Cheating is not eating

Last night I got home from work and decided to have a baking blitz (I’ll pay for it with tomorrow’s spin class – is there a more painful form of aerobic torture?). There were two obvious choices for the ingredients I had on hand – Bakewell tart and a nice dark ginger loaf.

I love Bakewell tart. I finally had Bakewell tart in Bakewell a few months ago and I’m afraid I was a bit disappointed with the offering there – it came with icing on it, which made it too sweet, and there was too much almond essence. Buy a good quality essence I say, and halve the amount any recipe says or omit it completely. It’s full of almonds anyway.

Here’s the bit where I cheated. Firstly, I used shop bought pastry instead of making my own to use up more flour. And then I didn’t have any baking beans (you know, the ceramic ones)… but I did have a lot of dried beans. So, while I didn’t actually manage to use up the ground almonds or white sugar and I had to buy raspberry jam to make it, I did manage to use up the black-eyed beans!

I used the BBC’s recipe (omitting the icing, of course) and it turned out really well. I don’t think I cooked it for long enough, but I quite like it that way, even if it’s triggering a slight allergic reaction due to the almonds still being a bit raw…

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In the interest of using things up I also went with the time-honoured tradition of turning leftover pastry into jam tarts – in this case, mini jam tarts.

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I also made a ginger loaf using this recipe, although I meant to use this one. I got distracted with both windows open and made the wrong one – oops! I didn’t use the topping and I didn’t really like the syrup – I usually drizzle with melted honey and lemon juice.  I thought I had my own ginger cake recipe up here but I don’t – I’ll have to post it up here one day but I didn’t use it this time as it’s reliant on ingredients I was already out of, like glacé ginger. This cake used up the golden syrup, and most of the muscovado sugar. 

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Aduki beans with spicy tomato-mackerel sauce

This recipe comes from my Ghanaian-British friend Penny, who made it when I went to hers for lunch one day.

I’ll just describe it loosely, as ingredients can be adjusted to taste. I had about 250g dried aduki beans to use up, so I boiled them for around 30 minutes until they were soft. While the beans were cooking I chopped and sautéed half of a large onion until soft – it was left over from something else so you could use a whole onion if you wish. I added a tin of chopped tomatoes and a roughly chopped scotch bonnet pepper (de-seeded). At this point I blended the lot together, making sure I got all of the pepper bits well blitzed.

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I had a fillet of smoked mackerel left over from this week’s lunches, and also a tin of mackerel – this is where my version differs from Penny’s as she wasn’t trying to use stuff up! I flaked these into the sauce and added the aduki beans.

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Served with couscous, because that is what I have! Ok, so it ain’t pretty, but it tastes great – especially with the spice from the scotch bonnet. Yes, a de-seeded scotch bonnet pepper, blended into a sauce is nothing to be afraid of – it adds a very pleasing warmth rather than blow-your-head-off heat.

There’s still some couscous left so I can’t check that off the list just yet, but this meal used up the mackerel and aduki beans (as well as the leftover onion) – and I had to buy a new tin of tomatoes.

Blitzing through the ingredients

Last week I made some dal and muttar paneer. I served it with brown basmati rice and some poppadoms I found lurking in the cupboard. It used up the rice, poppadoms, some peas I had in the freezer, a tin of tomatoes, and red lentils.

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I forgot to take photos of my lunches from last week. I made a black bean salad, inspired by this recipe with some differences – I used dried beans instead of tinned, and tinned corn instead of fresh. So that’s the beans and corn used up now. The list is looking a bit better, and I’m starting to stack up empty containers in the cupboard.

Plum and pistachio cake

I had some hulled pistachios to use up, and decided they would become cake. Plums were £1 a punnet from the supermarket, and tasted so sweet once cooked. That’s the only way I can eat them – I’m allergic to raw plums so a cake like this offered me the perfect opportunity to get my five a day!

I took this to work, so the pictures aren’t stunning. My workmates loved it though.

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Out of the oven.

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I got the recipe here.

Mango sticky rice

I have written about mango sticky rice before. Every year I look forward to the short but very sweet alphonso mango season, those few weeks when my principles fly out the window and I buy air-freighted Indian mangoes by the boxload.

Unfortunately this year the EU decided to impose a ban on imports of Indian mangoes, and my local Indian shop has suffered a great blow to its trade.

However, I happened to have some frozen mango, so I used up my sticky rice and a tin of coconut milk (I still have one tin left so can’t cross that off the list just yet) to come up with this:

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One more thing crossed off the list. And the frozen mango is used up too.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

Nacho cheese!

Awful cheese jokes aside, my mission to get through my storecupboard ingredients continues, with… can you guess?

I soaked the kidney beans overnight and cooked them the next day. I happened to have a jar of salsa in the cupboard so added them, as well as a small tin of sweetcorn to make the beans for my nachos.

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They ended up just like the tinned “chilli beans” I used to buy in NZ.

I also had some corn chips to use up (I was a victim of one of those “three for two” offers), perfect. Topped with cheese, a few minutes in a hot oven, and then some avocado on top:

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I still have a tin of corn left, but I have a plan for that – it will have to wait for next week now though. To check on my progress go here. I have some great ideas to use up the rest of the list, so stay tuned.

Does anyone else have any good cheese jokes?

Teriyaki salmon

… and my 500th post on Knit Your Own Yoghurt, just as an aside there!

I had a bit of jasmine rice left over from the Black Pepper Tofu the other day. I also had a bit of coconut milk powder to use up. I mixed the powder with some boiling water, poured it over the rice, and heated the lot up in the microwave.

I also used up the teriyaki sauce, cooking a piece of salmon in it. Some steamed broccoli on the side and I had a tasty and almost healthy meal.

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That’s three things checked off the list now, and a long way still to go!