Tag Archives: leftovers

A post-Christmas soup

4 Jan

We were given a lot of cheese just before Christmas. When I say a lot, I mean really an awful lot. Almost more than was possible for just the two of us to eat.

It included Grana Padana, Brie, Feta and Gorgonzola.

So I have discovered many things to make with cheese, Continue reading

The best cranberry sauce

30 Dec

Cranberry sauce. It’s one of those things that just happens at Christmas. With turkey. And stuffing and all those other bits. It pretty much gets lost in amongst all that other stuff, doesn’t it? And if you bought the sauce from a jar, then that might be just as well. In fact, why did you bother? Was it overly sweet and not terribly tasty? Well, make a decision now that next year you’ll make your own. It really couldn’t be simpler. This sauce recipe is unashamedly inspired by a delicious recipe for Cranberry and Orange Preserve from Thane Prince. I’d made the preserve a week or so before Christmas, and then prettied up all the jars and given them away as presents (except for one, so I’ll have the tastiest yoghurt for breakfast). The Best Cranberry Sauce

  • A bag of fresh cranberries (or go to the freezer and find that bag you froze you last year)… probably around 300g, or thereabouts. Don’t be too precious about exact weights or quantities in this recipe
  • A large orange (or hey, a couple of small ones)
  • Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine (other makes are available)… if you don’t have any sitting forlornly at the back of your drinks cupboard, then what is wrong with you? Have you never been out for a long cold walk in the winter and been revitalised by a whisky mac on your return? OK, if you have none, buy some soon and you’ll have it for next year, and substitute with some syrup from a jar of crystallised ginger. Have none of that either? Just leave it out, it’ll be fine.
  • Some sugar
  1. Put the cranberries in a heavy-based pan, with a wee slosh of water. And start to warm them on a gentle heat
  2. Pare the skin from the orange with a vegetable peeler and pop in the pan with the cranberries
  3. Juice the orange, and add it to the pan too
  4. Slosh in a splash or two of Crabbie’s Green Ginger
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, adding more water if it seems too dry
  6. After 5-10 minutes (depending how gentle your boil is) the fruit will all have softened a bit. Now add the sugar, probably a tablespoon or two, depending how sweet you like your sauce
  7. Stir the sugar in so it dissolves – you’ll see the sauce change texture to a lovely glossy consistency as the sugar all dissolves into the liquid.
  8. Keep warm till you need it

This was delicious with the traditional Christmas roast, and all the trimmings, and would be equally tasty with almost any roast meat. Its tanginess will cut through any excess of fat that there might be, with roasted potatoes, and roasted veg and all that meat. And any leftovers will be perfect stirred into yoghurt, or made into a festive Eton Mess with meringue and cream. Or warmed on a plain sponge pudding. Or as the jam in a Victoria Sponge, with a sweetened mascarpone cream as well. I’d give you pictures of the sauce in its lovely Christmas-Day-Only silver sauceboats, but I was having too much fun cooking and eating to take any pictures on Christmas Day – sorry.

If you want to see other recipes you’ll find them all listed here. There’s even one for Cranberry Muffins, if you’ve still got some cranberries lurking in the bottom of your fridge. Or if, like me, you can’t resist buying them when they’re in season.

Christmas leftovers (but no turkey)

2 Jan

It’s that time of year when you’re probably still living out of the fridge and store cupboard, still eating up bits of food you bought thinking you’d need it over the festive period. Or perhaps you haven’t over-shopped this year and you are now eating delicious meals started from scratch, made with fresh vegetables and real meat (ie not leftover roast turkey, or cold ham). If so, well done.

But have you still got things lurking in the fridge which you’ve had enough of? Maybe you’ve had enough of Stilton? Or brussels sprouts? If so, I have a couple of recipes for you which might help: Stilton Nibbly Biscuits (gluten free!) and creamy sprouts.

Let me explain first of all about the sprouts. I never thought I would grow to enjoy a sprout, but they are the Captain’s second favourite vegetable! Yes, seriously, they are. His favourite is parsnips, and I think this afternoon I’m going to find a recipe for a parsnip cake just to use up the last of the bag of parsnips I have in the fridge. But, back to the sprouts. I’ve done all manner of things with sprouts to try to enjoy them: added juniper berries, lardons, chestnuts, lots of butter… but all to no avail. Until now. I used what I had in the fridge (as you do at this time of year) and found my perfect Brussels Sprouts recipe. It’s not for the faint hearted, and should be eaten BEFORE you start your diet. But it is delicious with roast pork, or a pork chop, or I can imagine it working really well with sausages and black pudding and some creamy mash.

And then I mentioned Stilton didn’t I? One of my favourite cookbooks over the last year or so is by Thane Prince: Ham, Pickles and Jam. It consistently gives me interesting and useful recipes. One that I keep returning to is for cheesy nibbly biscuits. All you need is about 30 minutes, and food processor and some leftover cheese. OK, and some butter and flour too (preferably gluten free).  I originally wrote about this recipe here, back in 2011.

Over the months I’ve modified the recipe – these days I generally make it with stilton and pretty much always omit the parmesan. Also, when the dough is made I roll it into a great big sausage, and then just slice off pieces to bake them, instead of all that faff with making cherry size pieces and then squishing them flat before rolling them in sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are important though – they add an extra nutty flavour to the biscuit. And I’ve only ever made them with gluten free flour – I love the light crispness you get with this mix.

So, that’s your stilton sorted. Now for the brussels sprouts.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts

Prepare your brussels sprouts by cutting off the wee end, and removing the outer leaf or two if necessary. Then slice the sprouts – you’ll get about 4 or 5 slices out of each sprout, depending on their size. You don’t need to be a perfectionist with this, all you’re doing is cutting down the size of each sprout so they cook through more quickly and evenly.

Put the sliced sprouts into a wide flat pan and throw in some stock (or if you’re me, some water and a stock cube). You don’t need much stock – the idea is that the sprouts will cook in it, but it will boil away. I use about 200ml when cooking enough sprouts for two people.

Now, put a lid on the pan and boil up the sprouts. Remove the lid and stir them around a bit, to make sure all the sprouts are in the water. Put the lid on again if you think you should, but if it’s a tight fitting lid, you might want to leave a slight gap to let some steam out.

Ideally, the sprouts should be just about cooked at the point when the water is just about boiled away.

Throw in about 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg and a good turn or two of black pepper. Stir. Add a seriously big glug or two of double cream and stir again.

Leave quietly bubbling away while you serve the rest of your food up, and by the time you’ve plated everything else up the sprouts will be ready.

Delicious with roast pork and all the other trimmings, or as I’ve just discovered with Lucas Hollweg’s Beef Casserole with Cinnamon and Prunes. Exquisite!

 

Real men eat quiche (when I make it)

19 Jun

So. Yesterday morning I decided quiche and salad would make the perfect lunch.  I’d intended to have boiled new potatoes too, but completely forgot them at the last minute.  Ah well.

The quiche was going to be one of those fridge leftover scooper uppers, taking in full fat milk; some rashers of bacon, a red onion, frozen broad beans, and a chunk of Coolea cheese left over from G’s birthday.  Oh, and lots and lots of eggs.  And some parsley picked from the doorstep.

Spring quiche

Shortcrust pastry

8oz plain flour

2oz butter, cold from the fridge

2oz lard (cookeen), also cold from the fridge

Some grated parmesan

Salt and pepper, and some harissa style spice mix

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl
  2. Chop the butter and lard in chunks into the flour
  3. Using your fingertips, rub everything together, lifting it high over the bowl as you go to incorporate air into the mix
  4. When it resembles breadcrumbs (ish) add the seasoning and flavourings if you want them – here I used some leftover parmesan in the fridge and some spicy herb mix
  5. Using a knife mix in enough cold water to form a stiff dough
  6. Squash down a bit (so it’s easier to roll out later) and wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
Quiche filling
3 rashers bacon
1 red onion
knob of butter
a bowl of frozen broad beans
a few spears of asparagus
5 eggs
about 1/2 cup milk
While the pastry is chilling in the fridge grease a tart tin (I used a loose bottomed non-stick tin which must be about 12″ across) and then start preparing the filling ingredients.
  1. Snip the bacon rashers with a pair of scissors into a frying pan (you could of course use a sharp knife, but I find it much easier to use scissors)
  2. Finely chop the red onion and add to the pan with the bacon
  3. Add a knob of butter and cook gently over a medium heat
  4. Meanwhile, if your broad beans need to be peeled again (the grey skin isn’t the nicest flavour, and it doesn’t look too good) then quickly boil them up in a pan with a little water. Boil for a couple of minutes, then rinse in cold water. They are easy to peel – nick the grey skin with your finger nails, then squeeze the bright green beans out of the grey pocket. Yum.  You’ll be surprised how small a bowl you need for the actual beans!
  5. Break the asparagus into roughly inch long sections.  Start by holding the asparagus at both ends and bend it till it breaks.  The end you are holding with the tip is the good stuff.  The other end may be too woody and can be thrown away.  To be honest, in this recipe I ended up using a bit of the woody end too.
  6. By now you can probably take the pastry out of the fridge, roll it out to about 3-4mm and line your well greased tart tin.   Or lots of wee ones if you are making individual quiches.
  7. Prick the base with a fork, leave the pastry draped over the edges while you bake it.  If you don’t the pastry is likely to shrink from the edges and it will be neater if you cook it like this and then cut off the draped edges later.
  8. Roughly cut a piece of greaseproof paper so it is slightly bigger than the tart. Lay this on top of the pastry and cover with baking beans, or ordinary dry beans or rice.
  9. Cook in a hot oven for about 10-15 mins, then remove the paper and the baking beans and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
  10. While it’s in the oven you can crack your eggs into a big bowl and start whisking them – I just use a hand whisk.  Add some milk, or cream if you have any. Or creme fraiche.  You could also add mascarpone cheese or other cream cheese if you have some.
  11. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  12. Now, neaten the edges of the pastry case, and then start adding the filing.
  13. First, make a layer of bacon and onion.  Then add the broad beans and the then the asparagus.  Grate over some cheese and if you have any herbs add them – I’ve got a couple of pots of parsley by the front door and snipped off a good handful and sprinkled this over the other filling.
  14. You might want to put the tart tin onto another baking tray at this stage, just in case of leakage.
  15. Finally, pour in the eggy mixture and put straight into a hot oven.
  16. It’ll be ready in oh, about 20 – 30 minutes.
You may notice I haven’t got very precise weights, or timings.  I remember when I was still at school and my elder brother had phoned from his university digs to ask mum how long to boil tatties.  She had said ’till they are done’ which has always stuck me as the most sensible answer.
To be fair to my mother, we had an oil-fired rayburn which was on constantly and this forgiving way of cooking meant you never had to focus so carefully on timings.
This quiche is probably enough to feed 8 if you have various other salads and so on with it, if you only have a green salad, then it might only be enough for 6.  Of course, we shared it between two of us, but over several meals.
I think it tastes best still warm rather than hot hot from the oven, or cold from the fridge.
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