Flexible cooking: Cupboard clearing flapjacks

Flexible cooking: Cupboard clearing flapjacks

Flexible flapjacks

My good friend Emily knows this: flapjacks are the cure-all for hungry people who want something sweet and have loads of random packets of ‘stuff’ to use up. Flapjacks are a fun, simple recipe to make with small people, and it gives the opportunity to talk about why we need to be careful to not waste food, why it’s fun to adapt a recipe to the ingredients you have on hand.

When I went through a phase of buying a lot of rolled grains, I would bake and my flapjacks would fail – too crumbly, not chewy. I wanted a flapjack, not a tray of granola. It took me so long to learn the correct ratio for a flapjack that could use up oats, jumbo oats, other grains, random dried fruits, seeds…

So, I present to you the Flexible Flapjack recipe. Stick to these amounts, and add in sultanas and dried figs, half a bar of chocolate and some flaked almonds. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, just enjoy stirring in a few leftover cornflakes, a couple of walnuts, and take pride in knowing your teatime treat is avoiding food waste and helping our precious climate.

Two suggestions:

  1. If you’re using nuts, toast them in the oven as it warms up. You’ll achieve a much better, more rounded and deeper flavour
  2. Also as the oven warms, melt the butter in the butter, using the heat being generated

 

Ratio: Flapjacks

Want to clear out those bits and bobs of cereal, dried fruit, nuts?
Course: Snack
Keyword: cheap recipies, family recipies
Servings: 16 flapjacks
Author: Ann Storr

Equipment

  • Measuring spoons
  • Scales
  • Large saucepan
  • Square baking tin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Wooden spoon
  • Optional: baking tray if toasting nuts
  • Optional: sharp knife & chopping board, if you're chopping nuts/large pieces of dried fruit/chocolate

Ingredients

  • 300 grams rolled porridge oats Don't use all jumbo oats; maximum 100 grams jumbo
  • 100 grams nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, handfuls of leftover cereal... If you have 150 grams of little bits and bobs to use up, do use them, but then decrease the amount of oats in the mixture
  • 75 grams sugar caster, soft brown – whatever
  • 150 grams golden syrup
  • 200 grams unsalted butter/vegan equivalent + a little more for greasing
  • Good pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Line your baking tin with greaseproof paper and turn your oven to 180°C.
  • Whilst the oven is warming, place the butter in the oven proof dish and melt as the oven warms; when the butter is liquid, golden syrup and sugar together and stir until fully combined. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  • If you are using any nuts, place them on a baking tray and toast in the warming oven for around 10 minutes. If you're using any whole nuts, chop them into smaller pieces once roasted. If using, chop any large fruits (e.g., figs, dates, glace cherries) or chunks of chocolate into smaller pieces.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir well, making sure that every little oat is drenched in syrup
  • Pat the flapjacks into the corners of the pan and a flat top but not too firmly – you’ll never get them out!
  • Bake for about 25 minutes until bubbling and golden
  • Leave to cool in the tin, and cut into squares

Storage

  • Keep in a lidded, airtight container for up to a week. If they last that long. (They might last longer than a week but they’ll go stale)

 

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

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.

Smokey Barbecue Noodles

Smokey Barbecue Noodles

Hoisin barbecue noodles

Barbecueing is one of my favourite ways to cook. Mostly because I like building up fires and being outside.

Cooking the right amount is almost impossible, when you take into account having to shave off charcoal edges here and there (I’m still learning about the right heat, okay?). And it’s nice to have friends and not nice to see arguments over who gets the last piece of chicken..

Inspired by the chow mien I made a little while back, I got to thinking about how a small amount of meet could make the perfect bowl of noodles. And, god I love it when I’m right.

 

Leftover Barbecue Noodles

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: eating on a budget
Servings: 2
Author: Ann Storr

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 150 grams fresh greens (spinach, chard, kale)
  • 50 ml vegetable/chicken stock/water
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu/light soy sauce
  • pinch soft brown sugar
  • at least 25 grams leftover barbecue protein per person

For the noodles

  • 150 grams dried noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Tools

  • Chopping board & knife
  • Wok
  • Measuring jug
  • Measuring spoons/teaspoon & tablespoon
  • Saucepan & colander/sieve

Instructions

  • Shred the leftover barbecue meat/fish/veggie into small pieces
  • Finely chop the garlic and ginger. Cut the onion or leek into 5mm slices
  • Cook the noodles to packet instructions. Once you have drained them, stir the sesame oil through and set to one side.

The stir fry

  • Heat the wok until smoking and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 5 seconds then add the onion/leek. Stir fry for one minute before adding the garlic and ginger and quickly deglaze the wok with Shaoxing rice wine.
  • Add the chicken/veg stock, Hoisin sauce and light soy sauce. When boiling, add the greens and shredded meat.
  • Stir the cooked noodles through and serve

Storage

  • The noodles will keep fine for a few days in a lidded container. You can eat them cold.

Crispy schmaltz mashed potato

Crispy schmaltz mashed potato

Crispy schmaltz mash potatoes

Okay, so you could eat these as a side dish. But, for me, these chicken fat rich mashed potatoes, drowned in gravy, are good enough on their own. Maybe some broccoli and peas so that the whole meal isn’t beige.  Don’t skip the rosemary, it’s heavenly, and the perfect way to use up your leftover chicken skin.

 

Schmaltz Mash Potatoes

Adapted, barely, from James Beard 'Waste Not', p83 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 2

Ingredients

For the schmaltz

  • at least 90 grams leftover chicken skin & fat

For the mash

  • 450 grams floury potatoes such as maris piper, king edwards, or 'red'
  • 50 grams butter
  • 75 ml single cream you might need more or less depending on how much chicken skin and fat you have
  • The schmaltz

To serve

  • Chicken gravy
  • One sprig of rosemary

Tools

  • Scales and bowl
  • Small saucepan with lid
  • Large saucepan
  • Measuring jug

Instructions

Make the schmaltz

  • Chop up the skin and fat, and place in the saucepan. Cover with water and put on a medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook at simmering point for an hour.
  • Increase the heat to medium after an hour and continue to cook the mixture until the pieces of skin have browned. This will take around 15 minutes.
  • Strain the schmaltz; if there's any little crunchy bits at the bottom of the pan

Make the mash

  • Peel and boil the potatoes in well-salted water. They are cooked when a knife pushes into one and gives way.
  • Mash the potatoes with all the cream, all the schmaltz and all the butter.
  • Warm up the gravy, finely chop/mince the rosemary, and serve. Add some green veggies on the side, if you like, maybe a fried egg.

Storage

  • The mash will keep for up to five days.

Crispy chicken skin chow mien

Crispy chicken skin chow mien

Crispy chicken skin chow mien

So you’ve rendered the fat from your chicken skin, but maybe you want something a little more adventurous than just, you know, eating it? Remember, relay race – what ideas do you get from this crunchy, deeply savoury, salty goodness?

Learning more about Chinese cuisine is where I’m at, and my kids love the noodles and rice that are part of it. This chow mien went down a treat. Stir fries are a perfect salty/sweet/fatty meal and perfect for mid week cooking. You do need to be ready, pay attention and be ready to bin any garlic that is burned.

You can use any green veg in this, really. If you don’t have much chicken skin, you can always add any leftover meat you might have hanging around, or some egg or cashew nuts. It’s a template to get you using up those random bits in your fridge for a healthy, thrifty, leftover busting dinner.

 

Leftover Barbecue Noodles

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: eating on a budget
Servings: 2
Author: Ann Storr

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 150 grams fresh greens (spinach, chard, kale)
  • 50 ml vegetable/chicken stock/water
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu/light soy sauce
  • pinch soft brown sugar
  • at least 25 grams leftover barbecue protein per person

For the noodles

  • 150 grams dried noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Tools

  • Chopping board & knife
  • Wok
  • Measuring jug
  • Measuring spoons/teaspoon & tablespoon
  • Saucepan & colander/sieve

Instructions

  • Shred the leftover barbecue meat/fish/veggie into small pieces
  • Finely chop the garlic and ginger. Cut the onion or leek into 5mm slices
  • Cook the noodles to packet instructions. Once you have drained them, stir the sesame oil through and set to one side.

The stir fry

  • Heat the wok until smoking and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 5 seconds then add the onion/leek. Stir fry for one minute before adding the garlic and ginger and quickly deglaze the wok with Shaoxing rice wine.
  • Add the chicken/veg stock, Hoisin sauce and light soy sauce. When boiling, add the greens and shredded meat.
  • Stir the cooked noodles through and serve

Storage

  • The noodles will keep fine for a few days in a lidded container. You can eat them cold.

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