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Posts Tagged ‘leftover ideas’

Summer Luch

 

Although I am a proponent of early dinners, sometimes we switch over to a late lunch. Either way, it’s just breakfast and one another main meal that gets us through the day. If I’ve been clever enough to make some extra protein in another dinner, putting together the late lunch is a snap. And, that’s exactly what prompted this healthy and quite tasty summer salad lunch. I had made an extra pork tenderloin – nothing fancy, just a little seasoned rub – earlier in the week. I took all of the odds and ends of leftover vegetables and herbs I found in the fridge – some already cooked and some just a handful of raw waiting to make their magic – broad beans, corn, a bit of red bell pepper, a few favas, scallions, and only God knows what else – I heated the mix with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzled the warm vegetables with a bit of lemon juice and then turned the mix into a bed for the sliced tenderloin.   Couldn’t have been better if I was cooking from a recipe.

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Since there are just two of us when I roast a chicken I am faced with quite a lot of leftovers which translates to extra meals without a lot of cooking.  My first go-to is a chicken club sandwich – Steve, my dear husband is a lover of sandwich dinners.  At this time of the year the sandwich is not quite as delicious as it is in the summer with ripe juicy tomatoes on hand, but I chop up some of those sweet Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and they do the job quite nicely.

Even after making our sandwiches, there is still meat on the bones so I put the meaty carcass in a pot with cold water, onion, carrot, celery stalk (if I have it), herbs, and any leftover chicken stock or “jus” I have and simmer up a rich, chickeny broth.  I strain it, discarding everything but any meat floating about and the carcass.  I pull off the meat left on the bones and make a soup that will be dinner one night and a couple of lunches during the week.  For this particular broth, I added some diced carrots and onions along with a bag of chopped organic kale that was lurking in the freezer and some terrific Italian pasta from a brand called Rummo, a family-owned company in Campagna, Italy.  The pasta is what made the soup – it is extremely flavorful and stays al dente so you get that wonderful chewiness that great dried pasta reflects.  I was introduced to this brand by Rita, one of my favorite Italian baristas.  Although I haven’t seen this brand in many stores, Rita purchases it somewhere uptown in Manhattan.  I went on line and checked its availability and found an old review from New York Magazine where 3 NYC chefs rated it extremely low.  I can only assume that the company has changed its process because there is no way I’d rate it at the bottom of a list of dried pastas.  I find it has great flavor and cooks to the perfect “al dente” texture.

 

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beef-vegetable-soup
All during the NY winter months soup is often on the dinner table.  There is nothing better with a tossed green salad, some homemade bread or a crusty baguette, and, of course, a glass of red.  I normally make a non-meat vegetable soup, but I had just one beef shank in the freezer so thought I’d use it to add some oomph to the vegetables.  Beef shanks are less expensive than many other cuts of beef and, because they are a cross cut from the leg which is well-used muscle, shanks need a long slow braise to melt the connective tissue and tenderize the meat.  Whole shanks are often braised in red wine rather like boeuf bourguignon or cut into pieces for use in all types of stews.  For my soup, I first cooked the shank in a combination of water and stock seasoned with leek greens, a couple of cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper until it was beginning to pull away from the bone.  I used a fairly large soup pot so I can make a big batch, part of which can be frozen for another day. I lifted the cooked meat from the broth and then stained the broth, discarding the solids.  I returned the broth to the pot and added the following with enough extra water to cover the mix by at least an inch, but you can add or subtract anything and still have a terrific pot to feed your body and your soul.  The soup needs to cook for about an hour to allow the flavors to be extracted from the vegetables.

Makes a big pot

One 28 ounce can chopped plum tomatoes
4 large button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced into small pieces
¼ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
A few large handfuls of baby spinach I had leftover from a salad
Salt and pepper

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Fresh Pea Soup_DSC_4303

 

You know I can’t really remember how I made this soup.  I believe that I had some well-flavored and leftover chunky potato soup in the fridge to start the recipe.  I had some fresh peas (in the pod) from which I removed the stem end and any strings that came along with the ends and a few pea shoots which I pureed together in the food processor fitted with the metal blade.  I added the pea puree to the potato soup (which already had onion, garlic, thyme and chicken stock and maybe something else) and just barely heated it up to keep the lovely soft green color.  I kept a few pea shoots for garnish along with some type of edible flower – again I don’t remember what it was.  I could have pressed the soup through a sieve or pureed in the blender, but I rather liked the gently lumpy look.  The soup had a lovely pea flavor and I stretched the original leftover potato soup into a very appealing first course for 6 people.  Waste not, want not I say.

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panzanella

 

I think almost every culture makes a tasty dish using its stale bread to keep from wasting it.  Once upon a time, this was for the economy of it, but eventually the recipes became part of the everyday menu.   Originally most breads staled very quickly – say by the end of the day – unlike modern commercial breads that seem to stay “fresh” for weeks. I believe that a piece of dry bread was the original “teether” for babies and maybe it still is in other parts of the world (I think most American moms simply buy a package of zwieback.).
The quickest and simplest way to use those stale slices is to turn them into crumbs for use in meatballs or meatloaf or toasted on simple pasta dishes.  My mom saved every type of old bread in a big bag – brown paper before resealable plastic  – to make stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey or Sunday roast chicken or to create rich, buttery bread puddings.  Often the stale or dry bread is soaked to soften, as it is for French toast in milk and eggs or with a vinaigrette as for the Italian salad panzanella (using rustic loaves) or the Middle Eastern salad Fatoush (pita).
With the tomato season at its height right now, I turned some drying ciabatta into lightly toasted cubes to create a panzanella-style salad.  I made a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh oregano.  I tossed the bread cubes in a bit of the vinaigrette to soften slightly; then, I added chunks of tomato and slivers of sweet onion and basil to the soften bread.  I drizzled with more vinaigrette and tossed the whole mess together.  This was dinner along with a couple of grilled garlic sausages.  Perfection.

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FritattaWe had so much kale and almost one whole sausage left from dinner, so I let a couple of days go by and then reconstituted the mix in a dinner time frittata.  Had just enough mushroom-barley soup in the freezer to make a little first course and then the frittata and a salad made the complete meal.
All I did was chop the kale and sausage and sautéed it a bit in some olive oil.  I beat 4 eggs with a drop of milk and salt and pepper and poured the eggs over the hot leftovers.  I sprinkled the top with Parmesan cheese and popped the pan in a preheated 400ºF oven for about 12 minutes.
Served it straight from the pan on the table.  Altogether it couldn’t have been a more satisfying winter meal.  Of course, we had just a taste of Sauvignon Blanc with it!

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