And I Can Cook, Too

Friday, August 10, 2007

July 27, 2007

What’s Leftover

When the whole clan gathers, it’s a crowd. In the interest of avoiding any one person feeling like the scullery maid, my mother, sisters, and I each pick a night that it is our turn to cook. Usually we each take the opportunity to show off, but last year I ended up last in the rotation, and rather than bring more groceries into the house was asked to figure out a meal based on what was leftover from the week. Little did I know a tradition was being born. Last years leftovers were fairly cut and dry – lots of vegetables, loads of garlic, and ample salady things. Everyone’s reading pasta here, right? This years leftovers were a slightly larger challenge. The list looked like this:

Green Beans
5 Bags of Bread Heels and Squashed Hamburger Buns
Flat Leaf Parsley
A tupperware of something White, Sweet, and Runny
½ Pint Heavy Cream
½ Can Smoked Almonds
¼ Bottle Peach Schnapps
Heel of Parmesan Cheese
Half squeezed lemons and limes
A Shallot
Olive Oil Flavored Cooking Spray

I weighed my options. “Can I buy some seafood?” I asked my mother. She allowed scallops. The menu looked like this:

Scalloped Scallops
Green Beans Amandine
Blueberry Crush

Scalloped Scallops (for 15)

5 Lbs. Sea Scallops
All the leftover bread in the house and some tortillas that have been crushed too small for dipping
A barely used bunch of parsley
All the leftover garlic
A heel of parmesan cheese
Olive Oil Flavored Cooking Spray
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Slices of lemons and limes

In a food processor, mini-chopper, blender, or just using your knife, chop the bread, tortilla chips, parsley, garlic, and Parmesan cheese into fine, seasoned breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spray the bottom of a large baking dish with the cooking spray. Divide the breadcrumbs into thirds. Line the bottom of the baking sheet with the first third. Add the scallops in a single layer placing them very close together. Tell your mother you knew that baking dish wasn’t big enough. Discover that it is the only baking dish in the house. Cover the layer of scallops with another third of the breadcrumb mixture. Add another layer of scallops. Squeeze them all very tightly together to make them fit. Top with the last third of the breadcrumbs. Melt a stick of butter in the microwave, and drizzle on top. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until done. Serve with slices of lemons and limes.

Green Beans Amandine (for 15)

6 lbs. Green Beans
1 Shallot
½ can Smoked Almonds, crushed in a food processor, blender, or with a knife.
½ stick Butter

Tell you mother to string the beans. While she is doing that, thinly slice the shallot. When your mother finishes all the beans and two gin and tonics, toss the beans into the largest pan or wok you can find with about 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, and steam the beans, turning periodically, until the water has almost completely dissolved. Add the shallot and the butter. Allow the rest of the water to dissolve and the butter to melt. Add the almonds, and stir to coat. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Blueberry Crush (for 14 because your nephew doesn’t like blueberries)

About a quart of Blueberries
¼ bottle Peach Schnapps
½ pint Heavy Cream
A tupperware of something sweet, white, and runny.

Put the tupperware of something sweet, white, and runny on the counter to bring to room temperature. Using a hand mixer or a whisk, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Chill. In a food processor, blender, or with a knife, crush the blueberries. Add the peach schnapps. Prepare to fold the blueberry mix into the whipped cream and remember that there are children in the family. Put the blueberries in a pan on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes to evaporate all the alcohol. Put the pan in the freezer to chill. Take the whipped cream out of the fridge, and using a rubber spatula fold in the something sweet, white, and runny. When the blueberries are completely chilled, fold them into the whipped cream. Serve it in wine glasses to the grown ups and plastic dishes to the kids. Simply grin when your sisters announced their plans to conspire to ensure that next years leftovers are impossible to pair.


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