Last night, the girls and I had what we are now calling “Kitchen Cleanup.” My older one wanted to cook with me, so into the kitchen we went to find something to make for dinner without going to the grocery store.

Soon after, the younger followed, and what transpired was two hours of music listening, chopping, dancing, giggling, talking and creating.

Instead of one meal, we made three, and decided that this event should become a weekly staple of our kitchen routine. While I’ve done this for years, I don’t always do it with the girls. They had a blast.

It can be a bit of an adventure when reaching into the refrigerator and pulling out oh, yes, this was the short ribs ah, the hake with seared onions and black olives. Yikes, huge bowl of beans and then, of course, a few things better left to the compost pile. So what to do with all of it?

Also, needing a few vegetables to supplement our meager supply in the refrigerator, we turned our thoughts to the garden. The girls wanted to use some of the leeks we have coming up in the garden, and while I was out there, I cut some escarole too.

The short ribs were initially an over-calculation of serving size, which had already resulted in several meals. NONE of us wanted to look at it anymore, much less eat it. However, we thought that maybe a beef stew would move it far enough away from the original taste that we could enjoy it.

The leeks began as a potato leek soup, but then the girls thought that the leftover hake would make a great fish, leek and potato soup. And it did.

Lastly, the beans. The huge bowl of beans became a big pot of minestrone, which received the escarole from the garden and some leftover rinds of Parmesan in the broth.

The recipes below were also initially created with leftovers. The Canadian bacon for the scones and the green beans and corn for the salad were other meals first. I then liked them so much, I created the recipes so they could be made from scratch. Either way, they are delicious.

The point is that sometimes a recipe is exactly what you need to get you from “a” to “b,” but other times, just meandering down the path to dinner is just right too.

 

ROASTED RED PEPPER, CANADIAN BACON AND CHIVE SCONES

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 ounces diced Canadian bacon, about 11/4 cups

1/2 cup minced chives

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

5 ounces sliced roasted red pepper, about 1 cup

1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles a fine meal.

Mix the bacon and chives into the mix. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, peppers and egg into flour mixture, just until the dough binds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently until combined, about 10 turns.

Pat the dough out to 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges and transfer to an ungreased cookie pan. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Serve with Spinach, Green Bean and Corn Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing (see below).

Servings: Eight

 

SPINACH, GREEN BEAN AND CORN SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

Grilled steak or chicken breasts would be a nice accompaniment to this salad to make a fuller meal.

8 cups spinach greens

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

8 ounces green beans, about two large handfuls, destemmed and cut in half or thirds

2 cups corn kernels, 4 cobs

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

4 generous tablespoons creamy blue cheese dressing

Build salads on four plates by dividing the spinach evenly between the plates. Top each salad with an equal portion of all ingredients and serve with Roasted Red Pepper, Canadian Bacon and Chive Scones.

Servings: Four

 

CREAMY BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

This can be refrigerated for several days – it only gets better.

2 1/2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

5 tablespoons buttermilk

3 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh pepper

Dash of Worcestershire

Whisk all the ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes: 1 cup

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: [email protected]