Tag Archives: use it or lose it

Use it or Lose it: Cheese

We love cheese – we eat lots of it and lots of different types.  But there often seems to be a little dried out husk in the fridge or even several.  Parmesan and Pecorino are fine, I save the rinds and add them to soups and stews to give extra flavour. But there are so many other delicious cheeses in my life and in my fridge.

Jenga cheese straws

Jenga cheese straws

I originally made these cheese straws for No Plastic July but even as I was making them I realised they were a great way to use up those little hard ends of cheese.

Recipe is here but I have tweaked it as usual.

Cheese Straws

Ingredients

(Recipe says it makes 36 straws.  I got a lot more out of the recipe!)

  • 375g/13oz plain flour

  • 225g/8oz butter, diced

  • 150g/5½oz assorted grated hard cheese (cheddar, double gloucester, wensleydale, cheshire etc.)

  • 50g/1¾oz freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • pinch English Mustard powder

  • small pinch cayenne pepper/paprika

  • 2 free-range eggs, yolks only (beaten)

  • Ice cold water 4-5 tablespoons.

Method

This is essentially a pastry recipe and I am generally very bad at making pastry on account of having hot hands.  So I make all mine in a food processor and the results are always lovely.

Sift the flour and put in the food processor with the butter.  Whizz until it resembles bread crumbs.  If you don’t have a food processor then rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. If you run the mixture through your (clean) fingers for a bit you should be able to feel if the butter is evenly distributed. Add all the other ingredients except the water either to the food processor for a final blitz or just stir into the mixture.

Then add the ice cold water a little bit at a time stirring/blitzing until it comes together in a ball.

Put the ball in a bowl with a plate on top and put it in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until it is the thickness of a £2 coin (maybe 1/4 inch if you are not British). Then cut into strips the desired length and width of your cheese straw and place on a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper on it.

Brush a little milk on the tops of the straws and then bake for 10-15 mins until they are golden brown on top.

I apologise about the eggs yolks only instruction – I should definitely do a Use it or Lose it Egg Whites edition soon.  Throwing away eggs whites is a guilty secret of mine, I know I could make meringues but do far I haven’t.

Use it or Lose it Recipe – Breadcrumbs

Shelling peas in the sun.

Shelling peas in the sun.

Today had its ups and downs (R took a little bit of a tumble, nothing serious but a bit of a shock and a sore bump for an already cross, teething baby). But there was a moment in the sunshine when I felt very happy and at peace.  I’d just picked our first pea harvest; mangetout are the yellow ones and Dwarf Early Peas the green ones.  I sat and shelled them by the veg patch so that I could toss the pea pods into the pig pen.  Pigs love things like that but they can’t eat food scraps that have been in a kitchen because of cross contamination.  So I made sure I shelled the peas in the sun, by the veg patch and the hedgerow while the pigs wuffled in the background.  It was lovely.

I’ve decided to make Use it or Lose it Recipes a regular feature on the blog.  I talked a little bit about food waste in the first Use it or Lose it Post.

We make our bread in a bread machine and whilst we use most of it up, there is often a crust or two leftover.  I save them up and then blitz them in the food processor for breadcrumbs.  Then I freeze them.  Breadcrumbs last ages in the freezer and if the bread is sufficiently stale they don’t seem to freeze together in one clump – this means you can take out one portion at a time and leave the rest of the bag in the freezer.

This recipe is for using up stale bread. There are lots of ways of using up stale bread as it happens and I’m sure I’ll come back to this particular type of leftover in the future. As a child my Dad made the most amazing stuffing for Sunday lunch.  He experimented with all sorts of flavours and herbs from the garden but my favourites were the sweetcorn stuffing and his mushroom stuffing.  The other day I was thinking about the huge bad of breadcrumbs sitting in the freezer and remembering the stuffing of my childhood.  I realised that stuffing doesn’t have to be relegated to a Sunday lunch side dish but would make a great lunchtime dish – especially as a good finger food for fat little baby hands. At the same time someone posted a recipe up on a baby-led weaning group on facebook which was basically stuffing and with a bit of tweaking from me I think I’ve got something just right.

So this is my Lunchtime Special Stuffing – good for using up stale breadcrumbs AND wilted veg from the fridge.  Doesn’t that sound appetising? I’m sure Nigella Lawson would describe it as the mouth-crunchingly-perfect miniature beads of bread with juicy sweet carrots and sunshine-jewelled sweetcorn kernels.

Tasty lunchtime meal.

Tasty lunchtime meal.

This should serve 2 adults and 2 children for lunch with a salad/fruit.  It makes great picnic food for going out and about as well.

Ingredients

230g of shredded or finely chopped vegetables/herbs (I used carrots, sweetcorn, fresh basil and fresh parsley)

30g grated cheese (e.g. cheddar)

2 big handfuls of  breadcrumbs

2 medium eggs beaten

tablespoon butter

2 and 1/2 tsp of mixed dried herbs/spices

(I used 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp marjoram, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika but use what you have – this is supposed to be a recipe about using things up – not buying lots more things)

Bowl of ingredients ready for mixin'

Bowl of ingredients ready for mixin’

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c/180fan/Gas Mark.

Mix all the above ingredients together until well combined.  Then either shape into individual patties or press into an oven dish. Personally I usually press it into an oven dish.  Sometimes I have the time to make ultra-cute baby sized portions of things, but this mixture is fiddly and messy and easier to put in a dish.

If you do make one big oven dish then dot the butter over the top.

 

Dotting with butter

Dotting with butter

Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown on top.

If you used an oven dish then now is the time to cut it into slices, otherwise just serve with fruit and salad.