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James McIntosh

Cooking without recipes, cheerio to waste

Posted by James McIntosh Tuesday, 6th May 2014

I've seen Love Food Hate Waste demonstrate on the AGA Rangemaster cookery theatre all over the country in previous years. They have so many ideas on how to reduce leftovers and prevent waste at home. As an organisation I think they do a fabulous job, highlighting the public to the concept of saving food and reducing waste. A thing I work really hard to do. I'm great at using up all bits and pieces to make pasta sauces, stocks and freezing lemon wedges to add to my weekend tipple as citrus ice-cubes.

 

Waste I think is disgraceful, but in today’s consumer society that we live in, it’s so easy to create at home. But then look at the packaging! I'm so glad recycling is so easy now. I started to consider what would happen if this was to occur in the restaurant industry and what this would cost the business, surely reducing costs are key to business so why not the home. That’s when I met Philip Dundas. Philip owns a very unique restaurant in Covent Garden called Pips Dish. Not only does Philip cook on a Rangemaster in the restaurant, but he cooks without recipes. For me, this is the key to how to reduce waste at home. Philip and I are both members of the Guild of Food Writers and we were talking at a recent meeting about how to do this, after all Philips books is called Cooking without Recipes. Philip and I have a few thoughts we agree on:

 

1) If you want to learn to cook, you must first learn to understand ingredients rather than read recipes. Otherwise it is nothing but cooking by numbers.

 

2) Cooking is about confidence and creativity. Two things you have to look for within yourself. Only picking up a fish by the tail will tell you how to cook it.

 

3) If you have no affection for your ingredients your efforts will be rendered inedible. Bring to the surface what lies within, entice the senses and please the appetite without unnecessary embellishment or distraction.

 

4) Your mood will determine the success of your undertaking. Successful cooking is to completely satisfy both yourself and those who will eat your food, with comfort and ease.

 

5) You need to learn the behaviours and habits of a cook, so that you can choose any ingredient and in turn become inventive, self-reliant and take control in your own kitchen.

 

Sound scary? Not at all, what Philip is saying is to look in the back of the fridge, hold what you find and think about what you would like to eat, that way you will know how to cook it. He runs a restaurant on this concept, and jolly nice it is too. No, not by selling leftovers (réfhauffé as we call it in the industry) rather by cooking what is in the market that day, what is a good price, fresh and available.

 

So, what do I suggest we do with left overs? Well, there is the obvious aforementioned pasta sauce, or the quiche. Great family food that if you follow my recipe is not as stodgy and eggy as it sounds. And, I don't call it quiche in my house, its "resurrection pie" as I find what's at the back of the fridge, chop it up, cook it a different way and 'resurrect it' if you must...

 

And what's my secret to make old food new?  Herbs, lots of them!  

 

Quiche 

Roast Mediterranean vegetable quiche (a.k.a Resurrection pie)

  • Enough pastry to cover an 8" (23 cm) quiche dish
  • Something resembling Mediterranean vegetables, e.g:
  • 3 peppers
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 aubergine
  • Handful cherry tomatoes

 

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

 

  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 block feta or other cheese

 

Method

  • Pre-heat the Rangemaster oven to 180C / 160C Fan / Gas Mark 4
  • Line quiche dish with pastry, prick all over with a fork and place into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Chop up all of the vegetables and place onto a roasting tray, drizzle balsamic vinegar and oil over and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Place roasted vegetables into the pastry, beat the eggs lightly with the milk, pour over the vegetables and crumble the feta on top.  
  • Cook for 20 minute until set.

 

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