Panic buying food for the big freeze? Forget it.
How to survive snowmageddon with just the contents of your larder and fridge freezer
Snow on the way and shops shut? Don’t planic, make the most of the contents of your fridge and food cupboard
The shops have been stripped of every slice of bread, milk is in short supply, and eggs haven’t been this much in demand since a nation was instructed to go to work on one.
The Beast From The East is shoring up supermarket profit margins as customers fill their fridges, freezers and larder cupboards in anticipation of the worst snowfall in more than 30 years. But what should we actually be buying, and what can we do to keep ourselves well fed should the worst happen and the shops, well, shut up shop?
My freezers (yes, there are two of them, don’t judge), are a source of comfort and of shame. Let’s just say we are definitely not going to starve when #TheBeastFromTheEast descends.
But there are also mystery packages lurking in those frozen depths whose time came quite some time ago. I suspect I am not alone.
Now is the time to do a freezer clear out and repurpose those mystery meats into stews, braises and casseroles. Dig out the slow cooker from the back of the press. And those unlabelled plastic pouches of greige substances? We might be very glad of them before this week is out.
Similarly, all but the most organised of us have multiple packets of rice, pasta, pulses and legumes – opened, of course – and containing not quite enough for a full meal, cluttering up a larder shelf. Use them or lose them: a recipe won’t fail because you mix your fusilli with your farfalle.
Check out your food cupboards, fridge and freezer, and the chances are you could survive on their contents for quite some time. What we really should be stocking up on in anticipation of the big snow is this: bottled water (in case of frozen pipes), powdered milk, coffee and tea (indispensable), citrus fruits and root veg (for their longevity), and chocolate (to keep spirits up).
It is also a good idea to have plenty of food to hand that doesn’t need cooking or heating up, in the event of power cuts.
So, as the flurries start to descend, here are some blizzard busting recipes that can be pulled together quickly, with the contents of a moderately well stocked larder, or a visit to a convenience store.
Pint Glass Bread
No sliced pan or sourdough left in the shops? Make your own. Peter Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh famously sent his son off to college with a pint glass. No, not for that purpose, but so he could make this pint glass bread. You can watch Peter making it here. The recipe is simplicity itself.
Don’t have buttermilk to hand? Make your own by adding one and a half tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to three quarters of a pint of ordinary milk and let it sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.
Pint glass of wholemeal flour
Pint glass of white flour
Three-quarters pint of buttermilk
Enough salt to coat the bottom of a pint glass
Enough bread soda to coat the bottom of a pint glass
1 tbsp butter
Mix dry. Add wet. Shape and bake in a preheated oven, at 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then at 200 degrees for a further 25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Fridge Clear Out Soup
It actually goes by the fancier name of turmeric winter roots, cabbage and lentil soup, but as you’ll see in the method, this hearty winter soup from Donal Skehan is very adaptable.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 parsnips, roughly chopped
150g green lentils
1 litre vegetable stock
120g Savoy cabbage, sliced in thick strips
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1. This recipe is ideal for fridge clear-outs, beyond the ingredients listed here, any root vegetables or brassicas are welcome additions. Heat a casserole over a medium-high heat and add a drop of olive oil.
2. Add the onion and a sprinkle of sea salt and cook gently for 6-8 minutes until tender.
3. Stir through the garlic, turmeric, cumin and cardamom and fry until aromatic. Add in the carrots, parsnips and lentils and stir through before add the vegetable stock. Season and bring to a steady simmer and cook gently for 35 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.
4. Just before the end of the cooking time, add the cabbage and stir through, cook until the cabbage is tender. Season to taste and serve in deep bowls.
As long as we don't lose power, freezer will be lifesaver.— Mary Mc (@MaryMc_31) February 26, 2018
Just remembered.... I have still have some Christmas stuffing, turkey and ham!!!!— Vanessa Greenwood (@cooksacademy) February 27, 2018
French Onion Soup
Snowed in? You’ll have plenty of time to slowly sweat the onions to get them to the requisite sludgy, sticky, dark brown stage of caramelisation this recipe requires. And your kitchen will smell amazing. Not got Gruyère? Use any cheese you have to hand. And the brandy is not essential.
2 tbsp butter
4 large onions, sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1.4 litres beef stock
1 tbsp brandy
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic
12 thick slices of stale French bread
100g grated Gruyére cheese
1. Heat the butter in a large casserole over a medium heat and add the onions. Season with sea salt and cook gently, stirring frequently until they are a rich dark brown colour – this can take up to 30 minutes so have patience.
2. Stir in the flour and thyme until the flour is evenly combined. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Pour over the stock and cover.
3. Cook gently for about 30 minutes. Stir through the brandy and check the seasoning.
4. Meanwhile, lightly toast the bread under a medium grill, remove and rub all over with the garlic clove.
5. Ladle the soup into oven proof bowls set on a heavy baking sheet, place a slice of bread in each one and place a mound of grated cheese in the centre of each one.
6. Place under a hot grill until the cheese is melted and golden.
“Dirty” Beef Stew
According to Domini Kemp, whose recipe this is: “This beef stew is dirty in the sense we Irish use the word – with something of a diamond-in-the-rough quality to it, thanks to copious red wine and a hint of cinnamon”.
400g stewing beef, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
Half tsp ground cinnamon
8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Half bottle red wine
Large bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Start by browning the beef in the olive oil and then set it aside. Next, sweat the onions and carrots in the leftover juices, along with the bay leaf and garlic. Then add the remainder of the ingredients, return the beef to the pot and simmer for at least two hours, until the meat is tender, with a lid on. And I do mean tender. If it’s not really soft to eat, with no sense of rigidity, then just top up with a bit more liquid and let it simmer away.
Slow Cooked Chiken With Chorizo
A slow cooker classic from Eunice Power. Don’t have a slow cooker? Pop it in a moderate oven (160 degrees Fahrenheit), for around an hour and a half, or until the meat is tender and cooked through.
200g chorizo, cut into chunks
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 pack of chicken thighs (12 in total)
1 tin chopped tomatoes, rinse out the tin with 200ml water and add this also
1 dessert spoon tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
Sprig of rosemary, chopped
A handful of capers (optional)
Chicken thighs work beautifully in the slow cooker. I have a few tips though. Firstly, trim off any excess skin tucked underneath the thighs, there is usually quite a bit of spare skin. Secondly, I would most definitely fry off the thighs before adding to the slow cooker.
1. Fry off the chorizo in a heavy-based frying pan. There is no need to add any extra oil, the chorizo will release oil while cooking. When the chorizo is nicely browned, remove it from the pan using a slotted spoon and add to the slow cooker.
2. Fry the chicken thighs, a few at a time, in the hot pan, until the skin is crispy. This will need to be done in batches. Add the chicken to the slow cooker as each batch is fried off.
3. When you have finished cooking off the chicken, add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook over a gentle heat for five minutes or so until starting to colour, then add to the slow cooker, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes, water, tomato puree, sugar and rosemary. Season with some freshly ground black pepper.
4. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for seven hours.
5. The result is magic. Delicious chicken falling off the bone in a rich, smoky tomato sauce. I often add a few capers after cooking to give an extra kick to the dish. This is delicious served with baked potatoes or with some really good sour dough bread.
Wondering what to do with all those eggs you panic bought? This recipe from Carmel Somers will use up a dozen of them in a very satisfying way and serves four.
1 tsp olive/coconut oil
Half a tbsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
Small piece of fresh ginger (by eye)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered turmeric
Half a red chilli finely chopped or a quarter tsp chilli powder
1 tomato diced – optional
12 eggs, beaten well
Bunch of coriander (If you don’t have it, leave it out, or stir in a handful of fresh or frozen spinach)
1. Toast the cumin seeds on a dry pan and set aside. Heat oil over medium heat and add the onions and soften. Now add the ginger and stir for a few minutes until you start to smell it.
2. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli and stir to prevent the spices burning. In less than a minute, add the cumin and tomato (and its juice) and cook for two minutes.
3. Add the beaten eggs and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the eggs are very softly scrambled. Stir in the coriander and serve.
Boozy Bread And Butter Pudding
Bought too much bread? Try this indulgent pudding recipe from Aoife McElwain. If you don’t have a vanilla pod, use extract, or leave it out. Likewise, the alcohol is optional.
8 slices of day-old white bread, crusts removed
50g of soft butter
4 tbsps of marmalade, plus 4 extra tsps
300ml of full-fat milk
250ml of double cream
3 large free-range eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
4 tbsps of caster sugar
2 tbsps of whiskey or spiced rum (optional)
Icing sugar, for dusting
1. Make four marmalade-and-butter sandwiches by buttering all the slices of bread and topping each slice with a tablespoon of marmalade. Cut the sandwiches into triangles.
2. Grease a large baking dish with butter. Arrange the marmalade-and-butter sandwich triangles in the dish so that there are no gaps between the bread .
3. In a large jug, beat the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla seeds, sugar and whiskey together. Pour the whole lot over the bread and leave it to soak for 30 minutes.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 160c/140c fan/Gas Mark 3.
5. Once the bread has had 30 minutes of soakage, top with the additional teaspoons of marmalade. Dust with a tablespoon of icing sugar.
6. Bake it in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, until it’s starting to caramelise.
7. Serve hot or warm, with more cream, custard or whiskey on the side, if you like.