24 May 2018

Windows 10 Update Completely Emptied my Computer!

I’ve just had an ‘orrible time with my computer.

A few morning as I was  on my computer, as usual, a pop-up popped up as they do, and told me that a windows update was taking place. I had no choice in the matter, although I would have accepted anyway.

Within a few minutes the update was complete and I was prompted to choose which language I wanted to use – I chose English UK. I was asked again I chose the same thing. This happened about 20 times and I could do nothing to get rid of the language screen so I said a rude word and switched off.

When I switched back on all I had was a blank black screen with just one icon – a completely empty recycle bin.  
 

black screen with empty recycle bin after updating Windows 10


Scary!!!

Anyway, I am not very savvy at this sort of thing and can’t really remember what I did but after about 4 hours researching on my partner’s computer I managed to get mine working – but still completely empty! 


This site, Windows Central, helped me a lot but I’m not sure what I did in the end to at least get my computer basically operational.  

So, I have been repopulating it. Thank God I keep all my documents and photos in Dropbox!

It is a slow job especially because …

~   Although I still have Dropbox (praise the Lord) I seem to have it twice and need to sort that out as not all files are in both versions. A long job, methinks.

~   Lots of programs I have downloaded have changed considerably from the version I had installed so there is quite a lot of learning to do.


~   The computer also seems much slower, to the extent that I assume things haven't worked, and, when first turned on it sometimes takes several minutes to boot so I have a worrying time looking at the black screen with my fingers crossed. 

~   Programs are frequently "not responding" for some while.

~   I have to do a lot of password changing as I, apparently, hadn’t kept my notes up to date on that.

I understand several people taking class action lawsuits against Microsoft for this error and I don't blame them.


So, if your computer updates, be afraid – be very afraid! 

So, the only thing I have to report, food-wise is utterly gorgeous Davidstow Vintage Cheddar, Cornish by the way, which I was lucky enough to find considerably reduced. 

gorgeous crumbly Cornish cheddar cheese

Thankfully, that, with a glass of wine, calmed me down a bit.
  


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16 May 2018

6½ Super Flexible Recipes for Leftovers


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again …



The following 6½ recipes can help with this because they are all so very adaptable

1.   Flexible Fritter Recipe


There are several ways to make fritters; larger pieces of leftover food, such as pieces of fish, can be coated in batter or breadcrumbs and fried to crisp. If you have leftover mashed potato plus other leftovers mix them all together and fry.  Here, however, is a useful fritter batter recipe that can take almost any leftover.  These are Cauliflower Cheese Fritters made with leftover cooked cauliflower and, yes!, cheese.

cauliflower cheese fritters from leftovers


Sweet fritters work too – how about leftover banana (sliced or diced, of course) with soft light brown sugar and a drip or two of rum?


2.   Soup from Leftovers


Of course, you could just run your leftovers through the food processor and dilute to soup consistency but there is a much better way! 

My all-purpose soup recipe is so damned useful I’ve even written a book about it (great preview here), but the basic details are all here, to get you started.



3.  Omelettes


So useful are omelettes for using up leftovers that a café I used to breakfast at, De Loose Mongoose, often had Trash Omelette blatantly on the menu, filled with whatever they had left over from the night before. See how to make a perfect leftovers omelette here.


frittata filled with leftover gooies

3½.   Frittata

           
A frittata is a more substantial type of omelette (hence the ½) so, the good news is, you can use up more leftovers! Ham, bacon, chorizo, cheese, seafood, asparagus, mushrooms and lots more are great in frittatas.

If you use half a dozen eggs this should feed 2-3 people.

~   Fry raw onion, if using, gently in oil or butter till soft then add a little garlic, if you wish.
~   If adding leftover potatoes increase the heat and add these now crushing them slightly and cook till they start to crispen and colour. Add a little more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Now add any other cooked ingredients and mix into the potatoes, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding herbs and spices to taste.
~   Turn down the heat, whisk together  six eggs and pour them over everything else.
~   Preheat the grill.
~   Cook the frittata gently for a few minutes till the bottom is set but the top still moist.
~   Sprinkle with grated cheese, if using, and slide under the grill till melted and a little golden.
~   Cut into wedges and serve hot or cold.

bowl of mushroom and black garlic risotto4.  Risotto


I used to love making risotto when I was a chef – it’s a great excuse to stand still for a few minutes (apart from the arm doing the stirring) and maybe even to partake of a chef’s coffee. I do much the same at home – see here for the basic risotto recipe.  


In case you are wondering, here are details of chef’s coffee and also, fortuitously, how to make a frittata with leftover pasta! 


5.  Bubble & Squeak aka Hash


Firstly, of course, Bubble and Squeak is a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes whether they be boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, etc. and also works well with sweet potatoes (leftover of course).

Secondly, all sorts of leftovers; vegetables (leftover cabbage is traditional in Bubble & Squeak but is by no means obligatory), fish, meat, poultry, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, chorizo etc. can very happily be incorporated.

Oh, and you could fry it in leftover bacon fat or schmaltz for added deliciousness.

Important Tip when Pan Frying Potatoes …


Let the mixture sit over a medium heat, undisturbed, for several minutes allowing a crust to form before turning.

~   Fry some finely chopped onion gently in a little oil, butter or fat for a few minutes till soft. Add some garlic if you like!
~   Increase the heat, add the leftover cooked potatoes crushing them slightly and cook till they just start to crispen and colour. Add more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Stir in other leftover vegetables and continue to fry and turn till all is hot, crispy in parts and delicious.

Serve the hash as it is, quite possibly topped with a fried egg, or form into little cakes or pile onto a pie filling to make a super-duper fish pie, cottage pie or similar.


hash made with leftover potatoes and other lefovers


6.  Bread Pudding ~ Sweet or Savoury

This is not the manly rib sticking Bread Pudding which is like cake, it is a rich creamy custard based dessert similar to Bread and Butter Pudding but, instead of using slices of buttered bread, I use random bits and pieces of leftover bread – whatever I have.  Stale or slightly oven dried bread is best.

Normally we associate bread (and butter) pudding with sweet ingredients but a Strata is a savoury bread and (no) butter pudding layered up with whatever other ingredients are being used. Leave out the sugar and season the egg mixture with salt and pepper and anything else appropriate according to taste. Mix in cheese and other ingredients before pouring over the custard.

Serves 4
  
100g-150g stale bread in small chunks
200ml milk
100ml double cream
2 eggs
75g-100g leftovers

For a sweet dish …

80g sugar plus a little for sprinkling
flavourings appropriate to your leftovers eg. vanilla extract, a little brandy, chocolate chips or what have you

For a savoury dish …

salt and pepper
whatever seasonings will complement your leftovers, such as garlic, herbs, spices, grated (possibly leftover) cheese etc. – to taste

~   Put the bread into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.
~   Add your leftovers and toss to mingle well.
~   Whisk together the milk, cream and eggs plus the sugar OR salt and other seasonings you are using.
~   Gently push the bread under the surface to soak it. Set aside for 30 minutes or more – even overnight will do.

To cook …

~   Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C/160˚C Fan/gas 4.
~   Sprinkle the pudding with the extra sugar OR grated cheese as appropriate.
~   Bake for about 40 minutes till risen, golden and slightly wobbly when nudged.

Serve hot, warm or cold but warm is best.


creamy bread and butter pudding


In my book, Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers, I give numerous ideas for 450 different leftover foods including more ideas and details for the above recipes.

leftovers handbook


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12 May 2018

The Hidden Hut ~ how I wish I was younger!

Just a quickie because I really want to tell you about this place, which is strange as I haven’t even eaten there – yet!

the hidden hut, porthcurnick beach

The other day some friends and I went to The Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick Beach and I am now suffering from a very serious case of Café Envy. If I was younger and bouncier I would love to do something like this again.

The Hidden Hut is a bit hidden but not that difficult to find, it's on the coastal path near Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. A simple hut which does takeaway food but with lots of outside seating, with lovely views of the beach, so you don’t have to take it very far!

sea view from the hidden hut

The menu looked so tempting and is, I believe, constantly changing; 

“Organised according to the weather forecast and produce availability.” 

... which is always the best way with menus, I find.  Ice cream is handmade from clotted cream, ingredients are sourced freshly and locally and cooked in their outside kitchen. 

And just look at their Feast Nights!    

Very sadly, we had already eaten when we visited The Hidden Hut and only had hot drinks, but I hope to return with someone hungrier soon!

how to recycle rubbish


Even the area for returning trays and trash was inspiring with directions for recycling various waste into different containers, and my friend reported that the toilets were a joy to visit.




So – if you are in Cornwall this summer give The Hidden Hut a visit. Might see you there, I’ll be the one staring longingly at the kitchen.


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5 May 2018

Common Sense with Leftover Food ~ apparently not a new idea!


I’ve recently started saving images of old cookbooks, as I find them, on Pinterest.



I am interested in them but not that interested! As with most cookbooks they tend to have the same recipes repeated over and over again (see here for more on this strange cookbook similarity) but, as you can imagine, I was intrigued to discover this.


I see that, like some cookbook writers today, the authors have cheekily added blank pages for the reader to add “My Own Receipts” thus making the book look more temptingly thick and full!

Other than that I am in complete agreement with the writers, Helen Carroll Clarke and Phoebe Deyo Rulon, from the start  …

Preface to The Cook Book of Leftovers, 1911

Although I must say that, with my modern ideas, I am of the opinion that blokes may also benefit from advice on making the most of leftovers!
image for pinterest on leftovers cookbooks

Some of the recipes are quite interesting;  one of the first in the book is called Fire Island Stew although it is simply a dish of macaroni and leftover roast beef in a tomato sauce.  In 1911, however, this may have been quite adventurous.
                                                                                                               
Mock Chicken Salad is strange as it’s actually a pork salad!, and this is a little odd too, whether it uses tinned baked beans or homemade ...

baked bean salad recipe!

Obviously, due to differences of time (The Cook Book of Leftovers was published in 1911) and place (this is an American book) we are dealing with different ingredients, cooking methods and food storage.

Fundamentally, however, our ideas and principles are much the same. Probably that is because using leftover food to create delicious new dishes is bleeding obvious!

There is much I agree with and I find myself nodding sagely as I read the book.  This recipe for leftover cooked sweet potatoes …
browned sweet potatoes recipe
... is a little like my recipe, in Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers for leftover raw sweet potatoes …

kamote cue recipe

We are also similar with regard to pastry scraps and leftover cheese …

cheese sticks recipe 1911
cheese straws recipe 2018

Read more about The Cook Book of Leftovers here and read more about my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers here. 


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13 April 2018

The most astonishing cake I’ve ever encountered!

Just a quick post to tell you about this!

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cake eating public!


When I was at “work” yesterday (volunteer work sorting donated books to Cornwall Hospice Care) one of my colleagues, a lovely girl from Lithuania, brought in a cake to celebrate her birthday.  Not just any old cake though!!!

This is a picture of the actual cake, there is a black background set up in the office to take pictures when putting stuff up for sale on eBay and similar. It stood about 40cm/16” before we got at it.

Isn’t it amazing!







Šakotis


In English this is called a tree cake and you can see why. 

Šakotis is made of butter, egg whites and yolks, flour, sugar, and cream, it is sweet and soft yet crunchy, sort of a cross between a biscuit and a cake. Our one was drizzled with chocolate and icing.  It must be almost impossible to make at home.  Although if you are interested watch this!!



I have absolutely no idea what to do with leftovers, so Lithuanian Tree Cake isn’t mentioned in my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers!












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10 April 2018

3,240 Recipes for Leek & Potato Soup - Ridiculous!!

definition of a recipe
I agree with him!
Once a week I sort out books that have been donated to the charity Cornwall Hospice Care. If they are worth a bit I post them for sale on Amazon, if worth a fair bit, they go to eBay or Abe books. If they are of not much value but in good condition they go out to the shops for selling around the county and (good news if you live near me) paperbacks are currently 5 for £1 in the clearance outlet. If they are in very poor condition they are sold for pulping, sadly, although sometimes I borrow and read them before returning them to “work” and throwing them away!

Many, many cookbooks come through each day and I flick through them both to check their condition and to see if they are interesting and almost always they are not!  The reason they are not interesting is that they all contain the same or similar recipes over and over again. 
bowl of soup pinterest image
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Recently, whilst doing said flicking, I happened to see 17 recipes for Leek and Potato Soup in 17 different cookbooks!

So, when I got home I googled Leek and Potato Soup Recipe and there were approximately 3,240 results.


I started reading them and every single one I looked at contained (can you guess?) a little oil or butter, leeks, potatoes, stock, salt and pepper and, frequently, a dairy addition such as cream, milk, sour cream or crème fraîche. Some of the recipes also contain onion, carrot or celery. Some people call it Potato & Leek Soup (weirdos!). See end of post for a little more on my findings.



This is my …


Leek & Potato Soup – serves 4


It is much the same as everyone else’s!


25g butter OR 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium/large leeks – thinly sliced and cleaned
2 medium potatoes
475ml/16fl oz chicken or vegetable stock 

~ Heat the olive oil or butter, add the leeks and toss together till they are coated.
~ Turn down the heat, cover the onions completely with a piece of foil, pressing down onto the surface of the leeks and being careful not to burn yourself. (This is the way I usually cook onions too, it makes for lovely melting soft and sweet onions and leeks).
~ Put a lid on the pan and cook very gently till they are completely and utterly tender and are starting to caramelise a little.
~ Peel and slice the potato and add to the onions.
~ Add enough stock to just cover the potatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid, (throw away the piece of foil or recycle it or something) and simmer till the potatoes are tender.

Now then, what sort of texture soup would you like?

1.    For a chunky soup just leave it as it is.
2.   For a “rustic” texture crush the potato into the stock.
3.   Use a “liquidizer on a stick” or stick blender to mash more finely.
4.   Purée in a food processor.
5.   Purée in a liquidizer for a very smooth and sophisticated finish.

~ In all cases dilute to your ideal soup consistency with more stock, milk, cream etc., as you fancy, taste and season.

You don’t have to stop here, however, you can adjust the recipe to make a delicious leek and potato soup exactly to you own personal taste. Here’s a few ideas …

~   If you also fancy adding onion, carrot or celery thinly slice and add to the oil together with the leeks.
~   Use bacon fat to cook the leeks and top with crispy bacon.
~   Add cream, chill, serve cold and call it Vichyssoise.
~   Add some shredded cooked chicken just to heat through.
~   Add cooked fish or shellfish and cream for a seafood chowder.
~   Add a little cooked smoked fish – it goes really well with the leeks.
~   Add some herbs, right at the end of cooking, chives seem to be quite common with leek and potato soup.
~   Stir in some grated cheese just before serving.
~   Purée in a bunch of watercress. 

variation on leek and potato soup - add watercress



There is definitely a market for lavishly illustrated, gorgeous recipe books but surely, if they just repeat what everyone else says, they are not the most useful if you actually want to know how to cook. 

I write cookbooks too, but they are rather different from the ones referred to above. I my Genius Recipe books each give one key recipe together with many dishes based on that recipe together with all the handy hints, good ideas, serving suggestions, ancillary recipes and information I can think of to help the reader experiment confidently and vary the key recipes to their own taste. 


Here is my soup cookbook Soup ~ (Almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need wherein, like every other cookbook, you can find a recipe for leek and potato soup.  You can also find the one basic key recipe together with 60+ soups based on that basic recipe and loads of useful information on soup making.


how to make all sorts of soup with one basic recipe
Click here for a preview.


Google Search Results


These are a few of the Leek and Potato Soup recipes I checked out on Google, they were all very similar. I’ve added any additional ingredients or variations on the basic soup, where applicable … 

Google

I checked out quite a few more but I think you get the point and I don’t need to list them all!
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30 March 2018

Delicious Ways to Make Toast ~ not Waste!


make-toast-not-waste
Apparently, a gobsmacking, 24 million slices of bread are thrown away daily.  What is wrong with people?

The inestimable Love Food Hate Waste people have a new campaign; Make Toast Not Waste. How right they are.  

One simple suggestion they make is freezing unwanted bread which, usefully, can then be toasted from frozen.

Some while ago I wrote a post called 7 (+) Interestingly Different Ideas for Leftover Bread but making toast is a no brainer! 

french toast, cinnamon toast, melba toast and Greek grilled toast
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Firstly, in addition to straightforward toast, here are four alternative types of toast you might like to try, they are all great ways to use leftover bread and the fourth one is surprisingly gorgeous.

1.  Cinnamon Toast & More – cinnamon toast is rightly famous but how about other flavoured toasts such as salted caramel or vanilla, for instance.  Read about cinnamon toast and more here

2.  Melba Toast – very crisp thin toast (don’t worry it’s easy) which is perfect with creamy things such as pate, hummus etc.  

3.  French Toast, of course. Here’s how to make French Toast, you don’t have to coat it with panko crumbs as mentioned in the post! 

4.  The Greeks have an utterly wonderful way of making grilled bread (toast) which I urge you read about and then have a go, it is called λαδοβρεχτό!

The great thing about toast is it can also be a vehicle (!) for so many things, cheese on toast is a given but there are so many delicious ways it can play a supporting role with leftovers, my favourite ingredients! ~ win/win situation. 

rich beefy dripping on toast


What leftovers can you serve on Toast?

The most famous leftover on toast dish is probably bread and dripping. You know how, if you chill the meat juices after roasting some beef, you get lovely savoury meaty jelly under a layer of beefy fat?  Well spread it on toast and sprinkle with a little crunchy sea salt; it is so much nicer that you can possibly imagine, and our forebears swore by it!



Leftover dinner on Toast!  


Depending, of course, on what you had for dinner, for instance …

~   Leftover fish and seafood, and possibly leftover veggies, are good stirred through and appropriate hot sauce (Alfredo for instance) and piled onto toast.
~  The same goes for chicken.
~  Most meats, fish and seafood are also good stirred through with mayonnaise (maybe a flavoured mayonnaise) and served on toast. 
~  Pile reheated leftover cauliflower or broccoli cheese on toast, sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and breadcrumbs and pop under a hot grill till melty, crisp and golden.


leftovers on toast

~   Spoon hot leftover mince or chilli con carne on toast – top with cheese and grill.
~   Leftover stews of all descriptions go well with toasted bread too but perhaps in this case serve the toast as a side rather than under the stew or it might get too soggy! Here’s how to make a lovely stew so that you will then have the appropriate leftovers. 
~   Beans on Toast but not as you know it, Jim.  If you have any canned beans that need using up then heat them up together with a little pasta sauce or cheese sauce or whatever you have, maybe add some shredded chorizo, pulled pork, ham, chicken etc. and pile on toast. Yet again cheese would be good on top.
homemade beans on toast

Fruit on Toast


Butter the toast (leftover brioche or plain cake are good for this too), top with the fruit of your choice, sliced or diced or chopped as you wish, sprinkle with sugar and pop under a hot grill till caramelised.  Lovely breakfast! 


fruit on toast for breakfast


I’ve tried mango or peaches on toast sprinkled with soft light brown sugar, but obviously not bananas due to the old bananaphobia!   

No reason why you shouldn’t try bananas on toast though, maybe spread the toast with peanut butter before applying the banans or, alternatively, drizzle with chocolate sauce or sticky toffee sauce

Fudge on Toast is also good for breakfast


seriously useful leftovers handbook


Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers ~ a leftovers handbook


I love cooking with leftovers so much so that I have written a book giving every recipe, idea, handy hint, storage info, food pairing advice, cook's treat and general stuff I can think of for 450 potential leftovers. Read more here.
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