Sad salad pack chicken stew

Sad salad pack chicken stew

This stew is just yum.  Just. Yum.  It was inspired by the wonderful Victoria Glass, from her amazing ‘Too Good to Waste’ book.  Her stew uses sweet flavours – sweet potatoes and red peppers.  Lovely, but I wanted super super simple.  The leek is great and don’t miss it out if possible as it adds a gentleness that is just delicious.

Using chicken thighs is really cheap, and much better for a stew than breast meat.  On my insta stories I showed how to render the fat from the skins; you just leave them cooking verrrrrrrrry slowly and the fat will leach out.  And then you, dear cook, get to eat it all.  Yum.

Then the leaves – just stir them in and watch them wilt down.  Supper in one pot – what’s not to love?

Leftover salad pack Chicken Stew

Inspired by Victoria Glass, Too Good to Waste, p25

Serves 4

Ingredients

800 grams chicken thighs (4 chunky ones or a packet of 8)
1 onion (around 80 grams)
1 leek (around 100 grams)
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
3 potatoes (around 500 grams)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 litre chicken stock
Any leftover salad pack leaves that you need to eat up!

Tools

Heavy saucepan
Tongs, if you have them
Knife
Chopping board
Jug

Time

About half an hour;  active time and 45 minutes simmering – so about an hour and a half all told

Prep

Pull the skins off the chicken thighs
Finely dice the onion
Wash the leek and slice in half lengthways
Cut the leek into half moons
Dice the carrot and the celery
Peel and crush the garlic

Method

Place the skins in a cold frying pan and turn the heat to medium; sprinkle over a little salt . Turn them every couple of minutes and press the skins into the pan

When they are crispy and crunchy, remove and either scoff them or use them to add crunch to a salad another day

Turn the heat up and brown the chicken all around; you may have to do this in batches

As the chicken pieces are ready, place them on a plate and leave them to one side.  Keep cooking until you have them all finished up

Place the onion and leek into the hot fat and sweat for about 10 minutes, until soft

When they are soft, add in the carrots and celery and sweat until soft

When the veggies are soft, scrape them out and leave to one side

Add in a little more fat and turn the heat up

Pop your potatoes into the hot fat and brown on all sides

When the potatoes are brown, turn the heat down and add in the crushed garlic and stir around the hot fat for one minute

Once the garlic is cooked, return all the veggies and chicken pieces to the pan

Pour over the chicken stock, bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down and leave to simmer.  You may need to rotate the pieces from time to time

When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the leaves.  They should only take a minute or two to wilt

Storage

Leave to cool to room temperature; if the leaves were on the wonk, freeze any leftovers.  If you were just bored of them, you should have up for 5 days to eat the stew.  Only reheat what you want at each meal.

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

Salad pack pesto

Salad pack pesto

Salad packs are easy to grab in the supermarket and easy to forget about, honestly.

If you’re not keen on cooking up your greens, then how about making a waste-busting pesto?  My dearest friend Chloe has lived in Italy for 15 years, and I’m not sure how she’d feel about this recipe…

Pesto pasta is a simple tea for many families so having a jar in the fridge is quite normal for all of us.  I prefer home made pesto because I like mine a little chunky and funky.  I made mine with my hand held immersion blender, but if you have a food processor it’s quicker.

I love mixing my pesto in a salad, and because it’s full of nuts and cheese, I find it really filling and a great work lunch.  Enjoy making your leftover loving salad pack pesto!

Salad pack pesto

Ingredients

around 50 grams leftover salad pack, any sort
around 50 grams nuts – whole or ground almonds if they need eating up
150 ml oil (any)
75 grams hard cheese – Italian hard cheese or a hard goat cheese
2 cloves of garlic
Salt

Tools

Scales
Immersion blender or food processor
Jar for storing

Time

About 10 minutes with a food processor, 20 minutes without

Method

Processor method

Pulverise leaves until they are chopped but not goo-ey
Remove and then chop the nuts until they are ground down

Immersion blender method

Squash up the leaves, going up and down and clearing the leaves as and when you need to
Remove and next it’s the nuts; again jiggle it up and down (or use ground almonds)

Both methods

Add to the leaves
Grate the cheese and garlic in the bowl, sprinkle over the salt, and pour over the oil
Mix and taste, adding in more garlic/salt/cheese until you are happy

Storage/further meals

If your leaves are a little old, then I’d get that pesto eaten toot suite
If you can’t get that pesto stirred through pasta or salad soon and the leaves were old, SCRAPE that shit straight into some silicone ice cube trays.]
If your leaves weren’t terribly old your pesto will keep for a while but is best eaten within a couple of days

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

Sad salad pack rescue mission

Sad salad pack rescue mission

How to rescue leftover salad packs

I’m not a fan of salad packs – those washed bags of rocket and crunchy slightly meh leaves.  I definitely don’t like a bowl of rocket.  As a dedicated veg box customer these fuckers come my way from time to time.  Supermarket salad packs aren’t great either; the bags are gassed for preservation, with nothing to be said for the way that the leaves are farmed, ‘neutralising’ the soil because the ecosystem has been so depleted through the farming methods required to grow acres and acres of these delicate plants – which shouldn’t need fucking neutralising!  It’s soil!  Aaanyway … the reason your salad pack turns from a bag of scrumptious leaves to green goo as soon as it’s opened is because that gas has now escaped, and those leaves that are quite possibly weeks old are now, you know, too old and they will go off.

The sheer amount of energy that is expended to get these buggers to your supermarket – not to mention the time to take to earn the money to pay for the leaves – means there’s no room to waste your leftover salad pack.

As I said, I’m not a huge fan of the salad pack.  So, this is my thought process: okay, I don’t like this ingredient/I’m stuck.  I don’t want salad.  Why would I want salad?  It’s fucking January, why would ANYONE want a salad in January?! I slam the fridge and sulk and imagine inhaling a bowl of warm pasta, even though I’m not terribly hungry and the salad back is begging to turn a little yellow…

So, I calm down, stop the anxious brain from running and look at it again.

These are leaves.  Little baby leaves.  You know what else is leaves?  Spinach.  You buy spinach leaves, no?  Or bags of frozen spinach?!

So, wash those leaves, pop them in a little pan with a dash of extra water and cook them down for about 5 minutes on a medium heat.  They’ll wilt down and – voila!  Okay okay okay they don’t taste the same as spinach – give your cooked greens a taste and see what you think.  You might want to mix them up with your spinach to, essentially, well, hide the taste.  I won’t judge.  You can even then freeze the cooked greens, perfect if you need a few days’ grace.

To freeze your cooked greens, simply lie a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray; squish up little handfuls of greens and place on the tray, and when you’ve used all the greens, cover and place in the freezer.  Once frozen hard you can pop into a bag and VOILA, frozen greens, ready to heat up and stir through any soup, stew or whatever you like! Leftover salad packs never seemed so versatile!

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Half a pot of ricotta) chicken meatballs

(Half a pot of ricotta) chicken meatballs

On my leftover ricotta quest, as discussed, once I realised that a. it’s just soft cheese, and b., it’s a common Italian ingredient, well, friends, my life got a lot easier.

I bought the Rachel Roddy books last year and have been lucky enough to meet her a couple of times.  She’s as generous, friendly and kind as she sounds from her books and Guardian column, and she has kindly allowed me to reproduce one of her recipes here.

And wow, these meatballs.  Mamma mia (I didn’t know people really say that in Italy – they do!).  Like fluffy little pillows, oh man!  I served them with fresh bread and peas.  The meatballs are a little wet, so take your time when shaping them – that’s why Rachel recommends having wet hands, as it helps the mixture to not stick.

I had to make the meatballs a couple of hours before supper, and left them in the fridge, between making and serving for supper.  They were just as good as the few I pan fried with the courgettes and tomatoes for my lunch.

These chicken balls are heavenly – light and tender, perfect for using your leftover ricotta, and warming your favourite people on a cold, January night.

Chicken balls with ricotta and lemon (for leftover ricotta)

Reproduced with permission from Rachel Roddy, ‘Two Kitchens’, Headline, p236

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the meatballs

300 grams minced chicken breast
200 grams ricotta
grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon
60 grams soft white breadcrumbs
50 grams Parmesan, grated
a pinch of dried oregano
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt & freshly ground black pepper

To cook and serve

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
a sprig of rosemary
200 ml white wine, or 500 ml tomato sauce, or 1 litre broth

Tools

Large mixing bowl
Couple of little bowls
Scales
Teaspoon/measuring spoons
Grater
Immersion blender (if you need to make breadcrumbs)
Large frying pan
Grater
Tray
Baking parchment/paper

Time

About half an hour; you can leave the cold meatballs, covered, in the fridge to cook later in the day

Prep

Make breadcrumbs

Method

In a bowl, mix together the chicken, ricotta, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, oregano and eggs using your hands, and season well with salt and pepper. With wet hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls, and place them on a tray lined with baking parchment

In a large frying pan over a medium-low heat, warm the olive oil and fry the garlic and whole spring of rosemary until fragrant, then remove from the pan. Add the chicken balls and fry gently, turning them until they are brown on all sides

If you are using white wine, add it to the pan, where it will sizzle, then let the meatballs simmer for 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time so they don’t stick.  By the end of cooking they should be tender but cooked through, in a slightly thickened sauce.

If you are using tomato sauce or broth, warm the sauce in a pan large enough to accommodate both it and the meatballs. Once the sauce or broth is almost boiling, drop the balls into it, making sure they are submerged.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and poach for 15 minutes, by which time the meatballs should be cooked through by still tender.

Storage

These are best eaten on the day; any leftovers, as ever, cool to room temperature, cover and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Half a pot of ricotta) cookies

(Half a pot of ricotta) cookies

A quick google search for baking with leftover ricotta pairs it with lemon; I wanted something a little more tea-time-y, for the kids (ahem) to attack after school.

Naturally, Italian recipes are where I should have headed to, straight away, when I was staring at the ricotta and wishing it away.  When faced with a leftover or an ingredient that you get a “NO” about, well, give it to someone who’ll like it at work, or think about what cuisine it comes from/is associated with.  So leftover lamb is great with Middle Eastern spices; leftover nuts work well in Far-Eastern and African cuisines; and ricotta – well, Italian, d’uh.

These cookies are like little cake bites; so soft and fluffy and not too sweet.  If you love lemon, go ahead and add a grating of fresh unwaxed zest if you like.  I like these comforting with vanilla, perfect with a cup of tea, 4pm, when I step away from the laptop and fart around the house/pretend the kids aren’t staring at the screen/ignore the plaintive looks of the dog.

(Leftover ricotta) cookies

Makes millions (about 30)

Ingredients

115 grams soft unsalted butter
100 grams caster sugar (though really any aside from dark brown will work)
1 egg
215 grams ricotta
100 grams ground almonds
150 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Tools

Large mixing bowl
Scales
Teaspoon/measuring spoons
Baking trays
Greaseproof paper
Electric hand whisk/whisk and strong arms!
Flipper for taking the cookies off the baking trays
Wire cooling rack

Optional: Jug/bowl with water/flour – for making it easier to shape the cookies

Time

If the butter is already room temperature, then about 15 minutes to mix and another 15 or so to bake
Longer if you need to leave your butter to soften
You can leave the mixture in the fridge if you’d want to say make the dough earlier and bake later

Prep

Leave butter to come to room temperature
Line your tins with greaseproof paper

Method

Turn the oven to 180C
Mix the butter, ricotta, sugar, vanilla and egg until combined
Mix in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
Don’t over mix! This is quite a wet dough, don’t worry!

If you want to leave the mixture to rest, cover and place in the fridge.  Bake within 3 days

Using a teaspoon, scoop out mixture
If possible, shape into rounds – you might find it easier to have floured, or very wet hands, to do this
When placing on the tray leave around 5 cm between cookies to allow for spreading
Bake for between 12 and 20 minutes and check – this really depends on your oven and whether the dough has been in the fridge.  I had to rotate my trays 180 degrees to make sure my cookies were golden all the way round
They will be soft, so leave for a minute to harden before transferring to the cooling rack
Enjoy!

Storage

They’ll be safe to eat for even after 5 days, though stale

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Learning to love) not keen on ricotta

(Learning to love) not keen on ricotta

Three weeks ago I had a leftover milk glut.  I made lots of things, including paneer and ricotta.  The paneer went into a pea and paneer curry (which I’ll post another time … so many recipes from one milk mistake!).  So, leftover milk lead to me having a dish of home-made ricotta. But, as I confessed last week, I don’t really like ricotta.  Ha!

I know that we can learn to tolerate, like or love many different foods.  What we like is informed by where we’re from, the rules we grow up with, what our friends and family do and don’t like.  And, it’s also a way of explaining who we are to the world – if you eat meat, you don’t eat sugar, you’re plant based or a foodie or a McDonalds lover.

(Interested in learning more?  Read Bee Wilson’s First Bite, it’s fascinating.  Or just this essay – in 1989, a lawyer called Jeffrey Steingarten was approached by Anna Wintour to be American Vogue’s food writer.  He said yes, obvs.  Quite the career change.  Having agreed to take the job, he realised there were many foods and flavours he loathed – clams!  dill (yep, foul stuff TBH)! lard!  He taught himself to like these foods.  Yes he’s unnecessarily rude about Greek food – skip that nonsense and work onwards to how he overturned his tastes and found it much more exciting to eat, especially in restaurants, because he now liked everything on a menu and everything was up for grabs. Hoorah!).

So I took my own, small, ricotta based challenge, sought the help of my lovely Insta helpers and got on it. I did have spinach and ricotta cannelloni, courtesy of Dad Storr.  I can report that I’m Still Not Keen on cooked ricotta, sorry dad (though thank you for lunch).  So I made some more ricotta to further experiment.

Molly Wizenburg’s second book, ‘Delancey’, is where I first learned about making ricotta (though I used Victoria Glass’s recipe).  So, I returned and took some breakfast inspo from Molly.  She writes about smearing fresh ricotta onto hearty toast and adding fruit compote or freshly roasted fruit.  I have no fruit compote and it’s a terrible time of year for fruit, so I went for some heaped teaspoons of my dad’s raspberry jam.  MUCH BETTER, and my dad makes fucking amazing jam.  The sharp jam with the sweetish cheese was just lovely and would be an ace breakfast.

Verdict: good!  I learnt that ricotta is just basically cream cheese, and I like creamy things.  Kinda simple, very quick, and very nice indeed.

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

ann@storrcupboard.com