chernobyl soup: cheap, cheerful and full of flavour

Chernobyl soup: it cooks itself! No, stop it, we won’t have any jokes about Chernobyl in here, this is a tasteful blog. However let me tell you this: the soup looks like something you’d find in a layby nappy, hurriedly thrown from a moving car by some frazzled parents, but it tastes bloody good. If you’re looking for something very quick, cheap and easy, then nip over and I’ll sort you out, and we can have the soup after. It’s a simple enough combination of stock, veg and sausage with paprika. It uses an Instant Pot but fret not – you can make it on the hob just as easy.

Why are we calling it Chernobyl soup anyway? Because it was part of the meal we had at the Chernobyl Power Plant Workers’ Canteen, and so, with the confident ease of someone who has played the up-a-bit-down-a-bit-push game all too often, let’s segue straight to part two of our Ukraine holiday report. Look! A fancy banner approaches – click it to whisk straight to the recipe – and this is a VERY long entry, so I won’t even hold it against you. 

Chernobyl, then. Our holiday package came with a twelve hour tour, which at 5.30am in the morning, pulling on sodden Dr Martens and wishing for death, felt like an awfully long time to stand around looking at dusty, toxic relics from a bygone era – we can do that easily enough by Skypeing Paul’s mother, and she’s only slightly less radioactive. We were up early as we had to be at a random hotel by 7am and we had no idea of the Metro schedule. After spending forty minutes feeling each individual drop of water hit me from the shower, we bustled out, asking the hotel concierge to call us a taxi. He gave us an earnest smile, coughed into his beard and pushed us outside to wait. Perhaps we were cluttering up the lobby or detracting from the entrance to the ‘Gentleman’s Club’, I don’t know. Anyway, we waited for a while until what would turn out to be a recurring theme of this holiday turned up: a car that looked like it was put together by my nephew in a fever dream. Rusted? I could see the petrol flowing through the door. No way were we getting in that, so the next ten minutes were spent stealthily hiding from both the very angry looking taxi driver and the concierge, who seemed bemused that we had disappeared into fat air. We stayed around the corner until the taxi driver drove off in a cloud of toxic blue smoke and the concierge went back to extracting new flavours of phlegm from his lungs. Paul called an Uber Exec in a fit of excitement and thankfully, a car that hadn’t been witness to seventy years of history rolled in, accompanied by yet another beautiful Ukrainian man whose name I’d never learn but whose eyes I’d always remember.

Honestly, long term readers of this blog will know that I have a real thing for taxi drivers – I think it’s simply any lust that allows me to sit down and rest my legs, to be honest – but it’s getting to a point where Paul’s having to pop a meter on and hang a Magic Tree off his knob if he wants to get his leg over.

The driver was cold and efficient and dropped us where we needed to be with a grunt. We gave him a tip of 5, 667,344,667 Ukrainian hryvnia (about £2.10) and sent him on his way. There were several white minibuses all boarding tour groups and of course, the anxiety of having to get on the right bus was overwhelming. Imagine my distress if I’d hopped on the wrong bus only to be taken to a gulag and passed around like life-raft chocolate. After I’d double-checked that this wasn’t happening, and hidden my disappointment from Paul, we climbed aboard. There’s always a worry about shared tour groups that you’re going to get onto a bus and find yourself sandwiched between folks who want to talk to you about Jesus and others who snack with their mouths wide open. Luckily – for the most part, ssh – this was a decent group – and once our tour guide (Cynthia, the doll beloved by Angelica from The Rugrats, electrified, made human and given an action-jackson gilet) jumped on, we were away.

She explained a few things: we were to buy snacks en-route because, obviously, nowhere to buy them in the Exclusion Zone. We had to try for a tom-tit at the petrol station because you really don’t want to be flaring your bumhole in the wild open air (she phrased it better, admittedly) and the toilet facilities were ropey. Don’t pick anything up. Don’t eat the berries. Buy some wet-wipes for your hands and dog treats for all the wild dogs that have set up home. We then had to sign a very official looking document (well sort of – the Ukrainian flag still had ‘shutterstock’ printed across it where they’d lifted it from google images, but top marks for theatre) to say we understood the risks of entering the Exclusion Zone and that we would be subject to punishment if we broke any of the rules. One of those rules? Don’t enter any abandoned structure. Just remember that. After twenty minutes, we pulled into the petrol station. I wish I could tell you the name because it was hilarious but I’d get wrong. So I can’t.

Whilst Paul busied himself trying to work out the coffee machine I took the role of class swot and went for a shite, bought my snacks and wet-wipes and then went outside to stand by the bus. Well no, I wanted to smoke, and as nonchalant as the Ukraine seemed to be about health and safety, I didn’t fancy sparking up in a petrol station. Oh and I know I shouldn’t smoke, but something has to take the bitterness of my words away. Luckily, my COPD-Club of One became three with the addition of two other Northerners, Vicky and Natalie. It took me a while to understand they were from the UK because with their strangled vowels and hissing sibilants I’d just assumed they were local engineers here to fix the bus. We bonded immediately over the sight of a dog and Paul’s ashen face at trying to drink a takeaway coffee consisting entirely of milk foam and cherry syrup, and then we were on our way. It was a good hour drive and I could tell Paul was itching to chat excitedly, so I shut my eyes and listened to my Billie Eilish tapes.

I can’t get enough of her, by the way. Imagine being eighteen and having a Bond theme out? The only thing I was responsible for at eighteen was an especially virulent outbreak for gonorrhoea. Well, it was the noughties after all.

An hour or two passed with very little to look at outside of the window save for the oncoming traffic, which the bus driver seemed to be taking a personal affront against given he was driving on both sides of the road at once. After twenty minutes of wincing, I nodded off, only for Paul to shake me from my slumber when we reached the first control point, where we told not to take pictures under any circumstances. There were a few burly mean-looking blokes hanging around so I’d cracked the emergency exit and slithered off like Tooms before our guide had finished telling everyone to behave. Our passports were checked, some tat was bought (I bought a gas mask, for reasons, not realising it was to fit a child – I look like one of those videos on Youtube where people put elastic bands around a watermelon when I wear it) and we were cleared to go exploring.

I should say at this point: we were given little Geiger counters to clip on, but at no time are you really in any major danger as long as you’re sensible. I did start clicking like the girl from The Grudge at one point but that was deliberate to shit Paul up.

This video, from the recent Chernobyl docudrama, explains what happened – and honestly if you’ve got ten minutes, watch it – amazing acting and you’ll never feel more like you could run a nuclear powerplant. Alternatively, cut to the ten minute mark, absolutely terrifying:

Now, since the reactor went boom, there were two exclusion zones set up – one 10km around the plant and another 30km. Both are safe for a day as long as you’re not snorting lines of dust, but you do have to be careful. You can’t explore yourself and must stay with a tour guide. Our tour started in a little village in the 30km zone, with us all tramping off the bus to walk around. Of course, it is eerie – a whole village lost to the forest – and we took some shots, walked around respectfully and went back to the bus. That was just a taster. Someone on the bus asked whether or not the dogs you see roaming around were the same dogs from thirty years ago and we all had to politely ball our fists in our mouth to stop laughing. Bless her, though I do like the idea of an irradiated Cujo wandering around looking for some glowing Bonio. That was a whistle-stop tour and the bus drove us to the next destination: the plant itself.

Perhaps you might not think it interesting to spend an hour looking at a power-plant, but in all honesty, the tour was captivating – we stood just outside the Containment Chamber which houses the incredibly radioactive remains of Reactor 4 and it’s mind-blowingly huge – an incredible piece of engineering when you consider it’s the largest man-made moveable object in the world. After Paul. Our tour guide showed us pictures of how it used to look and how it looked after the explosion and usually I zone out at stuff like that but she was terrific – and standing in front of something so destructive was genuinely terrifying. Brrr.

We drove on, with the next stop being Pripyat, the town built for the families of the workers of the powerplant. 50,000 people lived here in what looked to be a gorgeous town – then in the two days following the explosion, those who didn’t die were evacuated. This number rose as the Exclusion Zone grew to over 300,000. The bus turned a corner and we were on the Bridge of Death, where residents of the town gathered to watch the fire in the distance, all of them not knowing that they were watching their lives burn out in front of them. Everyone on the bridge died within days, captivated by the electric blue smoke pushed out by the reactor burning. The bus didn’t stop, which was entirely the right decision, and we parked up in the centre.

Our tour guide made a very stern face and told us we weren’t, by law, allowed to explore the buildings – partly out of respect, partly out of the fact they are unsafe structures, partly because they’re radioactive. If we were seen by the police who patrol the area we would be tossed back out with a flea in our ear. So, very clearly, if she saw us exploring inside the buildings, the tour would stop. Lucky, then, that she followed up this strict message by saying she would stay outside and do her paperwork, and if we wandered off…

So we explored five main points: the swimming pool, the school, a block of high rise apartments, the fairground and a nursery. I won’t go into all of them bar to tell you the common theme – imagine if someone pressed pause on an entire city. Everyone had to leave everything behind, soaked in radiation, and despite promises about returning, never could. You’re walking through a ghost city and it’s one of the must vaguely unsettling feelings I’ve ever felt. For example, in the high-rise buildings, you can walk up all twenty floors (and we did, with Paul gasping the entire way) and walk into people’s flats to see snapshots of their lives left to the dust: board games halfway played, pots left on the cooker, beds half-made and photos of loved ones cracked and fallen. It’s safe – so far as walking around buildings that haven’t been maintained for thirty years can be – but it’s absolutely haunting. When I’m uneasy or anxious I get an ache at the bottom of my back like someone is pressing on my spine and that feeling never left me. The faint taste of metal was a distraction though.

There’s so many photos out there of the various places you can visit so I won’t put my own up here, but have a look at our Instagram shots for a selection:

The floor full of children’s gas-masks was what got me though – tears actually welled up in my eyes when I realised that I shouldn’t have paid £20 for one from the gift shop and instead, just lifted one from here. Quick going over with a wet-wipe, job done.

One thing slightly irritated me – in quite a few places, you could tell things had been set up to make it ‘creepy’ – dolls with gas-masks on, faces half-buried in the soil. Chernobyl is dark tourism in its purist form – you don’t need to make a spectacle of it. Says the two lads who paid to tour it. That’s a fine looking high horse, fella.

We spent about two hours touring Pripyat and then it was back to the power-plant where we would join the current workers on site for lunch. We had another radiation check before going in – climb inside a little scanner, press your hands and wait for the beep – and then took a place in the queue (after I managed to fall up the stairs in my haste to get fed – they probably thought the reactor was having another wobbly when they felt the tables shake). We were warned that the ladies serving were miserable and christ, were they right – I’ve never been served lunch with such malice. I wanted to ask if I could swap my rye bread for a brown bun but it wouldn’t have surprised me if the bewhiskered babushka had pulled me over the counter and held me face down in the soup until my legs stopped kicking.

Lunch wasn’t bad mind – a little salad which I left because I’m not vegetarian, a soup which looked like someone had already digested it for me but tasted wonderful (see recipe below), a breaded (I think) piece of pork (I think) served on sticky rice (I think) and a lovely little muffin that I keep under my tongue even now so I can have a few more stabs at chewing it. This sounds like I’m being mean for the sake of it, and I am being facetious, certainly, but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. I made the mistake of scooping some mustard up off and putting it in my soup, not realising that this wasn’t mustard but something that must have been scrapped off the side of the blown reactor. Hot? I didn’t want to lose face, though ironically I did lose face as it burnt through my cheek. We made our way back to the bus, stopping (the group) to pet all the dogs milling around the plant and stopping (me) to smoke with all the workers in the vain hope I’d be squirrelled away as the office entertainment.

Next stop was something I hadn’t expected – a stop at the DUGA radar installation and the accompanying secret Soviet base. I adore stuff like this – incredible feats of engineering built for menace. I tried to take a photo to try and encapsulate the sheer size and freakery of this place and failed – it’s 500ft tall and half a mile long of tarnished metal, long-silent wires and rusting joints. At some points, you can stand under it and look up and it is all you can see. I’ve mentioned my phobia of dams before – part of that phobia is that dams look so unnatural and man-made set in usually beautiful countryside. This was the same with the DUGA station – so unnatural, so weird. That phobia of large structures is called megalophobia and I can’t deny that as excited as I was to see it, that little knot of anxiety was back in my spine. You can hear it creaking in the wind which is unsettling enough, and knowing it needs to come down soon but has to be taken apart by hand due to the radiation…nope. It was used to listen out for ballistic missile launches – I can’t help but think if Comrade Paul Anderson had his hands on it, he’d be using it to check my WhatsApp. Brrr.

The rest of the tour involved lots of little stops at various points – the working town where the current workers live (had to check we hadn’t turned off and ended up in Gateshead for a hot second), the memorial to the fallen, the little robots they attempted to use to shift the burning, highly radioactive graphite off the roof. The radiation was so intense that the robots only worked for moments before cutting out – they had to send humans up onto the roof to do what the robots couldn’t. Think on that for a second: so radioactive it fries a robot, so they sent these ‘bio-robots’ onto the roof instead. One minute to chuck as much rubble over the side as you can, and that’s you done, never to serve again. Fall over onto the graphite and you’re dead. Brush against it, and you’re dying. The thought of having to do something so intense made my spine hurt again: you’re talking to the man who fell up the stairs on his way to get soup, remember.

Though I have a confession: throughout the tour the guide kept telling us we would get a chance to meet the Roberts who helped with the clean-up exercise. I thought it was going to be a meet and greet of two blokes called Robert and spent a while on Wikipedia trying to work out who she could mean. Nope. Robots. I was a trifle disappointed.

Throughout the tour we spoke with the various folks on the bus with us – some were more engaging than others – and we made friends with the previously mentioned Natalie and Vicky, and then later Reiss and Sharlette (which made for an awkward moment when they both said that’s not how you spell my name when I was trying to find them on Facebook), a lovely couple who had come along on the same flight, with the same company, having watched the same documentary as us. I’ll circle back to these lovely four in the next blog entry but haven’t we come a long way since Paul and I pretended to be Armenian so that we didn’t have to make small-talk on a previous tour?

And that’s it – the driver got us all back on board, we cleared the checkpoint and then he cranked up the heating so we all fell asleep. I woke myself up with a fart so noxious (and I pray, silent) you’d be forgiven for thinking I was smuggling rubble back with me. It’s OK, I shut my eyes and went back to sleep with the lullaby of dry-heaving behind me to whoosh me to sleep.

So: would I recommend it? Absolutely. I knew Paul would enjoy it because he’s always been a fan of desolation, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Your experience will depend entirely on the skill of your tour guide – ours was incredible, the right balance of humour, knowledge and pathos – and we tipped her well. The bus – awash with jokes and jibes about radiation on the way there – was silent coming back. They played a video of what the town was like on the drive back, which was an especially timely touch. It’s fascinating to see an entire town held in a time bubble and utterly incomprehensible to realise what an evacuation on that scale would actually mean. It was almost so much worse, too – had the core hit the water pooled underneath the reactor, almost all of Europe would have been rendered uninhabitable by the subsequent nuclear explosion.

As a footnote: the official Soviet death-count for Chernobyl, as of today: 31. Official studies actually put the numbers up near 90,000.

And there’s me grumbling about my weak shower.


To the Chernobyl soup, then. If you have an Instant Pot this is truly the work of minutes, but if not, fear not: you can make it on the hob just as easy. This makes enough for four servings of Chernobyl soup, which I really ought to call veg and sausage soup, but hell. To the recipe!

chernobyl soup

Yeah I should have cleaned that bowl first. But I was too busy playing with my gas-mask.

chernobyl soup chernobyl soup

Chernobyl soup: veg, sausage and paprika

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 massive bowls

I love recipes like this - get a load of stuff from the supermarket, tip it in and set it away. Done in half an hour, just like your partner.

We apologise to the good folk in the Ukraine for this bastardisation of what is probably a staple recipe, but heck it's good.

You can make this syn free by omitting the smoked sausage but don't - it's worth those couple of syns, trust me.

By the way, do you hear the people sing? 

Ingredients

  • one packet of vegetable soup mix (the fresh chopped swede, potato, onion and carrot, already chopped - or feel free to chop your own) (600g)
  • 100g of Mattessons Reduced Fat smoked sausage, chopped into tiny chunks (8 syns)
  • fat-free bacon, as much as you like, cut into chunks
  • a teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • one litre of good vegetable stock or bouillon
  • one tablespoon of wholegrain mustard (1/2 syn, but you can shove that up your pumper if you think we're counting it)

Calorie wise, based on 100g of fat-free bacon, this kicks in at about 175 calories. And it's dead filling as owt divvent ya knaa.

Instructions

Using an Instant Pot? But of course you are, you're a very sensible sort and you know it's the best pressure cooker out there. So:

  • hit the saute button, add a little oil, tip your bacon and sausage in first followed by the paprika and vegetables, and saute for about five minutes, giving everything a good stir
  • once done, add the stock and mustard, seal it up and set it away on manual for about ten minutes 
  • vent, serve, applause, tears

Don't have an Instant Pot? Shame on you. But the same as above - stick it in a big old pot, saute for a little bit, add stock and cook.

Notes

Courses soup

Cuisine twochubbycubs like how

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving

Calories 175

% Daily Value

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Canny! Of course, as with all our soups, you can chuck any old shite in, but the core recipe is as above. Enjoy!

Want more ideas for soup and using your Instant Pot? Oh my sweet hairy child, we’ve got you covered in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Click either button to crack on.

soupsmall 

Ta,

Jasmine and Pauline

announcement: it’s TV time for the cubs!

God I hate writing about ‘us’ in the third person, but I couldn’t get the title to work. I promised you an update, a salacious one, and then merrily forgot to update because a) we’re unspeakably lazy and b) we’re surprisingly busy and c) my tonsils have decided they want out and are rebelling against me. Lots of people are suggesting going to the doctors but I don’t want to explain why each tonsil has a perfect imprint of a bellend pushed into it like wet clay. So I’m riding it out, but you best believe I’ve lived on nothing but fags and ice-cream for the last three days. I’m looking after me.

SO OUR ANNOUNCEMENT.

We’re on the telly! For a change, it’s not some blurry footage of me getting bummed in a lorry park either, which at least my mother is thankful for (though no-one forces her to hold the camera, just sayin’). Nope, we’re on THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, Tuesday 5th, 8pm on ITV. See if you can spot us in the trailer below (I’ll give you a clue, we’re the ones who look like Jeremy Spake’s stunt doubles wandering in from the cold).

There’s blog stories a-plenty coming about this, but the basic conceit is that you go on the show, pledge to do something significant and challenging and then you have a year to do exactly that. You go see Davina for a wee chat, film yourselves throughout the year and then come back a year later to reveal all. It’s a lovely programme and, how could we not? We applied and they turned down my original pledge to taste-test a chap from each town in the UK with a population over 5,000, but we got talking about weight loss and this snowballed into ‘THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, DAVINA, WE WILL LOSE TWENTY STONE BETWEEN US’.

Well, we had to:

Crikey. No spoilers, of course. You’ll have seen we have lost a little weight, but did we do it? Did we make a big change? Did we do the right thing by our readers and follow our own recipes and lose weight? Are we proof that not synning avocado, not drowning everything in Frylight and not making apple turnovers and cream horns from Quark and wraps will help you lose weight?

Wait and see! Wish us luck!

J

sticky sesame chicken (pressure cooker/hob)

A rare beast tonight! With The Governess still unwell and me struggling away at the helm, we’re going to go straight to the recipe without a moment of delay. Enjoy!


This makes enough sticky sesame chicken for four people. This is known as General Tso’s chicken in America, if you’re curious. You can leave off the sesame seeds at the end if you absolutely must but they add a nice crunch!

sticky sesame chicken

to make instant pot sticky sesame chicken you will need:

  • 4 big chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • ¼ tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (3 syns)
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced

top tips for instant pot sticky sesame chicken:

to make instant pot sticky sesame chicken you should:

  • cut the chicken into bitesized chunks
  • spray the bottom of the instant pot bowl with a little oil and press ‘Saute’
  • add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is white all over (don’t worry if it isn’t cooked all the way through)
  • in a jug mix together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, hoisin sauce and honey
  • pour the sauce over the chicken, put the lid on and switch to ‘Manual’ mode
  • programme the machine for ‘high pressure’ for ten minutes and leave to cook
  • once finished, use the quick release method
  • in a bowl mix together the cornflour with one tbsp cold water to get a thick sauce
  • switch the instant pot back to ‘saute’ mode and pour in the cornflour
  • stir gently until the mixture thickens, and serve
  • sprinkle over the spring onion and sesame seeds

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, don’t fret – you can make this on the hob by cooking off the chicken, adding the sauce and letting it bubble and take its time!

Want more Instant Pot or pressure cooker recipes? Natch!

J

simple but perfect beef mince biryani

Beef mince biryani – I’m sure there’s a billion ways of doing this recipe and this is probably the common as muck version but hey, sometimes you just fancy something spicy. Our takeaway has stopped taking our calls since Paul used to stand by the letterbox on all fours whenever the hunky deliveryman, with his baleful brown eyes and arms that promised the world, came to the door. Think that’s bad? He once put ‘Will nosh for extra dough balls‘ on our Dominos order when he was drunk and then made me answer the door. Don’t get me wrong, it’s factually correct – if anything it’s a slight understatement – but still. I wouldn’t mind but I opened the door to a lovely wee lady who looked like Sandi Toksvig trying to solve a particularly tough crossword.

Anyway, as promised, we’re going to go straight into the recipe, no messing about. We all know foreplay is a waste of time anyway, surely? Hello? Is this thing on?

Just so you know, we served this with our perfect chicken korma recipe – you know why it’s perfect? Because we don’t stir a friggin’ Muller Light into it. Why? Because we’re not simple. For scooping we used Broghies – they’re one syn crackers that can be found in most Icelands around the country by now. If they’re not in yours, run into the shop, bundle whatever old lady is in your way into a chest freezer and demand that the manager stocks them immediately. They’re perfect for dips! And no: we’re not on commission.

We found this recipe at mytamarindkitchen and I 100% a look at their blog because the food is absolutely amazing. Tweaked this for Slimming World. Let’s go.

mince biryani

mince biryani

to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you’ll need:

  • five ripe tomatoes chopped up – can’t be arsed, use tinned tomatoes, but come on now
  • a teaspoon of coriander, cumin and chilli powder – now, if you don’t have spices, go to your world foods bit in your supermarket and buy them in bulk – so much cheaper – keep them sealed in a good tin though
  • I cheated here and used a garam masala grinder rather than making my own – was only a quid in Tesco – used about 10 good grinds
  • a bay leaf or two (don’t stress if you don’t have them)
  • one big fat onion, chopped nice and fine
  • 500g of extra lean beef mince – or use turkey mince for even lower calories (though it’ll not change the syn value)
  • 350g of basmati rise
  • half a tin of cooked green lentils
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • a good couple of handfuls of peas
  • 1 inch of ginger, minced
  • half a teaspoon of turmeric
  • 100ml of beef stock
  • one green chilli

optional extras for your mince biryani:

  • one lemon and one lime
  • a pinch of (shiver) saffron
  • chopped mint and coriander

top tips for your mince biryani:

  • we cook our rice in our Instant Pot – you absolutely don’t need one, you can cook rice just fine in a pan – but if you have a pressure cooker have a look into it – rice is a doddle! Instant Pots are quite hard to come by at the moment due to a stock shortage and, whilst we love ours, we’ve heard good things about the Pressure King Pro – only £70 on Amazon at the moment
  • if you’re mincing your garlic and ginger, use a microplane grater – you don’t need to peel the garlic or ginger and it’ll save your poor wee fingers
  • oh and whilst we’re on about ginger, buy a big knob of it and put it in the freezer when you’re done with it – it grates just fine frozen and it’ll save you buying it fresh every time
  • and listen, if even that’s too much for you, you can buy ginger and garlic paste in most major supermarkets now – in the same jar – for a quid or two – just use a tablespoon for half a syn!

to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you should:

  • soak your rice in cold water for a good half hour, and then cook it through until it is almost cooked(I like to add the turmeric to the rice as it cooks, to give it a yellow sheen) – you want a bit of bite left
  • heat your oven up to about 175 degrees and get a good heavy pan out of the cupboard – you’ll need one that has a lid and can go in the oven
  • spritz with a few sprays of oil, grind the masala into it and heat until it smells amazing
  • add the garlic and ginger and the chopped onion – cook the onions until they take on some colour, but don’t burn them
  • then add a pinch of salt, the chilli, cumin and coriander and cook off – add the stock here so it doesn’t catch and to to get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan
  • add the tomatoes and fry until they’ve softened down – then add the mince and peas and cook until that’s cooked through and has absorbed most of the moisture in the pan
  • the easy bit now – layer the lentils over the top followed by the rice
  • optional: add chopped mint, slices of lemon and lime and if you’re super fancy, you could dissolve the saffron in hot water (about 25ml) and pour that one
  • cook in the oven for about twenty minutes with the lid on so it can steam
  • once you’re happy with it, clap your hands and eat your dinner!

There. I hope that leaves you satisfied and smiling!

What? You want more curry and spicy ideas? Of course you do. You love having a bumhole that looks like a shocked mouth. Here we go then:

Enjoy. Do let me know your thoughts, won’t you?

J

christmas clear out: lazy cabbage bowls – instant pot or hob

‘ey up! Cabbage bowls time!

We’re having to take a bit of a break from the blog to concentrate on an exciting personal project – but rather than leave you sitting there with a sulk on with no new recipes, we’re going to use it as an excuse to pump out some recipes with no guff. Trust me: some of the recipes coming up will leave you dripping like a St Bernard’s chin.

Can I ask a favour, though? If you’ve got someone who is doing this infernal diet alongside you, share our stuff! The buttons at the bottom will instantly share to Facebook and Twitter. Help us to help them – god knows they need it.

You can make this recipe in the Instant Pot or on the hob – if you’re using the hob, you’ll need a good non-stick casserole pot. Let’s go! This makes enough for four.


to make lazy cabbage bowls you will need

  • 1 savoy cabbage, chopped roughly
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 750ml passata
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (4 syns) (you could also use honey, brown sugar or even sweetener, but just make sure to check the syns)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Looking for an Instant Pot? Still on the fence? Don’t be, you’ll give yourself piles. They’re having stock problems at the moment but stop fretting – the Pressure King Pro is a decent replacement. Cheap on Amazon at the moment, too!

Oh and if you need pork or beef mince, don’t forget that you can build your own meat hamper with our Musclefood deals!

to make lazy cabbage bowls you should:

  • on the Instant Pot, press the ‘saute’ button and adjust to ‘Normal’
  • add a bit of oil and then the mince, and brown off until just a little bit of pink remains
  • add the diced onion and stir frequently until it’s starting to go translucent
  • add the rest of the ingredients except the cabbage and give a really good stir
  • sit the cabbage on top (don’t stir!) and put the lid on
  • cook on High pressure for 8 minutes, and use the quick release method when done
  • give a good stir and serve – we had ours with rice – it was lovely!

Using a hob? Same kind of idea – cook everything off first, then leave to simmer and sweat for maybe forty minutes until everything comes together like a Roman orgy.

Looking for more ideas? Naturally.

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J

six slimming world sandwich fillings

Now, it’s been a while since we did a load of recipes on one post, and, although you might think that this is a holiday blog dotted with the odd moan about Mullers, we’re a recipe blog first of all! So, here’s a helpful wee post of Slimming World sandwich fillings that frankly wouldn’t justify a post of their own. Sandwiches are the one thing I truly miss on Slimming World – that and not measuring my worth by mass-produced shiny weight-loss stickers.

These fillings, with the addition of chopped lettuce, veg or whatever the hell you want, make for great fillings for wraps and bread. But, as you know, we’re huge fans of the broghie here – 1 syn each, they’re like giant crackers which act as the perfect platform for whatever nonsense you want to top them with. I’d rather have four of these buggers for four syns than blow it all on a sandwich. You can buy them in Iceland across the country, so no excuses! But, no time for flim-flam, let’s go to the recipes…

egg and cress – syn free

  • pretty simple, this one – boil an egg for ten minutes, peel, mash with a fork and mix with 2 tablespoon of natural yoghurt, with plenty of salt and pepper and, if you’re feeling sexy, add a dash of mustard

chinese chicken – 1.5 syns for the lot

  • make the pulled chicken by sticking four chicken breasts in a slow cooker overnight with 250ml of stock, or even better, put them in an Instant Pot with 250ml of water, cook on high pressure for 12 minutes and then shred – easy!
  • once cool, mix with 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce and 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt and a tiny bit of five-spice, together with cubed cucumber (not the seeds, use the flesh) and sliced spring onion – easy!

ham and pease pudding – syn free

  • spread pease pudding onto your bread, broghie or wrap and layer with slices of wafer thin ham and tomato – yeah, not much to this one, but I just want to put a special plea out there that if you haven’t tried pease pudding, give it a go. Yeah, it looks like baby poo, but it tastes damn fine

cheese savoury – syn free

  • to make enough for two, mix together your HEA of Red Leicester (30g) with their HEA of 40g extra mature lighter cheddar, add thinly sliced red onion, cubed pepper with enough fat-free natural yoghurt to bind it together

beef with red onion and mustard – barely a syn

  • layer slices of beef (or you could use leftover pulled beef from our amazing bloody mary beef) with thinly sliced red onions, mini gherkins and 1 tsp American style mustard (1 tbsp, if you bother synning it)

houmous and crunchy veg – syn free

use one of our delicious syn-free houmous recipes and top with chopped onion and chopped peppers

How easy was all that? If you’re wondering, they’re Le Creuset plates, from Amazon. Hope you enjoyed. One other bit of housekeeping – see that row of buttons below? They’re share buttons – share all over!

J

velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – instant pot or hob

Velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – because frankly, it’s Autumn, and clitting about with consommés and gazpachos can fuck right off. You want a soup that’ll put hairs on that big old chest of yours and get stuck when you strain it through your Kevin Webster moustache. So here we are. Sorry for the lack of posts but well, you can probably guess that we’ve been away. Anyway, before we get to the fabulous leek, potato and cheddar soup, you’ve got the next part of our trip to Benidorm to smile politely through. If you can’t be arsed with reading all them big words, don’t fret, just click on the handy shortcut button below to be whisked straight to the pictures. Yes: just click on the mirror below.

Phew. We’d all had enough of her cockadoodie attitude, am I right? Let’s go back to a sunnier time…

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four

You know, rather than prattle on about the last two days of the holiday, and bore you to tears with a 300 word monologue about the different types of toast we have, I’m going to do what we did with the Cornwall entries (good God the horror) and recount the memorable bits rather than go at it chronologically. I know what you’re thinking: James, you’re fabulous. Assume that the bits in between were taken up with us swimming in the pool, crisping in the sun or dozing.

Whenever we mentioned online that we were going to Facebook we were met with two things: aghast responses and ‘GO TO THE OLD TOWN’. I harboured a strong hope that the Old Town was actually Barcelona but no, apparently it’s the ‘nice part’ of Benidorm, in much the same way that the Isle of Arran is the nice part of Glasgow. Ah I jest, Glasgow, we love you and would move there in a barely-detectable heartbeat. So, hunger thoroughly satiated by way of the breakfast buffet (room 2002, two-thousand-and-two, dos-mil-y-dos, aaaah for fucks sake) and our hackles risen by the sight of our doubles mincing about the yoghurt station, we set off with the faint aim of walking to the Old Town, taking in what we could during the day.

Oh! Before I get there, can I quickly discuss this?

A lift that judges you.

The lift had a bastard ‘FAT PERSON’ monitor on it. When the two of us got in it went straight to cock-level, which sounds about right for us, until you realise the lift was built for ten people. I mean, we’re fat, but not quite that bad. I think if we had risked it after a particularly bountiful breakfast it may have started shrieking “¡ayudameMis cables!” in hysterical robotic tones. Anyway, the day was young.

It began with a crushing disappointment. We had seen no end of elderly couples whizzing around on double-seater mobility scooters, looking to all the world like particularly gelatinous takes on the future humans from Wall-E (only with far more fag-scorched winceyette). We wanted in on the action, if only because it would have made for an hilarious video of the two of us careering through the streets like the tank chase from Goldeneye. Completely unashamed we wandered into the first mobility scooter hire place and started trying out the various models. All good fun until some harried little Spanish lady came hurtling from out the back and started shouting at us in Spanish. I tried to placate her that, even though I’m hilariously obese, I’m not the easily forty stone or more that I’d seen the mobility scooters having to shuttle around outside. She has having none of it – apparently you need to be registered disabled (fair enough) or old (see previous comment) to hire a scooter. I caught a glance of Paul’s haggard face in the rear-view mirror of the Leviathan-shuttle nearest to me and wondered whether we could pass him off as over 55. Gloria Estefan wouldn’t have accepted it though, so we slunk away.

We carried on walking, dropping into the odd shop on the way. One thing I can’t understand is how all of the tatty shops selling cheap towels, tatty ornaments and fridge magnets and t-shirts with ‘I LOVE COK’ and ‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO ENJOY BENIDORM BUT IT HELPS’ and other shite manage to keep going. There are hundreds of the buggers – probably one for each family that landed. Surely there can’t be a demand for it? I’d like to live in a world where there wasn’t demand for one of these shops, let alone a whole neighbourhood of them. But nevermind. We nipped into the cheap cigarettes store just to see how much baccy costs now – nothing confirms your decision not to smoke like seeing the fact that you’re spending more on tobacco than you do for a good dinner. Plus catching the yellowing eyes of the walking dead shuffling around buying their Lambert and Butlers, coughing out lung mist all the while. This was clearly ground zero for the coughing plague that would accompany us on the plane home. We did have a titter at the fact that the 200 Lambert and Butlers came with a free bottle of Jägermeister sellotaped to the front. Hey, know your market. Listen, we’re not being snobby about smoking – we once had a drawer in the kitchen that was full of tobacco and Rizlas, that’s how dedicated we were – but if you’re going to smoke, try something with a bit of taste. You never know, the Marlboro Reds probably came with a well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape attached. I tried taking a picture of the fags but got roundly reprimanded (again!) by the lady behind the till, who shouted ‘NO PHOTOS’ with such ferocity you’d think she was guarding the nuclear codes as opposed to a cancer factory. Pfft. We left empty-handed, but at least able to move more than twenty yards without our lips turning blue.

Fags.

Just round the corner from the cheap fag shops was a cheery little minigolf course. Five euros for eighteen holes – you can’t get vexed at those prices, can you? I confess we only went in because it looked as though there was a gay bears convention behind us in the queue, and hell, if there’s one thing we both enjoy it’s having several bearded men lining up behind us all desperate to sink their balls into an easy hole.

Oh I know, we’re so nasty. But seriously, they looked like they’d all just finished lumberjacking and fighting oil-rig fires. I could barely bend to pick up my ball without poking out my own eye.

As usual, things between Paul and I became immediately competitive – whereas I’ll always beat him at pool, Monopoly and growing a beard (he doesn’t so much grow a beard as frighten it away), he nearly always wins at minigolf. I just don’t have the patience, I hate golf. It’s so tedious and arbitrary and pointless. At least with rugby you run the risk of being accidentally penetrated in an especially violent scrum. With golf what’s the most exciting thing that can happen? Someone with pipe-cleaner legs, clad in whatever shite was heavily discounted at the garden centre, comes and primly tells you off for not wearing the right shoes? Pfft. I’m yet to meet anyone who has been seriously into golf who I haven’t suspected of being on some sort of register. Maybe I’m jaundiced because we have a golf course at the end of our street and I’m forever having to dodge Audis and BMWs piloted by triple-chinned moonface fuckheads not concentrating on their driving because they’re too busy thinking about their stroke / hypnotised by the rancid pattern on their trousers.

Action shot! I can’t recall the balls being quite so ovoid, though.

Anyway, I digress (if I ever become rich and famous and in need of an autobiography, that’ll be the title – and the book will open with me being born and then 1000 pages of bitchy comments about the hospital canteen and Paul’s mother). The mini-golf course was actually good fun – very much a file under ‘god bless, they tried’ sort of affair, but good fun none the less. Paul struggled with a tricky shot through a windmill which almost gave me a victory but I was distracted on the eighteenth hole by the sight of one of the bearded gentlemen bent over to tie his shoes and that was it for the day. Paul cruised to an easy victory and made sure I knew it. Personally, I thought it was a little churlish of him to gloat – it’s hard to concentrate on your stroke when you’re desperately trying to engineer a situation where you could feasibly fall over and expose your rear like a cat on heat. As we left Paul noticed a mechanical bull and asked if we should have a go. Fearful of the hydraulics wheezing asthmatically and then enveloping us in thick blue smoke, I declined. I bought us both a knock-off Spanish Magnum instead and we moved on.

Someone has to do it, I suppose.

We stopped briefly at an Ale-Hop shop (very much like a Tiger, if not a Tiger under a different name) where I desperately tried to find a hat to find my giant head. It’s my eternal struggle and one I’m yet to beat. I’m a reasonable looking bloke, I think, but I have a head like the Bloaty Head patients from Theme Hospital. Every hat I try on is always about four inches too small, sitting on top my balding expanse like a fey little affectation rather than the sun protection I so desperately need. When I was much younger I found a natty little Kangol bucket hat in a hedge that fitted perfectly – no idea where it came from (although it did have J. Merrick scrawled on the inside) but by god it saw me through so many summers, until one fateful day when it blew off my head into the English Channel. I like to think it served its purpose and moved on to rescue some other elephantine-bonced poor bastard. Mind you, for as much as I struggled to find a hat…

…Paul was suffering more trying to find a bra to protect his poor heaving busoms.

Poor guy. He’s a busty double-D, if anyone has one spare they can pass to him.

Right, here’s the thing. As usual, I started out with good intentions about keeping it succinct but I’ve actually managed to hit the 3000 word mark. I’ve cut that out for the next two posts but hey, let’s get to the recipe. I appreciate I can’t keep your attention for too long, what with all the shiny things in the world to look at. Until next time…

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This soup, then. You don’t need an Instant Pot to make it, you absolutely don’t, but it’ll make it so much quicker if you have one. Before you ask, yes, you probably could do it in a soupmaker too, though I’d have reservations about adding cheddar in case it sticks to the bottom. Your choice. The Instant Pot is currently pretty cheap on Amazon, mind you. This makes easily enough for six people.



to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you will need:

  • 3 leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme (or two sprigs of fresh if you’re fancy)
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml light white wine (4½ syns)
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1x HeA)
  • 2 bacon medallions (optional, just if you’re feeling SUPER fancy)

Look, if you can’t find light white wine, just use any old slop you have kicking about. Use mouthwash for all I care. I’m not your boss!

Broghie

Wondering what on Earth that broghie thing is? Hard to describe! But it’s just the thing for dipping and adding crunch – like a prawn cracker in consistency only without the oil and fat and fishiness that comes with it. We’re using them a lot for satisfying the crunch that we miss from bread – and they’re only a syn each. You’ll see them in a few of our recipes because we’re well stocked up – bigger Iceland stores sell them, and they’re popular in Ireland – just like I wish we were! We’re not getting paid to promote them, just something that I saw on Facebook and wanted!

to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you should:

  • wash and finely slice the leeks – if you’re not too clumsy, get one of these and do it in seconds!
  • press the ‘saute’ button on the instant pot and add a bit of oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and stir regularly until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds
  • turn off the instant pot and add the thyme, oregano, bay, wine and potatoes to the pan
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 1.25l of boiling water and add to the pan
  • give a really good stir, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon until it’s super crispy and chop up into little bits
  • when it’s finished, use quick release and stir in the philadelphia and cheese
  • use a stick blender to blend the mix until it’s smooth
  • serve in bowls and sprinkle over some of the bacon bits

If you haven’t got an instant pot don’t fret – you can do this on the hob just as easily. Chuck the leeks into a giant pan until soft, add everything else (except the cheese), bring to the boil and them simmer until tender, add the cheese then blend with a stick blender. Simple!

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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Goodnight for now! Remember to hit the share buttons below if you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

J

lentil and vegetable soup – instant pot, hob or slow cooker

This lentil and vegetable soup looks like vomit. It does. I know that, you know that. But it was so tasty! I urge you to give it a go! We’re going straight to the recipe tonight as we’re out and about, so here we go!

lentil and vegetable soup

to make instant pot lentil and vegetable soup you will need:

  • 1 large onion, finely diced (if you can’t be arsed with all this dicing, and who could blame you, you could chuck it all in a food processor. We use this one because it looks cute!)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g dried lentils (any type)
  • ½ tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 40g spring greens

If you haven’t got an instant pot yet then what is wrong with you? Save time and effort for more important stuff. Get yours from Amazon right here and help sling a few pence commission our way. WE’RE VERY LOW ON GIN.

to make instant pot lentil and vegetable soup you should:

  • add a little oil to the instant pot and press the ‘saute‘ button
  • add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, give it a good stir and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring every now and again
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute or two
  • throw everything else into the pan except for the spring greens and give a really good stir
  • press ‘manual‘ cook on high pressure for ten minutes, and then use the quick release to get to it quicker
  • stir in the spring greens and leave for a couple of minutes
  • serve!

You don’t need to use an instant pot for this, it’s just easier and quicker. You could do it in a slow cooker too, just throw everything in at once (except for the spring greens) and cook on high for 4-5 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low.

Don’t expect this one to look amazing because frankly it won’t, BUT it does taste really nice. Even Paul loved it and he hates pretty much everything that’s in it. Plus, it’s crammed full of good stuff!

Feeling angelic? Don’t worry, we’ve got tonnes more recipes for you to help shift that gut. Just click one of the buttons below to be transported to even more ideas!

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J

syn free split pea and ham soup

Ready for the syn free split pea and ham soup? No worries. You can use an Instant Pot, slow cooker or a hob. But I need to moan first! If you want to go straight to the recipe and skip the writing, it’s simple: just click on the MISERABLE COW just below. Go on, why not.

It seems a little unfair and rash of me to wish to strike all children from the face of the Earth like a mincing King Herod, but see, I was stuck behind a car full of someone’s crotchgoblins this morning for 40 minutes whilst the traffic slugged down the A1, choking as it was with the massive load of extra cars on the road now that you and your lovely children are back on the road. 40 minutes is a long time to fake enthusiastic waves and wan smiles at snotty-nosed children for whom looking out of the back window and pulling faces is infinitely more fun than sitting still and being silent. I was already in a poor mood because:

  • it’s Monday;
  • it’s Monday;
  • it’s still Monday; and
  • thanks to the children of Earth collectively going back to school today, I had to leave the house at 7.30am instead of 8.30am and that meant getting out of bed early.

There’s only one reason gay, childless men get out of bed early and that’s to fetch the lube from the chiller. Our normal routine consists of a gentle alarm going off at 7 which we snooze for two ten minute period before my phone alarm goes off, announcing the time in a cold, robotic voice. That’s Paul’s cue to get out of bed, put the coffee on and go for his shower. I’ll deign to rise about 7.40am, once I’ve been assured that there’s a warm coffee and a hot shower waiting for me. Stay longer than that and I’ll get a cold reception and a frozen willy. I can then lounge about luxuriantly for an hour or so, cultivating my daily farts and working on my yawns, whilst Paul dashes about feeding the cats and dismantling the alarms like he’s on an automatic lock-in on the Crystal Maze. It’s marvellous.

But no, not anymore. Now I have to rise, shower, shave and shite (forever careful not to get my hands mixed up, I think work would disapprove if I turned up with a Dirty Sanchez and a bleeding arse) as though there’s a bomb strapped to my gunt and only getting onto the A1 before half seven will defuse it. It’s just awful. You know who is to blame? Your children. No it’s really that simple: I’m sure they’re lovely and all, with their moon eyes and higgedly-piggedly baby teeth, but you really ought to have just stopped at that seventh Campari and not given in to your carnal urges so many years ago. That way the roads would be clear, I’d be able to bask in my own bed-sweat until a reasonable hour and everyone would be happy.

Actually, let’s just build a lane on the side of each road for gays without children. I can use some of the pink pound that my pockets are so awash with. Perhaps call it the Marmite Motorway, or the Backseat Driver Lane. Pink Lane. We’re nearly there. We’d have hard shoulders every 100 yards with AA men built like hi-vis hot water tanks to tend to our exhaust pipes and steamy radiators. Ah, a boy can dream.

Anyway, I posted something along all of the above in our group this morning and got roundly supported by all those who could tell I was being facetious. I don’t actually hate children. How could I? They’re going to grow up and be the ones spooning cabbage soup into my mouth and putting me in front of Countdown. I received a terse riposte from a stern looking woman with eleven o’clock shadow telling me that perhaps my mother should have kept her legs shut.

Pfft: good luck with that. I’ve been telling her that for 31 years and it still hasn’t made a difference.  They don’t call her Can-Can-Christine for nowt, you know.

Speaking of split peas, let’s rattle off this recipe. Can you tell we are trying to use our Instant Pot more? It’s because we will forget how good it is until we use it again, then we can’t get enough. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you we made this soup three nights in a row. It’s beautiful, and a cheap, easy soup to make. Admittedly it doesn’t photograph well: I’m more than aware it looks like I’ve already ate it all, passed it and photoed it, but please, trust me when I tell you it’s tasty. There’s an added bonus – if you leave it overnight to go cold it sets like gorgeous pease pudding, which you’d expect given it’s made from split peas. Don’t know what pease pudding is? Get out of my life.

As always with our recipes, you don’t need to buy an expensive bit of kit to make them. An Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) will make this recipe quick and easy, but you can do it in a slow cooker or even on the hob. We cover all possibilities below. We do recommend an Instant Pot simply because they’re a doddle to use and we’re finding more and more uses for it – you can buy the one we use here. Or at least have a look, and start leaving clues around the house or office for loved ones that you need to let off steam, or some such other shite.

to make instant pot split pea and ham soup you will need:

for the stock:

  • 800g-1kg ham joint (if using gammon remember to soak it overnight to remove some of the saltiness)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

for the soup:

  • 500g dried split peas
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  •  2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf

Hey, if you buy a bigger joint of ham and don’t want to use it all in here, you can use some in our carbonara quiche or proper egg and ham quiche!

to make instant pot split pea and ham soup you should:

  • this needs to be done in two stages – don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it looks, I promise!
  • chuck all of the stock ingredients into the instant pot along with 2.5 litres of cold water. Cook under high pressure for one hour, and then use the natural release method
  • Lift the ham out of the pot and strain the rest so you’re left with the liquid – this is the stock you’ll need for the next bit…
  • next, add all of the soup ingredients into the instant pot along with 1.5 litres of the stock that you’ve just drained off
  • use a couple of forks to pull apart the ham, this won’t take much doing. chuck that in the pot too
  • cook for twenty minutes at high pressure, then use the quick-release method to get to it quicker
  • eat!

you can make this without a pressure cooker if you want to:

  • place all of the stock ingredients into a large stockpot with two litres of water and simmer for two hours
  • lift out the ham joint and strain out all of the solids so you’re left with just the liquid stock
  • next, heat a frying pan over a medium high heat with a little oil and cook the carrot, celery and onion from the soup ingredients until softened (which’ll take about five minutes), add the garlic in the last 30 seconds or so
  • slow cooker: put the veg into a slow cooker along with the bay leaf, peas and stock and cook on high for 3-4 hours (or low for 6-8). Add the shredded ham about half-way through
  • hob: just let everything bubble gently away together, keep an eye on it, until thickened!
  • eat!

We make sure that all our recipes are easy, just like us! Click one of the buttons below to find even more recipes!

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J

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

Just a quick post tonight because, for once, we’ve kept our word and managed to get round to updating the recipes page to include an instant pot section! Remember, for all of our instant pot recipes, you can use a normal pressure cooker or a pan on the hob – you don’t need to buy an expensive bit of kit for our stuff!

Updated recipes section here – it’ll open in a new window.

Cheers folks! Tomorrow will be a full post!

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

instant pot spaghetti bolognese

to make instant pot spaghetti bolognese you will need:

  • 400g lean beef mince (save pennies and get delicious meat by taking advantage of our excellent Musclefood deals!)
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (one of the handiest things you can have in the kitchen is one of these)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 500ml passata
  • anything else you want to chuck in – bacon, mushroom, family ashes

Looking for a pot? They’re cheap on Amazon at the moment.

to make instant pot spaghetti bolognese you should:

  • set the instant pot to saute and add a splash of oil
  • add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it goes soft
  • chuck in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so
  • add the mince and cook until browned all over
  • add in the chopped tomatoes, passata, salt, pepper and oregano and give a good stir
  • break the spaghetti in half and chuck in the pan along with a litre of water – make sure the spaghetti is covered – push it down with a spoon if it isn’t
  • cook at high pressure for ten minutes, then use the ‘quick release’ to get it in your belly quicker
  • don’t worry if it looks a bit watery when you first open it – it’ll soon thicken up when you give it a good stir
  • serve!

You can easily make this using a normal pressure cooker – just cook the mince and onion in a pan first before transferring to the pressure cooker, where you’ll need to cook it for 8 minutes. Haven’t got an instant pot? Make it the same way but in two pans, for a dead simple bolognese!

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J