recipe for the peanut butter pork skewers, what what.
We know the syn value might shock you a bit but trust us - this one is definitely worth it! And, it's only 4 syns a skewer (less if you reduce it a bit) - have one of these with loads of other BBQ stuff and you'll still have plenty of syns left. They're there to be used!
750g pork fillet, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves
½ red onion
1 red chilli
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
zest of 1 lime
60ml lime juice
200g crunchy reduced fat peanut butter (40 syns)
thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
cut the pork into skewer-size chunks
next, chuck everything else into a food processor and blend until nearly smooth (a few small chunks is fine) - be prepared to add a little water to thin it out if it's too thick
slop the mixture into a bowl and add the pork chunks, and give a really good mix
cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes
skewer the pork chunks - we reckon you should get about 10, especially if you chuck some peppers on the skewers too
cook over the barbecue for a few minutes each side, or under a hot grill
look - we know that 40 syns is a lot BUT remember that this makes LOADS - and it's totally worth it! It's a PROPER satay that's sticky AND crunchy!
you can reduce the syns if you like by adding some veg and making it go further, or use less peanut butter (it won't be as nice though)
we cooked these on the barbecue but you can do them under a hot grill too
if you're using wooden skewers remember to soak them first to stop them burning. We always prefer metal skewers as they help to cook the meat better - we used these ones from Amazon
I was just going to launch straight into the recipe for lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes but I can’t see through my tears. See, I’ve long clung to the belief that Prince Henry Charles Albert David, or Prince Harry if you prefer, or Gingerbollocks as I bet the Queen calls him, was going to have a last-second crisis of identity before he got married. In my mind, he was sure to have a look at the albeit beautiful Meghan (I would never say this to her face, but she’s a wonderful person and a gifted artist), realise that he prefers cock and slightly middle-class Geordie men, dash into his armoured Mercedes and drive to Newcastle (avoiding the Tyne Tunnel, of course) to declare his love and demand I sit on his throne.
However, it wasn’t to be. The closest I got to receiving a royal hand last night was my own Queen, Paul, slumping forward during the ‘exploratory’ part of the mission after one too many gins.
I like the Royals. Not so keen on what they stand for, and I balked at the sight of homeless people having their sleeping bags taken away from them just so folks born into the greatest luxury in the land wouldn’t have their wedding photos ruined, but I do enjoy a bit of pomp and ceremony. I always imagine Camilla would be the best on a night out – she’d be the one ordering shit mixed drinks and telling everyone to fuck off and glassing the bouncers by the end of the night. She’s got that look in her eye that says ‘I’ll give you a gobble behind the bins but don’t spaff on my tiara‘, I think.
Perhaps it’s because I was never a huge fan of Diana. I know: blasphemy. Actually, no – that’s unfair, I have no real strong feelings about Diana, but her death was certainly the beginning of this awful ‘who can be the most upset’ competition that occurs whenever someone faintly famous dies or something horrendous happens in the world. Grief should be a private, personal emotion, not an excuse to whip out your Minions-quote-template and best UP WITH THE ANGLES line just because Gemma Collins bruised a nail tripping on the slip-mats in Lidl. I saw that sea of flowers pushed up against the walls of Buckingham Palace and all I could hope was that Liz had stocked up on Piriteze. All that pollen – I sympathise, if someone blows a dandelion clock in Sussex I’m laid up in bed for four weeks groaning and streaming snot from every hole I possess.
Anyway, look, this is all by the by. Harry didn’t come by in the end, and by all accounts it was a lovely, traditional wedding. I say traditional, it didn’t end with someone having too many Archers Aquas and vomiting in a plant-pot, so really, was it a wedding at all?
Oh! We did celebrate the Royal Wedding with a bit of light baking, see?
Oh and final point on the Royal Wedding – we were schlepping around Tesco yesterday buying BBQ bits and pieces when we overheard a very earnest, rah-de-rah mother saying to her chubby-checked wee child that ‘shall we dash home now so we can get a look at Meghan’s dress?’ to which the kid – a future in comedy awaits – completely deadpanned that she ‘really couldn’t care less‘. Good on you, child whose name will inevitability contain ‘Ella’.
OK, let’s do the recipe then. I was given a big bag of greek oregano by a friend from work and I need to tell you know, it smells amazing. The oregano, that is, not my friend, I couldn’t comment on his redolence. I did have to spend altogether more time than I anticipated smiling wanly at people spotting the bag of oregano on my desk and asking if it was drugs, ho-ho, slap my knees. I was that busy laughing hysterically that I barely had time for my 11am ket-bump in the bogs.
How many times do you need a side for a BBQ and you find yourself opening a pack of coleslaw and crying because everything is so boring and you're sick of being fat and anyway, that miserable cow next door is already twitching her curtains and complaining about the smoke? Well, screw that, screw her and screw boring sides: our amazing lemon, garlic and oregano roast potatoes are a doddle to make, low in syn and taste bloody amazing.
Please: don't be tempted to skip the olive oil. It's worth it. You could use Frylight, yes, but why bother? Syns are there to be used for good food!
about 900g of new potatoes, scrubbed a bit but not peeled, cut into smallish chunks
two tablespoons of olive oil (see notes)
four garlic cloves, minced (see notes)
a couple of teaspoons of dried oregano
a few grinds of salt
a few grinds of black pepper
150ml of beef stock (or veggie stock if you're veggie, duh)
150ml of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano - optional, dried is fine, but use a little less
get the oven up to about 200 degrees, and find a good non-stick roasting dish
pour the chopped potatoes in, together with the oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper (don't be shy), oregano and then pop the lid on and shake shake shake - really throw everything around to get it all coated
bake in the oven for about twenty minutes, take out, add the stock, shake and back into the oven it goes for about fifteen minutes
out it comes, add the lemon juice and again, shake it to buggery - then back into the oven for a good twenty minutes or so, until everything is cooked and most of the liquid has disappeared
top with fresh oregano and serve
Use your common sense here - if it needs a bit longer, keep it in! But make sure it doesn't burn.
Just a lunch idea tonight: roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta. How many times do we end up buying something bog-awful for lunch just because we didn’t plan the night before or because we can’t face another day of choking down an asbestos-flavoured MugShitz? Make a batch of this and never look back! And look, no nonsense to read through to get straight to the recipe!
Looking for a quick lunch? Have yourself a packet of crisps and a good cry, or, make this gorgeous little pasta salad - it'll keep well in the fridge and serve you well for a good couple of days. Don't be tempted to make this roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta without the chorizo - the tiny crunchy bits of oily goodness is what makes this dish sing!
100g chorizo, diced (12 syns)
6 bacon medallions, diced
½ red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
300g cherry tomatoes, halved
130g reduced fat feta, crumbled (2x HeA)
pop the tomatoes in a roasting dish and set away on a low heat, chopped in half, for about twenty minutes - you want them softened but not burst
cook the pasta according to the instructions, scoop out a little of the water into a mug and keen aside, then drain
meanwhile, spray a bit of oil into a large frying pan and place over a medium-high heat
add the chorizo and bacon and fry until golden
remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside
add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook in the chorizo oil until translucent
add the tomatoes to the pan and a couple of tablespoons of water
cook until the tomatoes have softened and the sauce has reduced, add a bit more water if it starts to look a bit dry
chuck in the chorizo and bacon to the pan and give another good stir
add the pasta and stir again - use some of the water you collected earlier if needed to thin out the sauce
serve into bowls, top with the crumbled feta and salt and pepper to taste
don't be afraid to use chorizo - it's what makes this one so tasty! Substituting it for something lower in syns will just dull the flavour. Syns are there to be used!
mince the garlic in seconds with one of these! Don't fanny on with awkward garlic presses!
you can use normal tomatoes in this if you prefer - just cut them up into cherry tomato-sized chunks
don't like feta? Use any cheese you like - just remember to check the syns
you can use any pasta you like - we used Gigli because it's pretty and cooks quickly
Courseslunch, pasta, salad
See? What’s not to like about a dinner like our roasted tomato, bacon and chorizo pasta? Easy, uses only a couple of syns and actually tastes of something other than the shite you pick up in the supermarket!
Want more ideas for lunch? Of course! Try one of these:
Chicken and chorizo jambalaya: because you need an easy chicken recipe, and we need an easy life. So, not only have we found you possibly the easiest chicken recipe we’ve ever done, we’ve even done you a video!
We get a lot of feedback with people mentioning that it’s a faff on having lots of different deals all over the place and that they want just ‘pure’ meat, as opposed to flavourings and rubs and meatballs and sausages. So, with that in mind, we’ve revamped our Musclefood offering so that you can buy different sizes of our popular Freezer Filler deal – all three sizes will save you money on buying it in the supermarket and of course, it’s all syn-free. Up to you how you cook it!
So here it is: the ULTIMATE FREEZER FILLER SELECTION! There’s three packs here for you to choose from so there’s something for every budget. If you haven’t ordered from us before then what are you waiting for?! You’ll save a fortune compared to getting the same amount of stuff at the supermarkets, and not only are you getting a bargain but it all tastes nicer too. The chicken breasts are HUGE and won’t shrivel when you cook them, the beef isn’t like chewing on a dry tampon and the mince isn’t mushy! Seriously, give it a try – we promise you won’t look back! Everything in these packs are syn free!
You’ll save a fortune ordering from us compared to getting the same amount of stuff at the supermarkets and the bigger the pack, the more you save. Fill up your freezer and it’ll last you for ages!
Full disclosure: we get a small commission for the meat we sell – it doesn’t change the price you pay, but helps keep us in the gin, buttplugs and fancy living lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to.
Now for a sneak inside my box – here’s what you get in our deals. We did try and get Musclefood to call the boxes ‘mouse’s ear, wizard’s sleeve and hippo’s yawn‘ but apparently, that’s too off-brand:
This super easy chicken and chorizo jambalaya is a one-pot, quick cooking marvel: it tastes good, it's low in syns and if you're shite in the kitchen, you'll be able to knock this together without breaking a sweat. It's an all round good guy!
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 onion, chopped
200g frozen peas
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp Morrison's No Fuss garlic paste (1 syn) (or mince your own garlic, you fancy sod)
100g chorizo, diced (12 syns)
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
250g long grain rice
400g tin of plum tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
if you haven't already, dice and chop up everything that you need to and set aside
spray a large pan with oil and pop over a medium-high heat
add the chicken and cook until no pink remains
next, add everything else and give a good stir - give the tomatoes a bit of a squash with the edge of the spoon so they break up a little bit and spread out
add the lid to the pan and simmer for 25 minutes
we used garlic paste for this because we ran out of proper garlic - if you're using garlic cloves you can knock a syn off
Because putting a bit of mince in a wrap does not equal sausage rolls. Honestly, we weren’t going to bother with a sausage rolls recipe but having seen people passing off wraps stuffed with mince as sausage rolls, we felt we had to. Remember, Slimming World is about eating proper food, not pretend food, using your syns to eat something someone on a diet would eat, as opposed to pretend fake-food. The proof, as they say, is almost certainly in the pudding.
Although that pudding will probably be a smear of cinnamon and a photocopy of a chocolate bar wrapped in a Weight Watchers wrap and called a cinnamon swirl. Maybe on other sites.
Anyway, a quick word before we get to that recipe. Keen observers may have noticed that our recipe / blog output has slowed down a bit the last few weeks. There’s a reason for that but alas, I can’t go into it! We are trying to balance it back out, but at the moment we’re working during the day, coming home and going out to work on something else. But the end is in sight, and we have some cracking recipes coming up. So do bear with us, please! Remember, if you need inspiration, we have:
The recipe for the sausage rolls isn't much of a recipe at all, so we thought we'd bulk it out by including a veggie alternative that isn't just using vegetarian sausages, although you can do so. The veggie version is called pea pastizzi and comes from Sabrina Ghayour's FEASTS book that we keep banging on about!
to make the meaty sausage rolls (makes ten)
100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
whatever six sausages you like - we use syn-free sausages from Musclefood, but you can use anything here
one red onion chopped
a pinch of garlic
to make the veggie pea alternatives (makes ten):
100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
two large fat garlic cloves
one large onion, chopped fine
300g tin of marrowfat peas
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 large egg
pinch of salt
for the meaty sausage rolls:
preheat the oven to 200°c
squeeze the sausagemeat from the sausages and fry in the pan with the finely chopped onion and garlic - the little bit of fat will soften the onions, so no need to add oil
add a good twist of pepper
take your puff pastry, roll it out - I prefer to actually roll it out a little thinner than it usually is, but you know, up to you
cut into ten squares
spoon the cooked sausage meat into each square and fold over the sides into a nice roll shape
wash with beaten egg and into the oven they go for 20 minutes or so to cook nicely
if you want, cut them in half again when cooked for 1-syn taster night sausage rolls
Easy! Do you see what I mean though - it's an easy recipe! Cook off the sausagemeat, add into puff pastry and cook.
for the veggie pea alternatives:
soften the onions by cooking them off in a little oil, adding the garlic as they get nice and golden
add the peas, curry powder, pinch of pepper and a good dash of dalt
allow everything to cook for about five minutes and soften and mash gently
do as you did above - roll out your pastry, spoon in your mixture, fashion into rolls, egg-wash the top and whack them in the oven for twenty minutes or so
as you have no doubt noticed, FEASTS is my favourite book at the moment - every last thing we've cooked from there has been a delight - you can pick it up cheap on Amazon
Here for the harissa steak sandwiches, which are nothing more than the perfect low-syn dinner you deserve? Then you’re in the right place…but first…
I was planning on doing a more general Room 101 type post – and I’ll come back to that a little down the line – but upon writing my notes it struck me the amount of ‘internet pet-peeves’ appeared on my list. So, instead of a wider picture, take my hand as I pull you down a very specific tunnel of anger: e-annoyances.
Actually, first on the list, adding e- to any noun or verb. This isn’t the nineties anymore, Pat Sharp has long since got rid of his mullet and even Jim Bowen has died. Let’s all move on, shall we? We’re not going to e-meet, e-grieve or e-felch.
Next is vaguebooking. If you’re checking in at a hospital it should be the law that you have to give everyone every scintillating detail of what you’re in for. You want people to know you’re there, so don’t leave them hanging – even if you’re having a team of doctors giving you a smear test using a block and tackle and a diving helmet it doesn’t matter, put pictures up. Or: shut the fuck up about it. This is compounded by those imbeciles who check in and then don’t respond to the countless ‘is everything alright’ posts that invariably trickle in. There’s a special place reserved in Hell for you: I can only hope the doctor doesn’t warm his hands beforehand.
Along similar lines, anyone posting ‘karma will get you’ or ‘omg can’t believe what I’ve heard’ or any other vague statement designed to make them look faintly interesting whilst revealing their own crushing existential crisis, they can go jump in the sea. This seems to be common amongst those who believe shaving off their eyebrows and reapplying them using a highlighter pen is a good look.
Normally synonymous alongside the above is use of the word haters. There ought to be a reality check button on facebook to clarify that no, you’re not actually important enough to have haters. No-one is, unless you’re someone like professional shitgibbon Katie Hopkins, and look what happened to her. Why would you imagine that people are actively going out of their way to ‘hate’ you when most people simply pass you by? It’s exhausting: and, let’s say for the sake of argument that you do have haters, are you really ‘showing the haters’ by finally beating level 344 of Candy Crush? Haway.
They’re the same folks who usually upload jpeg images of Marilyn Monroe with the (incorrectly attributed) quote “but if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best” scrawled across it in Mistral. To compound things, the jpeg is usually accompanied with eight levels of tray-icons from being screenshotted from every mobile device known to man – I swear I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe (as viewed through a potato) with Super Mario Land playing in the background. This particular quote makes my teeth itch whenever you see it stretched badly over some canvas in B&M, nevermind seeing it on facebook too.
Whilst we’re here, if you’re having to put something like ‘Only God can judge me‘ on your facebook wall, then chances are you should be judged as you’re having to pre-empt people calling you out. I wish I was God: I wouldn’t hesitate on slurring the word biiiiiiiiiiiiitch out as you tried to put on your shoes.
Curveball time: if you’re writing ‘kitteh‘ or ‘doggo‘ or anything other than the actual name of the animal, and you’ve mastered not shitting your pants and solid food, then you deserve nothing more than everlasting shame and I hope your life is full of always thinking you’ve left something switched on at home. There’s simply no need for it. Cats and dogs are cute as they are without adding some ridiculously asinine mispronunciation on top of it.
Shall we cover leaving speeches? We see it ever so often in our facebook group – people flouncing out but having to put a big speech in just before they do to explain their departure. Why? Do they imagine all 70,000 of us are sitting there ashen-faced, looking at each other with pleading eyes, all desperate to know why Shelly Mamov5 McGee has forsaken us? It’s always done with altogether too many emojis and hysteria to be taken as constructive criticism anyway.
And finally, why the joint profile names, people? Surely it’s quicker just to upload a brief statement explaining who cheated who? #awkward, right?
RIGHT. That’s quite enough of all that, my blood pressure can’t take it anymore. Let’s do the harissa steak sandwiches!
Now, for these harissa steak sandwiches, you have a choice: you can serve it up in your normal bread bun or, if you are feeling fancy, you can pop it in a ciabatta - you can have a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll as a healthy extra, after all!
But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.
Before anyone tells us off, first of all: how dare you. We used a bog standard ciabatta for this. No regrets.
a couple of thin skirt steaks - or whatever steak you want to use, but skirt steak is super cheap
3 tbsp of harissa paste (you can buy it in most supermarkets, and it's 1/2 syn per tablespoon)
whatever breadbun you want to use (a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll is your HEB, but so is a bog-standard brown breadbun)
a bag of mixed salad leaves
fresh ground pepper and salt
two red onions
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (or use normal white vinegar, if you don't have it to hand)
pinch of chilli flakes
tsp of honey (1 syn)
make the pickle - dead easy, slice the onion into thin half moons, pop in a bowl with the vinegar, chilli and honey - and leave to soak for thirty minutes or so
rub the harissa paste into the steak and lie flat on a plate, leave for an hour or so to marinate
next bit is dead easy - cook your steaks however you like - we like it still mooing, as you can see - and grill your ciabatta / breadbun
thinly slice your cooked steak
make up your sandwich - hot meat, pickled onion and green salad - yum!
It's as easy as that!
this recipe is from FEAST by Sabrina Ghayour - I adore this book, as I adore all of her cookery books - the food is gorgeous and it has never failed us - dirt cheap too!
we used our Optigrill to cook the steak, but anything will do - just as good in a pan, no need for anything fancy - but the Optigrill you can just whack it under and leave it to cook
Ham, cheese and egg pancakes – well, it’s better than yet another overnight oats recipe, no? Bit of a preamble on this one so do just click here to go straight to the recipe!
Do you know who I can’t bear? Gavroche from Les Misérables. I jubilantly throw my box of Poppets in the air whenever that tatterdemalion shithead gets blasted in the stomach. Perhaps that makes me slightly psychopathic, celebrating the untimely end of a wee (albeit fictional) child, but there we have it. I’ve always been a Javert man, anyway.
I mention Gavroche as there was a kid in front of us at the swimming baths yesterday who was giving it such great funs with his loud, obnoxious shrieking that we elected to go for a spa day instead of a calorie burning frontcrawl. It’s half term: the children are off the roads but by God, they’re everywhere else, like lice on a dog.
It may surprise you that neither of us are born ‘spa boys’. The idea of people fussing about me with unctures and rubs holds zero appeal. However, we’re fortunate enough to live near a reasonable spa and, thanks to Groupon, entry was reasonably cheap. We did feel a bit out of place parking our muddy car in the sea of spotlessly white Range Rover Evoques (so-called, as they evoke feelings of ‘oh, what a smug looking c*nt’ whenever they swoosh past), and even more so traipsing in with our swim kit in an ASDA carrier bag. The lady on reception did blanch a little as we sashayed in. Pfft. I’m taking no judgement from someone who wouldn’t be able to register a look of surprise even if she dropped a pan of hot oil on her feet.
We’re realists – we weren’t going to inflict our naked, hairy bodies on someone whose on work experience certainly didn’t call for massaging our fat around like spreading butter on hot toast. Plus, I’m not one for being touched. I can take someone gripping my ears for stability and that’s about it. Although actually, I’ve heard masseuses prefer fat bodies as there’s more to work with, otherwise let’s face it, it’s like rubbing wax into a xylophone. I was having mild intestinal issues however, and didn’t fancy taking the risk of someone creating a biohazard by squeezing me like a tube of budget toothpaste. So, massages were off, and we decided to make use of the other facilities, which all involved some degree of sitting down and sweating. Couldn’t help but feel a bit ripped off, not least because I sit down and sweat just writing the blog.
Before that, a quick change. Luckily the place was quiet – not that I mind getting my knob out in front of folks, you understand, as a reasonably quick search on xtube will verify – and we were able to get changed in peace. Well – up until the point where it came to putting our stuff in the electronic lockers. We were just closing the door when a boiled beetroot in Jacamo shorts came barrelling over to shout at us / instruct us how to use the locker. It was a four digit pin, not the fucking Enigma machine, and I assured him we had it under control. He didn’t bugger off though, ‘supervising’ us as we locked our locker, leading to a slightly awkward moment where I had to shield the pin as though he was a street beggar after my money. Can’t be too careful. Satisfied that we had managed to satisfy Fermat’s last theorem / input four numbers into a locker, he lumbered off. We’d meet again.
Paul, keen to lose some weight through simple sweating, pushed us into the sauna. I hate saunas. I don’t see the appeal – I feel like a chicken breast in a sous vide machine, sweating and struggling to breathe through a dry heat of other people’s sweat and stink. Thankfully, unlike the other times I’ve used a sauna, there was no-one else in there – that’s great, because previous occasions have invariably had me sat oppostite an old dude sitting with his balls out. Have you ever seen what happens to a scrotum in extreme heat? Mine becomes so elastic that I can throw them over my shoulder and have them banging about like one of those old clackers toys from the eighties.
What’s good about a sauna, anyway? This particular one was turned up to over 90 degrees. To me, that’s approaching boiling point. I get uncomfortably hot when someone lights a church candle the next village over. I tried lying down but that made my back-hair sizzle. I tried sitting but was worried I’d cauterise my bumhole shut. Standing was no better – I just felt faint and knew that if I passed out, there’d be no way Paul could lift me out and I’d end up in there forever, cooking and desiccating until I ended up looking like Madge, Dame Edna’s assistant. I stayed in as long as I could but then had to dash out.
As I left the sauna our friendly neighbourhood beetroot appeared out of fat air and admonished me for not shutting the door quick enough, as though four seconds of the door being slightly ajar would reduce a room that was previously hotter than the surface of the sun down to the temperature of an Icelandic crevasse. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just hot, though his skin had moved from rose to ruby coloured. For someone who had self-appointed himself as the King of the Spa, he certainly needed to fucking relax. I shut the door as quick as I could, leaving only four layers of skin crisping like bacon on the door handle. I thanked him. We’d meet again.
Paul slunk out of the sauna immediately after Al Murray had left, and we enjoyed a quick brisk shower before going for a sit in the aromatherapy room. I’m not going to lie: it was a novel experience to have the both of us in a heated room and for it not to smell like something has died behind a radiator, but there’s only so much pine scent you can inhale before you start getting light-headed and conscious of the fact you’re going to smell like an Air Wick for the next ten weeks. What is the aromatherapy room meant to do? I’m already Polo-shaped (I’m certainly mint with a hole), I don’t need to smell like one too. We left after about five minutes.
The last room was a steam room. To me, that’s just another sauna, but this time with steam. Woohoo! In we went, and there was Barry Big Bollocks spread-eagled, thankfully with his shorts on, steaming lightly. Now I could have cheerfully stayed in here save for the fact that the steam was clearly helping with his COPD, because no sooner had we sat down then he started coughing and hacking and clearing his throat as though he was drowning in phlegm. Nothing soothes the soul like steam and a fine miasma of the net result of forty straight years of chaining Lambert & Butlers. Every time our conversation halted he’d kick off again, clearly really getting in amongst his air-sacs for the full effect. He wasn’t so much clearing his throat as resurfacing the fucker. We left after about five minutes, speckled with blood and tar.
Only one thing left to do. The jacuzzi. I’m not a huge fan – let’s be frank, they’re nothing more than less portable hot-tubs – but hey, when you’ve spent twenty quid to get in, you have to get the use out of it. In we went. Now, yes, it was very pleasant, although they had positioned several jets in such a way that it was blowing my balls around rather a bit too dramatically in my swimming shorts. I had to move before my entire ball-sack floated to the surface and acted like a pool cover.
But even here I couldn’t relax. With my belly being pummelled from all directions, my fear of accidentally sharting and ruining the whole experience for everyone else was too much. Can you imagine how mortifying that would actually be? The more brazen amongst you might have been able to bluff it out by pretending you’d spilled a can of oxtail soup in the water but come on. I had to get out.
In all, we spent about 30 minutes at the spa and came out slightly pink and far less relaxed than when we went in. Best part for me was having Paul use the hairdryer in the changing rooms to dry my bum hair – such luxury! The receptionist asked if we had a nice time given it seemed as though we had hardly stayed. Naturally, we lied and said it was wonderful and we’d cheerfully come again, before spending the entire home bitching about everything. This is why we can’t have nice things, see. She did offer to see if someone was free to give us a pedicure but when I asked her if said person would be proficient in using a belt sander, she didn’t get the joke. We all mutually agreed that we ought to move on.
Sigh. Speaking of moving on, let’s do the recipe for ham, cheese and egg pancakes, eh?
I was going to call this recipe croque madame crêpes but Christ, I’ve seen how some of you lot spell two chubby cubs, I’m not going to start adding circumflexes into the mix. Without a moment of delay, let’s get to the recipe!
Something new and tasty for breakfast for those days when you can't face spooning yet another load of dry as old nick overnight oats into your aching gob.
For the basic pancake batter, we're using the pancake advice from February, namely:
My recipe makes enough for six pancakes - four which will be filled with ham and cheese, and then two extra for gobbling. It's either that or having to mess about with smaller ingredients. Don't be tempted to fart about blending oats or any of that nonsense, there's simply no need. You're so much better have a couple of real pancakes and cracking on. Oh and if you find yourself reaching for a wrap instead of making a pancake, please, throw yourself into the sea.
TO MAKE THE PANCAKES
50g plain flour (8 syns)
150ml of skimmed milk (2 and a quarter syns, but really, 2 syns)
So that's ten syns for six pancakes. But I'll syn them at 1.5 syns because you can bugger off if you think I'm putting 1.66666666666666 syns per pancake.
FOR THE FILLING
whatever ham you fancy
60g extra grated mature cheese (2 x HEA)
So to be clear, you're having two filled pancakes each, and you'll have enough batter leftover for a third if you want to scoff that too!
blend all the pancake ingredients together - add a pinch of...a pinch of...bleurgh...a good grinding of pepper, please
now, depending on your skill in the kitchen, you could fry the eggs in one pan and prepare the pancakes in another, but let's assume you've got the cooking skills of a turnip, and go step by step
fry your eggs off - don't cook them into full submission, you still want a bit of give on the yolk so it pops
pop your fried eggs on a plate on the side and start making your pancakes - a couple of sprays of olive oil, nice hot pan, tip a sixth of the batter in and quickly spread it around the pan
once the pancake has 'dried out' and coming away from the pan, flip it over - don't be frightened, you've got spare batter
once it is flipped, layer 15g of cheese in the middle, top with the ham and the fried egg
fold the sides of the pancake over like in the photo and cook for about thirty seconds to melt the cheese a bit
top with chives and eat!
Honestly, it sounds like a faff, but all this recipe is is a pancake stuffed with cheese and ham and egg - if you balls it up, it might not look great, but it'll taste absolutely fine. Remember, aim for taste, not perfection!
we whisk up our batter in our Nutribullet - gets rid of any lumps, but honestly, a bowl and a fork will do the same job and get you some Body Magic. Don't buy one just for this - though they are very good!
Now come on, that was easy! But if you fancy something different for breakfast, why not try something new from our list?
Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!
We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…
Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…
Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!
We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas.
4-6 sausages (see notes)
1 litre chicken stock
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
300g arborio rice
125ml white wine (5 syns)
60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
add the wine and give a good stir, and then pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
serve and sprinkle over the parsley
you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
Creamy parsnip and apple soup – part of a new category of budget Slimming World recipes that we’re planning on doing. We’ve done a budget week before, you understand, but it became such a ballache having to work out a tenth of a stockcube that we stopped doing it – I know, I’m shameless. But at the time of writing ASDA are selling bags of parsnips for 20p, so you can make this entire pan of soup – which serves six – for less than £1.50. Freezes well, too.
Forgot to say: apologies everyone who received an empty email talking about a risotto – we haven’t published that yet and the email was sent in error – pressed the wrong button. Blame my sausage fingers, it’s why I’ve never mastered the keyboard or wettened an eager beaver. I’m a hamfisted slut! That’ll come online shortly, I’m sure.
Budget is a difficult topic to gauge, to be honest. What is cutting back to me might be eye-watering extravagance to you – what might be penny-pinching to everyone else might be essential to a few of you. Who knows. The reason we’ve decided to reboot this category is simple: I read an excellent article from Jack Monroe, author of cookingonabootstrap, entitled My Ready Meal is None Of Your Fucking Business. She tears apart the whole argument that people can eat ‘well’ on a few pounds a week far more eloquently than I ever could. So I won’t try, but I’ll give you the strongest push to have a read of her blog, especially if you’re struggling for money and need some cheap but decent food ideas. To think, somewhat ashamedly, that my only initial recollection of her was someone who used to vaguely vex me (because she looked like a teacher I disliked) on the Sainsbury’s adverts. Having read up, and realised that as well as everything else she does, she also managed to royally piss off the Daily Mail, well, fair play to her.
Paul and I are lucky – no dependents to fund, no mortgage to pay, plenty of that luscious pink pound to waste on Ritter chocolate and extravagant trips around Lidl. In theory. In reality, we’re both tighter than a photo finish – we hate spending money and will desperately try to avoid doing so unless it’s for a holiday. There’s a certain outdated stereotype that as gay blokes, we should be tripping the light fantastic in decadent clothes, but trust me when I say the most expensive thing in our wardrobe is the dehumidifier. All of our clothes come from the supermarket – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a shirt that hasn’t come from a multipack and poor Paul has been barrelling into work now in shirts that are almost six sizes too big for him. He fell over the other day in the wind and it took five minutes for him to float to the ground like a feather. I park 2.5 miles away from my work and walk in to save the £7 a day parking fee I’d otherwise occur. I like to tell people it’s because I’m trying to get fit but actually, it’s all about the money. The biggest muscle on my body is the thumb I use to keep my wallet shut. I’ve been trying to encourage Paul to allow us to be a ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ sort of household but we had to stop when the entire house started stinking like Sugar Puffs mixed with tuna.
Both of us came from families that didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but neither of us is any worse off for it – I wasn’t one of those spoiled brats who looked enviously at other kids going to Florida for their holidays – I was more than happy piling into the back of my parents’ car for the eight hour drive to the top of Scotland, thank you very much. Even now I can’t relax in a car unless I’ve got a tent peg threatening to burst my eardrum as I drive along. We never stopped at a Little Chef or anywhere fun en route either, no no – it was warm egg sandwiches and sullen faces all the way. Paul didn’t even get to go on holiday bar a trip to Ireland at the height of the troubles and some trip to Spain at the height of teletext-bargains. I’ve just asked him for a ‘poor’ memory and his was going to school with a pair of Activ trainers from Whittlesea Market whilst everyone else had Diadora specials. Pfft. He won’t elaborate further but I bet his Adidas trousers were two-stripe, with the third stripe being formed from his mother’s cigarette ash. Tsk.
There’s two exceptions to our thrift that I can think of: we like expensive aftershave (Tom Ford) and decent shoes. I like to think when I leave a room that I leave a pleasing order and a wonderful footprint, even if I do look like I’ve come dressed for a bet. Cheap shoes are a false economy – Paul struggled the three miles into work one day in a pair of gardening shoes when the entire bottom of his shoe came away, leaving him limping home in the rain like he’d staggered away from an explosion. A good pair of boots will last you forever, but of course, getting the funds together to buy them in the first place…
Anyway, in my usual roundabout way, I want to apologise if our budget recipes aren’t budget enough for you – but please, do feel free to suggest some more to us! Without further delay, let’s crack on with the creamy parsnip and apple soup, shall we? It’s from the Hairy Bikers, you know. Nope, not the first time two hairy bikers have left us satisfied and smiling with a slight pain in our bellies, but here we are. Do enjoy!
Remember: according to the folks at Slimming World, if you cook fruit, it becomes synned. We don't always agree with this blanket rule and in this case as we've used two apples between six people and haven't made it into an apple pie so we've chosen to not syn it. I know. Mags will put my lights out.
If you want to follow Slimming World's exact advice, this would be about 15 syns - 2.5 syns per bowl - or approximately 2x HeB choices split between six. How silly.
2 medium onions, chopped
600g parsnips, peeled and cut into wee chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
600g Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
150ml milk (3 syns)
spray a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a bit of oil
add the onions and parsnips to the pan and gently fry for about fifteen minutes
as an aside - if you want, take your parsnip peelings, spray them with a bit of oil, rub in some curry powder and roast them for a few minutes to crunch them up - you can use these to top the soup!
add the garlic and apples to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes
pour in the stock and bring to the boil
reduce to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes - the parsnips should be soft
remove from the heat and blend until smooth
add in the milk and give a good stir - add plenty of salt and pepper