Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ten ways to use up stale bread.

I wrote this yesterday and was intending to post it next week but today I saw this
so thought now would be a better time!

Ten ways to use up stale bread

We all end up with stale bread from time to time, don't we?  The more frugal among us make sure it doesn't happen too often but from time to time we are faced with the heel of a loaf or some odd crusts that really are past it.  Don't ever eat mould though - cut it off and ditch it!

Here's some things you could do.

1.  The obvious one is to zizz into breadcrumbs and then freeze to use as and when you need breadcrumbs, such as coating fish or making burgers.  Bread crumbs also make a nice topping for a fish pie or a macaroni cheese.  Just melt some butter, mix in the breadcrumbs, spread them over the dish and bake in  the oven until crunchy golden brown.  Mix in a little finely grated hard cheese, some mustard powder and/or some dried herbs too for extra flavour.
If you can't be bothered to do that, throw the stale bread into a poly bag and freeze it until you want to use it.
This is Rick Stein's fish pie recipe, found at
Bread and butter pudding.  There are recipes out there, just Google.  It's delicious, dead easy and real comfort food for those cold, wet days.  Good for stale hot cross buns or fruit loaf too.
What do you mean, what are stale hot cross buns?

3.  Stale bread makes amazing croutons for soups.  Cut your stale slices into cubes, toss in oil (or spray some oil over) and toast or bake until golden and crunchy.  Use garlic infused oil for extra ooomph.  Not made with stale bread but lovely picture!!!

4.  Eggy bread/french toast.  There's loads of recipes out there but basically you whisk up an egg (add a bit of milk if you like), season it, dip in your stale slices (both sides) and fry in a little oil.  You can sweeten, add cinnamon, garlic, whatever . . . take a look via Google and find one that suits you!

5.  Panade.  No, I've never heard of it before either but, while it takes some time, it looks super-simple and very delicious.  Great for left over veg too.
Borrowed from Google

6.   Pizza toast.  Toast one side of the stale bread (it is very quick so take care not to burn it.  Chop some ripe tomatoes small and mix with a little tomato puree and some salt and pepper.  Spread over the not toasted side.  Add some shreds of leftover meat if you have any, then top with some dried herbs and finely grated cheese.  Toast until the cheese is bubbling.  Eat immediately.  There's loads of variations, so have fun.

7.  Melba toast.  It really is easy as shown by this jolly little video clip and it's so, so much nicer that the stuff you buy.  A delicious lunch, party snack or starter.
Borrowed from Google.

8.  Garlic toast.  Make some garlic butter by mixing some garlic puree with some butter.  Spread over both sides of the stale bread.  Pop into a moderate oven on a non stick surface - when one side is golden and crunchy, turn the slices over to brown the other side.  Eat straight away - lovely with spag bol, etc.

9.  Sweet spiced bread sticks.  Mix together some sugar. cinnamon, ginger and cloves (all ground) and a pinch of salt.  Cut the stale bread into fingers.  Melt some butter and toss with the bread fingers, then add the spiced sugar and coat the bread fingers.  Place on a non stick surface and bake in the oven at 160C for about half an hour until the sugar is caramelised.  Cool slightly and serve with ice cream, chocolate sauce or just by themselves.  Naughty but very nice.

10.  And finally, just to be REALLY naughty - Chocolate bread pudding.  Apologies for the American measures and no, I've not made it, but it looks delicious.  If you make it, do let me know how it goes, please.

Edited . . . 
11: Finally, finally, thank you, Diane, for pointing out an old favourite, queen of puddings.  Here's a link to a Mary Berry recipe.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Instant potato and leek soup

I rather fancied a soup for lunch today rather than what I had planned.  This is what I did and it is very delicious, despite the horrendous ingredient!
It's a Thermione recipe but can, of course, be made the more usual way.

Ingredients to make a mugful.
about 2 inches of leek
1 tsp butter (not oil - the butter flavour is lovely)
a little squidge of garlic
1 tsp marigold low sodium vegetable bouillon powder - I think the full sodium version would make it too salty.
3 tsps instant mash (sorry).  You could use left over mash/potato instead but I didn't have any.
1 heaped tsp of red/orange lentils
some water
a little grinding of pepper

In the bowl place the leek and the butter and pulse briefly to chop the leek and mix it with the butter.  Cook on 100, speed 1 for 6 mins.

Add the garlic, the stock powder, the mash, the lentils, some water (not too much because you can add more at the end) and the pepper.
Cook at 100, speed 2 for 15 minutes.

Then zizz until smooth.  Check seasonings, add more water (I added it from the kettle so it was very hot) if necessary and zizz again.
Pour into a mug and enjoy.

Autumn Stew

Vegetarian, loads of vegetables, filling!  What's not to like?

'Chopped' means cut into pieces the size you want - mine were small bite sized pieces.  Amounts are to own liking really and you can add any veg you like.  This what I used and did.  I know it looks a lot but actually it is just what I had in.

one onion peeled and chopped
one carrot, peeled and chopped
half a sweet potato, peeled and chopped
a rib of celery, cut into bits
four smallish new potatoes, cut into bits.  I didn't peel them.
a bit of butter for sauteing
a squidge of garlic puree
a squidge of chilli puree
1 can chopped tomatoes and half a can of water
a sploosh of white wine (optional but it does add to the flavour)
a vegetable stock pot or other vegetable stock.  You could add a chicken stock but it wouldn't then be vegetarian
one tsp dried mixed herbs
a handful of orange lentils
a handful of oats
salt and pepper
1 can butter beans
some chestnut (or other) mushrooms, prepared and chopped
some whole mini tomatoes

In a largish saucepan, melt the butter, add the onions and carrots and saute for a short time.  Then add the potato, sweet potato and celery and continue to saute for five minutes, stirring from time to time.
Add the garlic and chilli purees, stir well and saute for one more minute.

Add the wine, chopped tomato, water, stock, herbs, lentils and oats, salt (not too much as the stock will be salty) and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow the stew to simmer for as long as it takes.  The liquor will turn thick and delicious, the oats and lentils will 'disappear' and the veg will soften.

Drain the butter beans and add.  Stir well.

At this point you can stop if you are not eating it that day.  Cool, cover and pop in the fridge overnight.  The flavours will develop.

To finish off, reheat slowly, add the mushrooms and whole mini tomatoes, taste and adjust seasoning if needed and then gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes and heated through and just starting to burst.

Serve piping hot with grated cheese sprinkled over the top and crusty bread to soak up the liquid.  If you want meat, you could add shreds of ham or bacon, chicken or turkey or cut some flavoursome sausages into bits and add (just make sure they are cooked through).

It freezes well.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Cheese and chive soda bread

This is another Lorraine Pascale recipe, slightly adapted to suit
what I had - or rather what I didn't have - and made smaller because it is just me!

The original is out there - here's a link to one place that has the recipe.  I have to say, I totally agree when the writer says the recipes are good for novices.  They are nicely simple and explanations are clear.

 I will describe what I did.  Mainly I left out the ham because I didn't have any and also because if I included it, Beth couldn't have any and that would never do.
Also, I halved the quantities.  When i make it again I will do the full amount but I will make two smaller loaves and freeze one.

212g self raising flour
half tsp baking powder
quarter tsp salt
75g finely grated cheddar plus a bit more for sprinkling over the top
some chives, chopped.  I got them from the garden.  The instructions say half a bunch which vague in the extreme.  I just put in what I thought looked about right.  I don't think it would really matter.
some black pepper
half tsp paprika - I used smoked paprika because that's what I have and also I love it
half tsp mustard powder.  Optional but mustard and cheese are a flavour marriage made in heaven.
about 110mls cold water

Preheat oven to 200C (I did 180 in my fan oven)

Add all the ingredients except the water and extra cheese and mix well.  Add 100mls water and stir it in, then go in with your hands and squidge it all together, adding more water if needed.

Shape the dough into a ball, flatten the top slightly and slash it across the top with a sharp knife - I made a slight ovoid and did three slashes.

Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese, place the dough on a baking tray (I used a teflon sheet as well) and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the bread is golden brown and cooked through.

The instructions also tell you to spray the dough with water and have some water in the oven to create steam but I didn't.

It smelled wonderful while cooking and tastes delicious.  Essentially it is a cheese scone/glorified soda bread recipe, but it works and it's tasty.  For what more can one ask?

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Tomato ketchup

Borrowed from Google but very like what I made - quite dark and very thick after all the zizzing.
I made this recipe today.  Someone posted it in a Facebook group and apart from that I have no idea where it comes from, sorry.
I'll share the recipe first and then make some comments.

2kg (4lb) ripe tomatoes
450g (1lb) onions
450g (1lb) sugar – light brown is best but could use demerara or granulated
12 cloves – or thereabouts
10g (1/2 oz) allspice – I use 1 tbls of whole berries
25g (1 oz) salt
375ml (3/4 pint) cider vinegar – also works with others but not malt vinegar
10g (1/2 oz) black peppercorns – again, about 1tbls will do
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper or chilli powder


Slice/chop the tomatoes and onions. Put everything in a heavy based pan and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 hours. Whizz with a hand held blender and push through a sieve after that (do this whilst it is still hot). Bottle into sterilized, wide necked bottles or jars.

This makes about six 310g bottles (Reggae Reggae sauce bottles are brilliant for this) or 4 or 5 1lb jam jars. Store in a cool place and it will keep for months. Pop in the fridge once opened.

My comments:
1.  I used a tin of chopped tomatoes and made it up to 1k(I did half quantity) with cherry toms.  I then added a good squirt of tomato puree as the fresh tomatoes weren't as flavoursome as they could be (shop bought).

2.  It's quite spicy.  Really, really good but spicy.  When I make it again, which I will, I will halve the peppercorns and the cayenne (which is what I used).

3.  I needed to add some water half way through the boiling as it was getting too dry.  Given that I needed to do that, maybe next time I will add some coca cola or pepsi.  I love the flavour that imparts.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Microwave tomato risotto

Purists will shudder.  I rather did myself and I am no purist!  But it works and it is nice.
I made half amount and I'm glad I did because it makes loads.  Below is the original, for 4 (generous portions for hungry people).  I had one portion for lunch (very filling indeed) and the other portion will be tomorrow's lunch after a quick heat up in the microwave.

300g basic arborio rice
1 onion, diced
30g butter
300 mls water
1 veg stock cube
500 mls passata
250g tomatoes
125g drained Mozarella, grated (I used Morrison's Savers)
I also added a tsp dried mixed herbs.

Chop the onions.
Mix the onions, butter and risotto rice in a large microwaveable bowl.
Cook for three minutes on high in the microwave.
Add the passata and the water and stir well.  Add the stock cube.  Add the chopped tomatoes, add the grated mozzarella.  Mix well.
Cover with cling film and return to the microwave.  I pierced the cling film.
Cook on high for ten minutes or until done.  It took a fair bit longer than ten minutes for me.

Stir well before serving.

It would be a scrummy way to use up bits of ham or chicken - just stir in the cooked meat at the end.

And finally - I might try it in Thermione next time.  It would take longer but be self stirring!


Anyone following Teacher's Recipes will know that I am totally in love with my Thermomix and use her rather a lot, adapting recipes and generally finding her irreplaceable.

If anyone is interested in knowing more about Thermomix, I can put you in touch with my Thermo consultant, Leonie, who is happy to do demos and who is a thoroughly nice lady!

Just send me a message . . .
The one I have

The latest version
I suppose I'd better put a disclaimer here - I'm not being paid for this in any way, shape or form.  I love my Thermomix and when Leonie asked me if I would mention it and about her demos I was glad to be able to do so.

Onion gravy

Borrowed from Google Images.
This was based on a Delia recipe which I adapted somewhat.  I thought it was really nice and just what I wanted for my sausages!  It also went really well with the runner beans.

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
a knob of butter
some Worcestershire sauce - I used a vegetarian option as Beth was sharing it.
mustard powder (or you can use ready made)
some vegetable stock, made with Marigold.  I suppose I used about 400mls
a rounded dsp plain flour
salt and black pepper
some balsamic vinegar
a small dollop of marmite

Ingredients are a bit vague - you can add and taste and add more if you want.

Method for Thermione
Melt the butter in the bowl.
Add the onions, reverse mix on 2 to cover the onions with the melted butter.
Cook on 100, reverse 3, about 10 mins, MC off.  Check that the onions are nice and soft; if not, give them another five minutes or so.  Then cook on varoma heat, reverse 3 for about 5 mins to get a bit of colour.  Keep checking that it doesn't burn.

Add the mustard powder and the flour and reverse mix on 3 to cover the buttery onions.
Add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, the balsamic vinegar, the marmite and pepper and cook on 100, reverse 3, 15 mins.  Taste and if it is a bit 'floury', give it another few minutes.
Adjust seasonings if needed.  It might need salt and it might not.  The stock and the marmite are both salty and I didn't need to add any.

Normal method
Cook the onions in the butter until soft and caramelised, stirring often.
Stir in the butter and the mustard powder, then gradually add the stock, stirring continuously until it has thickened.
Add the other seasonings, taste and adjust, then cover and simmer gently for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Pour into a warmed jug and serve.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Winter spiced lemon curd.

I got round to making this today after intending to make it yesterday.  It is a recipe from a cookery book I have borrowed from the library, Home Cooking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.  I remember enjoying the TV series of the same name a while ago.

Anyway, the recipe is 'winter spiced lemon curd with cinnamon and vanilla'.  I didn't follow the method in the book as I used Thermione but if I hadn't, I'd have used the microwave method and that's what I shall describe here.

Ingredients to make three pots of lemon gorgeousness.
Grated zest (or you can peel off the zest if you're using a thermomix) and juice of three lemons (I also added some lemon juice as the lemons were not that large.
4 eggs, beaten (and strained, it said - I didn't bother)
350g caster sugar (seems an awful lot - I will try less next time.  In a Thermione, you can use granulated)
100g unsalted butter, cubed
6 whole cloves
1 x 5cm piece of cinnamon
2 star anise
1/4 tsp vanilla essence/extract

Bung everything into a large bowl.
Cook on full in the microwave, stirring with a whisk every 30 seconds being sure to get right to the side of the bowl.  Near the end, reduce that to every 15 seconds.  If it seems to be 'scrambling', take it out and give it a good old whisk which should sort it.When it has thickened (you can tell), push the lot through a clean sieve to get rid of the spices and the grated zest (I prefer it smooth) and decant into warm and sterilised jam jars.  Cover and label.  Keep in the fridge and use within three weeks.

Thermomix method:
Follow the method in the cookbook, adding the spices when you insert the butterfly whisk.  Use reverse speed 2 to 3 to avoid bashing the spices into bits.
It cooks in about ten minutes and I finished it off by taking it to 100C to be sure.

My spices are rather old but they still imparted a lovely flavour to the curd.  I will make it again, for sure.

Friday, 11 September 2015

What to do with manky carrots

(One of my fave veg!)
OK, so not the really nasty ones but when they have gone a bit black but are perfectly OK inside, just a bit limp.

Apart from the usual soup, casserole, etc, this is what I did today.

I peeled them, being sure to cut off any bad bits.  I cut them into chunks.  I boiled a pan of water and cooked the carrots just for two minutes after which I dunked them in cold water.  After draining and drying, I separated them out on some easy-leave on a tray, covered them with more easy-leave and popped the lot in the freezer.

I will use them as needed, most likely to roast them for a Sunday dinner.  Much better than throwing them away!

Tomato soup

I've just made this from necessity.  I had some passata that needed using, some carrots that were going a bit manky and someone here for lunch.  I also have too many tins of chopped tomatoes and need to start using them!  The ingredients can be varied according to common sense - for example, don't open a carton of passata just to use half of it in this - just use the cans of tomatoes and make less!

Ingredients to make quite a lot.
2 cans chopped tomatoes (I used value ones)
about half a carton of passata
1 medium or half a large onion (or use the lot and have more onion flavour), peeled and cut unto wedges
1 medium carrot, peeled so the mank is removed, then cut into baton-ish bits
a drizzle of olive oil
a squeeze of garlic
a good pinch of smoked paprika (I think this goes brilliantly with tomatoes)
a heaped tsp marigold stock powder (or use a veg cube)
half a tsp sugar
a tbsp balsamic vinegar
a grinding of black pepper (no salt as the stock is salty)
some mixed herbs

Heat the oven to 200C
In a roastic dish put the chopped tomatoes, the carrot and the onion.  Mix.  Drizzle over some olive oil.  Roast in the oven until the tomatoes are reducing and there are nice charry bits (about half an hour or so).

Tip this into a saucepan.  Then add all the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the veg are soft.  Leave to cool for a short time, then zizz well until very smooth.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Reheat to a simmer and serve with a crusty roll.  I like a splodge of yogurt or creme fraiche on top too.

The Thermione way
Roast as above.  Tip into Thermomix, add remaining ingredients, cook on 100, spoon speed, 15 mins.  Allow to cool a little.  Then blitz at 10 for 2 mins (makes it lovely and smooth).  Reheat to 100 if necessary.
Serve as above.

(photo to follow if I remember)

Greg Wallace's Tuna Burgers

These were on Eat Well for Less last week and not only are they rather delicious, they are also dead easy so here we go.

The recipe can be found here so I won't reproduce it in full:

I made half amounts and it made five decent sized burgers using my burger press.  I don't use it all that often but when I do I am glad I have it.  I've just searched for a picture and it shows how old it is because I couldn't find one just like mine.

I also used Thermione to do the flaking, chopping, etc and I used garlic puree.  I also added some dried mixed herbs

The results are very nice, even nicer with my home made tomato and apple chutney.  However, next time I will probably zip it up a bit.  Maybe some finely chopped chilli, some mustard powder or some lemon zest.  There are lots of options which makes it a good recipe in my book!

Sorry - forgot to take a photo.
I didn't use this brand, I used a value brand which is fine for this sort of recipe!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Tomatoes on toast

Borrowed from Google, thank you!
There's nothing clever about this one but it is my absolute fave breakfast at the moment so I'm sharing.

The tomatoes are from my own plants in the garden and the bread is my own home made bread.  That helps to make it more delicious but it's still a tasty meal anyway.

some tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on the size
two small slices of bread (or one larger slice)
butter - a little for frying and a bit for spreading (the frying is not optional, the spreading is.  If I have a flavoursome fat like bacon fat, I use that for frying instead)
a sprinkle of salt (optional)
a sprinkle of sugar (optional)
herbs (optional and I tend not to)

Melt the butter in a pan.  Add the tomatoes and stir.  Then fry them very slowly and gently, stirring occasionally.  At first the tomatoes release liquid, then the water evaporates away leaving a gorgeous tomato-ey 'goo'.  I cover the pan with a splatter guard.

When the tomatoes are nearly ready, toast the bread.  Keep it warm if necessary.

If needed, add a sprinkle of salt and sugar.  When it is garden picked tomatoes there's no need for the sugar and I use only a tiny bit of sea salt.  If they are shop bought they can still be flavoursome but might need a bit of sugar as well.  I tend not to make this too much in the winter when tomatoes are watery and rather tasteless.

Spread a little butter on your toast if wanted and then spoon over the tomatoes.  They should be thick and gorgeously gooey and you can eat the topped toast with your fingers rather than needing a knife and fork.

A bit of garlic rubbed on the toast might be very nice!  Must try it.

Bacon and roasted tomato pasta

I found this recipe online.  It's a Slimming World recipe.  However, I have changed it quite a lot and will give you my version.

The original was a salad dish, to be eaten cold.  I had mine hot with runner beans.

Please excuse the messy bowl.  I'm useless at this food photography lark!

200g cherry tomatoes (I used yellow ones from the garden), halved
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
half a red pepper, deseeded and chunked
1 large chestnut mushroom, chopped
1 small courgette, sliced and then halve each slice
2 rashers of back bacon with all the fat cut off, sliced.
some frozen peas
some olive oil (as little as possible)
about a tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
150g pasta shapes

Heat the oven to 200C.
Put the tomatoes, onions, garlic, courgette and red pepper in a roasting dish and sprinkle with the oil and half the balsamic vinegar.  Toss it well.  Place the dish in the oven and roast for about 20 mins, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, boil the peas and the pasta.
Then add the bacon and mushroms to the mix and roast for another ten minutes.
Add the peas, the rest of the balsamic vinegar and mix well, then toss in the pasta.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring back to piping hot, either in a pan or in the microwave.  Eat straight away.

It makes enough for two.  Quickly cool and cover what you don't eat and use it next day.

I shook over some soy sauce and it was scrummy!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Spicy sauce

I made this today, to go with some ham that I boiled this morning.

It is more or less based on a recipe in the old Readers Digest classic, 'The Cookery Year', page 119, barbecued spare ribs.

I mixed together 4 tbsp clear honey, 3 tbsp soy sauce, some passata (about 1/2 a small carton, maybe a little less), a few drops of Lea and Perrins, a squeeze of tomato ketchup, some garlic puree, a pinch of mustard powder, some smoked paprika, salt and black pepper go easy on the salt), the juice of an orange, a little bit of the water I boiled the ham in (it wasn't too salty) and 4 tbsp white wine vinegar.

This all went into a saucepan heated to boiling and then simmered for ten minutes.  When I tasted it was a bit 'catch-in-the-back-of-the-throat-ish' so after some umming and ahing I added a splash of cola (not diet) and it transformed the sauce into something gorgeous.  We had it on slices of ham, new potatoes, cauliflower and runner beans, like a gravy.

It was so good, I thought I would share . . .

In the original recipe, one would have spare ribs cut into single ribs, roasted in a pan for about 20 mins until the juices are running.  Then pour over the sauce and cook it all, uncovered in a moderate oven until the sauce has thickened and the meat is almost falling off the bones.
That's very delicious too.