Three batch cooking recipes to save time, money and food waste
This is the kind of pie that cold days are made for,” says Suzanne Mulholland, AKA The Batch Lady.
“Easy to prep and a cinch to assemble from frozen if you get organised and make the filling ahead, I like to keep a batch of this in the freezer, ready for comfort food emergencies.”
Chicken and mushroom humble pie
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
115g frozen chopped onions
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
240ml chicken stock
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onions and chicken pieces and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and the chicken is sealed. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and stir to combine with the chicken and onions, then cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms have released all their water.
2. Add the flour to the pan and stir to coat the chicken and vegetables, then pour in the chicken stock and stir well. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring and thickening the sauce as you do, then bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, until thickened, then stir through the mustard and season well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
If you’re cooking now: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Pour the pie filling into a large, ovenproof baking dish smaller than the sheet of pastry, then lay the pastry over the top of the filling and tuck in the edges. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg, then transfer the pie to the oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden and well risen. Cut into generous wedges and serve hot with mash and veg alongside, if you like.
If you’re making ahead to freeze: Leave the filling mixture to cool to room temperature, then ladle into a large, labelled freezer bag and freeze flat with the sheet of pastry alongside for up to three months.
Then… remove the pie filling and pastry sheet from the freezer and leave to defrost in the fridge, ideally overnight. Once defrosted, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and assemble, cook and serve the pie in the same way described above.
Sweet potato miso medley
“This delicious one-pot meal can be prepped ahead and ready for the freezer in a matter of moments,” says Mulholland.
“If you’re not familiar with miso, don’t be scared – it brings a delicious savoury edge to the dish that works wonderfully with the sweetness of the vegetables.”
115g frozen chopped onions
2 tsp frozen chopped garlic
1 x 500g bag frozen sweet potato chunks
175g frozen sliced peppers
1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained
4 tsp miso paste
1 x 400g tin coconut milk
If you’re cooking now: Put all the ingredients in a large pan over a medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Spoon into serving bowls and serve hot.
If you’re making ahead to freeze: Tip all the ingredients into a large, labelled freezer bag, then give the contents of the bag a gentle stir to combine. Freeze flat for up to three months.
Then… remove the bag from the freezer and leave to fully defrost in the fridge, ideally overnight. Once defrosted, tip the medley into a large pan over a medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Spoon into serving bowls and serve hot.
Oreo peanut butter ice cream cake
“This looks so impressive and makes a wonderful dessert for a celebration or even a great substitute to a birthday cake, but is really only an assembly job that takes minimal effort to prep,” says Mulholland.
“If your family aren’t fans of peanut butter, try chocolate hazelnut spread instead.”
1 x 154g packet Oreos
60g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
200g chocolate digestive biscuits
80g smooth peanut butter, plus a little extra to drizzle over the top
1 x 900ml tub of vanilla ice cream, softened
1. Grease an 18cm springform tin with butter and set aside.
2. Set aside three Oreos to use for decoration, then add the rest to a large freezer bag along with the digestive biscuits and smash with a rolling pin to fine crumb consistency. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter and stir to combine. Tip the crumb mixture into the prepared springform tin and press down into the base in an even layer. Transfer to the fridge to firm up while you prepare the topping.
3. Tip the ice cream into a mixing bowl (it should be soft but not runny). Put the peanut butter in a separate small microwavable bowl and microwave for a few seconds until runny, then pour the peanut butter into the ice cream and beat together with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. Remove the base from the fridge and pour over the ice cream mixture, levelling it out in an even layer. Dot a little more peanut butter over the surface, then use a knife or skewer to ripple through the ice cream.
5. Crush the remaining Oreos and sprinkle over the top, then cover the ice cream cake with clingfilm and transfer to the freezer for at least three hours to set.
If you’re serving now: Once the ice cream cake has fully set, remove from the freezer and leave to thaw slightly for around 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the tin, then open the springform tin, cut the cake into wedges and serve.
Or, simply leave the cake in the freezer for up to three months. Then… remove the cake from the freezer and leave to thaw slightly for around 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the tin, then open the springform tin, cut the cake into wedges and serve.
Recipes from ‘The Batch Lady: Cooking On A Budget’ by Suzanne Mulholland (published by HQ, £22; photography by Haarala Hamilton).