I had an opportunity last evening to employ the skill I love to remind others we all have: be creative with the ingredients you have on hand.
Although I would be not be able to attend a pre-Thanksgiving thanksgiving event with my peers today due to a standing bi-weekly video conference, I wanted to contribute food for the event. In effect, I’d be there in essence. The desire to contribute received greater impetus when an agent co-worker sent an email saying, “Are you cooking anything for tomorrow? I need to use my calories wisely!”
Having done no pre-planning, the humor in the question was enough to move me forward into being creative with what I could find in the frig. It was 8:00 pm.
I had what we all have… golden potatoes, onions, fresh broccoli, a couple of hunks of great cheese and green peppers I had previously roasted and preserved in oil (you have that in your pantry, yes?)
Enter the idea of an amended potato torte. I say amended because I’ve made a much more labor-intensive version of this dish for many, many years. Total prep and cooking time for that dish was about 3 hours. Had neither the time nor the patience. So I sliced the unpeeled potatoes in the Cuisinart, thin-sliced the onion, peeled the broccoli stalk and sliced it in the Cuisinart (reserved the florets for another time), shredded a little Parmigiano Reggiano and Locatelli Romano cheese, and pre-heated the oven to 400.
I beat two whole (farm) eggs and one yolk with some cream, and mixed in the potatoes to coat. I lightly oiled a loaf pan and began layering potatoes and onions with grinds of pepper and herbed salt, a layer of roasted peppers and a light layer of cheese. Having zapped the sliced broccoli in the microwave for two minutes, I layered again… potatoes, onions, seasoning, broccoli, cheese, finishing with a top layer of potatoes and a bit more cheese. I poured the balance of the egg-cream mixture on top, adding a bit more cream.
The dish baked for 30 minutes at 400, then I reduced the temp to 375 for another 15 minutes. Test for doneness with a cake tester inserted through the potatoes. If it inserts and removes easily, the dish is done. I refrigerated the torte overnight and it sliced easily this morning.
Beginning to end, it was a 20-minute prep a 45-minute bake time.
Subtle, earthy flavors. Easy, easy, easy.
How creative can you be with what’s in your frig and pantry when the need arises?