A Genius Idea for Food Scraps

~ Food Collections ~

I have written before of the sheer handiness of having collections of this and that but it is worth repeating and going into more detail.  

Collecting your scraps saves money, avoids food waste, allows for spontaneity and can make you happy with the delicious food you make! 

The idea is simple – group together similar scraps and leftovers in the fridge or freezer, as appropriate, and add to them till you have enough to make something delicious.  For instance …

Bread Scraps

I always keep bits of unwanted bread in the freezer, they can be used in so many ways. Here are some of them …

~  bread pudding
~  French toast pancakes,
~  stuffing,
~  breadcrumbs
~  bread sauce, and
~  7 interestingly different ideas for leftover bread


Cheese Scraps

I keep this collection in a box at the back of the fridge. Wrap the cheeses loosely in parchment or greaseproof paper and then store in plastic bags in the box. A scrap of cheese can be good added to egg dishes, mashed potatoes, pasta sauces and so on. Here are 64 ideas for leftover cheese I wrote about earlier! 


Pastry Scraps

Every time I make my real man a pie (just about weekly) I add the pastry trimmings to my collection so that I can make these delicious pastry recipes.

Raw Meat Trimmings

Steak in particular – when cooking professionally and cutting up a whole tenderloin or sirloin etc. any good quality trimmings and undersized pieces I used to make Peppered Steak Salad. 


Other meats - when there are enough scrappy bits I make stock.   Better quality trimmings, both raw and cooked can be added to soups, stir fries, risotto, pasta dishes etc.  Sometimes if the meat is all good quality but a little fatty I make burgers, they are very easy. Not necessarily beef burgers, however, here is a great recipe using pork trimmings ...

BBQ Pork Burgers

2 rashers bacon – I like smoked
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
500g good quality pork scraps – minced or fairly finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
BBQ sauce

~   Coarsely chop the bacon and cook, preferably in its own fat, till crisp.  Drain on kitchen roll.

~   Mix together the next 3 ingredients.

~   Form the chopped meat into two or three burgers.  People sometime ask me what I add to burgers to keep them together e.g. egg or breadcrumbs but the answer is Nothing. Just munge it lovingly together and all should be well.

~   Rub the burgers with the sugar mix.

~   Brush with a little oil and grill or pan fry till crisp and golden and cooked through – it can be a bit risky under cooking pork.

~   Brush with BBQ sauce and pop back on the grill for a minute or two.

~   Serve on buns drizzled with more BBQ sauce and a great addition is a spoonful of coleslaw on each burger.

Seafood Scraps

Freeze in two separate collections – raw and cooked.

A gorgeous use of varied fish scraps, both raw and cooked, is my Seafood Chowder but there are lots of other good ways to use them; fish cakes, salads, risotto, pasta dishes, fish pâté and more – over 30 ideas in my Creative Ways to Use up Leftovers.

Leftover Nuts

This last one is not quite a collection! I use nuts in all sorts of dishes so buy bags of mixed roasted salted nuts and pick out specific nuts as needed. I have almonds and hazelnuts with yogurt and muesli for breakfast, add cashews to curries and salads and to this excellent popcorn recipe. Brazils I give to my real man as I don’t like them and pecans tend to accumulate as I have no specific plans for them.

When I have enough set aside I make something lovely such as the biscotti in my last post.

Several of these ideas are included in Creative Ways to Use up Leftovers together with loads and loads of other ideas for over 450 possible leftovers.

The Magic Biscotti Tin!

In the pub where I work there is a magic biscuit tin for the staff.  Every few days it is mysteriously replenished with delicious crunchy biscotti.  

A few days ago the secret was revealed to me. I met and got chatting to a lovely lady, a customer of the pub, Barbara by name. She admitted to secretly topping up our stash. What a lovely thing to do. We discussed biscotti further and I told her of the fig and black pepper biscotti I used to serve on my menus thus…

She asked for the recipe and I thought you might like it too, especially as they are somewhat Christmassy!

Fig and Black Pepper Biscotti – approx 24

240g plain flour
1 (possibly generous) teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
15g soft butter
30g caster sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg white
75g chopped dried figs

~   Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Stir together the first four ingredients.
~   Whisk together the butter and sugar.
~   Lightly beat the egg and the white into the butter mixture.
~   Stir in the dry mixture to form a loose dough.
~   Add the figs and knead together till smooth.
~   On a floured surface into a log about 30cm long.
~   Place onto a baking tray and flatten to about 1½cm high.
~   Bake for 20 minutes till golden and a little firm.
~   Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
~   Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/300°F/130ºC fan/gas 2.
~   When cool enough to handle slice the logs on the diagonal about 1cm thick.
~   Return to the baking tray, cut sides up, and cook for 15-20 minutes till crisp and golden, turning them over after about 10 minutes.
~   Cool on a rack.


If you fancy these for Christmas, they keep very well (see end of post for storage) so make them a week or two in advance.  I do lots of cooking ahead for Christmas, next Sunday is Stir up Sunday and here is my Christmas Cake recipe.  

Thinking about biscotti and having a collection of salted pecans in the cupboard, as one does, I decided to make …

Salted Pecan and Brown Sugar Biscotti – approx 16

Here's a handy image
for Pinterest!
250g soft light brown sugar
250g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla past or a few drips of vanilla extract
120g coarsely chopped roasted and salted pecans

~   Preheat oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Stir together the first three ingredients.
~   Lightly beat together the eggs and the vanilla.
~   Stir the dry into the wet and mix to a loose dough.
~   Add the pecans and knead into the dough.
~   Divide the dough into two parts and form two logs about 3cm diameter.
~   Lay onto a baking tray, somewhat apart, and lightly flatten to 1½cm high.
~   Bake for about 25 minutes till a slightly firm on the outside and taking a little colour.
~   Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and firm up a little.
~   Lower the oven heat to 160ºC/325°F/140ºC fan/gas 3.
~   Carefully slice the logs on the diagonal about 1cm thick.
~   Lay cut side up on the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, turn the biscotti over and cook a further 10 minutes or so till crisp and golden.


Biscotti Information

Biscotti literally means twice cooked. They originate from ancient ltaly where, due to their excellent keeping quality, they were used as convenient food for travellers.  

In Italy they are actually called cantucci; biscotti being a term for biscuits in general (although not biscuits of the American persuasion!).

Being Italian biscotti are traditionally dunked in Italian dessert wine, Vin Santo but are also great dipped in tea, coffee, hot choc or, depending on the biscotti, even mulled wine.

Biscotti Storage 

Make sure your biscotti are utterly, utterly cold then store them in an airtight container, where they should be good, if not for centuries, at least for a couple of weeks or so.

If they are softening pop them back into a medium hot oven for a few minutes resulting in Triscotti!!

News from the future …

One day a week I spend sorting books that have been donated to Cornwall Hospice care – I love it.  Recently they published a book of their own, The Great Cornish Cake Bake Cake Book (A collection of favourite recipes and the memories behind them) and the recipe I contributed was this biscotti recipe!