Weekend Leftovers (and the Daily News)

I hate to say it but, it’s the weekend and I have too many leftovers in the refrigerator.  That’s a great thing for a weekday, when time is precious for us working folks, like us.  Yes, my wife and I have been deemed “essential” by the powers that be, but it drives me nuts when the weekend arrives and I discover that leftovers have overtaken the fridge .  This is my weekend crisis, along with worrying about the ever-expanding, impending virus.

A good weekend, for me, is when I get to play in the kitchen and make some food that can turn into leftovers for the upcoming week. 

But, today, it’s necessary to scoop together a meal from all of the leftovers.

How could I possibly tie all of these leftovers together to make a single, cohesive meal?  There’s shrimp in a garlic butter sauce with noodles, scalloped potatoes with ham and a chicken salad, intended for sandwiches.  Three mish-mash leftovers with only one or two servings each, among them.

I say, tie them together with some fresh bread.  Garlic bread should work.  Half of the bread for a small bread loaf and the other half for garlic knots, or in this case, a braided garlic loaf.  Add some fresh lettuce and we have a brand new meal!  Leftovers can always be boosted by adding a splash of something fresh.

Garlic Bread / Garlic Braid

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water

2 Tbs yeast

1 tsp olive oil

3 cups flour

2 Tbs garlic powder

Pinch of salt

1 quart prepared shrimp with pasta, with garlic butter sauce

1 pint prepared ham and scalloped potatoes

1 pint prepared chicken salad

Fresh lettuce, (any kind will do)

¼ cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves

Directions:

Prepare the bread dough by warming a cup of water and adding yeast and olive oil.  Set in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate for 20 minutes. Add water and yeast to a large mixing bowl and add the flour and salt.

Mix and knead for a minute.  Sprinkle garlic powder over the dough ball, cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 15 minutes in a warm place.

Knead dough again to incorporated the garlic powder.  Cover and keep warm for 30 minutes.

Heat an oven to 400°.

Knead the dough and divide in half.  Set one half aside.

Take one half and divide into thirds.  Roll each third into ropes, making one rope slightly larger than the other two.

Lay the ropes of dough on a clean surface, with the longest rope in the middle.  Braid the dough in a French braid. 

Lay the braided dough on a baking sheet and bake in the oven.

Take the remaining dough and form into an oblong loaf.  Place on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes.

While the bread bakes, add chopped garlic to the olive oil and heat in the microwave for about 1 minute.  Carefully remove the olive oil and set aside.

Pull the braided loaf out of the oven and leave the other loaf in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Heat the shrimp and pasta in a covered pan, with a little splash of water.

Heat the scalloped potatoes and ham in a microwave oven for a few minutes.

Add the chopped lettuce to individual serving bowls.  Top the lettuce with the chicken salad.

Cut the braided loaf into bite sized portions and put the pieces in a mixing bowl. 

Pour the garlic and olive oil over the bread pieces and toss.

Place the braided garlic bread pieces in a serving bowl.

Slice the bread loaf into 1” slices.

In a large pan, heat about 1/3 of the scalloped potatoes and ham, with a little water.

Add the sliced bread to the pan and let the bread absorb some of the liquid.  Turn the bread over and turn the heat off.

Assemble individual serving plates by adding portions of the shrimp and pasta, along the with the scalloped potatoes and ham on bread slices, and braided garlic bread.  Serve with the a side of chicken salad and a sample of the daily news.

Super Easy Salmon

Well, it’s official.  Our worldwide dilemma has caused the train to jump of the tracks.  The Catholic church announced that we can stop abstaining from eating meat on Fridays for the remainder of Lent.  At least, that is what one bishop from New Jersey has decreed.

It seems that we have suffered enough.  Maybe a delicious hamburger and fries will pick up our spirits. 

Lent is one of those old-world traditions that I actually appreciate.  Fasting and simplifying our lives through meditation and reverence for 40 days each year seems like a healthy practice.

So, let’s prepare a nice salmon filet, shall we?

Ingredients:

2.5 lb fresh salmon filet

3 Tbs Dijon mustard

3 tsp lemon juice

3 tsp mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp chili sauce (spicy ketchup)

¼ cup capers

Directions:

Set oven to 375°.

Lay the salmon, skin-side down, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl. 

Spread the mixture across the top of the salmon.  Make sure to coat the entire surface to prevent the fish drying while baking.

Sprinkle capers across the top of the fish.

Bake uncovered at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with sautéed asparagus and rice.

Pickled Jalapeños (Small Batch)

Oh no, I forgot to get jalapeños during my weekly trek to the toilet paper store, er, I mean grocery store.

The good thing is that I have some fresh jalapeños and vinegar and sugar.  Pickled jalapeños only take a few minutes to make and they can be just as good as store bought.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs white vinegar

3 Tbs water

1/2 tsp sugar

1 garlic clove, smashed

2 fresh jalapeños, sliced

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave until the mixture begins to boil.  Carefully remove the bowl and add the garlic, jalapeño and pinch of salt.  Wait 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy some tangy peppers!

The Reuben Sandwich

My first Reuben sandwich came from an airport deli.  To be precise, I was at D/FW Regional Airport, Terminal 2E (American Airlines), on a sunny spring day, in 1977.  I wasn’t traveling and I wasn’t meeting anyone.  I was there just for fun.

When I was a 12 and 13 years old, I used to ride my bike to the airport just for fun.  That’s the sort of thing I did while other kids were playing sports or hanging out at the mall.   Yes, I was a little odd. 

In some ways, going to the airport, by myself, made me feel connected with other people.  It was an interesting way to observe people, without being obtrusive.  I imagined stories about the people I saw and dreamed about the places that they would go to and places they had been.  I was living life vicariously by watching others but it poured gasoline on the fire of my imagination. 

I rarely had much money…usually nothing more than a dollar or two.   But, on that day I had five dollars in my pocket.  I gazed at the menu, reading the descriptions of the sandwiches that the deli had to offer.  One sandwich in particular drew my attention.  The Reuben.  I had never had corned beef and sauerkraut was something I never imagined on a sandwich and rye bread was something I imagined only existed in New York.  I had to have it.

I savored every bite of that Reuben sandwich and I still recall its warmth, aroma and the piles of sliced corned beef to this day.  Every time I have a Reuben sandwich I recall the fun times I had during my trips to the airport, when I was globetrotting teenager, at least in my mind.

The Reuben that I am making today will have sour dough bread, instead of rye.  Other than that, I have remained true to the classic sandwich recipe.  I bought a beef roast that came with corned beef seasoning and followed the directions on the package.  I boiled the roast for a few hours and then let it rest until cooled.

Ingredients:

2 lbs prepared corned beef roast

16 oz Swiss cheese, sliced

1 ½ cups sauerkraut

1 ½ cups Russian dressing (ingredients and directions below)

Sour dough bread, sliced

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

Directions:

Slice the corned beef, ¼” slices or thinner if you can.  Slice the Swiss cheese.  Set these aside.

Preparing the Russian dressing:

   2 Tbs onion, minced and pulverize with the broadside of a knife

   1 cup mayonnaise

   3 Tbs chili sauce (spicy ketchup)

   2 Tbs horseradish, from a jar

   1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

   1/4 tsp paprika

Combine all and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

Assembling the sandwich:

Lay slices of bread on a clean work surface.  Slather Russian dressing on both slices.

Lay slices of Swiss cheese on one of the slices.

Pile slices of corned beef on one top of the cheese. 

Squeeze some sauerkraut in your hands to remove as much of the liquid as possible.  Lay the sauerkraut on top of the corned beef.

Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread. Repeat the process to make a second sandwich.

Heat a skillet to medium/low heat.  Add olive oil and butter.

When the butter melts, turn heat to low and carefully lay the sandwiches onto the skillet.

Brown both sides of the sandwiches, turning occasionally.  Continue to turn until both sides have browned and the cheese has melted.

Remove the sandwiches and slice them in half. 

Secure the sandwiches halves with toothpicks and dill pickle slices.

Healthy Scraps

Last night I made steamed broccoli as a side dish to the main course.  When I steam vegetables I strive for an even texture throughout the pieces.  This is a challenge when it concerns broccoli because although the florets are fluffy and not very dense the stems are dense and thick.  One solution to the problem is to cut the dense pieces into smaller sizes that will soften at the same rate as the florets.  Another solution is to not include the thick stems at all. 

I chose the latter option, but that didn’t mean I was going to waste perfectly good broccoli. 

I rummaged around the kitchen and searched for vegetables that were on their way out.  Wilted vegetables might lose their visual appeal but they still retain their nutritional value.  I found some green onions that were wilted and a few potatoes that were smaller than the rest. 

I rough cut the vegetables and tossed them into a pot.

I added 2 cups of chicken stock and simmered at low heat, covered, for one hour.

Once the vegetables had sufficiently softened, I poured everything into a blender and pulsed to puree.

I strained out the remaining little pieces of potato skins and was rewarded with a creamy, hearty soup.

Anything can be added to the soup at this point.  Maybe some leftover sausage scraps or some lunch meat that has been relegated to the back of the meat drawer. 

I chose to chop another wilted green onion for the topping and then added some dried Parmesan cheese.  After a few twists from the pepper grinder, the soup was ready to eat.

Creamy Potato and Celery Soup with Ham

Ingredients:

8 small russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

1 medium sized onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

6 stalks celery, chopped

1 Tbs butter

2 Tbs flour

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups chicken broth

½ cup half-and-half (whole milk and cream)

1 cup smoked ham, chopped into ½” cubes

5 oz white cheddar cheese, grated

4 green onions, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to boil and add the diced potatoes.   Boil the potatoes until cooked through and softened.  Strain the potatoes in a colander.

In a large pot over high heat, add olive oil, garlic and onions.  Cook and for a minute or two, until the onions are translucent.

Add the chopped celery stalks and cook for another 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of butter to 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix and mash together with a fork. Add a splash of broth and mix a little more. Add the mixture to the pan. Stir to combine.

Add the vegetable broth and chicken broth.  Stir and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Pour the soup into the blender and add the potatoes.  Puree until smooth.  This may need to be done in batches, depending on the capacity of the blender. Return the soup to the pot.

Add the half and half and the ham.  Heat at low temperature for a few minutes while stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat off and add the shredded cheese.  Slowly stir the soup once or twice.  Do not over-stir.  Allow the cheese to melt without much interference.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with diced scallions.

Apple Crumble

I bought a large bag of Gala apples about two weeks ago and promptly put them in the crisper drawer in my refrigerator.   Every time I open the refrigerator I see them and I am reminded that I need to do something with them. 

Today seems like the perfect day to use them.  Even though they have been kept cool and they still feel crisp, they won’t last forever.  On top of that, I want something to do at home, so that I am not tempted to join the frenzied mob who are in panic mode as they rush to the store to empty the shelves of toilet paper and sanitizer. 

Toilet paper, really?!  If I was preparing for an emergency quarantine, toilet paper might make my it on my list of “100 things I need” but it would be pretty far down on the list.  People are weird.  I should know…I’m people, too. 

I don’t want to make light of the situation surrounding the virus that has recently been declared a pandemic event.  It’s serious business.  People want to stay healthy and invisible threats, like viruses, play on our fears. 

So, with that in mind, I want something to keep me occupied in the safe, confines of my home.  I also want to stretch my resources to their fullest potential, which means that I don’t want to waste anything.  If I wind up being confined to my home for a while, I want to be prepared and I want to be frugal.

Today is the day I will use those apples and I will use every part of them.  I will save the peels to make apple chips and I will save the cores to make apple syrup.  I will use the stems…ok, I won’t be using the stems but I definitely could.  I could glue the stems together to make little stick-figure people and animals.   Maybe next time.

Apple Filling Ingredients:

2 lb apples

1 Tbs white flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 cup butter, melted

¼ tsp salt

Directions:

Set oven to 350°

Peel apples and cut into ½” pieces.

Place apple pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Mix briefly with a spatula.  Add the lemon juice and toss. Spread the apple mixture across the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish.

Add all of the topping ingredients, except the melted butter, to a bowl.  Mix with a spatula. 

Add the melted butter and mix until all of the dry ingredients have absorbed the butter. Spread the mixture over the apples.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  This allows the apple filling to congeal. 

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a glass of cold milk.

Apple Peel Chips

Ingredients:

Apple peels from 7 or 8 apples

1 tsp lemon juice

2 Tbs sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl.  Toss to coat the apple peels.

Spread the apple peels on a parchment paper lined baking tray.

Bake at 300° for about 15 minutes.  Turn the peels over and continue backing for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow the peels to cool.

Apple Syrup

The syrup produced by this recipe is very close to the color, consistency and flavor of honey.  I will definitely use it as a substitution for honey in some future recipes.

Ingredients:

Apple cores from 7 to 8 apples

½ lemon, juice and peel

1 small star anise (or 1/8 tsp anise seed)

White sugar (amount needed is described in the directions)

Directions:

Add apple cores, lemon juice and lemon peel to a small saucepan.  Cover with water and simmer at low heat for 1 hour. 

Strain the solids and reserve the liquid.  Return the liquid to the saucepan and turn heat to medium.  Reduce by one half.

Carefully pour the hot liquid into a heat resistant measuring cup.  Take note of how much liquid you have.   You will be adding twice that amount of sugar to the pan.  Return the liquid to the saucepan and add then add the sugar.  I wound up with 3/4 cups of liquid so I added 1 1/2 cups of sugar.

Simmer for about 5 minutes at medium heat while whisking.  When the liquid begins to bubble and froth forms, turn the heat off and remove from the pan from the heat.  Test the syrup with a spoon.  If the syrup clings to the back of the spoon, the syrup is done.  If the syrup seems too runny, return it to the heat for another minute or two.  Be careful not to overheat, unless you want to make hard candy!

Remove syrup and allow to completely cool before placing it in a storage container.  The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.  The syrup should last for a few weeks in a refrigerator. 

Crawfish Season!

Hooray! The crawfish are here, the crawfish are here!

Every year, around this time, crawfish and shrimp vendors start popping up at local gas station parking lots. They set up shop on the weekends, with pick up trucks and trailers for about 6 weeks and then they vanish, as quickly and as quietly as they arrived, returning to the bayous. But, while they are here, I have access to the biggest, freshest and most succulent gulf shrimp and wonderful, spicy, hot Cajun crawfish .

Most of these vendors only take cash. I rarely carry cash but, when these guys roll into town I don’t mind making a trip to the nearest ATM and withdrawing money from my bank account. I drive back to the seafood guys waving cash in my hand. Yes, it’s really that good.

I remember a time, just a few years ago, when I saw the crawfish guys boiling their shrimp and cawfish and I panicked, realizing that I was nearing the end of their short season. It was Saturday, around 5:00 pm. I drove the 3 miles to the bank teller machine and withdrew some cash. By the time I returned, they had already packed up and were gone. Gone! Gone for good, at least until the next year.

Never again. Lesson learned. I will not let the moment escape me. Even if all I get is a tiny sample of some briny shrimp or a few scrawny crawfish, I won’t pass up the opportunity to savor some of the finest food this world has to offer.

I am not a creole chef and I wasn’t raised on the bayou. I’m not Cajun…I’m Texan true and true, but I am forever mesmerized and enamored by the lure of fresh gulf seafood and funky, backwater fare.

Something good happens when the shrimp are set to boil. The world is a happier place when hot, red crawfish are pulled from the pot. Mystery and wonder fills the air. Friends are made instantly. Smiles become contagious. Romance is at hand. No struggles, no strife.

Grab a drink. Find a seat. Tell us a story.

Burritos de Carne Asada con Papas Pequeñas

Steak Burritos with Little Potatoes

I’m on a Tex-Mex kick again…who would have guessed!

Technically, this wasn’t carne asada because I didn’t grill the meat.  I seared the meat in a cast iron skillet at high heat, which is close enough for me.  Secondly, carne asada usually is prepared with a dry rub on the meat.  I marinated the beef in guajillo and ancho chile sauce for a few hours.  It might be more correct to say that I made bistec en salsa guajillo.  “Pero, “Carne asada” suena más emocionante!”  Which is to say, Carne asada sounds more exciting!

The potatoes used in this recipe came from my favorite grocery store, ALDI.  The  24 ounce bag contains a variety of bite sized potatoes, ranging from white, yellow, red, brown and purple.  They bake quickly in the oven and they come out of the oven crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

Ingredients for the carne asada:

1 ¼ lbs top round beef steak (thinly sliced)

16 oz enchilada sauce (guajillo and ancho chiles this time, but canned is perfectly fine!)

1 Tbs cooking oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 ripe tomato, diced

3 large flour tortillas (burrito sized)

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Ingredients for the potatoes:

24 oz bite sized whole potatoes

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chile powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Slice the raw steak, thinly. 

Marinate the steak in the chile guajillo sauce for 30 minutes, or longer.

In a large skillet at medium/low heat, add the onion and jalapeño until the onions begin to turn translucent. 

Add the garlic powder, cumin and diced tomato.   Simmer at low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. 

While the sauce simmers, prepare the potatoes.

Wash, rinse and drain the potatoes.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, chile powder, paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper.

Scatter the potatoes across a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes can be cut easily with a knife.  Keep warm until serving.

Remove the cooked sauce to a bowl.

Add the marinated beef to the skillet and sauté at very high heat for 2 minutes.  Reserve the marinade.

Remove the beef and keep warm.

Reduce the beef juices by stirring at high heat for a few minutes. 

Add the sauce back to the skillet, with the reduced beef juices.   Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Chop the beef and return the beef to the skillet.

Divide the beef in the skillet evenly, according to the number of burritos that you are preparing.  I am making three burritos.

On a clean work surface, assemble the burritos.  Add the beef and roll the tortillas.

Add the guajillo marinade to the skillet and cook at high heat for a few minutes to thicken the sauce (and to kill any bacteria).

Reduce the heat to low and add the burritos to the skillet.  Roll the burritos in the sauce to cover all sides.

Top with cheese.

Move the skillet from the stove top to the oven and bake at 350° for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.  Remove the burritos from the oven and keep warm.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and turn out to a serving dish.

Serve with refried beans and a simple salad.

Salut!

When the Party’s Over

Between our New Year’s Day celebration and last weekend’s bridal shower party we amassed a lot of inexplicable leftovers.  How we wound up with Camembert cheese left over, I’ll never know.  That’s fancy French cheese from Normandy, for goodness sake!  As I recall, we Americans fought our tails of to liberate that cheese!  And the gouda!  For pity’s sake everyone ignored the gouda!  Other than tulips, legalized prostitution and hash bars gouda is the Netherland’s #1 attraction!  

The leftover cauliflower and broccoli is easier to understand.  They’re always the last stragglers on a veggie tray.  The Kalamata olives went first and then the carrots.  By the time the carrots were gone, so was the creamy ranch dressing dip.  Poor cauliflower and broccoli always get left behind, like a scrawny kid who gets picked last during recess, when teams are chosen. 

So, now it’s time to scrape together all of the those party leftovers and make a meal. 

Rustic Chicken with Winter Vegetables and Whipped Potatoes

My first step was to make the puff pastry for the chicken dish.  From there I prepped much of the rest of the meal in advance and kept it cool until nearly service time.  I finished by roasting the vegetables and frying some matchstick onions.

Ingredients for the puff pastry:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cup cold butter (2 and a half sticks)

½ cup ice cold water

Directions:

Puff pastry is really not too difficult to make at home as long as you adhere to a few rules.  There are only a few ingredients but the important thing to remember while making the pastry is to keep all of the ingredients very cold during preparation.  I chilled the flour, in addition to chilling the butter, and I put the water in the freezer, just prior to using it. 

Since hands are warm, and warmth is a pastry killer, I added the flour, salt and butter to a food processor.  I pulsed the food processor several times until the flour and butter combined to make a grainy mixture. 

I added the ice cold water and pulse again, until the dough began to form a ball.  I turned out the dough ball to a clean work surface and formed the dough into a 12” x 6” rectangle.  I worked quickly, using the rolling pin.

I folded the dough over into a tri-fold and squared the dough by pushing the edges with the rolling pin.  I added a little more flour to the work surface to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. 

I rolled the dough out again to a 12” x 6” rectangle and folded it in thirds again.  I repeated this process three more times.  Rolling the dough multiple times increases the amount of flakiness of the finished puff pastry.

I wrapped the rectangle of dough in plastic wrap and kept it refrigerated until I was ready to use it. 

This recipe makes enough dough for 24 pastry cups. 

Ingredients for the rest of the meal:

Infused blueberries:

1 ½ cup water

2 tsp dried rosemary

½ cup blueberries

1 Tbs sugar

Roasted chicken:

4 chicken thighs (bone–in)

5 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thin

2 tsp dried rosemary

1 Tbs rendered bacon fat

½ cup roasted red bell peppers

4 oz sliced mushrooms (I used canned mushrooms)

1 Tbs olive oil

6 oz Camembert cheese (rind removed)

Whipped potatoes:

6 small russet potatoes

2 Tbs butter

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup milk

5 cloves roasted garlic

Matchstick onions:

1 yellow onion, sliced into very thin rings

1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup milk and 1 tsp vinegar)

1 cup flour

1 tsp seasoning salt

Winter vegetables:

               1 ½ cup carrots, sliced and chopped

               1 cup broccoli florets

               1 cup cauliflower florets

               1 Tbs olive oil

               ½ cup gouda cheese, shredded

Directions:

Fill a small bowl with 1 ½ cups of boiling water.  Add the rosemary and sugar.  When the water has reached room temperature, remove the rosemary and reserve for later. 

Add the blueberries to the fragrant water and allow them to soak at room temperature for a few hours.

Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and discard.  Using a small, sharp knife, make several incisions in the chicken and insert the slices of garlic. 

Add bacon grease and olive oil to a baking dish.  Smear the chicken with the grease and oil and nestle the chicken in the baking dish.  Sprinkle the reserved rosemary onto the chicken.

Roast the chicken, uncovered, in an oven at 350° for 90 minutes.  Baste the chicken occasionally.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool down to room temperature.

Once the chicken has cooled, shred by hand.

Dice the roasted peppers and add to the shredded chicken.  Add the mushrooms to the chicken and mix to incorporate.  Set aside.

Wash and scrub the potatoes.  Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Cover the pot with a lid and boil the potatoes at low heat for about one hour, or until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork. 

Using a hand-held mixer, blend the potatoes, including the potato skins, with the butter, sour cream, milk and roasted garlic.  Store in warm place.

Drain the blueberries and set aside.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and place on a clean work surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Use one half for the chicken dish and reserve the other half for a dessert dish.  Roll the dough out to about ¼” thick.  Slice the pastry into 4” squares.  Form fit the pastry into the muffin pan.

Slice dough into 4″ squares

Place the squares in muffing pan and fill the pastry with the chicken mixture.  Top with a teaspoon of Camembert cheese and a 3 or 4  blueberries.

Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry puffs and turns golden brown. 

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Toss carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in olive oil.  Spread the vegetables out on parchment lined backing tray.  Roast in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.  Remove and keep warm.

Or, if you want to burn them, leave them in a 400° oven for 45 minutes, like I did.  There I was trying to salvage leftover vegetable tray fodder and I incinerated the whole lot.  Oh well, that’s the way things roll in my kitchen, sometimes.

Matchstick Onions

Slice the onion very thin and set aside. 

Mix the milk and vinegar together in a large bowl (this is a decent substitute for buttermilk).  Soak the onions in the buttermilk for several minutes.

Heat a pot of oil on the stove at medium/high heat (325° to 350° works well.

Add the flour and seasoning salt to a large mixing bowl. 

Toss the onions in the flour mixture to coat.

Add the onions to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy.  Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and keep warm.

Serve two stuffed pastry shells with mashed potatoes, topped with turkey gravy and fried onions.

Dessert:  Cherry and Cream Cheese Tarts

Assemble 12 pastry cups using the same method as before.  Fill each one with 2 teaspoons of cream cheese and top with cherry pie filling.  Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry puffs and turns golden brown.