Ratio: Cauliflower Cheese

Ratio: Cauliflower Cheese

Knowing how to make a basic white sauce is one of the world’s best things. It’s cheap when you know how to make it for yourself. It’s full of goodness and can be used to stretch other food nice and far. Most Brits love a cauliflower cheese, but of course you can shove any veg in there; broccoli, roasted leftover veg and of course, pasta.

My mum used to make cauliflower cheese into a meal for 6 by piping finely milled mashed potato around the inside of an oven proof dish; my dad loves whole tinned tomatoes in the middle. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked for 20 minutes, please can I suggest you try this? It’s frugal, and delicious.

Top tips for cheese sauce:

  1. If you have rinds from your ‘parmesan’, use them to flavour the milk that you’ll be using. This means you’re using less cheese in the final dish, and making the most of the flavour from the cheese. I use mine at least twice, and then the dog has a lovely chew toy… instructions here.
  2. Never walk away from the pan. Ever. It could burn on the base, boil over, set into a thick lump… more trouble than its worth
  3. If you have a balloon whisk, use it! It’s much more effective than a wooden spoon.

You can bake the dish without par-boiling the cauliflower. If the oven is already on, then go for it. But, that is a lot of electricity for one meal if you’re only cooking the one dish! If baking with the cauliflower from raw, bake for about 40 minutes.

 

Cauliflower Cheese with mash & tomatoes

Serves 4, heartily

Equipment

  • Colander
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Optional: pan and steamer
  • Saucepan
  • Balloon whisk
  • Scales
  • Serving bowl
  • Heatproof jug
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients

  • 700 grams floury potatoes such as white/red/King Edwards/Maris pipers
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 50 ml milk

For the cheese sauce

  • 500 ml milk
  • Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
  • Salt & pepper
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 90 grams plain flour
  • Around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
  • 1 teaspoon mustard

Instructions

Method

  • Turn the oven to 180C
  • Make the mash: peel the potatoes, and steam/boil/microwave in salted water until cooked through
  • Once they are cooked through, mash with plenty of butter, and season. Really make sure there are no lumps (Only add enough milk to make the mash the right consistency for you; you can use more if you like). If you have a potato ricer or mouli, this is the time to break it out – you want a really creamy mashed potato. No lumps thanks.
  • Steam/boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes/microwave for about 3, so it's halfway cooked

Make white sauce

  • Strain any aromatics from your milk
  • Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
  • Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour 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
  • Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  • Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using), and mix the half-cooked cauli and cheese sauce together.

Assemble the dish

  • Squash the mash around the edge of your oven-proof dish
  • Next, pour in the cauliflower cheese
  • If using the tomatoes, make a well in the middle and use a spoon to place the tomatoes in. Keep the leftover sauce to add to a tomato sauce.
  • Cover with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and grated cheese

NOTE – if freezing the whole dish, leave it to cool, cover, label then freeze

  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through & the sauce is bubbling

Storage/further meals

  • If you’re not planning to eat this dish within 3 days I’d play it safe and pop it in the freezer

How to make your own white sauce

How to make your own white sauce

How to: make your own white sauce

Making a white sauce can seem like a waste of time when you can buy a jar. But making your own is cheaper, is fresher and I be more delicious. If you are buying your milk in reusable glass bottles, and if you can get flour from a refill shop, then the packaging waste is minimal (just the butter!).
Making your own white (or cheese) sauce also lets you use up bits and bobs to make your sauce more delicious: cheese rinds, parsley stalks and leek tops are just some of the aromatics that can give your white sauce a sweetness and depth that can’t be replicated from a jar.
Once you’ve got your white sauce, use it in cauliflower cheese, lasagne, pasta bakes and more. It will freeze well, so it’s a great way of using up leftover milk before it goes off. Busting food waste and making something creamy to inspire the next meal, the StorrCupboard way.

White sauce

Make white sauce or cheese sauce - make it extra delicious by using your kitchen leftovers
Prep Time5 hrs
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: cheap recipies, eating on a budget, no food waste
Servings: 4 adults
Author: Ann Storr

Equipment

  • Saucepan with lid
  • Colander
  • Balloon whisk
  • Scales
  • Sharp knife (if using nutmeg)

Ingredients

  • 500 ml milk
  • Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
  • Salt & pepper
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 90 grams plain flour
  • For cheese sauce: around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard optional

Instructions

Prep

  • Place the milk in a saucepan with any aromatics. Gently heat until about blood temperature and then leave for at least 5 minutes or up to a day.
  • Remove any onion flavourings after half an hour, but leave any bay leaves/cheese rinds until you are ready to cook.

Cooking the white sauce

  • Take a jug or bowl, place the colander/sieve on top. Strain any aromatics from your milk into the jug. Discard any lay leaves/leek tops. You can re-use the cheese rind, just rinse and keep in the fridge.
  • Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
  • Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour 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
  • Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
  • Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using)

Useage

  • You can use in a lasagne, pasta bake or cauliflower cheese

Storage

  • Store in a lidded container, for up to a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. If using from cold, you will need to warm the sauce up and give it a good stir to remove any lumps that have settled.

Ratio: Pasta with pork & greens

Ratio: Pasta with pork & greens

Ratio Cooking: Pasta with Pork & Greens

Pork and greens is a classic combo; the fatty sweetness of the pork and earthy bitterness of greens means all cultures are loving it.
This recipe is based around chorizo and courgette, but feel free to substitute any broccoli and ham that could be sitting around, or a couple of sausages and some greens. Remember, this is getting a good ratio of pasta, meat and veg, not seeing perfection, and using what’s in the fridge to be your relay race cooking inspiration.

Pasta with pork & greens

Got a little meat, a little veg and not sure what to do? read on...
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cheap recipies, family recipies
Servings: 4 people
Author: Ann Storr

Equipment

  • Knife and chopping board
  • Large frying pan
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Heat proof jug or just a mug
  • Colander/sieve
  • Optional: garlic crusher/microplane

Ingredients

  • around 100 grams cooking chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 200 grams pasta
  • salt & pepper
  • cheese to serve

Instructions

  • Dice the chorizo and courgette into 5mm cubes. Place the chorizo in the cold frying pan and leave the courgettes to one side. Turn the heat to medium, so that the chorizo cooks in its own, delicious, fat.
  • Once the chorizo is crispy, remove and put to one side. Add at least one tablespoon of oil (any will do, including any leftover pork fat you might have from a roast). Put the diced courgette into the pan and cook slowly.
  • With the courgettes in the pan, put your pasta on to cook. Put the timer on for 4 minutes fewer than the packet cooking time.
  • Before you strain the pasta, dip the jug or mug into the pot and save at least 50ml of pasta water. Then strain away.
  • When your courgettes are soft, chop/crush/grate your garlic. Turn the heat up a little, and stir the garlic through for a minute, until you can smell it. Return the chorizo to the pan, and then pour the pasta into the pan.
  • Stir everything round, and splash on a little pasta water to help to combine everything (this is why you undercooked the pasta). Taste, season, and add a drop more water if you like.
  • Serve.

Storage

  • Any leftover pasta can be kept in a lidded container for up to 5 days. If the meat has now been cooked twice, I would play safe and get it all eaten up with this dish.
  • You could freeze any leftovers, and make a simple pasta bake by pouring some white sauce over and baking from frozen.

Recipe: Turkey Pilaf

Recipe: Turkey Pilaf

Recipe: Turkey, pistachio & pomegranate pilaf

Christmas is a time of feasting – and wasting. If you struggle with leftover turkey and can’t face another turkey curry, then may I suggest this pilaf? It’s simple, needs only onion, cinnamon and rice. Sprinkle over some leftover nuts from the table and you have a thrifty, delicious meal to feed the masses.
If you can get pomegranate, the sweet & sour crunch adds variety, but it’s not essential. A handful of parsley is refreshing after a solid diet of roasties and Quality Streets, again not essential.
With thanks to Veolia for commissioning this recipe!

Turkey, pistachio & pomegranate pilaf

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: eating on a budget

Equipment

  • Sharp knife & chopping board
  • Large frying pan

Ingredients

  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 300 grams basmati rice
  • 450 ml leftover gravy/chicken/turkey stock/water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or mixed spice
  • salt and pepper
  • handful each of pistachios, pomegranate seeds and parsley (all optional)

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and fry until golden
  • When the onion is nice and soft, add the rice and stir so that the grains are covered in oil
  • Pour in the stock/water and cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir well
  • Bring up to the boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat until the rice is almost cooked
  • Add shredded pieces of turkey just before the rice is ready and ensure hot all the way through
  • Serve, topped with pistachios, pomegranate seeds and parsley

Notes

Storage/further meals
This dish is best served straightaway as you are re-heating meat.

How to make your own frozen greens

How to make your own frozen greens

How to: make your own frozen greens

So you bought a bag of greens, because it’s much better if everyone eats their greens, right?
Meh.
If I don’t cook up a bag of spinach as soon as it hits my house, I just look at it, and think about it, and think about it some more. And then it goes a little yellow, it goes a little sad and now I really don’t fancy it.
But. If I prep the whole bag at once, then I can just add in a handful here and handful there.

And if I don’t think I’m going to get it all eaten up, then I freeze them. It’s super easy, and it takes a little time – not in hands on cooking time, just cooking the greens and leaving them to cool before popping in the freezer.

Once you have the greens cooked and ready, you can warm them up and stir through some cream for creamed spinach. You can stir through some scrambled eggs for a quick meal, or into your egg fried rice. Through pasta with a little meat. Into a quiche. A pilaf.

 

Make your own frozen greens

Bought a bag of greens and they're threatening to go yellow? Don't waste them, use this technique for making your own, zero waste, frozen greens
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Keyword: eating on a budget, empty the fridge
Author: Ann Storr

Equipment

  • Colander/sieve
  • Saucepan
  • Clean tea towel/cooking muslin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Baking tray
  • Sharp knife & chopping board
  • Freezer bag/tub and permanent marker

Ingredients

  • 1 bag greens spinach, kale, watercress, salad packs

Instructions

Cook the greens

  • Wash the greens; discard any yellow leaves
  • Place the leaves into a heavy bottomed pan and put the heat onto medium. Put the lid on the pan.
  • After a couple of minutes, check on the greens and stir. The water from washing should be enough to cook the leaves, but you might need to add a little more.
  • Baby spinach/watercress/salad packs will be ready in about 5 minutes.
  • Kale/true spinach will take longer, around 10 minutes

Cooling the greens

  • Take the cooked greens and turn out into the colander/sieve. If you're a smoothie or stock maker, collect the water in the bowl
  • Once any liquid has run off, take your tongs (if you have them) or fork and pick up the leaves and place on the tea towel to cool. More liquid will evaporate, which is what we want.

When the leaves are cool

  • Take the leaves and chop them up
  • If you're going to use them within a few days, place in a lidded container in the fridge to add to egg fried rice, pasta, quiche or other meals.

To freeze portions of greens

  • Check that your baking tray fits into your freezer draw. Once you're happy, line the tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Take a small handful of greens and mould them into a small ball. Place the balls onto the tray until you have used all the greens.
  • Cover the tray with an old bag or more paper and place in the freezer.
  • Once frozen solid, peel the greens off the paper and place into a bag or tub. Label the greens with what they are and the date frozen.
  • They will keep for up to 6 months.

How to cook garlic and herb mushrooms

How to cook garlic and herb mushrooms

How to: make your own garlic mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of the most popular foods chosen in the UK; with loads of trying trying to reduce the amount of meat we eat, they can provide that lovely umaminess.
Also cracking with a full English.
However, supermarket mushrooms are wrapped in clingfilm. This is bonkers. Mushrooms are fungi, so inside plastic, they sweat. This is why mushrooms go off.
If you are buying your mushrooms like this, please remove the clingfilm as soon as you get home. This will *immediately* help your mushrooms to last longer.

I learned how to make these years ago, and it’s a technique that has served me well. I cook a box or two of cheap mushrooms up like this, and I know I have the beginnings of a creamy mushroom pasta or pizza night. I can add them to scrambled eggs or even just have them on toast. They could go with a steak, or sit on a bowl of polenta.

 

Garlic and herb mushrooms

Want to make the most of that half pack of mushrooms?
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Author: Ann Storr

Equipment

  • Knife & chopping board
  • Frying pan
  • Storage pot

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms
  • Oil any vegetable oil will do. Don't waste Extra Virgin Olive Oil here.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch each thyme and rosemary
  • sea salt
  • 50 ml wine

Instructions

  • DO NOT WASH THE MUSHROOMS. If you feel peculiar about this, wipe them with a clean tea towel.
  • Slice the mushrooms to around 5mm
  • Pour in around 2 tablespoons of oil for every 200grams of mushrooms and turn the heat to medium. If you have a lot of mushrooms to cook, don't crowd the pan (see above). Season well with salt & pepper.
  • Stir the mushrooms every minutes to encourage water to evaporate.
  • If you have to cook a few batches of mushrooms, keep cooking them this way until they are all ready. Once they are all cooked through, crush or finely slice the garlic.
  • Remove all the mushrooms from the pan. Add in a little oil, if necessary. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic and stir for one minute. Return the mushrooms to the pan, turn up the heat and add the wine, if using. Once the alcohol has burned off, add in the whole herbs. Mix, test for seasoning and adjust. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Using your garlic mushooms.

  • If stored in a lidded container, these will keep for a number of days in your fridge.
  • You can use them on toast, in scrambled eggs and omelettes, in creamy pasta and soup, in a quiche or on pizza...

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