Friday, 13 April 2012

What did you throw away today?

Someone has gone to the trouble of compiling a list of the 10 foods most often found in rubbish bins. Recently published, it showed the food most often wasted  is bread. In fact, 37 million slices of bread in the UK are thrown away EVERY DAY. That's a shocking statistic. Did you throw bread away today? Why? Had you bought too much? Did you find it mouldering away in your kitchen?

There are many ways to store bread, but the most efficient is in an old fashioned crock bread bin. But only put in there what you think you will finish in a couple of days. Unless you enjoy feeding the ducks in the park ....
If you have a freezer and take sandwiches to work, did you know that if you made your sandwiches out of slices of frozen bread, your sarnies will taste that much fresher come lunch time and be perfectly defrosted sitting in a cool bag by your desk.

We, that is, Keith and I, don't eat a lot of bread through the week, so if a recipe calls for bread, I might find it hard to rustle up enough to use. I generally buy (or make) just one loaf of bread a week to last both of us. If I am lucky enough to see a couple of small loaves in the reduced section at the supermarket, I might be tempted to buy them just to have bread to use up! We had cauliflower cheese for tea tonight, which called for breadcrumbs. I had some in the freezer from the last loaf that went stale, but before it grew mould!

Cauliflower cheese

1/2 a firm white cauliflower
a few florets of broccoli

2 oz butter
1 oz plain flour
a pinch of yellow mustard powder (colmans, I use)
1 pt full cream milk
3 oz strong cheese, grated. (a good time to use up all the bits of cheese going hard and dry in the fridge)
1 oz cheese, grated and mixed with - 2 oz breadcrumbs, any type or colour of bread.
salt and pepper

Put a large pan of water to boil and sit a steamer on top, into which you've put all your veg. You can boil the veg if you don't have a steamer, but you are more liable to overcook it that way, not to mention losing a lot of the taste in the water when you drain it.

In a small heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Add the flour and mustard powder, salt and pepper. Let it cook for a minute being careful not to let it burn.
Put 1/3rd of the milk into the pan all in one go and stir hard until the mixture is starting to thicken, but is still soft enough to stir easily.
Put the next 1/3rd of the milk in all at once as before and stir hard again.
When that starts to thicken, add the last of the milk a bit at a time until you have a mixture that is as thick as custard.
You might not need all the milk. You might need a bit more than a pint. Just go with the flow.

Now add the 3 oz of cheese and stir until it melts. And there you have it, perfect cheese sauce.
Now pat yourself on the back for having made something most chefs agonise about when they are learning their profession. I learnt accidentally when I was 13.

Light the oven and set to gas 6, medium hot.
Drain the veg while it still has some resistance to a fork being stuck into the stalk end of the florets. Drain well by leaving it dripping over an empty pan for 5 minutes. It's amazing how cauliflower hangs on to the cooking water.
Next tip it all into an ovenproof dish and carefully drizzle the cheese sauce all over until you've used it all up.

Carefully sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs mix on the top, trying to get an even coverage all over.

Put in the oven and bake for 20 mins, or until golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with a few crispy bacon pieces strewn over, or just as it is.

Once you have tried this recipe you will wonder how you ever thought you enjoyed packet cheese sauce, or a cauliflower cheese frozen ready meal. AND you will have used up some of the slices of bread that statistically you would have thrown away that day, possibly some milk and cheese too ;)

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