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  • Lizzie Heyes

Using it up

Inspired by some recent Saturdays spent volunteering with Food Cycle in London, the concept of food waste has been occupying quite a high percentage of my thoughts. Which isn’t anything new, my mind is in constant orbit around the central theme of food. It’s not unusual for me to lie awake at night torn over questions including, but not limited to: does this recipe suit a meal with my housemates or a catch-up dinner with a friend? How many side dishes, dips and salads is too many? Will this pasta be too heavy considering the weather on Tuesday? Very often I drift off to sleep thinking of the last wilting handful of dill languishing in the veg drawer, or the forgotten half-block of halloumi that didn’t make it into the frittata, or the lone piece of salmon left from the 2-pack which is swiftly approaching its use-by date.

Turning to the internet in hope of a solution to this ingredient-induced insomnia, I found recipes which would only increase my growing assortment of odds and ends. Googling for recipes requiring “one handful of wilting dill” would cost me an arm and a leg in packets of pistachios or Katamala olives, of which I would need only one fifth of the packet.

So this week, after having set my heart on making Turkish eggs for a chilled weekend breakfast, I looked at what I was left with and decided to implement a kitchen crackdown. Every packet of herbs, every abandoned jar of something-in-brine, every last scraping of condiment should be used up by the following week.

Day 0

To set the scene, I have to first rave about how epic the first dish of this challenge was. Following Chef John’s recipe, I discovered the most incredible mix of flavours, bolder than those of my former favourite breakfast dish, Sami Tamimi’s “Scrambled Shakshuka” in Falastin, and yet not too overpowering.

Knowing that the two core elements in Turkish eggs - yoghurt and obviously eggs - are not incredibly flavourful foods was the reason I hadn’t attempted the dish before. But seeing the dish featured on the Instagram pages of the many London restaurants I follow, I was open to having my opinion changed. The yoghurt base itself included dill, garlic, and cayenne - not so flavourless after all - and the poached eggs which sits on top of it is drizzled with spice-infused butter and a herb and chilli oil.

Using slapdash measurements and a few alterations (the recipe called for raw garlic, whereas I roasted a bulb then squished in a clove or two for a more subtle flavour), the result was incredible. The spiced butter was the standout star, the nuttiness and warmth from the combination of cumin and the browned butter was the stuff of dreams. The dill and garlic yoghurt had enough flavour to be enjoyable alone, but also mixed well with the other elements of the dish. Eggs are eggs, and especially when boiled or poached they are difficult to make sing on their own, though to my own credit I poached them to perfection with a dash of vinegar in the water to give the whites a little sweetness. The parsley and chilli oil was a bit superfluous, and I think in future I would opt for a simple sprinkle of chopped parsley.

(Served alongside were some leftover Spinach Fatayer from Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley’s Falastin, some leftover Lemony hummus with ginger from Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage’s Flavour, and some roasted asparagus).

As the dust settled on this momentous brunch discovery, I was faced with the consequences. A bag and a half of dill, a mountain of parsley, some solidified spiced butter, chillis and the remaining parsley oil - food for thought for the rest of the day…

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