Leftovers Can Be Fun

After the holidays the chances are you have a refrigerator full of leftovers. In my case the leftovers are usually because I overbought and overcooked . Whatever the reason, my bet is that you can come up with a really good meal with a little creative thinking and inventive substitutions. My daughter said it looked like I was playing “Chopped” with myself.

Tapas or Piattini (small plates) meals are always a lot of fun and a really good fit with odds and ends of leftovers. The original menu for the weekend consisted of:

What I was left with included:

  • Sea Scallops – Our Italian feast of the Seven Fishes got overplayed. We ran out of steam after the shrimp and clams and were left with some great scallops
  • Cauliflower Risotto – The original dish was great and I had over a cup sitting in refrigerator that worked great as a base.
  • Zucchini – My plans to make a faux pasta with the zucchini changed and we had 3 small zucchini to work with.
  • Prime Rib. I always over order on the beef. The good news is that the Paula Dean Recipe produces a perfect medium rare. The result is that we had beef that could be recooked and still not be over cooked
  • Sauces and dips. I had made a horseradish cream sauce for the prime rib and a Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese dip
  • My son in law can eat shrimp. It is rare that there are leftovers when he is around, but we had 5 jumbo shrimp needing to be used.
  • Sautéed Cauliflower. I had blanched cauliflower and marinated it in olive oil and sautéed garlic and served it as both a side dish and an appetizer
  • Other stuff. We had a few red peppers and a bunch of peeled garlic. I found a package of frozen peas in the freezer and we had a waning supply of fresh herbs

Yes this is a lot of stuff and turning it into an interesting meal was a bit of a challenge.

What I came up with included:

Pan Roasted Scallops Served with Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Sauce with Dill

I Pan seared the scallops in butter and then finished them in the oven. The fact that they had been in the frig for 2 days wrapped in paper towels enabled me to get a good sear/crust.

Pan Seared Beef and Sautéed Pimentos Served with a Horseradish Cream Sauce.

I sautéed the red peppers with garlic in olive oil and then quickly seared the beef in the same pan just to warm it and keep the center of the beef pink.

Turned Zucchini Boats Sautéed In Butter

There is something about the French. Say what you will, but they can cook. The classic preparation of turned vegetables is just cool. And, by the way you can turn something ordinary like leftover zucchini into something impressive is fun. Check out this video. https://youtu.be/DfV6HTvQ1Cc

Cauliflower Risotto with Peas, Mushrooms and Sautéed Shrimp

This dish was a great “catch-all” and a big hit. The cauliflower risotto was a great base. I added more cauliflower, peas, chopped shrimp and a little milk and warmed it up in a sauce pan.

We had some really nice wine and wound up with a really good meal, full stomachs and an empty refrigerator. It really was a lot of fun.

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.

 

Sometimes a Low Carb Dish Is Better Than The Classic

It is hard to believe that a low carb risotto could be better than a classic risotto. As we get through the holidays we all want to start eating healthier. This dish tastes great and has an amazing texture. By replacing rice with chopped cauliflower you are significantly reducing the carbs. The addition of a cornstarch slurry versus the traditional cream really gives dish a wonderful rich texture. This one of those dishes that you have to taste to believe.

Cauliflower Risotto works amazingly well as an accompanying dish with a pan roasted cod, seabass or even grilled salmon. Try it!

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.

“Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass, Kiss Your Ass, Kiss His Ass, Happy Hanukkah”.

Every family has their holiday traditions. The Kenny family has a wonderful set of quirky traditions that keep us laughing and crying. For several years after my dad died in 1995 the whole family travelled somewhere to celebrate Christmas together and developed a special set of traditions.

  1. Watching Christmas Vacation

How many times can you watch the same movie? Owning copies in VCR, BETA, CD, Blue Ray and DVD is an indication that we like it no matter the technology. You have to love the fact that every time you watch it you notice something different. We all have our favorite lines that have become part of our holiday vernacular. Some of my favorites:

Clark to company execs: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss my ass, Kiss your ass, Kiss his ass, Happy Hanukkah”

Cousin Eddie to neighbors: “Merry Christmas, the shitter was full”

Ellen to daughter: “It’s the holidays, we are all in misery together”.

2. Overcooking the prime rib

A prime rib of beef for the Christmas meal was the standard fare. Without fail, no matter who was the cook the prime rib would be overcooked. Most cookbooks call for cooking to 135 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster. If you take the roast out of the oven at 135 it will continue to cook to 145 degrees and higher. That produces well done versus medium rare.

Paul Dean’s recipe that targets pulling the roast out at 120 degrees works really well just don’t tell my sisters

3. Feast of the seven fishes

I grew up in an Italian neighborhood and loved the excitement at the fish store on Christmas Eve as Italians purchased seafood for the traditional Christmas Eve feast. One year we had the whole clan to Memphis and my menu for Christmas Eve called for seven fishes. My scientist brother in law called me out on the fact that cod, shrimp, scallops and clams totaled only four fishes. I made sure that he had at least 3 shrimp and 4 clams to keep his count accurate. Ho Ho Ho.

4. The blessing turns to tears.

Invariably our traditional blessing turns to tears when loved ones no longer with us are remembered. This painful tradition took a break when my son then aged 7 attended a southern Baptist grade school. Brian picked up the wonderful Baptist cadence of talking to god and thanking him for the family, the meal, the day and all our blessings. Brian’s rendition was a big hit and much to his chagrin the whole clan wanted Brian to give the blessing for years. Don’t cry for me Argentina.

5. Waiting for the holiday meal

My mother would tell us that dinner would be at 6 pm. Invariably 7 pm would roll around and dinner would still be 15 minutes away. My dad claimed it was part of mom’s strategy. By the time she served dinner everyone would be so hungry “shoe leather would taste good”. He also called her the “Brains of the operation” for good reason.

6. Westhampton Tee Shirts

My mom lives near the beach in Westhampton. The whole clan grew up spending summers visiting mom-mom. Westhampton has a great tee shirt shop and we all have years of summer purchases in our wardrobes. No matter where we celebrate Christmas, December mornings can be pretty chilly. Invariably, Christmas morning attire for a large segment of the clan involves Westhampton tee shirts. I never said we were smart.

7. Favorite memories

One of my personal favorites goes back to the year we went to a ski resort in New Hampshire. On Christmas Eve a big snowstorm hit while we were on a horse drawn sleigh singing Christmas carols. My middle sister (The college professor/smart one) got caught up in the beauty of the moment and proclaimed: “Isn’t this perfect, it’s a winter wonderland”. To which my oldest sister (The corporate executive/New Yorker) leans over to her then college aged niece and whispers: “Winter wonderland my ass, It’s a “Freaking blizzard”.

You can’t buy memories like that.

Are these the quirkiest holiday traditions? My guess is that they aren’t even close to the record. Hopefully they generated a chuckle or two as you wait for that over-cooked prime rib. “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Kiss my ass, Kiss your ass, Kiss his ass, Happy Hanukkah”.

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at www.impromptufridaynights.com/blog and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.