Leftover jacket potato pasties

My youngest is going through a stage of gulping down his dinner one day and not touching it the next, so I have been ending up with lots of untouched meals in the fridge, perfect for lunch the next day. His jacket potato with beans (he had managed to eat the cheese on top) was destined to be a potato cake, because that is usually what happens to leftover potato in my house. However, I had some sheets of puff pastry in the freezer that I had been wanting to use, and a hankering for cheese and onion pasties, so I tried something new!

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Ingredients:

1/2 cooked jacket potato

2tbsp baked beans (optional)

Grated cheese, to taste

1tbsp chopped onion

1 puff pastry sheet

Method:

Blend potato, beans, cheese and onion until smooth. Add seasoning and more cheese/onion if required.

Cut pastry sheet in half so you have two rectangles. Fill half of each rectangle with the mixture, remembering to leave a gap, and dampened the edges with milk/egg/water. Fold over the pastry and seal tightly. Score the top with a knife and place on an oiled tray. Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes until golden.

I served the pasties with a higgledy-piggledy salad that made the most of half-eaten fruit that my children had forgotten about.

 

Macaroni cheese potato skins

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).

20160822_210153.jpgIngredients:

Cooked jacket potatoes

Hunter’s chicken (chicken wrapped in bacon and cheese in BBQ sauce)

Macaroni cheese

Dash of milk

Handful of spinach

Parmesan

Method:

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.

 

Root veg pasta with sage butter

I have got a bit gardening obsessed lately and I am fast running out of room for all my pots. I keep telling myself I need to buy more flowers to add some more colour but I’m a bit addicted to herbs (I saw some beautiful red thyme on Saturday but I was good and didn’t buy it, mainly because I didn’t have anywhere to put it). The problem is I’m not a very adventurous cook when it comes to herbs and unless a recipe calls for them they easily get overlooked. So I have embarked on a mission to use more herbs!

Today’s recipe was a simple pasta using some of my sage (which has grown a bit too bushy and suffering from yellow leaves and so is the most desperate for regular use). This was enough for one adult and one child.

wp-image-1328405754jpg.jpgIngredients:

Handful each of carrot, parsnip and sweet potato, approx. 1cm cubes

Sprig of sage, leaves only

4oz pasta

3tbsp butter

 

 

Method:

Roast vegetables at 200C for about 30-40 minutes

Cook pasta according to packet instructions

Meanwhile, melt butter and fry sage leaves until fragrant

Mix everything together and enjoy – preferably outside in the sunshine!

 

Herbs in my garden:

Sage * Rosemary * Chives * Mint * Lemon balm * Golden marjoram * Oregano * Lavender (not suitable for eating)

20160716_101421.jpgI have also this weekend prepared some sage oil, and some rosemary and chilli oil, as well as dried some herbs for use in soaps. I have made a batch of soaps with lemon balm in tonight, however, there seems to have been some strange reaction but I am not sure whether that is due to the lemon balm or the jojoba wax (which I have also not used in my soaps before). I am suspecting the lemon balm as the reaction is greater in the soaps with more of it!

 

Moroccan-inspired aubergine

I switched my Wonky Veg box delivery to fortnightly as I was struggling to get through it all without resorting to soups for the leftovers (and it’s not exactly soup weather). I am currently getting a small box as well, which goes to show they are either very generous with the portions or I just don’t eat enough veg. Either way, my first fortnightly delivery did the trick and when my box arrived this morning I only had two small aubergines and one onion remaining. I had also been saving the aubergines for tonight as my husband is out and he does not like aubergines. So bring on tonight’s meal of simplicity:

wp-1468008482501.jpgIngredients:

Two small aubergines (so-called wonky veg that could have gone to waste before it had even left the farm)

1-2 tsp harissa

1 egg (half dozen box bought for 10p as past its ‘best before’ date)

2 (large) cherry tomatoes, halved (also wonky veg)

A sprinkling of dukka and oil (I used avocado oil)

Method:

Halve the aubergines lengthways then cut the flesh of each in diagonals. Spread harissa over the flesh and drizzle over a bit of oil. Bake at 200C for about 40 minutes (until nice and soft. 10 minutes before the end add the tomatoes.

Serve alongside a fried egg sprinkled with dukka.

Food stuff used up:

Harissa * Avocado oil * Aubergines * Egg

Food left on plate:

Aubergine stalks!

 

Stuffed peppers

The ultimate simple supper for just about leftover everything (curry, chilli, bolognese, rice, pasta, potatoes, veg, cheese…). I’ve been cooking stuffed peppers quite often recently, partly because peppers make a regular appearance in my Wonky Veg boxes, but they are such an easy meal that can be made either on the day or in advance. I like to cut them in half (rather than fill the whole pepper) and sit them on a layer of tomato-based sauce. Then, I layer them with rice, finely chopped veg (usually mushrooms, onion and more pepper), refried beans (ideally homemade) and topped with cheese.

On this particular occasion I took a slightly different route.

20160510_204040[1]The base:

Half a tin of tomatoes, half an onion, clove of garlic and a sprinkle of oregano

Saute the onion and garlic until soft, add the tomatoes and oregano, and simmer until thickened. Season to taste and spread over the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

The filling:

Leftover curry sauce, leftover veg (courgette, pepper, onion), and leftover five bean salad.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds, and place in the dish. Mix the filling and spoon into the peppers. Top with grated cheese (or mozzarella, breadcrumbs, whatever needs using).

Cover with foil and bake at about 200C for 40 mins. Uncover and cook for a further ten minutes until the cheese/breadcrumbs is golden.

 

 

Honey and mustard sauce

This recipe could be adapted as a sauce, dip, condiment or salad dressing.  I served it alongside gammon and roasted root vegetables and it worked a dream.

I had some creme fraiche to use up – I’d flavoured some the night before with harissa to go with Moroccan-style cod – and wanted to use the rest with the gammon and the flavour combo had to be honey and mustard. Bur, alas,  I had finally finished the (two) jar(s) of mustard that had been in the fridge since goodness knows when! Then I remembered the mustard seeds bought so long ago for a singular recipe and since forgotten about. But no longer! I am never buying mustard again after this little bit of magic.

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Ingredients:
50g creme fraiche
1tsp honey
1tsp black mustard seeds
Lemon juice

Method:
Crush the mustard seeds and mix into the creme fraiche along with the honey. Add lemon juice to your taste.

Food stuff used up:
Creme fraiche * Lemon

 

Tips:
I always buy creme fraiche for a recipe and never know what to do with the rest but it is so versatile. Try adding curry powder/paste and a squirt of lime juice, or to serve with a pudding a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Pureed/mashed fruit and vegetables also make a good dip or dessert.

Pink Pasta

Tonight’s dish was an amalgamation of two recipes: my take on BBC Good Food’s festive red salad, and leftover beetroot penne, a recipe from one of Abel & Cole’s cookbook. The quantities below are enough to serve 2.

 

The festive salad part:

¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced, ½ red onion, diced, ½ apple, diced, 60g beetroot, diced, and a squeeze of lemon juice (to keep it fresh and soften the cabbage a tad).

Simply mix all the ingredients together.

 

The beetroot penne part:

150g pasta of your choice (it doesn’t have to be penne), cooked beetroot (about a handful per person), diced, 1 crushed garlic clove, 150ml cream, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the garlic in a little oil then add the beetroot. Cook for a few minutes to warm it through, then slowly add the cream. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add some herbs if you like. Drain the pasta and mix into the sauce. Serve with cheese and a sprinkling of walnuts.

 

IMG_20160412_202451[1]Which leads me to the pink pasta amalgamation:

I basically fried the festive salad in a splash of oil until soft, then I stirred through my leftover beetroot penne (actually, fusilli) until hot and finished with a grating of cheese.

 

Why not trying adding:

A hint of spice (I fancied some cumin on mine)

Some toasted nuts (walnuts are particularly good with beetroot)

Some cheese – perhaps a soft goat’s cheese or crumbly feta

 

Food stuff I used up:

Leftover beetroot penne and half the festive salad (the second half is reserved for this recipe).

Root vegetable and sage soup

 

I always put off making soup with leftovers as it seems a bit of a cop out. Surely I can think of something far more exciting than soup? However, I then end up with a stew of some description, or a veggie curry, or stockpiles of veg chilli: a repertoire of leftover standby dishes that make soup seem such a refreshing idea.

I should make soup more often. Not too often or we’d get sick of it, but I don’t think I make it enough. It is one of the few dishes that I can count on each member of the family scraping their plate (well, bowl) clean and is the only way I can ensure we all sit down to eat lunch together at the weekend.

I am a firm believer that when it comes to soup the simpler the better. Think of the classic pairings – tomato and basil, carrot and coriander, leek and potato. Or even simpler, those with just one key ingredient – tomato, mushroom, onion. The list of potential soups is far greater than the number of vegetable types in the world. And fruits too, come to that, as fruit soups have become popular in recent years (perhaps I will trial some this summer, but I am wary to even try feeding my family a gazpacho or vichyssoise so I am unsure how the mere suggestion of a fruit soup would go down).

This soup, taste-wise, was somewhere between leek and potato, and carrot and coriander. The quantities below were enough to feed 2 adults and 2 children.

20160403_122340[1]So, what was in it?

1 small potato

2 carrots

1 parsnip

½ onion

A splash of oil

A knob of butter (optional)

6-8 sage leaves

A pint of stock (chicken in this instance as that was what needed using, but vegetable is great if you want to make it vegetarian)

Method:

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan (I think butter brings out the flavour of sage better which is why I used both but it can easily be omitted). Chop the veg into smallish chunks and tear the sage leaves. Add them all to the pan and fry until the onion is nicely softened and the sage is beautifully fragrant. Pour over the warm stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the veg is soft enough to puree. Blend and season to taste. Add a little extra water if the soup is too thick.

Food stuff finished:

The ingredients in this soup were not leftovers of my creation (bar the forgotten stock cube), but rather from where I sourced them. The vegetables were from my Wonky Veg Box of the previous entry, and the sage was in my freezer, purchased from Sainsbury’s reduced box for 19p as it had reached its use by date.

Tips:

Soup is so versatile. It can be sipped from a cup. You can dip bread or crackers in it (or anything, really. I might have dipped a pain au chocolat in my soup earlier this week. Or if you are feeling fancy  you may want to ‘finish it’ – a swirl of extra virgin olive oil or a flavoured oil like basil or chilli, a drizzle of yoghurt, croutons or breadcrumbs, crisps of bacon. In the instance of this soup I would fry some extra sage leaves in butter until crisp and scatter them on top.

Monster Noodle Soup

 

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… so named because I had to serve it in a mixing bowl.

This dish is the epitome of leftover cooking: it is not what I set out to make. The plan was tagliatelle in a mushroom and tarragon sauce, but it seemed silly to leave half the stock when I was using up everything else. The result, however, was a perfect meal-for-one for a girl full of cold.

 

What did I use?

A handful of mushrooms, a few sprigs of tarragon, lemon zest, a teaspoon of mustard, a dollop of honey, butter, flour, stock (about 500ml), wholegrain tagliatelle (about 75g)

How did I make it?

While the tagliatelle was cooking (per the packet’s instructions) I fried off my mushrooms, tarragon and lemon zest in a dollop of butter. Once golden I added about a tablespoon of flour (whatever is handy, just to thicken it), stirred for a minute then added the stock. I let this bubble away, stirring occasionally, until it was a thickness I liked and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then, I drained the pasta and added it to the ‘soup’. In the last moment I added a dollop of honey as medicine for my cold.

Food stuff finished:

Mushrooms   *  Tarragon  *  Mustard  *  Stock  *  Tagliatelle  *  And the soup – of course!

Swaps:

Try swapping the mushrooms for any leftover veg or meat, and the tarragon for any other herb. Likewise, the stock can be whatever you have to hand (I’m not actually sure what mine was) – a dash of wine, or even juice if you’re feeling experimental. Tagliatelle can be substituted for any type of pasta, noodles, rice or potatoes.

Tips:

Get a spatula around the inside of jars – you’ll be amazed at how much you can salvage!