The First Week of 2014
Cupboard Love
64 green bottles, sitting on the cupboard

Over Christmas my host Suzannah and I somehow got into an argument about vinegar (only in my life eh). I think I may have made a tiny criticism of the Kissantell's meagre range (she was proud to offer both malt and Balsamic), upon which she demanded photos of my cupboards.

It turns out I have 15 vinegars including 5 Balsamic and, yes, a malt.
My extensive spice collection is housed in old salsa jars courtesy of Lidl, who provide me with my reduced-price lunchtime Doritos, not something I'm particularly proud of, but they do make a good spice jar and there you can also see the barest tip of my extensive collection of hot sauces.

The one thing my cupboards don't seem to contain is anything you could actually just sit down and eat. Well, unless you're happy spooning out pure blackstrap molasses with a sun-dried tomato and chowing down on that.

Still I've managed to put quite a bit of their contents to good use in finishing off my Christmas leftovers. Not the cheese though - that's just gone onto pasta and into sandwiches. Yes, even that Serbian donkey cheese just kidding Suzannah - it was goat's cheese, honest.

Cabbage and Chorizo
meat main side
I was inspired to try Nigel Slater's idea for Kale with Chorizo and Almonds using a (somewhat anaemic) savoy cabbage, but I'm sure you could try any brassica you fancied.
Mine definitely needed a good stewing up to get the flavours working together, but if you had a better cabbage you might get away with just frying the leaves without the braising.

It may not be a particularly great dish, but it does make for a fantastic bubble and squeak afterwards!

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side dish

Cut up the chorizo into small cubes or slices - as you prefer.
Cut the garlic into fat slivers.
Slice the cabbage.

Sweat the chorizo a little in a generous amount of olive oil, then add the garlic and cook them up a little.
Add the cabbage and turn to coat with all the lovely fat until it starts to collapse.
If the dish tastes dull at this stage, then deglaze with a glass of dry sherry, moisten with a little stock or water, cover, and braise until the cabbage is tender, maybe 15 minutes.
Season well before serving.
Nigel Slater suggests adding a few toasted whole almonds, which you could dry-fry up separately and throw in. Personally I'm not sure the flavours really work particularly. I think lemon peel might better suit.

Tuna Pasta Bake
fish main pasta
Condensed mushroom soup (as made by Campbell's and, latterly, Batchelors) makes a very handy base for a sauce.
As demonstrated by this dish.

If you don't have any though, you could use 200g Philadelphia Cream Cheese and 200ml stock instead. Grate some cheese over the top and cook uncovered.

Serves 3-4

Par-cook the pasta until just before al dente. About 3 minutes less than the advertised cooking time. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Finely chop the onion, drain the tuna, cut the kernels from the corn cob or drain the can, core and chop the tomato diced sun-dried tomatoes are also good, maybe better - and chop in a red pepper too if you like. Season generously. You can add mustard or Worcestershire Sauce and sour cream too if you fancy. Mix with the condensed soup and heat on the stove.

Lay the drained pasta in a casserole dish and stir in the mayonnaise.
Pour over the soup mixture.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at Gas Mark 5 for 30 minutes until cooked through.
Perfectly acceptable, for Philistines using up stuff from the pantry.

Penne with Leftover Gravlax and a Horseradish Sauce
fish pasta
Leftover grav(ad)lax and horseradish sauce? Don't throw them away - use them to dress pasta!
The sharp-eyed amongst you will recognise the pasta as leftovers from a truffled pasta dish I made 18 months ago. The sharper-eyed will also notice that they aren't penne at all, but bombardoni or possibly paccheri.

I was slightly dubious about the quality of my week-old gravlax, so I wrapped it in tin foil and roasted it in a hot oven for 30 minute before using it on the pasta just in case.
If you catch yours early enough though - I'm sure it would be just fine used raw. Well, warm.

Cook the pasta, drain, then stir through slices of gravlax and horseradish sauce.
Serve sprinkled with lime juice and a few capers.
S'OK - I wouldn't buy gravlax just to make it though. It's pretty salty too, so be cautious about any extra seasoning.
I left the skin on my (roasted) gravlax, but you'd be advised to cut it off - it's a bit on the chewy side.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Rocket and Gorgonzola
veg pasta
Well, I had tomatoes, rocket and Gorgonzola. And the cupboard offered me pasta...
Seeing as how the rocket was old and of dubious quality I decided to cook it.
Big mistake.

Cook the pasta, meanwhile fry the rocket in a little oil until it collapses or don't!
Add roughly chopped tomatoes and stir through, then serve over the drained pasta with a topping of chopped gorgonzola.
Raw rocket - probably.
Wilted rocket - possibly.
But rocket stewed into slimy strands - definitely not.

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