30 April 2013

Fried Bread Curry! ... plus a review of "Toast" by Nigel Slater

~  Menu  ~

Roti Upma
Dollop of Sour Cream
(I know - it should have been yogurt!)
White Wine Spritzer

Well I have just eaten A Very Interesting Thing which was also quick, cheap and used leftovers but I doubt very much that it was healthy. - fried bread curry!

Upma is a actually a South Indian porridgy dish usually made with semolina but also with lots of other things that will mush down such as rice or bread.  I don't like porridgy things so have never tried it and so didn't feel I could rightfully include the bread version in my bread section of The Leftovers Handbook (which does contain at least 16 ways to use up leftover bread***).  Recently however I have noticed a few Upma recipes using dried or fried bread which retains quite a bit of crispness so decided to give it a go. 

Roti Upma for 1 ~ inauthentic recipe because I didn't have all the right ingredients!

2 separate ½ tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1-2 slices bread - stale is good - diced or torn into pieces
(for me a small slice of sourdough and ½ an old roll I found in the freezer!)
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot red chilli chopped
(I keep a bag in the freezer, they are easily chopped from frozen)
½ onion finely chopped
¼ inch ginger finely chopped
1 pinch turmeric
(I am ashamed to say I had no fresh ginger or turmeric so replaced these with a ¼ tsp curry paste which worked very well)
5 or so cherry tomatoes, quartered
a handful of cashew nuts
fresh coriander, chopped plus a sprig or two to garnish

~   Heat ½ tbsp oil in a frying pan then fry the bread in it till turning crisp and golden. Set aside.
~   Add the second ½ tbsp oil to the pan and then the mustard seeds and wait till they start popping.
~   Stir in the onion (and the ginger if you've got some) and cook till starting to go translucent then add the chilli and the tomatoes.
~   When the tomatoes start to mush down stir in the turmeric and/or curry paste and cook together a minute or so.
~   Taste and season then stir in the bread, cashews and chopped coriander.

I stopped at this point because I don't like pappy meals but you could cook the mixture down a bit and maybe add a little hot water to achieve a more porridge-like consistency.  As I say, it was great and next time I feel I have been eating too healthily I intend to balance things up by making it again! 

In other news ... Toast by Nigel Slater

As you may know I am a member of The Kitchen Reader, an online foodie book club, and this month's book has been Nigel Slater's excellent "Toast".  I have, in fact, read it before but it easily bears re-reading.

Nigel and I are much of an age (OK, I am a little bit older) and his reminiscences about food are my reminiscences too; Cream Soda, Cheese and Pineapple, Salad Cream, Arctic Roll (we weren't as posh as him but we still had the odd Arctic Roll, I can tell you!) even how ice cream wafers stuck to your bottom lip.  All so familiar and, because of that, a bit sad but in a good way!

The is more than just a nostalgic foodie read, however, it is the story of Nigel Slater's early life including the Prawn Cocktail and Black Forest Gateau years that I also remember so well.  The book is very personal and very poignant, his mother's untimely death, his discomfort with and resentment of  "Auntie Joan" the new woman in his father's life who was a much better cook than his mother (a double edged sword I should imagine) and his first catering job. 

In short this book is a very good read indeed and not just for foodies, the over 50s and people who like toast!

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28 April 2013

Lovely lunch for 15p!

~  Menu  ~

Pease Pudding Soup
Multigrain Bread
Glass of Fizzy Water

This week is the Live Below the Line Challenge an initiative of the Global Poverty Project; the challenge is to spend no more than £1 per person per day on food and drink for 5 days.  I apologise for not mentioning this before but have only just become aware of - good luck to everyone taking part.

Actually I myself personally eat so very frugally (and deliciously) I think I would often be hard pushed to eat cheaper and am sure I am often well below £1 a day although to be fair I do have a small appetite!

For lunch today I had pease pudding soup - every week or two I cook my Geordie lad a piece of ham and use some of the stock to make pease pudding thus ... 

A bag of split peas costs 49p for 500g.  I cook half a bag per batch so say 25p and this makes enough pease pudding accompany my darling's ham dinners say 3 times plus sufficient for a soup or a curry for me, that's 25p divided 4 so say 6.5p.  The stock is a by product and possibly costs nothing as it is only water and seeped out ham juice.  I use 1 small onion.  We recently bought a bag of little 'culinary' red onions for 12p reduced from £1.20 and as it contained um ... quite a few lets say 1p for the onion which is a bit high I think.  Incidentally these onions are still perfectly fine although about 3 weeks past their best before date.  

I used an abstemious amount of olive oil to cook the onion and, the stock being salty, nothing was spent on salt although I did have myself a sprinkle of black pepper.  So my bowl of delicious, homemade soup cost 7.5p, let's be generous and say 15p with the slice of toast I ate with it.  This is typical of the way I eat but the funny thing is although we could no way claim to be flush with money I cook this sort of thing because I like it!  I am always telling my darling that if he wasn't so fond of meat and was more fond of 'interesting flavours' I could feed him much more cheaply but he loves his manly meals and at least I get to be creative with the leftovers.

I drank a glass of fizzy water with this - 17p for 2 ltrs so negligible really.  I only have it because I find sparkling more refreshing than still.

Incidentally I saw this good idea for storing onions on Pinterest ...

Speaking of best before - we had some of the best rhubarb ever, which I made into a crumble, the other day.  It was sweet and tender, juice and very pink.  It cost 30p instead of the original £3.00 but I didn't cook it for a few days and it was still as perfect can be.

In other news ...

Nothing much other than this ...

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25 April 2013

How to Make Grattons, Schmaltz and Gribenes

My romantic old darling brought me home a duck last night and I am making many plans for it because he says I can eat it all myself!!  I'm not much of a meat eater but I do love a duck! 

I have decided to confit the legs (plus another two I have in the freezer) and roast or pan fry the breasts in a couple of wonderful ways and I also might make some duck soup of the Chinese persuasion or maybe ... ooh I don't know, more about the results of these plans later.  However the idea of confitting sent my mind running along skin and fat in general and duck and chicken skin and fat in particular. 

Of course it goes without saying that  all leftover duck fat resulting from roasting a duck should be set aside in the fridge and used to roast potatoes which will then be remarkably delicious. 

Bits of leftover chicken skin can just be popped into a hot oven till crisp and served as a nibble or garnish.



These are diced duck skin with any adhering fat which have been fried (boiled in oil according to one Gascon recipe I recently read) till crisp, seasoned and served as a snack or garnish.  I have often done a similar thing when serving duck breasts in a restaurant situation - I remove the skin, toss with salt and pepper and olive oil, spread them on a baking tray and cook in the always on hot oven till crisp.  They make a fine crunchy contrast to the tender breast meat.



This is a Yiddish term for rendered chicken fat (pronounced שמאַלץ according to Wikipedia!) and is essential in many kosher dishes such as chopped liver and matzo balls or sometimes just eaten on toast instead of butter.  As with duck fat a small amount can result from roasting a chicken, especially a fatty one, but it is easy and well worthwhile to make it on purpose too.  Gather together, in the freezer is fine, enough fatty chicken skin to make the job worthwhile and then ...

~   Chop the skin and fat in 10mm or so pieces.
~   Spread over the bottom of a preferably non-stick frying pan, cover and cook over gentle heat for 10-15 minutes until the fat starts to render out and pool in the pan.
~   Remover the lid, turn up the heat to medium and continue cooking till there is plenty of melted fat at the skin is curly and starting to turn brown, maybe another 15 minutes.
~   Turn off the heat and allow to cool a little then strain through a metal seive - the melted fat is the schmaltz; cool to room temperature and then store in the fridge till needed.
~   Don't throw away the skin - now is the time to make ...



~   Return the skin to the still oily pan and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring till it starts browning again.
~   Add about and equal quantity of thinly sliced onion and cook together till all are crisp and golden.
~   Season with salt and pepper
~   Using a slotted spoon carefully lift the gribenes from any malted fat in the pan then spread them out on a piece of kitchen roll to drain and cool.
~   Add any remaining fat in the pan to the cooling schmaltz, it will taste even better than before.

In other news ...

If these are just a few of the suggestions I can think of for leftover skin and fat don't you wonder what ideas I have for the other 450 potential leftovers in my book The Leftovers Handbook? 

I was glad to hear a lady on the bus (yes) the other day telling her husband how she was going to take the lettuce out the leftover salad and then make a stir fry with the rest.  Good girl!

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13 April 2013

Why I had 2 glasses of wine!

~  Menu  ~

Roast Chicken and Butternut Squash Mayo
Vicky's (wonderful) Bread
Glass of Chardonnay
Another glass of Chardonnay
A Squidgy Chocolate Meringue
Black Coffee

Lunch, nevertheless was very pleasant.  Whenever I roast a chicken my real man has it with all the trimmings (potatoes, homemade bread sauce, homemade stuffing, veggies, real gravy and cranberry sauce) but I just have some breast meat with butternut squash roasted with red onion and chilli plus a little gravy.  Today the leftover spicy sweet roasted butternut was excellent mixed into mayonnaise with some diced chicken and served with my favourite bread in all the world; Vicky's Bread

Lunch pudding was one of my luscious ...

Squidgy Chocolate Meringues

175g dark choc
2 large room temperature egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
50g caster sugar

~   Break up the chocolate and put into a small bowl and stand it in a small pan of boiling water to come about a third of the way up the bowl.  If your bowl is plastic it is a good idea to stand it on a metal jam jar lid or similar to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
~   Simmer the water until the chocolate is melted and then stir till smooth. 
~   Cool a little but it should still be runny.
~   Preheat your oven to
350ºF/180ºC/160°C fan/gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment or a  non stick liner.
~   Whisk the egg
whites together with the cream of tartar (abiding by the same meringue rules as above) to soft peaks.
Add the vanilla extract and then, still whisking, gradually add the sugar and whisk to stiff peaks.
Add the cooled chocolate and fold in gently, gently to till all merged together. 
Immediately drop teaspoonfully onto the parchment a couple of centimetres apart and bake till shiny and cracked – about 15-20 minutes.

This recipe is taken directly from the chapter on Inclusions, Complimentary Stuff & Ancillary Recipes in my eBook "Lush Ice Cream without a Machine" - see Amazon Widget in the sidebar.

In Other News ...

1.   The reason I had two glasses of wine (other than I wanted to) is that there has been a bit of a cock up in the distribution of my "real" book, 'The Leftovers Handbook', department; people are still waiting for delivery, and I am in a Bad Mood!  If you are concerned see here for more details  and/or have a glass of wine.  (Not surprisingly I cheered up after lunch!)

2.   I have written a piece about wild garlic for Cornwall Community News.  Hopefully the weather will be good enough some time soon to enable some picking to go on.  I love the stuff.

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7 April 2013

My Inner Womble!

The 'flu bug I had ages ago affected my appetite, my energy to cook and therefore the amount of leftovers I had for some considerable time.  The last few days, however, I feel that me and my inner womble are back on form.

Yesterday's Lunch ....

Pease Pudding Curry
Sparkling Water

Pease Pudding Curry (Geordie-Indian Sub Continent Fusion) was quick, easy and delicious.  One of my storecupboard staples is Patak's Madras Curry Paste.  I cooked half an onion favourite way and, when it was soft and starting to caramelise, I stirred in a teaspoonful of said curry.  Once that started to smell so delicious that my Real Man asked "pooh, what that stink?" I stirred in the leftover pease pudding (the amount you see in the picture) and a little leftover ham stock to soften it a bit. 

Today's Lunch ...

Boursin Stuffed, Panko Crusted Potato Cake
White Wine Spritzer

This just came about because I only had two large potatoes left last night when cooking mashed potatoes for dinner.  One was too small, two was too much.  Today I mixed a dollop of roasted garlic mayonnaise into the leftover mash, wrapped it round the very last bit of Boursin (garlic and herb) in the packet, rolled it in panko crumbs (lots more to do with panko crumbs here) fried and ate it. 

Both my lunches were truly delicious, both were made out of leftovers and both were decided on the spur of the moment.  Madame Cholet would be proud of me!

Wombles, as you know, can't abide human wastefulness but they do appreciate the good food scraps that our specie throw away because the burrow's cook, Madame Cholet pictured above, is a dab hand at making great meals out of leftovers.  Unfortunately, however, a large percentage of the human race don't live near Wimbledon which is where, hopefully, this blog come in useful.  For more info on Mme. Cholet see here. 

In other news ...

As I posted on my other blog here I have only just met my real book in the flesh!  What a strange feeling it is to read a book by me!  

Here's a picture of it relaxing on my kitchen shelf (where I can easily glance over at it and grin) ... 

If you do fancy buying a copy there is a handy Amazon in the sidebar - I think they are the cheapest at the moment (and probably for all time!)

Oh, and by the way would you like ...

"219 Cooking Tips & Techniques
you might find useful!"
(Especially as it’s Free!)

219 (at least) ways to make cooking quicker and/or easier and/or more effective and/or more delicious - free in all sorts of formats ~ just click here.

Two for the Price of None! Includes link for another free ebook!

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