12 April 2019

Fried Bread Curry aka Roti Upma - really good!

Well I have just eaten A Very Interesting Thing which was also quick, cheap and used leftovers but I doubt very much that it was healthy. - fried bread curry!

Upma is a actually a South Indian porridgy dish usually made with semolina but also with lots of other things that will mush down such as rice or bread.  I don't like porridgy things so have never tried it and so didn't feel I could rightfully include the bread version in my bread section of Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers (see below ***). 

Recently however I have noticed a few Upma recipes using dried or fried bread which retains quite a bit of crispness so decided to give it a go. 

roti upma in hindi

Roti Upma 

Serves 1 ~ a somewhat inauthentic recipe because I didn't have all the right ingredients!

roti upma recipe
2 separate ½ tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1-2 slices bread - stale is good - diced or torn into pieces
(for me a small slice of sourdough and ½ an old roll I found in the freezer!)
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot red chilli chopped
(I keep a bag in the freezer, they are easily chopped from frozen)
½ onion finely chopped
¼ inch ginger finely chopped
1 pinch turmeric
(I am ashamed to say I had no fresh ginger or turmeric so replaced these with a ¼ tsp curry paste which worked very well)
5 or so cherry tomatoes, quartered
a handful of cashew nuts
fresh coriander, chopped plus a sprig or two to garnish

~   Heat ½ tbsp oil in a frying pan then fry the bread in it till turning crisp and golden. Set aside.
~   Add the second ½ tbsp oil to the pan and then the mustard seeds and wait till they start popping.
~   Stir in the onion (and the ginger if you've got some) and cook till starting to go translucent then add the chilli and the tomatoes.
~   When the tomatoes start to mush down stir in the turmeric and/or curry paste and cook together a minute or so.
~   Taste and season then stir in the bread, cashews and chopped coriander. 
I stopped at this point because I don't like pappy meals but you could cook the mixture down a bit and maybe add a little hot water to achieve a more porridge-like consistency.  As I say, it was great and next time I feel I have been eating too healthily I intend to balance things up by making it again! 

***  In this book I give all the information, ideas, recipes, handy hints, cook’s treats, storage info, ideas of what goes with what that I can think of for over 450 possible leftovers including at least 16 ways to use up leftover bread.

never waste a good eating opportunity again


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8 March 2019

How to Make the Most of Delicious Extra Virgin Olive Oil


My friend Diane recently gave me a bottle of single estate extra virgin olive oil, her son’s Italian girlfriend’s father grows olives and presses his own oil and it is lush.

So, it seems the right time to do a post on delicious ways to use extra virgin olive oil aka evoo!


recipes for extra virgin olive oil

I am not, in this post, going into the details of cooking with extra virgin olive oil.  It was long held that high heat damaged the oil but recently this has been disproved and evoo is held to be one of the better cooking oils. However, if like me you have a delicious oil to play with don’t cook with it, these ideas will make the most of its flavour.

Drizzle Olive Oil


Rich greeny/gold extra virgin olive oil both looks and tastes good drizzled over many dishes such as soups, salads and hummus and other bean dips. 

Olive Oil Dip


Neat extra virgin olive oil is great to dip good bread (I normally use my homemade sourdough) into.  You can, of course, add all sorts of other things too, try …

~   Salt and pepper
~   Crushed garlic
homemade sourdough and dipping oil
~   Stir in a little balsamic vinegar – the two go very well together.
~   All three of the above simultaneously – yum.
~   Finely grated lemon zest and parsley or black pepper.

~   Black garlic
~   Roasted Garlic
~   Freshly chopped herbs or dried herbs.
~   Finely grated Parmesan cheese.
~   Crushed chilli flakes – I have some chipotle chilli flakes and they work well.
~   One of the infused oils below.



Vinaigrette


Delicious oil is essential when making salad dressings, see here for lots of vinaigrette ideas all of which will benefit by using evoo!

delicious ways to use evo


Flavoured Olive Oil


There are lots of ways to add more flavour to oils, here are three rather special ideas …

~   Parmesan Oil – this is a great idea for leftover parmesan rind; marinate the rind in olive oil together with flavourings such as peppercorns or chilli. Discard the rind and use the oil to drizzle or dip.

Marinated Cheese


Certain cheese, such as Feta, Mozzarella and goat cheese, are good marinated olive oil together with flavourings as you fancy.

You need a completely clean and dry kilner jar or similar.  You also need …

Cheese
Olive Oil
Seasonings of your choice – peppercorns, fresh herbs and spices
Maybe something else – olives, for instance

~   Cut the cheese into bite sized pieces, softer cheese such as goat cheese can be rolled into balls.
~   Toss the cheese with your chosen seasonings.
~   Layer the cheese up in the jar with any additions.
~   Pour in enough olive oil to completely and utterly cover the contents of the jar – nothing should be sticking out.
~   Seal the jar and store in the fridge for up to month. 

DO NOT discard the oil, use it to drizzle on salad, as a dipping oil or to dress pasta as in …

Aglio e Olio – serves 2


This is a classic Italian dish.

200g spaghetti or other fine pasta such as linguine or spaghettini
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh red chilli – seeded and finely chopped (or a pinch of dried chilli flakes)
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley – finely chopped

~    Warm the oil and add the chilli and garlic, cook over a low heat until the garlic is just turning golden.
~   As soon as this happens stir in the parsley set aside till the pasta is cooked.
~   Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling well salted water (this will be the only seasoning) till just cooked or al dente as we cooks say!
~    Drain but not too thoroughly, a little cooking water will enhance the sauce.
~    Make sure the oil is still hot and then toss together with the pasta.
~    Serve immediately.

This can be varied quite a lot – use basil instead of parsley, add olives or artichoke hearts or chopped tomatoes or sun dried tomatoes or finely chopped red onion etc. And I would sprinkle the finished dish with freshly grated parmesan and probably some crunchy pangrattato!!!  

Here’s a similar recipe …

Linguine in Lemon & Herb Sauce


200g linguine
A handful of coarsely chopped fresh herbs of your choice – probably parsley, basil etc.
2 thinly sliced spring onions – diagonally sliced is prettiest
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
finely grated zest and juice of half a juicy lemon
knob of butter - optional

~   Cook the linguini in boiling salted water to al dente, drain, reserving two tablespoons of the cooking water.
~   Gently cook the garlic in the olive oil till fragrant.
~   Add the reserved pasta water to the garlicky oil, simmer, turn of the heat and stir in the herbs, lemon zest and juice.
~   Stir in the optional butter – go on!
~   Toss with the pasta and, of course, season to taste.

Serve as it is or add whatever you like really (seafood, chicken, bacon etc.) to make a more substantial meal.

oilive oil sauce on pasta


Baked Feta 


~   Place a chunk of Feta on a piece of lightly oiled foil.
~   Drizzle with lovely olive oil and season according to preference. I usually add oregano and chilli flakes but roasted garlic is good too.
~   Loosely seal the parcel and bake in a hot oven (
200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6) for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the cheese.
~   Serve with crusty bread and red wine.



baked feta cheese


Warm Potato Salad with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette – serves 4


In two stages as the ingredients are somewhat repeated!

Stage 1

700g new potatoes – washed but not peeled
120ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt

~   If the potatoes are large cut them into attractive bite sized pieces.
~   Cook the potatoes in gently boiling water for about 15 minutes till tender.
~   Meanwhile whisk together the rest of the above ingredients
~   Drain the potatoes, cool for a few minutes and then toss gently with the dressing and set aside for about half an hour.

Stage 2

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 finely chopped shallot
a small handful of chopped parsley
a small bunch of chives – finely sliced

~   Stir together the above five ingredients over a low heat till just warm.
~   Stir through the potatoes and serve.

If making ahead just re-warm the salad slightly when serving.
olive oil dressed potato salad

Pan Bagnat for 2


This is a delicious soggy sarnie from Nice!  I usually make this with a baguette but other breads work well too – just not sliced bread!! Here's how to make it your own ...

½ a baguette
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Your selection of the kind of sandwich fillings you think a French person would use!
(tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, red onion, fresh basil leaves, ham, tuna (but not these two at the same time!)
3 tablespoons of vinaigrette

(see here for lots of vinaigrette recipes and choose one!)  

~   Slice the baguette in half lengthwise and scoop out the soft bread from the bottom half.  See here for lots of ideas for leftover bread – don’t waste it!
~   Brush inside both halves of the sandwich with the oil.
~   Rub each half with a cut clove of garlic.
~   Make a salad using your choice of ingredients.
~   Dress the salad with the vinaigrette.
~   Pile the dressed salad into the scooped out half of the bread.
~   Put on the lid and wrap the whole thing in cling film/plastic wrap.
~   Put in the fridge with a weight on top of it to crush all together – a heavy pan for instance, or a brick?
~   Unwrap and cut in half to serve (with some red wine and maybe some cheese depending on your other ingredients).


greek grilled bread


λαδοβρεχτό which is Lovely!


Do see here for how to make this delicious Greek Grilled Bread, it’s really worth knowing about!                

Do you know I am So Old I can remember when you could only get olive oil in a tiny bottle from the chemists - I wonder why!





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31 January 2019

Spice Up Your Cooking with Smoky Chipotle Paste


spoonful of chipotle paste

I was chatting with a friend the other day about cooking in Tortola (“Where?” he said, as usual, because he’s fed up with me mentioning the lovely place I used to live, lucky me!) and how I missed chipotles in adobe; canned smoked chillies in a tangy tomato sauce which I haven’t seen in the UK. 

He suggested I try Asda’s Chipotle Paste and I did, and now I am hooked and chipotle paste has become another of my must-have store cupboard staples.

If you do invest in some I urge to test it tentatively before using it as it can be quite (but not very) fiery.  I use about half a teaspoon in most things I make just for myself but you might feel differently.

smoked dried jalapenos = chipotles
Chipotles are smoke-dried ripe jalapeño chillies. They are medium hot and look like this – happily looks aren’t everything!

I do have dried chipotles in my storecupboard too, but chipotle paste is a much easier way to add their lovely smoky heat to your cooking.

Here are some of the ways I have used it so far …

tomato ketchup with chipotle paste


Chipotle Ketchup


Stir chipotle paste into the ketchup to taste, I really like this with egg and chips!


Pizza Sauce


Taking the above a little further a REALLY CHEATY pizza sauce which these days I use all the time is a mix of equal parts tomato ketchup and tomato paste. You can frown in my general direction if you like!  For myself I add half a teaspoon of chipotle paste to my portions of sauce but, not, of course, for my real man. You can add a little chipotle paste to more sophisticated pizza sauces too.

Chipotle Cheese Straws


cheese straws from pastry scraps
Quite often I cook a pie for my real man, steak and kidney, chicken and leek, that sort of thing.  With the puff pastry trimmings I always make us some cheese straws to nibble on while the rest of the dinner is cooking.  All I do is roll out the pastry, sprinkle with grated mature cheddar, fold in half, sprinkle and roll, fold, sprinkle and roll about 5 times.  I then cut into strips, brush with egg yolk, sprinkle with sea salt and bake along with the pie at 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6 or thereabouts.  For me I often spread a little chipotle paste on the pastry before the first sprinkle.  Lots more ideas for leftover pastry here. 

delicious chipotle paste



Chipotle Mayonnaise


This is particularly good with seafood and chicken and lovely to dip sweet potato fries into.  Just stir together mayonnaise and chipotle paste. I use about half a teaspoon of chipotle paste to a tablespoon of mayo, sometimes a little lime juice is a good addition. See here for more ideas for flavouring mayonnaise.





Honey Chipotle Vinaigrette


80ml olive oil
80ml cider vinegar
80ml runny honey
½ - 1 tsp chipotle paste – or even more if you like
salt

Liquidise, whisk or shake in a jar the first four ingredients and then season to taste with the salt. Not only good on salads but makes a great marinade for chicken, seafood and beef.

Chipotle Alfredo Sauce


This is delicious served tossed with cooked seafood or chicken and pasta or as a cream sauce for either without the pasta! Just add make this easy Alfredo Sauce and add a little tomato paste for pinkness and chipotle paste to taste. 

Sweet Potato Soup


Chipotle goes brilliantly with sweet potatoes try replacing the Thai chilli paste with chipotle paste in this lovely sweet potato soup.

bowl of sweet potato soup with frazzled sweet potatoes

Chipotle Egg Dishes


~   Add a little to scrambled eggs – see here for how to scramble eggs properly plus other egg ideas that might benefit from a bit of delicious smoky heat. 
~   Egg mayo sarnies
~   Add to the hollandaise when making Eggs Benedict – maybe change the name, any suggestions? Easy hollandaise sauce recipe here
~   Use it in my best omelette ever.

potato, chorizo, cheddar and chipotle omelette

Chipotle Butter


This is wonderful on sweetcorn, more ideas for flavouring butter here

~   Mix a little into Black Bean Dip – see here for hummus and other bean dips etc.  

~  Add to Cheese on Toast  here’s more info for this complicated dish

salmon glazed with chipotle honey butterChipotle Honey Butter Salmon 

For 4

60ml honey
110g soft butter
1 tsp chipotle chilli paste
a little salt
4 x 180 fillets of salmon

~   Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6
~   Gently melt together the first three/four ingredients, taste and add a little salt if you wish.
~   Place the salmon fillets in a lightly buttered rimmed baking dish and pour over the delicious sweet spicy butter.
~   Bake for 12-15 minutes till the fish flakes easily.


White Fish with Beans and Chorizo


I have been making this for my dinner for ages and here’s the recipe, but recently have been adding a little chipotle paste to great acclaim from myself. 

white fish, chorizo and beans

~   Add to Chilli con Carne and other meaty beany dishes.

~   Add to Homemade Burgers, Meatballs, Meatloaf and so on.  Homemade burger are even easier than getting takeaway!

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13 January 2019

How to Reheat Leftovers without Spoiling Them ~ which is a Good Idea!


reheating leftovers

This post is about reheating leftover food so that it is still delicious.  Please see here for How to Store and Reheat Leftovers Safely 

I think that the practice of reheating food wrongly, either in the microwave or other incorrect methods, is why leftovers have such an (undeservedly) bad name.  Leftovers can, of course, be used in so many ways to create completely new dishes and if you are interested in this please see here for 219 Great Ideas for Leftovers but if you just want to reheat your leftovers here’s some useful info.

If you don’t have the right equipment or are in a tearing hurry, I suppose using a microwave can’t be helped but it is not the best way to reheat most foods and in particular crisp foods which will not remain or re-crisp in the microwave.  It can also damage the texture of delicate items such as fish.

Moister foods such as soups and stews will do OK in a microwave if you don’t rush them and give them a stir now and then while heating up.

Foods reheated correctly can be just as good as the first time round.

Preliminaries to Reheating Leftovers


Defrost First – this is where a microwave can come in useful, if your leftovers are frozen defrost them overnight in the fridge or do gently on a low setting on your microwave.

Bring to Room Temperature – if you must use the microwave, again gently, to just take the chill off your leftover.

How to Reheat Dry Cooked Meats and Fish


Here’s the Best Way!
the best way to reheat cooked meat
For this you need a generous amount of sauce – either leftovers of the sauce you originally served the meal with, or a freshly made or bought in sauce.

~   Your leftover should be at room temperature so get it out of the fridge in time.
~   If reheating the remains of a roast slice the meat.
~   When ready to cook the meat first bring the sauce to a good temperature, not necessarily boiling but nice and hot.
~   Lay the meat(s) or fish in the sauce, put a lid on and turn off the heat.
~   When ready to eat return to a slow simmer BUT NO MORE – boiling already cooked meat toughens it.

Failing a delicious sauce reheat these in a dry pan to which you should add a little oil or butter. Keep the heat low, add your leftover gently, if you put a lid on the pan the meat/fish will heat faster and be moister but will not have a crust. Turn the leftover after about 3 minutes and heat for another 2 or 3 minutes before serving.

Reheating Soups and Stews


Just reheat gently in a saucepan with the lid on.  Keep an eye on it and give a stir now and then.  DO NOT BOIL. The microwave is fine for these foods too.

the best way to reheat fried foods


How to Reheat Fried Food including Chips


These should NOT be done in the microwave which will make them soggy.

~   Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/170ºC fan/gas 5 or thereabouts.
~   Place your room temperature leftover fried food on a baking tray and bake till hot and crisp which will of course vary according to what you are reheating.


   


How to Reheat Pizza – 3 Ways

the best way to reheat pizza

1.   Oven – do the same as with fried foods above.

2.   Grill 
– preheat the grill and place a baking tray underneath it so that it heats up too. This is important as it will crisp the bottom of the pizza while the grill reheats the top. Grill the pizza till hot, keeping an eye on it as being thin it will cook fast. 

3.   Pan – if you just have a slice or so of pizza or are in a hurry use a frying pan. Preheat the pan over, medium heat, then add your pizza slices) and pop on a lid or a sheet of foil. If you don’t cover it, you will probably end up with a hot bottom (excuse me!) and a cool top. Cook for 5 minutes and check, you want the cheese on top to be bubbling

Reheating Baked Goods


These too are best reheated in a moderate oven AND if your loaf of bread is stale run it under a cold tap and reheat in the oven which will result in it having a crisp crust.

How to Reheat Pasta


the best way to reheat pasta

To reheat cooked pasta 


~   Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
~   Place the leftover pasta in a strainer or seive.
~   Dunk the strainer in the boiling water for no more than 30 seconds.
~   Lift out, drain and sauce as usual.


To reheat sauced pasta


Reheat this in a lidded saucepan, it will probably need a little more sauce so either add more of the same, a little cream if appropriate, a splash of stock, wine or even water!  Stir gently turning the pasta over till hot all the way through. A microwave OK for this. 

To Reheat Pasta Bake


This is a good time to use the microwave, but just at first, and is a great way to reheat leftover mac and cheese!  

~   Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/170ºC fan/gas 5.~   With the microwave on medium power heat the leftover pasta bake till fairly warm. 
~   Pour over a little fresh sauce or cream.
~   Sprinkle with grated cheese and some breadcrumbs and till hot, crisp and golden.
warning about reheating rice

How to Reheat Stir Fries


Just re-stir-fry them in a hot frying pan being attentive to the stirring so as to give all the grains of rice and additions a chance in contact with the heated pan. Make sure the dish is absolutely piping hot throughout as reheated rice can cause food poisoning of not treated correctly

How to Reheat Cooked Vegetables


Boiled and steamed vegetables – melt a knob of butter (relevant joke here!) in a pan and toss the vegetables in the hot butter till heated through. You can do these in the microwave too but not for long or they will overcook.

Roasted vegetables – spread in a shallow pan and pop into a moderate oven till hot through.

the best way to reheat a delicate sauce



How to Reheat Delicate Sauces


Sauces such as HollandaiseAlfredo and similar are best heated in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water but can be achieved with care using just a pan and low heat. Stirring is necessary here too! If the sauce splits, which is particularly likely with Hollandaise Sauce stir in a knob of butter to re-emulsify it.






Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers


Remember, if you do fancy doing more with your leftovers than just reheating them then this is the book for you!  


creative ways to use up leftovers book




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