where did all that cheese come from?

I was going to title this post “leftovers”  but it sounded so uninspiring  I did think of “bits and bobs” (a phrase a friend uses when answering her children’s question “what’s for lunch?”) “endless little bowls and tupperware boxes” (which is what my mother’s fridge is often full of)  but as cheese is the decluttering item in question today I went for the one above.

The Boss and I were in Italy a couple of weekends ago.  Consequently (a) I filled the fridge with food for the girls lest they should starve (as they are very good cooks in their own right I am sure that was unecessary but hey I’m a Mum) and (b) we bought rather a lot of cheese and salamis, bresola and lardons back with us.  Combine that with my inability to throw anything away and the result was fridge overload.

The fridge is now neat and tidy.  I have one smallish chunk of once quite nice ham that is now well past its best which will be perfect for the administration of the copious amounts of pills our eldery Springer requires and the following:

  • Small amount of spinach
  • one leek
  • half an onion
  • half a packet of feta
  • mozarella that needs using
  • the heel of some gruyere
  • assorted heels of cheeses too small and hard to eat but I won’t throw away

Leftover cooking here I come.  First up is a made up cheesey bake.  You will note the lack of precise amounts because I just shoved in what I had.

  • Leek sliced finely
  • onion chopped
  • spinach
  • garlic
  • eggs (i used 4)
  • double cream (a healthy swig until the consistency looks right 🙂 )
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • feta
  • mozarella
  • gruyere
  • salt and pepper
  1. Sweat onion, garlic and leek.
  2. Cook spinach (I put mine in the microwave but feel free to steam or whatever)
  3. Beat eggs with cream until it looks about right.
  4. Add crumbled feta and chopped mozzarella.
  5. Add onion, garlic , leek and spinach
  6. season.
  7. Pour into oven proof dish (the size depends on how much you have,  you want it to be about 2″ deep at least)
  8. Halve tomatoes and place cut side up in mixture.
  9. Grate however much gruyere you have over the top.
  10. Bake in medium oven (about 170, I used the aga on 150 and it was fine) until firm to touch and lightly browned,

Try not to eat it all as soon as it comes out of the oven.  I am afraid I had a taste before I remembered to take a photo.  By now there is an entire strip missing.


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It was DELICIOUS.  Obviously you can mix and match to use whatever is in your fridge, most cheeses will be fine and  you could experiment with the vegtables.  I like the tomatoes because they give a slight edge to what could otherwise be a rather rich dish  (in the same way I add tomatoes to macaroni and cauliflower cheese).

Next up is cheesey tear and share bread.  Now this is a “proper” recipe as you can’t really guess with bread.  It’ from Jo Wheatley’s Home Baking.  I am only at the second prove stage so can’t  tell you what it tastes like but thus far it feels rather heavy.  It was a pain in the neck to knead (I always knead by hand) and never reached the light stretchy stage I would usually expect.  Having said that it rose well in proove one, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • 500 g (17.6oz) strong white bread flour
  • 7 g (0.2oz) easy-blend/fast-action yeast
  • 8 g (0.3oz) sea salt
  • 10 g (0.4oz) caster sugar
  • 10 g (0.4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 handful of picked herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 120 ml (4.2fl oz) hot water
  • 200 ml (7fl oz) cold full-fat milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 100 g (3.5oz) mozzarella, grated
  • 150 g (5.3oz) Gruyère, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
  1. Tip the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, or a large mixing bowl. Mix together to combine and make a well in the centre.  I did this by hand.
  2. Combine the butter, herbs and garlic in a food processor to form a paste .  I did this by hand too – does this woman have an army of people to wash up after her?! Add to the flour mix. In a jug, mix the boiled water with the milk and egg and slowly add to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, then knead for 6 minutes in the machine or 10 minutes by hand.
  3. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for at least 90 minutes or until doubled in size. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds to knock back the dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 14–18 pieces and roll into balls.
  5. Mix the two grated cheeses together and set aside one third. Make an indent in each of the dough balls, divide the cheese between them then seal up the dough. Place the balls on the two prepared trays: start with the middle rolls and build around them.
  6. Loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove again for 1 hour
  7. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6. Brush the buns with egg wash, sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and bake in the oven for 18–22 minutes until golden.



I will not be usuing mozzerlla or gruyere as I used them up in the last recipe and will instead be using a selection of  old heels of assorted cheese last seen mooching around the back of my fridge.

Finally Cheese straws.  I also happen to have some puff pastry in the freezer so the last of the cheese will be used up. 

What is lurking in your fridge?  What could you turn it into rather than feed it to the bin or the compost?


Leftovers have played a large role in my life.  Perhaps because my parents had the war fresh in their minds they ensured that no food ever went to waste.  There were times when I would open the fridge door and stare at rows of little bowls of tiny amounts of food and despair, but on the leftover front I turned into my mother at a very early age.  I am particularly proud that I can feed a family of five on a decent lamb roast for three days and still have leftover cold meat for lunch/sandwiches (plus the bone for the dogs).  Roast on Sunday, shepherd’s pie on Monday and Stovies on Tuesday.

However, this post is about a different kind of leftover altogether.  The Boss makes his own beer.  It is lovely, although the smell can be a bit overpowering at times if you don’t like that kind of thing.  It also produces copious amounts of this as a side product.


Brewer’s yeast.  This time, before pouring it away it occurred to us that I could use it for breadmaking.  It was still rather runny so I ran it through a muslin.


Next time I wouldn’t bother.  First almost all of the yeast goes through in the liquid, you do get a tiny brick of yeast at the end but it seemed an awful waste of the rest.  I did try an put it through a second time but the same thing happened.  Secondly, if you have teenagers in the house they will make endless comments about the unspeakable things taking place in the kitchen and compare you unfavourably with parents who are normal.

So I just put it all in a small container, left it to settle and whoppee, a couple of hours later there was a lovely thick sludge at the bottom and I could pour off the excess liquid from the top.

The best recipes suggested using the yeast to make a sour dough starter.  I used this one from Ko-bo.   Here is the starter on day one.


Gorgeous isn’t it?

The addition of honey is inspired because it adds some richness and takes away any potential bitterness from the brewers yeast (a common complaint from many of the bakers I researched).  I didn’t have any malt barley and added some rye flour and crushed mixed seeds. Here is the finished result.


It rose a vast amount on the first rise, but less so on the second.  I am tempted to cook it without beating it down next time, just to compare the difference.  It is a very tasty loaf with a dense but crumbly crumb.  Also Ko-bo makes a small starter and uses all of it.  In more traditional soughdough style I have made double the amount and am going to keep it going.  Which does of course mean I have rather a lot of brewers yeast going if anyone is interested.


  Breakfast this morning.  One slice with just butter and one with marmite.  The latter may seem a bit of overkill if I am taste testing, but I love it so much and anyway, it’s practically a first cousin to the bread!