It seems like just yesterday we were dealing with empty supermarket shelves and wondering what to do with that box of chickpeas at the back of the pantry.
Can you believe it’s been almost two years since the first of our self-isolation suppers? We all know the last few years have been a bit of a blur, but here we are again.
So to help you make the most of your dwindling food supply, here are some of our favorite pandemic recipes.
In the box
Nutritionist Georgia Houston shared a great recipe with us, using canned lentils and chickpeas to make a great dahl with mango chutney yogurt. “If you eat a healthy, varied diet, you’ll do what’s best for your immune system,” she says.
Mango Chutney Yogurt Dahl
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger, finely grated
1/3 cup korma curry paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
400g diced tomatoes
250g cherry tomatoes
1 cup of water
1 cup light coconut milk
400 g canned brown lentils, drained and rinsed
400 g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
brown rice, aim for 1/2 to 1 cup cooked rice per person, for serving
Mango Chutney Ingredients:
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of mango chutney
1. Fill a medium saucepan with cold water. Add the rice and cook for 25 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger, stirring until soft. Add the paste and spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant.
3. Add canned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the mango chutney.
5. Once the rice is cooked, drain it and divide it among four bowls. Serve the dahl with brown rice, cilantro and chutney.
something is wrong
One book I’ve been cooking with since the fires is Ross Dobson’s. 3 Ways With…. Stale Bread (Murdoch Books, 2007). It’s an oldie but a goodie. I tracked down Dobson back then and we joked that maybe it was time for a new edit 3 ways with… during COVID-19. (I’m still waiting for Ross.) “I went to my supermarket the other day,” he would tell me. “And I couldn’t believe there were still so many canned fish on the shelves. A can of tuna is one of the most versatile things around.” If you have one, do it.
Tuna and zucchini risotto in the oven
Have your oven hot and ready at 200C. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a casserole dish and sauté a chopped onion and two grated zucchini for two to three minutes until the onion softens and sizzles in the hot oil. Add 220g short grain rice to the pan and stir for one minute, then add 225g tinned tuna, drained, 400g tinned chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp rosemary leaves, 375ml beef stock chicken and season well with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover the dish with an airtight lid and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley on top.
Annabel Crabb is a sensible woman. We love his pantry challenge gratin. Stop rushing to the supermarket, to people, and cook with the food you already have in the back of the cupboard. Crabb’s Book, Special delivery: favorite dish to prepare and take away, co-authored with Wendy Sharpe, is full of helpful recipes for these times.
Pantry Challenge Gratin
1 leek, well washed and outer green leaves removed, finely chopped
olive oil, for frying
a little white wine or water, if needed
175g cooked cannellini beans
75 g fresh cream or sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 jar (335g) drained white asparagus
30g coarse fresh breadcrumbs
50 g finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. In a skillet over low-medium heat, brown the leek in a minimum of oil, adding a little white wine or water if it starts to stick. When the leek is a little soft, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the beans. Mix the two creams with the mustard until smooth. Take a shallow baking dish about 20 x 15 cm and spread about a tablespoon of the cream mixture on the base. Arrange the asparagus tips on top, pour over the mixture of leeks and beans, then pour over the rest of the cream mixture.
3. Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley, then sprinkle over the gratin. (By the way, I recommend having a secret stash of this gratin topping in the freezer, ready to sprinkle anytime – it’s also good on lasagna and other baked pasta dishes.) Bake your gratin for about 25 minutes, or until crisp, with bubbling cream underneath.
The other day I was taking a break from filing copious amounts of copy and needed a cookie. I didn’t have any. I should have made these cornersmith cookbook wonders Use everything, by Alex Elliot-Howery and Jaimee Edwards (Murdoch, 2020) and make it your confinement bible.
Empty the cookies from the pantry
550 g plain flour (or half flour and half ground almonds; half grated coconut flour; half flour and half bran; half flour half LSA)
3 tbsp stray pantries (spent coffee grounds, cocoa powder, sesame seeds, chopped sunflower seeds)
1 tablespoon spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
300g soft butter
250 g sugar (brown, raw, powdered or a combination of what should be used)
100g sticky sweetener (molasses, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup)
1/3 cup chopped extras (dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips)
1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. Combine flour, pantry strays, spices, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.
3. Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Add the sweetener and continue mixing on medium speed, then stir the dry ingredients into the creamed butter until combined. Fold your choice of chopped extras.
4. Divide the mixture in half and reserve one portion. With the rest, roll into 50g balls and flatten slightly, then arrange on the prepared tray with room to spread.
5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through but still a little tender, then let cool for five minutes on the baking sheet. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
6. Roll the rest of the dough into a thick sausage, wrap it tightly, and store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a few months. You can directly slice the log and cook from frozen.
Or make a honey mix
60g of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spices
1 egg white
1 1/2 cup pure icing sugar
2 teaspoons plain flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice, approximately
pink food coloring
1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease the baking sheets.
2. Combine butter, sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool 10 mins.
3. Transfer cooled mixture to a large bowl; add the egg and the sifted dry ingredients in two batches. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it loses its stickiness. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 min.
4. Divide the dough into eight portions. Roll each portion into a sausage 2 cm thick; cut each sausage into 5 sections of 6 cm. Place on trays about 3 cm apart; round the ends with lightly floured fingers, flatten slightly. Bake 15 mins. Cool on trays.
5. For glaze, lightly beat egg white in small bowl; gradually beat in sifted icing sugar and flour, then enough juice to make frosting spreadable. Place half the mixture in another small bowl; tint with pink dye. Keep frostings covered with a damp tea towel during use. Spread over cooled cookies.
- Recipe from CSR Sugar. csrsugar.com.au