How Many For Dinner?

A simple question, but there is room for pain and suffering between every word.

a. ” Don’t know “. Shall I cook for four or one? Because it does make a difference in the amount of ingredients committed to the pan.

b. ” I’ll be working late”. Well that means you’ll either be eating late or elsewhere or not at all. Shall I cook a soup that can set or a quiche that will not?

c. “I’ll let you know “. If I am going to cook something slow, complex, or hazardous, tell me early in the piece. If you wait until 5:30 for 6:00 you will be getting scrambled eggs on toast. If you tell me at 6:00 neither the eggs nor the toast will be cooked…

d. ” We were going out but we changed our mind “. Oh good. Let me do the mathematics of dividing a two-person dinner, perfectly cooked, into a four-person snack.

e. ” I brought people home “. Good – you divide your guests into the ones who are to be eaten and the ones who get to eat. Let me know and I’ll stoke the oven.

f. ” I decided that I am not hungry “. The leftover pot grows fatter.

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Take One Spoon From Bowl A And One From Bowl B…

The family are out tonight.

I am not. Therefore it is incumbent upon me to feed myself without reference to their needs or desires. I can let myself go. And I am letting myself go to the refrigerator and looking to see what’s in the Tupperware. It’s Leftover Night. I couldn’t be happier.

We accumulate plastic bowls of stuff. Potatoes, beans, pasta, Chinese food, casseroles. Nearly everything that is made fresh has an echo. While we do police the shelves to discard stuff that is too old to define, the rest is fair game for the big stir-fry lottery. I am happy to say that I have very rarely managed to make leftovers inedible.

Some tastes do not mix. Milk pudding and fish cakes is a mistake. Taco Bell is never improved by being asked to become Taco Baklava. And nothing that was ever intended for the cat should be diverted to the dinner table.

But everything else is fair game. Ooh…I wish we did have some game. Rabbit, pheasant, moose…Hard to get moose in an Australian suburb – even the Canadian┬áspecialty shops make excuses and say they’re sorry they can’t supply it. Well, they would say ” sorry “…they’re Canadians. But what I wouldn’t give for a big ‘ol can of whole moose in gravy.

You can also play the leftover game with desserts. Sweet is sweet, no matter how it is produced, and the meat/milk decisions you might have to make in the main course are swept away for the afters. The problem is that generally there are fewer leftover desserts than other portions of the meals. One solves this by making fresh desserts – it doesn’t pay to be discouraged. I was trifling with the idea of putting cake, sherry, custard, and fruit into a bowl but decided that it would never work.

A note to cooks who put things in Tupperware. TW takes up a surprisingly large volume of space in a fridge. You think it’s all jolly colours and a flexible lid, but the engineers at the Tupperware factory have a secret plan to take over the kitchens of the world. Every container is bigger than you need and the lid makes it bigger still. The clever ones that nest into each other are apt to squeeze everything else out of the appliance – but they are so cute that no-one can resist getting the whole range.

My solution is not to get twee about the food. It will all go into and out of the same holes anyway, so it might as well all be lumped into one big pot in the refrigerator and be done with it. You never can tell – no matter what you throw in there it becomes brown and you may end up for a brief period of time with a Brillat-Savarin winner.

Spag Blog

Australians would get that. This Australian got it tonight…and will get it again tomorrow…if he is in luck.

Second day home-made spaghetti Bolognese is one of the highlights of cuisine that you rarely see in food writing. Indeed, it is rare to find any reference to leftovers in the fancy cookery books – other than the occasional note that something may or may not be frozen. In the case of leftover home-made spaghetti Bolognese we have never had enough excess to freeze it. That is how good it is.

This is not an organic spoons and harvesting garlic before daybreak sort of cooking – I have not got the expertise, patience, or sense of solemnity for that. This spag bog contains grocery store tomatoes, capsicums, and onions and a jar of commercial spaghetti sauce as a base. The particular dish you see in the illustrations has Paul Newman sauce in it, but you can use lots of other ones like Dolmio or IXL and skip the snivelling charity announcement on the lid. You can also avoid the late Newman’s politics. It doesn’t really matter as long as there is tomato stock, oregano, and garlic in the jar.

I do add extra garlic ( we are in a vampire zone ) salt, pepper, olive oil, and chopped champignons.

The ground beef should be from a cow. It doesn’t really matter whether it is the cheap fatty sort or the premium dry type – it gets fried anyway and the fat drained. And when I say fried, I mean fried. Lowish-medium heat, but done┬álong enough to make it crisp. The extra texture in the sauce is important.

How long to cook the sauce for? All day at very low heat.

Which spaghetti to use? I use the Australian San Remo brand in regular size, but you can suit yourself. If you learn to cook pasta well, any spaghetti type will work with this. Al dente for the first night. Leftover dente for the next – and it is the taste of the next night that I really relish.

The pot sits in the icebox overnight and the flavours melt into each other. The leftover spag softens a little and the bog sweetens a little. With a soft red wine and crusty Italian bread, this is truly a dish fit for a King – or a Caesar.