Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leftovers and Oddments

During the summer we don't always feel like cooking from scratch, so today am offering recipes that make use of ingredients such as left-over cooked rice, or using an easy-cook grain such as Bulgar or cous-cous (these grains need soaking rather than 'cooking').
Just remember that left-over cooked rice should be cooled rapidly and then either frozen or kept in the fridge and used the following day.

The first recipe makes little rice pancakes that can be eaten hot with or without a dipping sauce. Also good to use as a 'scoop' (used in the much the same way as naan or pitta bread) when eating a soft vegetable mixture such as salsa, or hummous etc.
Rice Tortitas: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
4 oz (100g) cooked long-grain rice
1 potato, grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
3 large eggs, beaten
half tsp paprika pepper
salt and pepper
Put one tblsp of the oil in a large frying pan and stir-fry the potato, shallot, garlic for a couple of minutes, then stir in the rice and cook over high heat for 3 minutes until golden, then tip into a bowl and stir in the parsley, paprika and eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste. Mix together thoroughly.
Heat the remaining tblsp of oil in the frying pan, then drop in large tablespoons of the mixture leaving plenty of room for these to spread. Cook the pancakes for a couple of minutes on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and keep hot while the rest of the mixture is being cooked. Best served hot.

This next dish is of Mediterranean origin and although the recipe uses Bulgar wheat, this could also be made with couscous, or cooked rice could be used. Served with a good dollop of Greek yogurt and some melted butter, this makes a substantial lunch or supper dish
Cooked Grains with Dates and Nuts: serves 4 - 6
12 oz (350g) bulgar wheat, rinsed and drained
boiling water
1 oz (25g) butter
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 oz (75g) blanched almonds
2 tblsp pine nuts
2 tblsp shelled pistachio nuts, chopped
6 oz (175g) soft dried dates, roughly chopped
1 - 2 tblsp water (opt)
handful fresh coriander, chopped
2 tblsp butter, melted (opt)
Put the bulgar wheat into a bowl, and pour over boiling water to cover by 1" (2.5cm) . Give it one stir, then cover and leave to stand for 25 minutes - by which time all the water should have been absorbed and the bulgar doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, melt HALF the butter in a heavy frying pan and fry the carrots for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender and golden. Add the nuts and continue frying for a further minute or until they begin to colour.
Stir in the dates, adding the water only if the dates are on the dry side, then tip in the bulgar and toss or stir everything together. When well combined, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean cloth and then a lid - leaving the contents of the pan to steam for a further 5 - 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, stir the coriander through the mixture, and drizzle over the melted butter (if using). Serve with a bowl of Greek yogurt.

If we cook our own ham, grow our own spuds and mixed salad leaves, have some green beans in the freezer and a couple of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge - this recipe is hard to beat. Even those who have less time to be self-sufficient could use canned new potatoes or - as an alternative to the potatoes - use canned mixed beans that have been drained and rinsed. If you prefer, use canned Spam or corned beef instead of ham. An ideal dish to serve up when unexpected guests arrive on your doorstep.
Ham and Potato Salad: serves 4
8 oz (225g) small new potatoes
2 oz (50g) green string beans, cut into chunks
handful young spinach or mixed salad leaves
2 spring onions sliced, or 1 shallot, finely shopped
2 - 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
2 oz (50g) cooked ham, cut into strips
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
salad dressing (see recipe below)
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for approx 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Cook the green beans according to packet instructions, then drain.
Put the spinach/salad leaves in a bowl and add the potatoes, green beans and onions. Toss together. Pile into a serving dish, arranging the egg wedges and ham strip on top. Drizzle with lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the hot dressing (see below) and pour this immediately over the salad and serve at once.

nutty salad dressing:
4 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
2 oz (50g) walnuts, chopped (or shelled hazelnuts)
Put all the ingredients into a frying pan and cook until the nuts have turned golden. While still hot, pour this over the salad above, and serve immediately.

Final recipe today is a fruit fool with a difference. Keep chocolate in your storecupboard and make this when you have bananas that you wish to use up. Even the custard could be the 'instant' variety, that comes in a can.This dessert is easy to make and once made can be kept in the fridge overnight and served the following day. Methinks Beloved will enjoy this one, especially if finely chopped crystallised ginger is also folded in.

Choconana Fool: serves 4
4 oz (100g) quality dark chocolate
half pint custard
2 bananas
Break up the chocolate and put it in a bowl, and either melt in the microwave (2 minutes on High) or stand the bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave until melted. Stir to make sure all the larger pieces have melted.
Fold the melted chocolate lightly into the custard, giving a ripple effect, then peel and slice the bananas and gently fold these into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into serving glasses. Best chilled for at least half an hour before serving.