Melon Sorbet

I’m lucky enough to be going on an extended vacation next week for three whole weeks which means I have only a couple of days to use up the food in my fridge to avoid it going to waste.

I’m lucky enough to be going on an extended vacation next week for three whole weeks which means I have only a couple of days to use up the food in my fridge to avoid it going to waste.

I’d had a picnic at the weekend where I’d made some delicious fruit skewers, but what this meant is that there was lots of leftover perishable fruit. One of the ingredients I had was 3/4 of a Cantaloupe melon, which I just knew I wasn’t going to eat. Rather than just freezing it to be used in smoothies at a later date, I decided to try out some of the melon Sorbet recipes I found on the internet and here is my adaptation of the various recipes found via Google.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g chopped Cantaloupe Melon
  • 40g sugar
  • 40ml water
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tsp honeyMETHODBlend the chopped melon (I use a hand blender as pictured; this and the Joseph Joseph electronic scales are my two favourite kitchen appliances in my generally low tech kitchen).Check that the mixture is smooth. (I had a few hidden lumps and had to pick out a bit of melon skin that had made its way into the bowl).Make a sugar paste by heating the sugar, water and lemon zest until it boils and starts to thicken (about 5 mins) and let the paste sit for 10 mins.I opted to not strain out the zest but  having sampled the finished product, I would recommend that you dAdd bit more lemon if want more of a tang.Put in fridge for a few hoursPlace in freezer over night.Once frozen the Sorbet was pretty solid and I had to let defrost for around 15 minutes before serving. If I was to do this recipe again, I would probably try stirring during the freezing process and breaking into portions before it was fully frozen.
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Pinto bean chilli and taco shells

Growing up, my mother struggled to get me to eat my greens, and if anything had even the slightest fleck of spice or herb, a food tantrum would ensue.  Over the years, I've managed to introduce so many vegetables and flavours into my diet that I'll now happily eat meals that contain purely vegetables without complaint.

This dish here is made with a whole host of leftover vegetables but the main star of this dish is the dried pinto beans which are a good staple to keep in stock for bulking out meat free dishes into cheap, nutritious and protein filled dinners.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g pinto beans
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 x garlic cloves crushed
  • 6 x mushrooms chopped
  •  1 x carrot diced
  • 1 x red pepper
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1x green birds eye chillies
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 300 ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

Soak beans overnight & cook according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile cook the onion and garlic for 2 mins before adding the spices and chilli and continuing to fry for a further 2 minutes

Add all of the other ingredients and cook for 2 mins before adding the vegetable stock. Stir well and scrape all of the spices off the bottom of pan.

Finally add the tomatoes, oregano and bay leaf, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Limp lettuce

Lettuce!!! I love a crispy iceberg, but nothing upsets me more than when it's started to turn brown and limp its way towards the bin.

I thought hey, there's got to be a solution, and according to the internet there is. Ideas range from storing your lettuce in water (too messy), separating all the leaves and storing each layer between kitchen roll (too fussy) and my favourite…cooking it!

Now this sounded weird to me at first but I thought id give it a whirl, there's various recipes in this excellent Guardian article such as lettuce soup, lettuce pesto or my personal favourite – stir fry.

Lettuce stir fry sounds strange but really what's the difference between a Chinese cabbage and a lettuce? In the grand scheme of things, absolutely nothing.

So I followed recipe number two from the above article and to test out its success, I served it to my better half without mentioning the secret ingredient, and guess what – approval all round.

Never again will the be a limping lettuce in my salad drawer again.

Sweet Chilli Salmon with Asian Vegetables

Salmon is one of my midweek time saving meals. It’s quick to cook, can be served with pretty much any side and gives rise to a huge variety of optional flavour mix ups; from simple lemon and parsley to teriyaki salmon or something more unusual, such as sweet chilli.

The idea for this dish was again down to leftover ingredients mentioned in my No Shop Week blog, which included fresh salmon fillets that I’d frozen alongside carrots and green beans.

The vegetables screamed stir-fry at me and Asian flavours are so easy to achieve with a few stock cupboard essentials.

If you’re a fan of Asian food, I’d recommend always keeping in store soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and; a new discovery on my part; ginger paste (although only buy this if you will use the paste regularly as it does have a shortish self life when open). In terms of flavour, I prefer fresh ginger but I like the fact that keeping paste in stock, opens up the opportunity to throw together a huge variety of Asian sauces without having to visit the shop.

I’m a flavour junky and I knew I wanted to stir fry the vegetables with sesame and soy but I didn’t want the salmon to be bland so I coated it in sweet chilli sauce, covered it in foil and baked in the oven for 15 mins. Whilst the salmon was cooking I prepared the veg, chopping the baby carrots and green beans into long thin slices.

In a wok, I heated a tbsp of oil and fried a clove of crushed garlic with a tsp of ginger paste for a minute, before tossing in the veg. I then added a tbsp of sesame oil and 2 tbsps of soy sauce and stir fried for a further few minutes before serving with the salmon. And that’s how to quickly make great Asian style side.

(Again I’m not one for measuring, as a guide two to one of sesame vs. soy is a good start. Sesame oil is very strong flavoured so I tend to start small and adjust as I taste)

If you fancy some carbs, this dish will be great with rice or why not flake the cooked salmon up and stir fry with the veg and a portion of egg noodles.

 

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Too Much Turkey?

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 wanted 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 used to love sitting down to turkey butties on Christmas evening, already stuffed from lunch, the whole family would always manage to find room for a turkey sandwich in front of the TV, the final indulgence of the most indulgent day of the year.

Christmas is all about tradition and Boxing day tradition at my parents normally involved a trip to the football match. Lunch before we headed off would be simple cold cuts of turkey with some oven chips. Now this might not sound like a gastronomical delight but as a child it was probably my favourite meal of the festive period. The best thing for mum was that having slaved over the oven for the entirety of the previous day, no cooking was involved.

The other child-hood dish I remember that rose out of the turkey remnants was a turkey curry for dad. Mum used to freeze all the dark meat and then a week or so later dad would be in for a treat. The best thing about a curry is if you’re feeling extra lazy you don’t even have to cook it from scratch. There’s no shame in picking up a jar of already made curry sauce for a quick evening meal.

I’ve become a bit more adventurous with left-overs in recent years, boxing day now normally involves a salad; something a bit lighter to give the stomach a rest after the big day. An all round pleaser from recent times has been Jamie Oliver’s Asian inspired turkey salad. A quick simple and palette refreshing salad that not only makes use of the left-over turkey, but also other festive ingredients such as clementines, pomegranates and nuts.

This year, keeping with the festive spirit, we’re going for more of a Waldorf based salad using up turkey, cranberries and walnuts, but the salad munching possibilities are endless. The mantra really is “anything goes”.

In terms of the remaining turkey, I’m definitely going to follow in mum’s tradition and get a curry on the go, the spices in a curry make a nice change to the other flavours ingested over Christmas. We also received some lovely Japanese Ramen bowls for Christmas so I’m hoping to come up with a turkey ramen inspired recipe that I’ll keep you posted on.

There are thousands of recipes that call for left over turkey;  casseroles, pasta bakes and soups can all be created from left-overs. A few simple dishes that you can cook up, keep in the fridge/freezer and keep the family fed over the festive break.  It’s also not just the turkey that can be re-used, left over vegetables can be frozen, turned into soups or rostis.

Nigel Slater, recently had a great programme on BBC where he used all leftovers imaginable to create a wide variety of dishes including bubble & squeak patties and a delicious sounding perky turkey salad. I also saw a fantastic post from Recycle for Greater Manchester that spent the twelve days of Christmas using up all the leftovers.

There’s so many resources available, on-line, on TV and in print that there really is no excuse for food waste over Christmas and in my opinion you never really can have too much turkey.

So get cooking and it would be great to hear about any left-over concoctions of your own.