Nifty, thrifty, tasty: Clear out your cupboard with these delicious dishes

Jess Murphy: These recipes will use up some ingredients before Christmas prep begins

Crunchy crusted chicken. Photograph: Anne-Marie Carroll

Crunchy crusted chicken. Photograph: Anne-Marie Carroll

 

This is cupboard mash-up week – you know, that in-between week after Halloween but before the Christmas luxury comes into play? It is a frugal time when you will find your happiness in using up every condiment and luxury spiced granola you got given last year.

When you look in your fridge for something to eat it can look like there is nothing good in there. Usually in mine it is all jars and condiments and no sign of a meal.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related content in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related content in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth

But look at that old piece of cheese, check the cupboards for cereal, clear out that salad drawer and you can have a seriously good meal on the table with little effort. There is nothing fancy about most of these things: you are likely to find everything you need for them in even the most basic corner shop (well, maybe not the kimchi).

Being brought up by a single parent, I take pride in making something out of nothing. I’m thrifty. When I was growing up, my mum’s only nights out were her work’s social club do. Those evenings, my granny Jean used to come around and teach me how to cook. We would make this chicken recipe, or fish cakes, those kinds of things.

If you ran out of breadcrumbs there was always an alternative – cornflakes, bran flakes, Rice Krispies even.

The day before shopping day, we would make cheese scones, and there was always chicken broth in the freezer. Myself and granny were hipsters, I guess. Speaking of hip, I met Dearbhla Reynolds, who takes the fear out of fermenting and brought it all back to basics with this Brussels sprout kimchi. Make it with this recipe, or add a thick yogurt, a hollandaise or mayonnaise, to make a kickass dressing to wake up the taste buds this week as we head into serious root vegetable season.

Young Buck scones. Photograph: Anne-Marie Carroll
Young Buck scones. Photograph: Anne-Marie Carroll

YOUNG BUCK SCONES

The perfect savoury scone. They taste best hot out of the oven, slathered in butter. We use Young Buck, a Stilton-style cheese made with the unpasteurised milk of a single herd of Holstein Friesian cows in Co Down. While not a carbon copy of Stilton, Young Buck is a lovely Irish cheese and, like other blues, it works very well in a salad with pears and walnuts. It is available from Sheridans Cheesemongers and definitely worth trying. If you are not a fan of blue cheese any mature Cheddar will do the job in its place.

Makes approximately 12 scones

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Half tsp mustard powder
55g butter
25g cheese, grated
Small handful of chives, finely chopped
150ml milk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and mustard powder.

3. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

4. Stir in the cheese and chives and then the milk to make a soft dough.

5. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly.

6. Pat out to a round 2cm thick. Use a 5cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking sheet.

7. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.

8. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

(If you don’t have any self-raising flour on hand, use the same amount of plain flour, add half a teaspoon of baking powder and substitute the pinch of salt for a quarter teaspoon. For a little kick, sprinkle some chilli flakes and extra cheese on top after cutting and brushing with milk.)

Crunchy crusted chicken. Photograph: Anne-Marie Carroll

CRUNCHY CRUSTED CHICKEN

This chicken has the satisfying crust of its fried cousin, but it is baked instead. The crisp coating is provided not by breadcrumbs, but by cornflakes. This is handy if you want a gluten-free crunch – just make sure to check the cornflake packet to be sure of that.

This cornflake crust makes a good, cheap alternative to panko breadcrumbs, which can work out expensive. Splurge instead on the best-quality chicken you can afford. All of our birds come from The Friendly Farmer in Athenry.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes minimum

Ingredients
4 bone-in, skinless chicken drumsticks
4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heaped tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 large egg
75g crushed cornflakes (I use Doves Farm gluten-free cornflakes)
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Radishes and salad leaves to serve

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

2. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon the mustard and the garlic into a shallow dish. Add the egg and whisk to combine.

4. Put the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them by hand until they look like coarse bread crumbs, you don’t want dust.

5. Add the cayenne pepper to the flakes and use a fork to mix in.

6. Working with one piece at a time, dip the chicken in the egg mixture, turning the pieces to coat them.

7. Then coat with seasoned cornflakes, pressing the flakes to help them stick.

8. Transfer the coated pieces to a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp – about 40 minutes. By this time the chicken will be cooked through, but do check.

9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.

Sprout salad. Photograph: Anne Marie Carroll
Sprout salad. Photograph: Anne Marie Carroll

SPROUT SALAD

Even though the humble sprout may be the most hated of vegetables, every meal benefits from having some fresh, crunchy veg as part of it, and this one is no exception. The dressing is a mixture of tahini, miso, honey, ginger and rice vinegar, and is super flavourful and creamy. It is the kind of dressing that makes eating raw sprouts slightly addictive instead of slightly gross. The addition of kimchi, a tangy, spicy fermented cabbage dish, brings an unexpected heat and excitement to an otherwise basic salad. Kimchi can be an acquired taste, so start with a little bit and add more as and when you grow to love it.

Ingredients
200g shredded sprouts
100g kimchi
2 scallions, white and green parts sliced into thin rings
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 inch fresh ginger, grated into a pulp

Method
1. Add the sprouts to a large bowl. Add the kimchi, sliced scallions and sesame seeds on top.

2. To make the dressing, place the sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, miso paste, tahini paste and grated ginger into a jar with a lid. Close tightly and shake vigorously until the dressing is smooth. Alternatively, use a whisk or an immersion blender to blend the ingredients.

3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat the sprouts with the dressing.

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