Friday, November 6, 2009

A cheap date for nine

Well, I did it. I emptied the 'fridge of leftovers, spent about another $8, and put on the table a Chinese buffet that the family rated as better than the last Chinese dinner we had out (which cost us about $100).

Here's the leftovers I had:
-- Boiled cabbage and carrots. These were leftover from the Corned Beef and Ca
we had the previous night and became the base of the filling for spring rolls.
-- B
arbecued pork. This started as a pork loin that I cooked in the crock pot in beer and chicken broth and served with a sour cream gravy, mashed potatoes and peas. I turned the leftovers into pork barbecue sandwiches later in the week (I just shredded the port and mixed it with bottled barbecue sauce) with cole slaw one day this week. I turned those into the barbecue base for Egg Foo Young.
-- Fresh mushrooms. Half a package left over from a salad earlier in the week. Chopped.
-- Cold white rice. There was probably two to three cups there.

Here's what I bought:
1 package frozen broccoli ($2), cooked according to package directions and cooled.
1 packa
ge frozen peas ($1.25), cooked according to package directions and cooled.
1 ca
n water chestnuts ($1)
1 bunch spring onions ($1)
1 package won ton wrappers ($2.50)
1 can beef stock (50 cents)

Here's what I used from the house staples:
Three Steak-Eze steaks
Vegetable oil
Chopped garlic
Chopped ginger
8 eggs
Soy sauce
1 sma
ll can
chunk portabella mushrooms, drained
Corn Starch
White rice

After dinner I took a poll of what people liked best. These SPRING ROLLS won hands down.
Mix t
ogether mushrooms and equal amounts of cabbage (chopped) and carrots (chopped). Moist
en slightly with soy sauce.
Separate won ton wrappers and place a few tablespoons of filling along the center fold in the two short sides. Moisten one remaining edge with warm water and roll, using water to seal shut.
(May refrigerate at this point, separated with was paper, until just before serv
Heat oil in deep fat fryer. Working three at a time, fry spring rolls until golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes, using tongs to make sure all sides cook evenly. Drain on paper towels.

nd favorite among both the meat and vegetable eaters, was also a meat-free dish: this VEGETABLE FRIED RICE.
In a large saute pan or wok, heat enough vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add garlic and ginger to taste (I used 1 to 1 1/2 tsps. each) and saute over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add cold rice and saute until golden. Add soy sauce to taste. Remove from pan and keep warm.
Gently scramble three eggs. Remove from pan and add to rice.
Add more oil and another round of garlic and ginger to the pan. Add mushrooms and saute until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1/3 of prepared broccoli and 1/4 of prepared peas. Saute about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce to taste.
Return rice/egg mixture to pan and saute together, adjust seasoning as necessary.

This EGG FOO YOUNG was a gamble. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, or if anyone would like it. But since the platter was empty at the end of the meal, I guess I won.
eat leftover pork barbecue. Add soy sauce to taste. Mound on a serving platter.
Gently whisk five eggs. Add soy sauce (to taste. I think I used about three shakes.)
Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with oil. Heat on low and add eggs, stirring to scramble. Top pork with scrambled eggs.

Last up was BEEF WITH BROCCOLI, a traditional favorite.
Coat bottom of a saute pan or wok with oil. Add garlic and cook until golden.
Add three Steak-Eze steaks. Cook 5 minutes on first side, turn. As the second side cooks, separate meat. Once all the pink is gone, remove from pan. Add remaining broccoli and saute. Remove from pan and add to beef. Whisk together beef stock and 1 T corn starch. Add to pan, continuing to whisk. Add soy sauce to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to thicken. Pour over beef/broccol
i mixture and toss to combine.
Serve over white rice.

Of course, it's unlikely you'll have the same leftovers in your 'fridge as I did. But each of these dishes was good enough that I would make them again even if I had to start with everything from scratch.

But more important, I hope my challenge to myself inspires others to look in the 'fridge and see what might be the start of an entirely different meal. And don't be surprised if the cabbage and carrots from your Irish corned beef become Chinese spring rolls.

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