Monday, December 29, 2008

Taking Stock

Cost-cutting does not mean cutting down, it means becoming price-wise, and buying the best value for the money. It means learning how to make a meal given at a set price (as on some supermarket's recipe cards) and then making the same thing for less cost - often ending up with a better dish because of it.
Similarly making a dish from 'left-overs', does not mean blitzing yesterday's scrapings from the plate to make today's soup (although this can work), it means using the very ends of everything, such as turning the core, stems and pale inner leaves of a cauliflower into soup. Add the rind left from a Stilton cheese, and this gives it even more flavour.
Oddments of vegetables (such as 'bendy' carrots and parsnips and a celery stump) can all go into a pot with water (don't for get an onion) to make a vegetable stock. Add a good handful of chicken winglets and you get enough good chicken stock plus enough chicken meat from the bones to add to the veggies to make a pie.

Even the stump cut from the end of a lettuce (plus a few sad outer leaves), when cooked with a few frozen peas then blitzed to a puree will make a wonderful pea soup. Often it is the outer leaves and stems that have the most flavour, so why throw them away.
Going back to making a vegetable stock - put vegetable peelings (scrub veggies first) into a pot and cover with water and simmer to make stock. Adding the brown onion skins gives a deeper colour, useful when making a gravy.

As well as making a drink to sooth a cold, this also makes a good warming drink to settle ourselves to sleep.
Hot Lemon: makes about 20 drinks (F)
2 tsp tartaric acid
zest and juice from 3 large lemons
half pint (300ml) boiling water
honey (or ginger syrup) to taste
sugar sweetener (opt)
Put the tartaric acid into a bowl and add the lemon zest. Pour over the boiling water and stir well. Cover, then leave to get cold, then stir in the freshly squeezed lemon juice. To freeze: pour into ice-cube trays and freeze until solid. Pack into freezer bags, seal and label. Use within 4 months. To serve: put one frozen cube in a heatproof mug and finish as in "to serve now" (see below).
To serve now: Pour a little of the lemon mixture into a heatproof glass or mug and add 1 - 2 tsp honey or ginger syrup. Pour over about 5 fl oz (150ml) boiling water, adding sweetener if using.

Although these buns can be eaten cold (and also can be frozen) they are particularly nice eaten warmed.
Warm Lemon Buns: makes 16 (F)
1 x 567g packet white bread mix
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs, beaten
tepid water
2 oz (50g) butter, softened
3 oz (75g) soft brown sugar
4 oz (100g) chopped mixed peel
2 tblsp lemon marmalade or honey
Put the zest and the juice of the lemons in a jug with the eggs and mix together, then make up with the tepid water to the amount of liquid stated on the packet of bread mix. Put the bread mix into a bowl, and stir in the lemon, egg and water mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth in texture.
Cream the butter and sugar until well blended, then stir in the peel. Roll out the dough to 15" x 12" (40.5 x 30cm) then spread the butter mixture evenly over the dough.
Roll the dough up lengthways, then sliced across into 16 equal pieces (1" deep). Place buns, cut side up (4 across, 4 down) in a 9" (23cm) buttered square tin. Cover with oiled clingfilm (or tent with foil) and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes (or longer) until doubled in size.
Remove covering and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 22-0 - 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from tin in one piece and place on a cake airer then brush tops with marmalade or honey.
To serve now: tear off buns as required.
To freeze: open freeze until solid, then wrap, seal and label. Eat within 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 5 hours or microwave from frozen - 10 mins at Defrost.