Left-overs

Week 64: Gardeners Pie

Boxing day is always a day for leftovers.  Even the poisoner has some spare after Christmas dinner.  Rather than some charred bubble and squeak I thought this recipe from the Good Granny Cookbook might save the day.  Gardener’s Pie was originally a wartime creation to help people stomach a load of veg, instead of the shepherd they’d usually cook under a layer of fluffy mash.  Pretty Christmassy eh?

The recipe uses a load of spare raw veg, but I’d imagine it’d work just as well with cooked cold veg – I think you’d just have to cook it until it was hot, rather than until it was cooked; if that makes sense?

To make this for 6 you will need 1kg of mixed winter veg (I used a leek, an onion, a carrot, a parsnip, and half a small cabbage – but the recipe also suggests celery, swede, cauliflower and Jerusalem artichokes), olive oil, stock, salt & pepper, 900g floury potatoes, 50g butter, 400ml milk, and 115g grated cheese.

Set the oven at 200 and start boiling the potatoes, and in a wide shallow pan heat 2tbs of olive oil. Throw the veg in and turn them in the oil until they start to colour.  Add enough stock/water to stop the veg sticking.  If you’re using leftovers you can use less stock/water as you only need to warm the veg through rather than cook it from scratch.

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Stir occasionally until the liquid has evaporated.  The veg should be slightly crunchy (it won’t be if it’s leftover, unless you fried it for slightly longer… Oh I should have said that earlier)  season with salt and pepper and pour the veg into your pie dish.  It should seem a little dry, that’s ok though cos the moisture should come out of your veg in the oven.

I slightly disagree with the recipe for the potatoes, to my mind there’s far too much milk and it makes it more like a soup.  Mash the potatoes with milk (to taste) butter (of course) and cheese (controversial, but since when did Boxing Day become a diet day?) I’d also add a teaspoon of mustard powder or a big slosh of Lea & Perrins.  Plop the mash on top of the veg and scribe pretty/offensive patterns with a fork/dagger.

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The recipe is rather vague when it comes to the oven bit, but vagues OK if you have a hangover like I usually do on boxing day.  Basically, when you’ve finished sculpting the mash over the top of the veg pop it in the oven until the potato goes brown.  In my oven this took about 15 minutes.

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Serve with some leftover meat and some freshly cooked stink bombs sprouts and enjoy before dozing off infront of a repeat on telly.

 

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Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

good granny

Week 52: Shepherd’s Pie

Week 52! That’s a year! Actually a year and a bit but I think I missed a week or two somewhere along the line… But that’s some sort of blogaversary right?

I was going to cook something exciting and grandiose and frivolous and impressive… Lobster Thermador or sommat equally as flashy.  And then I needed to use some beans up, which usually means have a pie round at ours. So I decided to make a pie… A luxury pie magnificent enough to pay fitting tribute to a whole year of new recipes, maybe containing blackbirds. So I broached the idea of pie to my lover and his face lit up, he clasped his hands together and said “Oo yay Shepherd’s Pie!” And that was that. I’ll tackle the Blackbird Thermidor Luxury Pie another week.

There was only one book I could possibly reach for for a pie like this: The Good Granny Cookbook. Unfortunately the recipe was in the leftovers section so there was a certain amount of swapping and improvising as I’ve not really had leftovers since the great bread and butter pudding incident.

To make this for four you will need a large onion, about 450g of leftover lamb (I don’t imagine the size of meal that would yeald a pound of leftover lamb, unless you had a load of unexpected vegetarians for dinner), 2 carrots, a garlic clove, some olive oil, half a glass of red wine, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, leftover gravy (my sister can drink the stuff through a straw, so I don’t think I’ve ever seen leftover gravy), stock, 450g potatoes, 30g butter, and milk.

If you’re using actual left over meat you’ll need to cut off any gristle or fat and shove it in the food processor with the peeled and chopped onion and pulse it into a sort of course oniony mince. I bought ready minced mince, chopped the onion up really finely then sort mushed it all together… it was ok.

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Finely dice the carrots and gently sauté them in a small pan with the garlic cube (crushed) and some of the olive oil.  Start the potatoes boiling.

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Grease your pie dish and turn the oven on to 200c.  Brown the oniony mince in a large frying pan with some more olive oil.  Add the wine, a tablespoon of ketchup, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce, the leftover gravy and ‘enough stock to stop the meat drying out’.  Like I said; leftover gravy isn’t a thing in my life, so I thought I’d make some instant. As I looked through the cupboards for some Bisto my lover said “this isn’t a gravy household” as he swished out to smoke… so I had to improvise and make gravy from cornflour and Jacobs Creek.

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I bunged the carrots and garlic in with the meat, and simmered it for about 15 minutes. I mashed the potatoes with a small knob of butter and some milk.  It came out freakishly creamy which worried me because I thought it might somehow mix in with the gravy; but it was also good because I could pipe it if I ever found a Fanny Craddock recipe.  Pour the mince and sauce into the greased pie dish and then spread the mash over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes.

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It wasn’t the special-est thing I ever made, but it was strangely satisfying – the first comfort meal of the autumn. I’ll definitely make it again, I probably won’t make the recipe exactly as written above, but everyone has their own version of shepherd’s pie, right? Pie and veg, perfect for a Sunday evening – and if you find yourself with a spare pound of lamb and a load of gravy; I could not recommend this recipe enough… Tuck in!

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Good Granny Cookbook by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (Short Books 2007 ISBN 978 1 906021 10 8)

good granny

Week 44: Polenta, Beans, Kale

So the other day my lover turned to me and said “you know I will actually eat soup, just not from a mug like my parents” this after 9 years or solid meals. So I set out to make a thick soup to lull him into soup-ness before making something runny.

The recipe I chose was from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things on a Plate, it looked lovely, I had everything except the beans and kale in already, and I could finally try making something with Kale after years of people telling me it’s a super-food. Word to the wise: kale definitely gives you certain super-human abilities, which aren’t for demonstrating in polite company.

Hugh says this is his take on a traditional Tuscan Peasant dish, without wanting to give away the ending, if I gave what I made to a Tuscan Peasant I’d wake up with a horse’s head in my bed.  Unlike most of the other recipes  that have gone wrong this year, I’m not entirely sure what I happened this time.

To serve four you will need olive oil (Hugh says normal oil and some really top-notch oil to drizzle afterwards), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 200g Kale, 850ml vegetable or chicken stock (Hugh recommends home-made stock or really good quality shop bought stock, but I used oxo cubes haha), 400g tine cannellini beans, 100g quick-cooking polenta, sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the onion and the garlic, drain the beans, and strip the kale from the tough stalks; you can cut the leafs into ribbons but I didn’t.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, sweat the onions on a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft and golden.

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Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the stock and the beans and bring to a simmer.  Add the kale and return to a simmer for 5 minutes until it is tender.  Stir the polenta in and return to a simmer (stir well and the polenta wont go lumpy).  Simmer for another 3 minutes until it has thickened.

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I’m pretty sure this is where I went wrong.  Maybe my polenta was too quick cooking?  Anyway, I was expecting it to be somewhere between a stew and a soup and its not what I turned out with… my lover had got bowls and spoons out, came over to look into the pan and said “well we can have that on plates” and went to get some forks.  To serve spoon it into a warmed bowl and drizzle with your good olive oil.  Et Voila:

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Not much like soup… It wasn’t very nice.  I don’t know if it was the not top-notch stock that I used, or maybe I had faulty Kale, or maybe it was just too delicately flavoured for our burly pallettes?  It’s not a dish that I’ll make again.  Sorry Hugh.

But wait, there’s more…  I didn’t fancy having half a bag of kale hanging around in case I didn’t like it, so I cooked for four.  In the book Hugh says that to re-heat this add some more stock or boiling water to break up the polenta and heat in a pan until piping hot.

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After 2 days in the fridge I didn’t do that, I broke it into chunks and heated it in a frying pan with a knob of butter, and when it was cooked all the way through I served it up with some cooked chicken from the supermarket and a big dollop of Dijon mustard.

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Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury 2012, ISBN 9781408828588)

three good things on a plate

Week 40: South Indian Vegetable Curry

In a moment of vegetable deficiency I walked all the way to the veg stall and bought the world’s biggest cauliflower to make this veg curry I’ve had my eye on in Nigella’s kitchen book.  I’m pretty sure I was mainly attracted to it for the challenge of finding tamarind paste (which was only a challenge because I didn’t look in the bomb-shelter that is Hammersmith Sainsbury’s first).

To make this for four you will need: 2 x tbsp garlic oil, 1 onion, 1 green chilli, 2cm chunk fresh ginger, crushed chilli flakes, turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, 1 can of coconut milk, 600ml vegetable stock, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp tamarind paste, 350g cauliflower, 350g broccoli, 100g fine beans, 125g baby corn, and 150g sugar snap peas.  Serve with rice or a warmed naan bread.  Or both…

Firstly,  Break the cauliflower and broccoli into florets, trim and half the beans, half the baby corns, cut the ginger into fine strips, de-seed and finely chop the chilli, and peel and cut the onion into half moons (sort of like orange segments).  While you’re finishing this off start the oil heating in a thick bottomed casserole or a large saucepan.

Fry the onion – sprinkled with a pinch of sea-salt flakes – until the onion starts to soften, then add the chopped green chilli (I used a red one I had left over in the fridge) and the ginger strips.  Nudge it all around the pan for about a minute.

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Add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, and 1 tsp of ground ginger and give it all a good stir to ensure the onion is coated in the spices, and cook for about another minute then pour in the coconut milk, the vegetable stock, a tsp of sugar, and the tamarind paste.  Stir again and bring to the boil.

Nigella says that at this point you can stop cooking to finish off the next day, or portion it up to freeze for another day, and I took half out to put in the freezer – but I had the hob on too high in the next stage and had to add it back to stop it boiling dry.  The flamethrower hob strikes again!

Once the sauce is boiling (either the first time round, or when its been reheated) add the cauliflower and the broccoli and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the beans and baby corns and cook for another 5 minutes.

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Once the vegetables are tender add the sugar snaps and serve when they’re hot.

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Again I’ve tried a new recipe in the summer and decided it’s definitely a winter dish.  It’s delicious, and very cozy, and I’d imagine Ideal for doing something different with the spare un-cooked veg at Christmas – or Thanksgiving if that’s your thing!

 

Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2010, ISBN 9780701184605)

Nigella Kitchen

Rhubarb Crumble with Incorrect Custard

I’ve always thought that there is nothing as nice as an unexpected pudding.

After I Tatin’d myself last week (https://newrecipenight.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/periodic-pudding-number-2-tarte-tatin/) I was a bit pudding shy, but then I was looking for a new cake to try and decided on a Rhubarb and Almond Loaf from the Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ book.  The smallest (only) pack of rhubarb I could find was big enough to make four cakes, which is far too many even for me, so I decided to try making crumble, so as not to waste the rhubarb.

I’d never made a crumble before, hence my proud writing about it here.  This particular crumble is a bit of a franken-crumble on account of the fruit being stewed to the Rhubarb and Almond Loaf recipe, and the crumble being roughly to Nigella’s recipe in ‘How to Eat’

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Unfortunately the stewed rhubarb lost its colour whilst being baked, but it didn’t while being turned into crumble.  My mum has always had a rhubarb patch, so I had never cooked or eaten pink rhubarb before.

To stew the rhubarb, cut 4-5 stalks into 2cm pieces and stew with 70g caster sugar and 30g of butter in 50ml of water – I used double these quantities to stew the whole pack; but I took out 100g for the cake.

I chose Nigella’s crumble mix above all the other recipes I had to base my crumble on, because that was the only one that mentioned being good for rhubarb.

For a medium sized dish, rub together 75g or self-raising flour, 75g of porridge oats, 90g of butter, 4 tablespoons of light muscovado sugar and 2 of vanilla sugar.  I put it in the oven for 30 minutes on gas 5 (190c).

Whilst it was in the oven I had my first bash at custard.  I’m not ashamed to say that I used Bird’s custard powder – it’s what I was raised on, and I don’t like to see other custards.  I followed the instructions on the side of the tin, made the paste while the milk heated and mixed them together.  Then I did something pretty silly.  It seemed too runny – I hate runny custard – so I added more powder…

I didn’t realise that instant custard thickens when it is returned to the pan and brought to the boil.  I’m very ashamed to say that the custard stopped moving before it boiled.  Also, I really shouldn’t have let it cool.

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I didn’t keep my other slice for the next day, it wasn’t very nice – but the crumble was lovely!

When does using up leftovers go to far?

Hello.  I’m still alive.

That wasn’t a dig, just a statement.  I would have posted the bits I was going to post sooner than now, but the laptop is kept all the way over there and the cookery books are only over there… I’ve been analogue for a week through pure laziness.

For this post I would like to ask when the urge to use up leftovers goes too far.  The example I would like to use is the bread and butter pudding I made the other week.

I must have brought my Sainsbury’s tiger loaf during the wrong faze of the moon or something.  I got about 2 slices off it for my lover’s lunch on the Tuesday, and when I went to cut it for Wednesday’s lunch it was a tad tough.  He text to say he’d cut his gum on the crust, and that the bread was jolly hard and I should buy new bread.

Yep, he uses ‘jolly’ in text messages.

So I looked at my 3/4 tiger loaf and decided it was far too much to throw away, and I’d get judged by the Yummies at the park if I lobbed it at the ducks (white bread makes ducks sink in West London)… So I decided the only way to use up the bread would be to make Bread & Butter Pudding with it.

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I think it might have been a false economy.  Firstly, I panicked at the thought of whisking everything together by hand – and ran down to Argos and bought a whisk.  It’s not a very good whisk, and it makes a funny smell above speed 3.  Of course, then I had to go out and buy 300ml of double cream, a pint of whole milk and 6 eggs.

I spent £20.00 so as not to waste about £1.10 of bread…

It was ok, I’d never had Bread&Butter Pudding before, and this recipe from the Hairy Bikers Mum’s Know Best book was nice with the cinnamon (which I got everywhere), but I think next time I’ll just throw the bread away (or feed the ducks).  I also need a better dish – the one I found was too tall and narrow and the middle of the custard didn’t set so it was a bit soupy in the middle.

I might start making a different ‘new-old school pudding’ each month, because I’ve never really made pudding before.

Mmmm spotted dick.