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.

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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.

Cheat’s Tzatziki

There are a few items that I used to buy straight from the supermarket without questioning how they were made and what they contained, particularly sauces and dips.

In all honesty, I never really started cooking anything adventurous until my mid twenties, if I could buy an item in a bottle or jar, then I would, and it probably wasn’t until I moved to London and in with my partner that I became slightly more creative as I began to cook for two as opposed to just myself.

I think I initially discovered how simple Tzatziki was to make when the supermarket had ran out in advance of me entertaining a group of friends, rather than going without one of my favourite dips I decided to make it myself, and ever since that evening it’s now very rare that I purchase any pre-made sauces. One of the main benefits of this is that I find portion sizes of sauces and dips sold in supermarkets are often too large for the serving required; by making your own, you can make just the amount you need.

Now this recipe is entitled Cheat’s Tzatziki and that’s because I’ve replaced one of the core ingredients; yoghurt, with crème fraiche. The reason for this was purely that I had a half a tub of crème fraiche to use up, and in keeping with my mantra of food waste, I’m never afraid to experiment and substitute key ingredients when I have an item to use up.

Crème Fraiche generally has a runnier consistency and a more sour taste than yoghurt which will be the main taste difference you’ll find if you do choose to substitute yoghurt with it. If you prefer to stick with tradition and use yoghurt, than the recipe below remains the same.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 ml Crème Fraiche
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 x garlic cloves crushed
  • Fresh pepper

METHOD

Mix together the crème fraiche and lemon juice

 Peel the cucumber and grate

Squeeze the excess water out of the grated cucumber (I just use my hands, but I believe the professional way to do this is by wrapping in a clean tea towel and squeezing)

Mix the grated cucumber and crushed garlic into the crème fraiche and lemon mix

Season to taste

And that’s how to make a super simple cheat’s tzatziki, delicious as a dip for nibbles or crudités or a delicious condiment with Greek dishes such as Pork Gyros.

 

Bean Sprout & Coriander ‘Kimchee’

So, this isn’t technically a Kimchee, but it’s where the foundations of this recipe came from. Bean sprouts are one of the items that supermarkets simply don’t sell in small portion sizes, they also perish very quickly and the lack of a desire to eat stir-fry 5 nights in a row, forced me to come up with some other options for the short-lived bean sprout.

I found this Recipe, on the excellent blog Beyond Kimchee, a blog dedicated to Korean food, and as this was my first foray into a Kimchee creation, what better place to start?

Now I didn’t have all the ingredients to follow this recipe, but below is an example of how recipes can be used as a base and adapted to cater for items you do have in stock:

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 x Shallots
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • 2cm piece of ginger
  • Handful of coriander
  • 300g bean sprouts
  • 2 tsps chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Squeeze lime

METHOD

Steam bean sprouts for 4 minutes

Toast sesame seeds in a dry frying pan for 2 mins, until they start to ‘pop’

Allow hot ingredients to cool

Chop all other ingredients and combine in a bowl

Once cool, add the bean sprouts and toasted sesame seeds

Eat immediately or allow to marinate and ferment in the fridge over night

TIPS

Some more specialized ingredients may be hard to find in supermarkets, it’s always worth searching online for cheaper, more readily available substitutes

Fish Sauce, sesame oil and vinegar (rice wine or white wine) are what I consider to be cupboard staples if you’re a fan of Asian cooking as they form the base of many Asian sauces and dressings

The bean sprout kimchee is a great accompaniment for many meat/fish dishes, particularly salmon for which I have a complimentary recipe for Sweet chilli salmon here.

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Bacon, Pea & Ricotta Linguine

Firstly, I must apologise for the super large time lapse since my last post, it’s been an incredibly busy few months.

My busy schedule plus lack of a regular weekly routine means that quick, easy & healthy home cooked meals are a necessity to ensure that I steer clear of the ready meal aisle in the supermarket.

The bonus of this though is that sometimes the simplest of suppers are the most satisfying and this recipe in particular uses only 4 ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to cook.

I often buy soft cheese such as Philadelphia for bagels and regularly struggle to use it all up before it starts to go off. Mixing soft cheeses into pasta dishes is a quick and hassle free way of making a tasty cheese sauce, in fact the versatility of soft cheeses constantly amazes me. You don’t have to stop at a pasta sauce, a quick dollop of Philadelphia can make a baked salmon or chicken fillet into something slightly more special, and I’m still regularly surprised every time I have to add a spoonful of cream cheese to a sweet recipe such as a carrot cake or biscuit filling. I also wouldn’t stop at cream cheese; pasta sauces can be made with an abundance of other soft cheeses such as ricotta as demonstrated here.

With all these ideas, there’s no excuse for allowing that tub of soft cheese to develop a layer of mould in the fridge, and here is just one an example of a super speedy supper recipe that was made using of some leftover ricotta cheese, a few rashers of bacon and what I consider to be a staple freezer ingredient – frozen peas.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 400g Bacon (Diced)
  • 200g Frozen Peas
  • 400g Linguine
  • 150g Ricotta Cheese

METHOD

Cook Linguine according to packet instructions

Meanwhile fry the bacon for 4 minutes or until browned

Add the frozen peas and cook for a further 4 minutes

20140603-210504.jpgDrain the pasta, return to the pan and add in the cooked bacon and peas (include all the pan juices for extra flavour)

Stir in the cheese, heat for 2-3 minutes, or until sauce is warm and fully mixed

Season to taste and stir

And there you have it, dinner for 4 in less thank 15 minutes.