Monday, September 10, 2007

Preparing In Advance

Great chefs, it is said, are realists, they waste nothing. Bones are used in stock and soups, leftover fish goes into a kedgeree, leftover meats into hashes and crepes. Leftover chicken takes on a new life in a white stew. Potted leftover ham and game becomes an appetiser (see below).

As to vegetables. Keep costs down by buying in season, and - if you have to used canned vegetables, the professional tip is to heat the juice first, and then add the veg.

The professional cooks tip is that time and money can be saved by having a basic plan for a week's menus and many cookery schools run courses where a carefully costed three course meal has to be made on limited funds. Maybe as low as 50p a head.
They say never let a roving eye lead you into amateurish and expensive impulse buying. Make a shopping list and then stick to it.
The best meal is made with a pinch of planning, some careful shopping, and served with a dash each of adventure and common sense.

From what you have been saying to me over the past months, I think most of you have reached that professional standard already. The challenge of setting a price for a meal has always been a favourite of mine, and I hope some of you will attempt it yourself. Don't aim too low, you can always do it all over again, and aim for even cheaper. It isn't a chore, it really can be fun.

Yesterday's leftover ham or game 'appetiser': (F)
10-12 oz (275-350g) ounces of cold cooked ham, game, beef etc
a pinch each of dried marjoram, thyme and nutmeg
salt and black pepper
3 oz (75g) unsalted butter
Just mash the lot together, seasoning with the salt and pepper to taste. Pot up into little containers, and - if wishing to keep - cover with a thin layer of melted butter making sure no meat is exposed to the air. This will keep in the fridge for a week or can be frozen. Eat, at room temperature, spread on toast.

A good way to use up cold cooked chicken is to make the following:
Devilled Chicken:
Cooked chicken
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp made mustard
1 tsp vinegar
2 dessp. sunflower oil
Cut the chicken into neat pieces, removing skin, bones and surplus fat, and put onto a shallow baking tray. Blend the remaining ingredients together and brush over the chicken pieces. Place under a hot grill, turning the pieces, brushing the underside with more of the dressing, and when nicely browned, serve hot with a green salad or what you will.