(Leftover milk) cheese sauce extravaganza

(Leftover milk) cheese sauce extravaganza

During my fridge full of milk conundrum, lots of people suggested a cheese sauce freezing for another day.

So I thought: I’ll let you know why MY mum’s cheese/white sauce is the best.  You’re WELCOME.

My mum taught me to gently heat the milk with a bay leaf, seasoning and nutmeg, and leave it to stand for a few hours.  I go a little further and add a leek stalk (if I have it, or some onion ends or half an onion), a parmesan rind (if I have it – it means I need less cheese in the final sauce), and maybe some parsley – preferably just the stalks.  Don’t let the milk boil.  And then leave the milk to stand for anything from 5 minutes to overnight – take the onion/leek out after an half an hour though, else the flavour will dominate.

If, when you go to make your white/cheese sauce, you don’t need all the milk, just freeze it and label it “seasoned milk”.  So you don’t put it in your tea.

Once you’ve tried seasoning your milk you won’t go back…

Now this cauliflower cheese is how my mum made it, to feed a family of 6 a few days before payday.  A ring of mashed potato because cheese sauce and mash are heavenly; plus it was cheap as chips.  The plum tomatoes in the middle are beloved by my dad.  As a kid I didn’t get it at all, but the sharp tang and thin sauce just work.  Don’t fight it.

So make your cheese sauce, and if you like, make your cauliflower cheese and freeze it for a skint January evening.

(Note – my mum made this for 6, but I’ve given quantities for 4, as not many people are mad enough to have a family of 6 these days)

(Leftover milk) cauli cheese

Serves 4, heartily

Ingredients

For the mashed potato:

700 grams floury potatoes such as white/red/King Edwards/Maris pipers
50 grams unsalted butter
50 ml milk

For the cheese sauce

500 ml milk
Aromatics – all optional but all lovely: freshly ground nutmeg, parsley stalks, leek tops/half an onion, parmesan rind
Salt & pepper
50 grams unsalted butter
90 grams plain flour
Around 100 grams strong cheese – whatever you like, including cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese, even emmental, gouda – this is a great way to clear the fridge
1 teaspoon mustard

Optional: 1 tin whole plum tomatoes

Tools

Colander
Saucepan with lid
Optional: pan and steamer
Saucepan
Balloon whisk
Scales
Serving bowl
Heatproof jug
Ovenproof dish

Time

About  an hour and a quarter (though around 35 minutes of that is the baking time)

Prep

Place the milk in a saucepan with any aromatics
Gently heat until about blood temperature and then leave for at least 5 minutes or up to a day
Remove any onion flavourings after half an hour

Method

Turn the oven to 180C

Make the mash

Steam or boil your potatoes with plenty of salt
Once they are cooked through, mash with plenty of butter
Only add enough milk to make the mash the right consistency for you; you can use more if you like
If you have a potato ricer or mouli, this is the time to break it out – you want a really creamy mashed potato.  No lumps thanks.

Make white sauce

Strain any aromatics from your milk
Place a saucepan on the hob and melt the butter
Add the flour and, using the balloon whisk or a fork, mix the flour in
Splash in about 50ml of the milk and make a thick paste
Keep on adding around 50ml of milk, whisking until all the flour/butter mixture is combined
Bring gently to the boil and, once it’s popping gently, turn the heat down and stir occasionally for 5 minutes
Add in the cheese/cheeses and mustard (if using)

Steam the cauliflower for about 15 minutes, so that it’s not fully raw

Mix the half-cooked cauli and cheese sauce together

Assemble the dish

Squash the mash around the edge of your oven-proof dish
Next, pour in the cauliflower cheese
If using the tomatoes, make a well in the middle and pour in
Cover with a thin layer of grated cheese

NOTE – if freezing the whole dish, leave it to cool, cover, label then freeze

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through

Storage/further meals

If you’re not planning to eat this dish within 3 days I’d play it safe and pop it in the freezer

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Bread sauce scraping) little baked pockets

(Bread sauce scraping) little baked pockets

These are my biggest experiment and I’d love to know what you think. Bread sauce, reimagined, 3 ways, baby.

I thought about scones and I thought about their non-buttery brother soda bread and I thought fuck it – let’s try something different.

These are funny things .- halfway between a pitta and a cracker. They are best when warm – slice into each little pocket and stuff in any scraps of cheese that have been hanging around.  The cheese goes a little melty and against the little cracker pocket it’s perfect.

The cumin seeds are optional; bread sauce is traditionally made by simmering bread and milk with an onion that has been studded with a couple of cloves.  Cloves, cumin and hard cheese are a fab combination, so if you feel like getting creative with your leftovers (and maybe avoiding a trip to the shops) try these!

(Bread sauce scraping) Cumin Pockets

Makes around 12, depending on the size of your cutter

Ingredients

around 150 grams leftover bread sauce
225 grams plain white flour + more for rolling out
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Around 1 tablespoon milk

Tools

Scales
Measuring spoons/teaspoon
Bowl
Greaseproof paper
Baking sheets
Rolling pin or wine bottle
Optional: biscuit cutter (I use an egg-poaching ring) or sharp knife

Time

About twnety minutes to assemble and an additional 15-18 minutes to bake

Prep

Take the butter out of the fridge to soften

Method

Turn the oven to 180C and line the tray(s) with baking paper
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and cumin seeds together
Rub in the butter
When the butter is rubbed in, stir the bread sauce in
You should have a fairly soft dough
Flour your kitchen surface and roll out the dough until its around 5mm thick
Either cut out circles or us a sharp knife to cut squares/triangles (I usually do this – saves time)
Reshape any off cuts of dough and re-roll/cut
Place the pockets on the lined tray and brush with a little milk
Bake for around 15-18 minutes until golden
Once baked and golden and puffy removed from the oven
Carefully, cut into them and liberally stuff with cheese and allow the cheese to melt; enjoy!

Storage/further meals

Eat when warm and stuffed for best flavour; reheat as necessary.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Bread sauce scraping) Christmas bake

(Bread sauce scraping) Christmas bake

The winter is finally setting in; the cold wind on my fingers and condensation on the single glazed windows means it’s time to use your oven for cooking.

I started thinking about how to make the most out of bread sauce a few weeks back and, I confess, I’ve found it hard.  The bread that’s in the sauce changes so much from its original state.

So I thought – sauce spreads, that’s why we like it – it eases down chunks of meat and veg.   White sauce is gloopy (my brain is the stuff of legends).

When you’re looking at the unfinished bowls from Christmas dinner on the table or in your fridge, break up any roast spuds and parsnips, and have some slices of leftover turkey, ham or stuffing to hand.  Layer them.  pour over any leftover gravy, or stock if you’ve no gravy.  Warm up the bread sauce if you have to, add a little milk to loosen, if you have to.  Push the sauce to cover your dish.  Then store it in the fridge to feed hungry people another day, or label and pop in the freezer where skint, cold January you will be very happy to remember the Christmas bake, nestled in your freezer.

(Bread sauce scraping) Christmas bake

Serves 2, heartily

Ingredients

around 150 grams leftover roasties and parsnips
around 100 grams leftover meat
Handful of sprouts
100ml of leftover gravy/fresh stock/mixture of both
150 grams leftover bread sauce
A little extra milk, if needed

Tools

Knife, chopping board
Oven proof dish
Jug if needed to make stock

Time

About ten minutes to assemble
35 minutes to bake

Prep

Break the potatoes and parsnips into smaller pieces, around 5mm wide
Same with the meat/stuffing
If the bread sauce is very thick, then loosen with some more milk until it’s spreadable/like double cream

Method

Turn the oven to 180C
Place a layer of veg in the ovenproof dish
Then a layer of meat
So on and so forth until used up, ending with a layer of veg
Pour the stock/gravy over
Smooth the bread sauce over the filling
Bake for around 35 minutes

Storage/further meals

If you’re not planning to eat this dish within 3 days I’d play it safe and pop it in the freezer

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Half a glass of) Red Wine Risotto

(Half a glass of) Red Wine Risotto

Leftover wine means risotto.  I so rarely make it because (cough) I don’t like to have leftover wine, and I certainly don’t like sacrificing a hefty glass to the cooking pan.  A bottle of wine isn’t a cheap thing for most of us; I hover around spending around £7 per bottle and I intend to drink my wine!  But when drinking it isn’t on the cards, let’s not waste our precious my precious wine.

Oh, to live in Italy or France where 4 euro wine is good!  Anyway, this price point reminds us to not leave half empty glasses of wine. or be like Marina O’Loughlin and not pour hulking great glasses in the first place.  If you’re tidying up after a boozy lunch or lovely party DON’T throw every half glass leftover; freeze it if you need to and know that this risotto can be filling up your bowl with all its warming and cosy goodness.

This red wine risotto can use up frozen red wine if you have some lurking.  I served it to my friend Lucy with a hefty stir through of Stilton and some leftover sprouts; both optional, but if you’re feeding a lotta people on Boxing Day or after, this is a thrifty and delicious way to nail those tricky leftovers.

(One glass of leftover) Red Wine and Stilton Risotto

Serves 2, heartily

Ingredients

50 grams unsalted butter
1 medium onion (around 100 grams)
200 grams risotto rice
250ml red wine
250ml chicken/veg stock/water
Around 100g blue cheese (optional)
Around 50 grams grand padano/any Italian hard cheese
Leftover greens (totally optional)

Tools

Knife, chopping board
Large frying pan
Wooden spoon
Grater

Time

About three quarters of an hour

Prep

If using frozen wine, defrost
Finely dice the onion
If using a stock cube, prep the stock

Method

Heat the butter in the saucepan and when it’s a little frothy, add the diced onion
Cook on a medium/low heat until the onion is see-through – at least 10 minutes but give it 20 if you can
DON’T LET IT BROWN
Only when the onion is soft enough to be squashed with your wooden spoon add the risotto rice
Stir it around and make sure it’s all covered with the butter
Turn up the heat and pour in the wine; let is cook nice and hot for a couple of minutes
Heat back down to medium and add some stock/water and stir
Keep on adding the stock/water and giving the odd stir until the rice has a nice texture; not too soft but I’m not keen on too much of a bite.  Some brands of rice might take 20 minutes, some 30, so follow pack instruction
When you’re happy, stir through the grated hard cheese, and a little of the blue cheese, if using
If you’ve got some greens or sprouts to use up, stir them through, too
Serve with extra blue cheese and  sprouts if you like

Storage/further meals

Lots of people worry about storing leftover rice; billions of people all over the world eat leftover rice, so just be careful and you’ll be fine
Allow to cool to room temperature then cover
You can keep for 5 days in the fridge as long as kept cold and covered
Only reheat what you need at any one time

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

(Three ways with half a) Cabbage and coconut soup

(Three ways with half a) Cabbage and coconut soup

A few years ago I was working at a summer show – you know, loads of tents and you can walk around, buy some nice food and a pint of Pimms (what?) and maybe watch a dog show.  There will be burgers, samosas and some quinoa salad to buy.

I was working with a new colleague and, it’s a funny one, working these events – you spend a day, or two, or three, with one other person who you may or may not ever speak to again. Quickly you know about intimacies you’d never share with someone who might be at a neighbouring desk.  But you don’t want to embarrass yourself.

So picking up a savoy cabbage so firm and fresh that the leaves squeaked, and I muttered “Oh GOD it’s so fresh you can HEAR IT” whilst holding it to my ear … so I embarrassed myself.  Oh lord.  Luckily only people who love food can stand in a tent and sell it for days and hours a week, so he got it and laughed.

But not every cabbage comes to us so fresh that you can barely snap the outer leaves off.  I know that there’s often a half eaten, ever so slightly browning cabbage in my large crisper drawer.

This recipe, which I’ve tweaked ever-so-slightly, is another light lunch lovely.  Cabbage and coconut!  It’s such a wonderful combination.  I think that the addition of tamari/dark soy or fish sauce is essential if you’re not going to use any stock.  It’s creamy, it’s flavoursome and cheap as all hell.  Add in a few handfuls of coriander if you like, and def any little odds and sods of greens that are hanging about.  Don’t waste your greens; they are cheap but they are too good to be wasted.  Get on it!

(Three ways with half a leftover) Cabbage and coconut soup

Adapted, barely, from Henrietta Clancy, ‘Just Soup’, p28
Serves 3-4

Ingredients

1/2 medium cabbage: about 300 grams with the stalk, 250 grams after removing the stalk
1 tablespoon ground nut oil
1 small onion (about 55 grams), chopped into dice
1 garlic clove, chopped/minced/grated
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
400 ml can coconut milk
100 ml water/stock
Squeeze of lime/lemon
Optional: coriander, peas, broccoli, green beans – any nice greens that need eating up

Tools

Knife, chopping board
Saucepan with lid
Immersion blender (optional)

Time

About half an hour

Prep

If using frozen peas, leave to defrost
Remove the stalk of the cabbage – if necessary cut into quarters and remove the stalk by cutting it out on the diagonal
Mince or grate the garlic

Method

Heat the oil in the saucepan and when it’s warm, add the diced onion
Cook on a medium/low heat until the onion is see-through – at least 10 minutes
DON’T LET IT BROWN
Only when the onion is soft enough to be squashed with your wooden spoon add the cabbage, garlic and chilli flakes
Stir them around for a minute or so
Add the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil
Simmer for 10 minutes
If you like, blend a little
If adding more greens, do this now
Squeeze over the lime or lemon
Taste; I recommend a good few shakes of soy/tamari and a pinch of fish sauce

Storage/further meals

Allow to cool to room temperature then cover
You can keep for 5 days in the fridge as long as kept cold and covered
Only reheat what you need at any one time

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

ann@storrcupboard.com

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