The Birthday Party of 2016 left me with some fairly high-quality leftovers to wrangle, most notably whipped cream and sugared strawberries. These were easily converted into strawberry shortcake. Since I also had un-whipped heavy cream to use up, I figured the smart thing to do would be to use it to make the biscuits. To this end, I turned to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for cream biscuits, which I’d never used before. It read as something of a gamble: this is a biscuit that has no butter or shortening of any kind in the dough. It’s just flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and heavy cream. You do brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter before baking, but — that’s it. It’s the kind of recipe I read with nervousness and think, “It could be great, or it could be a disaster.” I was not encouraged, as I set it up, by the fact that the amount of heavy cream required in the recipe did not produce a dough I could work with. I wound up adding water as I went along in order to create the soft, delicate dough. But these things baked beautifully, I have to admit. They were wide and puffy — maybe not as tall as one might like, but very tender and great with the berries and cream. My daughter couldn’t finish her serving, and ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning before going to school.
There were other leftovers to deal with. The birthday dinner was — as requested — “pizza with beautiful ricotta and a Caesar salad.” My daughter’s words. (She is our child; this is really how she talks.) Which meant that I had leftover beautiful ricotta to use up (which is no joke: anyone can tell you that a package of ricotta doesn’t last long once opened, and with beautiful ricotta, the life span is really, really short). I’d made a basic tomato sauce to put on the pizza, which meant I also had a tub of leftover tomato sauce. The salad greens got eaten up, thankfully, but still: the refrigerator became a strategic challenge. Elements leftover from Saturday’s birthday party, which were to become part of Monday night’s celebratory dinner, had to become something decent for Tuesday night. I rose to the challenge by taking from the freezer two slices of duck bacon, which I fried in a pan and then used as the base of a fake Alfredo sauce. (This is, by the way, pretty easy. You fry up the bacon, take the bacon out of the pan and set it aside, and then fry a minced onion in the bacon fat. Then you let it sit, and ignore it, while you boil your pasta water. While the pasta itself cooks, you whisk in the ricotta you’re using in with the onions and bacon fat, adding an egg if you have one sitting around, and some grated Parmesan. Cook the pasta and reserve more water than you’d guess to use to thin the Alfredo sauce — as much as a cup of water. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce. Mince up the cooked bacon to sprinkle on top of the plates once you get around to serving, and serve with more Parmesan sprinkled on top.)
Tuesday night’s Pasta Alfredo was served with the last of the greens alongside it — a very plain salad, just lettuce and some cucumber sliced in with some dressing that I think was a mustard vinaigrette I made about a month ago. Who knows. It tasted fine.
Today it’s Wednesday, and I still have to make dinner. At nine o’clock this morning I found myself standing in the kitchen eating a leftover biscuit for breakfast (I warmed it up first so that it could be chewed — leftover biscuits are sad things) and looking into the fridge thoughtfully. “I’ve got about a cup and a half of leftover Alfredo sauce, and four cups of tomato sauce,” I said to myself. No one wants to have either thing on its own tonight, but: there’s no reason why I can’t combine them to make a new pasta sauce to serve on top of a different pasta shape! I can combine them and put it on some rotini, and with a green vegetable on the side (some broccoli rabe would be perfect), this will be a fine meal. If I am really clever about it, I will not only achieve clearing the fridge of several plastic tubs, but I will have made a sauce that is so good my family will demand to know why I don’t make this more often.
One problem remains, which is, We need to come up with a plan for using up the leftover marshmallow, peanut butter, and hot fudge sauces. I realize that the solution to this is obviously to buy ice cream and serve it with sauces, but what if I don’t want to buy ice cream? What else can I do with them? I have a feeling I could whip the peanut butter sauce into a cake frosting, or maybe a filling to use on sandwich cookies, if I baked a million little sandwich cookies. And I could do that. I’m capable of that. But basically I am soliciting ideas, now, so if you’ve got any, please comment below. (One idea pops up immediately: combine the marshmallow and peanut butter sauces to make a fluffernutter cooky filling! Mmmmmmmm.)