Decluttering the Spice Shelf – mmm, tasty!

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Over the last few weeks I have worked my way through my fridge, freezer and store cupboards, figuring out what I have and putting together a plan each week to use up some of the things that have been in store for the longest. It’s working well and I’m saving lots of money (at least in the short term) – and trying out some new ideas.

Next, I approached the spice and herb shelf. Oh dear, it is groaning. I have over 50 jars! 

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An article by Marie Kondo, Japanese tidiness expert, led me to approach my spice shelf with a new perspective. See 10 steps to make you more tidy now.

Each jar was looked at – do I love it? Does it bring me joy?

Out went anything that was really old, flavourless or unappealing, including some dried rosemary – I have fresh growing in the garden, all year round, so why bother?

Of the remaining spices, mixes and herbs, there were only two that I wasn’t sure about, juniper and fenugreek seeds.

The juniper must have been bought for something specific, but I have forgotten what. I tried using some at Christmas with cranberries, but the flavour was far too strong.

The fenugreek seeds are something that I occasionally use for sprouting; they have a bitterness and a distinct curry aroma, that can make an interesting addition to a salad or as a garnish.

I got some wonderful suggestions from the lovely members of the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Recipes from Around the World group (a real mouthful in more ways than one!)

  • Juniper as a partner for game, such as venison or wild boar.
  • mmmmmmm a chopped shallot soup with thyme, juniper, garlic and bay leaf…
  • a rub for pork, using salt, dried rosemary and juniper (damn! retrieve the dried rosemary 🙂 )
  • Juniper berries for braised red cabbage

and I found some interesting recipes on line:

I am encouraged to try growing my own, as fenugreek, also known as ‘methi’, is used widely as a herb in Indian recipes. An interesting addition to my micro leaves selection!

So, with spices in mind, what am I cooking this week?

I bought a whole free range chicken, which I jointed. I made the breasts into Butter Chicken, following a Rick Stein recipe, which was succulent and absolutely delicious. The joints are marinading in spices and yogurt. I will dry bake them in a hot oven for our fast day dinner, with leftovers for lunch another day. 

Having thrown out my old garam masala, I had no alternative but to make my own. In a hot dry pan, I roasted some cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds with cinnamon bark. I added peppercorns, fenugreek, salt and chilli powder and pounded all together in my pestle and mortar. Mmmm, wonderful aromas! This became an ingredient in the sauce for the Butter Chicken as well as a garnish for the dhal. It should keep well for at least a month.

The chicken carcass has made a lovely asian-flavoured stock, with star anise, chillies, peppercorns and lime leaves, and the tops of some fresh leeks – I have retrieved a surprising amount of meat from the bones, and with the stock this will make a wonderful soup, with the addition of some finely sliced mushrooms.

Hot and Sour Chicken and Mushroom Soup

My ‘treat’ purchases this week – a small whole camembert: bake until melted, then dip into with toasted pita bread; and a basket of small pears.

Sat lunch: Pizza and Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Butter Chicken with Naan and Red Lentil Dhal; Ice Cream

Sun lunch: leftover Pizza with Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Roast Rib of Beef, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, Carrots and Peas; Cinnamon-spiced Cherries topped with an Oat Crumble with chopped Hazelnuts

Mon Fast Day: Spicy Chicken and Mushroom Broth; Tandoori Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and Dhal; sliced Oranges with Dates and Pistachios

Tue lunch: Thai Style Roast Beef Salad with roasted Peanuts and a vietnamese dressing; fresh fruit
Dinner: Toulouse Sausages with Potato and Celeriac Bake; Fig Frangipani tart with custard

Wed lunch: French Onion Soup; Coronation Chicken Salad; fresh fruit
Dinner: Black Bean and Sausage Burritos; leftover Fig Frangipani tart with yogurt

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Thurs, fast day: Morrocan Cauliflower Soup; Salmon Teriyaki with Leeks and Mushrooms; Spiced Poached Cherries with Yogurt

Teriyaki Salmon

Fri lunch: Egg Mayonnaise Salad; fresh fruit
dinner: Baked Camembert with Pitta crisps;  Red Mullet with Coconut-Lime sauce, spiced puy lentil salad, Pears with Chocolate Meringue topping

Pear with Chocolate Meringue   

 Plenty of lovely meals to look forward to, and a spice cupboard in which I can almost find what I am looking for… still over-crowded, but at least I know what’s in there.

Anyone got any ideas for using dried rosebuds?

 

Meal Plan – Mad as a March Hare!

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Mad as March Hare? Well maybe not that crazy, my efforts to work my way through stores are going well and saving us money in the short term. It’s good to have space in the freezer for when there are special offers, or home grown produce to take advantage of.  

I did quite well at following my last plan, and it also saved a lot of effort, so I’m encouraged to continue. I still have a lovely assortment of things to use up from my freezer and store cupboards, and it means I can splash out on a really good piece of meat or a nice bottle of wine for Saturday night. All I have to buy apart from that is some more salad and fresh fruit and some yogurts and fromage blanc. I’m looking forward to making buckwheat burgers, I haven’t done them for years! I should have thought of them when the weather was really cold, they are great for warming you up from within. But I think they will be great for a fast day.  

So little in my shopping trolley this week! My treat is a bag of pink Brittany onions, which immediately say ‘French Onion Soup’..  so I bought some Comté cheese as well 🙂 Ah well, that leaves a ready made soup in the freezer for a busy day in future.

I’ll be taking photos as I go along, and if there are any winners, will be writing up the recipes to publish here or in my next book….

Mon, fast day: ; Butternut Squash stuffed with Mushrooms and Walnuts (leftover from Sunday), Plum Kulfi with toasted pistachios
recipe for Plum Kulfi in 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life

Tues lunch: Wild Mushroom Omelette with Fennel and Radish salad; fresh fruit
dinner: Boston baked Borlotti Beans with FrankfurtersFrench Apple Tart with custard

Wed lunch:  Griddled Halloumi, Hummus, Pita Bread, Spanakopitta and salad; fresh fruit
dinner: Marmalade Glazed Tofu with Sesame Seeds, Stir Fried Veg, Carmargue Rce; leftover apple tart
recipe for Hummus, Pita Bread and Spanakopitta in 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life

Thurs fast day: Miso soup with Wakame and Tofu; Buckwheat Burgers with veg stir fry; Poached Cherries with Cinnamon

Fri lunch: French Onion Soup;  fresh fruit
recipe for French Onion Soup in 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life
dinner: Corn Spaghetti with Salmon, Chillies and Sundried Tomatoes; Cherries topped with Oat and Sunflower Seed Crumble

Sat lunch: oh well, probably Pizza as usual, we love it! with salad and followed by fruit
dinner:  Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, Garlic Mushrooms and Oven Fries; Bread and Butter pudding with Red and White Currants

Sun lunch: Citrus baked Chicken with Pumpkin and Peppers; leftover bread pudding
dinner: Mushrooms on Toast with Bacon; Fruit Salad
recipe for the Citrus Baked Chicken and the Mushrooms on Toast in 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life