Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Leftover Night

As Richard's grandmother Mary Grey used to say cold chicken in the icebox is like money in the bank. I know some people who can't stand leftovers but I love them, it's the same great food only I don't have to start from scratch to eat it. This is also how I feel about stuff pulled from my freezer. When I cook a soup or lasagna or something like that I always make a double recipe so that I have enough for another meal in a couple days or for the freezer. I'm like the freezer queen! I even have a chest freezer downstairs and it's pretty full. In fact it's a genetic thing that I have to fight to control. I remember years ago going to my grandmother Daisy's house and looking in her little non frost free freezer with 4 inches of ice all around and she had little wads of god knows what wrapped in foil (not to mention the items "protective layer of ice" otherwise known as freezer burn). Now when I go visit my mom Ann in Texas I find the same thing. Once at Thanksgiving in my mom's house I was looking for more chicken broth to make the stuffing and she handed me a small container with a yellowish liquid. When I started defrosting it in the microwave it looked like some small disks and I asked my mom "what is this?" she said "oh, I think that's water chestnuts." I mean who freezes 4 water chestnuts? So I try to clean out and organize my freezer every so often as I know this tendency to freeze little leftover bits of stuff or something that's about to go bad is in my genes. I even recently took an inventory just so I would know what the hell is all in there before I go out and buy more stuff. I surprised even Richard this morning when I realized we were out of bread and I pulled a couple slices of some of my favorite bread (Della Fattoria) already sliced out of the freezer to be topped with hard boiled egg slices (not from the freezer!) Anyway, I've digressed into my freezer issues but the point I was trying to make is that after I spend the weekend cooking it is so nice to have a "leftover night" and put 2 or 3 possibilities out for dinner on a weeknight, as tonight our are options are a Ham & Potato Gratin I made and Fresh Shell Bean and Barley Soup which is a recipe I adapted  from Rancho Gordo's Heiroom Beans (a great book and Steve grows amazing beans - even available to order online)

Fresh Shell Bean & Barley Soup

Serves 4-6

2 lbs. of Fresh Shell beans  - these are in season now and so great if you can find them even though it takes some work to shell them. Iacopi has them at the market right now. They are just beans that haven't been dried yet so look for cranberry beans. If you can't find them substitute dried cranberry beans (or from Rancho Gordo Good Mother Stallard Beans) but you have to cook them like you would dried beans
2 leeks washed and sliced
3/4 cup barley
2 large carrots cut in a little dice
Lots of good olive oil (my favorite is Bariani great flavor and reasonably priced to make it a great everyday oil)

Cook the leeks in about 1/3 cup of olive oil then add the barley and enough water to cover and cook for 30 min. on low simmer. Add the carrots and more water if needed and cook about another 30 min. Then add your fresh beans and cook another 20-30 min or until it's all tender (fresh beans cook really quickly) I like it very thick and not very soupy so just add as much water as you want or not. Then add more olive oil and S&P to taste - yum! Serve with thick slices of toast - total comfort food and you can freeze it! (oh I forgot I added a few chopped roasted tomatoes that I had in the freezer - I'll give that recipe later) 

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