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

 

Ratio: Flapjacks

Want to clear out those bits and bobs of cereal, dried fruit, nuts?
Course: Snack
Keyword: cheap recipies, family recipies
Servings: 16 flapjacks
Author: Ann Storr

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)

 

Leftover Easter Chocolate Eton Mess

Leftover Easter Chocolate Eton Mess

Make Eton Mess with leftover Easter eggs

My mum makes amazing meringues. I do not. This is my gift to you!

Meringues aren’t the easiest thing to make. I have struggled. The egg whites to perfect stiff peaks, and then a little sugar and a little more and a little more and … fluff. Flump. Glossy failure. I would scrub the bowls I’d wash the whisk but every single goddam time my stiff peaks would turn into soft swirls.

My mum once went to the effort of writing out, step by step, every step. Both my mum and ex mother in law makes perfect pavlovas. I cried, I swore, this was not fair!

After we eliminated EVERY variable, we worked it out: I prefer unrefined cane sugar. It’s a bit heavy for meringues. So, no fancy-ass sugar and your meringue woes may be over.

So, for those of us who make a pert meringue and have annoying little chocolates hanging about after Easter, or Christmas, make this fabulous cream-rich, fruit spiked Eton Mess.

 

 

Easter Egg Eton Mess

Based on Sue Quinn, 'Cocoa', p138

Ingredients

  • 150 grams leftover Easter Chocolate
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 200 grams egg whites

To serve

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 25 grams sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the rhubarb

  • 250 grams rhubarb
  • 40 grams caster sugar

Tools

  • scales
  • small heatproof bowl and small pan
  • large bowl
  • electric whisk/stand mixer
  • baking tray
  • greaseproof paper
  • foil
  • chopping board and sharp knife
  • wire cooling rack

Instructions

For the meringue

  • Preheat the oven to 120C. Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper. Set to one side.
  • Chop the chocolate and place in the small bowl. Place about 5cm of water in the saucepan and bring to simmering. Fit the bowl onto the saucepan and stir until the chocolate has melted. Once melted put to one side.
  • Take your bowl and make sure it is scrupulously clean. With your whisk, beat the eggs until stiff peaks form. Once you have stiff peaks, gradually add the sugar, around a tablespoon at a time, until you have stiff peaks again.
  • Pour the sauce over the meringue. Scoop the meringue onto the baking sheet; bake for around an hour, until the top is crisp. Place on the cooling rack.

For the rhubarb

  • Increase the oven heat to 180C.
  • Cut the rhubarb into pieces are 7cm long. Place in the baking dish and sprinkle with the sugar. Wrap the dish with the foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but still holds its shape. When cooked, remove the foil and place on one side.

Finishing the Eton Mess

  • Pour the cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until it holds its shape.
  • Crumble the meringue, and stir the cream and fruit together. Enjoy!

Storage

  • This really doesn't keep. Scoff!

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 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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