Here's our Cupboard Challenge for Sheila, along with her response. See what she would do with reader Evie's canned Spotted Dick, pumpkin puree, chickpeas, couscous, and anchovies. She gives a recipe for one of her suggestions, too - straight from the South of France.
There is a steady stream of beans, tomatoes, stock and pasta flowing in and out of my cupboard. I buy these things regularly with full confidence that I will find ways to use them. Unfortunately, I have managed to throw a few stones in this steady stream of deliciousness. Not literal stones, (that would be crazy) but things that I have bought for meals that never came to be and now they just block the front of my poor pantry.
I used up half of these peanuts in a sauce that instructed me to roast fresh chilies and grind whole spices but would have required the removal of my taste buds to enjoy it. This can of pumpkin was purchased for fall baking, which I realize a year later I am not inclined to do. My husband purchased the Spotted Dick, and is a good example of why I don't take him with me to the grocery store.
I have given these items of questionable taste prime pantry real estate in hopes that if they are constantly in sight, I will be inspired to use them. This concept has been an utter failure so far and only serves to make me sigh each and every time I saunter over to this cupboard door. My only hope is that a mind more educated than mine will help me to restore the flow.
From Sheila Lukins:
I would donate the Spotted Dick to a Food Pantry along with the Pumpkin Puree before Thanksgiving -- making a small contribution to a good cause. You could make a quick pumpkin pie with the pie filling for Thanksgiving as well.
The White Beans would be perfect for my White Bean, Green Bean & Tuna Salad which is so delicious and easy. It combines staples like onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Pick up some flavorful grape tomatoes, pitted black olives and fresh green beans and make a garlic vinaigrette and you have a healthy salad for lunch or dinner. (Recipe on page 290 of TEN: All the Foods We Love, Ten Recipes for Each.)
I have a whole chapter on clams in my new book and the Chopped Clams could easily be used for Clams, Chorizo & Rice (page 233). The rice, chicken broth, and cumin will most likely be in your cupboard already, so the only thing you will need to pick up on the way home is 4 ounces of chorizo and three scallions. This yummy dish can be made in less than 30 minutes and serve it with some crusty peasant bread and crisp white wine.
If you have chickpeas on hand with a can of Italian plum tomatoes, you can throw together my delicious Chickpea Stew (page 289).With a red onion, garlic, thyme, and cumin chicken broth, the chickpeas, and some couscous, this is a very comforting meal with North African flavors. Add a dab of honey which mellows the ingredients of this robust stew and pulls the flavors together.
Another way to use the Couscous is in the Curried Couscous Salad (page 320). There is no easier grain salad to put together than this one, and none fits into a meal as well. As a vegetable couscous with just the right spices, it's as comfortable with fried chicken as it is with grilled tuna. I add a few sweet currants as a foil to the hot pepper flakes. The colorful diced vegetables and the hit of spice give the somewhat shy couscous star power.
I spotted some anchovies in the cupboard and this is perfect for my Anchoide (see below), a great dip for vegetables when you are entertaining. Add these to some garlic, fresh parsley, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and extra-virgin olive oil and voila. If you want to go all out check out the Colombe D'Or Crudites. This vegetable basket is stunning and can also serve as a table centerpiece.
Also, perfect for entertaining is the Spiced Goat Cheese Slather on page 18. Blend some soft goat cheese, creme fraiche, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil and you have the most delicious spread imagineable. Slather it on those Triscuits.
From Sheila Lukins' Ten: All the Recipes We Love and Ten Recipes for Each. Reprinted by permission.
At the Colombe d'Or in St. Paul de Vence, France, they serve decorative baskets of vegetables and eggs on the table for everyone to pass around and enjoy. There's very little, if any, prep work done to the vegetables--and the eggs are even left unshelled. It's up to the diners to break off a piece of celery, pluck an artichoke leaf, select a radish, slice off a bite of cucumber, or shell a hard-cooked egg, and dip the selection in a dollop of Anchoiade. The results are magical and might even transport you to the South of France.
1 small inner celery rib
1 artichoke, cooked (see page 438)
4 to 6 scallions (white bulbs and 5 inches
1 small Belgian endive, trimmed, outer leaves removed
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and halved
½ hothouse (seedless) cucumber, halved
1 small red onion, peeled
6 to 8 radishes, preferably the long red and
4 hard-cooked eggs, unpeeled
Anchoiade (recipe follows), for serving
Arrange the vegetables and eggs decoratively in a basket. Offer a sharp knife and small plates so everyone can help themselves to a serving of the vegetables. Place the anchoiade in a small bowl and serve it alongside for dipping.
Makes about 2 cups
Anchoiade is a robust anchovy sauce, bursting with garlic and brightened with a hint of red wine vinegar. It takes only a little to add pizzazz to a favorite crudité. Fresh parsley and extra-virgin olive oil help mellow the flavors and meld them together. Don't shy away from this because of the salt in anchovies--rinsing them in water makes much of the salt disappear.
1 1/2 jars anchovy fillets packed in olive oil (23 fillets)
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Drain the anchovies, reserving the oil. Rinse them well in cold water to remove the salt. Pat dry on paper towels. Coarsely chop the anchovies and place them in a food processor along with the garlic, parsley, vinegar, and mustard. Process until the mixture is just pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
2. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the reserved anchovy oil through the feed tube, and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small decorative bowl, and serve. (The anchoiade will keep, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving it, add about 2 tablespoons hot water to thin it slightly.)
Thank you Sheila!