Wednesday, July 10, 2013
SEASONALITY ON-LINE: COOKING FROM INGREDIENTS
If you recall that picture I posted of my overloaded refrigerator a few days ago, you probably won't be all that surprised to learn that much of that food was still sitting there, after all my house guests went on their merry way. Sunday night we made sandwiches from some of the leftovers. Monday we tried out a new restaurant after going to a movie. Last night was Fat Tuesday at Linda Allen's. She's a local caterer who whips up all kinds of Cajun yumminess the second Tuesday of every month, and sells it along with her usual goodies, that one day only. Well, she makes the best gumbo ever, and we missed it last month, so we just HAD to go yesterday, right? So now we're down to the wire. Either I find some way to use all those wonderful leftovers, or they will end up in the trash, which would be a crying shame. So what's a girl to do? Head to the computer, of course.
I tend to spend way too much time pouring through all my cookbooks, looking for just the right recipe to use whatever ingredients are at hand. Luckily, my sister-in-law Priscilla just recently reminded me that there are far easier ways to accomplish the very same thing. Simply go to a website like epicurious.com, type the ingredients you wish to use in their search bar, click "go", et voila! You not only get page after page of recipe ideas, they also come with ratings and reviews, telling you how many "forks" each recipe received, and what percentage of the users said they would definitely make it again, which pretty much eliminates having to guess whether it will be any good or not. I also appreciate the little icons out to the side, which point out which recipes are healthy or time-saving. You find a recipe with four forks, 100%, a little clock and a head of broccoli, and it's a no-brainer. You're gonna love this recipe!
Now, I'm not exactly a cooking novice, so I pretty much knew that if you type in tomato, cucumber, peppers, olives and feta, a whole lotta recipes for Greek salad are gonna pop up, right? But by using epicurious, I was able to see that some of the recipes had a more lemony tart vinaigrette on them, while others had a slightly sweet red wine vinaigrette, which is what we prefer. Also, one recipe with the highest ratings was a composed salad that included artichoke hearts, where the different ingredients were arranged on a large platter, with the dressing drizzled over all. It served a crowd, and would be the perfect thing for a dinner party, while another recipe was just right for two. Yet another was a "chopped" salad, with all the ingredients cut into very small, uniform pieces which are tossed together in a bowl. One plus was that you didn't have to mix the salad dressing separately. You just drizzled the oil and vinegar over the chopped ingredients, then tossed them all together. Another good thing was that it used roma tomatoes, which are more firm and hold their shape better, so it would be the perfect thing to make when my little Juliettes come ripe all at once. Anyhoo, I think I'll be using epicurious a lot more often now, to help me decide how to use my seasonal ingredients.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. One other thing I looked for on that site was how to use that chunk of Spanish Manchego cheese that was left over. Guess what I discovered? One of the best ways to serve it is with a little slice of quince paste atop a wedge of the cheese. Well, who in the world just happens to have quince paste in their refrigerator? I do, that's who!