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Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Maggie Battista from eatboutique shows us how to turn the leftover bits of your holiday cheese plate into a week's worth of dinners.
From October to January, my life is packed with food gifts: The sort I make from scratch, and the sort of small batch treats I source for my clients. I personally pack thousands of gift boxes filled with boutique-style food during these three months and I love every moment.
All these packages most definitely take a toll on my holiday entertaining schedule. I only host one, maybe two, parties each season and make sure the preparations require little to no effort. I always assemble a big winter salad -- filled with some citrus segments, toasty nuts, and root vegetables -- to serve alongside a big roast. I pull some preserves from my larder to make jam-filled tarts or maybe a bottle of cider syrup canned in September for celebratory bourbon cocktails in December. And I always end the evening the French way with a little cheese, but invoke my American tastes by making it quite large, extravagant, and glorious.
My holiday cheese platter is filled with five to seven cheeses, from creamy and restrained to funky and totally aromatic. As a New Englander, I'm partial to Massachusetts and Vermont cheeses, but I never discriminate when it comes to good aged dairy. Come the end of the night, I'm wrapping up lots of leftover bits and bobs from the platter and scheming ways to use them up all week long. Here's how to do the same.
Blue Cheese-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake in a 350º oven for about 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh all the way to the center of the potato. Take a few slices out of the top of the potato and push some blue cheese into the crevice. Broil for a few minutes to melt and brown. Serve as is, or with a short pour of maple syrup or a quick chop of pecans.
Parmesan Broth with Tortellini
Make a from-scratch chicken stock (or defrost a pint from the freezer) and toss in the rind from a wedge of good Parmesan to further salt and flavor it up. (Or make an entirely cheesy broth.) Yank out the rind before tossing in some quick-cooking fresh tortellini. Serve in a deep bowl with more grated cheese on top.
Cheesy Bake-and-Broil Pasta
Make an easy béchamel, similar to this recipe, and stir in leftover shredded sharp cheddar. Meanwhile, cook tiny dried pasta shells in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Toss the drained pasta with the béchamel and bake in a 450º oven for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes to add some nice color and crunchy bits to the top.
Jam and Cheese Crêpes
Blend together all the ingredients (flour, salt, eggs, milk, butter) for an easy crêpe batter (like this one) and let the batter sit for 15 minutes. Brush melted butter on a nonstick pan over medium heat and ladle about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan, leaning the pan from left to right to spread the batter thinly and get a nice round shape. Cook until brown then turn; each side should only take a minute or two to cook. Fill a warm crêpe with a couple tablespoons of leftover goat cheese and whatever jam you have on hand. Eat this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
This dish is my once-a-year holiday treat, and best enjoyed with a group and a little cider or white wine.
Serves 2 to 3
1 camembert cheese in a round wood box
2 tablespoons Calvados (apple brandy)
1 baguette (or any bread you like dipped in cheese)
2 endive (or any vegetable you like dipped in cheese)
1 piece parchment paper
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