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Cupboard clearout: Mac and cheese, split peas and pain au Speculoos

It turns out before too long, I'll have to move house.

And you know what moving house means? Moving kitchen. And you know what moving kitchen means (apart from a pain in the arse)? It means having to go through all the crap in your kitchen and try and use it all up before the removal trucks turn up, discovering all manner of antique oddities that you bought back when shell suits were considered appropriate casual wear and never used again.

This week I've begun the excavations of my cupboards and fridge while the clock counts down to moving out day.

The first thing I decided had to make an ex-resident of my fridge was an enormous jar of sauerkraut with about half an inch of slowly deceasing cabbage in it. I'd been refraining from eating it because I had a recipe that I wanted to use it in. Alas, I'd totally forgotten what it was, so it had been in stasis waiting for my kraut-based amnesia to pass.

Luckily, during MoFo, I'd spotted Mac and Shews on Vegan in Brighton - a mac and cheese recipe from PPK where the part of cheese sauce was played by cashews and sauerkraut.

it was fabulous. Seriously, the best vegan cheese sauce I have ever made or eaten. Do yourself a favour and go cook it now. No, really, stop reading this and go make it!

Now, I'm not sure if this next cupboard clearing out attempt is genius or madness, so I'll let you call it. After going to Amsterdam a while back, I've still got the world's largest jar of Speculoos.

I like the stuff, but I guess I just don't like it enough to need a 5kg or whatever it is sized jar, so I've been trying to work it into other stuff as an ingredient rather than waiting for the one week in a million where I fancy some Speculoos on my toast.

I used it as a filling for some cupcakes the other day, and that was kind of nice, then I remembered I had some vegan croissant mix past its sell-by date in the fridge. I decided to kill two birds with one stone (is there a vegan equivalent for that phrase? Puree two kales with one blender or something?) and use the Speculoos in the middle of the croissants.

I sort of hoped to create a pain au Spekuloos - fluffy pastry around a warm sweet centre. I think I created a sort of nuclear reaction instead - the molten filling was so hot I probably needed St John ambulance on standby to fix up the third degree burns.

It was a nice, if not entirely successful idea.

The next ingredient sent to meet their maker were the remainder of a bag of split peas that had, in another life, been the basis of pease pudding.

I decided to turn them into a kale and split pea soup, based on a recipe in Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It was pleasant, but didn't rock my world. I amped up the paprika suggested in the book, but I reckon there's still more spice needed if and when I plan a return visit to split pea soup world.

Still, three ingredients almost down, a million more to go. Wish me luck, and expect more cupboard clearout posts in the very near future!

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  1. Congratulations on the move! Are you excited about your new house? It can be tough to get rid of all of your cupboard goods, while not buying MORE things to cook with them. It's a tricky equation! I've been meaning to make that mac and shews forever! I love sauerkraut, and so I'm sure I'd go crazy for it. About the 2 birds/1 stone adage, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, "cut two carrots with one knife." You could give that a go; although, I always enjoy a good kale/blender analogy! :)

  2. Oh man, moving kitchens is the worst! I remember the last time I moved, I was like, "you know what, I probably only need 5-6 boxes." (I'm a terrible estimator.) And then I realized I needed at least 10 just for my kitchen stuff!

    I love that PPK Mac & Shews. As soon as you said you had sauerkraut for some reason, I knew it was being saved for that.

    I will take all the speculoos off of your hands that you need me to...

    Oh! I forgot who, but I think it was someone in the Philly AR scene who said "Feed two birds with one scone." I love it!

  3. That mac and cheese looks amazing! Love cupboard clean outs- so satisfying using up stuff :)

  4. I love having an excuse to clear out my kitchen cupboards. They get pretty out of control so every now and then I have to set myself the task of tackling the craziness.
    The mac looks delicious as does that simple soup. I'm actually not big on speculoos though I got excited about it and brought a couple of jars back from Paris which are still waiting to be used...
    If you've got more split peas to use make Ethiopian! I've got a recipe here and linked up some other interesting split pea recipes http://coconutandberries.com/2013/10/01/ethiopian-yellow-split-pea-butternut-stew/

  5. Holy crap, all this food looks so delicious! Especially that mac and cheese. I absolutely hate all that is involved in moving. I have managed to minimalize a lot of things in my life but the kitchen is surely not one of them. Good luck on the move!

  6. Pain au speculoos is a brilliant idea! It's too bad it didn't turn out. Sounds a lot like the time I tried to make pain au nutella; paste stuffed in croissants gets SO hot in the oven!! Ouch. That reminds me, I found 4 (!) jars of speculoos in my work drawers the other day... No idea how I managed to hoard so many or what to do with them!

  7. Those are some seriously impressive pantry/fridge eats! Whenever I'm trying to eat through my current stock of edibles, I end up with crazy things like french fry soup (which I seriously don't ever recommend attempting.) Good luck on clearing out the surplus for your move!

  8. Good luck with pantry reduction - I think it is even harder to resist new stuff than to use the old - at least you have the rediscovery excitment - after the third degree burns start to fade! I was just reading about recipes for vegan cheese using some sauerkraut juice so am interesting to hear how well your mac and cheese went. I also have a great recipes (only made it once but it was amazing) for an asian split pea soup with watercress and star anise (on my blog). Though I think I would prefer the split pea and kale soup - am sure a good seasoned salt mix and lots of smoked paprika would do wonders for it.

  9. I love moving houses because it forces me to clean out the pantry, otherwise it will never happen and all these wonderful ingredients I bought to make special recipes will die in vein. I actually randomly found a specialty chilli paste last night that had expired last year, oops. That mac and cheese looks so good! Totally making that one when the mystery bottle of kraut I had bought at some point reappears from the back of my fridge.

  10. Ahhhh I just had “Speculoos” (aka Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter in the U.S.) today on toast - it was so good when it melted. Looks like I will be finishing the jar soon this week :( Oh goodness, the mac & cheese dish looks amazing…I made two different mac n cheese versions when I got back from Argentina - from VeganYumYum and Chef Chloe’s … and I mixed both recipes together - and it was so yum! Wishing you best of luck with the move!

  11. That looks really delicious! I'm in the same boat with moving house before the end of the year. My meals are getting more and more creative as I try not to buy any non-perishables and clear the presses...

  12. I had a shiver of fear run through me just at the thought of moving kitchens. You've done very well with using things up. Everything you've made deserves first billing — not second-hand necessity-looking at all. Hope your move goes well and you really like your new place!

  13. Luckily y move was like 3 miles away, so the kitchen was unpacked quite easily. and my husbands evil plan of going through everything and throwing most of the stuff from the house was cut short because of time. so we prioritized that he couldnt throw anything from the kitchen and he got to throw all the clothes and other junk! all the best for the move!


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