Tag Archives: Leftovers

What A Difference A Day Makes

Herby Bread Dumplings

Seems so inappropriate now, but I was eating this on Monday!

Wow, what a difference from the wintry weather we were having at the beginning of the week to what seems to be the height of summer today! This recipe is much more suited to the beginning of the week than now, it had to be said, but this is what I have for you, and as this month’s entry to the No Waste Food Challenge at Turquoise Lemons.

Her challenge for May is bread, which is brilliant, as most people end up with the odd stale crust or half a loaf here and there. I look forward to seeing what everyone else comes up with. I certainly got quite excited by this, as the possibilities are endless.

I thought I would get the opportunity to make a treacle tart with breadcrumbs, but have not really had the urge for heavy puddings.

This week I have eaten Caesar-style salad with crunchy bread croutons, which I made the quick way, by frying them off in a little oil and butter (for the flavour, you understand) but this is not the easy method, as you need to watch them like a hawk, because they will catch easily.

A little later in the year, when one can rely on really ripe tomatoes, I would have entered Panzella, which is one of my favourite lazy leftover suppers. Similarly, I make a number of cold soups that use bread to thicken them. Probably my favourite of these would be Ajo Blanco – made with almonds, bread and grapes. It sounds wrong, but it is actually really very good indeed.

I have also made bread as a way to use up some bits and bobs – such as a loaf stuffed with a pepper glut I found myself with, as well as various bits and pieces on focaccia.

Despite my comment when Kate first issued the bread challenge, I found myself with two things: some stew, and most of a dog-eared baguette left over from a picnic. It was cold, and so I decided to play around with dumplings

Us Brits are more familiar with the stodgy, suet variety. I have never really liked these dumplings, to be honest. Especially if you don’t flavour them with herbs, but even if you do I find them unappealing.

Many European cultures make the suety-bullet kind of dumplings, but they also make a lot of dumplings with bread. You can find varieties from Germany, and across most of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

If you do a quick search on google, all of the recipes there recommend that you boil these little blighters in salted water. I did this for the stew, and they were everything I used to hate about dumplings; stodgy, claggy, bland, boring. I almost relegated this to the “experiment too far” category, never to be blogged about.

However, I had made quite a few of them, and you know I never throw anything away, especially if it is edible. I knew that I would be meeting them again at some point later on.

Last weekend, was huge. As well as the Rollende Keukens, we also went to Logical Progression – an old school all nighter, which was brilliant. It also meant that I knew I would need easy, but filling food for the following Monday. I thought ahead, and made our favourite fall back soup – Smoky Root Vegetable Soup. It was a good idea, come Monday, with all the socialising, and some serious gardening achieved over the weekend, I was too tired to cook.

Those remaining dumplings were beckoning from the fridge. I knew I had to use them, and so I decided that they would have to go in the soup. Normally, it is thick enough without the addition of bread, but I wasn’t going to waste them, so I thinned the soup with some stock I had in the fridge, which I had defrosted earlier in the week, but only used a little of. I guess I added about 300 ml in the end.

I decided to experiment, and fried half the dumplings in a little oil with a knob of butter (I needed these to taste of something). The other half I cooked through in the soup.

What a revelation both of these methods were! They were both lighter, and tastier. I guess that the addition of stock as a cooking liquor is a really important one. So for dumplings, like the weather, a day (or two) really can make all the difference.

Recipe: Herby Bread Dumplings

Ingredients

250 ml milk

Bay leaf

250 g stale bread (you can leave the crusts on)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4-5 sprigs thyme, leaves only

2 long stalks of fresh rosemary, leaves only

Bunch of flat leaved parsley

Method

You can adjust the herbs to go with the dish you are going to have them with, these happened to go with my stew. The garlic is also optional, if it won’t go with your stew/broth then leave it out.

A small onion, chopped

A little oil for frying

An Egg

Heat the milk up with the bay leaf until it reaches boiling point. Meanwhile, tear the bread into chunks. When bubbles start to appear at the sides of the milk pan, take it off the heat, and remove the bay leaf. Pour over the bread, and mix it up a bit. Leave aside for half an hour to soak up the milk.

Finely chop all of the herbs, including the parsley stalks, which you need for the flavour they will lend.

Sweat the onion in a little oil, and take it to the point where it is just beginning to colour. Please don’t allow it to go  anything darker than a light golden colour, or it will lend an overpowering bitter taste to your final dish.

Add the herbs and the garlic, but remove from the heat. You want to add the onion mixture when it is cool, or you will scramble the egg later.

Add the onion and herbs to the bread, and mix really well. The bread is quite dense at this point, and you want to make sure that you get an even distribution of the herbs.

If the bread mixture is cool to the touch, add the egg, and mix it in well. If your dumpling mixture seems really wet, roll a very small piece into a ball and put in some water. If it breaks up, add some more breadcrumbs.

Raw Dumplings

To Poach or Fry – Make Your Choice

Roll all of the mixture into balls, and refrigerate for about half an hour.

Cook these in a flavourful stock, or add to a stew – although you will need to make the stew more watery than you would be used to, so that the dumplings can absorb the extra and the flavour. Either way, they need about 20 minutes, and will all be floating when they are done.

Or you can boil them in salted water for 20 minutes, then drain  them. Dry them well, and fry them in a little oil and butter before adding them to your dish.

Much better than just plain boiled.

Turquoise Lemon's No Waste Food Challenge

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We Need to Talk About Salad

Wild Garlic & Qualis Egg Salad With Wild Garlic Pesto

Salad as Celebration

I have been neglectful of my salad posts and chat of late, which I undertook to do as part of the 52 Week Salad Challenge that was issued by Michelle at Veg Plotting. This is not to say that I have not been diligently sowing, foraging and eating at least one salad a week, but I have been away a lot of late, and even without internet for a lot of it (and enjoyed it, actually!) so I haven’t really had the time to tweet and post about it in time for the monthly Salad Days round up that Michelle takes such care over every month.

To make amends, I am doing a bit of a salad round up in time for this week’s Salad Days, and I look forward to reading all of the links and the discussions from all of the others who are joining in with the challenge on Friday.

Where to start then? The last time I blogged specifically for the challenge (as opposed to cheekily tagging it onto other posts), I had been finding and eating the weeds in my garden.

Clockwise from right: Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrel, Chickweed

Salad as Weeding

Clockwise from right: hairy bittercress, wood sorrel*, chickweed.

The weeds have continued to form a part of my salads, but since then, the hedgerows have burst forth, and there has been plenty to eat, from there and from my garden.

Wild Garlic

Salad as Wild Food

We have been eating hedgerow staples, such as the carpets of wild garlic (pictured, in my favourite spot), sorrel*, jack in the hedge (aka garlic mustard), and nettles. all of these have appeared in a variety of tarts, salads, fritters and as side dishes in their own right.

The first of these was the wild garlic. For my celebratory birthday meal, back in March, I made a starter of poached quails egg on a bed of salad, including wild garlic leaves. I dressed this with a really lovely wild garlic pesto, which used hazelnuts instead of the ubiquitous pine nuts. The quail’s eggs are slightly richer, and much smaller than hen’s eggs, and the soft yolks were a perfect foil to the pesto.

At the permaculture course I was eating a variety of the salads that they grew there, as well as a number of edible flowers, including nasturtium, herb flowers, those from the various brassicas that had been allowed to go to seed, and borage. If you have never eaten a borage flower, I suggest you give them a go, they are surprising, they taste almost like cucumber, and are a lovely bite to have in a salad. I also found some very old borage seed this year, which I have given a go. I was given this packet of seeds years ago, so I have lost nothing if they don’t come up, and if they do, they will form part of the new polyveg system I am putting in place this year. Hopefully, it will seed itself and attract bees as well as looking beautiful and being really tasty. Apparently, it is a good pot herb to. If the seeds are too old to germinate, then I’ll get some for next year in any case.

Duck Salad

Salad as a Project

I have already told you about the duck salad I made as part of my duck week. On the 2nd week of April, we held our first barbecue of the year, by way of a baby shower for my friend. It was flipping freezing, but it was dry, and a good time was had by all. I made my go-to barbecue salad of radish, cucumber, feta, parsley and mint. This is based on a quick and easy dish by Nigel Slater. I was very proud to be able to feed my guests with homegrown parsley and radishes in this salad. It went down so well, I didn’t manage to get any pictures.

Things are continuing apace in the garden. I have been eating lots of rocket and cut and come agains, as well as the odd leaf chicory. Because of my desire to embark on a polyveg system, I have also been sowing a number of other salad things this year. I have multiple lettuces, beets, and turnips for some tasty salads, well as a number of herbs. I have also discovered that you can eat poached egg plants, so I’m going to give them a go. Inspired by all the people following the Salad Challenge, I’m also giving a few new leaves a go – notably some of the chinese greens, and shiso. I also got hold of some morning glory, which features in Japanese cuisine quite a lot, I think. I am hoping this is the right one, as I really enjoyed it in soups and salads when I was over there a couple of years ago.

Although I love foraging, I would love to be able to grow sorrel in my garden. To date, I have been unsuccessful, although the partially shady conditions are more favourable for me growing sorrel than tomatoes (which I can manage). I have tried for the past three years to no avail. Do any of you have any tips? I don’t even think I have seen any germination. Do you pre-soak? I have been using the same packet, and suspect that it may all be sterile, but any other ideas will be gratefully received. I hate to see seeds go to waste as much as I do food!

Garden Salad with Caesar Dressing

Salad as Supper

Tonight’s effort was garden leaves and some of the aforementioned weeds (all my own), with a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, broad beans and asparagus (sadly not my own, mine aren’t ready yet, and the asparagus won’t be available this year) in a caesar dressing. I cannot really call this a caesar salad though, since it didn’t have any romaine lettuce, which I planted a bit late, and haven’t even made decent baby gems yet. I ate it with a potato salad and a soft-boiled egg, and it really hit the spot – satisfying, yet cool for the hottest day of the year so far.

One of the great benefits of growing-your-own is the tops off the broad beans. Mine are almost ready, although the cold spell put them back somewhat. You can hopefully expect them in a salad post very soon.

* Please note that neither wood sorrel or sorrel should be eaten in large quantities, due to containing oxalic acid, which can inhibit calcium uptake by the body. They can aggravate kidney stones, gout, rheumatism, arthritis and hyperacidity, so should be avoided by people with those conditions. The amount of oxalic acid does reduce with cooking, but wood sorrel would wilt to nothing at all, as the leaves are not very big in the first place.

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Logical Progression

Duck Salad

Salad as Leftovers

Having eaten fairly rich meals all week, today I was craving something a bit lighter.  I also had a little rocket, parsley and the cut and come again lettuce I planted earlier, so today’s post is both leftover loveliness, and my entry for the salad challenge.

Lately, I have been reading about using miso as a marinade for meats. Obviously, it was a little late to marinate my duck, but I was convinced that it would make a good dressing for a salad. I had the duck, and leaves, and decided that using bulgur wheat would add the bulk, and a lovely nuttiness and some bite to the dish. I would have liked to add some thinly sliced spring onion, but as they are out of season, I satisfied myself with the leaves and the dressing.

The resulting dish was substantial enough to satisfy, but light enough that we weren’t eating more rich food, which really hit the spot for me. Even though we had eaten the duck all week, I had made it different enough not to bore, and it was sad to actually come to the end of this versatile ingredient.

I do have one more dish to post on the topic, but I am travelling in the UK, and managed to leave the pictures on the hard drive at home. As it will be a step by step guide, I think the pictures will be necessary, but I hope that you have enjoyed Duck Week, in any case.

Recipe: Duck Salad

Ingredients:

100 g bulgur wheat

Hot vegetable or chicken Stock – to cover the bulgur by 2-3 cm

60 ml miso paste (I used the darker variety)

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

4 tbsp sesame oil

2 cm piece of ginger, grated

Little water to thin

Remaining meat from a roast duck carcase

Small bunch parsley, leaves removed from the stalks.

100 g rocket

100 g cut and come again lettuce, or a mixed bag of salad

5cm chunk of cucumber, cut into matchsticks

Method

Pour the hot stock over the bulgur wheat, cover, and set aside for the bulgur to absorb the stock. I like it al dente, so I make sure that I test it after about 15 minutes. If the grains are as you like them before all of the liquid is absorbed, then drain them, and leave aside.

Meanwhile,  mix the miso, soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger together to make a dressing. Taste, and adjust the soy or thin with a little water, as required.

When the bulgur is done to your liking, add the miso dressing, and set aside for 5 minutes to let the bulgur absorb the flavours of the dressing.

Mix in the duck, parsley, cucumber and salad leaves, and serve immediately.

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Progressions on a Theme

Duck & Mushroom Risotto

Woodland Flavours

Today I stripped the carcass, separating the meat from the bones and the skin. Of course, these will become stock, but I have something specific planned for this, of which more later. I also found an escapee clove of garlic, nestled in the back of the cavity. Roasted garlic is so good, there was no way that I was going to let that go, and it will only add to the flavour of today’s dish.

So, to a risotto, but this time I wanted to develop the flavour with earthy base notes of woodland and wild mushrooms, building the flavour layers as I went, instead of making a simple white risotto, and adding the flavour at the end.

You can dry your own mushrooms or buy them. If you were going to buy them, I would suggest porcini mushrooms. I was lucky, the Big Guy’s sister had been out in the woods and taken the trouble of gathering and drying the most amazing chanterelles and trompettes des mort. I got a jar full as a present, and I love them. I love that someone has taken the care to go and forage for them and preserve them, and I really love that she also knew that I would love some of them.

Dried mushrooms, particularly of the chanterelle variety, have a really deep, almost woody quality,and I knew that they would be perfect with this duck, and would help layer the flavours, as I could soak them, then add the soaking liquor to the stock.

Then I started thinking about red wine, but decided that a better match would be sherry. I only had the Pedro Ximénez that we bought for the sherry trifle, so I knew I couldn’t use a lot of it, for fear of making it too sweet. But it all builds up.

This has all the earthy richness that I wanted, given that the weather has taken a turn for the colder, despite it being spring.

Recipe: Duck and Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

10 g dried mushrooms

400 ml boiling water

A little oil for frying

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Bay leaf

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 roasted garlic clove, mashed

4-5 sprigs thyme

200 g arborio rice

Splash Pedro Ximénez

500 ml chicken stock

150 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

200 g cooked duck meat

2 knobs butter (to be used separately)

75 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Sweat the onion in a little oil, until translucent. Add both types of garlic and the thyme and bay, and allow them to sweat together.

Meanwhile, drain, and squeeze out the dried mushrooms, but do not discard the water that they were soaking in. Roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms, and add them to the sweating vegetables.

Carefully pour the liquid that the mushrooms had been soaking in to the chicken stock, and warm them both on the hob. No matter how carefully the mushrooms were cleaned before drying, there will probably still be a bit of grit or debris in them. When you add the mushroom stock to the chicken stock, don’t pour the grit in. It is easy to see, and is heavier than the stock, so it is easily to avoid if you pour the stock in carefully, and maybe leave the last few ml, which will have the most grit in it.

Add the rice, then follow the method for the basic risotto. You will be developing some big, earthy mushroom flavours, by adding the rehydrating mushrooms, and using the mushroom stock. However, the duck can take it.

So, while the risotto is cooking down, fry the sliced chestnut mushrooms over a low heat with a little more thyme, and a little salt.

When you feel that the rice is nearly ready, add the duck meat, and the now cooked mushrooms with the last half ladle of the stock that you need. This will heat the meat without it going tough, and will help to bring the flavour of the chestnut mushrooms into the dish.

Once the last lot of stock has been absorbed, add a knob of butter and the parmesan, then season with a little salt and a lot of pepper. Finally, stir through the parsley, and serve with a peppery salad.

Not only is this risotto a great way to use up leftovers, but it is really earthy, with the mushrooms and the duck packing a real punch. Leftovers done like this really are not humble, and nor should they be.

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Gravy, Gravy, Give Me a Meal for Two

Vegetables, Gravy & Polenta

It’s All Gravy

I read an article online somewhere (but can no longer remember where) about food waste, and was shocked that loads of people in the comments were saying that they hated leftovers, and even the thought of leftovers. On further reading, these people were just reheating their old meal. This has a place for some meals, especially if you take the leftovers to work for a cheap lunch. I have done this many times, but only for certain things – some foods just taste horrible when reheated in the  microwave.

To me, the whole point of leftovers is actually what might be termed “upcycling” in other areas that use waste. I have mentioned before that I am not fond of the term “food waste”, when describing bits and bobs of perfectly edible food. Once you stop seeing leftovers as the same tired (or even stale) meal from dinners past, and start seeing leftover food as ingredients it’s like opening a gate to a whole new world of delicious dinners. This is where you can really let your creativity flow – the trick is actually to get  meal that is a reminder of that lovely supper, but is different enough to maintain interest, and keep you excited about the ingredient. After all, it is this kind of thinking that has led to a number of delectable pie fillings, moussaka, or shepherds pie, not to mention numerous soups, and stir fries!

I love gravy. I always make mine from scratch, and it is an invaluable way to stretch out leftovers. The gravy I made for the duck was actually with rabbit stock (I may also have mentioned that I like to make stock too…), which was actually more meaty than I had anticipated. I think I will use chicken stock for making gravy to go with a duck in the future.

It was still great gravy, and I have been plotting the best use of this. Because of the glaze, the gravy had already got a hint of Asian spice, so I was thinking along the lines of chinese flavours. Having eaten meat yesterday, I wanted the dish today to be mostly plant based. For some reason, I fancied pak choi as well. Then I had it – it was close enough to pak choi in oyster sauce, and so I decided  I was going to do something like this. I knew that the gravy would be great in a dish like this, and would be a lovely balance for the iron tang of the greens.

I also have a thing about polenta. I love it with any dish with a sauce to mop up. I often have it instead of mashed potatoes to accompany stews and casseroles. And it is so easy. I made up a wet polenta, which should have a similar consistency to mash, but it holds gravy better in delicious pools, cuddled by the fluffy maize. If you do not share my joy in cornmeal, this dish would also be great with rice.

Of course, making polenta means that you can fry any leftovers up the next day until a golden crust has formed. Then you can eat it with a tomato based ragu; or a few mushrooms in garlic; or some shredded duck; or some herbs and tomatoes; or…well, I think you  get the picture.

Recipe: Asian Inspired Gravy and Greens

Ingredients

A little oil or duck fat for frying

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, sliced

100 g mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch chilli flakes

1 medium carrot, sliced

Pak choi – ½ large or 2 baby ones

2 star anise

200 ml gravy

Water to cover

150 g polenta

700 ml boiling water

75 g grated cheese (eg piquant belegen or mature cheddar)

Method

Prepare the vegetables. Cook the onion in the oil, on a medium heat, until they are translucent. Add the leek and the mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms look done to you. You don’t want the leeks to catch, so you will need to stir the veg.

I like my carrots to retain their crunch, so I don’t ike them to sweat for too long. If you are like me, add them now. If you like them softer add them with the onion at the start of cooking.

Add the garlic and chilli, and cook until the scent hits you, them pour in the gravy, star anise and any water that is necessary to cover the vegetables. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Start with 700 ml of boiling water in a deep saucepan. Shake the polenta into the water, and whisk to combine. If you do it the other way around, you will get lumpy polenta, and it won’t cook through properly. I often use stock to add flavour to the polenta, bu the gravy was rich enough to carry it in this case, so water was fine.

As you whisk the polenta will thicken, and start to sputter. You can turn the heat down a little at this point, and allow it to cook through for 5-10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

As the polenta is sputtering away, cut the pak choi in half or quarters lengthways. You want the stalks to remain attached to each other, so it retains it’s shape. Add it to the gravy mixture, and push it under the liquid, so that it wilts.

When the polenta is cooked, add the cheese, and a fair bit of pepper, and stir it in thoroughly.

Serve the polenta so it forms a sort of well on the plate, with the gravy and vegetables on top.

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Cor, Love a Roast Duck

Roast Duck with a Marmalade Glaze

Marmaduck

This week, I am posting the series of posts that I failed to prepare properly before I went away on the permaculture course. I am going to document a roast duck, that fed the Big Guy and I for a week, over the course of this week. This will make me look like much more of a carnivore than I really am, because of the lamb I ate at Easter. But you can expect a number of salad and vegetable related posts to follow, I promise

As you know, I  had some marmalade left that I couldn’t sell, and have been plotting its use. As well as the flapjacks, I have been ruminating on making a meat glaze.

I have seen marmalade based glazes for ham, and chicken wings, but neither of these really hits the spot for me. Also, I didn’t want to have to strain the orangey bits from the marmalade because, having taken the trouble to hand cut them and cook them, I didn’t see the point in wasting them. So, I thought about this some more. Suddenly, I remembered duck a l’orange, that classic dish so popular in the 70s – the decade where everything was brown and orange, from the wallpaper to the food. This had to be the way forward, after all, centuries of French cooks (and a decade of British dinner parties) can’t be wrong.

Duck always makes me think of asian flavours, like star anise and ginger. In many Northern European languages, the orange translates as the Chinese apple, so I knew that this fusion would also be welcome. So I ruminated some more, and finally decided upon this recipe.

I also have a number of meals with leftovers (that may, in turn create other meals in a some kind of recipe tumblr) that will follow this, so there was really no other choice than to use a whole duck. The leftover meals will feature a logical progression in coming posts.

So, we bought an organic, free range whole duck. Disappointingly, it was minus the giblets. I like the giblets, and they really contribute to a stock – indeed, you can get a twofer on stock if you have giblets, as you can make a quick stock with them, then have a slower cooked one with the bones later on. This would have made an amazing gravy. Why don’t they do this any more? If you are going to eat meat, I think that you should eat all of the animal, it shouldn’t have to die for the best cuts only. Plus, you know, duck liver on toast would have been nice.

The duck did come with a lot of quills under the skin. Since the skin was to hold the glaze, and considering how long I had been thinking about it, I wanted nothing to spoil my enjoyment of the crisp, glazed skin. So, the quills had to go. I turned myself cross-eyed trying to remove them all. There is probably a really easy technique to doing this, and if you know what it is, please let me know in the comments.

The disadvantage of the way I come up with recipes is that I often decide to make things without having attempted the techniques that underly them. It is the same with this recipe – I have never cooked a duck before. Not being one to be beaten by a little lack of technique, I turned to the internet. There I found the Hungry Mouse. She has a beautifully illustrated step by step guide to slow roasting a duck, with an alternative glaze. As soon as I saw it, I knew that this was the way I was going to cook my duck. Essentially, the slow roasting and turning will sort of confit the duck, which may have made an interesting take on rillettes, but not this time.

Anyway, this all worked out in the end, because by the time I’d finished cogitating, and had done my research, bought the bird, and plucked it properly, it turned out it was my birthday weekend, St Patrick’s day, and the last matched in the 6 Nations, so I decided to cook up a storm for the Big Guy and I before it all kicked off for the weekend. A friend also popped by, and she ended up staying for a three course dinner. And very welcome she was, too.

Recipe: Marmalade Glazed Duck

Ingredients

1 medium duck

½ orange, cut into quarters

Few sprigs of thyme

3 garlic cloves, left whole

For the Glaze:

3 tbsp marmalade (orange will also do, but I had clementine)

1 tbsp Cointreau

Juice of ½ an orange

1 tsp ground ginger

2 star anise

Small pinch dried chili flakes

For the Gravy:

Juices from the roasting tray – making sure you have removed as much of the fat as possible. Keep the fat in a jar, you will definitely need this later.

2 tbsp plain flour

Small glass of red wine

500 ml stock. Duck stock would be good, if you managed to snaffle some giblets. I used rabbit stock, which was surprisingly meaty.

Method

Cook the duck according to Hungry Mouse’s very-easy-to-follow directions and photos. The only thing I did differently was that I stuffed the bird with some aromatics (orange, thyme, garlic), which you shouldn’t pack in too tightly, it is important that air can circulate around the cavity. And I didn’t truss the legs up. The butcher (not my usual one) had “kindly” lopped off all the bits that don’t have a lot of meat on them, including everything below the bird’s drumstick, and the wing tips. Most people would appreciate this, but for me this was just even less to go in the stock pot. It also meant that there was nothing to truss or tuck up, so I didn’t.

The glaze is very easy to make, put all of the ingredients into a pan, and melt them on a low heat. Let them simmer for five minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the spices to steep in the liquid.

Once the bird has been cooking for four hours (and you have turned it, as per the directions), and you have removed the last of the fat, then glaze it with the spiced marmalade mixture. While you are doing this, turn your oven up to maximum and let it come up to temperature.

I used a pastry brush, and made sure I had glazed all of the skin, including the parsons nose. Keep brushing over the bird until there is no more glaze left.

Put the bird back into the oven, for 5-10 minutes, while the oven is high. I was also roasting some potatoes in some of the duck fat. To ensure that I was crisping the duck, not burning the potatoes, I put the potatoes on a low shelf and the duck on a higher one. When the duck was done, I turned the oven back down, put the potatoes on the top shelf and added a rhubarb and apple crumble, which we had with ice cream for dessert. Of course, this bit is optional.

Allow the bird to rest. It is really important to rest meat, it makes it a lot juicier, and relaxed meat is less likely to be tough. For steaks and cuts of meat, a good rule of thumb is to rest it in a warm place for half of the cooking time. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to a joint that you have cooked for four hours. Unless you want to eat the bird cold, in which case, go right ahead. Instead, I covered it with tin foil and a couple of tea towels then I set it aside for the time it took me to make a gravy, and for us to eat our starter (wild garlic salad with quails egg, and ramson pesto – which will feature in a salad post soon).

Make the gravy while the bird rests. First, heat up the stock in a pan.

Even removing as much of the fat as you can, you will still have enough to make the beginnings of a roux. Stir the flour into the fat and roasting pan juices. Put the roasting tin on the heat, and cook the flour out for a minute or two, stirring, so it doesn’t catch.This is so that your gravy doesn’t taste like raw flour later.

Deglaze the pan using the red wine. You will need the heat fairly high, and you will need to poke at all the stuck on meaty bits, so that they come away from the bottom of the dish.

If you want to be cheffy, or don’t want any lumps in your gravy, then strain the deglazed juices through a sieve. I usually just use a whisk to combine the fat and flour, so I don’t get huge lumps, and don’t bother to sieve it. Either way, add it to the stock, and continue to heat while you eat your starter, to allow the gravy to thicken

Roast Duck, Kale, Vichy Carrots & Roast Potatoes

Dinner is Served!

I served this with some braised kale, vichy carrots, and potatoes roasted in the duck fat. It was definitely a good match for the glaze, which made really crispy skin, even though the meat was falling off the bone. A really good start to a busy weekend.

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Spring Lamb Soup

Spring Lamb Soup

Lovely, Lovely Leftovers!

So yesterday I promised you a great recipe for the leftovers from my Bulgarian-ish  lamb. I’m not going to disappoint you, and neither will this soup. Once you have already made the lamb, it really is very minimal effort to make.

This sort of thing is really the best way to use up leftovers – minimal effort, but just different enough that it is not just a repeat of the meal from the day before. Oh, and delicious, of course!

You will use up the vegetable sauce, and the meat, and add bits of your own. If you don’t like chicory, then you can use baby gem lettuce in the same way instead. I might be nice to add a thinly sliced spring onion with the peas, or instead of the peas. If you don’t have parsley, you can try mint. that’s the other great thing about dishes like this, they really are completely adjustable to what you like and what you have in the cupboard.

Recipe: Spring Lamb Soup

Ingredients

150 g Puy lentils

4 heads chicory, the forced kind

A little oil for frying

200 g broad beans (podded weight)

1 l vegetable sauce leftover from Bulgarian-ish Lamb

200 g cooked lamb

100 g peas, shelled or frozen

2-3 drops Worcestershire Sauce

Small bunch parsley, finely chopped

Method

Cook the puy lentils in plenty of water, until they are almost done. Don’t salt the water, it makes their skins tough. Drain when they have reached this stage.

Meanwhile, halve the chicory, or cut it into quarters if it is large, but it is really better to get smaller ones. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When the oil has warmed, add the chicory, flat side down at first, and cook for a minute or two until the leaves start to colour, then flip them over to colour on the other side. Remove from the heat when they are coloured on both sides.

Cook the broad beans in boiling, unsalted water for three minutes, then drain them and double pod them. I think the reason that people think that they don’t like broad beans is because no-one has taken the trouble to double pod them. It isn’t all that much effort, and the results really are worth it. Unless you have the tiny baby beans, in which case they are fine just as they are.

Heat up the vegetable sauce, add the lentils, lamb and the chicory, and cook for five minutes. Add the beans and the peas and cook for a further minute. Season with a little Worcestershire sauce. Stir through the chopped parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

The whole meal takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, and what could be better, tastier, or easier than that?

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Making the Most of a Marmalade Mistake

Breakfast  Flapjacks

What a Comeback

The clementine marmalade I made caught slightly on the bottom of the pan. This is what comes of trying to cook and blog at the same time! I only took my eye off the ball for a couple of seconds, while I had a spoonful of the golden, orangey preserve waiting for the fridge test.

Most of the marmalade was fine, so I bottled it up. But there was about half a jar on the bottom which had gone too far. As you know, I cannot bear to waste food, and this is no exception. I won’t inflict this on my friends, but there is no reason why I can’t still use it.

Marmalade makes a great glaze for both sweet and savoury food. I did bake a yoghurt cake, and then melted 2 tbsp of the marmalade with a tbsp of water to make a glaze. I poured the glaze over the cake while both were still warm, and then left the lot to cool in the tin. Unfortunately, I have never made a yoghurt cake before, and clearly didn’t beat the egg, yoghurt and oil together enough, so it was too dense, so I haven’t photographed it. It was fine, when splashed with a little Cointreau (or orange juice would also be fine), and served with fresh Greek yoghurt.

I have also kept a little marmalade in reserve, because I have another glaze in mind, but this time for a nice duck, a wild one if I can get hold of it. I shall add shallots and thyme, and make sure I baste the bird as it cooks. I guess you can expect to see it here, if it is a success.

However, I left the lion’s share of the leftover marmalade for the recipe I am about to share with you now. The first thing that came to my mind when it was clear I would have some marmalade was flapjacks. I’m not really sure why, but I knew that I had to try it. I had a feeling that the thick cut, sticky marmalade would be the perfect foil for the oats. Both of them are traditionally associated with breakfast, and I really thought this could fly. I thought about it some more over the next few days, and it became clear that I could substitute the marmalade for the usual golden syrup.

There is a golden ratio for the usual kind of flapjack. As long as you stick with this ratio, then you can’t go far wrong. It also works for metric, imperial, volume, or if you prefer to measure your ingredients by a more eccentric means. The ratio is as follows:

  • 2 Golden Syrup
  • 4 Butter
  • 6 Brown Sugar
  • 8 Oats (or oats & other dry ingredients, such as seeds)

This is the ratio that I was taught as a small kid, and it has never yet done me wrong. You can then add more stuff, like dried or fresh fruits, candied peel or crystallised ginger, spices, chocolate, and so on. I always use a mix of whole rolled oats, and the finer, chopped sort that is best for porridge, because I find this gives it a better texture without falling apart. You can add seeds and other grains as well if you like, but you should adjust the amount of oats, so that you maintain the ratio.

These were unconventional flapjacks, not just in the sense of substituting syrup for marmalade, but I have to admit in this case, I also decided to adjust the proportions of the ratio as well. I wanted the orange to really shine in the mix, and the marmalade has a lot of sugar in it anyway. It may not please your grandmother, but it worked for me in this instance.

After a bit of fiddling, I settled on a 4:4:4:8 ratio, and the results worked really well. The bars are chewy, albeit in a slightly different, stickier way than regular golden syrup ones, but I like it.

I prefer my flapjacks on the chewier side, but if you are one of those people who like crunchier flapjacks, you may need to add some golden syrup, or possibly more butter to prevent the marmalade making the bar too hard in the  (slightly) longer cooking process. It is not something that I experimented with this time, but I would be happy to if others are interested. You don’t have to use up marmalade mistakes – ordinary marmalade from a jar will do just as well here.

The amounts I am going to give were enough for a 20 x 25 cm tin. I tend to line my tins with baking paper, because it makes the finished flapjacks a lot easier to remove from the tin, but you can just grease the tin really well, it is up to you. If I were a more dedicated baker, I would invest in that reuseable silicon parchment stuff, to reduce waste. I have got a birthday coming up, so who knows?

Recipe: Breakfast Flapjacks

Ingredients

160 g marmalade

160 g butter

160 g brown sugar (I used light muscovado and demerara, because it is what I had)

300 g mix of whole and chopped rolled oats

30 g pumpkin seeds

30 g dried cranberries

Method

Put your oven on at 180 °C.

Melt the marmalade, butter, and sugar over a medium heat, stirring so they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Mix the oats, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries in a large bowl.

When the sweet goods and the butter have all melted and combined together well, pour onto the dried ingredients, and mix well to ensure that they are all well coated and no streaks of white oats remain.

Press the flapjack mix into the baking tray. You want to press it in fairly well, to help the mixture set into lovely bars. Then smooth it over with the back of a metal spoon, making the top smooth, and the flapjack layer as even as you can.

Bake it for about 25-30 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you want it. Flapjacks are really forgiving, so they are easy to cook with other things, to maximise your energy use from the oven. They won’t collapse if you open your oven at the wrong time, and don’t really absorb other flavours. I haven’t tried cooking them at the same time as smoked fish, for example, but they are fine t go in with stews, other cakes, roasting meat etc.

When they are nice and golden all over, then remove them from the oven. You will need to mark them into the squares or rectangles that you intend to serve them in fairly soon after coming out of the oven. I got 12 bars from this amount of  mixture. Then they should be allowed to cool completely in the baking tray.

These flapjacks are really tasty, and the pieces of orange and cranberry really do add an interesting texture, as well as the marmalade, giving them a bit more kick than your average flapjack. Marmalade – it’s not just for toast, you know!

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A Stock From Scraps

Vegetable Stock

The Basis of Many, Many Meals

Today’s recipe was inspired by a request from a friend who reads Edible Things. It is great to hear from people, so if you have any requests, let me know, and I can blog about those too.

If you have a recipe you’d like to see, or something to inspire, please feel free to get in touch or find me on twitter.

Anyway, my friend asked about how to make vegetable stock, particularly in reference to making stock from scraps. Obviously, she has come to exactly the right place. I never throw anything out if I can help it. I was accused of being from the 1950s when I admitted to an acquaintance that I make my own stock. He doesn’t know what flavour he is missing out on!

In my freezer, there is an entire drawer given over to scraps and offcuts of one kind or another.  I keep them separate in bags or freezer containers (for the meat products), ready to be used later. I routinely keep and freeze the stalks and outer leaves of cabbage; the tough outer leaves of fennel; carrot tops and peel; the tops of leeks; and the root and tip of onions that I have chopped for other dishes, and the stalks of any herbs where I have only needed to use the leaves.I would probably also keep the gnarly bits at the bottom of a head of celery too, if it weren’t for the fact that I have guinea pigs that eat them.

Frozen Food Trimmings

Stock Drawer

Currently there are also apple cores, lemon and orange zests, bones from a chicken, pork fat and rind, and a whole load of vegetable offcuts and peels. There will be a use for all of these in various stocks, jellies, sauces, or something.

I actually don’t like the term food waste when talking about unloved offcuts and trimming. There is so much you can do with them, up to and including composting, which I also do, but only when I have got the maximum value from them first.

Obviously, I know that most people do not have the freezer space or the geekiness to save stuff like I do, but if you do nothing else with your “waste”, do give stock a go. I guarantee that it really easy, and will really improve the flavour of soups, stews, sauces and gravies.

I make a number of different stocks, so I bag my veggies separately, because  I don’t want cabbage in a chicken stock, for example. If you have limited space, put them all into the same bag and chop them up a little. If you have no freezer space at all, you can make a quick stock using scraps, and supplementing it with the odd celery stick or whatever. The finished stock will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, in an airtight container, so you can still add it to dishes (NB it will be shorter for meat stock), and have great-tasting stock.

You can pretty much use what you want in a stock. I know that some people use potato peelings in stock, although I personally don’t like the flavour it lends. Some people also choose to put the papery onion skins in, although this will mostly impart a yellow colour, so again, I tend not to bother. Similarly, beetroot tops and peel can be used, but it will both colour and flavour the stock.

I have used pumpkin, pea pods, lettuce that looks as though it is going over, the ends of aubergine, tomato skins, mushroom trimmings,asparagus ends, the leaves of celariac,  beets and carrots at different times. As long as you wash the vegetables thoroughly before freezing, or putting straight into the stock pot, it really is up to you, and experimentation is the key for your tastes, and the dishes that you cook with.

There are a few vegetables that you cannot use the leaves from, and this includes rhubarb (which are a vegetable, but used as a fruit), aubergine and parsnip leaves. I have used the vines of tomatoes, but not the leaves.

The basis for most stock is the triumvirate of celery, carrot and onion (or leek – they are the same family).This is the basis of both meat and vegetarian stocks. It is really a question of balance. In the recipe below, I have outlined the rough proportions that I used. For vegetable stock, I try to use a cabbage (or broccoli stalks, or chard or something similar) in my veg stocks, because it gives a depth of flavour.

As you get more used to scrap stock, you will also develop a sense of the proportions of each that you want. I can do it by eye now. It does not take long to gain confidence in this technique. And believe me, you will really be glad that you gave it a go.

Basic Stock Amount, by eye

An Eyeful

You also don’t have to wait until you have the same amounts as I do. You can make stock with the ends of one leek, the peel and tops from one carrot and a single cabbage leaf, if that is all you have. Really, nothing is set in stone for this, the ingredients are down to what you have.

Recipe: Vegetable Stock

Ingredients

250 g leek/onion trimmings(frozen weight)

150 g carrot peel

2 celery stalks, (it weighed about 150 g)

50 g herb stalks, including mint, parsley & thyme (if making meat stock, I would most likely leave out the mint stalks)

50 g cabbage stalks & leaves

100 g fennel leaves

2 dried bay leaves. I have a bay tree, so I usually use fresh bay, if you are doing so, double the amount given in your recipe

10 or so peppercorns

3 cloves

pinch salt

You can also use other spices. It will depend on what you want to use the stock for. I use pepper and cloves for a generic stock, but if I wanted an asian one, I would add cinnamon and star anise. But, when I want to make a pho, or something, I take my generic stock and add the spices at the time. Again, this is a matter of your own taste.

2½ l cold water (or enough to just cover the vegetables that you have, although bear in mind that they will float)

Method

I  use a very large saucepan for making stock (my stockpot), but even if you have an average sized one, you will need a well-fitting lid for it.

Put all of the vegetable trimmings in the pan. I chuck them in from frozen, having washed them before I froze them. You can also put fresh ones in, it doesn’t matter. Cover the vegetables with cold water, and put the lid on the pan.

Stock ingredients with water to cover

Put a Lid On It

Bring the water up to the boil, then turn it down to a gentle simmer. Keep the lid on the pan while it simmers.

A Simmer Plate

My Simmer Plate

I have a simmer plate, which I like to use, because I can turn the hob down to the lowest setting, and it distributes the heat more evenly across the pan. They are not essential though, so  don’t worry if you don’t have one. Let it simmer for about an hour (longer for meat stocks, depending on the size of the bone that you have).

Allow it to cool with the vegetables still in it, then strain the liquid. This is your stock. If you are still reluctant to throw away your vegetables, you can take a little of the stock and the veg, and blend it up, and you have the very tasty basis of a soup that you can either eat like that, or add more things to for bulk. Every aspect of making stock is about taste, not waste. If you are making meat stocks, obviously, you should remove the bones before you do this.

The stock can be used as is. If you have limited freezer space, you can boil the stock to reduce it by half, which will concentrate the flavour. Don’t use a lid on your pan for this stage.

I measure off half litres and put them in into individual containers (usually take away ones are fine, they stack and they have lids), which I label and freeze. I find that this is a convenient amount to use in most recipes.

They are easily defrosted on a worktop, or if you are less organised, you can heat them in a microwave or a pan ready for immediate use.

If you don’t have a lot of space, concentrate the stock, you can freeze them in ice cube trays, then transfer them to a bag once frozen.

Whichever way you freeze it, don’t forget to label, as there is nothing more irritating than forgetting them in the freezer, then scratching your head a few weeks later when you find them again.

So there you go; cheap, practically effortless, and really tasty stock, that you know is right for you. It doesn’t contain any hidden ingredients, so you know it will be suitable for your friends with special dietary requirements or preferences. And you have the basis for many soups, dishes, sauces and whatever you like really. This stock of scraps is really much, much more than the sum of its parts!

Update: I have entered this post into Turquoise Lemon’s No Waste Food Challenge, which is all about fennel for the month of April

Turquioise Lemon's No Waste Food Challenge

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Tabouleh or not Tabouleh?

That is the question.

Winter Vegetable Tabouleh

Salad as Substantial

The snow caught me out last week. I knew it was coming towards the end of the week, but it arrived a few days early, was preceded by a very hard frost, and caught me on the hop. I hadn’t harvested my salad greens, and they have been under a really good coating of snow ever since. I did manage to get the solitary fennel bulb that I had left, and had that in a risotto, so it didn’t make a salad.

I had also not got round to sowing microgreens, although I have now corrected that. I am waiting on radish, rocket, basil, chervil and beetroot to sprout and grow their first true leaves.

Sprouted Chickpea Bread

Salad as Bread

My poor planning left me with no other choice but to go for sprouted seeds. I put a sprouting mix (which looked like it contained chickpeas, aduki beans and lentils), and some separate chickpeas to work. I followed many of the other bloggers, who have been sprouting seeds for weeks now. Inspired by Joanna, who commented on the blog of Gilly in Ariege, I made bread with the chickpeas, and then added the mix to a sandwich that I made with it. I hope to share the bread recipe, but it needs a bit of work first.

Sprouted Salad Sandwich

Salad as a Sandwich

As last week was all about the sprouts, this week has been filled with thoughts of using flat leaf parsley. I have two pots that I sowed last year, which live on my windowsill, so that I always have access to parsley. The cold weather left me wanting, and with a desire for something more substantial than sprouted seeds.

I kept coming back to the idea of a tabouleh. They should be really leafy, and vibrant with flat leaf parsley, fine bulgur wheat, tomatoes and onions. Most commonly found as part of a mezze, it cleanses the palate, and is a fresh and light dish.

I already knew that I was going to make a lot of changes, because I wanted a more substantial dish, I didn’t have enough parsley to make it the star, and tomatoes are not in season. In addition to all of this, I had some pumpkin and an aubergine to use up, so the focus shifted to a more winter-based dish.

The dish still had the vibrancy from the parsley, but it also had bulk from using larger bulgur wheat, and winter warmth from using cooked vegetables and the spice. But, is it tabouleh?

Ingredients

Half a small pumpkin

Few sprigs of thyme

2 Garlic cloves

Small pinch of chilli flakes

Vegetable oil for roasting and frying

Aubergine

150 g Bulgur wheat

300 ml Vegetable stock

2 tbsp Lemon juice

Zest of ½ a lemon, finely grated

Extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp Sumac

Large bunch of flat leaf parsley, stalks removed & roughly chopped

Peel & deseed the pumpkin, and chop it into small dice. Put it into an oven proof dish, sprinkle with chilli flakes, thyme leaves and salt and pepper, and a splash of oil, along with a garlic clove still in its paper. Give it a good toss around, so that the oil and chilli can coat the pumpkin. Stick it into an oven at 180°C and leave it to roast until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

Chop the aubergine into small dice, of a similar size to the pumpkin. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. When the pan is hot, add the aubergine and cook until it is brown. You may need to add a little oil, as it is quite absorbent, but it will release liquid again as it cooks, so don’t add too much. You want this to fry, not braise. Don’t have the heat too high for this stage, let it fry gently.

Meanwhile, heat up the stock. When it is boiling, pour it over the bulgur wheat. The stock should cover the wheat by about a centimetre. Cover the bowl over, and set aside for about 15 minutes, During which time the bulgur will cook and absorb the stock.

Finely mince the second clove of garlic. You will need this a bit later.

Make a citrus vinaigrette with the lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil. I always start with the lemon juice, and then slowly pour in the oil, whisking constantly to form an emulsion. I taste it regularly to see when I have a good balance between oil and citrus. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour some over the bulgur wheat. Set aside for another 10 minutes, so the bulgur can take on the vinaigrette flavour.

Don’t worry if you have a bit of dressing left over, it keeps well in the fridge in a sealed jam jar. You could use it on next week’s salad challenge!

While the bulgur wheat is soaking up the vinaigrette, add the minced garlic to the aubergine, which should be nicely browned by now. The garlic will not take that long to cook, and will give the aubergine flavour.

Stir the aubergine and the pumpkin into the bulgur wheat, with a half teaspoon of sumac, the lemon zest, and the roasted garlic, which you should now be able to squeeze from its papery jacket. Stir through the parsley, and serve immediately.

I served mine with some sautéed mushrooms and leeks. It might not strictly be a salad, and it is definitely not a traditional tabouleh, but it was warm and satisfying, which was just what I needed tonight.

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