You guys, my sister is getting married, and in lieu of the traditional bachelorette party we sat around in sweat pants in a bohemian tent made out of floral sheets that filled my living room and ate snacks for seven hours and had our oracle cards read by a crystal lady. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, it was the best. For the snacks, I sort of did my sister’s life story through food. I had all our trashiest childhood favorites (scooby snacks, nutty bars, oreos, cheez-its, dump cake (more on this later), etc). I had foods from the restaurant she worked at and loved in LA, including a sundae bar because Helen was famous there for making over the top insane sundaes. And then I had some of my sister’s current favorites- grilled vegetables with pesto, a cheese platter, seven layer dip, and tons of fruit. It was a lot. Too much, as it turns out. There were several dishes, like a beet salad, that never made it out of the refrigerator, and I had all the leftovers. So, I turned them into this week’s dinners. Here’s how it worked out.
Leftover Meatloaf Sandwich, Mashed Potatoes. You’ll recall last week’s meatloaf- the one that I urge you to make whenever you next want meatloaf. Anyway, I had a little leftover and was going to use it for tiny meatloaf sandwiches at the party (since the meatloaf is from the restaurant in LA I mentioned), but this is another dish that never made it out of the fridge on the party day. So we ate them for lunch instead and hell yes. Instead of the classic ketchup, this meatloaf sandwich sports a swipe of mayo and a good pour of some of that heated-up leftover gravy. Yes.
Leftover Helen-Style Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad. My sister is famous for this pasta salad, and it is truly spectacular. Boil, drain, and rinse cheese tortellini to cool it down. Toss it with basil pesto, tons of grated parmesan, artichoke hearts, olives, and maybe a green vegetable or halved cherry tomatoes. It is one of my favorite things, and Henry’s too. He was, frankly, pissed when we got home from the store after buying the ingredients and learning that we had to save them for the bachelorette party. He kept saying how much he hates bachelorette parties. Anyway, I saved some for him and all was right with the world.
Leftover Roasted Vegetable, Mozzarella, Pesto, and Pea Shoot Sandwich. With the leftovers from a platter of grilled vegetables with pesto and mozzarella, I, not very inventively, made sandwiches with grilled vegetables, pesto, and mozzarella. I added pea shoots, because I had bought some for the beet salad that never happened. No way around it, this is delicious.
Russian Dinner: Pseudo-Borscht, Potato Klotski, Apple Sharlotka. I had those leftover roasted beets that I’ve been droning on about, and Russia was next on our series of country dinners, so I figured I should make borscht. I read lots of recipes for it, and decided I didn’t really like the look of any of them. Too chunky. I wanted a smooth, cool soup. My limited research shows that this is completely inauthentic, but hell. So I pureed the beets with water in a blender until it was smooth, drizzled in about a 1/4 cup of olive oil while the motor was running, and then finished the soup with a swirl of yogurt, a pile of pea shoots, more olive oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper. I was really happy with it. And bonus it makes your pee a pretty color.
The potato klotski are basically mashed potato balls in chicken broth. Henry hates mashed potatoes so also hated these. But he loved the apple sharlotka, a weirdo cake with no fat, and just a super simple egg batter poured on top of a heap of apples. I thought it was way too sweet, but the fellows of the house loved it. Or maybe they just loved it compared to beet soup and mashed potato balls.
Chard and Artichoke Dip, and Other Snacks. The salmon and cheese on this platter were still more party foods that never made it out of the fridge on bachelorette day. The artichoke dip worked really well to use up leftover artichoke hearts, a bunch of chard (I just blanched it, cooled it, squeezed all the water out, chopped it, and used it in place of the spinach in the linked recipe- it worked great), and leftover goat cheese, used in place of the feta. We ate it with pita chips and loved it. And Henry fell madly in love with smoked salmon, so we’re gonna buy more of that this week.
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter on Spaghetti. I love this sauce. It’s easy as pie and has been blogged about a probably literal four thousand times. I have nothing else to say about it except that you should make it if you haven’t tried it yet.
Smoked Gouda, Mushroom, and Vidalia Onion Quiche; Orange, Pickled Onion, and Pea Shoot Salad. Hey, who’s sick of hearing about pea shoots? I swear I only bought a tiny bag but it was damn near bottomless. The quiche was something that my friend Christy told me about as she was packing away leftover smoked gouda after the bachelorette party. I followed my favorite quiche lorraine recipe (hello old blog, stay classy!), but instead of the bacon, I cooked onion and mushrooms (cremini and rehydrated porcini) with thyme in butter and olive oil until everything was deep and dark and crispy. I spread the shredded gouda in the bottom of the pie crust, added the mushroom stuff, and then poured the quiche batter on top and that was it. It was good, but crazy rich tasting. Better for winter time than on a 90 degree spring day.
Sheet Pan o’ Nachos, a Weird Little Bite, and Watermelon Agua Frescas. Leftover tortilla chips, leftover beans, leftover cheese were all piled on a pan and put in a 400 degree oven. When the cheese was melty, I took the pan out and added pickled red onions, avocado, cilantro, cotija, and red pepper, because that’s what we had. I still had more leftover grilled vegetables and goat cheese, so I made little stacks and doused them in a cilantro oil. The agua fresca was just watermelon, pureed with the juice of an orange as per Henry’s instruction, and strained into glasses. The nachos and the drink were swell, the goat cheese veg bite was packed full of goat cheese in an unpleasantly mouth-filling way.
Dump Cake with Cherries and Pineapple. This recipe is something my mom always made growing up. It is what one might call semi-homemade but it is THE GREATEST THING OF ALL TIME. I don’t give a shit that it’s powdered cake mix poured on top of canned fruit and covered in a stick and a half of butter pats. If you take this leap of faith with me and try it, I guarantee you that it will be one of the more delicious things you’ve ever had in your mouth. One of the first times Andy visited me and my family in LA, pre-engagement I think, my mom made this and we proceeded to eat the entire 9 x 13 pan, to Andy’s undisguised horror. He liked it a lot, but not the going-back-for-thirds level of liking that maybe only comes when you grow up eating the stuff. Anyway, it’s basically a really perfect buttery cobbler. Make it when you and your sister want to sit in a living room tent and eat snacks for seven hours- you’ll be glad you did.
I’m not going to share recipes at the end of every blog post now, because I hate typing up recipes. I’m just doing it when it’s the only way to share beloved meatloaf and cake recipes with you.
from My Mom
1 package Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained well
1 large can cherry pie filling
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, cut in pats
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Dump the fruits into the pan and stir to combine. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over this, then spread the pecans evenly on that, and top the whole thing with butter pats- there will be enough butter pats to cover nearly the entire surface of the cake. Bake until top looks like a crumb topping, about an hour. Let cool slightly and eat warm.