Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin – with extra rewards…

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

I was veggie for 8 years. I most missed roast chicken, picking at all the good bits with my dad, like little Henry VIIIs at the end of Sunday lunch.

Rediscovering the joys of crispy chicken skin has been a joy of my later adult life. If a recipe calls for chicken thighs, I’ll always, always strip the skin off to render the fat. It takes a little time but you don’t have to pay any attention. Slowly the fat will melt into the pan, leaving you with crispy chicken skin that you can, if you’re me, enjoy just with some salt and a cold drink. If you feel so inclined, crumble it through some popcorn.

The benefits? Now you have chicken fat to cook with. Think relay race: what does that chicken fat inspire you to cook? It will only keep for a week or so, in a lidded jar in the fridge. Maybe you’ll make pasta; maybe a stew. The point is that from one packet of chicken thighs, you have the stew you were going to cook, some crispy skin and some fat. One meal, one snack and one store cupboard ingredient, and never a leftover, leftover.

Crispy chicken skin with benefits

Rendering fat from meat is a zero-waste and tasty way to make the most your chicken

Ingredients
  

  • chicken skin
  • salt go crazy with smoked salt if you have it...

Tools

  • frying pan
  • tongs
  • jar/little pot for storing leftover fat

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken skins in the frying pan and salt them well. Turn the heat to medium and gently cook the skins through.
  • It will take about 20-30 minutes to get the skins crispy, gently pulling the skin so that it's as thin as possible.
  • When you are happy with the crispiness, eat. You can store them but they are best served warm, maybe with a little extra salt.

The fat

  • Pour the fat into a jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for around a week or so. Use the chicken fat instead of any butter or vegetable oil if you're making a soup or stew.

Fishfinger fish cakes

Fishfinger fish cakes

Fishfinger fish cakes

My first job, aged 15 or 16, was washing pots.  I’d make £16 a week for the Saturday lunch session. I took the job over after one of my brothers didn’t want it any more. One Saturday morning I knocked on the fire door, said “I’m Tom’s sister – he’s not doing this any more”.  Barry, the head chef, shrugged and let me in.  It was a small kitchen, just two chefs and me.

I loved it – hot and dirty work, scrubbing pots and heaving trays of dishes in and out of the industrial dishwasher.  The labour of it appealed to me, much more than working in a shop (note: I never got the shop jobs I applied for.  Ever.  Only ever cafe and restaurant jobs).

After a few months, my responsibilities seemed to increase. Barry the head chef taught me how to use the giant food mill to grind potatoes.  Adding poached salmon, herbs, anchovy essence and seasoning.  And, how to shape a fishcake with my hands: using a cutter created waste. I learnt to pat and roll out the mixture, cut it into squares that you smooth and shape into circles with your hands.

After he taught me this, Barry sat in the cupboard that was our staff room, drank a tea, smoked a fag and read the Sun. And I was making the fishcakes.  Which was his job.  But I’ve never used a cutter to make a scone or fishcake, because it’s less wasteful and there’s less washing up.  Okay, maybe you’ve never made a fishcake – great!  But, maybe now is the time to start.  They are cheap, good for you, comforting and delicious.

Fishfingers  – okay they’re hardly poached salmon.  But don’t let that stop you. The crunchy breadcrumbs work well in the fishcakes, and adding more breadcrumbs on the outside of your fishcake adds to the deliciousness, and is a thrifty way to make a small amount of protein go further.

Crunchy fish cakes

Ingredients
  

  • 400 grams raw potatoes (350 grams cooked)
  • 150 grams cold breaded fish/fishfingers
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • 75 grams plain white flour
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika/ras al hanout optional, but they add a lovely flavour
  • 100 grams breadcrumbs
  • Plenty of vegetable oil for frying

Tools

  • Scales & bowl
  • Chopping board & sharp knife
  • Saucepan
  • Peeler
  • Potato masher/fork
  • Whisk/fork
  • 3 small bowls/plates for egg and breadding
  • 2 large plates
  • Frying pan

Instructions
 

Prep

  • If starting with raw potatoes, peel and boil/steam/microwave until they are soft through
  • Mash the potatoes well with a masher or fork, and season well with salt and pepper

Combine the fishcakes

  • Lay out the three smaller bowls
  • In the first, add your flour, the second your eggs and third your breadcrumbs
  • Season the flour and the breadcrumbs; if using, add the spice to the breadcrumbs
  • Whisk the egg
  • Break the fish into 1 inch/2cm pieces
  • Place oven to 100C
  • Add the fish to your mashed potatoes and mix through
  • Take a handful of mixture and roll it into a ball. Do that until you have between 6 & 8 fish cakes
  • Flatten each fishcake with the flat palm of your hand and is about 2cm thick
  • Take one fishcake and place it in the flour. Using your right hand, make sure it’s entirely covered
  • Place in the egg. Using your left hand, cover it in egg. Using your left hand still pop the fish into the bowl with the breadcrumbs
  • Using your right hand, press the fishcake into the breadcrumbs so it has a nice crunchy covering and is a little flattened
  • Still using your right hand, place the fishcake onto the waiting plate. Repeat until they are all covered
  • Place enough oil to cover about 2mm in your frying pan and turn the heat to medium

Cook the fishcakes

  • Pop a little leftover lump of breadcrumbs into the pan; when they sizzle, you’re ready
  • Place 2 or 3 fishcakes in the pan and cook until golden (about 7 mins)
  • Once golden flip and repeat
  • Keep the waiting cakes warm into the warm oven
  • Serve with veg/beans

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.

      Leftover Mushrooms with Scrambled Eggs

      Leftover Mushrooms with Scrambled Eggs

      Leftover mushrooms

      90% of the mushrooms we eat in the world are good old button mushrooms. Cheap, easy to cultivate all year round, a nice little package. They’re the 3rd most chosen veg, after potatoes and tomatoes. So why, then, when I was at Wellness HQ in Tunbridge Wells (giving the first EVER StorrCupboard talk), did everyone tell me that leftover mushrooms were a problem?

      I think it’s because mushrooms are so easy but, because of their strong flavour and hard shape, we get used to thinking “mushrooms are only for breakfast” or “mushrooms go with steak”. So when I say to people “how about mushrooms on toast for lunch?” I often get an “ohhhhhh, yeah of COURSE” reaction. We have our habits that make life more simple. But sometimes those habits leave us blindsided and not seeing the ingredient sitting in front of us.

      This recipe is barely adapted from the latest Honey & Co cookbook. If you’ve not heard of the Honies but you like good food, then you’re in for a treat. Sarit and Itamar’s Palestinian and Israeli cooking is superb, their recipes a delight. I don’t know them but a few weeks ago I was having a coffee in the deli and saw them leaving with trays and boxes of food for some lucky customer. They are always hugging and the love they have for each other seems to come across in their food. These indulgent mushroom eggs are heavenly. Don’t miss out the cinnamon. It sounds odd if you’re not used to it but the warmth of the cinnamon is just lovely. And if you can afford a tenner on a lunch and you can get to Fitzrovia then good god do it. The cookies are to die for.

      Leftover mushrooms can be the springboard ingredient to a full-flavoured, incidentally vegetarian feast.

      Leftover mushrooms with scrambled eggs

      Adapted, barely, from 'Honey and Co at Home', p27
      Prep Time 10 mins
      Cook Time 20 mins
      Total Time 30 mins
      Servings 2 people

      Ingredients
        

      • 25 grams unsalted butter
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 1 large leek or a couple of shallots, or a few spring onions
      • 2 cloves garlic
      • around 250 grams mushrooms
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • pinch cinnamon
      • 1 small bundle fresh thyme twigs, tied together with string
      • 4 eggs
      • 50 grams Italian hard cheese
      • 50 ml cream or milk
      • freshly ground black pepper

      Tools

      • Knife and chopping board
      • Mixing bowl
      • Cheese grater
      • Large frying pan/wok
      • Measuring jug
      • Garlic crusher (optional)

      Instructions
       

      Prep

      • Slice the mushrooms into similar sized slices. Clean and halve the leek, and cut into 5mm-ish slices. If using spring onions, cut into rounds or if using shallots cut into dice. Crush the garlic with a little salt or a garlic crusher.
      • Measure the milk or cream. Add the eggs and cheese and a little seasoning. Whisk together and set to one side.

      Cooking

      • Turn the heat to about medium and add the oil and butter. Once the fats are foaming add the mushrooms, leek/onion and garlic, turn the heat to high and mix well. Next add the salt, pinch on cinnamon and thyme bundle and mix well. 
      • Season with plenty of black pepper. Stir off and on for about 10 minutes, until a lot of water has evaporated from the mushrooms. Once they are cooked through and wilted remove the thyme. 
      • If you're cooking for a crowd or in advance, then leave the mushrooms at this stage and only add the eggs when you are almost ready to eat.
      • When you are almost ready to eat, if you need to heat the pan back up, do it. If the pan is still warm, pour the egg/cream/cheese mixture into the mushrooms. Allow the eggs to set for a minute and then stir again.
      • Repeat this until the eggs are cooked to the set that you like (I'm on the dry end of the spectrum...)

      Storage

      • If you don't eat them all, store them in a lidded container for up to 5 days. Reheating isn't a great idea as they will go rubbery. Stir them through some rice or whack in a sandwich with plenty of sriracha.

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