Archives for posts with tag: Leftovers

IMG_20160522_183615.jpgMy son and husband write a film blog for fun, and sometimes my daughter and I join them watching the classics. Recently we all were swept away by Satyajit Ray’s trilogy, “The World of Apu.”  They are soon to post a joint review on their blog, and I felt called to join in.  This is what I wrote: not quite a proper film review, not quite a proper food blog.  Something in between, with a culinary record of how I wanted to celebrate the beauty of this stunning work.


“Pather Panchali” is a transfixing film with a plot that unfolds around carefully revealed characters and personalities, and big themes like love, loss, kindness and pettiness , meanness and generosity, being young and growing old. The Ravi Shankar soundtrack gives constant goosebumps; the cinematography is both sweeping -exploring landscapes, monsoons, the rural industry of electricity and railroads – and intimate: an old woman’s skin, domestic architecture, facial expressions of joy, anxiety, and grief.  The acting never feels like acting, the plotlines never scripted, the observations never didactic.  It feels to me the most perfect film ever, not least for how I wept towards the end in a state of total lack of separation from the fact of watching a film: I was there, I was “her” in this scene, feeling a mother’s despair at the loss of a child, in this case Djurga, whom the film viewer has watched grow and come to love.


Because the film observes life so carefully and directly, food culture of course becomes central, and I enjoyed this aspect very much.   Read the rest of this entry »



Hubbub is a UK organisation using creative, participatory events to reduce domestic food waste.  Two of their projects are on my mind right now. #PumpkinRescue is all about giving Halloween pumpkins a culinary afterlife.  (I hope to take part in a Disco Soup event in Salford; check out events in your area.) #ExpressYourShelf asks people to prepare meals based on what they have on hand, and take “shelfies.”  Here’s what we got up to last year at this time.

Fun.  Meanwhile, the estimable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is soon coming out with a new book and tv series on leftovers, “all about creating delicious meals from all those bits and bobs that are leftover from the last meal we cooked, ” says he.

Conversations about “leftovers” are everywhere these days, as concern mounts about food waste and its ecological impact, as well as the moral issue of throwing out edible food in light of local and global hunger– all pretty well summarised in the video posted above.  Food waste is a large and multifaceted problem, with domestic waste being one part of that; I like to think that by not wasting food individuals can save money and be empowered to discuss and act on systemic problems too.  Connecting different levels.

On the whole I’m pretty good at not wasting — except when life and work get busy and I lose focus on the shopping/cooking nexus– but that’s the point.  Not wasting in our world of excess and too-muchness requires a focus and becomes a task and priority in itself that needs to be made easier.

So we might have to do things differently. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yesterday I made this delicious Moroccan tomato salad inspired by a recipe in Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco.  It’s a great late summer/ early autumn dish, with tomatoes and grilled peppers and onions in a lemony (in fact preserved-lemony) vinaigrette, spiced with paprika and cumin.


But we didn’t finish it in one meal. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a story of something nice I made from desperate leftovers populating the refrigerator, with a non-recipe “methodology” I experiment with a lot…  If you are turned off by smelly fishes and even the idea of “herring sauce”, please you really must read on…

Read the rest of this entry »


Above, that was some rice and steamed carrots and a version of creamed (gorgeous fresh local new-spring) spinach leftover from last night, when we all finally after so long sat down together for a nice meal. Those leftovers became Brunch, and an occasion for me to talk on this blog about the wonderful possibilities of the Frittata:


If I were Chief Home Economics Teacher, with my Pro-Concept, Anti-Recipe Ideology, this is a dish I would definitely share as infinitely forgiving, tasty, nutritious and achievable without specific quantities or ingredients on hand (except eggs).  For people who strive to avoid food waste, frittatas are also great catch-alls,  tasty hot or cold, fun for picnics, and, when cut into small wedges, great finger food for kids.

Say there’d been potatoes in any form, most vegetables, most scraps of anything (maybe not lettuce????) — it would be fine. Anything goes.

The basic thing is, a hot heavy bottomed pan (though I’ve done it in a cake tin and baked very slowly), nicely oiled or buttered, then
some eggs beaten and added to…
whatever leftovers there are…
probably some cheese (in this case some ricotta that needed doing and a grating of Parmesan on the top, but could be anything, or nothing)…
salt and pepper, and of course any herbs or spices you desire…
(of course for an Asian twist why not some ginger or even… kim chee!)
(balance as you would any flavours)
and a slow cook on a slow heat, and if the heat doesn’t rise to the top as fast as you’d like, finish under the grill/ broiler.
That’s it.
Can be eggy, eggier, or less eggy.  Cheesy, cheesier, or less cheesy. Vegetarian or not. Large chunks or small chunks.  
You are free.  
What you cook is an offering, to yourself and your loved ones.

As usual the Wikipedia entry is pretty good, discussing how a frittata may differ from omelettes and other egg-based creations.   I think there might be an idea that it’s something fancy– it’s really not!  And anyone who presents it in a recipe as something of sophistication– tut tut to him or her.  Frittatas belongs to the people.  Our common heritage. And whatever you can harvest, wild from the fields and edges and urban sidewalks (nettles, dandelion leaves), or from the bowels of your fridge or the remains from last night’s supper, belongs.


I thought I’d share an aspect of my “approach” to daily meals.

Friends were coming for dinner; there would be seven of us.  I roasted a chicken with lemons and garlic and paprika and fennel seeds and this wonderful Palestinian za’atar.  I baked a squash, made brown rice (which I had duly soaked), a black-eyed pea salad with parsley and garlic and olive oil and scrap apple vinegar, and steamed kale with similar.  A sliced avocado decorated the platter that held the chicken. There was some leftover lemony tahini sauce, and I did make a kind of gravy / sauce, with the carmelized bits from the bottom of the roasting pan, and some ancient sweet wine from the bottom of a bottle.

After supper, the bones of the chicken simmered in the extra bean water, with some various scraps of carrot and leek and parsley stem, the seeds and pulp from the squash, and the roasted lemons complete with rind (I like a little bitter, and the acidic nature helps the bones release their minerals).

In the photo above are the leftovers, which I added in the morning to that broth, which I’d strained, reserving the kale for the last minute.  I chopped a carrot for sweetness, shredded half a swede/ rutabaga because it was there, chopped some celery by habit, squeezed in some tomato puree/ paste for the pleasure of squeezing a tube and and for the colour, and served with black pepper and parmesan at the end.


Soup: I make it constantly, usually with leftovers as a main ingredient, exploring inspirations from world cuisines, basing broths on meat stocks or vegetarian stocks and often fermented brines.  I have herbs from the summer preserved in salt, and a lacto-fermented “bouillon” (posts to follow) that I can call upon for oomph.  Then grains, legumes (red lentils an obvious favourite), root vegetables, greens, ginger, spices — sometimes finishing with miso or fermented veg in one form or another, usually sauerkraut.  Fresh herbs if they happen to be there.  It’s not so much rules as a sense of freedom.  Which is a reason I don’t like recipes or the idea of “the best” this or the best that, and ask you to trust your own impulses.   Use what is on-hand as your inspiration, though of course you can plan what to have on-hand.  Food made with love will be received with love– generally.

This one was quite minestrone-esque, and amazing to me because basically it was a pretty direct transformation of the meal the night before, with a few hearty brighteners.

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