Fishfinger rice bowl

Fishfinger rice bowl

Fishfinger rice bowl

Sometimes I think of a leftover recipe. I imagine different reactions:
younger me “Cold fish and RICE?  ARE YOU ON DRUGS? Where’s the white sauce?!”
My parents: “Gosh, it is interesting how you combine different things isn’t it?”
My brothers: “Oh, yeah, well done”.

They aren’t the leftover lovers though!  Two leftover fish fingers are too good to waste, and this, to me, was surprisingly good.

The leftover friend’s super star, a rice bowl is a fab way to use up those odds and sods from the bottom of your fridge.  Any leftover greens, some salad: whatever.  Bet you’d buy it in M&S  or Pret without thinking, so have a go and make your own!  Okay, M&S and Pret wouldn’t be using fishfingers, but you might have some white fish or some chicken mixed with your rice and salad, so why not a fishfinger?

Cuisines across the world batter or egg & bread fish, so mixing up a fishfinger with a little boiled rice isn’t as mad as it might sound.  I mean, okay, I wouldn’t pay to eat it in a restaurant or claim that it’s authentic cuisine (well, it’s authentic Ann Storr but that’s not always a good thing TBF). With some salad, some chilli  – well, to me it’s a damn sight tastier than a coffee shop equivalent.  And no single-use plastic packaging. With this second, more photogenic rock around the block I used Thai sticky rice, which I prefer in this dish, and it was easier to eat with chopsticks (because yes I’m sure this is super, super authehtic Thai (side eye emoji).

If you take lunch into work, store the fish separately so that the crumbs don’t go soggy (bawk).  A little teryaki sauce is all that this needs to give you a filling and tasty lunch.  Or, if you don’t have any in the fridge, some tamari or soy sauce.

Nice rice, some veg, some fish: quick lunch​​

 

Fishfinger Rice Bowl

Yes I sort of hate me too.

Ingredients

  • 60 grams rice I used Thai, but whatever you have/like
  • 2 leftover fishfingers
  • Salad that you like
  • Teriyaki

Instructions

  • Cook the rice per packet instructions. Leave to cool.
  • If you're planning on eating this later, make sure that the rice is 100% room temperature before packing the salad as otherwise it'll steam slightly. If in doubt, pack a few small containers and combine when you're ready to eat.

Milk Bread

Milk Bread

Milk Bread from worrisome milk

My bread isn’t going to win any beauty prizes, but milk bread is a perfect way to deal with “oh lord I forgot to cancel the milk” or “we both bought milk and now  – is it sodding off?!?!” problems.

When I first made this Rachel Roddy recipe, my youngest ate three rolls as soon as they were cool enough, and begged me to make them again. If you want to learn about better Italian cooking, then I cannot recommend Rachel’s books or column enough. Simple recipes, no fancy ingredients and very, very helpful suggestions.

Your milk: if you’re a little concerned about if it’s safe, remember what to do: first, sniff it; if you’re not sure, then taste just a tiny drop. If your milk is a tiny bit sour then you should be fine to bake it in this loaf. Believe me, in my skint days, sour milk went into many loaves of milk bread and soda bread. Once you’ve tasted the milk, if it makes you want to vom, then of course do not use it. If it is one or two days passed it’s ‘best’ date, you are likely to be okay. The heat of the oven will kill any potential germs but, unless you’re buying raw milk, the pasteurisation and filtrations systems of milk treatment will keep you safe and well.

Millions of litres of milk are poured down the drain of every UK household. That milk is sold as a lost leader by supermarkets. Not only are we wasting our money, we are not being mindful of the backbreaking work of farmers and cows in getting this milk to us. So don’t fucking waste it just because of a date! Use your senses, use these recipes and make sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

Ratio note

Bread is, almost always, an easy ratio. This way, if you have 750 ml or 225 ml of milk to use up, get your maths brain/calculator out and get cracking:

100% flour (e.g., 1 kilo)
60% liquid (600ml)
10% yeast (10 grams)
20% salt (20 grams)

 

Milk bread

Adapted, barely, from Rachel Roddy, The Guardian, 5.11.2018

Ingredients

  • 300 ml worrisome milk
  • 1 egg
  • 500 grams plain flour
  • 5 grams fast action yeast if you bake a lot, consider buying a tin as the packaging is recyclable, and you can use a more accurate weight.
  • 10 grams salt this is the same as 2 teaspoons but I find it easier to just weigh straight into the scales
  • 10 grams sugar

Tools

  • Scale
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Whisk
  • Clean tea towel
  • Loaf tin/ovenproof dish
  • If baking rolls: greaseproof paper
  • Wire cooling rack

Instructions

  • I use a digital scale and just weigh all the dry ingredients on top of each other. Stir them together
  • Break the egg into the milk and whisk together with the whisk or fork. Pour into the flour mixture and get your hands right in there. The dough should be soft, not sticky.
  • Now, you can either knead the dough for ten minutes, or you can do the no-knead method: shape the dough into a round and return to the bowl. Every time it reaches double the size, knock it back. You have to go this about 6 times (so 6-10 hours) but it works for me.

Ready for baking

  • Lightly flour a counter and shape the dough into a loaf shape, or into rolls. (I have a shite sense of weight, so I weight out 100g lumps of dough for a roll; there's usually one weird one left over).
  • Grease your loaf tin and gently place the dough into the tin. If making rolls, I line an ovenproof tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Turn the oven to 180C. Cover the dough with the clean tea towel and leave to double in size.
  • Lightly brush the buns with milk and place in the oven; the loaf will take around 40 minutes, the buns around 20.
  • When the oven pings, if it's the loaf, upend it onto a clean tea towel or wire cooling rack. If it sounds hollow when you tap it, you're good to go. If not, pop it back in. With the rolls, you are probably okay.
  • When you're happy that everything's cooked through, place on the wire cooling rack (removing any greaseproof paper if you've used) and leave, if you can, to cool.

Storage

  • Once cool, I use a super sexy giant tupperware to store my bread. 
    It will freeze well, in a bag, for a couple of months.

Relay racing it

  • Of course it's just bread; but the softness of milk bread makes superb eggy bread or bread and butter pudding. 

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding from worrisome milk

Years ago, I worked with a wonderful woman called Jadz. We worked on the same study at the Institute of Psychiatry, looking at how nature and nuture affect behaviour. I’d feel insecure that my colleagues were all researchers and academics, when I was ‘just’ comms and business. I talked more about food and fashion than stats and theories, and got my boss to bring me copies of American Vogue (one time it was a record breaking September edition…). It’s lucky that I moved industries, right?

Jadz told me how her mum would make bowls of rice pudding as a special breakfast. She smiled as she said it, in that time-warp way that some memories have. I went home and made a batch for my eldest, and she was in heaven.

Nowadays, I make my eldest rice pudding for breakfast when I know she’s got a rough day ahead. After 11 years on a nature X nuture study, the armchair psychologist in me says that nature (child and grandchild of comfort feeders) + nurture (erm, child and grandchild of comfort feeders) means there’s going to be rice pudding for breakfast for years to come, thank you Jadz.

Note

Rice pudding will keep for a couple of days, but if you have any scrapings leftover, whack them into a pancake batter or bread dough – remember it’s all about relay race cooking, where one ‘leftover’ sparks a new idea.

Rice pudding

You can use pudding rice, but I have a giant bag of arborio rice that my bestie sent me from Italy. Short grain would even be fine at a push.
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 500 ml leftover milk cow/goat/soy/coconut
  • 50 grams pudding or risotto rice
  • 25 grams unsalted butter or vegan alternative
  • 25 grams sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Tools

  • Scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Sieve
  • Wooden spoon

Ratio

    1 part rice to 10 parts milk: if you have 250 ml of milk to use up, it's 25 grams of rice. 1 litre? 100 grams of rice.

      Instructions

      • Weigh the rice, place it in the sieve and rinse. Allow to drain.
      • Add the milk, rice, butter, sugar and salt to the pan. Turn the heat to medium, place the lid on and bring to the boil.
      • Milk can boil over VERY QUICKLY so don't walk away!
      • Once it is simmering, turn the heat down. Stir every 10 minutes of so until done - around 30 minutes.
      • Serve on its own or with jam

      Storage

      • If there is any leftover, then place in a lidded container in the fridge. You can mash any leftover rice pudding that no-one wants into bread dough or pancake batter.

      Classic American/Scotch Pancakes

      Classic American/Scotch Pancakes

      Scotch pancakes with worrisome milk

      Pancakes are a useful recipe to have always in the back of your mind for leftover milk, yoghurt, cream or even porridge. They are cheap, they are healthy. If you are so inclined, you can start experimenting with mixes of wholegrain flours and oats.

      I took a picture with golden syrup drizzling down in honour of my eldest, who can think of little finer than a brand new tin of syrup, looking almost red and daring you to dunk a finger. We both, usually, do.

      If your milk is on it’s best before, or near it – never pour it down the drain. The stats are staggering: 3 1/2 million litres are wasted in UK homes every year. 7% of all the milk that we produce. So play your part, testing your milk and trusting your senses over an over-cautious jet printed date.

      A fried egg, some butter and loads of marmite or ketchup is what I love most of all. Either way, make sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

       

      Scotch pancakes

      You can use all plain flour, or a mixture of lots of scraps. I wouldn't go over 50% of wholewheat flours mind, or they'll be heavy AF. Don't miss out the melted butter, there's a softness that seems a pity to waste.

      Ingredients

      Ingredients

      • 225 grams plain flour or use a mixture of plain and wholegrain
      • 4 teaspoons baking powder or just weigh 20 grams, that's what I do...
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 300 ml worrisome milk
      • 30 grams unsalted butter & more for cooking

      Tools

      • scales
      • mixing bowl
      • measuring jug - really big one if possible
      • whisk
      • frying pan
      • pastry brush
      • spatula
      • flipper

      Instructions

      If you have a digital scale and a 1 litre mixing jug...

      • Place the jug on the scale and pour in the milk and crack in the eggs. Whisk. Set the scale back to zero. Then carefully add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Remove from the scale and whisk until you have a good batter.

      If you don't...

      • Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a measuring jug, whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until you have a thick batter.

      Either way

      • Turn the heat on under your pan to medium-hot and add the 30 grams of butter. Once it's melted, pour it into the batter and mix well.
      • When the pan is nice and hot, add just a pinch of butter and let it sizzle. If you can't get it to coat the base of the pan nicely, then use a pastry brush.
      • Pour in the batter, probably making neater circles than I have ever managed. Don't crowd the pan - around 3 or 4 to a large pan at a time.
      • When you see lots of little bubbles rising up, take your spatula and flip the pancakes over. They should only take a minute more to cook through.
      • Keep going until all the batter is used, using your spatula to leave a clean-enough bowl behind. 

      Storage

      • Leftover pancakes will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. Reheat in a dry frying pan.

      Dried Mushrooms

      Dried Mushrooms

      Zero-waste home dried mushrooms

      A couple of years ago, I spent too much money on veg in a farm shop. This is not unusual. A barbecue for all fifteen members of the Storr clan was needed; about half of the adults insist on vegetables (the other half seem to find them garnish). I love to barbecue mushrooms, sweetcorn, cauliflower, tomatoes. So, I bought them.

      Mushroom burgers on the barbecue, stuffed full of garlic and parsley butter was what I wanted. I stacked the pan full of charcoal, flipped open a cider and watched the little cousins play in the courtyard. It was the headless space I needed, adding coals to the fire and hitting them with a heavy, dusty poker.

      Somehow the mushrooms never made it as far as the barbecue. Back home, through a mind blasting hangover, a heatwave and business, 4 fat mushrooms were starting to decay in my fridge. And I didn’t want the fucking mushrooms or anything that looked backwards.

      So I sliced the mushrooms, laid them onto greaseproof paper and shoved them in the oven. A couple of hours later I had a home-grown version of porcini; not as fancy or full of flavour but a million times cheaper (don’t quote me on that stat). Your leftover mushrooms can be used tomorrow, in 2 months or a year.

       

      Home dried mushrooms

      You can use any that you have going to waste, or if you see loads going cheap at the supermarket

      Ingredients

      • mushrooms

      Tools

      • Knife & chopping board
      • Baking tray(s)
      • Greaseproof paper
      • Wire cooling rack

      Instructions

      Prep

      • Turn the oven to 140C. Line the tray(s) with greaseproof paper.
      • Wipe the mushrooms if needed. Slice them into 5mm pieces. Arrange on the tray(s) in rows with no overlapping.
      • Place in the oven for around 2 hours, checking on them from time to time.
      • Once they are dried out, leave to cool on a wire cooling rack. 

      Storage

      • Store in a lidded airtight container. Use within around a year.

      Use

      • Rehydrate in warm water as and when needed.

       

      Mushroom Ragout

      Mushroom Ragout

      Leftover Mushroom Ragout

      Mushrooms are where lots of us head for a meat-free feast. This mushroom ragout is perfect for any cold damp evenings.

      Polenta – a word. If you can, avoid the quick cook. Unless you’re going to cook loads of polenta, then it’s a false economy. If you have a large, cheap bag of polenta/course cornmeal, you can use it in pancakes and cornbread.

      The original recipe calls for red wine; I didn’t have any but I did have beer and that worked fine. I’ve done it with chicken stock, with veg or mushroom stock. They’ll all taste different and all lovely.

       

      Mushroom Ragout

      Adapted from 'River Cottage Veg Every Day', p57
      Prep Time15 mins
      Cook Time1 hr
      Total Time55 mins
      Servings: 4

      Ingredients

      For the polenta

      • 600 ml water
      • 150 ml milk
      • 150 grams polenta/course cornmeal quick cook or normal
      • 25 grams Italian hard cheese/gran padano etc
      • 50 grams butter
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt

      For the mushrooms

      • 2 tablespoons vegetable/olive oil
      • 25 grams unsalted butter
      • around 650 grams mushrooms
      • 1 large clove garlic
      • few sprigs thyme
      • 150 ml beer/wine
      • 150 ml any type of stock or just water

      To serve

      • loads of cheese

      Tools

      • knife & chopping board
      • scales
      • measuring jug
      • wooden spoon
      • balloon whisk
      • saucepan with lid
      • large frying pan
      • plate

      Instructions

      For quick cook polenta

      • For quick cook, cook as per packet instructions and, at the very end, stir through the butter and cheese. 

      For regular polenta

      • Heat the water and milk in a large, lidded pan.
      • When the water & milk come to the boil, add the cornmeal/polenta, letting it run in thin streams through your fingers, whisking continuously. Stir for a minute or two until it thickens.
      • Turn the heat right down and stir well, roughly every 4-5 minutes to prevent it sticking. Keep going for about 35-45 minutes, until the polenta begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Stir in the butter and cheese, and serve with the mushrooms.

      For the mushroom ragout

      • Heat 1 tablespoon and half the butter in the frying pan. Add half the mushrooms, season well and turn the heat up high. Stir often to encourage the water in the mushrooms to evaporate.
      • Cook the mushrooms until they deepen in colour. Once they are cooked through, add half the garlic and thyme and stir for a minute. Tip onto the waiting plate and set to one side.
      • Repeat with the other mushrooms.
      • When all the mushrooms are cooked, return the first batch to the pan. Add the wine/beer and stock/water and bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer.
      • Serve together

      Leftovers/storage

      • Polenta will keep in the fridge, in a lidded container. You can warm it up adding a little milk or water and beating with a balloon whisk. Top with pesto, or small shreds of meat or veg - whatever, it's leftover lovlieness.