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The Store Cupboard Hall of Fame

by Joanna Weinberg, author of Cooking for Real Life If you can cook inventively from your stores, you will never have to endure the head-clutching panic of what to make for supper again. Whether that’s an almost instant bowl of chickpeas and feta tossed in a lemony dressing, or bowl of pasta with bacon, chilli and shavings of Parmesan, the possibilities are endless. But it all depends on stocking your shelves well. Here are six long-lasting kitchen heroes I couldn’t live without. Bacon Bacon – and its relations pancetta, lardons and chorizo – is about as useful an ingredient to have in the fridge as you can imagine. Good old bacon rashers are the most flexible, whether in a sandwich, with eggs, laid across game, chopped into pasta, mince, lentils or soups – in fact almost anything will be improved by a hit of salty pork. Scatter a simple cauliflower cheese with lightly fried lardons and breadcrumbs before giving it a last blast under the grill and you have a feast in itself; finely chop it along with your onions as the base of risotto and you can dispense with stock.  Parmesan What I find most interesting about Parmesan is that it works on two levels: as an ingredient, and also as a seasoning. Grated, it functions as the latter, most obviously on top of pasta and risotto dishes, but it will sing, particularly in salads in the form of larger curls and shavings. It lasts a long time well wrapped in the fridge, but for long-lasting, instant access, keep it grated in a tub in the freezer and help yourself to it directly from there. Here’s a great salad to throw together for lunch: using rocket leaves as your base, generously scatter with chickpeas, leftover roast chicken or butternut, avocado and pumpkin seeds, and top with shaved Parmesan. Dress olive oil beaten with lemon juice and dijon mustard and flaky salt.  Dijon  If I had to choose any processed ingredient to celebrate, Dijon mustard would be top of my list. It’s smoothness and rounded flavour make it the perfect choice to use as the base for salad dressings and mayonnaise, but no stew or Bolognese in my house gets away without a dollop of it, and neither a roast beef nor a ham nor a Gruyere sandwich would be the same without it. Anchovies  Anchovies punch well above their weight, packing loads of flavour into each tiny fillet. When fried, they disintegrate, leaving behind a vibrant smack of umami. Cheer up limp old broccoli by chopping it very finely and frying it very slowly, half covered, in olive oil with plenty of chopped anchovy, chilli and garlic, until you have a soft, scented mass to toss through a bowl of pasta. Top with plenty of Parmesan, of course. 

Chickpeas Chickpeas are my favourite pulses. I use them in so many different ways: to add bulk to salads or stews, in curries, to replace breadcrumbs in meatballs, blended with chicken stock and softened onions as a soothing soup, or just simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. The best are the large Spanish kind that come in glass jars – grab a pile of them to stash away.  Lemons  It’s hard to praise a lemon too highly, there are few dishes which can’t be improved by a little squirt of its freshness, or grating of its zest. Its juice doesn’t just add tang, it’s a seasoning too, and can be used in place of salt. Here’s a hard-to-beat salad dressing:  take a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, two of extra virgin olive oil and one of walnut oil. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice, a generous scrunch of flaky salt and beat together or shake like mad until emulsified. Toss very thoroughly through your salad and eat as soon as possible. Click here for a short video recipe Cooking for Real Life by Joanna Weinberg is out on 10th May 2012, £25.00

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Allotment Season is Here! The birds are singing, green shoots are starting to push through and it’s not long before delicate, sweet, new peas; bright, crisp carrots and sun-warm tomatoes start to grace our tables. Here are some ideas to get you started, from The Little Book Of Allotment Tips. A good allotment is worth waiting for, so be patient. Hold out for the allotment which is best and most convenient for you, rather than being in a rush to grab the first plot which becomes available. The most important question is: What’s the soil like? Get a rough idea by picking up a fistful and squashing it into a ball. If it sticks firmly together, it’s clay. If it falls apart, it’s sandy. These need improving with composts and other materials. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a nice dark loamy soil – not too sticky, not too dry. Keep improving your soil. Add as much humus (organic material) as you can, to help soil structure, and the ability to retain nutrients. Anything organic – composts, mulches, seaweed, grass mowings – will do a lot of good. Just spread them on top – earthworms will dig them in for you. Always have something growing. Use your allotment to its maximum capacity by following one crop with another from March through until late autumn. Even in October you can sow carrots and beans, and plant winter salad leaves. Garlic can go in as late as December. Keep a weekly record of everything you do and grow. Compare your allotment and its produce year by year. This helps you to spot your mistakes and learn from them, and to enjoy your successes. A journal is also the best place to work out your plans for the future. The Little Book Of Allotment Tips by William Fortt Out now, £3.50

RECIPE: CEREAL MILK™ from MOMOFUKU MILK BAR Crack pie, compost cookies, cereal milk pannacotta - Momofuku Milk Bar, opened in downtown New York in 2008 and since in 5 new locations across the city, has become a holy grail for sugar addicts. Behind the success is Christina Tosi, David Chang’s young protégé - herself, a self confessed sugar addict, who has invented, and reinevented and experimented to create the recipes that have made the Milk Bar such a mecca. Finally her secrets are revealed in Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk™ by Christina Tosi This was by no means the first recipe that came out of our kitchens, but it is far and away the most popular and what we are known best for. Drink it straight, pour it over more cereal, add it to your coffee in the morning, or turn it into panna cotta or ice cream. Cereal milk. It’s a way of life. 100g 900 ml 30g 1g

cornflakes cold milk light brown sugar kosher or sea salt

1. Heat the oven to 150°C/Gas 2. 2. Spread the cornflakes on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool completely. 3. Transfer the cooled cornflakes to a large jug. Pour the milk into the jug and stir vigorously. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature. 4. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a medium bowl. The milk will drain off quickly at first, then become thicker and starchy toward the end of the straining process. Using the back of a ladle (or your hand), wring the milk out of the cornflakes, but do not force the mushy cornflakes through the sieve. (We compost the cornflake remains or take them home to our dogs!) 5. Whisk the brown sugar and salt into the milk until fully dissolved. Store in a clean covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Click here for more Cereal Milk™ recipes Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, 15th May 2012, £25

‘Chocolate-chocolate cookies, compost cookies, blueberries and cream cookies, hot fudge sauce, chocolate cake. I can’t stop baking from Momofuku Milk Bar…A crowd pleaser, obviously’ Los Angeles Times

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