"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Monday, December 07, 2009

A week with no shopping: Inspiration & Innovation

I have extended this challenge for myself beyond the initial week. I did shop for Thanksgiving, and was successful sticking to a specific list. We have also bought necessary perishables (ie milk), but the bulk of our meals have been clearing out the fridge, freezer and pantry. What a lot of food I have accumulated since we moved in June! This challenge has put me in a frugal, efficient mindset, and the limitations have inspired me.

Last week, we were eating Thanksgiving leftovers like everyone else, but our surplus was pork. On Wednesday, I made an abundant batch of silky pork stock. For dinner, I turned it into Hot & Sour soup accompanied by pork, scallion & ginger potstickers. We do have frozen potstickers from Trader Joe's in the freezer, but I made the filling for these myself, wrapping them wonton wrappers that I've had in the freezer for ages.
I used Barbara Kafka's recipe for Hot & Sour soup, and the first night I was disappointed with the result. I was surprised about this because her book Soup, a way of life is one of my favorites. I was relieved the next day when the leftovers were wonderful. Now I know to make this soup a day ahead.

Thursday, I warmed some shredded pork in a saute pan and added a small tin of green hatch chiles (Trader Joe's). Then I stirred in a tablespoon or two of flour and some milk to make a white sauce, not forgetting plenty of shredded cheese. We had this in corn tortillas as a lovely, light dinner. The next morning, I fried two eggs and ate them with this pork and green chile mixture and a warmed tortilla. Wonderful as well. Sorry, no photos. It's not the most picturesque meal, but it doesn't make it any less tasty.

The success of Thursday's meal and an open package of tortillas unfinished led me to create a variation on Friday. No more green chiles, so I used chipotles in adobo. I always have a couple cans of these smoked jalapeƱos in my pantry. I love the concentrated flavor kick they give this sort of dish, or to a vegetable soup. Only one pepper is necessary with a spoonful or two of adobo sauce. I chopped up the pepper (maybe I should have deseeded it) and mixed it in with the pork. At this point, I felt the mixture needed more moisture, as well as something to dilute the spice a bit. I wanted to do something different from the previous day's white sauce. The pork was also starting to stick to the pan a bit. When Pat does the dishes, he often teases that I should be a chemist at a glue factory because he doesn't know how I make everything stick so well to the pan. Wanting to avoid further taunting, I searched for something to deglaze the pan. This is when I saw the magnum of Malbec (Marcus James) amongst our stock of everyday wines. This wine is bold enough to stand up to the spicy pepper, and has an earthy character that will complement the smokiness. I couldn't believe how well this combination worked, though the mixture was still too spicy when served in a corn tortilla. Adding sour cream and shredded cheese helped some, as did heating up a can of refried beans to serve plain on the side, but I think it would be best served it over rice.
I want to explore the connection of Malbec and chipotle though. There's something good here. Hooray!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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