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

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 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 Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 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.

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

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 Time1 hr 20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Author: Ann Storr

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 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.