It's Another Freezer Week
Featuring miso-dumpling soup and roasted stone fruit
Because Scraps is a globally renowned publication, and I am often whisked here and there on very important business, this week’s edition has been written in transit — I am on a train to somewhere in the midlands.
When I think about the last couple of weeks, the word intense keeps coming up, because work has been quite full on and there is always a fire (small or otherwise) to put out. This is mainly because next week we’re going on holiday and I need to overwork to allow myself a week off. Rob is busy too. And most days I get to 5pm and realise I have no idea what we should have for tea.
I was thinking about another freezer week post anyway because the freezer is packed with leftovers, and sometimes it really is good to just do a bit of an inventory and pledge to use up half the stuff sitting in your drawers. It’s been so good! One dish I forgot to photograph is a coconutty noodle soup that was hot and sour, topped with crispy mushrooms and a wedge of lime on the side.
Before we get to the recipes, I wanted to say hi to some new subscribers. For reasons I do not understand, Scraps got something like 100+ new subs this week. Welcome! The next issue will be out in a fortnight, after a very overdue holiday.
Omar finally released a full version of the beautiful interlude from his latest album.
1. A miso-dumpling soup
It started with a bag of gyoza. We always have a couple of these in the freezer, and earlier this week I was figuring out what I could do for lunch that wasn’t ‘noodles’. I decided to make a really quick broth with miso paste and whatever aromatics and veg I had lying around, with half a dozen of these guys dunked in near the end.
Last issue was all about my veg scrap stock, and that would also be good here, but here’s what I made. A tablespoon of miso into a saucepan, topped up with hot water. To it I added some finely shredded ginger and some chopped spring onion — aromatics are important in a tasty soup, so if you have it in you to smash a garlic clove and chuck it in here, go for it. I also used the last of a jar of crispy chilli oil, the stuff that’s mulchy and oily and fun to drizzle on fried eggs. That already has garlic, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon so it’s a nice shortcut to loads of flavour.
My other freezer go-to are frozen vegetables, and I usually have different ones in rotation based on what’s on offer or what looks good. Right now, I have green beans and edamame, which are both perfect for this, so one the stock came to the boil, I chucked the veg in for three minutes and lowered the heat a little.
Then, in go the dumplings. These cook in about three minutes from frozen. That’s it. If you prefer chicken or pork stock, that would work, and I think most vegetables would be good here (some mushrooms maybe, or even some roast cauliflower). You could even add noodles in to bulk it out more, but it was pretty filling without.
2. Chicken, nectarine, and olive traybake
This is actually an adaptation of a Thomasina Miers recipe that uses figs. It’s one of my favourite things to make, so when I found half a packet of chicken legs in the freezer I figured this simple dish would be a good way to use them up. You can actually shred the meat off the bone before serving if the idea of gnawing on a leg or two seems a bit beneath you. I quite like it, it makes me feel like a gross little fox rifling through a bin.
All I needed was some fresh thyme and some figs — the dish also includes red onions, olives (which we always have plenty of) and I served it with some roast potatoes — but obviously what happened was I went to the shops and there were zero figs.
Figs have this very specific jammy texture when they roast and they’re quite mellow, too — even though most stone fruit would work, I ended up going with nectarines because they were a) ripe, b) cheap, and c) see a) and b). To try and help them roast, I sliced each one into two and then gently ripped them with my fingers — this tears the flesh into these craggy edges, which help them roast and caramelise a bit. You can also do this dish with chicken thighs, too.
Look how jazzy all the vegetables are!
The recipe is so easy because the onion, olives, and fruit is seasoned, splashed with balsamic, and roasted for 20 ish minutes. Then, after searing the chicken legs in a hot pan, place them on top of the veg and roast for another 20 minutes or so. A heel of crusty bread would be nice to soak up the pan juices, too, and you could scatter some herbs over at the end if you wanted.
3. Alison Roman’s every-shallot-you-own pasta
Not a lot to say about this one other than it’s a mind-blowingly simple dish. Everyone went bananas for it a few years ago, it involves a lot of shallots, slowly cooked down until they thicken, sweeten, and take on an almost fudgy texture. Tomato paste is added, too, and it’s important to really stir the paste on a medium-high heat to let the sugars caramelise and the tinny taste cook off a bit. You will see tomato paste go from a very angry red to a sort of orange colour as it cooks. Keep an eye on it.
We made this on the Friday of the bank holiday weekend. We had a busy one planned; a big get together with Rob’s uni friends, then from there we’d head to Kings Cross and head up North to see my family. On our quietest night of the four-day weekend, we stood around the pot and gently cooked this umami-packed dish.
What I love about this dish is its versatility; it’s a thick coating for the pasta, rather than a sauce. Passatta, chopped tomatoes, or a tin of tomatoes would bulk out the sauce (what you toss the pasta in is essentially a paste, so it can take a bit more liquid). The tomato paste is in a surprising quantity, but it brings an important savouriness. I think you could make a very different, but very tasty dish by subbing in oyster sauce, miso paste, or even gochujang in its place (maybe subbing pasta in for fresh egg noodles?). I think it would handle some leftover roast vegetables chucked in, too, but at its core, this is a really simple meal. Any leftover red or white onions could also be used in place of shallots.
That’s it from me — thanks for bearing with me while I got a thousand deadlines off my back this last fortnight, and if you think a friend (or enemy!) might like Scraps, do forward it on to them. And if you make anything here, please tell me! I’m on @ChrisMandle1 on Instagram.