Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fit for Use

Whilst reading some cookery literature last night saw an idea for an simple dessert, basically fruit set in jelly. Easy enough and very cheap to make if you use the packet jelly (8p) and a can of dented (reduced price) fruit which can be 15p or even lower. And that to feed four.

Moving on to more frugal dishes, the first one uses what I like to call 'planned leftovers'. Although cold coked 'fresh' fish could be used, ideally the storecupboard way (as per this recipe) is to use canned salmon or tuna.
Quick Kedgeree: serves 4
8 oz (225g) rice (approx 1lb when cooked)
3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1 x 213 can salmon, drained and flaked
1 oz (25g) butter
tsp curry powder or mild curry paste
salt and pepper
Boil the rice and drain well. Melt the butter in a pan and add the curry powder/paste. Stir in the rice and flaked fish and season to taste. Stir in the chopped eggs and serve immediately.
Tip: to make it look slightly more impressive, chop the yolks and whites of the eggs separately, put the kedgeree onto a warm serving dish and spoon strips of alternate white and yellow eggs diagonally across the top.

We tend to think of serving rice with curry, but here is a dish using pasta. The idea behind it is to use a curry sauce (and why not the 4 pennyworth sauce?) instead of the more usual cheese sauce (as with macaroni cheese). This could lead to using curry sauce in other dishes where we might use a cheese sauce. Over caulflower for example. Could be good, should be good, almost certainly would be good.
Curried Pasta: serves 3 - 4
8 oz (225g) pasta (your choice of shape)
1 onion, chopped
1 oz (25g) butter
sultanas (opt)
1 can curry sauce
Cook the pasta as directed on the packet, just to the al dente stage. Melt the butter and fry the onion until softened. Drain the pasta and put half in a shallow ovenproof dish, cover with the onion and juices from the pan, adding a few sultanas if using, top this with remaining pasta and pour over the curry sauce. Heat through in the oven for 15 minutes. Alternatively, fry the onions in a large pan, add the sultanas (if using) and stir in the drained pasta. Mix together, pour over the curry sauce and bring to the simmer, then serve directly from the saucepan.

This next dish almost comes under the 'fusion food' title, the base (Waldorf) salad being American, the salad dressing being French, the pasta (Italian) and the tuna - well, mine comes from Tesco. Where it was caught could be in Chinese waters for all I know.
Salad of All Nations:
4 oz (100g) dried pasta shells
2 fl oz (60ml) French dressing
1 can tuna, drained and flaked
1 red apple, cored, peel left on
2 ribs celery, finely sliced,
1 tblsp sultanas
few walnut pieces
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just tender (al dente). Drain, rinse under cold water to cool, drain well, put into a bowl and pour over the French dressing, toss until the pasta is covered. When cooled completely, chop the apples and stir these into the pasta so they too are coated with the dressing, then add the flaked tuna, celery, the sultanas and the walnuts. Toss together and spoon out into a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature.
Note: if you wish, instead of using French dressing, use 2 tblsp of plain yogurt blended with the same quantity of mayo.

Akthough souffles have been mentioned in the past, it is worth a reminder that they are really far easier to make than at first thought. The base is a thick white sauce to which egg yolks are beaten in. Then the chosen flavouring added in (whatever it is it should be as dry as possible), finally the egg whites beaten, and carefully folded into the mixture. Baked in a souffle (or deep round dish), the oven door should never be opened so contain yourself from peeking for the full half hour. Check then to see if it is fairly firm on top, if not give it a few minutes longer. Once cooked it should be taken to the table immediately and served as rapidly as possible. If it does start to collapse, never mind - it will taste just as good. Here is the basic recipe with suggestions for flavouring.
Basic Souffle Mixture;
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) flour
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
3 eggs, separated
salt and pepper
Melt the butter and stir in the flour, when this has combined slowly whisk in the milk and cook over low heat until thick. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks.
This is your base mix. To this then add chosen ingredients. Beat the whites until stiff, fold a tblsp into the souffle mix to help slacken it, then fold in the remaining whites as carefully as possible, keeping in as much air as possible. Pour into a prepared souffle dish and bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for half an hour.

souffle suggestions: to the basic mix and before folding in the egg whites add:
1 x 7oz (200g) canned salmond, drained and mashed
or add 3 oz (75g) grated cheese. A spoon of made mustard can be blended into the white sauce.
or add 3 oz (75g) finely chopped ham
or add 3 oz (75g) finely chopped chicken or fish
or add 3 oz (75g) finely chopped or mashed cauliflower or very-well drained wilted spinach, or mashed parsnips etc.
0r make up the sauce using tomato juice (passata) instead of milk, or even make up with some of that curry sauce.
With a souffle you can always be inventive.
Tip: To help a souffle rise evenly above the top of the container. First grease the souffle dish and dust with flour or dried breadcrumbs, then once the filling has been poured in, get hold of the rim of the dish with the thumb just tucked inside and turn the dish so there is a small indentation around the edge. The souffle should then rise up with a straight edge.

Pancakes: by now we should all know how to make these, and well worth making a large batch, interleaving, bagging up, and storing in the freezer. They should also keep well for a week in the fridge. Use for savoury dishes, rolling around a chosen filling as you would when making cannelloni with pasta. Pour over a cheese sauce and heat through in the oven.
Next time you make pancakes to freeze, make extra batter and save this to use in the following dish, a very old English traditional way of using the batter, similar to the Spanish Tortilla, or Italian Frittata. The ingredients can be fried bacon or sausage, with or without slices of apple added. Or it could be flaked cooked fish with apple. It really is a matter of what you wish to use up, as the method of making is the same whatever foods you add to the dish. Cooked left-overs are best, or cook them first before adding.
Fraize: serves 1
Pancake batter
small amounts fried bacon, sausage etc
small amounts of fried apples or chosen vegetables
Melt a knob of butter in the pan, tip in the chosen ingredients and pour over the pancake batter, just enough to cover the base of the pan. When the bottom is browned, turn the 'pancake' over to cook in the normal way, then either serve flat, or can be rolled up. If making several, tent the pancakes with foil and keep warm in the oven (or in a dish standing over a pan of simmering water).

One of my earliest recipes on this site was a Pancake Layer, and this is worth repeating if only to remind everyone how easy it is to make, and an excellent way of using leftovers. The original recipe used left-over spag bol sauce if I remember, alternated with green vegetables and a thick tomato (pizza type) sauce. This version is slightly different but you get the idea, the presentation, and the advantage of serving a dish that can use up almost any left-0vers (as long as flavours mix and match).
Savoury Pancake Layer: serves 4 - 6
7 or 10 pancakes (depending upon the amount of filling)
2 large onions, sliced (or could use leekd)
1 pint white sauce (as made for souffle recipe above)
1 oz (25g) butter
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, sliced
1 tin corned beef
1 tblsp tomato ketchup or brown sauce
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) grated cheese
Fry the onions in the butter until softenened, then remove from the pan and stir them into half the white sauce. Season to taste. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and stir/cook until softened. Mash the corned beef with the ketchup or brown sauce. Divide each into two (for 7 pancakes) or three (for 10 pancakes)
Place one pancake on a shallow ovenproof dish and cover with one portion of any of the above fillings, cover with a pancake, on this spread a second (different )filling), cover with a pancake, spread this with the third filling, and repeat until all pancakes are used, finishing with a pancake. To the remaining sauce, add 2 oz of the cheese, and pour this over the top of the pancake stack, sprinkling over the remaining cheese, then bake in the oven at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 - 25 minutes until heated right through and the cheese sauce is bubbling and golden. To serve, cut into 4 wedges (6 if using the larger amounts) as you would do when cutting a cake. Serve with a crisp green salad.

Sometimes we see a recipe that uses more cheese than we have available, or possibly we don't have enough eggs. Here is an example of a dish that can be made in two ways, one with more cheese then the other, the other with more eggs and less cheese. Either way there is little loss of protein content. Again, use a recipe such as this as a guide, then adjust similar recipes in the same way.
Cheese Pudding (1): serves 3 - 4
4 slices bread, toasted on one side only
little made mustard
8 oz (225g) grated hard cheese
salt and pepper
1 pint (600ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
Butter the untoasted slices of the bread and place two slices, toast side down, in a greased shallow ovenproof dish. Spread over a little made mustard and then cover with half the cheese, adding seasoning to taste. Cover with remaining bread, toast side down - butter side up. Bring the milk to the boil , remove from heat and whisk in the egg. Pour this over the contents of the dish. Leave to stand for half an hour - or longer - to allow the bread to absorb the milk. Bake at 180 C, 350F, gas 4 for half an hour or until golden and puffed up. Serve hot.
Cheese Pudding (2): serves 3 - 4
4 oz (100g) stale (but soft) breadcrumbs
4 oz (1oog) grated hard cheese
1 oz (100g) butter,
2 eggs, separated
1 pint (600ml) milk
salt and pepper
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Put the milk in a pan with the butter. heat until the butter has melted, and the milk brought just to the boil, stir and pour this over the bread. Leave until absorbed. Stir in the beaten egg yolks and the cheese, adding seasoning to taste. Beat the egg whites until thick, then fold these into the mixture. Pour into a well greased dish and bake at a slightly higher temperature than above (190C, 375F, gas 5) for half an hour or until well risen and set.

Left-over cooked meat can be used in endless dishes, Cottage Pie comes to mind. A perhaps more unusual way can be to add the minced cooked meat to other ingredients, then shape them into 'chops' or even sausages. Here are a couple of recipes and they can be made with any type of cooked minced meat you wish to use up. Instead of the suggested sauce, if using cooked and minced lamb, a little mint sauce could be added or horseradishmustard with beef, grated apple with pork. Add a little dried herbs to the breadcrumbs to give a 'stuffing' flavour when using chicken. Or just follow the recipe as given.
Cumberland 'Cutlets': makes 1 large or 2 small
4 oz (100g) cooked meat, minced
1 oz (25g) butter
1 oz (25g) flour
4 fl.oz (125ml) stock
4 tblsp fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
dash brown sauce or tomato ketchup (depending upon meat)
1 egg, beaten
dried breadcrumbs
Put the butter in a pan with the flour and stir together. When combined, stir in the stock and cook until thick. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Mix the minced meat with the breadcrumbs, seasoning to taste, adding whichever flavour goes best with the meat (see above for suggestions). Mix the meat mixture with the cold sauce and form into a cutlet shape. Chill (or put in the freezer for half an hour to make it easier to handle), then dip into the egg and crumbs. Fry in shallow oil, turning once, until heated through and browned all over.

This next is similar to the above, but contains no breadcrumbs. However, if the mixture is too soft, either add some breadcrumbs (or use only enough of the sauce to hold the meat together). Bacon rashers seem to go twice as far if laid out flat and stretched with a knife. Ideally this is the dish to make when you have pancake batter left over (pancake batter will keep for a couple of days covered and chilled).
4 oz (100g) cooked meat, minced
4 fl.oz (125ml) thick white sauce (see above recipe)
bacon rashers
pancake batter
Mix the minced cooked meat into the sauce, leave to cool then form into sausages. Wrap a bacon rasher around each, dip into the pancake batter and fry until golden and crisp.

The final recipe today is a cheat's version of Floating Island. Normally this dessert is made by first cooking beatn egg whites in milk, then removing these, adding sugar and beaten egg to the milk to make a 'proper' custard. My version is much much simpler. Make the custard using custard powder in the normal way but add a tblsp of cocoa to the powder before adding the milk to make a chocolate custard. Children would love it. A tblsp of Tia Maria added to the milk would make adults love it even more.
Oeufs a la Neige:
3 egg whites
3 oz sugar
1 pint milk
custard powder
1 tblsp cocoa (opt)
Half fill a large saucepan or deep frying pan with water and bring to a simmer. Beat the egg whites until stiff and taking a heaped tbslp of beaten white drop this into the water. Poach several at a time, turning them over halfway through when the begin to swell and become firm. Remove carefully and place on a clean dry tea-towel.
Heat the milk with the sugar and use to make custard in the normal way, adding cocoa (if used) to the dry custard mix, and following directions on the tin. When it has thickened, allow to cool slightly, then pour into a serving bowl. When quite cold, arrange the 'meringues' over the top.
Tip: to prevent a skin forming on the top of custard, either cover the surface with a light sprinkling of caster sugar, or place a wetted and fitting sheet of greaseproof (or baking parchment) directly onto the surface and leave until ready to use.