Monday, May 19, 2008

Nothing in the Cupboard But...

Although I gave a few recipes for chilled soups recently, here is another using yogurt and passata/ or canned tomatoes. It could make good use of an orange left in the fruit bowl, or use the end of an opened pack of orange juice. Once opened, cartons of orange juice have a short shelf-life (even when kept in the fridge), and we should pay attention to the advice on the box for how long to keep. Often there is some left, sometimes fairly concentrated as the bits of orange fall to the bottom, so at the end of the (opened) storage time, freeze the juice in small containers, then it can be used to add to fruit salads, cakes, biscuits, soups, casseroles etc. Do the same with other fruit juices.
Tomato, Orange and Yogurt Soup:
half pint (300ml) plain yogurt
half pint (300ml) tomato juice, passata, canned tomatoes etc
juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper
couple of mint leaves
chopped parsley
Put everything but the parsley into a blender, adding seasoning to taste, and give a quick blitz. Chill well for and serve with a sprinkling of parsley.

If, like me, you have cucumber in the fridge that needs using up, then it could be used to make this soup. Reduce quantities if wishing to make one serving.
Cucumber and Mint Soup: serves 3 - 4
half pint (300ml) plain yogurt
quarter pint (150ml) water
half large cucumber, thinly peeled
pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tblsp finely chopped mint leaves
Blend the yogurt and water together. Slice and chop the cucumber into small dice, mix this into the yogurt with the remaining ingredients. Chill well before serving.

The other day I mentioned how a can of unchilled corned beef was difficult to slice, but would spread perfectly on bread and butter to make a type of 'beef paste'. As the larger tins of corned beef work out cheaper (by weight) than the smaller ones, we tend to have too much in one can, so this is either left in the fridge to slice for sarnies the next day, or sliced and frozen. Half a can could be brought back to room temperature to make this more up-market version of the 'beef spread'. (note a whole can is used for the recipe).
Boeuf Pate:
1 x 340g can corned beef
1 oz (25g) butter
1 tblsp sherry
Worcestershire sauce/horseradish/mustard
Put the softened corned beef into a bowl and mash with the butter and sherry. Add piquancy to this pate by adding the chosen flavouring , a little at a time, to bring it to the depth of flavour you prefer.

Eorth a mention that 'vegetable cakes' can also be made in a similar way to fish cakes. This particularly easy version uses just the one vegetable, but others of a similar density and texture could be used, even several in one cake. Alternatively, mix with firm mashed potato (instant potato works sell).
Cauliflower Rissoles:
cooked and drained cauliflower
salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh chopped herbs (parsley or other)
plain flour
2 oz butter.
Mash the cauliflower using a fork, season to taste with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg, adding chosen herbs (these can be optional). Form into sausages or flat cakes and dust with flour. Melt the butter in a pan and quickly fry the cakes until brown, turning once.

With pearl barley being another staple ingredient in my store cupboard, feel it is worthy of more than just being added to soups and casseroles, or for making lemon barley water. Here is another recipe for rissoles, this time making use of barley. If you can get pot barley (sold in health food shops), this has even more nutrition.
Barley Patties:
4 oz (100g) pearl barley, soaked overnight
half pint (300ml) stock or water
salt and pepper
1 onion, grated or finely diced
1 oz (25g) bacon or ham, finely chopped (optional)
1 oz (25g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) butter
chopped parsley or other chosen herb
egg, breadcrumbs
Drain the soaked barley and put it into a saucepan with the stock and seasoning to taste. Cover and simmer until the barley is soft (add more water if necessary). Drain and set aside, but reserve the liquid. Fry the onion in the butter until soft, then stir in the bacon or ham (if using). Stir in the flour, cook for one minute then add the liquid from the barley plus enough milk to make a thick sauce. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the barley and herbs and season to taste. Remove from heat and leave to cool (easier to handle when chilled). Form into patties or rissoles then egg and crumb in the usual way and fry in hot oil until browned all over, crispy on the outside and soft inside. Serve hot with tomato, brown or cheese sauce, not forgetting the crispy green salad.

Seems daft to put in a recipe for baked beans when they are so cheap to buy, but some of us may keep dried beans in stock and wish to use them before they get too old. Traditionally this easy version of the original Boston Baked Beans uses haricot beans, but cannellini beans or even pinto beans would work as well, and as the longer the cooking the better, one to make using a slow-cooker or an Aga. Bacon rinds crop up as an ingredient in many of the older recipes. Nowadays we seem to prefer to buy our bacon rindless. Next time buy with rinds on, cut these off to use later. When cooked very slowly in a pan the lovely bacon fat can be collected and works out cheaper than oil or butter and also has wonderful flavour. Otherwise hang the rinds out for the birds. Bluetits love them. A slice of belly pork could be used instead of the bacon, or if vegetarian leave the meat out altogether.
Almost Boston Baked Beans:
1 x 5oog pack dried haricot beans
pinch of bicarbonate of soda
1 onion, finely chopped
bacon or bacon rinds
2 tblsp black treacle
half tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
1 tblsp tomato puree
Put the beans into a bowl and cover them with water, at least 2" (5cm) above the beans, even more is better. Next day drain well, put them into a saucepan, cover with water, add the bicarb. and bring to the boil. Cook for 7 minutes at full boil, then remove from the heat, drain and cool under running water.
Put the beans in a large casserole (or slow-cooker), adding the onion, a pieces of bacon or the rinds, the treacle, and the salt. Blend the mustard and the tomato puree together with a little water and also add this to the casserole with enough cold water to cover the beans. Cover and cook for several hours in a very slow oven (easiest way is to cook them overnight). Do not worry about cooking them too long, for overcooking does not hurt them much, undercooked they will be too tough.

Another recipe for dried beans, this time using butter beans and one of my favourites. The recipe has been adapted to use that cheapo curry sauce we have all been enthusing about so recently.
Indian style Butter Beans: serves 3 - 4
8 oz (225g) dried butter beans, soaked overnight
1 tblsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
1.5 pints (900ml) stock (your choice)
1 can curry sauce
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 oz (25g) sultanas (opt)
salt and pepper
Drain the soaked beans. Heat 1 tblsp oil in a pan and saute the onion until softened. Stir in the beans and add the stock. Bring slowly to the simmer, cover and cook until the beans are soft (from 40 mins to an hour and a half depending upon the age of the beans). After 30 minutes cooking add a pinch of salt. When cooked, drain and keep warm. Pour the curry sauce into a pan and add the apples and sultanas, season to taste and simmer until the apples are softened, then stir in the beans and when heated through thoroughly, serve immediately. With rice being too similar in texture to the bean curry , best serve this dish with something crispy such as poppadums, a crispy salad, onion bhajis, and chutney of course.