Managing leftovers has never been so exciting~! See, up until a handful of weeks ago, I was under the impression that Hubby and I would skip out on the whole vacation thing this year and save up some quid for a far away bucket-list getaway next year instead. And sure, with a major travel destination dangling in front of your nose as the proverbial carrot, staying in for the year might not be all that yawnilicious.
But… you know how it is. I was soldiering on anyways, simply ignoring the whole issue, until Hubby handed me a small envelope for my birthday – out of which a pair of plane tickets dropped into my hands. So, seeing as we’re taking off in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I’m not just letting you know that I’ll be too busy collecting new ideas and eating a lot of delicious things to be posting new recipes for you guys for the coming two weeks – I’m also letting you know what I’m doing about whatever is left in my fridge and pantry today~! I hope you guys enjoy this little impromptu snack – one I frequently make in one form or another even without the flight-date induced urgency of today’s leftover-management dinner, I might add – enough to not forget about me while I’m gone~! Here we go:
The Polenta Tiles
I had just enough polenta tiles left over from this weekends cookoff to tease up a real appetite, so I had to dig around in my pantry for a bit until I found something just as suitable… if not better~! Pumpernickel Rounds! What a delicious (seriously healthy, too) and very convenient way to shave off ¾ of the kitchen-time!
If you’d like to go big on this one, you can find my Lemon & Thyme Polenta Tiles Recipe here:
The Black Cherry & Red Onion Chutney
I absolutely love this one – it’s a wonderful accompaniment to anything cheese-related as well as to things sizzling away on a BBQ or griddle that might bring a punch of their own to the table, namely gamey meats, duck and beef. I usually turn the very last black cherries of the season into a bunch of jars of this chutney to preserve them for the hard, sad, cherry-less months of the year. Sadly the BBQ season carries on for quite a number of weeks past that last cherry, so the winter months tend to remain regrettably cherry-less after all…
300g Pitted Black Cherries, halved
100g Pitted Sour Cherries, halved – frozen ones work too, but you might want to keep a bag of sugar nearby as you carefuly taste-test them. They tend to be on the very, very far side of “Sour”.
50g Dried Cherries – if you can’t find them in a regular supermarket, check your nearest organic foods store.
50ml Cider Vinegar
50ml Red Port
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
50g Dark Muscovado Sugar – a very caramelly brown sugar (I usually grab a baggie of the Vietnamese stuff in an Asian supermarket nearby whenever I run out) will do nicely as a replacement in case you don’t have Dark Muscovado on hand
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Red Onions, finely diced
2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tsp Szechuan Peppercorns
2 Tsp Salt
Fleur de Sel
½ Cinnamon Stick
1 Star Anise
2 Sprigs of Rosemary
1 heaped Tsp Ginger, freshly grated
Opt: 2 Tbsp Ginger, freshly grated – if you’re going with a Bird/Meat focused variant.
Opt: Hot Chilli Flakes or fresh habaneros if you like it hot or if you’re going with a Bird/Meat focused variant
As with most chutneys, the list of ingredients is long but the actual prep flies by in two shakes of a lambs tail.
1) Set a small pan onto medium heat and toast the Szechuan pepper- and mustard seeds until the very fragrant little gems start to pop.
2) Transfer them into a pestle & mortar and grind them up with the help of a generous pinch of Fleur de Sel flakes.
3) Replace the pan with a pot on the stove, add the olive oil and, once about 2 mins of warm-up time have passed, gently sweat the red onion dice until they start to soften up.
4) Dust them with the muscovado sugar and stir the lot until the sugar has melted around the onions.
5) Deglaze the pot with the vinegar, wine and Maple Syrup
6) Gently stir the mixture until the clouds wafting up to you loose their alcoholic, vinegary and oniony bite.
7) Fold in the remaining ingredients, cherries, herbs and all – I know I listed the chillies as an optional tweak, but I highly recommend adding a hint of chilli either way. It simply takes the cherries to a whole new level in my book.
8) Once everything is well combined, turn the heat to medium-low and leave the chutney to simmer away for around 15-20 mins until the usual back-of-a-spoon test tells you it won’t attempt to run away anytime soon.
9) Transfer the chutney into an airtight container (if you’re prepping it in advance), a sterilized jar (if you’re planning way ahead) or into a bowl (if you’re about to serve it right away) for the time being.
Assembling the Bites
The Polenta Tiles or Pumpernickel Rounds
The Black Cherry & Red Onion Chutney
Opt: A couple of Bitter Leaves like Arugula, for eye candy
200-300g Taleggio Cheese – whether you bring home a very ripe and oozy one or a block on the firm side of the Taleggio business is as much a question of your personal preference as it is a question of luck. I personally prefer my Taleggio at the intense, oozy stage but the one and only high-quality source of every- and anything Italian in town (at least that I know of) doesn’t always have a chunk of it at that perfect stage on offer. Hubby doesn’t “like eating things that are actually able to run off my plate” as much as I do, so he’s always happy with the “almost” stage of that particular cheese our supplier almost always have in stock. Both of us skirt around the very young, very firm and very mild stage of development though.
Usually I would give some sort of advice on how to replace the one and only ingredient listed, but in this case… there is no replacement for a delicious piece of Taleggio~!
Actually, the chutney does wonders on any cheese. I sooooo recommend putting a bit of effort into hunting down a piece of Taleggio if you enjoy a variety of cheeses and never had the pleasure to meet this particular specimen before. Anyways! Here we go: Bread. Wine. Cheese. A holy trinity of sorts~
(0,5) Decant a bottle of your favorite red. A delicious bottle of Brunello or Barolo to match the Italian Theme for the shindig comes to mind…)
1) Grab your tiles or rounds and spread them out on a large platter or on individual plates.
2) Crown every piece with a slice of cheese and top it off with a teaspoonful of the chutney.
(2,5) Pour yourself and your guests a glass of the aforementioned red~)
3) Drop a leaf of arugula on each bite and…
…that’s it for now, I’m off the grid for the next two weeks, so stay healthy, eat delicious things, be happy and most of all: Enjoy~!