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Eggs, milk, bananas, bread: four recipes to reduce food waste

Eggs, milk, bananas, bread: four recipes to combat food waste

by Adam Handling 05 May 2020

Chef Adam Handling hones in on the four ingredients we seem to waste more than any others in the home, sharing simple, delicious recipes that’ll save them from the bin.

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I’ve always hated wasting food. It doesn’t make sense to me to throw away something that farmers have worked so hard to produce – and it doesn’t make financial sense either.

I was horrified to find out recently that ten million tonnes of food is thrown away every year in the UK. We have to stop this! For chefs, making sure we use up everything possible in our restaurants and bars is high up on our agendas, which means we’re always looking to create something beautiful from ingredients which all too often get thrown out.

For many of us, lockdown means that sourcing fresh food has become harder than normal, so I’d like to offer you some ideas to make delicious and fun dishes that aren’t just good to cook now, but incorporate the four ingredients we waste the most at any time: eggs, milk, bread and bananas (that doesn’t involve banana bread – something I’m sure we’re all a bit fed up with now!).

Eggs

Lots of recipes call for egg yolks, but we’re often left wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites. While meringues and pavlovas are great, marshmallows are far more fun to eat and make. They’re something you can make with the kids, too – and they’ll definitely prove popular once ready! This recipe will make around 60 chunky marshmallows:

18g powdered gelatine

445g caster sugar

56g liquid glucose

4 egg whites

2 lemons, finely zested and juiced

50g cornflour

50g icing sugar

A little vegetable oil, for brushing

Place the gelatine in a pan with 120ml of water. Gently warm over the hob until it dissolves into the water, then add the lemon juice and zest. Keep warm while you bring the sugar, glucose and another 120ml of water to 120°C in a separate pan.

While the sugar comes up to temperature, place the egg whites in a blender or stand mixer and begin to whip. Once the syrup reaches 120°C, pour it into the egg whites (with the motor still running) to create a meringue. Continue to whip until the mixture is stiff and glossy – tip the blender jug over your head to test that it is whipped enough (it should stay where it is!). Pour in the warm gelatine mixture, then whip again to combine.

Line a metal tray with cling film, rubbed with a little vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Spread the marshmallow mixture into the tray, flattening the top as much as possible, then set aside for an hour or two until set.

Once the mixture has set, cut them into cubes with a knife dipped in water (to prevent sticking). Mix together the cornflour and icing sugar, then use this mixture to coat each marshmallow. Enjoy as is, or cook the marshmallows on the barbecue (sandwich them between chocolate biscuits to make s’mores). They are also fantastic in hot chocolate, or keep the kids busy by decorating them with melted chocolate and sprinkles.

Milk

Milk is a constant staple in homes everywhere, but to use up a large amount why not make your own cheese? Fresh ricotta is easy to make and is perfect for both cooking with or simply spreading on some good bread. This recipe calls for wild garlic, and while the season is almost over, there’s still plenty growing near our home.

2l whole milk, the freshest you can find

50g Cornish sea salt

100ml distilled vinegar

200g wild garlic (optional)

Gently warm the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the salt, whisking constantly until a light foam begins to form on the surface. Add the vinegar and gently stir the mixture, bringing the curds to the middle of the pot. Once the milk begins to boil, remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.

Once rested, gently strain the curds from the whey in a colander or sieve (reserve the whey as it’s great for brining meat with). If you’re using wild garlic, blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then refresh in iced water and finely chop. Fold the wild garlic through the curds, then transfer them to a muslin cloth or j-cloth in a sieve and set them over a bowl in the fridge to allow any excess whey to drain away.

Once the whey has drained away from the curds, place them in a bowl and begin to beat them back together. At this point add a little of the drained whey back into the mixture until you have a nice and smooth whipped curd.

Bread

Whether shop-bought or homemade, we’ve all fallen foul of allowing a loaf of bread to turn stale before we’ve used it up. Rather than throw it away, do as the Italians do and refresh stale bread in a Panzanella salad. This recipe serves 4-5 people, and while it’s fantastic on its own, it makes a fantastic accompaniment to a seared tuna steak.

Stale sourdough bread, cut into cubes

10 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 avocado, diced

2 red onions, finely sliced

100ml extra virgin olive oil

50ml sherry vinegar

Fresh parsley leaves

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Simply mix all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bananas

I’m not quite sure why we always seem to have bananas leftover, as they’re the nation’s favourite fruit, but not everyone wants to eat them once they start to turn brown. Here’s a delicious way to turn overripe bananas into an indulgent treat. This tart will serve 4-6 people (remember to save the egg whites to make the marshmallows above!):

For the pastry:

75g unsalted butter

2 egg yolks

50g icing sugar

150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the custard:

600ml double cream

25g caster sugar

3 egg yolks

1 overripe banana, diced

To make the pastry, place the butter and flour in a food processor and blitz until a sandy texture forms. Blend in the sugar and then add 1 of the egg yolks. Mix until a dough forms, then shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 170°C.

Roll out the pastry on a work surface dusted with flour and use it to line a tart tin. Line the pastry with a sheet of foil, fill the foil with baking beans or dry rice, then blind-bake the case for 12 minutes. After this time, remove the beans and foil, brush the pastry with around half of the remaining egg yolk, then return to the oven for 3 minutes. Remove once again, brush with the other half of the egg yolk, then cook for a final 3 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

Pour a third of the caster sugar into a saucepan and place over a medium-high heat until it melts and starts to turn golden. Add the diced banana and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is caramelised. Meanwhile, mix the remaining sugar with the egg yolks and turn the oven down to 120°C.

Pour the cream into the pan with the bananas and whisk until the caramel dissolves into the cream. Gradually pour the hot cream over the sugar and yolk mixture, whisking thoroughly as you do so, then pour everything into the cooked tart base until filled to the top. Cook in the oven for 18 minutes, until just set, then leave to cool before serving.

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