Italians, please look away.
Everyone else, here’s something that I made up last week that was so good, I think you should make it too. I used leftover ingredients from the Haddock chowder I’d made the day before and, in using them, I did what Tom Colicchio’s always talking about on “Top Chef”–I developed lots of flavor through careful cooking. Let me show you what I mean.
Ok, so you read the last post, you read to yourself “vegetarian chili, sweet corn bread” and thought “eh, I’m not that impressed, I’m moving on with my day, I’m going to read about Anderson Cooper’s gayness and Katie Holmes protecting her kids from Tom Cruise’s Scientology.” That’s your prerogative. I won’t judge.
But you won’t be clicking away so fast when I tell you what I did with that leftover cornbread the next morning. It’s almost pornographic, what happened, so parents, please shield your children’s eyes.
There are two kinds of people who cook at home: the first kind chooses an elaborate recipe, buys all of the ingredients, spends hours cooking it, invites friends to eat it, spends hours cleaning it, and takes the rest of the week off. The other kind has long-range vision, makes a large batch of something and uses that batch to feed his or her family for the rest of the week. This kind of home cook–the true home cook–is resourceful, inventive, and frugal without letting that frugality show. And, lately, I’m proud to say, I’m shifting from Column A to Column B. Let me prove it to you with a bag of lentils.
You have people coming over for breakfast. You want to serve those people bacon. You want the bacon to be hot. You don’t want to fry it because that would require several pans, it would make a mess and it would be hard to manage while entertaining guests. You may think to yourself, “Maybe bacon’s not worth it.” But you would be wrong: bacon’s always worth it! And there’s an easy solution that you should know about; lean in close, and I’ll tell you.
Every year, Craig’s dad, Steve, makes the most amazing prime rib for Christmas dinner (see here) and every year I help out the best I can, usually volunteering to make a side dish. Last year I made a gratin but this year, since mashed potatoes were already on the menu, I offered up a vegetable. At my request, Craig’s mom (Julee) bought me a bag of Brussels sprouts from the grocery store and when the dinner hour grew close, I opened their refrigerator and pulled out a bevy of ingredients to help in my enterprise.
I make a mean weekend breakfast. The variables often change; sometimes it’s a frittata, sometimes it’s waffles. The only constants are freshly ground coffee and paper towel napkins because who uses cloth napkins at breakfast? Lately, though, my mean weekend breakfast looks a lot like the breakfast you see above: homemade biscuits, crispy bacon and two sunny side-up eggs. I’m going to walk you through it so you can make that same plate for your loved ones this weekend.
There it was, in the pan, ready to eat. A big panful of fusilli, coated in a sauce I’d improvised with bacon, red chile flakes, tomato paste and a can of tomatoes. I’d let the sauce cook down until it was nice and thick and then boiled the fusilli until just al dente, lifting it with a spider into the pan of red sauce. I stirred it all around, ready to grate on a traditional cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino, when I had a vision.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really like Anne Burrell’s show on Food Network. I Tivo it and watch it each week, and more than other current Food Network show it inspires me to cook. I’ve made her deviled eggs, I’ve made her chicken liver mousse (which didn’t come out too well, so I don’t think I posted about it) and–this weekend–after seeing her serve grilled salmon on a bed of stewed lentils, I decided to get off my couch and recreate the picture on the screen (minus the salmon). The best part is I didn’t even have to go food shopping to do it.