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.

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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Too Much Turkey?

On the 1st day of Christmas….

Too much turkey…?’

Christmas is a glorious time of overindulging, over-feasting and overbuying. It’s the perfect time for me, with an overstocked fridge, to fully get into festive recipe invention mode. So, over the 12 days of Christmas I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Yuletide leftover recipes with you to help you clear out the fridges and recuse your Christmas food waste.

The Food Waste Diaries

This is only the second Christmas where I’ve been in charge of the shopping and the cooking and the first time it’s at my house. I’m really keen to make it extra special but  I also want to make sure that no food gets wasted.

To make things more difficult, it’s only a small gathering of three people but I still want a full turkey with all the trimmings. I couldn’t bring myself to resort to a turkey crown which would be much more suitable for a small gathering, it just wouldn’t be Christmas for me without a big bird stuffed on the table.

The smallest turkey I could find says it serves 6-8, and even with my gluttonous family, we won’t manage to scoff all 5kg down in one sitting, so it’s a good job that one of my favourite things about Christmas is the turkey left-over concoctions. I…

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Harissa baked cod with lemon cous cous

I’ve recently done a ‘stock take’ of all the less perishable ingredients lurking in my kitchen, these items don’t tend to be as much of a priority to use up as the perishables from my fridge, but never the less they build up over time and can become forgotten about until it’s too late and the use by date has approached.

The worst offending culprits for being forgotten about in my experience tend to be condiments and other items that come in jars. I often buy such ingredients, as I’m sure may of us do, for a particular recipe that only requires a miniscule amount of the total jar. TV cooking shows have a lot to answer for; introducing us all to new and exciting recipes that call for unusual and exotic ingredients that outside of the recipe they’re demonstrating are difficult to use up in every day cooking.

Harissa was one such offending item that I had left in my fridge, I wanted to use it for a quick and simple supper, however all the recipes I could find were complicated and called for a multitude of other ingredients, that if I was to purchase would contribute to another load of half-used jars in my fridge.

So I decided to ignore any complicated recipes that I had come across and create my own simple and flavoursome Middle Eastern inspired dish.

INGREDIENTS

For the fish:

  • 3 x tbsps natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 x cod fillets

For the couscous:

  • 100g couscous
  • 150ml boiling water
  •  1 x garlic clove crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon

For the roasted vegetables:

  • 1 x red pepper cut into chunks
  • 1 x yellow pepper cut into chunks
  • 1 x onion chopped
  • Olive oil

METHOD

Mix together the yoghurt, harissa and half of the lemon juice, cover fish and leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 mins

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200c

Place the chopped veg in an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for 20 mins

20140706-180138.jpgWhilst the vegetables are cooking ,mix together all the ingredients for the couscous and leave to stand for 5 mins (or as per packet instructions)

Remove the roasted veg from the oven, mix with the couscous and transfer to an oven proof dish

Place the harissa coated fish, skin side up on top of couscous and vegetable mix and pour over the remaining lemon juice

20140706-180131.jpgBake in oven for 15-20 mins or until fish is cooked

This is a fantastic way to use up left-over harissa paste, the simple mix of yoghurt and harissa can be used to marinate a whole host of fish, poultry or meat which will ensure a jar is never left to fester in the back of my fridge again.

 

 

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Dips Away

In my last post I made a Tzatziki in which I substituted the traditional Greek yoghurt with Crème Fraiche, I also commented on how I much prefer to prepare my own dips as opposed to purchasing ready-made shop ones.

The main reason for this preference is that homemade dips are a great way of using up leftover ingredients; in particular yoghurt, cream, citrus fruits & fresh herbs. Dips don’t have to follow a set recipe every-time and you can experiment with different concoctions until the results suit your palate.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to show how your own fair hands can quickly and easily prepare some of the most common dips.

SOUR CREAM

Possibly the easiest of all dips to make; simply take some cream (or crème fraiche if you’re trying to be a bit healthier) and sour it by stirring in a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

SALSA

The base of Salsa is obviously tomato and you can create your own by using any type of tomato you like; tinned, cherry or plum tomatoes all work great and will each individually create salsas that differ in both sweetness and texture. To form the base of any salsa, mix together chopped tomatoes, garlic and onion. From here you can add a whole host of ingredients to suit your taste, the most common additions are chilli for a bit of a kick, a squeeze of lime which adds a bit of zest or herbs such as coriander or parsley, depending on your taste. I have even heard of salsas being made with all kinds of crazy ingredients including chocolate and almonds, although I’m yet to try either of these creations.

GUACAMOLE

What could be more simple than mashed avocado mixed up with a bit of lemon juice? This is a great accompaniment to Mexican dishes such as chilli or enchiladas and is the perfect use for avocados that are verging on over-ripe.

TZATZIKI

See my previous post but essentially, yoghurt, garlic, cucumber and lemon

PESTO

A fantastic way of using up fresh basil, simply toast some pine nuts and blend with basil, oil & Parmesan. This is more than just a dip and can be used as a delicious homemade sauce for many recipes. As an example, have a look at my recipe for Grilled Halloumi & Cherry Tomatoes with Mint Pesto.

HUMMUS

Now I must confess that this isn’t one I’ve tried myself but I believe it’s as simple as blending some tinned or dried cooked chickpeas, lemon, garlic and a sprinkle of paprika.

I purposely haven’t published detailed recipes for these dips, purely because you really can start producing your own  creations on a trial and error basis, why not have a look at ingredients you have left to use up and start inventing? I’ve always managed to come out with something tasty (or at least edible) when I’ve attempted a dip. I hope that the above ideas inspire you to create your own dips, they’ll be sure to impress friends at a dinner party or summer BBQ, and of course you’ll be reducing food waste by using up those leftover items you might have lying around.