Project Leftovers: Marzano’s Meatball & Swiss Chard – Part 3

Roasted Peppers (especially red, orange and yellow ones) are something I love to keep on hand. You can just throw them on the grill or in the oven (in my case, often in the toaster oven) when you are using it for something else, and roast until charred. Put them in a bag, or container and close or cover the top to keep the steam in. Leave until cool enough to handle, remove the skin (the steam treatment will help you a lot in this department) and seeds.

I like to keep them as it is in the container, so that they are versatile for many different things later.  If you are an Antipasto fan, they are delicious marinated with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt and a lot of minced garlic, and you can still use it for many dishes including the soups below. Actually the dip has EVOO, garlic, lemon juice, S&P and pureed.

If you add some roasted eggplants, you can make a Serbian/Croatian/Turkish spread called Ajvar. Or my favorite way to make it is to make roasted red pepper puree like this, also roasted eggplant dip (basically the same except using eggplants). Enjoy them separately, or mix them to make Ajvar. Now I have 3 dishes with an effort to make just one. Once you start using them for soups and pasta and whole kitchen sink, these three dips will turn into many more dishes. It’s super easy and anyone can do it. Just a little different way of cooking, but the same thing.  The benefits are not just the variety, but huge time-saving as well.

Obviously I took out all meatball first.  (My hubby doesn’t mind his food touching red meat, as long as he doesn’t have to eat it.)  Then in goes water and red pepper puree. I even added the crust of pizza, just to experiment, since I don’t eat the crust anyway.

Even for those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, or those of you with dietary restrictions, the concept is the same. Just change the ingredients to fit your needs and what you have on hand. If you are gluten intolerant, you can use rice or polenta instead of bread. (Actually if you are, you probably won’t have pizza and bread leftovers!) Cook until heated. Adjust seasoning.

And now it’s a Roasted Red Pepper Bread Soup.  It was very good with smokey flavor of roasted red peppers.

Then I got carried away. (Surprise!)

There were some leftover (yes, to me, it’s worth the weight of gold, remember?) of this soup, so I pureed it with a stick blender. My secret trick to create another dish in no time.  And there you have it. Now it’s Pureed Roasted Pepper Soup. Because of the difference in texture, the last two actually taste quite different. I won’t recommend eating them back to back like I did (hey, I was testing for you guys!), but seriously, if you didn’t tell anyone, no one’s to know.

Yes it is cheating. but I really love being able to make 3 delicious soups from the leftover someone would throw away. In practically no time.

Once you try it, you may get hooked, like I did.

As a matter of fact, the little voice inside of me (with my mother’s voice) always criticize me that this is so lazy and crazy. But I strongly believe many dishes, especially humble yet hearty food like bread soups’ origin were in the leftover. So are lasagna, and pizza toppings.

So what do you think?

Do you re-purpose your leftovers?
Do you think it’s a good idea?  Or bad?  And why do you feel that way?

Share your thoughts about this topic.

Project Leftovers: Marzano’s Meatballs & Swiss Chard – Part 2

So you want to know what I did with the leftovers from Marzano….

On the next day, I decided to have some pizza leftover for lunch, and noticed the box of meatballs. Rather than eat it as it is by myself, and deal with my husband’s “Is this it for me?” complaint or dirty look, I decided to make it into soup. Not just one, I need another without meat for him.

So here’s what I did.

Break the bread and meatballs in bite size pieces with a folk.

Add water (or broth) to meatball, swiss chard and tomato sauce leftover.

Cook until hot and season to taste.

Voila! It’s abrondigas and bread soup. It was delicious!

Here’s the thing. I know it may not be traditional abrondigas soup, but I can name my creation with any name I want. Then all of a sudden it’s acceptable. Consider yourself as a fusion home-cook, then you too can do anything you want. It’s so much fun!  By the way, the girls who were eating next to us had a meatball pizza.  YES. Exactly the same meatballs, cut in half and topped them on pizza.  To think about it, if the tomato sauce on their pizza had the same origin as the tomato sauce in my meatballs, I won’t be surprised.

Now for the meatless version for my husband, I mixed it with roasted red pepper puree I made a few days ago to add extra flavor, and stretch it.  You saw how much leftover I had on the photo. I had to do some serious stretching.

The next post is about that.  So stay tuned…
If you haven’t subscribed to Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard via email, this is a good time to do it.  Click “Email Subscription” toward the top of the right side bar, under Foodbuzz Logo. (The first one is for my news letter, the second one is for email subscription of the blog.)  Then you’ll receive my post as soon as it’s published.

Kevin Dundon’s “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” Recipe (Basically “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” from Raglan Road”)

OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!

This morning, I got a comment on my blog from Kevin Dundon, THE chef who created the “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” who cooked for U2, about my post! 

He commented,

I am delighted that you are featuring my recipe on the your web site for more recipes checkout http://www.kevindundon.com

Good Eating

Kevin

To someone like me who loves to cook, loves to eat good food, plus loves everything Irish -especially cute, talented, smily Irish men, it was like the real GOD talking to me!

Can I say it again?  “Oh my God!”  It’s like my prayers answered.  My Irish God is smiling down at me!

As you can imagine, in my mind, I hear Bono singing away “It’s a Beautiful Daaaaaaaaay!”, and also “When Irish Eyes are smiling”.  I told you, I love them both.

I’m very excited, honored, astonished…. and a bit embarrassed.  So THE Kevin Dundon saw my picture? (Compared the one on his site, it looks shabby…)  He even saw my recipe? The cabbage comment?  And I wrote “fish stock or CHICKEN stock” to make it more accessible?  Geez.  

I might take that Chicken broth out and change to water, since the God said fish stock or water.  And take the cabbage comment out….  Make the real version with more seafood with shells and replace the photo…  And now to think about it, I think the version we ate at Raglan Road might have had fennel infused broth and cubes of fennel in it.  I forgot about it…  It’s nearly 2 years ago, and my memory is fading! I’m not 25 any more!

But he’s the best chef in Ireland who can charge a lot of Euros for his creations. On top of that, he cooks for people like U2 and Queen Elizabeth!  On the other hand, I was just trying to translate my memory of that tasty creation to an everyday table, easily.

It’s time to shut up my evil little voice.

Anyway, maybe it was your prayers too…  On his website, there is a recipe for “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” which is basically the same with Raglan Road’s “It’s Not a Bleeding Chowder!”

So here it is. Kevin Dundon’s real seafood chowder recipe.  Enjoy!http://www.kevindundon.com/duncanonSeafoodChowder.html

Me? Of course I’ll make the God’s real version soon!

When I do that, I will add more seafood with shells to include a photo of a more impressive chowder on this post.  (I can’t copy and paste that beautiful photo from his website, you know?)

Oh, and for those of you who have been waiting for the doria recipe, don’t worry, I’ll post it tomorrow.  I just wanted to share my excitement, and his recipe with you. : )

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 2: My version of “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder” Seafood Chowder

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Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant Inspired "It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!"

So here’s the recipe for my “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!”, inspired by the Best Irish Chef 2009 Kevin Dundon’s “It’s Not a Bleeding Chowder”. (Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL)

Ingredients (4-6 servings – Reserve half for the doria)

  • Cleaned and chopped leeks: about 1 large. Dark green part removed.
    • How to clean leeks:  Split the leek from the center lengthwise, bottom part attached, and wash off sand/dirt well with running water.
    • Save the tops for making chicken/fish/vegetable stock.
  • Diced boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold): 2 medium
  • Seafood (scallops & shrimps) chop them if they are large: 2/3 lbs (300g)
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • White Wine: 1/4-1/3 cup
  • Fish stock or Milk and fish bouillon (or chicken stock/bouillon): 2 1/2 cup
  • Corn:  1/2 – 2/3 cup
  • Cream: 1 1/2 cup

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle salt, pepper and white wine lightly on seafood.
  2. Clean leeks well and chop them.  Sautee in extra virgin olive oil, and light amount of salt.
  3. Add diced potatoes and sauté for a while, add seafood and white wine.
  4. Add fish stock or milk and crumbled fish bouillon and cook until hot, and seafood is heated through.  Make sure to not to boil it.
  5. Add cream and corn, and adjust the seasoning.  Serve hot.

Kitchen Wizard Tip: I highly recommend you clean and saute the entire bunch of leeks, and save the rest in a zip-loc bag for later use, either in the fridge or freezer (keep it thin, less than 1/3 inches so that you can break only the amount you need).  It’ll be very handy.  I promise!

The original version from Raglan Road has a lot more seafood, such as smoked fish, mussels, fancy prawns etc… It might have even had some shredded cabbage in it…  They had a Colcannon soup called Colpucchino that had cabbage in it… Mine is easier weeknight version.  You can also use other mild seafood on hand.  If you are planning to make doria later in the week, it’d be better not to use smoked fish.

Tomorrow on Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard…

Drum roll please… (Some people have been waiting for this post for a while!)

Leftover Make-over of this…  “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!  It’s Now Seafood Doria!”  Don’t miss it!

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 1: Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!

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Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant Inspired "It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!"

One of my passions is Irish things.  Some of you may have seen my Facebook post about U2. Yes, I love them since the Edge had a mop of hair, and Bono and Larry looked like 10 years old. I also love pretty much all other kind of Irish music too, even the kind used for traditional dancing which some people find to be repetitive.  Irish music makes me feel happy and calm.  When I visited Ireland, I felt I came back home – even more than when I go back to Japan.  Probably too much baggage associated with Tokyo! I think I was Irish in my previous life.

My love of Irish things even took me to a couple of months of Irish dancing lessons. It doesn’t look like much of a work out because the only things that are moving are the dancers’ legs, but Boy, it’s a major work out!  After one jig or reel, I was huffing and puffing!  After I learned a few different pieces, my teacher decided to move the location from Ft. Mason, walking distance from our home, and in the same building as our print-making class I was taking back to back, to more of an Irish American neighborhood.  Her marketing decision resulted in the loss of one student (me) and probably a gain of many students that fit much closer to her ideal target market profile.  So our (me and my teacher’s) dream of me dancing with these curly blond wigs and these elaborate stitched outfits never came true.  Maybe it’s a good thing. Or maybe I should make my silly dream come true on one of these Halloweens.

Anyway, when we had a chance to go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, I insisted to my husband that we HAVE TO go to Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney. They have an Irish band and dancing every night! My inner Irish wanted to have some comforting Irish food and most of all, Irish music. The chef cooked for U2 and Queen (not Freddie Mercury, but Elizabeth II.)  That was good enough of a validation for me.

I was in heaven there, because not only the band excellent, they played for hours, just like in Ireland. (My husband had to drag me out because we had a very early morning flight.)  Many photos of my favorite Irish (and non-Irish) celebrities like U2, Pierce Brosnan, Thin-Lizzy, Sting, etc. adorned their walls leading to the bathroom.  Love this sense of humor! Perfect thing to look at when you are waiting for your turn to pee after many pints of Guiness!  No worries, their bath room accommodates many people, and you can even continue to listen to the fine music!!

OK. Food.  Irish food is not known as the best food in the world.  Maybe the reputation is getting better now, compared with when I was there in 95. Yet, maybe because  I’m Irish in my previous life(?), I thought most of the food was very good and satisfying, even though not fancy.

One of the dishes we chose  at the restaurant was called “It’s not the bleeding chowder!” and it was really delicious!  The inside was super dark, so I couldn’t see what was in it.  Along with the loads of seafood on top, I identified something green most likely leeks, yet since it’s an Irish restaurant, there may have been cabbage, especially since they DO have frothy colcannon (potato & cabbage) soup called Colpucchino.    They use smoked fish as a base, and bit of bacon (I think), and that gave the chowder (or “not the chowder”) an interesting twist.

It was good enough to inspire me to make similar chowder at home using smoked trout I can get from Costco.

So when I found a pack of heavy cream that was near the expiration date one rainy evening, I realized that we haven’t had the “not the Chowder” thing for a long time.  I also had some sauteed leek.  Yes, the green things I identified in the chowder.  That’d save quite a bit of time and headache.  I didn’t have all the fresh seafood, but I always have some shrimp and scallops in the freezer!  That should work!

What I didn’t realize until I tasted it was that I forgot the smoked fish.

None the less it was very tasty.

As I ate it, and tasted the difference between the usual version with smoked fish and the one without, I realized that this would be perfect to make seafood doria!

That’s right! It’s not named “It’s not bleeding chowder!” for no reason. It’ll be DORIA tomorrow!

Doria is something we Japanese love.  It’s basically buttered rice in oval baking dish, covered with white sauce with either chicken or seafood in it, and baked with cheeses on top.  It’s a perfect fall to winter dish.  It’s quintessential Japanese Yoshoku (Western Food), Japanized French/Italian influenced food.

So two days later (I prefer not to eat leftovers and their spin-offs back to back for nutritional reasons), I decided to do something unthinkable for those with conventional minds.  I wanted to experiment what I would end up with a minimum effort.  So rather than making buttered rice in a skillet, I made buttered rice by just mixing butter, salt and generous amount pepper into some microwaved hot rice from the freezer. And I poured a generous amount of chowder, topped it with grated cheese and baked it in the toaster oven until it was golden brown.

To compare, I made one with cold chowder on hot rice, another with heated chowder on hot rice.  The result?  Taste-wise, negligible.  However, if you heat the chowder first, the dish will be hot and bubbly faster. But you need to add the time to heat it first, so both end up taking about the same…

Of course, if I made a proper doria with real buttered rice, sauteed aromatics and seafood, and white sauce, bake it with cheese, and compare it with the short cut version side by side, I might have been able to tell the difference. But I was so smart! I didn’t!  So I was able to taste the quick version as it is, without anything to affect my judgment.

At the beginning, my husband couldn’t even tell how I made it. (that’s always a good thing.  You want your family to think you made it from scratch, you are just a wizard in the kitchen whipping up tasty meals like this in no time!)

And the verdict was a solid A, and I was stoked to find out that I can make doria without making white sauce.

Of course, if you have some sauteed shrimp, bite size chicken etc, you can use that leftover, make a quick white sauce and do a proper version of doria too.

Either way, something that used to take close to 1 hour and a lot of work, is now done in pretty much in no time.  Your child can even make it…

Tomorrow, I’ll post my version of “It’s not the bleeding chowder!”, followed by How to make doria from chowder, then how to make doria from sauteed leftovers.

So stay tuned…

Batch and fridge: Sautéed Mirepoix Tomato and Meat Mixture — Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

It’s getting dark, cold, and RAINY in the Bay Area.  Yes, this fall is exceptionally rainy, and it rains cats and dogs, and that’s not enough, as if all the animals are falling from the sky. And I heard that those people in Colorado, Nebraska etc. already had 6 inches on snow, in early October?  Not just global warming, the weather is strange lately.

On an evening like that, and especially when I’m recovering from sickness, one thing I crave for is stuffed cabbage.

Believe it or not (I might have said that before), 99% of Japanese housewives cook Japanese, other Asian, as well as European origin food as normal repertoire. At least the last 50 years, that has been the norm.  Japanese are known to adopt great things from other countries and improve it to make it more efficient, like cars and electronics. And maybe not as well known fact outside of Japan, but food is definitely one of them.  We Japanize it with the ingredients that are available in Japan, and make it our own.

So, when I was little, and get sick, one of the things I craved for was “Rolled Cabbage” which is stuffed cabbage. Not just at my house, but ask 100 Japanese, whether they live in Japan or elsewhere, I can guarantee majority will say “I make them once in a while.”  We even have Japanese version, which often is found in oden, Japanese pot-au-feu.

The problem with Stuffed cabbage is it takes quite a long time to make it from scratch. But through my Kitchen Wizarding Process, I found a very easy way, that only takes about half or less time, and as tasty!

Plus my version uses mirepoix as its base, and not much meat, so it’s super healthy.  If you are vegetarian, or vegan, omit meat.

To make it even healthier, you can use other kinds of grains and even more vegetables, instead of rice. If the stuffing is too loose, add a beaten egg, so that it’ll serve as a binding agent.

So here’s Kitchen Wizard’s stuffed cabbage recipe!

Stuffed Cabbage

Ingredients:

  • Sautéed Mirepoix, Meat and Tomato Mixture – about 1 cup
  • Cooked rice – about 1 cup
  • Grated cheese – about 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A head of cabbage
  • 1/3 –1/4 Can of tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Cream

Directions:

  1. Remove the core of the cabbage, and stuff the hole with a moist paper-towel.  Wrap it with plastic wrap, and microwave it until cooked through, turning once in the middle. (about 5 min for small head cabbage, about 1 lb.  About 8-9 min for a 2 pounder.) This will allow the leaves to come out easily.
  2. Mix cooked rice and sautéed mirepoix, meat and tomato mixture about 50/50. Add cheese if preferred. Mix and season well.  Sprinkle some salt on the cabbage. Wrap a few tablespoons of the rice mixture with the cabbage leaves tightly.  Secure the end with tooth pick or broken spaghetti.
  3. Arrange the cabbage rolls into a pan as tightly as possible, trying not to leave any space.  If there’s any space, stuff with leftover cabbage.
  4. Add broth to barely cover the cabbage rolls.  Top with chopped tomatoes, and place a lid or plate that is one size smaller than the opening, so that the rolls will not float up. Cook for about 20-30 min.  (If you are short with time, cook in microwave, in several minute increments.  Be careful not boil over the broth.)
  5. Serve immediately with cream on top.

Note: Do you have any cooked cabbage leftover?  Great!  Because it’s really handy!  You can shred it and add to miso soup, other kind of soup, mix with vinaigrette to make simple salad as a side dish, sauté lightly with salt and pepper, with tomatoes, curry powder, bacon, etc. etc.

They were so yummy, they made the last bit of my sickness go away…

Never forget, nourish your soul with good, whole food, not just body…  It’ll thank you and give back 100 times! And the best way to do that is through home-cooking.  Treat yourself with your childhood favorite from time to time!

Leftover Makeover: Tom Kha Gai

So you cooked some flavorful Tom Kha Gai… and some left over…

How can we transform this recipe into something easy, different and fabulous?

There’s an obvious one and not so obvious one…

Obvious:  Tom Kha Noodle Soup

Tom Kha with Rice Stick

Tom Kha Noodle Soup

  1. Add about 1C of chicken broth (If you still have the stock from making that shredded chicken use it for this) to left over Tom Kha and cook until hot. Adjust seasoning.  In the meantime, boil rice noodles according to the package instruction.
  2. Drain the noodles and place them in a bowl. Pour hot soup over them. Serve with lime wedge and chopped cilantro. Optionally, sprinkle fried shallots if you have any. (Available at Asian markets.)

Not so obvious: Thai curry

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

  1. Fry sliced garlic, dried red chili in vegetable oil. Add Thai curry powder or paste and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add a combination of vegetables cut in bite-size pieces and cook until vegetables are crisp tender. (pepper, eggplants, green beans, bamboo shoots, If using potatoes, pumpkin, you may want to microwave first to shorten cooking time).  Add water or chicken broth (again, use the one from cooking the chicken if available) to barely cover the veggies. Cook until vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Add the Tom Kha into curried vegetables and cook until hot.  (optional add shrimp). Add a dash of sugar, and adjust the seasoning.  Serve with steamed rice.

These recipes alone may be good enough excuse to make double batch of Tom Kha…If you ate all the chicken in the soup, and only left with soup, try You can add shrimp instead of chicken.

Batch and Fridge: Onion and Chorizo Mixture: Chickpea Chowder

Rugged coastline of pacific grove

Rugged coastline of pacific grove

Over Mother’s day weekend, we went to Pacific Grove near Monterey, CA for our 10th anniversary.

Being in a coastal town, the dinner had to be seafood.  We were lucky to be able to grab a last minute cancellation at well-known fish restaurant in town.  We were all set.

Having over 2 hours to spend before dinner, we decided to go for a walk by the bay enjoying the rugged coast line…  We ended up walking a lot further, all the way from the lighthouse to downtown. So we had to take the main road back to the hotel.

Pacific Grove  walk

Pacific Grove walk

As we walked along Lighthouse Avenue, something caught our attention.  The sign said “Passionfish”.   Even though we were on the other side of the street, we had to check out the menu. (Menu browsing is one of my favorite pastime.)  Something smelled good too.  Zagat rated…  Food 25, Service 21..  Both very good signs.  And the menu sounded really interesting, much more than our original reservation.  OK, we decided, we are eating here.

We cancelled the other reservation, and ended up having our anniversary dinner at Passionfish.  It was a good decision.

passion fish outside w flash

Passionfish Restaurant in Pacific Grove, CA

One of the specials they had that night was Moroccan Chickpea Chowder with green onion lime cream.  The thing is, people at the next table convinced us that we had to have this out-of-this-world calamari salad, and duck confit, so we decided to skip the soup.  BUT!  Food-obsessed me had to try this some way.  (Don’t worry, I didn’t beg the waitress to give me a sample.)

Since I had a garlic, onion, and chorizo mixture left over in the fridge I made for Portuguese cabbage rice, I decided to make it up at home as soon as I came home.

Since I didn’t even see the soup, it may be very different from the original version at Passionfish, but none the less, it was super fast and delicious (I’d say for this version, Zagat rating 27).  If you make it, you’ll be shocked how easy and flavorful it is.

Chickpea Chowder with green onion lime cream

  1. Heat 1 can chickpeas, 1/2 cup cooked chorizo mixture and 2 cup chicken stock. Puree.  If you just serve this hot, it’s super delicious, especially with drizzle of EVOO, lemon juice, cream or butter.
  2. (Optional) Puree green onion and creme fraiche with hand blender or in a mini-bowl in a food processor.  Mix lime juice.  Add to the hot soup.

    Passionfish inspired Chickpea Chowder

    Passionfish inspired Chickpea Chowder

For the detailed review of Passionfish restaurant I posted on Foodbuzz, click here.

Bon appetite!