Les Restes

 

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Les restes. Doesn’t that sound yummy? It evokes meals on white plates enjoyed at tables draped in checkered cloths while Edith Piaf plays in the background. What kind of obscure French delicacy is that? Which wine would the sommelier choose for you?

You likely have the ingredients for it in the fridge.  Les restes is the charming name given to the food that didn’t get eaten at one meal and now provides the raw material for another.

As in leftovers. The humble leftovers from last night’s dinner await transformation into today’s lunch or dinner. How?

  • If you have a relative who lived through the Great Depression, ask them how they or whomever was the cook in their house used up leftovers for inspiration. If you don’t, check YouTube for interviews with survivors.
  • Soup. You don’t need no stinkin’ recipe for a good pot of soup. Just aromatics (onion, celery, carrot), broth (in a carton is fine, if you can make your own from veg scraps and bones, the better), and then add whatever is lurking in the fridge.
  • Casseroles. Noodles, pasta, rice. Bits of this and that. Bind it all together with béchamel sauce (1 T. flour, 1T. butter–melt, sprinkle in flour, cook for a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw taste, then gradually add 1C. milk as you keep stirring. Add salt and pepper. You may also add nutmeg and/or the cheese of your choice). If you just can’t, canned cream of______  soup will bind it as well. And I won’t judge you. 
  • You can make salads. Either cut into bite-sized pieces and add to a tossed salad or you can cut them a little finer, mix with mayo, mustard, some herbs, celery and maybe some onion, and create sandwiches or enjoy on crackers. Or eat off the spoon. Again, no judgement. 
  • Oh, and another note about béchamel: if you feel like fussing with making crepes (there are about a million recipes for them out there) use some to bind leftover chicken or seafood, wrap it in a crepe, pour the rest of the sauce over the top, and bake for 20 minutes or so to be sure it’s all warmed up. 

 

Just because consumer have to exercise more care than ever with groceries due to COVID-19 complications (interruptions in the food supply chain; prices going up something like 20%) it doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun while we adapt to current reality.

And if you can create something original out of your restes, so much the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Quiche Me and Smile for Me…

crust food homemade pie
Photo by Amanda Reed on Pexels.com

 

To: John Denver and Mary Travers

From: Fran

Forgive me for the pun. In no way was it intended to detract from or demean one of the great songs of the 1960s. I couldn’t help myself.

Thank you.

Love,

Fran

 

 

Now that the ear worm du jour has been activated, let us discuss quiche.

Let’s start with the crust. If it doesn’t have a crust, it is a baked omelet. It is a frittata. It is not a quiche, I’m afraid. Those have their charms, but I find that I really need a crust when I want quiche. You may use a frozen one for convenience if needs must. Otherwise, I recommend Patricia Well’s recipe for pate brisse from her book Bistro Cooking: 7 tablespoons butter, 1 to 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour (don’t use unbleached–for some reason it just doesn’t work as well), dash salt, and 3 tablespoons of ice water. I have the best results with cutting the butter into the flour and salt with a food processor. If you don’t have one, cut in the butter with a couple of knives. When it looks like sand, add the water gradually. Use just enough to make the butter and flour clump up, but not enough to make it turn into a ball. Place it on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper (preferably the latter), pat it into a disc, and let it chill for an hour or so. Roll it out and line a pie plate or loose-bottomed tart pan with it.

For the filling, I use two or three eggs beaten with a cup of milk. If you want to go full frontal French, use cream. Or whole milk. I use 2% or skim depending on what’s in the house. For cheese, I’ve used cheddar, I’ve used Gruyere, I’ve used plain ol’ supermarket Swiss supercharged with parmesan. Grate the cheese and line the bottom of the shell with it.

Now, you can just pour in the eggs and milk and have a satisfactory product, or you can put cooked broccoli, cooked and drained spinach, sautéed onions or leeks, sautéed mushrooms, leftover bits of bacon or ham or other cooked meats. Scatter those over the cheese and pour on the eggs and milk.

I bake quiche at 350 for at least 45 minutes, or until it’s a lovely shade of brown and the filling doesn’t jiggle. Oh, and for the sake of your sanity, place the filled pie plate on a baking sheet before you put it in the oven, especially if you’re using a loose-bottomed pan. If the crust leaks, or the filling decides to climb over the sides,  it will create a mess. Cleaning a baking sheet is easier than cleaning your oven. Trust me.

Let the quiche cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing into it. It can be served warm or at room temperature. I would do a small green salad or a fruit salad with it. And probably a rose that erred on the crisp side if you’re doing this for lunch or dinner. Even in winter. (I really don’t like white wine, so if you’d rather have that I’d encourage you to obey your tastebuds for a pairing.)

Quiche began, as have many recipes that rose from humble beginnings as a way to use up dairy products, small amounts of vegetables, and bits of meat that may not have constituted a meal on their own to a dish of some glamour and prestige. It can be served in any season and for breakfast,  brunch, lunch, or dinner and be as posh or basic as needed. It’s one of the little black dresses of food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Thoughts

Oakley’s left hip has been acting up the last few days. I give him a homeopathic remedy for pain and inflammation, and a glucosamine supplement in a liver base as well as fish oil. Pyrs and blends thereof are prone to hip dysplasia, a condition where the joint doesn’t develop properly, increasing the odds of arthritis as time goes on. There’s also the possibility of a flair-up of an old injury.  At three and a half, he’s kind of young for visits from the Ritis family. Dr. P. wants to take x-rays somewhere along the line to see what’s going on in there. I won’t argue, not much. Not thrilled about the sedation, but I don’t see Oaks rolling over on his back with his legs positioned properly of his own volition. 

It will officially be spring in about 20 minutes. Someone please remind the weather. We woke up to snow showers this morning. Small flashes of green are fighting through the brown in the yard. I hope they gather the needed support to retake the ground. 

Doing a detox. Twelve days of herbs to clean out the channels. No huge diet modifications. Be interesting to se what happens when it gets done. 

Chicken for lunch today. In a salad. Likely the same for dinner. I am in one of my rare resistances to cooking. I’ll have the leftovers on a bowl of greens and other delicacies with a light vinaigrette. 

Welcome, spring.

 

 

Les restes et leures retournees, or Leftovers and Their Returns

Does anyone use leftovers anymore? I wonder about that when I hear about so much food getting tossed. 

I’m not judging anyone. I’m as guilty as anyone else of letting the glass and plastic containers with a couple of bites of this and a morsel of that stack up in the fridge. There are days when having it declared a preserve for endangered single cell life forms is a viable option.  

In Patricia Wells’ Bistrot Cooking, she details some creative uses for leftovers, a/k/a les restes, a la Francaise. A little sauce, a fresh salad, et voila! There’s a perfectly good new meal from the gigot a sept heures (leg of lamb cooked for seven hours) or the roast chicken. 

My own specialties are Thai or Indian curries, soups, and things wrapped in tortillas. Broth and cheese go a long way to stretch the meal while making it good. 

 

Nothing Says Memorial Day Like a Bowl of Soup

We had a cold, damp Memorial Day yesterday. As in turn the heat on cold. Wrong on so many levels. 

I made soup for lunch. I found the recipe in More with Less, one of my go-to cookbooks. It’s a compilation of recipes published by the Mennonite Church along with some gently thought provoking reflections on the world’s food supply. The Vietnamese chicken soup sounds austere, but is oh-sooo-good on a grey damp day.

My spin on it: cook enough pasta in chicken broth laced with garlic and soy sauce. I used whole wheat spaghetti. I see no reason why you couldn’t use rice or spelt or some other kind. Cook until it’s kind of mushy and thick. Put in lots of black pepper and some shredded leftover chicken. You can garnish with a few sliced onion tops. I drizzled on a little sesame oil. It hit the spot as I watched the rain fall.

It was also a way to remember my dad. He had a gift for soup making, and I’m sure that my efforts pleased him almost as much as the chicken that I made on the rotisserie on Sunday. Indoors due to chilly dampness, but still delicious. 

My favorite station played Bach yesterday as I lunched. My mom was a classically trained pianist, and Bach ranked her top five favorite composers. I held pictures of her practicing at the organ at church where she filled in as organist, and images of Dad at the stove. Somehow, it seemed more appropriate and more of what they would have really wanted than making a five-hour drive to weep at their graves. 

Potage Bonne Femme, a/k/a Refrigerator Soup

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(image courtesy of http://thegraphicsfairy.blogspot.com ) 

I’ve been cleaning out the fridge today. I’ve found two heads of cauliflower that need to be used (you did see my earlier recipe for the soup, didn’t you?). There are also some tomatoes, carrots, and a zucchini lurking about as well as a few potatoes. I have the better part of a tetra-pac of chicken broth. I think it’s time for some potage bonne femme. 

Sounds pretty fancy-schmancy, right? Well, I’m going to tell you a secret. Cuisine bonne femme means that the recipe has roots in thrifty French household practices, not restaurant food. It’s what you might have eating in someone’s home. It may be pureed to give it some body and creaminess, but it was made from the odds and ends of veggies that needed to be used up before they spoiled. The elegance comes from the simplicity.

Make a miripoix–chop up some celery, carrot, and onion. Saute in some butter or olive oil until soft, then add the broth and the the little treasures that you found in the drawers. You may add some rice or pasta. Adjust the amount of broth accordingly. Add salt and pepper to taste, maybe a bay leaf. Just let it simmer until the veggies are done. You may puree part of it as discussed above.    

This would work great as a first course, or with some cheese or hummus and crackers for a main. Or a salad. The possibilities are endless.