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!

Dried Mushrooms

Dried Mushrooms

Zero-waste home dried mushrooms

A couple of years ago, I spent too much money on veg in a farm shop. This is not unusual. A barbecue for all fifteen members of the Storr clan was needed; about half of the adults insist on vegetables (the other half seem to find them garnish). I love to barbecue mushrooms, sweetcorn, cauliflower, tomatoes. So, I bought them.

Mushroom burgers on the barbecue, stuffed full of garlic and parsley butter was what I wanted. I stacked the pan full of charcoal, flipped open a cider and watched the little cousins play in the courtyard. It was the headless space I needed, adding coals to the fire and hitting them with a heavy, dusty poker.

Somehow the mushrooms never made it as far as the barbecue. Back home, through a mind blasting hangover, a heatwave and business, 4 fat mushrooms were starting to decay in my fridge. And I didn’t want the fucking mushrooms or anything that looked backwards.

So I sliced the mushrooms, laid them onto greaseproof paper and shoved them in the oven. A couple of hours later I had a home-grown version of porcini; not as fancy or full of flavour but a million times cheaper (don’t quote me on that stat). Your leftover mushrooms can be used tomorrow, in 2 months or a year.

 

Home dried mushrooms

You can use any that you have going to waste, or if you see loads going cheap at the supermarket

Ingredients

  • mushrooms

Tools

  • Knife & chopping board
  • Baking tray(s)
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Wire cooling rack

Instructions

Prep

  • Turn the oven to 140C. Line the tray(s) with greaseproof paper.
  • Wipe the mushrooms if needed. Slice them into 5mm pieces. Arrange on the tray(s) in rows with no overlapping.
  • Place in the oven for around 2 hours, checking on them from time to time.
  • Once they are dried out, leave to cool on a wire cooling rack. 

Storage

  • Store in a lidded airtight container. Use within around a year.

Use

  • Rehydrate in warm water as and when needed.

 

Mushroom Ragout

Mushroom Ragout

Leftover Mushroom Ragout

Mushrooms are where lots of us head for a meat-free feast. This mushroom ragout is perfect for any cold damp evenings.

Polenta – a word. If you can, avoid the quick cook. Unless you’re going to cook loads of polenta, then it’s a false economy. If you have a large, cheap bag of polenta/course cornmeal, you can use it in pancakes and cornbread.

The original recipe calls for red wine; I didn’t have any but I did have beer and that worked fine. I’ve done it with chicken stock, with veg or mushroom stock. They’ll all taste different and all lovely.

 

Mushroom Ragout

Adapted from 'River Cottage Veg Every Day', p57
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time55 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the polenta

  • 600 ml water
  • 150 ml milk
  • 150 grams polenta/course cornmeal quick cook or normal
  • 25 grams Italian hard cheese/gran padano etc
  • 50 grams butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable/olive oil
  • 25 grams unsalted butter
  • around 650 grams mushrooms
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • few sprigs thyme
  • 150 ml beer/wine
  • 150 ml any type of stock or just water

To serve

  • loads of cheese

Tools

  • knife & chopping board
  • scales
  • measuring jug
  • wooden spoon
  • balloon whisk
  • saucepan with lid
  • large frying pan
  • plate

Instructions

For quick cook polenta

  • For quick cook, cook as per packet instructions and, at the very end, stir through the butter and cheese. 

For regular polenta

  • Heat the water and milk in a large, lidded pan.
  • When the water & milk come to the boil, add the cornmeal/polenta, letting it run in thin streams through your fingers, whisking continuously. Stir for a minute or two until it thickens.
  • Turn the heat right down and stir well, roughly every 4-5 minutes to prevent it sticking. Keep going for about 35-45 minutes, until the polenta begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Stir in the butter and cheese, and serve with the mushrooms.

For the mushroom ragout

  • Heat 1 tablespoon and half the butter in the frying pan. Add half the mushrooms, season well and turn the heat up high. Stir often to encourage the water in the mushrooms to evaporate.
  • Cook the mushrooms until they deepen in colour. Once they are cooked through, add half the garlic and thyme and stir for a minute. Tip onto the waiting plate and set to one side.
  • Repeat with the other mushrooms.
  • When all the mushrooms are cooked, return the first batch to the pan. Add the wine/beer and stock/water and bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer.
  • Serve together

Leftovers/storage

  • Polenta will keep in the fridge, in a lidded container. You can warm it up adding a little milk or water and beating with a balloon whisk. Top with pesto, or small shreds of meat or veg - whatever, it's leftover lovlieness.

Leftover Green Beans with Pasta and Pesto

Leftover Green Beans with Pasta and Pesto

I love green beans but they are a problematic veggie. We’re so used to having them week in and out when, really, they need a lot of warmth to grow. We don’t have a lot of warmth in the UK. So, if you’re going to be buying a packet of green beans that have been flown in from Kenya, then for fuck’s sake do not waste a single one.

This is a riff on a classic late-spring Italian recipe; green beans with pasta, potatoes and pesto. That’s it. It’s real cucina-di-povera. Yes it’s double carb but just, you know, don’t be greedy. If you can be bothered, cut the potatoes and beans so that they are a similar length to the pasta.

If you have an errant salad pack or bag of baby leaf spinach sitting in your fridge, then make your own pesto! Okay it’s not a stunning jar of authentic basil/pine nut/parmesan pesto but, remember the roots of pesto: people making the most of what they have around them every day.

A handful of green beans can be the inspiration behind tonight’s supper, and I hope you enjoy making sure there’s never a leftover, leftover.

 

Leftover Green Beans with Pasta and Pesto

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • leftover green beans
  • 200 grams short pasta, such as fusilli or penne you can use anything, it's just nice to have the food a similar size
  • 200 grams salad potatoes
  • few tablespoons pesto

Tools

  • Scales
  • Slotted spoon/tongs
  • Knife & chopping board
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Colander/sieve
  • Spoon
  • Mixing bowl

Instructions

Optional: make the pesto using this recipe

  • Rinse the potatoes and place in the pan and cover with cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Cover with the lid and bring to the boil
  • If your potatoes are lots of different sizes, or you just need to cook very quickly, you can cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Whilst the potatoes are cooking, cut the green beans to a similar length to the pasta.
  • Check for 'done-ness' - depending on the size they'll be ready in anything between 20 and 30 minutes.
  • When they are soft, remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon/tongs and place in the bowl. Do not drain the water. Stir pesto through the potatoes whilst warm.
  • Get the water boiling again and cook the pasta; check it 2 minutes before the packet suggests as sometimes they aren't quite accurate.
  • When the pasta is done, again remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pesto and potatoes.
  • Boil the beans in the potato pasta water. Remove when done, around 4 minutes.
  • Add more pesto if you wish (I like a lot) and serve.

Storage

  • This will keep in a lidded container, in your fridge, for up to 5 days, although it'll be better within a day or two of cooking.

Leftover celery stir-fry

Leftover celery stir-fry

Leftover celery stir fry

Last weekend I was a little worried about what leftover celery recipes would show how versatile celery can be; not another cream of celery soup (though I love it) or coleslaw.  Like the rest of the wealthy world I’m a cookbook junkie. Because buying them is the same as cooking from them, right? Ergh. I’m as mature as I was, 20 years ago, photocopying endless essays in the corner shop, imagining some Johnny-5 type powers of speed inputting were transmitting themselves up through the photocopier lid as the light slid over the text.

So last Saturday night I sat, cross legged on my childhood bed, glass or 2 of Merlot in hand, surrounded by Thomasina Miers, Jane Grigson, Mandy Aftel and Ching-He Huang (Why yes I rock the party). As I turned the pages of Huang’s ‘Stir Fry’, I realised I’d forgotten how amazing celery is in a stir fry. D’uh you may say. You would be right.

Yet another of my many culinary blind sides has been tofu. I tried it years ago and just no.  Just tasteless and spongy.

In January I was off to Cambridge, leaving from King’s Cross. Happily for me, it was lunchtime. A friend with an unholy knowledge of top restaurants had long advised a meal Supawan, and good god he was right. One bowl of spicy noodles with pork, seafood and tofu (I like neither seafood nor tofu) later, I got it. The soft, slight blandness against stronger flavours such as celery, oyster sauce and chilli. Perfect.

I did think twice about including this recipe as it does call for Shaoshing rice wine, or sherry; I’m sure a white wine vinegar will be nice, though not quite the same flavour. But £3 is £3, whichever way you cut it. I’d love to hear what would be a cheap alternative.

Your leftover celery can be less than sterling for this recipe, but with a little crunch is best. The peppery celery blends with the peanuts and Chinese flavours for a meal that, well – well I ate the entire portion. For two. By myself.

By Sunday afternoon I had got through Huang, Miers, 2 Grigsons and half of Aftel. Happily, osmosis hasn’t ever quite worked as well as the unadulterated luxury of quiet, good wine and good books.

 

Leftover celery stir-fry

Adapted from 'Stir-Fry' by Ching-He Huang, p150
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 packet smoked tofu
  • pinch sea salt
  • grinding pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour I used plain & it was fine
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Shaosing rice wine
  • 2 large leftover celery sticks
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce/shoyu
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • pinch dry chilli flakes
  • small handful roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Jasmine rice, to serve

Tools

  • Knife & chopping board
  • Garlic crusher optional
  • Saucepan, for rice
  • Wok/large frying pan

Instructions

  • Put rice on to cook as per packet instructions.
  • Slice celery on the diagonal. Dice the tofu and sprinkle with seasoning and place to one side
  • Finely chop or crush the garlic
  • Place the wok on a high heat until smoking and add the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and toss for a few seconds ONLY. Add the tofu and leave for a minute to set and brown. Toss the tofu and garlic a couple of times, leaving around 30 seconds between, until the tofu is browned.
  • Add the rice wine or dry sherry, then the celery and cook for just under a minute until softened but still crisp.
  • Season with soy sauce, oyster sauce and chilli flakes and mix well.
  • Add the peanuts and sesame oil. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the jasmine rice.

Candied Lemon Peel

Candied Lemon Peel

Leftover lemon heart vinegar

I started obsessing about food waste when my kids were little and I was determined to give them as much organic produce as possible. Not everyone’s priority or privilege. I got by on spending around £60 a week on food and honestly, I was proud that I did manage.  Family or friends would raise their eyebrows and roll their eyes when I talked about my veg box, but I knew I was giving us good food. I learned to ignore the eye rolls. Using every scrap of a leftover lemon, half a sausage or pot of sour yoghurt made sure we could eat home-cooked food and I’m grateful that I learned to cook at home and school.

Lemons are so normal in our fridges but travel from Spain, Italy, Israel and, TBH, who knows where, just so we can put a little wedge in our gin & tonic or have a sweet and sour pancake. Leftover lemons deserve more than going hard inside your fridge door – let’s use every last scrap.

I came across this recipe in the James Beard Waste Not Cookbook. I have a growing collection of food waste books which makes me happy. Some focus on the scraps and others on how to cook one meal and then use those leftovers. For me it’s a mixture of both.

This ‘recipe’ is great and so thrifty. A 50p bottle of white vinegar. Lemon rinds. That’s it. You likely will use about 10 pence worth of vinegar in this recipe. You can use your leftover lemon vinegar in dressings, marinades or even mixed with sugar syrup and lightly poured over ice cream (especially good for those of us who don’t have the sweetest tooth).

The eco-cleaners out there know that distilled white vinegar is *the* hot cleaning product. I use mine in place of laundry detergent and for cleaning my bathroom (along with washing up liquid and bicarbonate of soda). Eco often means cheap because a spangly new product isn’t necessarily going to do a better job than some cheap bicarb (I say this as a person whose mum bought her a ££dress££ on Sunday and I enjoyed every second). 50p well spent, no?

Using every last scrap of your food saves you money which sometimes means you can buy that nice dress (over time), or, for me, means I can buy the organic butter or lemons. Every purchase we make is a choice, one way or another. Every leftover we make the most of helps the planet one little choice at a time.

 

 

Candied leftover lemon peel

Adapted from 'Cooking with Scraps' Lindsey-Jean Heard
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs

Ingredients

  • at least 2 leftover lemons (or lemons you'll use for something else)
  • 200 grams caster sugar

Tools

  • Sharp small knife or speed peeler
  • Saucepan
  • Scales
  • Sieve/colander
  • Cooling rack
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Storage jar or box

Instructions

  • If using whole lemons: use a speed peeler or a small sharp knife peel the rind off and place the lemons in the fridge for another dish
  • If using lemons you've squeezed for something, it'll be a little harder but totally fine - you'll just need to take a little more time
  • Place the peels in a medium sized saucepan and pour in cold water until the pan is nearly full. Put on to boil & boil for 2 minutes then drain and repeat twice. This is how you'll get rid of the bitterness and make the peels tender
  • After the third boil and sieve, leave the hot peels until they are cool to the touch.
  • Mix 150g of sugar and 175 ml water in the saucepan
  • Slowly bring to the boil and stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar
  • When the sugar is dissolved add the peels and turn the heat to medium
  • Simmer until the peels become translucent - anything between 60 and 90 minutes
  • Don't stir the peels! Every 15 minutes you can gently push the peels under the surface
  • Check the peels to make sure that they are simmering. You might need to turn the heat up and down to keep an even simmer
  • When the peels are translucent, get your cooling rack and place some baking paper underneath to catch the drips
  • Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently place the peels on the cooling rack to dry - not all bunched up, in separate pieces. Let the syrup drip off the peels back into the saucepan before placing on the rack

The next day

  • When the peels are dry, add 25grams of sugar to a clean bowl and toss the peels to coat. Use more if the peels aren't fully covered
  • Take your airtight container and put a thin layer of sugar at the bottom and add some peels, trying to keep them from touching

Storage

  • The peels will keep for up to 2 months in the pot

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:

ann@storrcupboard.com