Store Cupboard Essentials

In many of my recipes I talk about using store cupboard essentials, which are items that I deem to be kitchen cupboard staples, ingredients that can turn the most mundane leftovers into a tasty wholesome family meals and so I thought that it was only right to share with you what these items are.

OLIVE OIL – not only used for frying but also great for making marinades and salad dressings. I never buy pre-made dressings as they tend to go off quickly and can contain many additives, home made dressings can be whipped up with very simple combinations of oil, vinegar or lemon and herbs.

WHITE WINE VINEGAR – as above, it’s great for salad dressings and marinades and can also be used to add acidity to a large range of dishes.

SOY SAUCE, SESAME OIL & HONEY – the holy trinity for any Asian cuisine enthusiasts out there, these three ingredients make a great base for a quick teriyaki sauce and can also be coupled with other ingredients to open up a huge array of Asian inspired recipes.

WORCESTER SAUCE – I believe that this is a traditional English ingredient and I’m not sure of it’s availability worldwide but it is an excellent tool for adding a bit of je ne sais quo to casseroles and a Kung Fu kick to the humble cheese on toast.

RED CHILLIS/ CHILLI FLAKES – an instant flavour hit, chilli is used in many cuisines, fresh red chillies can be cut, deseeded and stored in the freezer but if this sounds like too much effort, dried chilli flakes also make an excellent substitute.

FLOUR – simple flat breads or rotis can be knocked up in minutes with the addition of a bit of salt or sugar, flour can also be used to whip up a white sauce for pasta and to thicken up casseroles.

EGGS – one of the few fresh ingredients that I insist on keeping in stock. Omelettes are a speedy and simple way to use up leftover vegetables and cheese and the humble egg is also a fabulous source of protein.

GARLIC – not much to say here apart from that it’s used in pretty much every dish I cook, also ignore the best before date as it’s pretty obvious if garlic’s off when it changes colour or dries up

TOMATO KETCHUP – yes indeed, believe it or not but many chefs use ketchup as a flavour agent; it can be used in casseroles and stir-fries as an effective sweetener

STOCK CUBES – I always have beef, vegetable and chicken stock cubes in as they are the bases of many sauces, simple gravy can also be made with flour, butter, water and a stock cube. If you make your own stocks you can freeze in ice trays to be use at a later date.

TINNED TOMATOES – one of the most versatile ingredients out there, there’s absolutely no need to buy expensive jars of pasta sauce as the humble tinned tomato can be the base for creating your own.

PASTA/RICE/NOODLES – dried items that have a long shelf life can be used as the carb portion of your meal when you have fresh ingredients to use up.

HERBS – so many herbs to chose from but no need to but them all. Whilst fresh herbs might not go off, they do lose their flavour. Many herbs can be used as substitutes for another, make sure to check out website here before you run out to buy a new jar of something you don’t have. I’d recommend having mixed herbs, paprika and chilli powder in as a start.  You can even create your own dried herbs by drying out leftover fresh herbs.

And that’s it, a rather comprehensive list of almost all imperishable ingredients that can help to make a delicious dish out of pretty much any leftover.

Sausage & bean winter casserole

It’s supposed to be spring but it’s still absolutely freezing outside so I’m resorting to cooking casseroles to keep me warm. From a food waste perspective casseroles are an absolute dream; it’s a dish that you can produce by mixing the simplest ingredients together and turn into something tasty by throwing in a few store cupboard essentials such as stock cubes, tomato sauce or Worcester sauce.

The humble sausage is the main basis for this meal, a cheap and tasty ingredient that can be used to create a hearty protein filled evening meal. A lot of the other ingredients in this recipe were from my freezer, I needed to empty my freezer as I was moving house and this recipe enabled me to use up loads of fresh ingredients that I’d previously frozen. You can find tips on freezing fresh items here and I promise that I will do a follow up blog post soon with further tips.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 x sausages cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 2 x sticks celery roughly chopped
  • 2 x carrots sliced
  • 1 x onion thinly sliced
  • 1 x parsnip diced
  • 8 x mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 16 x cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 3 x cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 x red chilli finely sliced
  • 1 x tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • Dash of Worcester sauce

METHOD

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Fry the sausages for approximately 4 minutes or until browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until the onions start to soften.

Add the crushed garlic and sliced red chilli and cook for 1 minute before adding the paprika, stir well so that all the ingredients are covered in the spice and cook for a further minute.

Add the white wine or a splash of stock to the pot and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and bring the casserole to the boil, continue to cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add all the remaining vegetables to the pan, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 minutes before returning the sausages to the pan.

If using, add the cherry tomatoes to the pan along with the stock, Worcester sauce and seasoning. Bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 40 minutes, adding more stock if needed.

Finally remove the lid, add the pinto beans and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, serve with crusty bread.

TIPS

If you prefer a thicker sauce add a tbsp of flour towards the end, or more if required.

Substitute the vegetables for any others that you need to use up.

Wine Ice Cubes

On the 8th day of Christmas…

Wine Ice Cubes

Following on from yesterday’s post for using up leftover prosecco to make jellies, here is another alcohol inspired tip.

If following the new year your liver can’t quite face finishing off any leftover wine but you can’t bear to throw the final dregs away, a good idea is to freeze the remnants into ice cubes that can later be used for cooking as and when recipes call for it. Not only does this mean you get to avoid tipping any leftover wine down the sink, but also that you don’t have to open an entire new bottle when a recipe may only call for a splash.

I freeze any leftover wine in ice cube trays, once frozen I tend to remove from the ice trays and store in freezer bags. If you’re a meticulous cook, you can always measure the volume of each ice cube  so you now how many to use in a recipe, however I must admit that I always just throw in an indiscriminate amount of ice cubes when needed, either taking them out to defrost in advance or sometimes just throwing them in still frozen.

It’s a great tip that can also be used to freeze items such as leftover stock, curry pastes or lemon/lime juice. In fact I’m a big advocate of freezing ingredients when I’m unable to use them up before they’re likely to spoil and have written about this previously  here, if you’d like some further ideas.

Prosecco Clementine Jellies

On the 7th day of Christmas…

Prosecco Clementine Jellies

Happy new year!

Chances are that some of you may be letting in the new year with a sore head, chances may also be that some of you have guests coming round with new year greetings.

If you’ve managed to open any prosecco, champers or other fizz but shock horror, somehow failed to get through the whole bottle, a good use is prosecco jellies.

Here’s a lovely festive recipe from James Martin for clementine jellies but they’re equally as lovely with pomegranate (May need to add some sugar with this concoction) or other festive fruits.

Now these will take a few hours to set so it might be a bit of an early start which a hangover could hinder, but other than that they’re a easy and crowd pleasing desert to tackle so you can greet New Year’s Day guests with some fizzy jelly wonders.

Lemon Drop Martini

On the 6th day of Christmas …

Lemon drop martini

As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought it appropriate to share one of my favourite cocktail recipes.

This was discovered whilst attempting to deplete the contents of a relatives drinks cabinet, so I feel that it’s perfectly legitimate to classify it as a food waste recipe.

It’s not just food that gets over bought at Christmas but wine and spirits as well. I’m sure a lot of you will have numerous random liquors in the cupboard such as the classic creme de menthe, or as used in this recipe, triple sec/orange liquor.

Most of these beverages aren’t designed to drink neat, they’re meant to be mixed with other spirits and mixers to create some quite delicious tipples. Also it’s a common misconception that liquors last forever, whilst they may still be drinkable it’s likely that the alcohol content will have largely evaporated over time.

A lemon drop is a classic martini cocktail and there are numerous variations however here’s the recipe I tend to follow (makes 2)

Sugar
75ml vodka
75ml lemon juice
25ml triple sec

Use a slice of lemon to wet the rim of a martini glass (or a tumbler/champagne flute if you don’t have)

Roll the rim of the glass over a plate of sugar to create a sugar rimmed glass. The sweetness of the sugar on the glass takes the edge off the bitterness of the lemon and also looks quite impressive.

Pour all other ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice

Shake and strain into martini glass.

A tip that I learnt from my days as a bartender was never shake too much as you only want to chill the drink and not dilute it with melted ice but hey where’s the fun in that? It’s New Year, feel free to let your best Tom Cruise cocktail impression loose.

A delightful tipple to greet your new year guests with.

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Cheese Pinwheels

On the 5th day of Christmas…

Cheese Pinwheels

As it’s almost new year and almost time for yet another party, I thought I’d post a recipe idea that can be used as quick and simple dinner party nibbles.

Cheese is another ingredient that we seem to buy in abundance over Christmas; when else is it acceptable to essentially create your own cheese room.

If you haven’t managed to demolish the mound of cheese in your fridge over Christmas, cheese pinwheels are a wonderful way of getting through it and provide either a yummy snack, a dinner party canapé or a handy lunch for later in the year as they can  be frozen when cooked.

If you google cheese pinwheels you’ll find hundreds of recipes but simply put you will need pre-made puff pastry, tomato puree and of course cheese.  Other ingredients such as herbs, ham and vegetables can also be added for other variations.

All you have to do is take a sheet of puff pastry, smother it in tomato puree, sprinkle with the cheese and any other additional ingredients and roll. To create the rolls, cut the topped pastry into strips of around 2-3cm thick, roll into a pinwheel and bake according to the puff pastry instructions on the packet.

Simple, cheesy goodness.

Christmas Pudding Trifle

On the 4th day of Christmas…

Christmas pudding trifle

Every year for as long as I can remember, my sister has baked christmas cakes for the entire family.

A couple of years ago I decided that I should get in on the tradition and contribute to the festive feast as well, deciding that puddings would be my thing.

I was met with a lot of groans; apparently Christmas pudding isn’t the favourite desert amongst my family, however they’ve now been converted by Nigel Slaters recipe which can be found here;  a golden, fruity and light version of this traditional christmas staple.

Despite its deliciousness, there always seems to be pudding left over after Christmas day and as I wasn’t paying attention to the recipe properly this year, I ended up with a lot of Christmas pudding that was surplus to requirements (see below).

20141229-221833.jpgHowever I’ve managed not to have a pudding meltdown as it’s a desert with an incredibly long shelf life, and what’s wrong with Xmas pudding for Easter?

For a slightly more inventive way to use up the leftover pud and create an impressive and simple desert that would be a great addition to a new years eve party, why not turn it into another festive staple with a twist on the traditional trifle?

Last year, I followed this recipe from BBC good food and it’s so tasty I’ll be repeating it again this year. Not only does the recipe use up any leftover Christmas pudding but it’s also incorporates that mountain of clementines that you probably have lying around since you replaced your 5 a day with chocolates over Christmas. It also uses cream, orange liqueur and you can even make use of the flake out of your  chocolate selection box by sprinkling it over for the topping.

Overall, this is an absolutely fabulous and original desert and none of your guests will be any of the wiser that it’s made from leftovers.

Turkey and Potato Bake – The Last of the Turkey

On the 3rd day of Christmas…

Turkey & Potato Bake

Here’s a recipe that continues to use up any remaining turkey and other leftover Christmas ingredients including potatoes, cream, cranberries and cheese.

If you still have turkey leftover it can be frozen, especially useful if you’re sick of poultry based dinners by now. The dark meat is particularly good for curries and I’ll be posting some more turkey related recipes over the next 9 days.

The Food Waste Diaries

6 days into Christmas and the turkey battle ensued  but we were finally down to the last couple of portions of the 5kg turkey. Other ingredients left over from Christmas day included half a bag of potatoes and a pot of double cream. Being a big fan of dauphinoise potatoes I decided to use this as a base for the final turkey throw down.

First of all my sous-chef (aka Mr Foodwaste) par-boiled 4 potatoes for 10 mins and left to cool. Whilst they were boiling I fried up an onion for a couple of minutes in a large saucepan before adding the last pieces of turkey. After a couple of minutes I added a good glug of white wine (a half open bottle that shock-horror, we’d somehow failed to finish). This was simmered at a high heat until it had reduced slightly before the leftover cream was added (I probably had about 200ml left). I…

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Parsnip & Potato Rostis (from left-over veg)

On the 2nd day of Christmas…

Parsnip & potato Rostis

It’s not just the Turkey that gets left over after Christmas Day, and here’s a great idea of what to do with the leftover veg.

The Food Waste Diaries

Glancing in my fridge on boxing day I was met with a huge array of left-overs giving me plenty of ammunition for a few experimental dishes.

We’d cooked far too many vegetables to accompany Christmas dinner, a common mistake when cooking up roasts, but being determined not to waste a morsel I’d kept all the surplus in the fridge. Some of the left-over vegetables had made it onto my boy-friends turkey sandwich – ‘a roast dinner sandwich’ (or a manwich in his words), which was pretty delicious but it hadn’t made a dent in the left-over roast potatoes, parsnips and baby carrots.

I’d seen Nigel Slater cook up some Bubble and squeak patties so I decided to do something similar with my left-overs. I mashed up all the potatoes, parsnips and carrots but the mixture was very dry, so for moisture I added a dash of left-over turkey stock…

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