I have grown up with the mantra of three things being very important basics in our lives. And they are the three basic rules for survival through good and difficult times and should not be compromised at any cost. These have come down from my grandparents then to my father and then to myself. Basically it is keep a roof over your head for shelter, food in your stomach, and third warmth. Anything else is a bonus.
Currently the credit crunch is hitting every household and every person in the country quite harshly, it’s nice to be able to make economies, not waste anything and get something for virtually nothing. We are all having to make adjustments and any opportunity to save means we have the wherewithal to buy something else that we may otherwise have to go without.
My way of dealing with this is to make things rather than to buy them already made. I do job lots of things and squirrel them away in the freezer or I bottle fruits in syrups make my own ketchups, chutneys, pickles etc. There is always something to eat.
But you are saying - I work full time, I really do not have the time to do this. So do I. I am nobody special but I do have a love and passion for good cooking and I make the time to do things that add or enhance my family’s welfare and comfort. Things that often take very little time but add to a dish by giving plenty of additional flavour and complementing the meal they are served with. With cooking plenty of practice makes perfect and during that practice time you find your own way around a recipe which suits you and your family. i.e. you may replace a similar ingredient to one you don't like to one you do like. Also trying new things to add to your repertoire of recipes that you cook for the family or finding a better recipe or a better way of doing things in your own kitchen is a good thing. Locating recipes that are nourishing and do your family a lot of good without breaking the bank balance.
During the week I collect together all scraps of bread that have not been used up (this is whether it is commercially bought loaf or whether you make your own bread) and which would under normal circumstances be thrown away. I put all the pieces of bread into a tray and then when I am cooking a meal I put the tray in the oven until the bread has gone hard and golden brown. I then let this cool, at which point I put the dried bread a batch at a time into my food processor and break the bread down into the required size of crumb. I then store the crumb in glass storage jars until required to use.
If the bread is cooked until golden during the drying process these home made crumbs can be used to cover various foods such as fish, and chicken. You use exactly the same as you would commercially bought crumb. Why buy it when you can make it quite simply.
These are ideal for coating fish, home made scotch eggs, home made croquettes of varying description, chicken breasts and making home made chicken dippers etc, fish cakes, potato cakes. You then continue cooking your item as you would if you were using commercially bought crumb until the food colour is uniform golden in colour (not burnt)
I am thinking here of specifically not having to buy bread specifically i.e. fresh loaf to make this very simple tasty sauce that goes well with poultry of any sort including pheasant, guinea fowl, chicken and Turkey. As a child I was not keen on this sauce, however it is something as I have got older I have acquired a taste for. It is little things like this that pad out a meal and make it tasty
I crumb the dried bread down to its finest setting/ you can also use fresh crumb. I then into a small saucepan put a peeled onion studded with about three or four cloves; some dried cloves, black pepper, white fine pepper and some nutmeg and fill the pan half full with milk and a dot of butter. I then let this simmer until the onion is cooled at which point I remove the onion, cloves and pepper and then stir in the finely crumbed bread until the sauce becomes nice and thick i.e. the consistency you feel you require.
Any excess crumbed bread can be stored in a jar in the pantry because it has been dried it will not go off. It soon gets used up.
Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way:
Refresh the bread - I pop the bread in a clean tea towel which I sprinkle with water then wrap round the bread and put on microwave for a minute or so/and or oven for about 5 minutes. You need to use this straight away as otherwise bread goes rock hard.
Fried bread - pads a fry up out a little bit, but only use in moderation.
With soup/stews/casseroles to soak up the gravy together with dumplings
Home Made Croutons – dried in cubes and then coated in a herb and oil dressing just before serving. For use in salads and/or soups. They can be coated in poppy seeds and sesame seeds. If coating the crouton in sesame seeds I toast the sesame seeds before hand, and then sprinkle on with the oil and dry in the oven for a few minutes before use. This releases the full flavour of the sesame seed.
Bruschetta cut stale French Stick at an angle and then rub a garlic clover over the bread then dribble with olive oil and fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs and warm under the grill.
Stale Ciabatta I use with warm cooked Camembert to dip into the lovely melted cheese together with celery sticks. You need a Camembert in a wooden box. You need to peel the wrapping back off the cheese, put the lid on and then pop into the oven for at least 20 minutes. Serve with celery sticks and slices of Ciabatta which should be crisp and crunchy. Delish
Cinnamon Toast mix a teaspoon of cinnamon to two of sugar and sprinkle on hot buttery toast – warm under grill before serving.
There are other ideas and recipes which I shall cover in another article, but if in the interim you have any ideas please feel free to post. Sharing things is how we grow.