(Leftover milk) ricotta

(Leftover milk) ricotta

The fresh milk-using-up-debacle continued with the fresh hell that is a ball of ricotta.

Last June, I was at a food event, chattering away over good wine and amazing nibbles (the struggle is real, I know).  Mid-convo, someone tapped me on the shoulder “We went to school together” – “No we didn’t” I replied without even thinking. I’m a real charmer.  I have a familiar face, so I’m often asked if I was at another party (sadly not), if I was at another event (possibly). She persisted – “I was – the year above you” “What, did you go to St Greg’s” I rolled me eyes “YES!” and low, dear readers, I was mortified. The most Marvellous Victoria Glass wrote a food waste book last year; quite why 2 food waste writers went to the school I don’t know.  We did do home ec (as it was then), but it was hardly the hotbed of food education.

When I put out my plea, Victoria suggested rictotta from her book, ‘Too Good to Waste’.  It’s too hard!  I worried “Piece of piss” she said – and she was right!

The ricotta is a doddle to make – but now I have to think of ways to cook it.  Because I made it.  And I, weirdly, don’t love it. But I know I’m in the minority here.  And I’m determined to overcome this one.  I don’t *have* to, but I’ve found a love of olives, stronger cheeses and spicey curries through determination and, really, I just want to be able to be more greedy.

Note: you can only make ricotta if you have whole milk; there isn’t enough fat in other milks.  Preachy time – I try to buy food in its least fucked around with form.  That is, of course, a fairly impossible branding standard to explain.  So I buy cheese not sliced or grated cheese; whole milk which I can water down if I need to; tins of tomatoes rather than a jar of sauce.  After years of skintness I know that I saved money because sour milk can mean soda bread, but a jar of mouldy sauce just has to go in the bin.  So, can I tempt you to buy whole milk? And go nuts and stretch to organic unhomogenised if you can.  Not everyone can.  Money is tight.  If you can, just try it.

I think it’s the idea of cheese and pudding.   So next week, you will have three ideas for using your leftover ricotta.  You’re

(Leftover milk) ricotta
From ‘Too Good to Waste’ by Victoria Glass

Ingredients

1 litre whole milk (it has to be whole milk!)
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
60 ml white wine/distilled malt vinegar

Tools

Saucepan
Thermometer
Wooden spoon
Slotten spoon
Fine mesh sieve
Bowl
Cooking muslin
Lidded container for storage

Time

About an hour and a half (though an hour is leaving cheese to drain)

Method

Pour the milk into a good sized saucepan and heat until it reaches 93 C/200 F, just before it boils
Stir in the vinegar and take the pan off the heat
Leave to stand for 15 minutes

Line the sieve/fine mesh strainer with 2 layers of muslin/cheesecloth and set over the bowl
Using your slotted spoon, collect the curds that have formed and transfer them to the sieve
Leave to drain for an hour
After the hour is up, tie the muslin and squeeze out the remaining liquid
Leave for around another 30 minutes to drain again
Place in lidded container until ready to serve

Storage/further meals

When ready to serve, peel off the muslin
Ricotta will last for up to week in the fridge

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Forgot to cancel) freezing milk

(Forgot to cancel) freezing milk

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I had a few problems with milk over the Christmas period.

Over autumn, I moved to glass milk bottle milk deliveries, in a bid to cut  down on my single-use plastic.  I love having the glass bottles and teaching my kids how to just push the foil lid just so.  As much as I enjoy the chink of the glass bottles, the online system for reminders is hopeless; by that I mean it doesn’t exist.  So, Christmas comes, the hot chocolate loving milk guzzling kids left and I had 12 pints of milk to get through.  And they were starting to go off.

First off I grabbed a sharpie and labelled which day the bottles had come on; this way I knew which bottles to prioritise.  And then I hit insta.

Freezing milk used to be a weekly activity for me, as I’d get it delivered with my veg box.  But, thanks to insta user Sarah Leigh Mitchell, I learnt that you *can* freeze in glass – you just need to shake up the milk beforehand, empty a little to leave room for expansion and bob’s your uncle.

I was a little unsure of freezing a bottle that might (hopefully) have been washed and used hundreds of times, but you can always pour into a plastic bottle.

If, like me, you buy whole milk, then KUDOS BECAUSE IT’S DELICIOUS and gives you more leeway in terms of using it up (you cannot use semi skimmed or skimmed milk to make cheese etc).  Also, be warned that it can go a strange shade of yellow when you freeze it.  This is because the fat slightly separates.  There’s nothing wrong with the milk at all, don’t panic!

To defrost your milk, simply take it out of the fridge a day or so before you think you’ll want to use it.  If the plastic milk bottle is still sealed, then you can float it in a bowl/sink of cold water to speed up the defrosting.  Then use as normal.

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Half a glass of) Red Wine Risotto

(Half a glass of) Red Wine Risotto

Leftover wine means risotto.  I so rarely make it because (cough) I don’t like to have leftover wine, and I certainly don’t like sacrificing a hefty glass to the cooking pan.  A bottle of wine isn’t a cheap thing for most of us; I hover around spending around £7 per bottle and I intend to drink my wine!  But when drinking it isn’t on the cards, let’s not waste our precious my precious wine.

Oh, to live in Italy or France where 4 euro wine is good!  Anyway, this price point reminds us to not leave half empty glasses of wine. or be like Marina O’Loughlin and not pour hulking great glasses in the first place.  If you’re tidying up after a boozy lunch or lovely party DON’T throw every half glass leftover; freeze it if you need to and know that this risotto can be filling up your bowl with all its warming and cosy goodness.

This red wine risotto can use up frozen red wine if you have some lurking.  I served it to my friend Lucy with a hefty stir through of Stilton and some leftover sprouts; both optional, but if you’re feeding a lotta people on Boxing Day or after, this is a thrifty and delicious way to nail those tricky leftovers.

(One glass of leftover) Red Wine and Stilton Risotto

Serves 2, heartily

Ingredients

50 grams unsalted butter
1 medium onion (around 100 grams)
200 grams risotto rice
250ml red wine
250ml chicken/veg stock/water
Around 100g blue cheese (optional)
Around 50 grams grand padano/any Italian hard cheese
Leftover greens (totally optional)

Tools

Knife, chopping board
Large frying pan
Wooden spoon
Grater

Time

About three quarters of an hour

Prep

If using frozen wine, defrost
Finely dice the onion
If using a stock cube, prep the stock

Method

Heat the butter in the saucepan and when it’s a little frothy, add the diced onion
Cook on a medium/low heat until the onion is see-through – at least 10 minutes but give it 20 if you can
DON’T LET IT BROWN
Only when the onion is soft enough to be squashed with your wooden spoon add the risotto rice
Stir it around and make sure it’s all covered with the butter
Turn up the heat and pour in the wine; let is cook nice and hot for a couple of minutes
Heat back down to medium and add some stock/water and stir
Keep on adding the stock/water and giving the odd stir until the rice has a nice texture; not too soft but I’m not keen on too much of a bite.  Some brands of rice might take 20 minutes, some 30, so follow pack instruction
When you’re happy, stir through the grated hard cheese, and a little of the blue cheese, if using
If you’ve got some greens or sprouts to use up, stir them through, too
Serve with extra blue cheese and  sprouts if you like

Storage/further meals

Lots of people worry about storing leftover rice; billions of people all over the world eat leftover rice, so just be careful and you’ll be fine
Allow to cool to room temperature then cover
You can keep for 5 days in the fridge as long as kept cold and covered
Only reheat what you need at any one time

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Brandade

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Brandade

Fourteen years ago, I stood in the Sussex Stationers, Tunbridge Wells and bought my then-boyfriend a copy of ‘The River Cottage Year’.  I so wanted to know about seasonality and what grew when; aged 23 and about to live with the boyf, I wanted to learn about food.  The charts were confounding, and I didn’t need to know about everything in the hedgerow.  But I bought it and cooked him roast guinea fowl for a birthday tea.

It surprised me that many of the recipes weren’t so hard.  I had cooked, off an on, growing up, but with little care. Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup + tuna + mash for tea at uni, that sort of thing.  I did learn to cook a cottage pie when I was 10, but I swear I used a tin of tomatoes.  Smashing up the spuds with the masher was the best part of that operation – the youngest of 4 kids needed to get her tension out somewhere.

Anyway.  I digress.  I love to digress.

Using leftover parsnips in this French based recipe is probably something of an abomination, whoops.  But leftover food is not for wasting.  Parsnips and fish were a common pairing back in The Day, but more often matched with salt cod.  So, I’m not going to recommend that and, unless you live near a big city, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find it, easily.  Smoked haddock, or pollack – that’s easy.

Mashing your sweet, sticky parsnips with salty, smoked fish is heavenly.  Take a piece of toast, butter it, spread on the brandade and tell me that leftovers are shit.

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Brandade

Adapted from ‘River Cottage Year’, Gill Mellor and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, p49-50
Serves 1 as a main, 4 as a starter

Ingredients

50 grams leftover roasted parsnips
50 grams smoked haddock
Around100 ml milk
Around 50 grams butter
1 clove garlic
Cooking oil

Tools

Saucepan
Scales
Measuring jug
Frying pan
Heat-proof dish
Immersion blender and bowl

Time

About half an hour to prep and mix
15-20 mins to bake

Prep

Pour the milk into saucepan and add the fish
Turn the heat to medium and, after 5 minutes, your fish should be cooked through
Place the parsnips into the bowl of your immersion blender and pulse until smooth
You’ll need to add some of the poaching milk; keep any leftover for a chowder

Method

Take the parsnip puree out of the blender/bowl and put to one side
Place the fish into the immersion blender and pulverise
Add the parnsips and mash until you have the consistency of mashed potato; you might need to add more of the poaching milk
Season with pepper – you probably won’t need any salt, as smoked fish tends to be salty

Scoop into your oven dish and bake for 15-20 minutes

Serve on chunky toast, and maybe some winter salad and def some pickles

Storage/further meals

This is best eaten fresh, if possible
But, if you can’t eat it all, allow to cool to room temperature then cover
Parsnips can keep to up to 5 days in your fridge
If your parsnips were 1 day old when you made this, you can keep this dish up to 3 days
If they were more like 4 days old, either eat straight away, or freeze when room temperature
Eat within 3 months of freezing

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Macaroni Cheese

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Macaroni Cheese

Leftover roast parsnips can be tricky to use up, I think, because the texture can be off-putting.  I know I hate leftover roast potatoes and have to really disguise the flavour. Roast parsnips are similar, because they are high in starch.

This genius idea was inspired by the amazing Jack Monroe.  Her latest book (well, not including the almost-published tin-can lovely) provided the inspo for this recipe.  Mashing up your leftover roast parsnips well … it uses them.  You can’t really taste them.  And sometimes, especially if you feed picky eater (young AND old), this is A Good Thing.

If you have a lot of people to feed on a budget, then this is a cracker of a recipe.  It freezes well, too – so if you’ve got parsnips to use up, but no time to eat them, this dish is for you.

Not got cheddar?  Just use 100 grams of whatever you’ve got and you like.  Emmental and stilton?  Cheddar and Lancashire?  Talleggio and Pecorino?  Use around 100g and enjoy.

Making a white sauce is too much for some people, so use a ready made one; if you can be arsed to try to learn then all power to you.  You’ll save money, so much money.  Just don’t walk away from the pan half way through cooking. Ahem.  Burnt on white-sauce is the devil’s own job to clean off.  That is when you need a wallpaper scraper and wire wool.  I once got huge kudos/horror from a writer for walking away from a bubbling white sauce; he was right.

Adding sweetcorn or peas is totally optional but I like the bite and texture against the creamy sauce and soft pasta.  And use any pasta, esp if you have 4 bags of a few random shapes. Random pasta, random veg and random cheese: this is thrifty, leftover busting cooking at its finest.

(Roasted too many) Parsnip Macaroni Cheese

Adapted from Jack Monroe, ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’ p112
Serves 3-4

Ingredients

50 grams leftover roasted parsnips
90 grams plain flour
50 grams butter/oil
350 ml milk/milk mixed with veg stock and leftover gravy from your roast
Salt & pepper
100 grams strong cheese, grated – this can be plain old lovely cheddar, or a mix of cheeses from the depths of your fridge
160 grams of pasta
100 grams sweetcorn (optional)

Tools

Colander
Saucepan with lid
Saucepan
Balloon whisk
Scales
Immersion blender and bowl
Serving bowl
Heatproof jug

Time

About half an hour

Prep

Place the parsnips into the bowl of your immersion blender and pulse until smooth
You’re likely to need around 50ml of the milk/milk & stock mixture to make it into mash
If you’re using frozen sweetcorn, leave it out to defrost, or drain if using tinned *

Method

Place a saucepan on the hob and, if you’re using butter, melt it
Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix it in
Splash in about 50ml of the milk and make a thick paste
Keep on adding around 50ml of milk, whisking until all the flour/butter mixture is combined
Season like Jeremy Lee on MasterChef
Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes

Meanwhile…

Put your pasta water on
When the water is boiling add salt and then the pasta
Put the pinger on for 5 minutes fewer than the packet directs
After the 5 minutes popping on the cheese sauce are up, add the cheese and mashed parsnips

Finishing it off…

When the pasta pinger goes off, save a a small jug of pasta water (around 50-80 millilitres) in your heatproof jug/little bowl
Try the pasta – you want it a little underdone because it’s going to cook with the cheese sauce
When it’s ready (that is, with quite a bit of bite/still raw in the middle), strain the pasta in the waiting colander
While the pasta is draining, take the sweetcorn and stir it into the sauce
Stir the pasta into the pan with the sauce
If the cheese sauce looks too thick, pour in about a tablespoon (15ml) of pasta water and some salt and pepper; if the sauce is still too thick you can add some more. Discard the pasta water when you’re happy with the consistency

Serve alone or as a side dish

Storage/further meals

Allow to cool to room temperature then cover
Parsnips can keep to up to 5 days in your fridge
If your parsnips were 1 day old when you made this, you can keep this macaroni cheese for up to 4 days
If they were more like 4 days old, either eat straight away, or freeze when room temperature
Eat within 3 months of freezing

  • You can freeze sweetcorn: take a baking tray and line it with greaseproof paper
  • place the sweetcorn in one layer
  • cover the tray and place it in the freezer
  • when it’s frozen, tip the sweetcorn into a bag and use it as you would use ‘normal’ frozen sweetcorn

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Slightly Soft) Roasted Leftover Pear, Stilton & Walnut salad

(Slightly Soft) Roasted Leftover Pear, Stilton & Walnut salad

Pears are a tricky beast. Buy a bag of 6, and how many do you really eat, every time?  3?  4?  All?!  GTAF.  I make like Nigel Slater and put four in a bowl to ripen, give those round little bottoms a little squeeze a couple of times a day, until they are perfectly ripe and giving and juicy etc etc.  But then it’s 3 days later, the washing mountain is building, the kids homework is beyond late and I remember that the kids don’t really like pears.  My once perfectly sweet bowl of pears are threatening to turn themselves into Lambrini Perry, scrumpy edition.

So, how to avoid the pitfalls of the mushy pear?  Once they’re fermenting in the bowl, they are, well, fermenting and there’s fuck all you can do about it.  (I am, right now, imagining my GCSE English teacher, Mr Lanaway, admonishing me for an over-reliance on swearing in my work.  I feel expressing the frustration of wasting £2.50 and a contribution to our food waste mountain is judicious, sir. Ahem).

Anyway.  Back to pears.  Once they are ripe PUT THEM IN THE FRIDGE.  THE FRIDGE.  Right at the front SO YOU DON’T FORGET TO EAT THEM OKAY?

If your pears are a teeny bit mushy without being the whole hoopla rank, then just cook them.  Yes!  Cook them!

I am not a blue cheese fan.  Indeed, I used to sit on the cold – real October cold – pavement outside my dad’s favourite cheese shop, holding my nose and bawking.  I once asked a cheesemonger for a cheese “that isn’t really festy”.  I then told *these* little lines to The Cheese Buyer of Neal’s Yard. FFS.

Anyway.  If you’re looking to use up your roasted pears AND start sampling the delights of blue cheese, may I recommend this warm salad?  The cheese melts onto the nuts and pears, which does the job of making pears in salad less odd AND the cheese less intense.  If you think pears in salad is weird – remember StorrCupboard lovers! – tomatoes are fruits, so, you know, get over it and try it.  Or wait until my 2 other recipes come out 🙂

Warm, roasted leftover pears with toasty walnuts and melty cheese?  You are so welcome.

(Slightly Soft) Pear, Stilton & Walnut Salad

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

NOTE – this is more of a method than a *recipe* – so if you have 35 grams or 75 grams of nuts or cheese, get ’em used up x

2 pears – anything from *will NEVER ripen & I’m going on holiday tomorrow” to “oh god I’d better eat them even though they’re the wrong side of soft”
1/2 tablespoon of fat; I used pork fat for umami/keeping it cheap, but ground nut or vegetable oil would be great.  Avoid olive, too strong
around 50 grams of walnuts or pecans
around 50 grams of Stilton or other blue cheese
Few handfuls of salad leaves

Tools

Colander/sieve
Baking tray
Teaspoon
Scales
Chopping board
Knife
Mixing bowl
Tea towel/kitchen paper

Time

10 minutes prep
30 minutes to roast pears
5 more minutes to mix

Prep

Preheat the oven to 180C
Cut your pears in half and remove the core; chop into about 3 pieces, for even cooking
*I don’t peel the pears as I think that the skin provides a nice texture, but it’s up to you*
Place on the baking sheet and drizzle the oil all over
Roughly chop the blue cheese

Method

Place the oiled pears in the oven
Wash the salad leaves and leave to drain; either spin or pat dry with a clean tea towel
Place the salad leaves in a mixing bowl
After 20 minutes, add the nuts to the tray and coat in the oil
TIMER ON; check after 5 minutes
The nuts are done when they smell all toasty; take them out a little too soon rather than burnt
When the nuts are golden brown and the pears a little caramelised, remove from the oven
Stir the cheese into the pears and nuts on the tray
Mix the warm pear-cheese-nut goo into the salad leaves
Eat!

Storage
You can store the roasted pears for between 1 and 5 days, depending on how ripe they were when you roasted them.  You can roast alongside the nuts but do not store together, because the nuts will go soggy (insert joke here).
To serve from cold, bring to room temperature for a couple of hours before serving, if possible.  Warm through in the oven or in a microwave, if you like.

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com