Friday, 27 December 2019

10 Best Leftover Hacks

UK food waste by food group

T'is the season..of over shopping, piles of leftovers and a beckoning rubbish bin. Sound familiar? Well, stop right there. Here are my suggestions of what to do with 10 of the most common foodstuffs you might be tempted to bin.

1. Bread.

 The doyenne of cookery writing (Marguerite Patten) told a story once about a woman in her village who was seen throwing away bread and was shamed and shunned by all the village folk for months. Those were the days eh?
Now it's the foodstuff most likely to end up in the bin- but if it's starting to go stale, just blitz it up for breadcrumbs and put them in bags in the freezer, ready to use for stuffings, coating fish cakes or chicken, adding to homemade burger mix or making a crispy topping for fish or cassoulet.If you have leftover garlic bread- even better. It makes flavoursome breadcrumbs and great croûtons for soup.

Chop up garlic bread for croȗtons

Blitz up bread for breadcrumbs
Coat chicken breasts with crumbs

2. Cheese.

Most cheeses freeze well if you grate them up and bag them.
But if you have lots of odds and ends left from the Christmas cheese board- blitz them all together in the food processor ( Cheddar, Cantal, Bleu, Wensleydale or those odd flavoured 'truckles' much seen at Christmas)
Use up your Christmas cheese board
Cheese scones
and make these delicious cheese scones ( which also freeze well if you make too many). Just blitz 225g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 70g butter, 1-2 tsp mustard and a selection of leftover cheese

About 175g cheddar and Brie
Add some milk, a few glugs at a time, until the dough comes together in the food processor. Turn it out on a floured board and cut scones about 4 cm thick.

Cut out your scones
Brush with milk and bake on a greased baking tray at 175 degrees until golden brown.

3. Eggs.

Egg whites freeze well and can be defrosted and whipped for meringues, mousses or Îles Flottantes when you need them.
Fancy ᐉÎles Flottantes

The yolks need to be mixed with something ( sugar or salt perhaps) if you want to freeze them. I mix them with soy sauce-
Mix egg yolks with soy sauce

 which can then be frozen and defrosted for pouring into Egg Drop Soup- or fried into an omelette, then chopped up and frozen, ready for adding to Egg Fried Rice or Cantonese Rice, Pad Thai or  Nasi Goreng.
Fry the eggs and soy sauce as an omelette

4. Lemons.

I freeze empty lemon shells and use them in January when I make marmelade to add extra flavour to the preserves.

Lemon shells for the freezer

Lemon juice and zest for freezing
Alternatively, grate the zest and squeeze out the juice and then freeze in small containers so you can add a bit of zest or juice to a recipe whenever you need to.

5. Herbs.

I also freeze fresh parsley and coriander. You can then crumble bits into a soup, stew, moules mariniḕre or curry.
Freeze herbs in ice cube trays
Other herbs (like mint and dill) freeze well in ice cube trays.

Herbs like bay, thyme and rosemary just need to sit in a pot in your kitchen and dry naturally, ready to add to anything you want.

Dry your herbs in the kitchen
6. Coconut milk.

Talking of ice cube trays - this is a hack from a family member. Leftover coconut milk can be poured into ice cube trays, frozen and then defrosted whenever you want a 'shot' of coconut in a soup, curry or rice pudding.

Freeze individual 'shots' of coconut milk in ice cube trays

7. Lettuce.

Sad looking lettuce and bagged salad leaves go in the bin quicker than you can say Peter Rabbit.
But they are surprisingly good cooked. Try them in a soup like my Mr McGregor Velouté

Lettuce is the star of this soup

 or braised with stock, bacon lardons and peas for a vegetable side dish or added to a stir fry. They take on a whole new life.

8. Baked Beans.

You can add leftover beans to a mixed bean cassoulet, a soupe au pistou or minestrone. The tomato sauce just all adds to the flavour combinations.


You can also make a version of hummus with them: just blitz two tbsp baked beans, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp peanut butter or tahini, 1tsp chili paste, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 2 tsps lemon juice in the food processor for a quick dip!

Baked Bean Hummus

9. Mashed Potato.

Bubble and Squeak
So many uses- added to soups to thicken them, mixed with veg and fried to make Bubble and Squeak, or Corned Beef Hash, mixed with tinned fish for fishcakes or added to flour to make gnocchi. Why would you throw it away? Madness.

10. Stir Fry and Noodles.

Miso Noodle Soup
One of my favourite lunches- leftover stir fry and noodles, added to miso broth or chicken stock to make a Miso Noodle Soup.
Or fry them and use them as the filling for an omelette. You'll love it.

Ban Khoai- a stir fry filled omelette

I hope you've found some useful ideas here. Most of them have been on the blog before, so you can find various other recipes for these ingredients by clicking on the sidebar ( if you're using the web version).

It just remains to wish you a happy, healthy- and less wasteful- New Year.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "food waste bin with cross through it"
Happy 2020 !

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Winter Citrus

It's funny to think that, on a cold November night, sunny citrus is in season and at it's best. Fragrant lemons, juicy Clementines and tart Seville oranges for marmalade are all ready to shine over the next few months.
Just as well- as I have a large bowl of lemons to use up after a drinks party last week. (The miserable weather sent everyone towards the warm mulled wine and cider rather than opting for ice and a slice in their drinks!)

Now, lemon zest and juice freeze well and can be kept frozen until you make a dish requiring a squeeze of lemon or similar ( and let's face it, there are plenty of them.)

Lemon juice and zest for the freezer
But this time I wanted to make a selection of dishes from the fruit.

I started with a classic Tarte Au Citron - lemon, eggs, sugar and cream poured into a sweet pastry case. You can either use a pre-prepared case or make your own sweet pastry from 175g plain flour, pinch of salt, 100g of butter, 25g of icing sugar and 1 egg. (Blitz up the flour, salt and butter. Add the sugar and the egg and mix until you have a soft dough to line your tart dish. Bake 'blind for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees) Allow to cool.

For a 23cm diameter pastry case you will need 3 eggs, the juice and zest of 3 lemons, 100ml of double cream and 100g of sugar. 
Begin by creaming together the eggs and the sugar using an electric mixer.

Cream together the eggs and sugar 
Beat for around 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and creamy.
Now add the lemon zest, juice and then slowly pour in the cream whilst the motor is running.

Slowly add the cream to the egg, sugar and lemon
Beat for another 5 minutes and then pour into the pastry case. Bake in a moderate oven ( 125 degrees) until set firm ( about 30 minutes ).
Once cool, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Tarte au Citron
My tart case was smaller than 23 cm - so I had lemon cream mixture leftover. I poured it into ramekins, placed them in a bain marie and cooked them alongside the tart.

Lemon creams in a bain marie
Once cool, they are sprinkled with sugar and glazed with a blowtorch ( or hot grill) to make Lemon Crème Brulée. These were so nice, they'd be worth just making on their own and forget about the pastry case!
Lemon Crème Brulée
If you prefer your tart to be meringue topped- whisk up egg whites with caster sugar and a pinch of cornflour, top the tart and glaze it with a blowtorch:

Meringue topped lemon pie
Now for a savoury dish- Chinese Style Lemon Chicken. (Crispy chicken breast in breadcrumbs with a fresh lemon sauce).

Marinade chicken breasts in soy sauce and a little mirin or sherry. Then roll them in fresh breadcrumbs and place on a lightly greased baking tray. bake at 180 degrees until crispy and golden.

Crispy chicken..mmm!
Now make your sauce: Put 200ml of chicken stock, juice and zest of 1 lemon and 2-3 very thin slices of lemon and 1 dessertspoon of sugar or honey in a pan and simmer until the lemon slices are tender.
Simmer lemon zest and juice with stock and sugar
Mix 1 dessertpoon of cornflour with a little water in a cup and then add it a teaspoon at a time into your simmering lemon mixture until you have the consistency of sauce you like.

Thicken with cornflour
Taste and add more sugar if really too tart for your taste and then pour over your sliced crispy chicken.
Chinese Style Lemon Chicken

Finally, a couple of other citrus dishes that I like to make at this time of your year. Firstly my Caramel Clementine Upside Down Cake- which is quite simply the best cake I ever make! 

Caramel Clementine Upside Down Cake
Click on the link below the picture for the recipe.

And lastly- Marmelade Madeleine Pudding- great for using up leftover cake ( it doesn't have to be madeleines!)

Just split the madeleines and spread them with marmelade. Pack them into a buttered dish and pour over a custard made from 350ml of milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla essence and 1 sachet of vanilla sugar. Leave to soak for a while ( you can add a bit of orange liqueur too if you want)

Soak the madeleines in the custard
 and then bake in a moderate oven (150 degrees) in a bain marie until set and risen.

Et voila- a Proustian Pud in a matter of moments.

Marmelade Madeleine Pudding

And so ends my lemon and orangey oddysey. Happy juicing and zesting- and I hope to see you at Christmas time!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Mellow Fruitfulness

Autumn is well and truly here- damp and dreary, wild and wet.

Luckily there is still plenty of colour in the Autumn fruit and veg bowl to brighten spirits and plates over the coming month.

Pears, squashes, pumpkins, marrows, tomatoes. parsnips-plenty to feel good about there.

First of all, I wanted to use up the last of the pears from my crop this year. Of course the trouble with pears is getting them just right- not too hard and unripe and not past their best ( which happens all too quickly). Eddie Izzard summed it up in his famous fruit bowl sketch- ( apologies for the over-fruity language)

Well, I find the best way to treat these 'gorgeous little beasts' is to poach them- in 400ml red or white wine, or sugar syrup, or Earl Grey tea or even ginger beer ( according to your preference). Just make sure the poaching liquid is sweetened to your liking and I would always recommend the addition of 2-3 star anise to the liquid too. You can poach them for as long as it takes- but they are ready when a knife slides easily into them.

Pears poached in wine and star anise
Poached pears are lovely on their own- but even better when added to a trifle like my Sugar and Spice Trifle:
The winning recipe: LeftoverLiz’s sugar and spice trifle made with speculoos biscuits.
Sugar and Spice Trifle

Click on the link for the full recipe.
I use Speculoos biscuits for this easy pud- but ginger biscuits do just as well.

The soft pears also go well in a Tarte Tatin- laid in a caramel sauce in the base of an ovenproof dish or pan and topped with puff pastry then baked at 180 degrees until the pastry is golden and the caramel sauce bubbling. Turn out on a plate when warm.

Pear Tarte Tatin

Keen to try out the first of my butternut squash crop, I used half in a soup with parsnips and half in a Baked Risotto.

Mirror Mirror on the wall...who is the fairest of them all?

Peel and chop your veg into even sized pieces, add a handful of red lentils and then cook until tender in a litre of good vegetable stock. Blitz once the veg is tender and serve with cream or yoghurt swirled in.

Parsnip and Butternut Soup

The remaining squash is going into a baked risotto- but you could just as easily serve it roasted and stuffed ( like these marrows stuffed with leftover Bolognaise sauce and baked with cheese )
Bolognaise Stuffed Marrow
or as a traybake with sausages,  potatoes, onions,  coarse grain mustard, olive oil and a handful of peas thrown in at the end. (Or just use up whatever you have in the fridge!)

Use-it-up Traybake

And so to the other half of the squash- made into a Baked Risotto.
This recipe is good if you are serving it at a dinner party and prefer to spend more time with your guests, rather than constantly stirring the risotto.

You will need: 1/2 butternut squash or potimarron roasted for 20 minutes or so in a hot oven, 1 leek ( chopped and softened in a little oil), 100g of risotto rice per person, 1 cup of cider, 1 litre of vegetable stock, 1 tbsp of Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs, some chopped fresh herbs, olive oil and Parmesan to dress the dish.

Begin in the usual way, coating the risotto rice and leeks with oil in a deep pan.

Coat the rice and leeks with oil in the pan

Add the cider and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.

Cook in the cider until absorbed

Carry on adding veg stock ladle by ladle, stirring as you go, until about half has been absorbed.
Add the squash, some fresh herbs and salt and pepper as necessary. 

Add the herbs, squash and rest of the liquid

Transfer to an ovenproof dish with a lid, add the rest of the stock and place to cook covered in a moderate oven (170 degrees) for 20 minutes or so until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Stir in the Boursin and serve with extra Parmesan and olive oil to dress it.

Baked Squash and Leek Risotto

Finally, if you have lots of leftover risotto- make Arancini (little risotto rice balls- usually deep fried but equally good baked in the oven).

Wet your hands and make golf ball sized patties from the cold risotto rice. Roll each one first in beaten egg

then in chapelure ( toasted breadcrumbs)

(I make mine from leftover biscottes blitzed up with a few Pringles  but it's also a good way of using up leftover toast if you've made too many slices.)

Place on a lightly greased oven tray ( or fry in hot oil) and bake until golden in a hot oven (180 degrees). They don't take long.
Serve with a spicy dipping sauce.


Time to put away the wellies. The garden can look after itself  until the Spring.The weather can do what it likes out there- I am cosy with soups, risotto and puds to keep me going.

Image result for muddy wellies

                                                            Bon appétit!