Hounds, I was just inspired by angelo04 and many other hounds in another thread about using what you have on hand. For example, angelo04 had surprise guests coming and created a wonderful soup from pantry ingredients on hand, to wit:
"Raided my pantry and added [to a bland butternut squash soup pre-made] a can of corn, some cream and mined chili peppers, serranos to be exact. The corn added some sweetness, the cream thinkened it up a bit and the serranos added a nice touch of heat at the end. I topped it with toasted pecans and chives."
Now that sounds tasty!
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/452955 -- see the thread for many other fine suggestions.
But my question goes further than just doctoring up a soup:
Hounds, what is your most inspired, creative, fanciful, or even disastrous (?) "Pantry Raid" dish and how did it fare with the diners?
(And.... *what* were you thinking!?!)
Well, there was one memorable disaster.... on Thanksgiving, no less. Pumpkin soup with peanut butter; grabbed some PB out of the pantry and measured it out, put it into the soup. My girlfriend was the first to taste the soup (I never got around to it, busy cooking other stuff) and when our guests came along to serve themselves - hey, we're informal - she said, trying to be tactful, 'don't get too much....' Turns out the peanut butter was old and rancid, and totally ruined what could have been (?) a good soup. Fortunately I'd gotten everybody pretty well liquored up first, so nobody really cared...but it was embarrassing.
Mother-in-law and I were making tamales one year at my home when it became apparent we were going to have way too much masa for the fillings we had prepared. I pulled some ducks breasts out of the freezer and made an Asian-influenced dark mole: star anise, ground toasted sesame, ginger, garlic, ancho chiles, cinnamon, and whatever else I deemed appropriate. The breasts were shredded and simmered in the mole. Mother-in-law declared them her favorites -- high praise, indeed!
Sweet tamales filled with paste made from dried apricots from the pantry with a spice or two were successful as well.
Thanks for the Kudos.
I've had plenty of disasters, but those I purge from my memory. One of my more creative spur of the moment dishes was a pasta sauce. I'm half Italian. Love my pot of gravy but wanted something different. So I decided to make a pot of gravy with some Asian and Spanish influence as we had some chorizo in the house and my wife had bought a huge costco sized bag of dried shitakes that were screaming eat me. I made a basic marinara sauce and added sautéed shitake mushrooms, Spanish chorizo sausage and a minced habernero pepper. I can handle heat, you could substitute the chili pepper that best suits your palate. Served over pasta. It was awesome. It wasn't our typical pot of gravy.