It happens to all of us. We over-purchase. That shaker of chipotle powder, used once; the smoky ground pepper sitting idly on the spice shelf or the dregs in the bottom of a maple syrup bottle, not enough for a pile of pancakes but too expensive to throw out.
My semi-annual recipe box culling brought a new ingredient: a new container.
Antique white, with two side-by-side drawers labeled alphabetically. I can’t quite part with the lovely oak box I’ve owned for years, but the top wouldn’t close, it being as full of cards and notes as a badly stuffed turkey. Re-organizing, I looked for ways to use ingredients languishing in my kitchen.
It happens to all of us. We over-purchase. That shaker of chipotle powder, used once; the smoky ground pepper sitting idly on the spice shelf or the dregs in the bottom of a maple syrup bottle, not enough for a pile of pancakes but too expensive to throw out. I tried both in a glaze for roasted pork. This summer, I will repeat it on grilled pork chops or chicken.
MAPLE & CHILI-GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle or chili powder
1 teaspoon each salt, ground black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless pork tenderloin
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine brown sugar, cumin, chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Rub this all over the tenderloin; transfer to a roasting pan. Roast, 25 minutes or until it reaches 145 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven; keep warm.
2. While the pork roasts, make the glaze by simmering the cider, maple syrup and vinegar together for 3 minutes or until it reduces to a syrup-y consistency.
3.Slice pork on the diagonal; arrange meat on a platter and drizzle the glaze over it. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
The chicken was “on special” in a very large package, so instead of freezing, I tried some in a different type of salad. Some parsley leaves — only flat-leaf parsley will do here — and sweet grape tomatoes sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese made a tasty nest for broiled chicken.
CHICKEN, GRAPE TOMATO & GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Makes 4 servings
Flatten chicken breasts only slightly. Put them between two pieces of plastic wrap before pounding with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small skillet; this keeps the area clean of spatters.
4 split, skinless, boneless chicken breasts (8 pieces)
ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pints grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, rinsed, dried, and stemmed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 small log goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup black olives, halved and pitted
extra chopped basil, for garnish
1. Trim any fat or tendons from the chicken; pound each piece once or twice to flatten slightly. Sprinkle with black pepper.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken pieces; cook, turning once, for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; set aside; cook the other four pieces. Return the first batch of chicken to pan; turn heat down to low; continue cooking, turning once or twice, until they cooked through. Cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Slice tomatoes in half; top with oil, vinegar, parsley leaves only, and chopped basil. Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with crumbled cheese, and olives. Arrange cooked chicken pieces on top. Sprinkle with extra herbs; drizzle small amount of olive oil over the top.
The refrigerator door houses a lot of half-used jars and bottles. Prepared horseradish is made new with a fresh herbal partner as a sauce for grilled or meats and vegetables.
Makes 2 cups
Stir together: 1 pint fat-free Greek yogurt; 1/3 cup prepared white horseradish; 1 tablespoon; minced fresh chives, to taste; 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard; salt, pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Herbs. You can’t buy just a sprig or two; they sell them buy the bunch. So, after you’ve garnished the mojitos, use the extra mint in a flavored butter to melt over fish. The recipe below works with most types of fin fish.
FISH WITH CARAMELIZED MOJITO BUTTER
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
4 fillets of fish, fin fish e.g. halibut, hake, salmon, tuna
salt, ground black pepper, to taste
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Arrange an oven rack under the oven broiler; heat oven to broil. Line a heavy sheet pan with aluminum foil; grease with olive oil. Transfer fish to the sheet pan; sprinkle with salt pepper.
2. Process butter with mint, sugar, rum, cayenne, shallots and salt. Spread mixture over fish fillets. Transfer fish to the oven; broil until topping is caramelized and fish is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness.
How about Sunday morning? Homemade scones, warm from the oven, taste better than dried out or overly soggy store-bought. No need to slather on the butter. Look hard in the baking section of the supermarket for parchment paper; makes the cleanup easy.
ORANGE & CREAM SCONES
Makes a dozen
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into half-inch pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup chilled half-and-half
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Rub in butter with fingertips until flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Beat eggs and half-and-half in medium bowl to blend. Stir half-and-half mixture into flour mixture, tossing until dough comes together (dough will be soft and moist).
3. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead gently, about 5 turns. Divide dough in half, pat each half into 7-inch round. Cut each round into 6 wedges, transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing wedges apart.
4. Bake scones until golden beginning to color on top, about 25 minutes. Serve scones warm or let stand at room temperature up to 3 hours.
Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Follow Linda on Twitter @KitchenCall for a daily kitchen hint, trick, shortcut or info.