I try to avoid treading on anyone’s toes when it comes to fiercely guarded cultural and culinary traditions, but when you’re trying not to waste food during lock-down, some strange combinations can result. If I was a famous chef there’d be people with pitchforks and firebrands at my door, or writing angry letters to newspapers, at least.
The last dollop of pesto added to koftas which in turn were made from the leftovers from a Mexican hogget barbacoa. The Cajun-style chicken rice which I made, slavishly following one of my own recipes before remembering I was cooking for two, not a crowd. Some of that ended up in a distinctly multi-cultural stir-fry. It makes putting chorizo in paella look like a minor misdemeanour.
I’d argue that when we’re cooking in the time of coronavirus, these are not food crimes. Well, the kofta kebabs were a bit iffy, but that was a flaw in execution, not in concept. I turned them into rissoles. Sue me. Britain is a polyglot nation, recipes aren’t set in stone, they evolve as we adapt them to our circumstances. Jack Monroe‘s most popular recipe, she says, is a curry which includes tinned peaches.
And although I love traditional British dishes (shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, Welsh cawl, pan haggerty, Scotch broth, take your pick), sometimes I want to liven things up so I’ll put North African spices in the shepherd’s pie or give the cottage pie an Asian twist.
We waste a lot of food as a nation. I’m not advocating the re-use of leftovers to the point where you’re making salmonella sandwiches, but I do think we’re duty-bound to make the most of what we have.
Sometimes that means finding inventive ways to use the tail-end of a joint or a bowl of (safely cooled) cooked rice. Sometimes it’s putting together new combinations of store cupboard ingredients, although at the moment it’s hard not to roll your eyes when you see yet another recipe for chickpeas and beans. All that roughage. One thing we’re unlikely to suffer during lock-down is constipation.
Wind is another matter and that’s probably enough hot air from me for one day, so please allow me to draw your attention to a few recipes from some of my favourite food writers, all people with pure hearts and purer recipes …
- Diana Henry’s Ginger Chicken Meatballs in Broth with Greens and her Vine Growers Sausages. Actually pretty much everything on her site looks delicious and there’s no newspaper paywall.
- These recipes from Rachel Roddy, especially the hunter’s chicken and (sorry) the chickpea pancakes.
- These dishes, from Catherine Phipps’ latest, Leaf, a book I highly recommend.
- If you’re clearing out your fridge, try lovely Lindsey Bareham’s One Of Everything Soup. She’s got a bunch of other store cupboard recipes on the same site.
- For a family feast, Elisabeth Luard’s seafood paella (no chorizo or cultural sensibilities were harmed in the making of this recipe) and also her broad beans with fennel.
- And from US blogger, Frank Fariello, this asparagus lasagne. I made it last year for a group from the Guild of Food Writers and they all asked for the recipe. It’s superb and English asparagus is in season now. Happy eating.