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

 

Flapjack pictured to describe a variety of ingredient you can add

Ratio: Flapjacks

Ann Storr
Want to clear out those bits and bobs of cereal, dried fruit, nuts?
Course Snack
Servings 16 flapjacks

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)
Keyword cheap recipies, family recipies

 

Squashed strawberry Bellini

Squashed strawberry Bellini

Squashed Strawberry Bellini

I confess, this was a spur of the moment deal. It had been a long week (month/year). The strawberry sauce was almost finished. I was running a bath
Of course the real deal is a white peach Bellini at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Jesus, I love white peaches. My parents would buy crates for them on summer holidays, and we’d eat 3 or 4 a day. Your squashed strawberry sauce mixed with a little prosecco, cava or crement is all you need to tackle food waste.
If you’re having friends round, you could have mixed berry bellinis. Remember, this is all relay race cooking: your leftover inspires the next meal or drink. Cheers to zero food waste.

 

Squashed Strawberry Sauce

Makes enough for 4 to enjoy, heartily, on ice-cream

Ingredients
  

  • 600 g strawberries the more bruised the better
  • 200 g icing sugar

Tools

  • Scales
  • Immersion blender
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • Mixing bowl
  • Sieve for icing sugar
  • Balloon whisk

Instructions
 

  • Remove the green tops (hulls) from the strawberries
  • If there are moudly bits, cut those off
  • Leave bruised fruit, that’s okay
  • Blend until smooth
  • Pour through the fine-mesh sieve into a bowl
  • Sift in icing sugar (don’t be tempted to skip this; you’ll spend longer whisking the lumps of icing sugar out...)
  • Whisk until the sugar is fully mixed
  • Pour into a jug

Storage

  • Your strawberry sauce will keep, covered, in the fridge, for a few days: they *were* manky berries, but the sugar is now going to preserve them.
  • Not sure it’s safe? Dip your finger in and taste it! If it tastes okay it is okay. If it feels a little fizzy on your tongue then congrats, you’re making your own alcohol. Chuck it!

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.

Leftover Veg Fritti

Leftover Veg Fritti

Leftover green bean fritti

Deep frying used to terrify me. Tracey Barlow setting the house on fire. 1990s fat worries. Public safety films.

My ex-husband taught me the ways of deep frying; he grew up with home-made scotch eggs and battered courgettes. Everything’s good fried, right?

Well, yes. A recent Food Programme talked about how deep frying can be part of a healthy diet. Don’t use the same oil too many times. Eat lots of veg. The terribly boring message of ‘all in moderation’ that is realistic yet not headline grabbing.

This Rachel Roddy recipe is amazing and perfect if you have leftover egg whites. I love her instruction to give the cook a beer or a prosecco, and have people sat to take the fritti piece by piece. The first time I did this, and as I drank the prescribed prosecco, I got more and more excited (yes and a little drunk) –  I can deep fry mushrooms! Tiny sausage balls! Leftover spaghetti! Everything was excellent, as is always the way with Rachel’s recipes…

So enjoy deep frying your green beans, and anything else. Enjoy watching the bubbles pop and the crunch of the batter. Don’t be like Tracey, no chip pan fires here, but a happy cook making sure no small leftover are wasted? Perfection.

Battered lovely veggies

Ann Storr
Adapted, barely, from Rachel Roddy, 'Five Quarters', p49.
The recipe says it takes a couple of hours; that is only to let the batter rest for an hour.
Prep Time 1 hr 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins

Ingredients
  

  • lots of leftover green beans, mushroom, cauliflower, broccoli...
  • 100 grams plain/strong white flour
  • 50 grams wholemeal flour you can just use 150 grams plain flour; amazingly I didn't have any, and this was a lovely combo
  • 200 ml water
  • pinch salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • little piece of white bread
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Tools

  • 2 bowls
  • scales
  • measuring jug
  • electric whisk, or balloon whisk and strong arms
  • metal spoon for folding egg whites into batter
  • deep saucepan
  • funnel and sieve, and jar for storing deep frying oil for another time

Instructions
 

About and hour and a half before you want to eat

  • Make the batter by beating the flour, olive oil, pinch of salt and water into a thick cream. Use the electric whisk or your strong arms. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

When you're ready to cook (and eat)

  • With a clean bowl and whisk, beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Fold the egg whites through the batter.
  • Pour enough oil into your pan so that you've got about 3-4cm deep. Turn the heat on and after a couple of minutes add the little piece of bread. Once it fizzles and pops, the heat is correct.
  • Dip each green bean in the batter so that it gets a lovely thick coating. Don't fry more than about 7 or 8 at a time.
  • Be like Rachel - hand out little fritte, blowing on them, dipping in a little salt and enjoying a cold beer or prosecco at the same time.

The oil

  • When the oil is cool, get your funnel, jar and little sieve. Place the funnel carefully on the jar and the sieve over (to catch little pieces of batter). Carefully pour the oil into the jar. Label the jar with how many times you have used the oil - after 4 uses it's too heavy in oxygen, will taste stale and saturate more quickly. 

 

Leftover sausage and bacon stuffed potatoes

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large potatoes or 8 small...
  • 1 rasher leftover bacon
  • 2 leftover sausages (around 400 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 grams butter
  • 200 grams cheese

Tools

  • Scales
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Potato masher/fork
  • Whisk/fork
  • Oven-proof dish
  • Dessert spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • Optional: metal skewer

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Crumble the sausage into small pieces and chop bacon into small pieces

Method

  • Turn the oven to 180c
  • Prick the potatoes all over with a skewer/fork else they will explode!
  • If you have a metal skewers place them through the potatoes, as this conducts the heat through the middle and saves a lot of time and electricity
  • Depending on the size of your potatoes, they will take between 40m & 2 hours... you can start them off in a microwave if you like (WITHOUT the skewer...)

When the potatoes are cooked

  • When the potatoes are squashy to touch, take them out and *carefully* cut into them; try to cut them through their fat side, so it’s easier to fill them/cover with a lot of cheese.
  • PLEASE BE CAREFUL! THERE WILL BE A LOT OF STEAM READY TO GUSH OUT AND STEAM BURNS ARE PAINFUL
  • Scoop all the soft potato into a mixing bowl and break up with a potato masher/fork. Add the crumbled meat, season, and give a good stir
  • Whisk the eggs, and pour into the potato mixture. Stir again.
  • Place the potato skins in the dish. Using a regular eating spoon, put the potato mixture into the potato skins. Grate cheese all over the top.
  • Return to the oven for between 20 & 40m (depending on the size of your potatoes). They are done when they feel firm.

Storage

  • They will keep for a day or two in the fridge. As you have re-heated the meat once already, be careful! Smell and taste, and if you must re-heat ensure that fucker is piping hot all the way through.

Leftover Easter Egg Salted Nut Bark

Leftover Easter Egg Salted Nut Bark

Leftover Easter Egg Salted Nut Bark

Remember when chocolate pretzels came to the UK? I do. I begged my mum to buy them, and eventually she relented. What was this foul salty, salty biscuit combo? Bah, be GONE. I didn’t hear about chocolate and salt again until The Great Salted Caramel Revolution of 2006. Now even Cadbury’s are at it.

One recipe that caught my StorrCupboard leftover radar on my first flick through of Sue’s ‘Cocoa’ book was the chocolate bark. Leftover Easter chocolates and crisps and nuts all used up all at once?! Making a virtue of the hot mess of all those random chocolates? Luckily, I have embraced salt & chocolate. It works because the salt sharpens the other flavours that make up our experience of chocolate. And this works for leftover Easter chocolate (or Christmas, when some weirdos don’t want to eat the strawberry creams or pralines) because you are melting and mixing chocolate and using strong flavours to top the bark.

But, why are we talking about using up all this cheap chocolate? Surely it’s just full of sugar, fat and crap? Well yes – but there’s a lot more to the cost of cocoa that the price of your egg or chocolate bar. Farmers in countries such as Guyana and Equatorial Guinea earn around 78 American Cents a day or less. About 90p a day. Cocoa farming is a difficult skill and farmers are not fairly paid; most are too poor to ever have even tasted chocolate. The situation is too complex for me to write about here but respect the farmer’s work and don’t waste the food. I highly recommend Sue’s book to learn more about the problem. Yf you have a deeper interest, the amazing ‘Bread, Wine, Chocolate’ by Simran Sethi is excellent.

Salty. Crunchy. Easy. A zero-food-waste hoover. Make your chocolate bark to mix up the chocolates you don’t like and respect the work of each farmer along the way.

Leftover Chocolate Bark

Melt up all those annoying chocolates that you don't really like to make this zero waste bark.
Recipe from 'Cocoa' by Sue Quinn, Hardy Grant, p 232

Ingredients
  

  • at least 100 grams chocolate

Potential toppings; use a total of 10 grams to every 100 grams of chocolate

  • peanuts/any nuts/crisps
  • salt crystals/crushed peppercorns/chilli flakes
  • chopped dried fruit
  • chopped biscuits/biscuit crumbs/dried cake crumbs

Instructions
 

  • Butter or dampen the baking tray and line with greaseproof paper
  • Chop the chocolate roughly and place into the heatproof bowl
  • Place the saucepan on the hob and bring about 5cm of water to a simmer; place the bowl on the pan and make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water (lift the bowl up and see if it's wet). If it is, just pour a little water down the sink.
  • Gently stir the chocolate as it melts
  • As the chocolate melts, chop up any of the toppings you're going to use
  • Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the lined tray and spread it around using your wooden spoon. If you have an off-set spatula, if can help.
  • Sprinkle the toppings over and place in the fridge to set (takes a couple of hours). When totally set cut into shards.

Storage

  • Store at room temperature in a lidded container.

Leftover Easter Egg Hot Chocolate

Leftover Easter Egg Hot Chocolate

Leftover Easter Egg Hot Chocolate

Easter chocolate is its own kind of hell. Lots of little bits and bobs. Lots of little leftovers. Everywhere. From school (when the fuck did teachers start spending their own salaries on chocs for kids??), to grandparents, friends and uncles who know that the biggest Easter eggs are the best Easter Eggs. Of course I give my kids unnecessary Easter Eggs – how could I not?

I was thinking about what you all would love for a little Easter goodness and thought back to last year’s recipes. They’re solid, especially the cheesecake (if I ever meet Ottolenghi…).  But you need more! Happily for us all, Sue Quinn recently published ‘Cocoa: An Exploration of Chocolate, with Recipes’. She kindly gifted me a copy and I spent one afternoon and one Sunday morning reading her words and recipes.

So, how will Sue and I help you to quickly dispatch the Cadbury’s mini eggs and cream eggs and smarties eggs that no-one wants because smarties are smarties and not eggs? Well, first off, your quick quick recipe is for this Spanish inspired hot chocolate. I added more cocoa to counteract the sweetness in milk chocolate and all those shells.

You can dip churros in these, if you like (read: I am not about to make these right now); Sue recommends dipping in salty toast soldiers (oh god). I sipped a little of mine, with extra milk, and intend to drink the whole pot. Like a lady of leisure I shall sip my chocolate, maybe in a bubble path, and thank every last person who gave my children so much chocolate.

 

Leftover chocolate hot chocolate

Barely adapted from 'Cocoa', by Sue Quinn, published by Hardie Grant 2019

Ingredients
  

  • 45 grams cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour
  • pinch sea salt flakes
  • 500 ml milk
  • 25 grams caster sugar
  • 100 grams leftover chocolate if using a bar of chocolate, grate it; if using up lots of little Easter chocolates, with their hard sugar shells, grind in a food processor/pestle and mortar/bashing them with a rolling pin, between 2 clean tea towels
  • 1 star anise/sprinkle of fresh nutmeg, or a cinnamon stick... Use what you like!
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tools

  • scales
  • saucepan
  • whisk
  • measuring jug
  • grater/food processor/rolling pin (see note, above)
  • wooden spoon

Instructions
 

  • Combine the cocoa powder, cornflour and salt in a small bowl
  • Place the milk, sugar, spice and vanilla in a small pan and almost bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour enough of the hot liquid into the cocoa powder mixture to make a paste; stir until smooth.
  • While the pan is off the heat, add the chopped chocolate and cocoa paste to the milk. Stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is well combined. Taste - you may want to add more sugar, as I was conservative.
  • Return the pan to a low heat and stir until thick and creamy - use a whisk if you need to get rid of any lumps. Remove any whole spices.
  • If you're planning to use this as hot chocolate you'll need to add additional hot milk or water

Storage

  • This will keep for around a week in the fridge, in a lidded container

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