How many times has brown been avoided before you had the chance to use it? How many times have you thought “I hate getting rid of it, but there isn’t enough left to do anything with”? For many of us the time – or rather the lack of it! – Not in our favour. Things in the fridge and fruit bowl explode as the days go by. Busy life overcomes good intentions to go. Or maybe you just want to use the last smears of tahini in a jar or a little cream left at the bottom of a carton, but you don’t know how to use such little bits and pops.
For Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, leftovers that could easily end up in the trash is an opportunity. Old friends who run Cornersmith School of Cooking In Sydney (a sister project to the popular Annandale Café), they have spent over 16 years brainstorming ideas to make the most of what they have.
They made many of us go “I never thought of that” with Wednesday’s Waste hack videos on Cornersmith Instagram. They have shared a lot of great ideas in previous books, such as Cornersmith Salads And the Pickles and use them all. They teach low-waste cooking ideas at several Cornersmith workshops.
And now they’ve brought all the collected knowledge into one book, so that when people have a green wilt or a little bit left over, there’s one place to go for an idea, in their own words, to use as “the thing.”
“We have had discussions with readers and students of our culinary schools about the obstacles to reducing food waste, and for many, the wisdom of ‘what to do with something’ has been lost,” they wrote in the introduction to their new book, From A to Z Food Preserver.
The book is full of ideas for all the bits and pieces that might seem too small, too far, or too boring. It’s much more than just a recipe collection. There’s information on how to store things (the first step in reducing waste and extending your time to use things!), easy and often weird ideas for using what you have, and suggestions for alternatives. no bananas? Mango or papaya are great alternatives. No lemon? Depending on your recipe, lemon and orange juice + vinegar, kimchi, or jam can all do the job.
No recipe pictures – which means more room for all your recipes, tips, suggestions, suggestions and ideas, all while maintaining a book size that would work well on the kitchen counter. Alternatively, there are line drawings by illustrator Mira El Hout.
It’s organized, as you’d expect, alphabetically, so you can easily search for the specific thing you want to cook with, but it’s also fun browsing, as you’ll discover the things you want to save in the back of your mind for later. Preserve stems of fresh cherries to make cherry stem tea. Using a whole lemon in a chocolate version of the classic citrus cake. Turn a brown avocado into a “pretend Nutella”. Or make shortbread cookies with tahini (no need to wait for leftovers to try!)
Here’s a taste between the wraps.
Imagine Nutella with half a brown bean
(Makes about ¼ cup / 60 ml)
You can spread this on toast and give it to the kids for breakfast. Just don’t try to cheat anyone over five years old.
Mash – brown well with a fork, then combine in 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 2-3 teaspoons brown sugar and a pinch of vanilla. Keep mixing until everything is incorporated. Spread on toast and cover with banana slices.
Flotsam and jetsam flatbreads
It’s easier to make these flatbreads than to go to the stores and buy some. This recipe will help literally with flotsam and jitsam refrigerator and pantry: milk, cream, yogurt, nut milk, curd or a combination. The flour should be wheat, but it can be white, whole wheat (all-purpose) or self-raising flour. When cooking this way, you need to be prepared to make adjustments. Not all flours are created equal: What you buy at the supermarket is different from what you buy at the health food store, so our instructions are a good starting point, but you may need to experiment and add more of this and that to get these perfect flatbreads.
Remember that the dough should come together into a ball with a slightly sticky surface but not at all wet. Sprinkle the ball with some extra flour if it looks too wet. If it is too dry, wet your hands and knead the dough. Use this flatbread to make burritos, or serve it with curry, falafel, kofta or Fava Beans.
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups of regular (all-purpose) or self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and if you like, 1-2 tablespoons seeds such as poppy, nigella, sesame, or fennel. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup (185 ml) liquid (milk, cream, yoghurt, nut milk, milk or mixture, or just plain old water) with 2 tablespoons oil of your choice. If you are using whole wheat flour, you will need more liquid – start with an additional ½ cup (60 ml).
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry dough and knead the dough for 2 minutes until smooth. Wrap it in a clean towel (dish towel) or beeswax wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step. Rest times are important to allow the gluten to relax, otherwise your flatbread will be like skin.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces. Roll each one into a ball, flattening them, and then roll them up to 12 cm (4 in) in diameter.
Heat a medium-dry skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the flatbreads, one at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep warm under a clean tea towel (dish towel) until you have finished all the baking. Her feet are warm.
Or try this also by Alex and Jaimee
Peanut brittle – or “the ends of all nut bundles” are brittle
(makes about 750g)
Crisp is a real treat. Sweet, nutty with a pinch of salt. Enjoy a large piece, decorate a cake with it, or crush and sprinkle it on top of ice cream or peeled bananas. This recipe is for the classic peanut brittle, but you can use any nuts and it’s a great way to use up the ends of the bundles.
Line a small heat-resistant dish with baking paper, then brush with a little butter or oil. In a saucepan, mix 2 cups (440 g) caster sugar with ½ cup (125 ml) water and a pinch of salt. Put it on a high heat and let the sugar dissolve without stirring until it turns a light golden color.
Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden amber.
Remove from heat and stir in 1½2 cups (210 g) roasted peanuts, then immediately pour into the lined dish. Spread with a spoon about 1 cm thick. Let it cool and freeze completely. Break them into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
green stuff pies
Long live the pancakes. Could there be a more forgiving and useful trick up your sleeve? When in doubt, make pancakes. When the refrigerator needs emptying, make pancakes. When a vegetable patch looks like it could do with a mattress, make pancakes. Here’s a green pie recipe (below, or see here) for all of the above. Use spinach, silver beets (swiss chard), zucchini, kale, celery leaves, peas, herbs, or a combination of whatever you have on hand.
Chop up 1 handful (about 350g/12oz) of spinach. You can include the stems, but be sure to cut them into small pieces (you will need about 3 tightly packed cups). Place spinach (or other vegetables) in a bowl with 1 cup fresh herbs of your choice, ¼ cup shredded or crumbled cheese (haloumi and drained feta work well), ½ cup (35 g) plain (all-purpose) flour and 3 eggs Whisk with half a teaspoon of salt. Mix all ingredients well. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and pour ½ cup of the green mixture, cooking 2-3 pancakes at a time for 3 minutes on each side.
Serve the pancakes warm, but they’re also great the day after a packed lunch.
Cookies “use this jar”
(makes about 24)
We’ve used tahini here, which makes a nutty shortbread, but you can substitute it with peanut butter or Nutella to keep the kids happy, or try marmalade instead.
In a food processor, beat 180 g (6 oz) softened butter with ½ cup (110 g) icing (fine) or raw sugar until light and creamy – this will take less than a minute. Scrape the sides every now and then if necessary. With the motor running, add 1 egg, then 4 tablespoons tahini (or other sprouts), and mix until combined. Add 1⅔ cup (250 g) plain (all-purpose) flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder, and whisk until a smooth, thick, mousse-like dough forms.
Lay out two sheets of baking paper on the table and divide the dough between them. Knead each piece of dough briefly, then form a stem in the middle of the sheet. Wrap it in paper with the ends twisting to secure it. Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). Cut the dough pieces into 1 cm strips and place them on baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden, then cool on trays.
Pictures and text of a recipe from From A to Z Food Preserver By Alex Elliott Hurry and Jimmy Edwards. Photography by Cath Muscat, illustrations of a Mira whale. (Murdoch Books, $49.99).
More great ideas “Use it”
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