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Capturing Flavor & Re Purposing Food

After reading Tamar Adler's "Everlasting Meal" I began to realize this is not a new concept at all. This is peasant cooking at its finest. Of course Chow folks have been cooking this way forever too, so why don't we share what we do in our kitchens to create an "everlasting meal"?? You might say the common terminology is, "rehashing leftovers". Maybe, maybe not. Is it leftovers or is it a way to capture one flavor & add it to another meal or perhaps take one meal & extend it into something entirely different?

Today I did the take out thing & came home with a wonderful green bean salad...ate the beans & had the luscious mysterious vinaigrette leftover. I found a few green beans in the fridge, blanched them & added them to this garlicky & smoky marinade & am hoping that I can recapture some of that flavor in the new batch of beans. That was my take on the everlasting meal.

Let's show Tamar that she is not the only one who knows how to make an everlasting meal.

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  1. Alton Brown changed my life when he told me you could add the raw vegetables back into your favourite pickle brine and they would pickle too!I use this all the time for my favourite hard to find marinated red peppers

    1. I was raised in a home where money was verrry tight and "left overs" from one meal were routinely used in a subsequent meal. Chili with corn bread becomes chili baked potato or a chili soup with dumplings. Spaghetti is mixed with egg to form a spaghetti pie and fried to serve alongside a green salad. Chicken was added to a mixture of vegetables and a white sauce then rolled inside pancakes with a butter gravy to top things off. Not gourmet meals, to be sure, but food wasn't wasted and we all survived.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        todao no gourmet meals???? Ha, you were eating "high on the hog" my friend...when left overs are redone that way, it definitely becomes a meal fit for the finest. Thank you.

      2. Here, here! I most certainly am not the only one! I love this idea. Please continue to post the wonderful things you make from luscious mysterious vinaigrettes. Aren't those so often the most delicious meals--the ones improved by what Olney calls "dribs and drabs?" To peasant cookery! T

        1. I've always done that to be economical. I recently purchased Tamar's book. I haven't read the whole thing yet... Can't say I've learned anything new but it is nice to read a like minded person's opinions. Except for the part about being disturbed on throwing out seafood soup that had been left out overnight. Yes, a thousand times yes, I would throw it out. i grew up on the coast and freshness is a big deal down there. Or, at least in my home it was.

          I don't know if this fits into what you're looking for but two of my main remakes are green beans and mashed potatoes. Whenever I make regular green beans (cooked with onion and garlic - maybe a little bacon). I always make extra so that I can make green bean soup. Sounds weird but tastes similar to cream of asparagus soup. I just whir the left over green beans in the food processor, dump into a pan, add enough milk so the texture is how I want it and heat. I then top with plenty of grated romano cheese.

          I also use left over mashed potatoes for a few things. One is my grand mother's 'Irish" potato pancakes. Cold mashed potatoes, an egg or two (depending on the amount you have left over), chopped onion or green onion, a little flour and salt. Fry up in a tiny bit of oil. They look like silver dollar pancakes. Another is just reheated ( in the oven) mash mixed with chile peppers ( my favorite are chile pequin from the garden - but any will do). Once the potatoes are hot, stir and top with your favorite cheese. The third are potato scones adapted from the james beard cookbook. Mix the leftover potatoes with enough flour and butter to make a nice dough that you can roll out. Then cook on a griddle. They look like thick tortillas.

          Whenever I make green beans or mashed potatoes I always make extra so I can create one of these recipes later in the week.

          I, too, am looking forward to hear what you all do.

          1 Reply
          1. re: thymetobake

            Green beans & mashed potatoes...never knew there were so many things to make with those 2 veggies...thanks for sharing...I too am going to make "extra".

          2. Roasted chicken!! First night, roast chicken. Lunch next: chicken sandwich. Next, the frame and final leftovers become the base for a divided soup stock of which half is used as chicken pot pie stock and the other half goes for soup. Then there's the soup meal, of which there are leftovers which are next day's lunch by which time I am so through.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              Roasted chicken...that I do know how to rework...but after all that, I am so through too! Would be interesting to know how many things can be done with a roasted chicken. Is there a book on just that subject? Sorta like 101 meals from hamburger or something like that. Oh well, I would like to come up with more ways to disguise that bird.

              1. re: cstout

                Amazon turns up at least 8 different books on rotisserie chicken recipes:

                1. re: juster

                  Books on rotisserie chicken...thanks for the link..will visit that now.

            2. I suppose by now I should be resigned to the amount of food waste that goes on in first-world countries. My parents, born over a century ago, emigrated from Europe, where they grew up poor, as young adults. They became middle-class American citizens. They did not waste food or anything else. I grew up with that model so it's ingrained. Mom was a good but limited cook, without much creativity. If there wasn't enough chicken for a second meal for the three of us,
              it would not have occurred to her to make chicken hash or the like - she'd heat up a frankfurter or some other leftover protein and add that to the meat portion of dinner. Not very appealing, but frugal nonetheless. If you just make it your business that you will NOT waste food, and stick to it, you'll create as much good food as your levels of skill and imagination allow. I very rarely buy groceries with a particular dish in mind. I buy what's on sale and keep a well-stocked pantry.
              Then I make whatever I have ingredients for. I don't regard recipes as scripture, substituting regularly and seldom consulting them for more than general inspiration.

              A few weeks ago I wanted to make pie pops and hand pies. I used the dregs of a jar of raspberry jam, a packet of Trader Joe's freeze-dried raspberries which I bought to try and did not like, and a clamshell of fresh raspberries to simmer together as filling. I had extra since I had also cobbled together blueberry, pear, and apricot fillings. So today I am making tartlets using
              a recipe-less oatmeal cookie dough as the crust, and with whatever raspberry remains, I will make faux ice cream by blending it together with frozen banana, evaporated milk, and melted white chocolate.

              I don't have cable so my best cooking show inspiration is Jacques Pepin. Though he made his mark in French haute cuisine, if you pay attention to what he is doing you will notice that a great many of his creations are made up of leftovers. He grew up in a relatively poor family and does not waste ingredients. One thing he did recently that I hadn't heard of before is to use leftover bread, chopped up, with bits of minced vegetables, bound with an egg, and sauteed as patties, to top salad greens. Like a crab cake without the crab. Rumpelstiltskin with a skillet instead of a spinning wheel!

              10 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                What a great post, greygarious. But I absolutely must know of these pie pops....? Please?

                1. re: mamachef

                  I did not use her recipe, but got the idea here: www.pieitforwardcookbook.com. They are pictured on the cover of the book. I'd link you to the exact entry but my computer is balking about searches today. You cut pairs of rolled pie dough shapes with a cookie cutter, and cut a decorative vent on half of them. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, press a lollipop stick into each of the unvented pieces, dollop on some filling, paint edges with egg wash, press vented dough atop, egg wash the top, sprinkle with sugar, and bake. Each is a 3-bite taste of pie.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    You have no idea how much I love this. Thank you so much!! These would be adorable egg shaped and decorated, even, for Easter, but mainly I love the idea of just a few bites apiece.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        You're grey-t! Thank you for taking the time!!

                  2. re: greygarious

                    greygarious, you are way out there when it comes to food ideas....that was a wonderful read! I must admit I tend to think about food like your mother did...it is definitely a gift to know how to turn food into other glorious dishes.

                    Sounds like you have the Pie It Forward book, how are you liking it?

                    Thanks so much for sharing!!

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Jacques Pepin, what is your favorite book from him? I would like to get some Rumpelstiltskin ideas.

                      1. re: cstout

                        I don't have any. IMO, buying cookbooks negates the savings resulting from shopping and cooking frugally, so I have only a few. I have his method/technique book, which has very few recipes. It teaches procedure. I understand that many of the recipes from his PBS shows and cookbooks are on the KQED website.

                        I do not have Pie It Forward, either. Just looked at the pictures on the website.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          You are truly blessed with the knack of "admiring without having to acquire". And not only do you admire, you go & make something just as wonderful & perhaps even better...that is the real "everlasting meal".

                    2. I repose often, but I doubt any of the ideas are my own. I grew up in a long line of frugal women so it just feels like this is what everyone would do.

                      Seems like there are endless recipes to re-use a chicken for mileage. I also keep back a bit of pot roast to make veg and beef soup, the ham bone for bean soup and a small amount of the ham becomes ham salad, the last piece of corned beef becomes corned beef hash, macaroni or chick pea salad as a side with dinner turns into lunch the next day with the addition of a can of tuna, a pork shoulder does pulled pork sandwiches and then makes nachos.

                      My favorite repurpose is a local thing. Joe's Noodles, a Sichuan restaurant right down the road, does this incredible fish and napa cabbage dish swimming in the most amazing sauce ever known to man. When talking to the owner, she told me she uses the extra sauce over tofu, so I make myself a delicious meal by taking home the leftovers.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Terrie H.

                        Maybe you could purchase a small carton of that sauce & really experiment..

                        1. re: cstout

                          She is a lovely woman and I asked her how it is made. She told me there were so many things to make it that she wouldn't even make it in her home. When she gave me the idea of saucing tofu, it was the best idea ever.

                          1. re: Terrie H.

                            cstout is right - if you dream up other things you think you'd like with that sauce, ask if, with advance notice, they will make extra and sell you a container. Even if they gave you the recipe it might not be exactly right - cooks DO often fudge in order to protect their intellectual property. The peanut sauce in a Thai place which is unfortunately not nearby is better than any I have had or made. So on the few occasions I am there, I buy a pint container. I divvy it up and freeze it when I get home.

                      2. In our family wasting food has always been considered sinful, and leftovers have always been the norm. How one can use leftovers is limited only by the imagination.
                        If there are enough of them for a meal, simply warm and serve. Otherwise put them between two slices of bread, or on top of pizza. Dump them in soup, an omelet, or scrambled frittata. Add them to fried rice or mix them with onions and dressing for a salad.
                        Leftovers are wonderful!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: condie

                          Yes, omelets -- my mom makes omelets out of all kinds of leftovers, and now I do, too. You only need a little filling for an omelet, and everyone's can be different, so you can do it with small scraps of this and that. Especially nice if you have a sauce from whatever that tou can put inside or on top. Shrimp, crab, roast beef, any cooked veggies, leftover fondue cheese, ethnic foods (curry, for ex), tag ends of raw veggies, stew, chili, unused herbs, Spanish rice . . .

                        2. Just remembered I ordered this book from the library, but it never came in. Guess it's sort of popular!

                          When I have a little bit of leftovers but no use for them, I pop them in my upstairs (as opposed to basement) freezer. Then the next soup or stew I make, in it goes. Greens from radishes, tiny amounts of meat (if the cats don't get it), chunks of ham, leftover fresh herbs like parsley or basil, the rest of the can of chipotle in adobo or tomato paste; it feels good not to waste anything, considering the price of food right now.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: coll

                            What book are you talking about...just curious? Duh, you are talking about "Everlasting Meal"...could not delete this post, so I just answered my own question...sorry

                            1. re: cstout

                              Yeah I was there today, it is still "on order", I'm curious but not enough to buy it (due to current budget constraints).

                              1. re: coll

                                Well FYI, I enjoyed the book, but there are very very few recipes in there, it is more of a concept of cooking something, like a piece of meat & then using that meat & broth in other ways. Folks who are frugal have being these things for eons. There is nothing new in there. Also, saving a scrap of everything & putting it in soups, etc. Also, roasting veggies & then using those veggies all week long in different dishes.

                                See if your library can do an inter library loan on the book. If you like to read, it is a good book, but don't look for any recipes to speak of. Yep, those books are always pricey.

                                1. re: cstout

                                  It's a interloan situation, but no dice. Hopefully it will show up someday. I don't need new recipes anymore, just ideas, hopefully I will see it one day.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    Need more ideas instead of new recipes...well, just keep reading all the posts out on Chowhound...I am learning a lot. A recent post was called something like "simply delicious meals" & it was full of great ideas. Maybe someone here can give you a more specific title to search for. Also search for "quick meals" & things like that. I just started a post called "impromptu meals" & am learning a lot there from folks.

                                    After all, this is an age old dilemma, "what can I fix to eat?"....that is the question my dear. Keep searching.

                                    PS...look down at the bottom of this post at some of the other home cooking board discussions...simple recipes that are incredibly delicious is the one I was talking about