Every morning I try to check out what’s new on my personal favorite blogs, and today I was most intrigued by Lydia’s entry about salt in The Perfect Pantry. I have an unopened jar of Mesquite smoked Maine Sea Salt that was lovingly purchased and brought home for me by my parents (from Maine, of course), and I have just never used it. Inspired by the discussion about using flavored salts, I decided that I should break out the Mesquite salt and try it out on some unadorned meat on the grill. Out of curiosity, I further explored my cupboards to see what was lurking in there that I didn’t use, for whatever reason. I’m not talking about a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup that’s been around since the weather made the idea of hot soup seem appalling; I was interested in the odd and unloved things that couldn’t just be opened and eaten, but would have to be used in some sort of actual recipe, in concert with other (possibly more charming) foods.
So I made myself a little challenge. I decided to find five things I had not used in a year or had bought for a special purpose and never used again, and to find something to do with them within the week. The rejected foods are:
- 3 ounces of Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt
- 16 ounces of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
- 6.5 ounces of Prepared Horseradish
- 7 ounces of Sweet Roasted Peppers, and
- Quite a lot of a 16 ounce can of Manischewitz Cake Meal (from making an unleavened cake at Passover)
The Sea Salt, as I mentioned, would be a good addition in grilling, but I’m wondering what else I might profitable Mesquite-up a little bit. I don’t think I want Mesquite eggs, or Mesquite in a stir-fry, but maybe a little bit might be interesting in sauteed zucchini or sprinkled really lightly over some goat cheese? We’ll see.
I have an idea about the cranberry sauce; I’ve been thinking that maybe brownies might be good with a layer of cream cheese and a hit of cranberry. Maybe really dark chocolate brownies. Or, maybe they’d be perfectly vile. That’s why I’m calling this a “challenge” instead of a “gimme.”
I think that horseradish can easily be made into a nice, spicy spread, although that seems too easy to be sporting. My boys like cheese balls, and I’m wondering if I can concoct something with sharp cheddar, onions, horseradish, and maybe something red, for color – like roasted red peppers?!
The peppers are by far the easiest; I can’t imagine why I haven’t already used them. I am already planning to do some “Italian pickling” of some fresh vegetables, and I can throw them in there. Unless they end their lives in a cheese ball, that is.
That leaves me with the Passover Wheat Flour. Hmmmm. Nothing is leaping to mind. There are two recipes on the label, one for “Nut Torte,” which doesn’t sound very compelling, and another for a “Chocolate Chiffon Cake” that would require me to purchase potato starch, and then I’d have half a box of that lying around for all eternity. I’ll have to think hard about this one.
Of course, I could always make an unleavened Cranberry/Horseradish torta rustica with a roasted red pepper foam and a sprinkling of Mesquite salt.