16 May 2018

6½ Super Flexible Recipes for Leftovers

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again …

The following 6½ recipes can help with this because they are all so very adaptable

1.   Flexible Fritter Recipe

There are several ways to make fritters; larger pieces of leftover food, such as pieces of fish, can be coated in batter or breadcrumbs and fried to crisp. If you have leftover mashed potato plus other leftovers mix them all together and fry.  Here, however, is a useful fritter batter recipe that can take almost any leftover.  These are Cauliflower Cheese Fritters made with leftover cooked cauliflower and, yes!, cheese.

cauliflower cheese fritters from leftovers

Sweet fritters work too – how about leftover banana (sliced or diced, of course) with soft light brown sugar and a drip or two of rum?

2.   Soup from Leftovers

Of course, you could just run your leftovers through the food processor and dilute to soup consistency but there is a much better way! 

My all-purpose soup recipe is so damned useful I’ve even written a book about it (great preview here), but the basic details are all here, to get you started.

3.  Omelettes

So useful are omelettes for using up leftovers that a café I used to breakfast at, De Loose Mongoose, often had Trash Omelette blatantly on the menu, filled with whatever they had left over from the night before. See how to make a perfect leftovers omelette here.

frittata filled with leftover gooies

3½.   Frittata

A frittata is a more substantial type of omelette (hence the ½) so, the good news is, you can use up more leftovers! Ham, bacon, chorizo, cheese, seafood, asparagus, mushrooms and lots more are great in frittatas.

If you use half a dozen eggs this should feed 2-3 people.

~   Fry raw onion, if using, gently in oil or butter till soft then add a little garlic, if you wish.
~   If adding leftover potatoes increase the heat and add these now crushing them slightly and cook till they start to crispen and colour. Add a little more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Now add any other cooked ingredients and mix into the potatoes, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding herbs and spices to taste.
~   Turn down the heat, whisk together  six eggs and pour them over everything else.
~   Preheat the grill.
~   Cook the frittata gently for a few minutes till the bottom is set but the top still moist.
~   Sprinkle with grated cheese, if using, and slide under the grill till melted and a little golden.
~   Cut into wedges and serve hot or cold.

bowl of mushroom and black garlic risotto4.  Risotto

I used to love making risotto when I was a chef – it’s a great excuse to stand still for a few minutes (apart from the arm doing the stirring) and maybe even to partake of a chef’s coffee. I do much the same at home – see here for the basic risotto recipe.  

In case you are wondering, here are details of chef’s coffee and also, fortuitously, how to make a frittata with leftover pasta! 

5.  Bubble & Squeak aka Hash

Firstly, of course, Bubble and Squeak is a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes whether they be boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, etc. and also works well with sweet potatoes (leftover of course).

Secondly, all sorts of leftovers; vegetables (leftover cabbage is traditional in Bubble & Squeak but is by no means obligatory), fish, meat, poultry, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, chorizo etc. can very happily be incorporated.

Oh, and you could fry it in leftover bacon fat or schmaltz for added deliciousness.

Important Tip when Pan Frying Potatoes …

Let the mixture sit over a medium heat, undisturbed, for several minutes allowing a crust to form before turning.

~   Fry some finely chopped onion gently in a little oil, butter or fat for a few minutes till soft. Add some garlic if you like!
~   Increase the heat, add the leftover cooked potatoes crushing them slightly and cook till they just start to crispen and colour. Add more oil or butter as necessary.
~   Stir in other leftover vegetables and continue to fry and turn till all is hot, crispy in parts and delicious.

Serve the hash as it is, quite possibly topped with a fried egg, or form into little cakes or pile onto a pie filling to make a super-duper fish pie, cottage pie or similar.

hash made with leftover potatoes and other lefovers

6.  Bread Pudding ~ Sweet or Savoury

This is not the manly rib sticking Bread Pudding which is like cake, it is a rich creamy custard based dessert similar to Bread and Butter Pudding but, instead of using slices of buttered bread, I use random bits and pieces of leftover bread – whatever I have.  Stale or slightly oven dried bread is best.

Normally we associate bread (and butter) pudding with sweet ingredients but a Strata is a savoury bread and (no) butter pudding layered up with whatever other ingredients are being used. Leave out the sugar and season the egg mixture with salt and pepper and anything else appropriate according to taste. Mix in cheese and other ingredients before pouring over the custard.

Serves 4
100g-150g stale bread in small chunks
200ml milk
100ml double cream
2 eggs
75g-100g leftovers

For a sweet dish …

80g sugar plus a little for sprinkling
flavourings appropriate to your leftovers eg. vanilla extract, a little brandy, chocolate chips or what have you

For a savoury dish …

salt and pepper
whatever seasonings will complement your leftovers, such as garlic, herbs, spices, grated (possibly leftover) cheese etc. – to taste

~   Put the bread into a lightly greased ovenproof dish.
~   Add your leftovers and toss to mingle well.
~   Whisk together the milk, cream and eggs plus the sugar OR salt and other seasonings you are using.
~   Gently push the bread under the surface to soak it. Set aside for 30 minutes or more – even overnight will do.

To cook …

~   Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C/160˚C Fan/gas 4.
~   Sprinkle the pudding with the extra sugar OR grated cheese as appropriate.
~   Bake for about 40 minutes till risen, golden and slightly wobbly when nudged.

Serve hot, warm or cold but warm is best.

creamy bread and butter pudding

In my book, Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers, I give numerous ideas for 450 different leftover foods including more ideas and details for the above recipes.

leftovers handbook

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12 May 2018

The Hidden Hut ~ how I wish I was younger!

Just a quickie because I really want to tell you about this place, which is strange as I haven’t even eaten there – yet!

the hidden hut, porthcurnick beach

The other day some friends and I went to The Hidden Hut at Porthcurnick Beach and I am now suffering from a very serious case of Café Envy. If I was younger and bouncier I would love to do something like this again.

The Hidden Hut is a bit hidden but not that difficult to find, it's on the coastal path near Portscatho on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. A simple hut which does takeaway food but with lots of outside seating, with lovely views of the beach, so you don’t have to take it very far!

sea view from the hidden hut

The menu looked so tempting and is, I believe, constantly changing; 

“Organised according to the weather forecast and produce availability.” 

... which is always the best way with menus, I find.  Ice cream is handmade from clotted cream, ingredients are sourced freshly and locally and cooked in their outside kitchen. 

And just look at their Feast Nights!    

Very sadly, we had already eaten when we visited The Hidden Hut and only had hot drinks, but I hope to return with someone hungrier soon!

how to recycle rubbish

Even the area for returning trays and trash was inspiring with directions for recycling various waste into different containers, and my friend reported that the toilets were a joy to visit.

So – if you are in Cornwall this summer give The Hidden Hut a visit. Might see you there, I’ll be the one staring longingly at the kitchen.

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5 May 2018

Common Sense with Leftover Food ~ apparently not a new idea!

I’ve recently started saving images of old cookbooks, as I find them, on Pinterest.

I am interested in them but not that interested! As with most cookbooks they tend to have the same recipes repeated over and over again (see here for more on this strange cookbook similarity) but, as you can imagine, I was intrigued to discover this.

I see that, like some cookbook writers today, the authors have cheekily added blank pages for the reader to add “My Own Receipts” thus making the book look more temptingly thick and full!

Other than that I am in complete agreement with the writers, Helen Carroll Clarke and Phoebe Deyo Rulon, from the start  …

Preface to The Cook Book of Leftovers, 1911

Although I must say that, with my modern ideas, I am of the opinion that blokes may also benefit from advice on making the most of leftovers!
image for pinterest on leftovers cookbooks

Some of the recipes are quite interesting;  one of the first in the book is called Fire Island Stew although it is simply a dish of macaroni and leftover roast beef in a tomato sauce.  In 1911, however, this may have been quite adventurous.
Mock Chicken Salad is strange as it’s actually a pork salad!, and this is a little odd too, whether it uses tinned baked beans or homemade ...

baked bean salad recipe!

Obviously, due to differences of time (The Cook Book of Leftovers was published in 1911) and place (this is an American book) we are dealing with different ingredients, cooking methods and food storage.

Fundamentally, however, our ideas and principles are much the same. Probably that is because using leftover food to create delicious new dishes is bleeding obvious!

There is much I agree with and I find myself nodding sagely as I read the book.  This recipe for leftover cooked sweet potatoes …
browned sweet potatoes recipe
... is a little like my recipe, in Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers for leftover raw sweet potatoes …

kamote cue recipe

We are also similar with regard to pastry scraps and leftover cheese …

cheese sticks recipe 1911
cheese straws recipe 2018

Read more about The Cook Book of Leftovers here and read more about my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers here. 

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13 April 2018

The most astonishing cake I’ve ever encountered!

Just a quick post to tell you about this!

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cake eating public!

When I was at “work” yesterday (volunteer work sorting donated books to Cornwall Hospice Care) one of my colleagues, a lovely girl from Lithuania, brought in a cake to celebrate her birthday.  Not just any old cake though!!!

This is a picture of the actual cake, there is a black background set up in the office to take pictures when putting stuff up for sale on eBay and similar. It stood about 40cm/16” before we got at it.

Isn’t it amazing!


In English this is called a tree cake and you can see why. 

Šakotis is made of butter, egg whites and yolks, flour, sugar, and cream, it is sweet and soft yet crunchy, sort of a cross between a biscuit and a cake. Our one was drizzled with chocolate and icing.  It must be almost impossible to make at home.  Although if you are interested watch this!!

I have absolutely no idea what to do with leftovers, so Lithuanian Tree Cake isn’t mentioned in my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers!

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10 April 2018

3,240 Recipes for Leek & Potato Soup - Ridiculous!!

definition of a recipe
I agree with him!
Once a week I sort out books that have been donated to the charity Cornwall Hospice Care. If they are worth a bit I post them for sale on Amazon, if worth a fair bit, they go to eBay or Abe books. If they are of not much value but in good condition they go out to the shops for selling around the county and (good news if you live near me) paperbacks are currently 5 for £1 in the clearance outlet. If they are in very poor condition they are sold for pulping, sadly, although sometimes I borrow and read them before returning them to “work” and throwing them away!

Many, many cookbooks come through each day and I flick through them both to check their condition and to see if they are interesting and almost always they are not!  The reason they are not interesting is that they all contain the same or similar recipes over and over again. 
bowl of soup pinterest image
Please pin for the future!

Recently, whilst doing said flicking, I happened to see 17 recipes for Leek and Potato Soup in 17 different cookbooks!

So, when I got home I googled Leek and Potato Soup Recipe and there were approximately 3,240 results.

I started reading them and every single one I looked at contained (can you guess?) a little oil or butter, leeks, potatoes, stock, salt and pepper and, frequently, a dairy addition such as cream, milk, sour cream or crème fraîche. Some of the recipes also contain onion, carrot or celery. Some people call it Potato & Leek Soup (weirdos!). See end of post for a little more on my findings.

This is my …

Leek & Potato Soup – serves 4

It is much the same as everyone else’s!

25g butter OR 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium/large leeks – thinly sliced and cleaned
2 medium potatoes
475ml/16fl oz chicken or vegetable stock 

~ Heat the olive oil or butter, add the leeks and toss together till they are coated.
~ Turn down the heat, cover the onions completely with a piece of foil, pressing down onto the surface of the leeks and being careful not to burn yourself. (This is the way I usually cook onions too, it makes for lovely melting soft and sweet onions and leeks).
~ Put a lid on the pan and cook very gently till they are completely and utterly tender and are starting to caramelise a little.
~ Peel and slice the potato and add to the onions.
~ Add enough stock to just cover the potatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid, (throw away the piece of foil or recycle it or something) and simmer till the potatoes are tender.

Now then, what sort of texture soup would you like?

1.    For a chunky soup just leave it as it is.
2.   For a “rustic” texture crush the potato into the stock.
3.   Use a “liquidizer on a stick” or stick blender to mash more finely.
4.   Purée in a food processor.
5.   Purée in a liquidizer for a very smooth and sophisticated finish.

~ In all cases dilute to your ideal soup consistency with more stock, milk, cream etc., as you fancy, taste and season.

You don’t have to stop here, however, you can adjust the recipe to make a delicious leek and potato soup exactly to you own personal taste. Here’s a few ideas …

~   If you also fancy adding onion, carrot or celery thinly slice and add to the oil together with the leeks.
~   Use bacon fat to cook the leeks and top with crispy bacon.
~   Add cream, chill, serve cold and call it Vichyssoise.
~   Add some shredded cooked chicken just to heat through.
~   Add cooked fish or shellfish and cream for a seafood chowder.
~   Add a little cooked smoked fish – it goes really well with the leeks.
~   Add some herbs, right at the end of cooking, chives seem to be quite common with leek and potato soup.
~   Stir in some grated cheese just before serving.
~   Purée in a bunch of watercress. 

variation on leek and potato soup - add watercress

There is definitely a market for lavishly illustrated, gorgeous recipe books but surely, if they just repeat what everyone else says, they are not the most useful if you actually want to know how to cook. 

I write cookbooks too, but they are rather different from the ones referred to above. I my Genius Recipe books each give one key recipe together with many dishes based on that recipe together with all the handy hints, good ideas, serving suggestions, ancillary recipes and information I can think of to help the reader experiment confidently and vary the key recipes to their own taste. 

Here is my soup cookbook Soup ~ (Almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need wherein, like every other cookbook, you can find a recipe for leek and potato soup.  You can also find the one basic key recipe together with 60+ soups based on that basic recipe and loads of useful information on soup making.

how to make all sorts of soup with one basic recipe
Click here for a preview.

Google Search Results

These are a few of the Leek and Potato Soup recipes I checked out on Google, they were all very similar. I’ve added any additional ingredients or variations on the basic soup, where applicable … 


I checked out quite a few more but I think you get the point and I don’t need to list them all!
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30 March 2018

Delicious Ways to Make Toast ~ not Waste!

Apparently, a gobsmacking, 24 million slices of bread are thrown away daily.  What is wrong with people?

The inestimable Love Food Hate Waste people have a new campaign; Make Toast Not Waste. How right they are.  

One simple suggestion they make is freezing unwanted bread which, usefully, can then be toasted from frozen.

Some while ago I wrote a post called 7 (+) Interestingly Different Ideas for Leftover Bread but making toast is a no brainer! 

french toast, cinnamon toast, melba toast and Greek grilled toast
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Firstly, in addition to straightforward toast, here are four alternative types of toast you might like to try, they are all great ways to use leftover bread and the fourth one is surprisingly gorgeous.

1.  Cinnamon Toast & More – cinnamon toast is rightly famous but how about other flavoured toasts such as salted caramel or vanilla, for instance.  Read about cinnamon toast and more here

2.  Melba Toast – very crisp thin toast (don’t worry it’s easy) which is perfect with creamy things such as pate, hummus etc.  

3.  French Toast, of course. Here’s how to make French Toast, you don’t have to coat it with panko crumbs as mentioned in the post! 

4.  The Greeks have an utterly wonderful way of making grilled bread (toast) which I urge you read about and then have a go, it is called λαδοβρεχτό!

The great thing about toast is it can also be a vehicle (!) for so many things, cheese on toast is a given but there are so many delicious ways it can play a supporting role with leftovers, my favourite ingredients! ~ win/win situation. 

rich beefy dripping on toast

What leftovers can you serve on Toast?

The most famous leftover on toast dish is probably bread and dripping. You know how, if you chill the meat juices after roasting some beef, you get lovely savoury meaty jelly under a layer of beefy fat?  Well spread it on toast and sprinkle with a little crunchy sea salt; it is so much nicer that you can possibly imagine, and our forebears swore by it!

Leftover dinner on Toast!  

Depending, of course, on what you had for dinner, for instance …

~   Leftover fish and seafood, and possibly leftover veggies, are good stirred through and appropriate hot sauce (Alfredo for instance) and piled onto toast.
~  The same goes for chicken.
~  Most meats, fish and seafood are also good stirred through with mayonnaise (maybe a flavoured mayonnaise) and served on toast. 
~  Pile reheated leftover cauliflower or broccoli cheese on toast, sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and breadcrumbs and pop under a hot grill till melty, crisp and golden.

leftovers on toast

~   Spoon hot leftover mince or chilli con carne on toast – top with cheese and grill.
~   Leftover stews of all descriptions go well with toasted bread too but perhaps in this case serve the toast as a side rather than under the stew or it might get too soggy! Here’s how to make a lovely stew so that you will then have the appropriate leftovers. 
~   Beans on Toast but not as you know it, Jim.  If you have any canned beans that need using up then heat them up together with a little pasta sauce or cheese sauce or whatever you have, maybe add some shredded chorizo, pulled pork, ham, chicken etc. and pile on toast. Yet again cheese would be good on top.
homemade beans on toast

Fruit on Toast

Butter the toast (leftover brioche or plain cake are good for this too), top with the fruit of your choice, sliced or diced or chopped as you wish, sprinkle with sugar and pop under a hot grill till caramelised.  Lovely breakfast! 

fruit on toast for breakfast

I’ve tried mango or peaches on toast sprinkled with soft light brown sugar, but obviously not bananas due to the old bananaphobia!   

No reason why you shouldn’t try bananas on toast though, maybe spread the toast with peanut butter before applying the banans or, alternatively, drizzle with chocolate sauce or sticky toffee sauce

Fudge on Toast is also good for breakfast

seriously useful leftovers handbook

Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers ~ a leftovers handbook

I love cooking with leftovers so much so that I have written a book giving every recipe, idea, handy hint, storage info, food pairing advice, cook's treat and general stuff I can think of for 450 potential leftovers. Read more here.
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25 March 2018

9 Splendid Things to Make with Sweet Potatoes!

delicious recipes for sweet potatoes
I’d already started writing this post when I realised that, coincidentally, this is one of those strange weeks, International Sweet Potato Week to be precise. 

I first tried sweet potatoes when I visited New Zealand, where they are called kumura (unlike in the States where they are often called, wrongly, yams!). What a lovely surprise they were, I think I eat them more often that “normal” potatoes. 

What do I do with sweet potatoes?  Well …

This post starts with simple ways to cook sweet potatoes, progresses through more unusual ideas which toward the end of the post.

Firstly, anything you can do with a potato you can do with a sweet potato.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

~   Heat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   Put a baking tray in the oven.
~   Peel a sweet potato per person and cut into chips.
~   Toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning; salt and pepper plus cayenne if you fancy it.
~   When the oven is hot spread the sweet potato chips on the hot tray with space around each chip. If you need more space heat another tray.
~   Bake for about 20-25 minutes depending on how thick they are. They are ready when golden and crisp and tender.
homemade sweet potato fries

Baked/Jacket Sweet Potatoes

sweet jacket potato
large, clean dry and evenly sized sweet potatoes
a little oil and salt

~   Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~   Put a little olive oil and a little sea salt in a bowl and rub each potato thoroughly with this mixture.
~   Prick the potatoes several times with a fork.
~   When the oven is hot either lay the potatoes directly on the oven rack line with foil, sweet potatoes tend to ooze a bit when baked.
~   Bake till soft in the middle and crisp on the outside – timing depends on the size of the potato but say 30-40 minutes, they cook faster than normal potatoes.

Sweet Potato Crisps

dish of spicy sweet potato crisps
~   Preheat the oven to 325°F/160ºC/140ºC fan/gas 3 and grease a baking tray.
~  Slice raw sweet potato into rounds, pretty well as thin as you can.
~  Lay onto the greased tray, brush with oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper or chill powder.
~  Bake for about half an hour, keeping an eye on them, till the edges have curled and the middles are shade darker. Cool on a rack to crisp.

Fried Sweet Potatoes

See the soup recipe below for how to make delicious crunchy frazzled sweet potatoes.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup

Sweet Potato Scones

225g/8oz self-raising flour
a generous pinch of salt
60g/2½oz cold butter or margarine
25g/1oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz mashed cooked sweet potato (or pumpkin!)
approx. 60ml/2½ fl oz milk

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder (if using).
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved (see this post for how to rub in https://suddenlunch.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/simple-homemade-dumplings-from-scratch.html ).
~   Stir in the sugar once you have finished rubbing in; if you add it earlier it’s uncomfortable on the hands although, of course, it does exfoliate.
~   Add the mashed sweet potato and seasoning and then just enough milk to form a soft workable dough.
~   On a floured surface press or roll the dough out to about 1½cm/½” thick and using a cookie cutter cut into rounds or squares which are easier and more economical on time: no re-rolling. They look quite good too.
~   Transfer the scones to a greased baking try, brush their tops with a little milk and bake in the oven till risen and golden – about 15 minutes.
~   Transfer to a cooling rack till needed.

Depending on what you intend doing with the scones you could add a little seasoning such as cinnamon or ginger of even a little chilli.
sweet potato scones

Fartes de Batatas!

These are little sweet gooey cakes or sweeties from Portugal. Their name means something like “Potatoes that Satiate”, what did you think it meant?

portuguese sweet potato cakes
170g caster sugar plus more for sprinkling
1 egg
15g soft butter
170g cooked, mashed and cooled sweet potato
(slightly warm the sweet potato before removing from its skin and mashing.)
70g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 orange
a squeeze of lemon or orange juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt

~   Whisk together the first three ingredients very well indeed till light and fluffy.
~   Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, ground almonds, citrus zest and juice.
~   Scrape the mixture into a pan and stir over medium heat to dry out; when the texture of stiff mashed potato spread onto a floured board to cool.
~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~   Roll into walnut sized balls then flatten into little cakes.
~   Place on a greased baking tray, brush with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.
~   Bake for about 20 minutes till slightly puffed up, golden and fragrant
~   Cool on a rack and serve with coffee.

homemade sweet potato ice cream

Roasted Sweet Potato, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Ice Cream 

Kamote or Camote Cue

These are Filipino street food; caramelised sweet potato slices, often served on sticks. Cook in small batches, serve immediately, eat while hot.

~   Slice a sweet potato about 10mm thick. 
~   Heat 250ml of vegetable oil in a small pan and when hot sprinkle in 200g soft light brown sugar.
~   Cook the oil and sugartogether for a minute or two during which time the sugar will rise to the surface and form a bubbly crust. 
~   Carefully add the potato slices and cook over medium high heat turning occasionally for seven or eight minutes till tender and speckled with caramel.
~   Lift out and drain on kitchen roll.
~   Thread on sticks if you feel like it!

caramelised sweet potato slices

Sweet Potato Toast

I've read about this, it involves putting a slice of sweet potato in the toaster and giving it several toasts till soft and crisp in places. 

Before trying it I was a bit dubious, wondering if it was along the lines of other silly hacks I have seen such as cooking veggies in the dishwasher.  I'm not sure if I was right or wrong, the sweet potato caused a bit of a mess in the toaster and I gave up before it was cooked!

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