Tag Archives: leftovers

Recipe: Chocolate Truffle Cake Pops That Really Should Be Vegan

Why yes, this is indeed another Wedding Cake Leftovers post.  Is anyone really surprised by this?  This time, the cake bits in question were the vegan sachertorte cakes.  I also had leftover dark chocolate, leftover milk and leftover cream – which is why these cake pops didn’t turn out vegan.  But there is no reason why yours shouldn’t be!  I was really just trying to avoid wasting ingredients, and decided that on this occasion, that was more important than feeding my vegan scientists.  I’ll make something for them next time, don’t worry.

This is another super easy recipe, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out – the cake pops really taste like chocolate truffles, but they are much easier to make, because the cake crumbs make them a bit less sticky than pure ganache, and a lot more inclined to roll into nice, neat balls.

Because I had what seemed like acres of chocolate cake crumbs, I wound up dividing my mixture in two and flavouring half of it with freeze dried raspberry powder that I had discovered in my freezer, and the other half with six little peppermint candy sticks leftover from Christmas, which I found in my pantry.  So despite being an extremely decadent, rich, fudgy chocolate truffle recipe, this also counts as an extremely frugal recipe!!!

Yeah, that’s not so convincing, is it?

But it is quite a good pantry-and-fridge-clearing recipe, which counts for something, I think.


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Recipe: Cauliflower, Carrot, Crouton and Beetroot Thing of Great Yumminess (Vegan!!)

As you might have discerned, I have no idea what to call this recipe.  It’s sort of technically a main course salad, though a salad with absolutely nothing green in it doesn’t seem quite salad-y to me.  I know that ‘Bowls’ are the current big thing, but calling it a Bowl just seems pretentious to me.  Mélange sounds right to me, but probably sounds pretentious to everyone who isn’t me, so that’s no good.

The important thing to know about this meal is that it is *delicious*.  Picture this scenario: it’s the end of a long day at work.  The grants have just opened on RGMS.  I’ve gotten home late, because I was running choir after work.  I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in about a week.  I’m tired and I am cranky and I am sulking because basically I want fish and chips or takeaway, preferably something with lots of creamy cheese in it like four cheese pasta, or alternatively all the chocolate in the world, and here I am with stale bread, leftover beetroot dip, a cauliflower and a bunch of slightly elderly carrots.

This is not the stuff of which comfort food is made.

And yet… honestly, I feel like this is the best thing I’ve eaten all week.  It was sooo good.  Warm and earthy and crunchy and soft and squidgy and aromatic and sweet and savoury and probably nowhere near as good for me as I’d like to pretend, though better than fish and chips, eh, and actually not too much of a pain to make.

So here I am, desperately wanting an early night but unable to rest without writing down just what I did, because I will need to do it again sometime.  Sometime soon.  And maybe so will you.

(I apologise for the slightly vague quantities and the terrible photos – this is what happens when you are making dinner from the fridge and don’t really have plans to write it up because you are sulking at having to eat vegetables when all you want is cheesy cheesy pasta or maybe cheesy cheesy chips.)


Your Shopping (or leftovers) list

1 cauliflower – fairly large, I’d say
1 red onion
olive oil
1 tbsp ras el hanout or other moroccan spice mix
6-8 smallish carrots (no idea how many really, more or fewer will be fine, and colourful is good)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
about half a baguette’s worth of sourdough olive bread, or any other good chewy bread
a tablespoon of parmesan (optional)
400g tin of chickpeas
about 100 – 150g of beetroot dip – I had about half a pot of beautiful beetroot and hazelnut dip with dukkah from Shouki and Louise, which is what I used here.

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Recipe: Creamy Decadent Quince Ice-Cream

closeI am so proud of this ice-cream – it’s the creamiest, softest, most beautifully textured ice-cream I’ve ever made, and it really is a total and utter fluke, because it was inspired by leftovers.

Every year at quince time, I find myself totally unable to resist buying more quinces than I can eat in a reasonable time frame.  I use them in sweet recipes, in savoury recipes, baked, poached or slow-cooked, and incorporate them into cakes, crumbles or tagines.  Which is odd, because I am never quite sure whether I like them – I’m just totally seduced by their scent.

Nigella Lawson has a wonderful recipe for roasted quinces in her cookbook, Feast.  You basically take a kilo each of water and sugar, make a syrup, halve the quinces, and bake the whole lot for a few hours (the recipe is on the internet, but since it isn’t from Nigella’s own site, I’d rather not link to it).  It’s incredibly sweet – in fact, you’ve pretty much just candied quinces by the time you are done – and you are left with these totally decadent, deep-red quinces in a thick, quince-infused syrup with an almost jammy consistency from the pectin in the fruit. You can only really eat it in small doses. 

Which is why I always end up, weeks or months after the quince season ends, with a little bowl of candied quinces and syrup in the fridge.  They don’t go off – that’s how much sugar we’re talking about – but the quinces do eventually start to harden a bit.  And you have this glorious syrup, which, I know, is just the thing to drizzle over cakes or ice-cream or whatever, except that I just don’t do that.  In fact, I don’t know what to do with it.

quince syrup

Well, I know now.  It makes the most *amazingly* flavoured and textured icing.  I think something about the way the sugar crystals are dissolved and the pectin thickens things changes the way the ice-cream freezes so that you don’t get ice crystals.  In a less fraught week, I’d look up what Harold McGee had to say on the subject, but at the moment, I’m mostly concerned with preserving this recipe while I remember it.

Because this is hands-down the best ice-cream I’ve ever made. I’m already looking forward to next year’s quince season.

Your Shopping List

300 ml milk.  I used low-fat milk and it worked just fine.
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
100 g sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom
300 ml cream
2/3 cup thick poaching syrup from Nigella’s quinces
1 cup chopped candied quinces or caramel apples or both, if that’s what your fridge looks like, or neither, because this ice-cream needs no help

Now what will you do with it?


First, you need to make custard.  Scary!  No, not really scary, because I know you already know how to make lemon curd and this is really no harder than that.

Split your vanilla bean lengthways, scrape out the seeds into a small saucepan, and pop the bean in, too.  And then try to figure out how to get the rest of the little, sticky seeds off your knife and fingers, where they now reside.

Heat the milk until it is nearly boiling, then remove it from the heat, and let cool for 15 minutes, so that the vanilla can infuse.

You could spend this time separating your eggs, actually.  Keep the whites for meringues or macarons, because you only need the yolks today.

Beat together the egg yolks, sugar and cardamom until they are pale and fluffy.  This won’t take very long.  Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture, beating constantly as you go.  You don’t want to cook the eggs, so do make sure the milk isn’t still boiling hot (and if it is, you also haven’t infused it long enough, so be patient!).

There are two ways you can make the custard at this point, because the objective is to heat everything slowly until it thickens, which is just before boiling point.  You want to go slowly so that you don’t get accidental scrambled egg custard, which pleases nobody.  Or at least, nobody that I know.  Traditionally, one whisks the egg mixture in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  I started off doing this, but it was taking *forever* so I got bored and decided to try a microwave method, similar to the one I use for lemon curd – basically, you put the microwave on at 50% power, and heat the proto-custard, taking it out every 60 seconds and whisking it like mad, until it starts to get thick.  Usually the point where you get one big, gloopy bubble and pull the whole thing out in a hurry is what you are aiming for.


Lay a piece of gladwrap directly on the custard (this prevents it forming a skin), and put in the fridge until the custard is cold.  If you are impatient, like me, you can put it in the freezer, but do check on it every twenty minutes or so – you don’t want to freeze it yet.

Add in the cream, and stir it together well.


Scrape in the quince syrupy-jam, and try to mix through, but don’t worry if the cold makes it all clump up a bit, because the churning seems to magically take care of that.  I have no idea how, but it does.


Now you get to churn it!  And I’m afraid I am presuming for this purpose that you have a machine.   I’m sure the still freezing method would work, but my freezer doesn’t get cold enough for it.  Also, I’m lazy.  So.  Churn your ice-cream in your ice-cream maker until it’s beginning to look like soft-serve.


You can use the churning time to cut up fruit, if you plan to put chunks in.


If you are planning to put in quincey chunks, do so now.  Mine still had syrup attached to them, and the ice-cream promptly un-set, but it didn’t seem to matter, because I wound up freezing it from quite soft, and it still wound up amazingly creamy.


Freeze the ice-cream for an hour or two, until solid.  This will never be a very solid ice-cream, it definitely has a soft-serve consistency and starts to melt pretty quickly at room temperature, but that’s OK, because it’s delicious.  It’s also quite sweet – one only needs a small serve.

One is happy, regardless.



I can’t actually think of too many flavour variations, I’m afraid.  I mean, this recipe is born out of a fairly unique set of leftovers, and if I had anything else quite like it, it would be a different recipe.  It would be interesting to make something similar with a conventional jam, however.

In terms of food allergies, this is of course nut- and gluten-free and vegetarian, but not low-fructose, low-GI, or egg or dairy free, and certainly not vegan.  You might be able to replace the dairy with almond or soy milk and some sort of soy creamer; I’d certainly go with almond rather than soy if possible, for the flavour.  I would not use coconut milk here.  I’m afraid this would be a whole different ice-cream without the eggs, so I can’t help with that one.

This would be lovely paired with a pistachio cake or shortbread; a sprinkling of toasted pistachios over it would also be lovely (especially lightly salted ones, come to think of it).  But it’s beautiful alone, too.



Two years ago: Recipe: Steph’s Sticky Date Pudding Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

A couple of menu posts…

I’m out practically every night at present, so in lieu of actually useful content, here, have a few menu plans…

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Rainy Day Food

We broke our Lenten fast yesterday with a feast of roast lamb for Easter, so today – and probably the next few days, really – is about leftovers, and the first of the leftovers is stock made from the lamb bone and the scraggly bits and meat juices, along with the handful of leftover roast celeriac and potato, the splash of cider which didn’t get used in the sauce, and a fresh onion, parsley and carrot.  It’s all simmering away now, making the whole house smell warm and wholesome.

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Respect the chicken!

(This is another one of those ‘I’m really not vegetarian’ posts.)

I talk a fair bit here about respecting the chicken (or the lamb, or the beef, as the case may be), and being mindful of where meat comes from, both in terms of the way the animal has been raised and treated during its life, and in terms of remembering that it is a whole animal – not just the breast or leg or maybe some mince.

But having said that, I’m actually fairly new to the idea of using as much of the beast as possible.  This is partly because I really do not like offal (and yes, I have tried it), partly because it’s just easier to buy meat which doesn’t require trimming or boning or whatever, and partly because my tastes in meat are a bit boring and Andrew doesn’t like meat that is recognisable as meat, so to speak.

This makes the idea of using as much of the animal as possible rather daunting…

On the other hand, when I do manage to start with a whole chicken, and break it down into its components and use it over several meals and make stock with the remains, I feel so terribly pleased with myself afterwards…  Also, thrifty!  And, while it makes extra work at the beginning of the week, it saves work later in the week, so you don’t lose much time by it.

(and also, I find that we then tend to go vegetarian for the entire following week because we are so entirely over chicken by that point, which is thrifty *and* ethical!  Bonus! – though of course, one does have the option of freezing things…)

Anyway, this post isn’t about pretending that it isn’t easier to buy your chicken just by the section you want to use (especially, of course, if you live alone – I don’t think any single person can reasonably be expected to deal with that level of leftover-commitment), and nor is it going to be a moral high-ground thing.  But I suspect I’m probably not the only person out there who really likes the idea of using a whole chicken and making stock and doing exciting things with leftovers but is totally intimidated when actually faced with a whole chicken.  There are, undoubtedly, other ways to do this, but here’s what I do.

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Remember that evil jelly from Pericles?  And how I planned to have it with berries and cream and meringues for dessert when we had people to dinner the next day?

Well, I did.  And it was fabulous.  Also, beautiful.

I can’t really give you an adequate recipe (though I will post the weird jelly recipe later, for the curious), but the basic composition was a layer of diced rose-scented jelly, a layer of strawberries and fresh raspberries, a layer of crushed meringue, and a layer of whipped cream mixed with yoghurt and mascarpone.  And then I repeated the layers a couple of times, and topped the whole thing off with chocolate curls that I happened to have on-hand (leftover from the work wedding) and whole meringues.

It’s the sort of dessert that is only simple if you already just happen to have meringues, whipped cream, rose-scented jelly and chocolate curls on hand.  But it was delicious enough that I would actually consider making all those things again, just so that I can repeat the experience – such lovely, fresh-tasting berries, with tangy cream and crisp meringue and a scent of roses throughout.  Just lovely.

Recipe: Bread Pudding

This recipe comes from my Austrian grandmother, and is basically a really delicious way to use up stale bread.  As a child, this was one of my favourite foods – its spicy stodginess reminded me of Christmas pudding, and it even looked Christmassy, with the sugar sprinkled like snow over the furrows in the top of the cake.  As an adult, I look at this recipe and wonder if it was a product of the Depression or more likely of rationing.  One egg, a couple of spoonfuls of sugar, 60g of butter or margarine, and a fair bit of dried fruit, and a lot of stale bread… It does sound a lot like the sort of sweet thing you make when you don’t have much in the way of butter, sugar or eggs, and can’t afford to waste bread. 

While I will give you the recipe as it was given to me, you shouldn’t worry too much about quantities.  Nine slices of bread is a very approximate volume – a few slices more or less don’t make much difference.  You could add a dab more butter if you needed to, but you’ll probably be fine.  This recipe works with awful cotton-wool white bread or with lovely Italian sourdough bread or anything in between.  I’ve even made it with wholegrain breads and rye.  Today’s version is made with the heel ends of a couple of loaves of good farmers’ market bread (the two of us can never get through a really good loaf before it goes stale, so I freeze the bits we don’t get to for this very purpose) – one plain, the other flavoured with dried figs and fennel seed.  It’s going to be delicious.  The dried fruit I had on hand happened to be raisins, currants, mixed peel and some dried apricots – Oma mostly made it with sultanas and mixed peel.  You can make it with whatever you like – this is more an idea than a recipe, I think.  And a very good one, too.

It’s lovely served warm with icecream, or cold in lunchboxes.  We often eat it for breakfast.

Your shopping list

9 sluces stale bread with crusts on
200 g dried fruit (I usually push this up to 225-250g)
1 tbsp brown or raw sugar
2-3 tsp mixed spice (I usually put in a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger, and half a teaspoon each of nutmeg and cloves or allspice)
zest of half a lemon
60 g softened butter or margarine
1 egg
a little caster sugar, for sprinkling

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Leftovers for Lunch: Risotto cake

The other reason I haven’t been blogging much recently is that my meals have either been fairly mundane or fairly unsuccessful.  This does not lend itself to food blogging as well as you might think.  One of the less successful dishes in recent times was traditional Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese. The Osso Bucco actually had a pretty good flavour, it just turns out that neither Andrew nor I actually like that particular cut of meat.  Live and learn… The risotto, alleged to feed two people, was ridiculously abundant, leading to the question of Leftovers and what to do with them.

You can make this risotto cake with any leftover risotto at all.  It’s really easy and can be eaten hot or cold, depending on whim, and makes useful picnic or lunchbox food, as it is quite sturdy once cooked.  We’re having it for lunch today and Tuesday, with assorted tiny vegetables and hummus.  And probably chocolate cake, but who’s complaining?  It’s pretty basic – almost bland – but you can add *anything* to it, which makes it an excellent blank slate dish.  See variations for ideas!

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(Why are you shopping?  This is leftover risotto!)

600 g leftover risotto
3 eggs
90 g mozzarella
seasonings (a herbed salt is good here)
a handful of breadcrumbs
olive oil

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Am I the only one who gets excited about leftovers? Not eating them as they are, cold from the fridge, but their promise, their potential, that lovely sense of having lunch or dinner taken care of, or of having a short cut ready made for some future meal…

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