Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Day 51: Making Good Use of the Oven

This has been a day of triumphant cooking!

Recipes are posted below and above, all very suitably frugal.  But the important thing about this evening's cookery is that I managed to plan things so as to make very good use of the oven. 

The menu was intended to be as follows:
Boston Baked Beans
Oven Chips (fries)
Ginger biscuits
Roasted tomatoes

slightly blurred Boston Baked Beans
with foccacia and a sprinkling
of grated cheese.
The Baked Beans were made in the slow cooker, having been soaked all night and cooked for 8 hours on Low from morning through to evening.  This in itself is a massive oven saving: just imagine running the thing for the same length of time!  Oh, and they were amazingly delicious, btw - though with that much bacon, one could hardly go wrong.

The Oven Chips saga began two days ago.  Rather than boiling just enough potatoes for one serving, I stuck five large ones in the pan (unpeeled), and cooked the lot.  One I ate that night, but the other four I stored in the fridge.  So tonight I cut one into wedges, put them on an oiled baking tray, sprayed them with vegetable oil and a dash of Cajun seasoning, and baked for about 20 minutes until they were crisp and brown and lovely.  

The oven chips cooked on a baking tray alongside the falafel, which had been made a couple of days before from the same batch of chickpeas which made the hummus.  These too had been frozen for a few days till I was ready to use them.

The remaining three potatoes I also cut into wedges, spread them out on a baking tray, and froze them for half an hour until solid.  Then I removed them from the tray and put them in a plastic bag, and now I have frozen oven chips in my freezer, all ready to go.

Remember the left-over pastry from the large quiche?  I had lined three ramekins with it, and frozen them.  Now I mixed up two eggs and some milk, popped a piece of frozen cooked broccoli and some feta cheese in each one, poured over the egg mixture, and baked in the bottom of the oven.  Thus was the oven full of chips, falafel, and the little quiches, all of which took about 20-25 minutes to bake at 200C.  (Admittedly, the chips were a bit overdone!)  One of the quiches has gone into the fridge for tomorrow's lunch; the other two are back in the freezer.

Previously in the afternoon, I made the foccacia dough and left it to rise.  I am a bit nervous of making yeast bread, usually preferring to stick to soda bread, but my little sister makes an amazing foccacia, so I thought it was worth a go.  The result is pretty good for a first attempt, although a little harder than I would have liked it.  It was intended to bake this along with a batch of ginger biscuits, 25 in total - but my sister phoned, and they never got made.  So half the oven was, alas, unused.

Then finally, I followed the suggestion of Friend Sharon on Day 41, where she says this:
If you have some supermarket basic tomatoes and want to make them into something gorgeous - cut them in half, place in an oven tray cut side up, sprinkle with salt, a touch of sugar and some dried (or fresh) thyme. A little drizzle of olive oil helps things along. Preheat the oven as hot as it will go...if being really frugal make these after something where you've had the oven on anyway...then put them in and turn off the oven. Leave for about 8 hours or overnight. (This is taken from Nigella's Express book...called moonblush tomatoes...but she uses expensive vine toms to start with). Great in salads, on toast, baked potatoes, chopped and through pasta...just sooooo nice.
So as you can see, all this was something of a complex operation, easily upset by an unplanned (though very pleasant) phonecall.  But in the event, it all worked out well, even if I was a bit hot and tired afterwards.  The oven is a terrible user of fuel, so I have come to a resolution that I will never just use it for one thing.  That meant a little forward planning, but despite appearances, I didn't actually run it like a military operation: I just cooked a bit extra wherever I could and froze it; then on the day looked to see what I had.  So I am all stocked up on main meals the next few days.  Maybe weeks!

Tomorrow, I will be blogging about indigestion.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Sometimes I put a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes as well and use brown sugar instead of white.

I have made pork meatballs tonight and baked vegetables in the oven. Tonight's meal and two more and have made a large batch of yeast dough which will age in the fridge for a few days.

I've found cooking for one, even with leftovers to be very hard. I lived with son and his wife for three years before coming here. We welcomed leftovers, usually allowed for them and they turned into all sorts of wonderful other dishes. Very inventive.

However for years I cooked for a family of five, then seven for a long time. My sons always brought friends home or they turned up on the doorstep at meal times and were fed. I'm experienced at camp cooking for up to eighty people and have been part of a team cooking for several hundred.

Now there's just me. I have plenty of ideas but still don't want a lot leftover. Still, I suppose it's all part of the process of learning to live by myself.