There is something about using up leftovers that makes great comfort food. Perhaps it is that feeling of ‘decluttering’ or the fact that you are not letting anything go to waste; perhaps it is that element of creativity and imagination that takes you into places less travelled, like hopping on a random train or diving into a good book. Perhaps it is because the highest proportion of leftovers tends to be carbs like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes and these foods often form the cushiony basis of great comfort food.
When it comes to comfort food, macaroni cheese and potato skins (with lashings of bacon and cheese) definitely make the list, alongside bangers (sausages) and mash with baked beans. So for me at least this dish was an inspiration! And it not only used up leftovers, but it used up leftover leftovers (from work). In the instance of the macaroni cheese triple leftovers as this was Charlie’s portion from the Social Kitchen where they use food that would have otherwise go to waste to make meals (Charlie was asleep and didn’t then want food when he woke up).
Cooked jacket potatoes
Hunter’s chicken (chicken wrapped in bacon and cheese in BBQ sauce)
Dash of milk
Handful of spinach
Scoop out the potato (save this for something like fish cakes or to thicken a soup). Chop the chicken and mix with the macaroni cheese, spinach and enough milk to rehydrate the macaroni cheese. Fill the potato skins with this mixture and grate parmesan on top. Bake at about 200C until golden and heated through (about 20 minutes). Serve with some tabasco, sour cream or a sprinkling of herbs.
I usually try to set a theme for whenever I’m off with my son during school holidays but I had no inspiration this time. However we seemed to set a theme regardless: fruit picking. Monday was the fruit farm for strawberries and raspberries. Tuesday was early blackberry picking (and a surprise gift of cherries from a colleague’s cherry tree). Wednesday was a lovely walk around the university’s fruit route.
So what to do with a glut of fruit? Summer and berries just called out pavlova to me. The only problem with pavlova is it is too pretty to cut…
2 egg whites
Whisk egg whites until firm then add sugar and cornflour in a thin stream until combined. Spread onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper in a circle, making sure the edges are thicker than the centre. Bake in the oven at 150C for between 45 minutes and an hour. Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar.
Creme fraiche (a few tablespoons)
Icing sugar (sweeten to taste)
Selection of fruit (in our case: strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blackberries)
A few sprigs of mint
Mix the creme fraiche with enough icing sugar for your taste. Spread over the cooled meringue. Distribute the fruit on top and finish with some mint leaves.
Food stuff used up:
Creme fraiche * Eggs * Fruit
Meringues only use egg whites so always make sure you have a recipe in mind to use up the egg yolks so that they don’t go to waste. I was making egg-fried rice the next night so I used them in that.
Egg whites and egg yolks can also both be frozen once separated (although I have never tried it) so if you don’t plan on using the egg yolks immediately then this is a good idea.