Using up leftovers isn’t just about not wasting food, it is about making the most of what you have. I know I am not alone in opening the cupboards/fridge/freezer and thinking I have nothing for dinner so I order a takeaway instead. Yes, it is rare for me to do this (takeaways are generally planned, or at least have to be flexible within my menu planning), but I admit that there are days when I am flummoxed and have no inspiration whatsoever.
Generally when we think of wasting food, and using up leftovers, perishable food is top of our concerns (which they should be), and we neglect the freezer and the store cupboard. The freezer is, of course, perfect for those occasions when you reach for the takeaway menu – just make sure you label everything, and even keep an inventory, unless you like surprises or playing guessing games through the frost (I’m the latter). The store cupboard is a whole other ball game, but one that is much more fun – mainly because it usually means baking.
It is important to keep a well-stocked store cupboard, not least because when zombies/the apocalypse/environmental disaster hit you want to be prepared, but particularly because these ingredients help tie your perishables together in what might otherwise have been just a plate of veg (I’ve been there). The problem with store cupboards, however, is that they do end up with a lot of forgotten ingredients – the things you bought for just one recipe, in my instance things like quinoa and pearled spelt, or things that just come in too big a packet (baking powder! I can do baking once a week and I still don’t use the whole packet before it becomes useless! I have solved the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and cornflour problem though as I use these in homemade deodorant, plus Doves Farm sells substantially smaller packets of cornflour than supermarket own and other brands).
Remember, non-perishable items usually have a best before date as opposed to a use by date. This refers to the quality of the product and not its safety. Baking powder, yeast and spices are good examples of products that are best before the date stated on the label. You will notice a difference in rise of cakes and breads if your baking powder and yeast have been open a long time. Likewise, the flavour of spices will be nowhere near as potent as when you first opened that packet and took a good whiff. Suitable storage will help improve the longevity of any food, be it perishable or non-perishable. And, at the end of the day, even if something does last indefinitely, it is always going to be better to just eat it!
The forgotten ingredient in these flapjacks was a solid block of 100% cocoa purchased at the Eden Project about 5 years ago.
The flapjack base:
85g light brown sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
85g coconut oil (I didn’t have enough butter so I thought I’d experiment with dairy-free flapjacks!)
Heat the sugar, syrup and oil over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved (not all of the oil incorporated into the mix so it might be worth using left of it). Stir in most – but not all – of the mix into the oats so that it is clumping together nicely and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.
Turn the heat up and let the mixture in the pan bubble away for a minute (there is a proper way of doing this but I just guessed – I also didn’t want to overdo it as I still wanted it to be a bit chewy and gooey). Pour onto greaseproof paper and leave to set.
Icing sugar (about 5tbsp)
Water (as much as necessary to get desired consistency)
Solid cocoa (or you can use cocoa powder, sifted into the icing sugar, instead) – about 1tbsp
Whisk together icing sugar and water (sorry for no precise amounts, but I tend to make it up as I go a long as it always end up a sloppy mess if I follow a recipe). Melt the cocoa in the microwave and whisk this into the icing. Beat it until it is holding its shape.
The finished product:
When everything has cooled, layer the toffee on top of the flapjack (cutting if necessary), then spread the chocolate icing over the top.