The Food Chain

This is going to be one of those off the cuff blogs, quickly written, uploaded, and likely edited as time goes on and more ideas on the theme come along.

We usually think of the food chain as being the order that various critters in nature eat each other for their sustenance. Here its about what to do with food that gets left over. I’m not talking about how you take last night’s entre and reconstitute it for lunch the next day. I’m going beyond that.

I hope that readers can be inspired somewhat by this and contribute new ideas.

The sauce continuum

Begin with ….. roasted or BBQ vegetables. (BTW…. if you roast or BBQ veggies, stick a bulb of garlic in it. Put it in the fridge after, or use it – you will always have the essential ingredient for any ‘roast garlic….’ recipe). Back to the veggies: cut them up into quite small chunks. For every 200g or so add 5g salt, 35g vinegar, 200g tomato sauce/tomato paste (vary this to get the right consistency), herbs and spices: consider some of basil/oregano/thyme/ rosemary/cumin/mustard/hot pepper, that roasted garlic (to taste!), a handful of chopped olives. The result: a roast vegetable antipasto.

And next down the food chain? as in if the antipasto is not gobbled up in a day or 2? A sauce! Begin by pureeing what is left of the antipasto. Taste and consider its viscosity. The aim is to make a sauce that pours slowly but surely out of a narrow necked bottle. If anything it will be too thick. Here’s where you can have some fun. Get a vision of the kind of sauce you want to pour over a burger, on a sandwich, as a marinade over chicken or steak. Just keep in mind that you can add but you can’t remove. Here are the parameters to consider:

  • Salt – always a good one to begin with, and also one that can be overdone.
  • Vinegar – consider the type of vinegar, and only use a little at a time. Lemon/lime is part of the vinegar parameter
  • Heat – hot peppers, cayenne, hot sauce
  • Garlic – you likely already have this – do you want more?
  • Tomato: Since the antipasto had a tomato base, by definition its going to be a tomato based sauce. If you like the amount of tomato in the taste, and the vinegar continuum is right, but the sauce needs diluting,  then add water. If it can take more tomato then add tomato sauce. If it needs thickening, then tomato paste.

Finally  – choose a bottle. The food industry does an absolutely stellar job of inventing just the right size and shape of container for their products. So save a few glass sauce bottles for your own DIY stuff. Make sure it pours just right – bottle and label, in the fridge it goes. Whereas your original entre dish would be a science experiment after a week, the transformations, including the addition of vinegars and salts, mean that the resulting delicious sauce will be happy and likely used up over the next 2-3 weeks.

The sourdough continuum

All sourdough makers are aware of keeping their starter beefed up and active for the holy grail of sourdough – that perfect loaf of bread. Inevitably some starter is poured off. But instead of composting this, put it in a jar and pop it into the fridge. Here are some beginning ideas on what to do with this leftover starter.

Crackers:

Essentially cracker dough is a 60% hydration dough of flour, liquid (including up to 20% oil), 3-5% salt, and dry flavoring. The dough is rolled out – for super thin crackers, use a pasta roller. For the sourdough version the starter is used in part of the dough. Check my hydration table to help create your own sourdough crackers.

Pancakes

Pancakes are an easy way to use up starter. Although the starter helps the leavening, the main leavening comes with the addition of eggs and baking powder. Essentially the pancake mix is a very wet – 200% or so hydration mix of flour, liquid, eggs, oil, salt, sugar, and leaveners – baking soda/powder. I’ll refer you to Theresa Greenaway’s Discovering Sourdough  – my absolute authority on sourdough – for the original recipe. My hydration table (link still to come) functions as a kind of app that will guide you to making bigger or smaller amounts of mix.

Scones and hotcakes

I’ll refer you here again to  Theresa Greenaway’s Discovering Sourdough  book 1 which has lots of great hotcake recipes that can be done with leftover starter.

That’s it for now…… if you have other creative ideas for the ‘food chain’ please share them!

Burns

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