One of the things I love most about leftovers is how it opens up a world of cuisine fusion possibilities. Nothing too radical, but the putting together of things in a less than traditional way that is tasty and has some links back to a classic. So here are the things I needed to use up today (it was also a Monday and I do try to be meatless first thing in a week, so if I don’t manage it again I know I started it in the right vein!): cold roasted potatoes, soysages, eggs, cavolo nero, avocado. The things that popped into my head were – breakfast hash (potato, eggs, soysages) and huevos rancheros (eggs, cavolo nero, avocado). Why not a combination of the two? A sort of spicy and tomatoey potato bake, with the cavolo nero in there and a egg baked in, topped with crispy soysage crumb, and slices of avocado. It sounded pretty good in my head, and I have to say it was delicious. I’d say no need for tortilla because of the potato (although if you’ve got some, dipping in the egg is lush), unless you’ve only got a little cooked potato and you want to bulk out the carbs. You could easily have this for breakfast if you wanted. We had it for dinner because it is substantial enough, and who doesn’t like having breakfast at dinnertime?
Adapted from Kids’ Baking by Sara Lewis
Why are these flapjacks fancy I hear you all cry?! Because you will need TWO saucepans people to make these. Not just the one you might be expecting, but two whole saucepans. Fancy, right?? (Note: if you only have one saucepan, do not despair! There is nothing to say you can’t just wash up your one saucepan in between making the two bits of this. I’m just lazy.) The reason you will need two is because they have a special layer of apple and date goo and it makes them fabulous. I like flapjacks well enough but sometimes I can find them a bit dry. No chance of that with these. The extra layer makes them moist and moreish! I think the book they came from is out of print, and I came by it when the book van came to our office. It feels like a million years since I worked out there in the big real world (actually it’s been getting on for 5 years) but I can’t imagine the book van isn’t still a common thing. I think the premise is books that have been published for a while are sold at discount prices because the stock has been bought wholesale. Anyway, as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it. I didn’t have a child then so I didn’t buy this so a youngster could make the recipes, it was entirely for me! What I liked was how easy the recipes seemed, no unnecessary faffing about, and no fancy ingredients you’d never use again. A solid workhorse of a cookbook. I even bought a copy for my mum after she ate the banana gingerbread (another recipe that is really good). If you happen to come across a copy you should pick it up as it won’t disappoint.
Here in the UK it is National Vegetarian Week (today until the 26th) so in honour of that I will not be posting any meat recipes this week. Veggie all the way baby! To that end here is the first of this week’s treats. I’ll try and mix it up a bit and not just give you all cakes and biscuits, I promise. It is also school half-term next week (in this bit of the country at least) and there’s a long weekend coming up. I feel everything has aligned for the purpose of milkshake! We’ve gone back to gloomy weather but I’m going to do my absolute best to force out the sunshine with recipes designed for better weather. Sunny indoors if nothing else. This recipe is also so easy it is barely a recipe at all! But if you’ve suddenly got marauding kids to deal with, a relatively healthy drink that is also a treat might be just the thing. I’m using chocolate coconut milk drink here because I was curious to know what it was like really. I regularly buy the plain version but I wondered how the chocolate one (it has cocoa and a little extra sugar in it) compared. It is quite nice and not at all coconuty but quite thin, like skim cow’s milk. Nice enough on its own but better as an ingredient in my opinion. I’ve also used frozen banana chunks as they thicken up when blended so you get a luscious milkshake without resorting to fake thickeners which I can’t bear, or ice-cream which will be quite sugary. Remember to pop some ripe bananas, chopped into chunks, into the freezer the night before you need to make this unless you keep some around anyway. I find if I’ve got a glut of over-ripening bananas and I’m all done with banana bread, then I can still avoid waste by freezing the bananas in chunks for using in milkshakes, or just on their own whizzed up in the blender as soft ice cream. I’ve therefore usually already got some in the freezer ready to go. As for the strawberries, well I just can’t tell you how excited I am that the British strawberry season has started! I have noticed that the punnet sizes are smaller (227g not 250g as they used to be) and I bet the price hasn’t changed. Price rises by stealth are a big thing at the moment. Anyway, I digress. I got 3 packs for the price of 2 today, which would be no bargain if any went to waste. Not likely in this house though!
Did you overindulge yesterday? Big lunch, a ton of chocolate and possibly a few cheeky vinos? Yeh, me too. I’m never one to shy away from a holiday feast. So, here it is Easter Monday and I’m not quite ready to give it up yet. This is still a day of holiday and I want it to feel like one, but I surely know another day of excess like yesterday is probably not that the best idea I’ve ever had. I’m easily fooled though (even by myself). I am the kind of girl who sets her clocks a few minutes fast so although I’m always late I’m actually on time. And no that doesn’t really work. This milkshake does though! If feels like I’m consuming something decadent and yet no, nothing even remotely dodgy in here. You need to do a bit of advance prep by freezing your very ripe banana chunks the day before, but once that’s out the way, happy days!
Apologies for the poor picture, but despite my attempt to create a good set-up beforehand, with a poached egg you have but seconds to get your shot before the yolk runs everywhere. And I really wanted to eat this more than take a nice photo! This dish is vegan until you top it with the poached egg but is just as delicious without, perhaps with a bit of chutney if you’d rather. But I do like a poached egg with my bubble and squeak so on it goes for me. Any combination of leftover veggies is good although I find I’ve usually only got them after a roast. The only essential is mashed potato, which is what will bind all the other ingredients together. If you’ve only got small roast potatoes left and attempt this you’ll end up with bubble and squeak hash, which is lovely but not quite the same thing. I’m not beyond boiling a couple of extra potatoes especially for this, to make a bit more mash and ensure the bubble and squeak will work. With Easter Sunday coming you might just over cater the veggies, so here is a good way to use them up. Bubble and squeak makes a lush breakfast, lunch or light dinner so is extremely versatile. In the past I wouldn’t have been beyond sprinkling it with a bit of cheese and grilling it briefly. And you can pair it up with meat and use it as a side dish if you like. It goes well with sausage or ham, perhaps for breakfast, and with cold cuts like beef or chicken maybe with pickles for lunch. It’s excellent with a fat piece of crispy skinned, grilled fish on top and a dollop of thick hollandaise sauce for dinner. Or you can just have it as it is. I can’t rate it highly enough within the ranks of leftover dishes.
I am such a big fan of breakfast. Maybe it’s because I’m guaranteed to be properly hungry, or that it comes with coffee, or that the possibilities are so endless. I’m next most fond of brunch, therefore, because it is just a way of getting more breakfast options by staying in bed late! Of course, brunch rarely occurs these days as the child is awake far too early. We do, however, regularly feast upon the ‘second breakfast’. Brunch by another name for when you’ve already eaten once. What’s not to like about that?! Which leads me to overnight oats. Despite my love of eating breakfast, and my (misguided?) belief I am a morning person, I do not function on all cylinders until my one and only, albeit very large, coffee is brewed and inside me. I have lost count of the times I’ve poured juice on my cereal, failed to boil the kettle and poured cold water on the coffee, or let a saucepan of oats boil dry on the stove while I was distracted elsewhere. Therefore, the opportunity to make breakfast the night before so there is less to go wrong first thing the following morning really appeals to me. It is a bit of a misnomer, in that you only need a few hours to make overnight oats, so I do sometimes make it very early in the morning and have it for second breakfast. C thinks this breakfast is great, which is wonderful if you need to quickly feed a small person something healthy and filling before a day of activity, and you’ve actually remembered to make it the night before. Otherwise my preference would be to make hot porridge, which leaves the whole thing vulnerable to my un-caffeinated brain. This recipe is versatile – you can make it with, or top it with, almost anything. This one comes out soft and creamy, and sweet enough for us with just the natural sugars in the nut butter and banana, but feel free to add extras. Google overnight oats for a host of suggestions – nuts, other nut butters, fruits, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, etc. The chia seeds are quite important here because they help with the final texture, but I imagine flax would work similarly if that’s what you have. And lot of other recipes out there use yogurt and I do sometimes do that, but this version just happens not to, and it is one of our favourites.
I’m quite sure there will be those who could refute the following and, indeed, if you suffer from any allergy, sensitivity or intolerance absolutely don’t take my word for it – I know nothing! Consult your own doctor, and get the appropriate tests for what ails you. We are all different and I’m really only working on me. So, what I think I’ve learned is this. Lactose is a bit tricky isn’t it! It is in milk (for sure) but not in butter (if they make it properly and don’t put ‘things’ back in). Some cheese good (most matured types, cheddar, edam, parmesan, mozzarella) some cheese baaaaad (soft cheese, young cheese, most highly processed cheeses). Yogurt (from cow’s milk specifically) is interesting. It seems that (if the mighty interweb is to be believed) most commercially made yogurt is only cultured until it is just set, and therefore not long enough for all the lactose to be used up. You can get around this problem and enjoy delicious, soft, fluffy yogurt if you make your own. I remember my mum making it when I was a child using a funny insulated tub thingy, and in fact I’m still using the milk saver from that same set. Family heirloom now! I’m just using a kilner type jar, and the following method. If you’re careful with germs, say by using jars straight out of the dishwasher and keeping your utensils scrupulously clean, you should be absolutely ok. And remember, remember to save a heaped dessertspoonful of the yogurt you make for starting your next jar. I decant mine into a teeny, tiny Tupperware box the first time I start a jar, or I forget. Then the calm is disrupted as I have to go to the shop to buy small pots of other people’s yogurt to make more of my own yogurt. Once you’ve done that a few times you’ll pack it in and remember, I promise! I know you can buy soya yogurt with the cultures in, and indeed I do eat these too, but I don’t really like the taste of the plain ones on my muesli (though I prefer soya milk in coffee to cow’s – go figure). Plus I eat the fruity ones every now and then, so I’m hedging my bets. I do like the idea of the cultures though, if all the stuff about healthy bacteria, how it is that my insides seem broken, and what I might be able to do to help fix it is to be believed. Anyway, if the truth be told I mostly make yogurt because I’m too scared to kombucha…