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Time of substitutes and creative cooking

Sat, 21 March, 2020

This is the time of substitutes and creative cooking: I don’t know about you but I’m very low on butter and have to ration myself eggs for breakfast. I try not to go to the shops so no butter until my next supermarket delivery; is butter essential? No, unless you're a staunch ketomaniac, still. This weekend’s cake needs to be butterless and sparse in eggs. Just the thing: chocolate cake with glace cherries, except I’ll swap cherries for dried apricots. Needs must – at least that is one seriously easy cake.

Fresh vegetables and fruit are hard to come by as well so we can truly be seasonal and go to the roots. Make celeriac remoulade, raw beetroot salad or zingy carrots for sides, as well as roast the beets or make parsnip fries. Those will go well with pork katsu or crispy fried chicken, both will hit the spot with the children. Maybe this is the time to get them into cooking? And into baking, for sure.

I’m baking bread all the time, the sourdough sandwich loaf being the most popular as it can be neatly sliced for the freezer. I also plan to start baking hot cross buns (if my flour delivery turns up) – maybe double or triple and drop some off on friends’ doorsteps, because those who can, bake and those who bake, share. It’s going to be miserable Easter anyway, lonely and isolated, so we need to spread some cheer whichever way we can.

Pasta ideas are hot currency so I suggest smoked salmon linguine. Or a no-recipe, no-egg carbonara: fry up some bacon, add some cream and cook it down a bit, stir into pasta. Yes, I know all about no cream into carbonara but when times are tough, anything goes.

Improvise: cream cheese instead of cream, shredded cabbage instead of lettuce, thinly sliced leek instead of spring onions. Buy frozen veg and frozen fish: that way you'll minimise food waste. Sticky mackerel fillets recipe will happily take frozen fish and cauliflower cheese is arguably even better when made from frozen florets. Find the recipes you need in my contents pages; plenty no-nonsense, real food there. Stay safe.