No-sweat Cooking, Day 5

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

I love remixing leftovers, so when planning out my first week of No-Sweat Recipes, I decided to schedule this Vietnamese Chicken Salad to take advantage of the leftover roast chicken from Tuesday night’s Chicken Tonnato.

local + exotic

This is exactly the kind of recipe I love – fairly free-form, easily adaptable to individual taste, and far, far more than the sum of its parts. This salad was a real celebration of the bounty of our farmers’ markets, as everything but the lime juice and fish sauce came from either the Hope Street market at Lippitt Park, or from the Boston Public Market in Dewey Square.

my own "coleslaw mix"

I opted to skip the coleslaw mix and shred some locally grown cabbage and carrots I had on hand instead, and I added scallions and slivers of fresh chile pepper to the mix as well. This was easily the most delicious thing we’ve eaten during this project so far, the sassy dressing playing off the crunchy vegetables and bits of moist chicken. I served our salad on a bed of soft butter lettuce leaves which I ended up using to scoop up bites of the salad, and I tossed the leftovers with softened cellophane noodles for a future lunch. Mike said he’d happily eat this once a week for as long as the ingredients are in season, and I’m right there with him. Great stuff, and it couldn’t be easier to put together.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Get the recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Restaurant Widow

Dinner: March 18, 2010

This dinner for one brought to you by the serendipitous discovery of leftover cooked pasta, a conveniently open jar of Poblano Farm pasta sauce, the end of a log of olive butter, and a whisper of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. And then (as a wise woman once said), “we crack an egg on top.”

Fried pasta with egg is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m dining alone, and it was just what I needed to help me feel a little less blue. I promise to try a little harder once I’ve got the fridge and pantry re-stocked this weekend.

Tim Wu is a Genius

lacquered

This chicken? Make it. Seriously. Do not delay. I’m a sucker for anything with miso in it, so I already had high hopes for this bird, but it was even better than anticipated, and the Shoyu Onion Sauce put it over the top.

Shoyu Onion Sauce mise

This was so good, in fact, that I saved the pan drippings from the chicken, as well as the leftover sauce (we only roasted half a bird, but made the full amount of sauce), and repurposed these flavorful leftovers for Sunday brunch. I tossed a couple of cups of cubed potato with the drippings and a little splash of oil, then roasted them in our iron skillet at 425 until they were cooked through, turning the potatoes about midway through the cooking time. I took some thin slices of steak left over from Friday’s dinner and gently warmed them in the leftover onion sauce, added a generous handful of sliced scallions to the cooked potatoes, and served everything (surprise!) with an egg on top.

Sunday brunch at home

What a delicious spin on steak and eggs.

So yeah, make this chicken. And don’t forget to vote.

Desperation Dinner

Dinner:  January 19, 2010

This week is moving by at a dizzying pace. Between our wedding anniversary, the buzz around Cook & Brown and Mike’s involvement in it, and big changes on the horizon at my own job, I’ve barely had the chance to think. I had another meal entirely planned for Tuesday night’s dinner, but as I’ve been spending so much of my time and energy prepping for tonight’s anniversary feast, I got a little weeded and decided to scrap my previous plan in favor of something simpler: lamb ragu from the freezer, thawed and tossed with hot cooked shells, wilted young spinach leaves, and a good hit of grated pecorino. Nothing fancy, but just what the doctor ordered.

What to do with leftover short ribs

Dinner:  November 11, 2009

Let’s say you made short ribs recently, browning them and braising them with a copious amount of red wine and aromatic vegetables. You have, of course, saved not just the uneaten meaty bits, but the rich liquid and tender vegetables as well.

So you shred the meat off of the bones (tossing the bones into the freezer for future stock-making) and toss it into a pan with the leftover braising liquid and vegetables. You add half of a big can of San Marzano tomatoes (squished up), with the juice, and a splash of olive oil. And when everything is warm and soft, you pass about 3/4 of it through a food mill. You put it all back in the pan, taste it, adjust the seasoning, add a palmful of fresh herbs (thyme and marjoram leaves, in this case), and let it continue to cook and reduce while you make the pasta.

flour, egg, salt

One cup of flour, a good pinch of salt, one whole egg plus one golden yolk. You stir, then knead, then roll out sheets, then slice into imperfect, rustic ribbons. You toss them with a bit of flour so they don’t stick together, then you boil them ever so briefly in salted water. They’ll cook quickly, because they’re so thin.

ribbons

Scoop about half of your ragu out of the pot, put it in a container, and freeze it for another meal. Then take your barely cooked pasta ribbons and add them to the pot of sauce, ladling in a bit of the starchy pasta water for good measure. Toss to coat. Turn off the heat. Add a generous amount of freshly grated cheese. No green cans allowed. Add another sprinkle of fresh herbs if you’re feeling sassy.

Plate up some for your sweetheart, and then for yourself. Sit, clink your glasses, sip, taste, smile. Leftovers do not have to be boring.