Sometimes I’m amazed at the brain’s ability to retain information. Like this: the last time I studied or spoke any French was my sophomore year of college. That was roughly 12 years ago.* Yet I only had to look up 3 of the 5 words in the post title, and I’m almost 70% sure it says what I want it to say.** Sometimes I amaze even myself. For my next trick, I will keep 15 plates spinning while playing the score to La Traviata on the recorder.
*OH MY GOD. And I’m starting to go white, for real; you don’t have to search around my scalp for those suckers anymore, they’re IN YOUR FACE. Because I am a thousand.
**Don’t correct me. Let me live the dream.
I had to use the psuedo-French to fool you into reading this post (at least, those of you with no working knowledge of French whatsoever; I assume any French speakers have run for the hills*) because all I really did was three different preparations of the garlicky greens left over from last Thursday’s Empowerment Cowgal Jamboree and Hootenanny. I did it again just then: I didn’t say “I ate a bunch of leftovers,” I said I “made three different preparations.” Really, you hardly need to know how to cook at all if you know a little lingo. I find that the same holds true for sounding like you know something about wine (the nose, tannins) and/or cognac (peat).
Anyway, I had this big bowl of leftover greens, spinach and rainbow chard. Leftover spinach and chard are not the norm around here because (1) we really like them and (2) generally, large amounts wilt down into tiny piles, so we always finish them. I wasn’t measuring these greens when I made them, but I must have used a serious assload to have the amount of leftovers we had. I thought that instead of worrying my pretty little head with math this Monday, I’d just showcase leftovers in a variety of ways.** We ended up eating a bit of the three different versions, tapas-style, but could have easily made a (light) main course out of any of them by supplementing with a salad or some good bread.
I also needed a dinner that was going to be fast, because I came home from work, sat down on the couch to read for a few minutes and chat with Brian about our respective days (crappy) before starting dinner, and conked out until almost 8:00. NOTE TO BRIAN: I was already tired and it was not in any way the sound of your voice that put me to sleep although it does have a soporific quality that is quite soothing, even when you’re in a fit of pique. Also, pique makes you really cute.
*Most likely long ago, if you think about it.
**There it is again: I’m not “eating” leftovers like some kind of chump, I’m “showcasing” them.
Preparation the first: Quesadilla. Much like puff pastry, you could throw almost anything between two tortillas filled with cheese and I would eat it, and I include brussels sprouts in that statement so you know I’m serious. It does not, however, include liver. I did say almost anything.
The other bits of dinner required preheating the oven, so I figured I’d make this while Operation: Preheat was underway and then stash it in the warming drawer (FANCY!). Butter in pan. Tortilla in pan. Sprinkle cheese, spread greens around, sprinkle more cheese. Top with other tortilla. Fry till melty and golden. Using butter probably wouldn’t have occurred to me, but America’s Test Kitchen told me to and I am their mindless automaton.
That Christopher Kimball, he looks so non-threatening with his round glasses and cute bow ties and columns at the beginning of every issue of Cook’s Illustrated about his wholesome childhood and wholesome family living in wholesome New England, where every Saturday night is Family Goat Milking and Berry Picking Night. DO NOT TRUST HIM. He’s the fucking puppetmaster. Once you start using the the damn New Best Recipe cookbook you’ll never love another cookbook the same way again. There’s a reason I never use that book for Smackdowns: it is too foolproof for its own good. It would destroy the drama! The mystery! The potential for complete failure, and thus the potential for valuable schadenfreude. It’s just too dangerous.
Preparation the second: Eggs en cocotte, AKA shirred eggs, AKA “crack in a cup,” AKA “the best fucking eggs in the entire world.”
If you’d asked me, before my first time making eggs en cocotte, how long it takes to cook an egg in a 375 degree oven, I would have answered 5 minutes tops. I would have been very, very wrong, because it takes more like 15 or 20 and that? Is a goddamn mystery to me. Kinda like braising cucumbers. I mean, I’ll do it, because these eggs are too fucking good not to, but I’ll be confused every time. (I won’t do it again for the cucumbers. I’ll repeat: warm mushy pickles. I’m not running my oven for an hour for warm mushy pickles. I don’t like pickles in the first place, and the warmth and mush does little to further endear them to me.)
For the eggs: Leftover greens in a ramekin. A little heavy cream, because cream and greens are total BFFs. Crack an egg on top. A little salt and pepper. Some little shavings of butter. Into the oven for longer than you think is necessary but it totally is.
I’ll admit it: I was originally going to serve the rest of the greens on the side, as-is. But there weren’t a ton left after the quesadilla and the eggs and they looked a little pathetic, so I decided to turn them into something using a tried and true method of turning leftover vegetables into something hearty: throw in some chickpeas and smoked paprika.
Everything was good. The quesadilla, while somewhat lacking in star power, was tasty. The chickpeas were summarily devoured, their chew and the smokiness of the paprika transforming the greens into something else. This with a loaf of good crusty bread or tossed with some orzo or quinoa would make a great light lunch or dinner all on its own.
Sadly, both were like the last kid picked for the kickball team when compared to the eggs. I can state that categorically, having historically been the last kid picked for the kickball team. Eggs cooked this way always have such an amazing, creamy quality to them, and the runny yolk and smidge of cream made a lovely sauce for the greens. It’s such a delicate looking little dish, you want to eat it demurely but really, the best way is to mash all that shit together with a fork and suck it down while it’s still hot and creamy*. When things taste this good, fuck demure. This could also have used a little bread so we could have wiped up every little bit of eggy goodness left clinging to the side of the ramekin, but we had to bid them good night. Also I was full, and the only loaf of bread we had around was double fiber, where 2 slices = 12 grams of fiber. You’ve gotta plan ahead when you eat that shit, and I really wanted an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
To recap: Do not ignore your random leftovers in the back of the fridge until they start to reek and you decide to toss environmental consciousness to the wind and throw out the whole tupperware container instead of cleaning it out and reusing it because you’re so scared of the smells and/or ambulatory mold-creatures that will emerge if you open it outside a clean room, which I assume most of us don’t have in our homes. Use these three simple rules – foods in quesadilla are always tasty, you can put anything under eggs en cocotte and it will be orgasmic, leftover veggies + chickpeas + paprika = meal – and do your part toward saving the planet.
And seriously, make those fucking eggs. Really.
*That sounds much grosser than I’d intended and I’m sorry.
ONE YEAR AGO: Fish Balls, Fish Balls. Eat them up, yum.