This might be the last elaborate dinner post you see for awhile, mostly because I’m not sure how many more big dinners or recipes to work out I have left in me in this kitchen.
Mr. Kitchenette and I have been remodeling a dilapidated house a few blocks away. It might be dilapidated, but it’s all ours! And over the last few months, it’s been getting less and less dilapidated/more and more awesome. When we were selecting a contractor, one of our criterion was that the massive Phase 1 construction project (pipes, wires, air conditioning, new kitchen, new bath and that’s not even all of it…) had to be completed before Christmas. “Oh, no problem!” they all said in August.
If you’ve worked with a contractor before, you know what that means.
Ever since I was a kid and discovered Duchess/twice-baked potatoes, I have been madly in love with anything that was cooked, mixed with cheese and other delicious things and then baked again. So I was pretty excited about this recipe.
For the most part, the excitement was totally warranted. This is a fantastic, fall-tastic dish with a great balance of flavors and textures.
We’re still on a little bit of a tryptophan hangover over here, or it could just be total exhaustion from running back and forth between two houses, one of which is a giant mess but coming along nicely and the other is just… well, a giant mess. Yeah. Either way, we’re thankful. Thankful to have not one but two roofs over our heads, thankful for falling leaves and falling temperatures, thankful to have had an awesome meal, thankful we’re here and thankful you’re there and that you keep coming back. Enjoy.
In most cases, I believe Thanksgiving leftovers should be generally left un-fussed-with, just reheated and eaten. You won’t catch me trying to cram turkey and stuffing and some spices that don’t belong with them into a samosa or attempting to turn green-bean casserole into anything other than green bean casserole. But let’s face it, there is going to be some lingering turkey (even if you just made a breast and not a whole bird like I told you to!) and after the gravy is gone, it’s tough to get enthusiastic about another turkey-and-cran sandwich. That’s where the Hot Brown comes in.
Invented as a late-night snack at the legendary Brown Hotel in Louisville, this is my hands-down favorite thing to do with leftover roast turkey: top it with bacon and tomato and smother it in cheese sauce.
Yeah, this is not health food. But what holiday favorite is actually good for you? Extend your vacation one more day with the Kitchenette version of this Kentucky classic. You can have a salad for lunch tomorrow.
Since “tradition” keeps coming up as an (unintended) theme in these Thanksgiving for 2 posts, I started looking into the tradition of green bean casserole.
The short version is that it was created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly in the Campbell Soup Co.’s test kitchen. Reilly was charged with creating a simple yet tasty recipe with things usually on hand in a 1950 American kitchen. It doesn’t seem to have originally had ties to the Thanksgiving table — apparently, we have a 1955 Associated Press feature piece to thank for that — but it is without a doubt now cemented as a traditional dish for generations.
But for every person who love, love, loves this sloppy, un-fussy, dump-and-bake classic, there is another who finds it foul. For some, it’s the cream of mushroom soup from a can factor, for others it’s an opportunity to lament horrifying use of packaged foods in our modern society. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get up on a soapbox… as much as I love cooking whole foods and real ingredients and try to not get too crazy when shopping the middle of the grocery store all that jazz, I also think good ole sloppy green bean casserole tastes like awesome, cans and all. There aren’t that many things in the world that taste just as good when you’re an adult as they did when you were a kid and this is one of ‘em.
“Tradition” is relative.
Putting together a “traditional” Thanksgiving feast for two, I know I am slipping a little bit in terms of what was considered “tradition” when I was a little kid. Traditionally, the fact that Italian side of the family hosted Thanksgiving meant there would definitely be a pasta course, possibly in addition to lasagne, and sometimes a light soup poured over thin, Italian crepes wrapped around a bit of cheese. I didn’t really know anything about the grand tradition of gelatinous, can-shaped cranberry “sauce” because I grew up with a raw, boozy relish (served up by a grandmother who doesn’t even drink). And I didn’t really experience a proper Southern-style sweet potato casserole until well into adulthood because my other grandmother always brought her famous, individual-serving sweet potato balls (and in another tradition, my other grandmother, who hosted Turkey Day would always ask her how long they needed to be in the oven and at what temperature, even though the answer was the same for decades).
So it’s that time of year again, the big Foodie Freakout (man, I hate that word. ‘Foodie,’ not ‘freakout.’ Not that freakouts are great, either, but the word itself… I digress). Thanksgiving. It’s supposed to be the Great American Food Holiday. So many memories, so many recipes, so much tradition, so much family.
Unless there’s not. Because there’s just two of you.
Here were are on Round 3 of the pork leftovers and surprisingly, we’re not tired of pork yet. I have to admit that even though the posts are coming out all together, we have been spacing the recipes out in real life, so it’s been more of a pork leftovers every other day or so and not back-to-back-to-back. Though I really think this mini-collection of recipes are different enough that you don’t really feel like you’re eating the same damn thing every night for a solid week even if you didn’t space them out. Plus, it’s great to have something that’s guaranteed to be easy/is barely cooking already teed up for a couple of nights if you’re expecting a busy week. In fact, Mr. Kitchenette actually put this one together all by his onsies while I was bogged down with “real” work.
While I am not anti-stirfry, I make no apologies for thinking they are often boring, especially when presented as a “the ultimate quick/easy/healthy dinner for two!” It’s an annoying label and I generally think that when it comes to dinner for two, a little bit of effort (and about the same amount of time) can yield something a bit more inspired than “chop up a bunch of stuff and flash fry it” in about the same amount of time. But there are some days when you just want something that really is a quick, easy and reasonably healthy dinner for two — preferably one you can make from leftovers, or at least with minimal cooking.
Part of the point of fried rice is that it’s to use up not just other random leftovers like the pork, but also leftover rice. This recipe includes instructions on how to make fried rice even if you don’t have leftover rice, which is handy if that’s what you’re in the mood for but don’t have any actual leftover rice; it’s a reasonable facsimile, but I admit I wasn’t 100 percent sold.
Since I don’t know what actual, cooked-all-day pork and hominy stew from Mexico really tastes like, I shouldn’t compare this to the “real deal.” But I have to say, this was real enough for me. And to go from a pile of cold leftovers to delicious soup in no time flat (and practically no clean up!) is always a big-time weeknight treat.