2023 resolution: Luxury on a budget

Marinated goats cheese, today’s indulgence

This year’s resolution is to enjoy the good things, to seize opportunities and avoid unconscious waste. I’m calling it ‘luxury on a budget’ though your idea of luxury and mine might be quite different, I hope you get the idea.

Today I stumbled on super post-Christmas bargains which seem to fit the bill so a pack of French goats cheese has been preserved by freezing half and marinating half for future indulgence.

To marinate: flavour olive oil with dried herbs and spices. I used rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, cumin seeds and chili flakes. Cut the cheese into cubes or roll into little balls and drop gently into the oil. Top up the oil so the cheese is completely covered.

This will last in the fridge for a month. The frozen cheese is good for 6 months.

Pineapple preserved…

One bargain pineapple becomes …

The peel is dehydrated to become pot pourri and car freshener

The core is simmered with spices and caster sugar to become a syrup for boosting soft drinks (and adding to rum of course)

Half the flesh is cubed and fried in brown sugar. Half of that is eaten hot with yoghurt. The other half is added to cubed left over turkey in a tangy burrito.

The remaining flesh is cubed and simmered in vinegar, spices and sugar to become relish.

Finally the leaves are boiled and the water strained and sweeten to make a (reputedly) healthy tea

Many mushroom makes

A giant catering tin of mushrooms was a bargain buy but once opened presented a ‘waste not want not’ challenge. I have paired them so far in:

chestnut stuffing – with breadcrumbs and herbs

Pasta sauce, boosting the usual tomato and onion base and topped with truffle oil

Savoury pancakes with cream and garlic

Chicken and mushroom pie – pastry bottom and lid, broth based gravy

Potato mushroom curry

And the rest is now in the freezer awaiting inspiration. Ideas welcome!

Rosemary harvest ideas

What to do with all this rosemary? Ideas to date:

Rosemary and tomato salt, includes dehydrated tomato skins to give pretty red flecks in the final mix

Rosemary oil from cold marinaded olive oil to be gifted in pretty bottles for foodie friends to enjoy

Still marinading three weeks on, the hopefully flavoured oil is nearly ready for straining and bottling

Rosemary facial toner from simmering sprigs in water and then diluting the strained result in apple cider vinegar

Left over to luscious…pineapple

After the pineapple upside down cake…
  • Half a fresh pineapple chopped into 1cm pieces
  • Half an onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 crushed cloves
  • 3 allspice berries crushed
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Throw all the above in a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour before storing in the fridge. Goes well with ice cream, roast gammon or jacket potatoes. Sweet and tangy, I love it!

Apple leather

A first attempt that worked out really well. 6 apples peeled, cored and chopped then simmered in as little water as I could get away with. I added a squirt of lemon juice and a spoon of sugar then puréed it all before simmering off as much liquid as possible. The paste then went into the dehydrator in a thin layer for 10 hours before being snipped into snack bites. Lasts well in a tin.

Soft amaretti biscuits, oh yum

Simple recipe, as good as any I’ve tried before. Hint, make only this size batch, unless you have the willpower not to devour them all straight from the oven!

2 egg whites whipped to soft peak, 100grams sugar, 100 grams ground almonds, pinch of salt, tablespoon amaretto or almond essence

Pre heat oven to 150 degrees and line two baking trays. Mix the dry ingredients together, then gradually mix in spoonfuls of the egg white gently so you don’t lose the air. Finally add the amaretto or essence. Teaspoons of the mix should be well spaced across the baking sheets before cooking for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire tray, if you can. Can be stored for a short while in a tin, if you must. The batch pictured here are slightly over cooked but still soft inside and delicious. Some recipes suggest making smooth little balls so they look more like the commercial biscuits.

Easy Peasy Mint sauce

Copious amounts of mint have been dried, frozen and made into tea already but still there is an abundance to be used. So mint sauce is today’s kitchen craft.

Chop leaves finely (don’t blend or it will be a purée) and steep in boiling water for a couple of minutes to tenderise them. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon of malt vinegar with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and a pinch of salt, scale up this mix so you have enough to cover the leaves.

Drain the leaves and rinse in cold water to stop them ‘cooking’ then put them in the jar/ saucer before pouring over the vinegar mix. Ready to use in half an hour, will keep in clean jar for weeks.

Liven up peas, potatoes, carrots, chicken and of course goes well with lamb.