There are usually some leftovers when I cook. Not the meal very often but its components. For example, today I have about 4 cups of cubed and cooked potatoes in a tub in the refrigerator left from last week. They are running out of time. This seems like a place to start so I look around for other additions that will turn into a pot of something good.
I always keep carrots, olive oil and spices around. In my dehydrated stores, mushrooms are a wonderful umami booster to any dish. There has been a leek in the crisper for a while the tops looking a little shabby. In the fridge also is some milk I must use up and a tub of sour cream with a couple of nice dollops that need to go away before it’s too late. Not sounding very glamorous is it?
Well, here’s how we’ll put the glam to the pan:
Clean, slice and sauté a leek (an onion will also do) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft and slightly golden on some pieces. Add the cooked potato cubes and go over them with a potato masher until coarsely but evenly mashed. Stir in about 5 cups milk (I had whole milk), add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Also add spices you like. I used parsley flakes for a hint of greenery and coriander for a hot and lemony hit. A pinch of red pepper flakes adds nice heat if you like that. I do!
This needs to be simmered until it bubbles a bit and while we wait for that use a carrot peeler and slice a medium carrot with it to make ultra thin slices. It whiles away the time it takes for the soup to bubble and adds beautiful color to the pot. Those dehydrated mushrooms I mentioned come into play here. I grab a few slices and crush them in my hand and add the flakes to the pot. You can’t see them much but you sure will taste the mellow earthy goodness they impart.
Once everything has a chance to simmer and blend flavors it’s time to add a bit more creaminess. It’s time to close off the flame so the dairy components won’t break and look grainy. Those dollops of sour cream are just the touch. If you happen to have some regular cream, a shot of that will add more richness. Just stir it and let it melt right in. As a final touch that adds that Je’ ne sais quoi (that’s how a diva says “I don’t know what”) a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese gives everything a sharper taste. Don’t add too much or the secret will be revealed. You want just enough to have people try to guess what that great (or grated) taste is. Another ingredient that does that in tiny amounts is nutmeg. Grate some fresh or go to your spice rack an add just a wee pinch.
In the end our leftovers have never looked and tasted better. The refrigerator is slightly cleaner and the company at the dining room table are enjoying themselves better after raking leaves, working on the car and cleaning and cooking. I think after all this work we’ll have to dress up for a date night tonight. And that’s how we glam the leftovers.
Sometimes the cheaper cuts of meat make the most delicious dishes. Most times they are enough to feed a good size crowd too. The part I like best is that they are an easy plate to prepare… those set and forget it meals.
A while back I purchased a good enameled cast iron dutch oven. I’m getting lots of use out of it this winter. It makes great stews, soups and is great for roasting about anything. Arm roast was my latest item on the menu and it sure turned out great. To begin this is some of the prep work:
- Sear in olive oil a 3 lb. arm roast on both sides
- cut six medium red potatoes in quarters
- chop four carrots in chunks
- add a half cup of dehydrated onion
- 1/4 cup dehydrated mushroom or 5 fresh in slices
- pour in 1 cup red wine, a cup of water and halfway through, a 12 oz. beer
- season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dehydrated onions and mushroooms
Preheat the oven to 350°. Once the roast is seared on both sides right in the dutch oven throw a few of the potatoes under the meat to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Add the wine, a cup of salted water, some pepper, garlic powder and a 12 oz bottle of good beer. Put the lid on and let it all cook for the next three and a half hours. Make sure there is enough liquid bubbling around the meat at the half way point. It should reduce a bit and become an unctuous gravy but if your lid doesn’t fit tight all the liquid might evaporate. Add more wine or beer if necessary. Sometimes using aluminum foil is better for sealing the pot well. Do what ever it takes to keep the liquid from drying up.
After the cooking time give it a little rest and let the juices stop bubbling so you can eat it without blistering your tongue.
It was tough for us to wait with all the delicious aroma filling the house, but we managed. Applause to the way the dutch oven cooks up a tender arm roast. I didn’t have to do anything but fill it with meat, veggies, seasonings and leftover libations. The results were outstanding!
I fell in love with this dish the minute I saw Jaques Pepin make it on TV. I never thought to put a piece of fish inside a bed of shredded potatoes to steam it to a flaky doneness but after watching this master, I just had to try it.
It sure turned out to be a wonderful method of cooking salmon or any other large fillet of fish. Jaques used sea bass in his recipe but I just happened to have some salmon which worked quite nicely also. I may have to try this method on several kinds of fish to see how they turn out but I was quite happy with tonight’s dinner.
The recipe began with three medium potatoes shredded with a box grater and squeezed of its liquid. Don’t just throw the liquid out when you squeeze the potato shred… collect that juice in a small bowl or plastic container and set it aside to settle. The starch will settle to the bottom and the liquid will rise to the top where you can pour it off and enjoy a free tablespoon or so of potato starch to thicken sauces. I used this starch to thicken a lemony wine sauce to pour over this dish when it was done.
With potatoes shredded, and juice set aside, I chopped up a small leek and tossed it together with the potatoes. I seasoned this mixture with salt, pepper and the zest and juice of half a lemon. Next, in a stainless skillet I heated some extra virgin olive oil…about two tablespoons and placed one fourth of the potato mixture in a spot as big as the salmon fillet and another fourth in the other side of the skillet the same way. With the heat on medium-high, I place a fillet on each bed of potato and leek and let it cook with a lid on until the potato was well browned and the fish was beginning to steam…about three minutes or so.
Once the fish started to become more opaque, on each fillet I place the remaining two fourths of potato mixture on top with a drizzle of olive oil and carefully flipped the fillets over to brown the potatoes and steam the fish on the other side. This time I placed a good couple of servings of asparagus fresh from the garden directly between the fillets. The lid went on again. After about three minutes everything was ready to plate up.
Now this empty skillet still had something to offer. There was a bit of browned bits stuck on and with that reserved potato juice I mentioned before, I poured off the liquid and pure starch was left on the bottom. This other half of the lemon’s juice and its zest went right in along with some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and a splash of dry white wine (water works fine too). I re-heated the skillet, poured in this slurry and it thickened immediately to a perfect consistency. It was so tasty on top of the fish as well as the asparagus.
Here’s a quick and easy one made solely in the microwave…and well, a toaster too. Just microwave a potato (thoroughly scrubbed) about the size of your fist or less. Microwaves vary, so cook on high power what ever time it takes to make it feel tender all the way through when a fork is inserted. Mine took exactly five minutes. Make a ric-rac design across the top by pricking your fork in deeply from one end to the other. Squeeze the ends until the potato pops open at the seam (you might want to do this with using a cloth or oven mitts ’cause that potato’s gonna be hotter ‘n a two dollar pistol). There should be a nice well in the center now so crack your egg and drop it in it. Some might spill over, it’s OK. Put it back in the microwave and continue to cook at ten second intervals until the egg white is all white. Do this for about a minute and keep an eye on it. You don’t want the yolk to burst.
Remove, and invert a bowl over the plate, go make some toast, and pour some O.J. Remove the bowl now, and check the egg for doneness. It might need a couple more 10 second intervals with the bowl on. Mine was just right by the time the toast was done. I gave it a dot of butter, sprinkled a little salt and pepper over it and had me a dandy little breakfast. Have a nice day!
This is one for the holidays with its red and green roasted peppers decorating a creamy white potato soup. Besides, cold weather means you gotta have soup! The roasted peppers also add more than decoration. Another layer of flavor is always called for. To make this I used:
- 4 medium russet potatoes (would have loved new or Yukon but didn’t have any at the moment) cooked in microwave, cooled then cut in 1/2 inch dice
- 6 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. Neuftachel cheese (cream cheese will also work)
- 1 small roasted green pepper
- 1 small roasted red pepper
- 1 small onion (all vegetables in tiny dice)
- a good dash each of : garlic powder, parsley, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp salt or salt to taste.
Prepare the potatoes and set aside. Prepare the peppers also by roasting them directly over the flame.
For electric stoves use a sturdy long set of tongs to hold the peppers until they are black and blistered all over. Place them in a paper bag to steam, and set it aside with the diced potatoes. Using 3/4 of the potatoes, put them in a stock pot or dutch oven with a cup of the milk, and the cheese. Heat that over medium heat until the cheese is melted and mash the cubes of potato until you have basic mashed potatoes. Add remaining milk and stir well and often. Lower heat if you need. Add dashes of the spices and salt.
Remove the peppers from the bag, rub off all the black skin and rinse off. It’s OK if a few black flecks remain. Cut in tiny dice. I used the equivelent of 1/2 red pepper from a jar and diced it (no red pepper in the frige) the same as the green pepper. In a spot of olive oil brown off the diced vegetables. Add dashes of the spices to them as well. Add also the diced potatoes and let them gain a bit of brown on the edges stirring everything in the skillet on high heat. Pour the contents of the skillet into the milk and potatoes when veggies are done, and stir everything together. Simmer for a few minutes to blend all the wonderful flavors.