IMG_2393The UN may have declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. (Hurrah). Yet on a smaller scale I have declared 2016 as the Domestic Year of Thrift.

Oops, we say. The renovations are glorious. Absolutely glorious. And so they need to be. Because we’re going to be spending a lot of time in this kitchen (what kitchen? oh- THIS KITCHEN).

There are so many things I love about my new house. I love that the Smartstone Athena benchtop looks like Carrara marble, but without the high maintenance paranoia. Smoked paprika? Lemon juice? Acid? Red wine? Fine. I love how it feels under the heel of my hand when I knead pasta dough or pastry. I love that the large format tiles for the splashback echo the look and feel of the benchtop, but came in at 1/8 of the cost.

I love that the sink is an 80cm beast. I had many people advise me on the merits of double sinks- but I do have another in the laundry just opposite for emergencies. Instead, the sheer pleasure of being able to deposit a roasting tray right into the centre without playing jenga to wash it fills me with glee everytime.

I love my timber butcher’s block (partly chosen out of necessity- the stone only comes in 3000 mm lengths- so to extend the island we would have had a break somewhere). I love how it punctuates the space. And I love that underneath it are two vertical pull out drawers, which contain four stand up bins, so recycling is easily sorted.

 

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I love my two ovens, I love my double fridge. I love my near-silent Schweigen rangehood that befuddled the electrician. I love the USB chargers under the island and I love my window behind the sink for fresh air. I love my walk in pantry.

But if you’ve ever watched Grand Designs, you’ll know that three rules will always come to pass. 1) There will be a problem with the doors/ windows. 2) The project will go over budget. 3) When someone asks you how much you’ve gone over budget (Kevin McLeod, or well meaning friends/colleagues), the home owners will demurely smile and refuse to answer. Instead, they’ll just spend the next few months learning how to stretch a single chicken into four delicious meals.

So this is how we do it. What follows aren’t strict recipes, more like road markings, to give you some ideas of how to navigate a life of #thriftyluxury  (most of these were posted on Instagram- of which I’d love to see you if you’re there- I’m @torihaschka). Otherwise– there’s now a stream of my instagram shots on the far right side of the blog)

Meanwhile, I need to clean the kitchen so I can take some more photos of the finished site to lodge onto ‘locations for hire’ sites, so it can start paying for itself. And get back to the grind of freelancing- cross fingers next month we can look into ways to make a chicken stretch across three dinners, instead of four.

1) Spatchcocked Smoked Paprika and Za’atar Chicken

IMG_2393Spatchcocking chickens with a pair of kitchen scissors has become my new ‘go to’ for a swift, hands off meal. In fact, it was so hands off that we served four of these to 16 of us for a sit down Christmas-in-January feast on Saturday. The benefits of spatchcocking are numerous. Splaying the chicken allows it to cook more evenly, allowing for a moister breast (gosh that’s a terrible turn of phrase, please forgive me, but it’s true). It also makes it easier to carve, prevents the sweaty skin over the thigh that plagues a trussed chicken. It also provides you with a back which you can lob into a ziplock back in the freezer and keep until you have enough bones to make stock. This is an excellent video on the ease of cleaving a chicken in this format.  I rub each chicken with 1 tbsp smoked paprika and 1 tbsp of za’atar and a good sprinkling of salt. The smoked paprika is musky, the za’atar adds some elegant aromatics of thyme and sesame and the salt is essential. I bake it in a hot oven (200 C/392 F) for 35 minutes, then brush it with olive oil and then return to the oven for another 5 minutes to crisp the skin. Then when the juices from by the leg run clear I let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cleaving it into pieces. On this night we shared the two drumsticks and one breast with a red pepper aiolli (made by blitzing a jar of roasted red peppers and stirring it through aiolli, though it would also work well with Greek yoghurt), some roast sweet potato wedges (done in the same oven in the bottom rack) and a bitter leaf salad while we tried in vain for an hour to get Will off to bed. Like us, he was much happier sitting on the couch dipping sweet potato wedges and strips of chicken skin into aioli and watching back to back episodes of David Chang’s ‘The Mind of a Chef’ on Netflix (he is our child for a reason).

2) Kale and Quinoa Bowl with Smoked Paprika Chicken, Goat Curd and Coriander

IMG_2403This is an excellent solo supper, though it could easily be stretched for two. Sautee a double handful of shredded Tuscan kale in 1 tbsp olive oil with 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa until the quinoa is warm and the kale has softened. Why Tuscan kale? Because it’s less ticklish on your throat than regular kale. Because it relaxes into wafty threads when heat is applied. And because it’s good value. Warm your left over chicken breast- either in a microwave (shhh!) or in a pan with a drizzle of wine, stock or water. Slice the chicken and serve over the quinoa and kale with 2 tbsp chopped coriander and 2 tbsp goat curd- though hummus, or romesco would also work just as well. Some toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would also be lovely.

3) Chicken Broth with Greens, Tarragon and Goat Curd

IMG_2411 Now is the time to pluck all the remaining meat off your chicken bones and place it in one tupperware to the side. Your bones need to go into the slow cooker or pressure cooker with the backs, necks and anything else fowl you’ve got stashed in the freezer. Cover with water, add a tbsp or two of apple cider vinegar and cook for as long as you can, until you have a a nourishing stock. If it tastes a little meek, transfer it to a saucepan and reduce it with a carrot or two roughly chopped bobbing about in it until you have something that tastes like a hug from your grandmother.  Bone broth is certainly all the rage at the moment, with Nana’s, hipsters, paleos and thrifters all thronging about espousing its charms. It’s also something that my acupuncturist is pretty adamant about, so I’ve got in the habit of making a big pot of it every Monday while I work. It’s gentle blurbling keeps me company while I type.   The above is a well meaning bowl of goodness- all it requires is for you to chop a cup and a half of greens- courgettes, broccolini and kale all thrive, though peas, beans and swiss chard would also be dandy. They get softened and warmed in the chicken stock with your left over chicken pieces before being further seasoned with a little salt and black pepper. It gets topped with goat curd and tarragon, though parmesan and basil, or feta and mint wouldn’t hurt. If this meal was an outfit, it would be wearing yoga pants and a threadbare tshirt from an Oxfam charity walk you completed in 2008.

4) Salsa Verde Aguadito

IMG_2482 One of my favourite standby soups from ‘Cut the Carbs!’ is the Quinoa Aguadito, which is a steadying bowl of vividly green chicken soup from Peru, that is bracing with the quantity of coriander that gets showered into it. I first added quinoa to my aguadito because I had a cultural meld-moment (it is not a traditional inclusion) and helps fill up The Hungry One. Here instead of straight coriander as the flavouring for the soup I’ve started a budget-conscious practice at the end of the week of taking all of the herbs that are left over and blending them with some olive oil, two anchovies, a tbsp of capers, a tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of whatever nuts I have on hand (almonds, macadamias and cashews all work well). The result is a chunky salsa verde which helps perk up any bowl of food, whether soup, salad, or sandwich. The above is just a cup and a half of chicken broth which is warmed along with half a cup of cooked quinoa and a cup of chopped greens.  The salsa verde gets dolloped over the top for extra seasoning- though The Hungry One has also been known to drizzle the whole thing with hot sauce. After that, the only thing left to do is count the pennies you’ve just saved, feel smug, then have a glass or two of pink wine and accidentally undo all of your thrifty hard work by falling down a google-hole of  ‘mid century danish dining tables that seat 10’.