Friday, August 28, 2009

Naturally Healthy Leftovers

Since it's been difficult for Jake and I to get back into the healthy eating routine while being on a tight budget, we have been incorporating leftovers into the equation. It's awesome, because we haven't had to spend ANY money the past few days. There are times that it really helps to work in the restaurant industry, and most of those times revolve around food.

Two days ago we were running a fish special at the inn that had a piquillo Hollandaise sauce. Piquillos are a Spanish red pepper that we get for specific dishes because they are certainly not cheap. I like to think of it as the saffron of peppers. I also like to think that maybe that wasn't the most absurd statement I've made in a long time. Anyways, the sauce was left over and used in staff meal. Since it was about to be thrown out at the end of staff meal, I decided to take it home. That same day, one of the servers had brought in fresh veggies from his garden. He offered me some of them, so I gratefully snagged some Swiss Chard and a squash. The next morning I poached some eggs, and served them over the sauteed chard and topped it with Hollandaise.

I then used the leftover chicken and tomatoes I had brought home from Back Bay Grill on Monday, some pasta, the squash, and some fresh herbs to make a hearty lunch pasta (no Hollandaise on that one!). It was SO good and so incredibly easy.

I'm more proud of this morning though. We were getting rid of old mashed potatoes at the end of the night, so I packed them up to bring home. I already knew my mission, but I only fear was that I would forget about it the next day. Luckily, I woke up this morning rearing to go, and spent the next two hours making potato bread. I loosely followed a recipe, but had to change a few things to make it turn out right. First, I gathered my ingredients:

1 pkg. (7g) Dry Yeast
6oz. Lukewarm Water
2c. Mashed Potatoes (I used leftovers, but you can make some if you want!)
2 T. Butter
4 1/2 c. King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
3/4 c. King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
2t. Salt

I bloomed my yeast in the lukewarm water (make sure the water is not hot enough to kill the yeast, but not so cold that it doesn't react). Then I added the potatoes, butter, flour, and lastly salt. Salt should always be added last because it kills yeast. You want your bread to rise, no? I let it go in the mixer for about 3-4min. My KitchenAid is incredibly old, and practically falls apart whenever I demand more of it than it's daily display of antiquity, so it wasn't horrible efficient in terms of dough creation.

Once the ingredients were at least incorporated, I removed them from the bowl and kneaded the dough for about a minute. I then wrapped it in a plastic freezer bag to let it proof. Problem #1? I don't have a proof box. Problem #2? Despite it being AUGUST and hot as hell last week, my kitchen was freezing so I could not count on the humidity to assist me. Instead, I set my oven to what I could only guess was 75*. It was below 200* (the lowest number on the dial), but was definitely still producing heat. I then put a bowl of water in the oven to keep it moist and steamy in there.

Once the bread was about 2x it's original size, I rounded it and popped it in the oven. 375* for about 45 min. I lost my thermometer so I had to resort to Morse Code in order to figure out if it was done. Sure enough, knocking on the bottom made the same hollow noise that I had hoped for, so I melted some butter over the top, and let the loaf cool.

For lunch we used my bread and some leftover chicken to make chicken salad sandwiches. Free, natural, creative food has never tasted so good. For real.


  1. Nice to know that year at NECI wasn't wasted! You have a talent for food, Kel. Doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. Well done!~mom

  2. I love potato bread! And I like your improvised proof box - clever.

  3. Thanks for your comment and interest about the annual bread roundup on my blog. Never fear, it's coming back. We'll have another bread roundup in November. Watch for the details on my blog very soon, and you'll be able to link this post or other recipes to the bread roundup. :-)