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.

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.

Leftover Easter Chocolate Buns

Leftover Easter Chocolate Buns

Make soft, cinnamon buns with leftover Easter eggs

Twirly, rich, and more-ish. My long-time readers will know that my family love a cinnamon bun. So, oh darling Sue, what joy was this! Chopping up leftover easter eggs and folding into a buttery dough? Thank *you*!

I started doing Sunday brunch a couple of years ago; kids were getting up later, I’d stopped dragging them and me to church, and gave us all some breathing space on a Sunday morning.  We’d had some long, lazy Sunday mornings with American friends. So, to make these for Easter, when my church going days are behind me feels … odd. There’s a lot about my life that is very different now to 2, 4, 5 years ago: almost taking a decent photo; self-employment and single-parenthood. I have new traditions to create, away from the ones I simply inherited without thinking.

When I make buns, I make a double or triple batch and freeze the spares. V smug but also, really it just makes me happy. And, a lot of times, it saves me money. And means more buns more often.

Lazy brunch with much coffee – a tradition I picked up from a friend, the foods I’ve learned are from ex-partners and family. But this is a little one that I like, and suits me very well indeed.

 

Chocolate Buns

Adapted from 'Cocoa' by Sue Quinn
Pistachios are really expensive; go for hazelnuts or walnuts if that’s better on your budget. As you’re using nuts and whatnot, every weird and wonderful type of chocolate in your Easter stash will be perfect here.
Servings: 7 buns

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 50 grams unsalted butter plus more/the wrapper, for greasing
  • 400 grams strong white bread flour plus more for dusting
  • 4 grams yeast OR one sachet if you bake a lot, buy a tin as the tin is recyclable
  • 8 grams salt you can do 3/4 teaspoon but I find it easier to just use the scales
  • 1 egg (if you don't have large just use a little more milk or a dash of water)
  • vegetable oil for oiling the dough

For the filling

  • 80 grams pistachios
  • 50 grams dark brown sugar
  • 80 grams leftover Easter chocolate
  • 80 grams unsalted butter

Tools

  • scales
  • measuring jug
  • small and large mixing bowls
  • small whisk or fork
  • dough scraper/spatula
  • clean tea towel
  • square oven proof tin
  • greaseproof paper
  • scissors

Instructions

Making the dough

  • Place the butter in the saucepan and melt over a low heat. Once it's melted, remove from the heat. Pour in the milk, stir together and put to one side.
  • Set aside a couple of tablespoons of the egg/milk mixture for glazing
  • In your mixing bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt. 
  • Whisk the egg and pour into the flour, and then the butter/milk mixture. Mix together. 
  • Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out, using your spatula to scrape out every last scrap! 
  • Use your spatula to clean out the bowl and pour in the vegetable oil. Set to one side.
  • Take the dough and knead for 8-10 minutes, pushing it away from you and pulling it back. The dough is a little sticky, but should become more smooth as your knead it. Add a little flour if you need to.
  • Once you're done, smooth the dough into a round and return it to the bowl, coating it in the oil. Cover it with the tea towel and leave to rise for about 2 hours.

Make the filling

  • Aside from the butter, mix all of the filling ingredients together.
  • Take the tray and line it with your greaseproof paper.

When the dough has risen...

  • Flour the work surface and gently press it down to let the air out. Roll out into a rectangle roughly 35 x 25 cm, making sure that the edges and the middle are the same thickness.
  • With the dough parallel to the edge of the work surface, spread the butter evenly over the top. I find this murder, so just dot over lumps if you find it easier. Sprinkle over the filling and press down on it gently. 
  • Working with the long side, carefully roll the dough into a sausage shape, like a Swiss roll.
  • Using a large knife or sharp dough scraper, cut into 10 equal sized pieces. Arrange in the lined tray, equally spaced. Place your clean tea towel on top.
  • If you want to have these for brekkie/brunch, now place these in the fridge and leave to prove overnight. Otherwise leave for 30 minutes.
  • *** If you want to freeze these, now is the time!  ***

Baking

  • When you are ready to want to bake, turn the oven to 180C.
  • Take the leftover milk/egg mixture. Take your pastry brush and glaze the top of the risen buns.
  • Place the buns in the warm oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and gorgeous. 
  • After removing from the oven, leave for 5 minutes before sliding out of the tray. Pull apart when cool enough to handle.

Storage

  • Best to freeze these when uncooked. If you've cooked them all, place in an airtight container and eat asap!

 

Leftover Celery Stuffing

Leftover Celery Stuffing

Leftover Celery Stuffing

Stuffing, like Christmas turkey, pop music and Bonfire Night, did not occur in my childhood. “Tasteless” my parents would say and I didn’t even understand what it was. What how when and why was something stuffed? It was only a Christmas day with my then-in-laws coming that I realised I needed to learn, because they needed bird, stuffing, bread sauce – all the things I didn’t grow up eating.

I mixed and mashed herbs and chestnuts and dried fruits, pushing the fruity mixture into the chicken. I got it. Like pasta, Yorkshire puddings and a million other delicious carbs, stuffing has been used to bulk out expensive meat and veg.

This recipe is barely adapted from a Jane Grigson. I dialled the butter down a little, and, when I make it again, I’ll add in double the parsley, if I have it. Any herbs like parsley, tarragon, fennel fronds will all go in fine here. Even carrot tops, when they come in season in a few weeks, will work. Wild garlic, in the spring would be immense. Other than that, a batch of this stuffing will clear out your freezer of breadcrumbs, so it’s a double win.

The original recipe made mounds of stuffing; I’ve got my leftovers in the freezer, ready for a lazy Sunday lunch. Got loads of celery? Make a double batch and freeze, extending your celery for another week or month, ready to feed lots of family or friends, on your zero waste, leftover loving celery stuffing.

Leftover Celery Stuffing

Barely adapted from Jane Grigson 'Good Things'
Author: Ann Storr

Ingredients

  • 150 grams onion around a medium size but anything between 100 and 180 grams will be fine...)
  • 150 grams celery
  • 50 grams unsalted butter
  • 250 grams fresh breadcrumbs
  • grated zst & juice of half a lemon
  • 4 tablespoons parsley/tarragon/chervil/wild garlic
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper

Tools

  • Scales
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk/fork (for the egg)
  • Optional: tray for baking stuffing, if not stuffing a chicken/turkey extra sunflower/ground nut oil for cooking

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in the saucepan
  • Dice the onion and celery and add to the pan. Cook the onion and celery over a low heat for about 20 minutes until they are soft and translucent - do not let them brown.
  • Whilst the celery and onion are cooking, finely chop the herbs and whisk the egg. 
  • When the food is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Mix all the ingredients together. Season to taste.
  • Either stuff in the bird or roll into satsuma sized balls and bake, basting with oil from the roasting bird or, for vegetarians, a vegetable oil

Leftover porridge bread

Leftover porridge bread

Leftover Porridge Bread

My eldest brother and I share a love of baking (and eating bread), and I’ve learned a lot from him.  He’s bought me endless books because, chez Storr, all the best presents are rectangles. Learning that a loaf of bread requires only a ratio was eye-opening. So I could use up that remaining 165 grams of brown flour and yesterday’s porridge and top it up with strong bread flour?! Hell. Yes.

If you’ve got 250g of porridge or 100g it doesn’t matter: just make sure that the total weight of porridge & flour is 700g.  That’s it. The amount of salt and yeast will stay the same, the water might vary a little. Got 250 grams of porridge? You might want to go up to a total weight of 800 grams of porridge and flour (8 grams of yeast 16 of salt). It’s that simple. And – poof! – you’ve made something delicious out of a food you were about to waste.

Some people might query adding eggs, flour and fat to what is a cheap ingredient.  Those oats have been sown (ahem). You’ve spent money on them. Soil has been fertilised and petrol burned to transport. So have fun and use that claggy old porridge that you cared to buy and cared to cook to be the inspiration for tomorrow’s lunch. Or toast.

 

Leftover Porridge Bread

Turn cold, claggy, leftover porridge into soft buns
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Proving time3 hrs
Total Time35 mins
Keyword: eating on a budget
Servings: 12 buns

Ingredients

  • up to 200 grams leftover porridge
  • up to 600 grams strong white bread flour (flour + porridge weighs 700 grams)
  • 7 grams fast action yeast
  • 14 grams salt
  • around 400 ml water or milk (it will vary depending on how much porridge goes into your dough)
  • optional: 1 egg

Tools

  • Scales
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Clean tea-towel
  • Roasting tin or oven dish
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Dough scraper or large knife
  • Wire cooling rack

Instructions

  • Weigh the porridge. Then add enough strong bread flour to take the porridge + flour to 700 grams. So, 150 grams porridge + 550 grams flour, for example.
  • Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in the large mixing bowl. Crumble the porridge into the bread flour so that there are no lumps.
  • If using an egg, whisk it into 200ml of the milk/water. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture. Give the ingredients a good mix with a metal spoon. or your hands. It should be quite a wet dough. Add more milk/water until you have a dough where all the flour is fully saturated.
  • Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured or wet surface * and *gently* knead it: push it away from you, pick that end up, pop it back on top, turn the dough 45 degrees and go again. Do this for about 10 minutes, or until you hear pops and crackles coming from the dough - that's the carbon dioxide forming.
  • Cover the dough with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave it to one side for about an hour. The dough need to double in size; in my cold kitchen takes about 2 hours.

Forming the buns

  • Lightly flour the counter and turn the dough out.
  • Weigh the dough; it should weigh around 1.2 kg, ish. Buns are around 100g and I like to weigh the dough. You can just eyeball 12 buns but I find it quicker to just through bits of dough into the scale and make sure that I will have buns of an equal size.
  • Line the oven tin with a piece of greaseproof paper.
  • Lightly flour your counter. Place each piece of dough on the flour. Once you have pieces of dough ready and waiting, take one and form it into a roll by turning it around your hands into a round ball. Tuck each ball into the tin, around 3cm apart.
  • When all the rolls are in the tin, cover with the clean tea towel and leave to rise again for about another half an hour.
  • Turn the oven to 180 degrees.
  • When the rolls have doubled in size, place them gently in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
  • When they are cooked, gently slip them out of the tin and leave to cool.

Storage

  • I keep my rolls in a very un-sexy giant tupperware. They will keep fine for a couple of days.
  •  If you want fresh rolls every day, split the rolls and place in the freezer; they will defrost more quickly if you freeze them with the cut in place.
  • * Experienced bakers like to use the wet method where you knead over a wet surface rather than a floured. This is a great technique but takes a little practice.

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