How I Make Easy Stock from Kitchen Scraps

Here's how to make easy vegetable stock from kitchen scraps. This is my quick way to make sure we always have fresh stock to hand for soups, stews and thinning down sauces while still keeping things flavourful. The best part is you can make this as you go and freeze it in small batches in ziplock bags. Need more stock? Grab a few extra bags from your freezer! 

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Store Cupboard Salad Dressings

I always know Summer is coming by the amount of vinegar and oil being added much more regularly to my shopping basket. The minute the weather picks up and the new produce comes into season, I gorge on fresh vegetables and have a constant rotation of simple dressings that add flavour and interest. 

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my go to recipes and a few tips for getting great results in a quick and simple way. Keeping the cupboards stocked with a few basics means you can knock together a healthy and tasty dish in just a few minutes. 

Tips for easy, yummy dressings:

Jars- I keep pesto jars, jam jars and spice jars with screw on lids. That way I can pop my ingredients in, screw on the lid and give it all a vigorous shake. It's really quick, not at all messy and any leftovers can be popped in the fridge for the rest of the week.

Ratios- The rule of thumb here is 3 parts oil to one part acid. You can mix things up by adding herbs, mustard or garlic but this basic ratio will yield a good dressing every time. 

Oil- I like to use cold pressed Olive Oil or at a push, extra virgin oil. I do use some of the nut oils like sesame from time to time but I don't think you can really go wrong with Olive Oil. 

Acid- Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, cider, white wine) or lemon fall into this category. I have been known to use limes but that pushes us into the fancy pants dressing range and that's a conversation for another day. 

Crush- When adding garlic or shallots, I like to use the flat of my knife to smash them along with a little sea salt. This helps grind them up and break them down further so you don't get that blast of onion or garlic that leaves you breathing your salad over people for the rest of the day. 

Mellow- If you are adding onion or garlic, try to allow 20 minutes for the garlic or onion to sit in the oil. This softens and mellows it a bit, infusing into the oil. 

Timing- Always try to add dressing right before you serve to avoid soggy greens. 

Store Cupboard Dressings for Salads and Vegetables

Store Cupboard Dressings for Salads and Vegetables

My go to recipes:

Jamie Oliver's Yoghurt Dressing- This one is perfect for that creamy dressing craving you have and a healthier option too. My addiction to sharp, unsweetened live full fat yoghut pays off here. Delicious. 

Whole Food's Simple Vinaigrette- I love this one for a more complex dressing over just oil and vinegar. I keep a range of herbs in a tin bath in the garden and just snip a handful of what I feel like that day. Basil with griddled asparagus and halloumi is a must!

Simple Lemon Vinaigrette- Summer is here so it's time to stock up on about a million lemons. Trust me on this tip, nothing bad every came of too many lemons (see this post on lemon and lime curd if you don't believe me!)

Chinese Grandma's Balsamic Vinaigrette- I love the taste of honey with the kick from mustard on this one. This is probably my go to on any given day. Balsamic vinegar just lifts vegetables to a whole new level!

 

So now the real question is, what salads and vegetables are you currently gorging on? I feel a trip to the farmer's market coming on!

Roasted Beetroot, Squash and Goats Cheese Salad aka the Shoulder Season Salad.

The other day I popped out to meet a friend for a playdate with our toddlers and on my way went past a really yummy looking vegetable stall. I couldn't help but slow my pace, point to the figs with the Tot and start adding things to a basket. It was a cold and damp day but I wasn't feeling soup. I wanted lots of vegetables but without the boiling. I wanted colour. I wanted flavour. 

I came home with a portion of squash. I'm not sure the exact variety but it had a creamy green skin and bright orange flesh. It looked great next to the purple and golden beetroot that I also brought home that day. I pondered and rummaged in my fridge, googled around and decided to sort of throw it all together and see what happened. 

What happened was delicious. 

Here's some rough notes for how I accidentally made the best 'Shoulder Season' salad I've ever made:

- Take equal volumes of various beetroots and squash- just go with whatever you find and look fr fun colours to put on your plate. Cube and skin them. 

- Cut some red onions into wedges and put all the chopped veg into a large roasting dish, big enough not to overcrowd them. Toss in about 2 tbsp oil (I used coldpressed olive), season and pop in the oven on 225c for about 35 mins. 

- Meanwhile steam some green beans. I think rocket or spinach would be wonderful here too. 

- During last 10 minutes of the roasting, drizzle 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar over the beets, onions and squash and shake it well before popping it back in. 

- Chop about half a cups worth of walnuts and crumble a block of goats cheese. 

- Remove roasted veg from oven and toss in the beans and walnuts. Sprinkle over the cheese. 

I'd also seriously think about a maple and balsamic vinaigrette next time like this one I found- it looks delicious. 

Enjoy!

Ugly duckling soups and polka dot wellies

All those great intentions and the rain just never stopped falling. I spent the morning peering hopefully out the window then gave up in favour of soup and blog reading. After the second batch of soup and the smell of fresh bread baking I knew I'd made the right decision. 

black and white kitchen styling

I did venture out. I mean, I couldn't resist a little puddle jumping. 

polka dot wellies
jumping in puddles keeps me playful even in the rain

jumping in puddles keeps me playful even in the rain

Soup menu for today? Potato and Kale soup adapted from Hurrayic's blog entry

Kale and potato soup

Kale and potato soup

I lacked any regular Kale or onions so I went for the purple Kale and Cavolo Nero and some red onion I had in (I was not brraving the weather when there was perfectly good ingredients inside). The colours were very satisfying during the prep but were a bit 'muddy' in the outcome. I knew it wouldn't look as appetising but the soup was delicious so I consider it an ugly duckling soup.

Kale
red onion

While I was in the mood and feeling a little more human than I have been all week, I decided to improvise a Butternut Squash and Carrot soup. I'll blog that one up soon. Oh and PJ? Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese recipe will go up too. Promise x

Rainy day colour

Rainy day colour

Have a happy Friday everyone!

ETA: oh and I'm having a go at You Capture this week. I am leaving the house with my camera and no rain is going to stop me! Stay tuned.....