Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leftovers and tuna sandwich

Eastside Road, —
THERE HAS BEEN SOME consternation expressed recently about the number of times we eat leftovers. It's a graceless word, and not really appropriate, because most of our "leftovers" are in fact deferred meals: L. tends to make double or sometimes triple amounts when cooking. Another thing: we tend to eat small portions.

And today was a busy day, busy at other things than cooking I mean; so it was handy there was some jambalaya left, and a little chile: that made a nice midday dinner. And then for a quick supper before going out tonight, a tuna sandwich and the obligatory green salad; and ça suffit; except that even now she's busy at some ice cream kind of dessert for a nightcap.
Cheap Pinot grigio

[later…] And what a dessert! a very complex ice-cream sundae, complex with a richness that can only be either carefully planned and shopped for — or the inspired use of, you guessed it, leftovers.

Some little while ago I'd made a cake, in the course of which I made more chocolate ganache than I needed. The leftover went into a small container, then into the icebox. Then the other day L. made bananas Foster for a special dessert. That involved cooking bananas in rum, butter, and sugar; and of course after the bananas were served and sauced there was some of that left over as well. Tonight L. put those two items together, warmed them, poured them over vanilla ice cream, sprinkled on chopped nuts, and topped the dish with whipped cream (for there was whipping cream left over from a dinner last week, and it won't last forever). An absolutely fabulous dessert.

1 comment:

Curtis Faville said...

My wife and I used to have a running discussion--not an argument--about the difference between the ability to cook accurately from a recipe, and the ability to "make do" with whatever might be sitting in the pantry and in the icebox on any given day.

Improvising really is at the heart of great cuisine. Before the advent of comprehensive markets after WWII, constructing menus took a lot more concentration and imagination, I suspect. Especially for those (women) who weren't raised to cook like a professional by their mothers, grandmothers and aunts.

My mom was not a great improviser. All our meals were planned in advance, but the usual roster didn't deviate much, and when she did "experiment" things could quickly get out of hand. Is there an intuition involved in bringing unlikely ingredients into some kind of coordination? Probably.

In the eighties, M. began to make what we called "gorps"--improvised stews built out of sauces and carbs and starches with whatever meat might be at hand. I've encouraged her to record these dishes into a recipe book, but she refuses. The Gorp Cook Book.

Well, it's probably already been done somewhere, maybe in Georgia or North Carolina.

Nothing wrong with leftovers, as long as one doesn't simply re-heat the residue of abandoned previous meals.