Making Leftovers New Again

With a few notable exceptions (turkey after Thanksgiving, cold roast chicken which sometimes tastes better than hot chicken, leftover macaroni and cheese) I really don't like leftovers!  However if you can figure out how to make one dish into a new dish, technically the resulting creation is no longer left over.

I had a lot of leftover roast goat (See "Mary Had a Little Goat" for that recipe).  It has been living in my freezer for over a month.  I was thinking about making "pulled goat sandwiches" by reheating the goat in bbq sauce and serving it on rolls with homemade coleslaw.  I still think that would have been good, but instead I decided to make goat curry.

Enjoying some Goat CurryThere is a curry plant, but what most of us think of curry is a mixture of spices, usually with coriander, cumin, and turmeric as a base.  I also added fresh ginger, Chinese five spice powder (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger, and something else, but I forget what spice).  The curry blend I used was kind of mild, so I also added garam masala, another pungent blend of spices.  I always cook my spices before adding the liquid.  I find it reduces any bitterness in the spice and enhances the flavor.  I love coconut milk in curry--it adds some sweetness to this savory dish--so I used light coconut milk as a basis for the broth.  To offset the sweetness and the spice, I added the fresh grated peel of one lemon and about a cup of low fat plain yogurt.  The yogurt increased the viscosity of the sauce and the depth of flavor of the curry.  I served the curry over homemade pasta, but rice of course would have been delicious.

Now what to do with all of this leftover curry...


Taking Advantage of The Late Summer Harvest

Summer is almost over.  I love winter and I can’t believe I feel sad, but somehow I do.  I’m trying to take advantage of the summer vegetables for as long as I can.  Tomatoes are finally priced somewhere below astronomical at the farmer’s market, so I decided to make homemade sauce.  The tomatoes are very sweet this time of year and I did a simple sauce with onions, garlic, and some red wine.  I love eggplant.  You have to be careful when you prepare it, however, because eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge.  It is also highly acidic so if you are like me and prone to sensitive stomachs, be judicious in the amount you eat or else be prepared to worship at the porcelain goddess. 

Baked Eggplant Stacks with Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato RaguTo make the stacks, I pan fried the eggplant.  To avoid using a lot of oil, I used an extremely hot pan with hardly any oil in it.  I sprinkled the eggplant with salt and pepper and pan fried them until they were golden brown.  I then layered the eggplant with the homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil from my herb garden, and baked the stacks in the oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese had melted.  I served it over pasta that I tossed in garlic and herb infused olive oil, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh basic.  It was a delicious and fairly easy meal.


You Never Know...

Tuna Carpaccio With Fried Quail Eggs RecipeI got a new cookbook recently—the Culinary Institute of America’s Spanish Tapas.  I highly recommend it.  When I get a new cookbook, I like to read it as though it were a novel.  I usually learn by doing, but it is amazing how much you can learn about technique and ingredients by reading.  I never thought about using quail eggs before, however quite a few recipes featured them as an ingredient.  Inspiration.  The trouble was finding them.  Finally, on a recent trip down to Charlottesville, I found them.  Of course, at this point, none of the recipes from the CIA inspired me, so I invented my own.  Traditionally, carpaccio of beef is served with an egg on top.  Instead of beef, I decided to make a tuna carpaccio.  For whatever reason, the quail (or maybe it was the tuna) seemed to beg for asian flavors, so I marinated the carpaccio in toasted sesame oil, ginger, scallions, and a bit of  soy, rice wine vinegar, and mirin.  And of course, there was a fried quail egg on top!  This recipe is a keeper.


Hot Tamales

They say that food is the way to a man's heart.  I'm not sure I completely agree with that statement since my husband will eat about anything and think it is delicious, but sometimes when I want to be nice I cook his favorite foods.  He loves Tamales.  I've never made them before and honestly it is a fairly labor intensive process, but the results were worth it.  Oh, and they tasted good too.

Tamales (the flowers were nice too)Tamales consist of a cornmeal exterior and a savory filling that is steamed in a corn husk or a plantain (banana) leaf.  Having never made them before I searched the vast expanses of the world wide web.  I used two recipes.  I based the filling on a recipe from Emeril, however instead of raisins I used prunes.  I didn't have any celery in the house, so I just omitted it.  The filling was delicious.  If you didn't want to make the tamale you could serve it over rice or pasta.  I also butterflied the chicken instead of quartering it, so I braised rather than stewed the chicken.  I thought that the ratio of lard to flour was too high in Emeril's recipe, so I used one from Alton Brown instead.  The tamales were delicious and I froze the leftovers for an easy meal when I only feel like boiling water.  See my instructions on how to tie a tamale.

On that note, I better go make dinner!  Tonight's experiment is quail eggs...


Lazy Summer Days

Yes, I know I have been remiss in updating the blog.   Rest assured, it isn't because I gave up cooking or eating.  I've travelled a bit and have taken the lazy days of summer to heart.  I remember my trip based on what I ate, Mussels and pomme frites in Brussels (of course), Raclette in Geneva, Thumper in Prague, and "Cosmopolitans" in Bratislava. 

I have to recommend Mussels in Brussels.  There are plenty of places to get good mussels in the States.  I think the difference in Belgium is that even the sketchy eateries know how to perfectly cook a mussel so they are flavorful and don't taste like a rubber band.  Just instinct, but I think the local beer helps a lot.  I am not a french fry gal, but the pomme frites in Brussels converted me.  I was confidentially told that the secret is frying the pomme frites twice resulting in a crispy exterior and creamy interior. 

Our hosts weren't too excited about having raclette for dinner in the middle of summer, but lucky for me they acquiesced. Raclette, a type of Swiss Cheese, has a fairly strong, but pleasant, flavor.  Traditionally, the swiss mountain men would take a wheel of raclette and melt it on the fire and then scrape off the melted cheese and serve it over potatoes or pickles.  The modern version is "raclette a gogo," or a basket of potatoes and cornichons and pickled onions, and of course cheese.  It's a gogo because as soon as you finish one plate of cheese another miraculously appears.  I think I literally ate a pound of cheese.  If you can find raclette in the States, I highly recommend trying it.  If you don't have a raclette maker (they sell them at Williams Sonoma), melt the cheese under the broiler.  Serve it with boiled fingerling potatoes and pickles.

The Kitchen Klutz Enjoying A Bratislavan CosmoThe rest of the trip was just as satisfying.  The rabbit in Prague was delicious.  It was served with a honey bacon reduction.  The sauce was actually very light and perfect with the rabbit which truly does taste like chicken.  In Bratislava, I ordered my "Cosmopolitan" by pointed to the table next to me and, using universal food language, motioned that I wanted what she was drinking.  The Slovakian version of the Cosmo is SO much better that the US version.  It tasted like a mixture of sour cherries (not the robitussin cough syrup version of cherry liquor, but real sour cherries) and subtle layers of Chinese five spice powder.  I wish I got the recipe.  I did buy some Slovakian Cherry liquor so I might try to experiment at home.

Anyway, back to the real world and real American cuisine.  I bought a duck at the farm market yesterday as well as some fresh figs.  I'm going to experiment roasting the duck with the figs.  Stay tuned for the results...