On Saturday we had a wonderful birthday party for a dear friend. There was much good food, and some pretty epic wines. Caught up as I was in first the making and then the enjoying of the food, I didn’t take a single picture. This has been pretty common lately; I’ve been ignoring the requirements that this blog imposes upon some of my meals and just, you know, making, eating, and enjoying them with family and friends. It makes for a more relaxed and well-lived life, but of course it’s anathema to the vicarious internet experiencing of the same events by others. And I’m OK with that.
I had it in my head to make paella, because I have a big pan, and it’s festive and beautiful, and an excellent way to feed a mob in fine style. We had clams, mussels, and shrimp–all from the Northeast–and the usual red pepper/saffron/chorizo/chicken stock thing going on with the rice. I did add a bag of the homegrown mirepoix, and the chorizo was in-house, and I go heavy on the pimentón, but it was traditional. I shook in some frozen peas at the end for color. In addition, I grilled a lamb shoulder rubbed with the usual coffee-based panoply of spices: instead of charcoal, I made an actual wood fire but put the meat off to the side so it sort of smoke roasted until about 125˚ at the bone. It was excellent. There was also beet salad, braised turnip greens brought all the way from the Berkshires, cucumber salad with yogurt, and wild arugula salad. And the wines, which I’ll go into another time, and a couple of cakes from a pretty good local joint.
But since I was cooking, and then eating, and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time, I didn’t shoot any pictures. As far as the Internet is concerned, of course, that means the dinner didn’t happen. But mercifully for you, dear readers, I have some documentation of what the remnants became, and in a lot of ways it’s more interesting anyway since I believe fervently in the nobility of properly deployed leftovers.
I took the rice and formed it into thick little cakes, browning them well in shrimp butter on both sides. While they cooked, I sautéed ground turkey with Spanish flavors (pimentón, sherry vinegar, shallot, tomato) and added a fat handful of chiffonaded basil at the end. There were a few shrimp left, so I wiped them clean and sat them on top of each plate, and I tucked some of the beet salad around the corner since we all know that beet salad gets better with age and besides: who among us does not enjoy some nice fuchsia food?
Really nice all around; it was a remix of the previous night’s menu, but with the sloppy turkey Joe mixture and crispy cake texture to differentiate it sufficiently that there was no flavor fatigue. And the leftover cakes made a fabulous lunch. Next up, those smoky, spicy, charred lamb bones are going to make a wicked stock.