28 December 2012

Cookie recipes for leftover cranberry sauce

Remember that ridiculously simple cranberry sauce I told you about last week? It packs a punch, so you may have some left.  You can use it as a relish in sandwiches made with the leftover ham or pork you grilled, stir it into yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast,OR you can make some scrumptious cookies with it.  Here are my two favorites (one is simple, one obscenely gluttonous):

Fatty-Fat-Fat Layered Cranberry Bar Cookie

Buttery shortbread, cranberry sauce, and a chocolate chip-oatmeal cookie on top--better make a plan to resume jogging after you make these.  

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; gradually stir in flour until well blended. Spread or pat in an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan and pierce with a fork. Bake at 300° for 20 minutes, until dough is still blond but getting flaky and firm. Remove shortbread from oven, cover in a layer of about a cup of leftover cranberry sauce (you could also do this with any flavor of fruit preserves or a sweet chutney), and then top with 

Oatmeal cookie dough:
cups packed brown sugar
cup butter or margarine, softened
teaspoon vanilla
cup quick-cooking oats
cup unbleached flour
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon salt
cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir brown sugar and butter until blended. Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt; stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Onto ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.
Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

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Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

This is a simple riff on traditional Scandinavian thumbprint cookies; the dough gets replaced with the shortbread dough from above, and the fruit preserves get replaced with leftover cranberry sauce. Simple, rich, and addictive. 

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

about 3/4 cup leftover cranberry sauce
Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line two cookie cheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter, almond extract, and sugar until light and fluffy; gradually stir in flour and salt until well blended. Roll into tablespoon-size balls and flatten slightly with palms; place on cookie sheet.  With your thumb, create a well in the middle and fill with leftover cranberry sauce.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned.  

26 December 2012

My favorite leftover tricks: things with pancakes

Anything savory in your leftover pile works well with bread and eggs--sandwiches, quiches (large or small), or just a pile of scrambled eggs make good vehicles for meat and vegetables.  Soups are a common standby (and those mashed sweet potatoes would make a great thickener for a broth), and chopped meat and veggies can easily go into a lasagne or be stir fried with some leftover rice or tossed with vermicelli or ramen. But nothing says "leftover fun" like Korean drunk food.  Pa Jun is an eggy pancake usually filled with green onions and gobbled up late at night to soak up the alcohol poisoning that might otherwise ensue after a wild night of karaoke.  It's also comforting, simple to make, and breathes new life into your leftover holiday meal.  

Pa Jun (Korean pancake) with leftovers

Serves 4 with a side salad

2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
1.5 cups water
1 cup diced leftover meat and vegetables
1 tsp salt
Oil for cooking

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Check consistency before cooking – batter should be a little bit runnier than American pancake batter, so that the Pa Jun cooks quickly and evenly.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil. Pour batter to fill pan in a thin layer (about 1/3 of your batter should fill a regular saute pan). Cook for 3-4 minutes until set and golden brown on bottom. Turn over with help of spatula or plate (or flip it in the air if you are good at that) and finish by cooking 1-2 more minutes, adding more oil if necessary.
Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha on the side.  

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Crepes are an equally logical vehicle for your leftovers--be sure to stir in some sauce or gravy if you have it, and combine whatever leftovers you like together.  Those green beans with gorgonzola and bacon would be surprisingly good with a touch of cranberry sauce, by the way--get creative.  Crack open a work  beer to inspire you in the kitchen. If you make the crepes with chick pea flour, they'll have a pleasant, nutty taste and pack an extra protein punch.

Basic crepes

Serves 4

1.5 cup flours in any combination: chicke pea, whole wheat, unbleached white...
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients, adjusting flour content to produce a runny batter that will create a thin crepe.  Cook over medium heat in a large hot skillet that has been liberally prepared with cooking spray until golden on each side.  Each crepe should fill the skillet, yielding a total of four. 

Meanwhile, gently heat leftover filling(s) in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium-low heat: plan on 1 to 1.5 cups of filling per crepe.  To assemble, lay one crepe on a plate, spoon one fourth of the filling in a line slightly to one side of the center of the crepe, and roll.  

Some crepe fillings from our leftover menu:

Green beans with bacon and gorgonzola + cranberry sauce

Thai mashed sweet potatoes + roast meat (+ cranberry sauce)
Roasted vegetables with or without roast meat

21 December 2012

'Tis the season: feeding a crowd of sleazy people who have suddenly amassed at your doorstep for the holidays (aka, your family)

I love my family, and I love having them over for a big meal, but sweet Jesus do I hate spinning in circles in my kitchen for hours, dirtying every non-dishwasher-safe pot and pan that I own. Can't I love them without becoming thoroughly exhausted by noon?  Yes, I think I can.

The night before, you can whip up a simple, preservative-free Cranberry Sauce.  Boil 1 bag fresh cranberries (pick out the squashed duds) with 1 cinnamon stick, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1 cup of either orange juice of apple cider.  Cover and lower heat to medium, stirring occasionally until berries have all burst and the sauce starts to thicken, then remove from heat.  When it's cool, refrigerate; you can either serve it at room temperature (put it out when you start cooking the next day) or hot for the feast.

You can also make your pies the night before.  Then, on the big day...

Grill some pork (or ham).  Let the men do it--they like sitting outside near open fire for some reason.  And if you brine it the night before, it really doesn't take that much time to cook.  This frees up the oven to...

Roast potatoes.  Throw in whatever other veggies people will eat, too.  Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cubed squash, and carrots are all fair game, and the roasting often sweetens things up, making unpopular bitter vegetables like the above more palatable to cabbage-family haters.  Then, on the stove top you can quickly make...

Thai Red Curry Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  Peel, cut, and boil 4-6 medium sweet potatoes until soft (you can also throw in some butternut squash if you want).  Drain and add 2 teaspoons red curry paste, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 cup coconut milk, and salt and black pepper to taste.  Mash the hell out of 'em.  And if you have a steamer insert, you can steam 2 pounds of fresh

Green Beans right over the boiling potatoes.  In the oven that is lovingly roasting your vegetables, you can bake 6 strips of bacon until crisp and crumble them over your cooked green beans.  First, toss the bright green, al dente beans with 1 clove smashed garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Then drizzle a little of the bacon grease over it, stir, and top with crumbled bacon and crumbled gorgonzola.

You'll have so much free time, you'll be able to mull some cider and sip happily with a heavy pour of rum (or, the favorite add-in at the Byrnes-Riner house, tequila): dump a gallon of apple cider into a Dutch oven or similarly large vessel, and add 1 large orange studded generously with cloves (great project for someone stationary who's not helping enough), 2 cinnamon sticks, and 1 dried star anise (optional).  Simmer over medium-low heat until it's good and hot, and let it cook for as long as you like--the flavors get stronger with time.  Add the rum or tequila directly to your cup to avoid cooking off the precious alcohol.

Then the fun begins all over again with leftovers...stay tuned for those. Happy holidays!

14 December 2012

Tuscan (?) Kale and White Bean Soup

“I’m not persuaded by kale. I do not accept it as the new spinach.” Frank Bruni"

Well, it's not the new spinach, Frank, because it's better--it has texture, for one.  I keep reading recipes claiming to be Tuscan that mix kale and white beans into a soup.  I have no evidence that this soup truly is Tuscan, but here it is.  

Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup

Serves 8

1 ½ cups dry white beans
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chili. whole
½ yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large bunch kale, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes in their sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight.  Drain, rinse, and place in a pressure cooker or stock pot along with bay leaf, dried chili, and 2 teaspoons salt.  Pour 3 cups of water in and bring to a boil.  Cook 25 minutes in the pressure cooker, 1 ½ hours in the stock pot, or until beans are tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan.  When it shimmers, sauté the onion and carrot until they begin to get soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the kale, mushrooms, oregano, and rosemary and stir to coat; add the lemon juice and lemon zest, stir again, and cover.  Cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in the garlic; cover and set aside.  

When beans are done, add tomatoes and sautéed vegetables to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  

07 December 2012

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

I love fish and pasta, but those two mild flavors require something a little peppier on the plate.  I came up with this when I had cauliflower on hand and wanted to roast it, but didn't want to add yet more bland, polite flavor to the dinner table.  Really, you could use any roasted vegetables for this, but I think the tang from the vinegar works best with earthy, charred veggies.  You can serve this as a side or toss it with wheat berries or quinoa for a hearty lunch to go. Serve hot or room temperature.

Sicilian Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4 as a side 

1 large head cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch discs
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small jalapeno, sliced into rings
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
Crushed red pepper to taste

Toss cauliflower, carrot, red pepper, and jalapeno with a little olive oil and salt, spread onto a baking sheet, and roast in the oven at 425°F for 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened and browned.  (Stir once or twice during baking.)

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat and cook onion until it becomes very soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low and stir in raisins, sugar, and vinegar.  Simmer 2-3 minutes and check for desired level of sweetness.  Turn off heat and cover until vegetables are roasted.

Toss vegetables with pine nuts and vinegar sauce in a large serving bowl.  Season with crushed red pepper.