Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Using up the leftovers and keeping stock

I love to use leftovers where ever I can and having long lasting items in your cupboards/fridge is very important in getting easy dinners on the table. One of my favourites is a jar of charred red peppers. You can add them to soup, pasta sauces, pizzas, stews, the list is endless. Other things that last a long time are beetroots (either in jars or vacuum packs), butternut squashes (or other hardy root veg), and all your jars (mustard, redcurrant jelly, mint jelly etc.).

Salads are very quick to make and no washing up of big pans required. I love the mixture of beetroot and goats cheese. Pine nuts and roasted butternut squash would also go really well on top.

I've mixed one of the salads to the left with tomatoes and cucumber from my Mum's garden. She's just planted in her new vegetable plots meaning that come spring time, I'll be able to get my hands on some new vegetables ready to cook with (if she lets me have some!).

Talking of fresh veg, my lovely neighbour delivers all sorts of goodies from her father's allotment in London (see the assortment to the right). I remember making a curry with all the tomatoes. I had the figs drizzled with honey. I'm still using all of the garlic that she gave me, I actually used it last night in a sausage casserole. I'm missing all these fresh fruit and vegetables now that winter has drawn in. It's time for stews, soups, curries and hearty dishes that warm tootsies. But bring on the day when I can pick fresh strawberries from my Mum's garden again.

Also, I love roasting veg. Any veg; all veg. Here's some parsnip, the butternut squash (from the allotment shown above), and potatoes left over from a roast. I always find there's a small amount of potatoes left to grow little sprouts, so mix them up with some veg and roast them off. Here, I've put them with some fennel seeds, cumin seeds, onion seeds and a few more aromatic spices thrown in, as well as some oil to help them crisp up and get all tasty. When they've had about an hour in the oven, I eat them with mayo when I'm on my own but when guests are coming, I serve with roast chicken, steak or even blend them into soup.

Another good tip is never throw a chicken carcass away. This always hurts me a little bit to see that happen. Make some soup. Get your nose in the trails of soup steam. There is so much flavour (and probably meat) still left on the chicken so dry fry it (take off the skin and any congealed fat) to colour it all a bit and get some flavour onto it and then add water, onions, carrots, celery, leeks and any other veg. Once they've boiled for a few hours, sieve the stock. You could keep this stock as it is and take it out the freezer when you need to make a gravy but when it's winter, I like to make soup. So, to the stock, add a soup mix bag from your local health shop (usually filled with lentils and pearl barley) to give it a bit of body and also add a bit of the leftover chicken pieces. Boil until the lentils and barley are done and you can't quite resist it any longer. You're welcome to add peas, sweetcorn or anything you like in your chicken soup. Serve with bread and butter. It's the best cure for illness or homesickness in the world.

So, make the most of all your leftovers and don't throw anything away - there's always a use for something...you'll save money and create new things!

ZP x

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