Delicious Leftovers a la Pastitsio

You may have noticed that I’ve been mostly AWOL from my blogs in the past few weeks. I took on the challenge of producing the musical Godspell at my church and it has turned into a massive time-sucker. I agreed to do this mostly because without participating, I would have ended up being a Godspell widow.  Translation? Music Man is the band leader and musical arranger for the show and I would be left at home by myself if I didn’t do something for the show. Perhaps taking on the role of producer was a larger step than was necessary, but as my friend Charlotte says, “Shut up and stop complaining; you’re doing it for God!”

Anyway, we didn’t have rehearsal tonight, but we did have a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator. A takeout container full of yummy curry from our favorite Thai restaurant. Mushrooms that needed the Julia Child sautee method. Right now. A plastic container full of frozen beef stew — mostly broth, onions, and carrots. Some beans and ground beef remaining from last week’s taco salad night.

What’s a girl to do with this disparate collection of bits and pieces?

Make a casserole! My favorite food in the whole world. We can’t go wrong by adding some noodles and cheese. Yum.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe for Pastitsio, and created something out of essentially nothing. I don’t think I’ve ever made a flat-out bechamel sauce, and it was so good that it was all I could do to keep from just inhaling it straight out of the pan.

Turns out my leftovers were delicious and husband-approved on a busy night. I will make this again, and I might even follow the original recipe. Or probably not, since we don’t often have leftover lambie in the house…

Provence Week: Two Food Network French Menus

Anchovies. I love them but many people want to “list them.”

Apparently I’ve been watching too much HGTV while I clean my house. I can’t decide if I love or hate Love It or List It. I’ve also been watching lots of Food Network since I can’t abide the thematic approach HGTV is taking with daytime programming. I miss Joan Steffend. Remember her?

Anchovies figure large in the recipes of the Provencal region because they are fished from the Mediterranean and are commonly used in bouillabaisse, pasta dishes, salad dressings, and toppings for breads.

The Food Network loves French cooking (or what purports to be French cooking).

Just this week there were two segments showing Ina Garten and Melissa Darabian making French meals. Although I haven’t yet made the full meals, they look relatively easy and something that I might attempt.

On the Ten Dollar Dinners show, Melissa Darabian presented a Provencal meal with a pizza, salad, and grilled pineapple. With the exception of the poached egg  (I don’t do runny eggs), this menu seems doable. And the pizza has anchovies on it, but I saw several different versions of Pissaladiere online, including this one which may also be vegan. I’m hoping that some of my friends actually want to eat this with me when I make it — will they love it or list it?

I couldn’t find a photo of Darabian’s pissaladiere, but this photo (Image Credit) is part of a blog story about a young man going to culinary school. Gorgeous photos of the food!

Our favorite Barefoot Contessa also created a French Bistro lunch in a segment airing this week. Her menu seemed within my ability to recreate and includes Roasted Butternut Squash, a French apple tart, and Sole Meuniere. No anchovies in these recipes, though. What initially caught my eye was how she set the outside table in anticipation of her French-inspired party.

So this gets us back to anchovies.

One of my summer goals is to learn how to make my favorite salad dressings at home with ingredients I can control. I watched Ina make Caesar Salad with Pancetta in another episode, but it got me thinking about cooking with raw eggs. It seems like there has been an awful lot of food scares recently so I researched alternates for the raw egg in the Caesar Salad Dressing. There are a lot of opinions on this issue, including that only raw eggs are appropriate, but this one by Alton Brown looks promising. It uses tofu instead of egg for the thickening agent. And this one just flat-out subs the egg with egg substitute. Will I “love” any of these recipes or want to “list them” down the garbage disposal?

Still no anchovies.

I’ve always bought my anchovies in the tin, but Costco had anchovies in the seafood case that actually looked like fish instead of sun-dried tomatoes with fur. Has anyone tried them? Do they actually have the “anchovy flavor” or is the flavor we expect from anchovies actually coming from the salt-curing process? I’m feeling as though I’m probably going to stick with the basic tin of salty goodness — and I can get them in a six-pack from Costco practically for free. 🙂

Adventures in Home Cooking continues next week — catch up with me then to see if any of these recipes actually worked — or try them yourselves and let me know what happened!

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