I’m all for stuffing leftover bits of Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce into whatever I can find as a holder — a piece of bread, a roll or biscuit — but I can only eat so much.
Even after the obligatory post-meal leftover snack, there always seems to be more in the fridge to deal with the day after. Lots more turkey, dark and white. Potatoes and sweet potatoes. Green beans. And so on.
With all of those containers filled with days’ worth of cooking taunting you each time you open the refrigerator door, you’re faced with using it all right away or tossing it out, which no one wants to do.
My solution? Get right back in the kitchen and make something fun and easy inspired by street food around the world — things you can put together quickly and with what you’ve got on hand.
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I ate flautas from a food market vendor in Mexico City a few years ago, and they were the best I’ve ever eaten. Nearly a foot long and perfectly crisp, they didn’t need anything except for a shake or two of Valentina sauce every few bites. When I re-created these at home, it took me right back to Mexico. All that was missing was a cold Tecate and lime.
Crepes are the iconic street food in Paris, and the simplest ones are made with ham and cheese and folded over a few times into a manageable triangle, wrapped with a single piece of white tissue paper and a thin napkin.
But there are also more interesting crepes, like the ones that I like to get at L’avant Comptoir, a Basque tapas bar with a walk-up window for take-away crepes in the Sixth Arrondissement. My recipe below is based on these favorites..
Samosas reminded me of my time in New Delhi a few years back, and my recipe for tamarind chutney for dipping them into is my absolute favorite. I’ve made these baked samosas with leftover potatoes only, but you could add other leftovers — peas, cauliflower, even chopped green beans.
Flatbreads are my shortcut to pizza, and how I revisit Italy any time I want. Here, we’re there in less than a half-hour.
The bread recipe takes no time to put together, and it’s one of the most cooperative doughs around — unlike finicky butter-only pie doughs, it’s super-easy to manage and roll out. (Got kids? Have them help.)
Leftover sweet potato puree plus Gorgonzola strikes a perfect sweet-salty balance, and on top of the crisp bread, it makes a great light lunch or dinner — or if you’re still in the mood, a cocktail snack.
As I’m writing this I realize how thankful I am to be spending another Thanksgiving here in Paris with my very dear friends, and to have had the opportunity to travel as much as I have. I plan to continue living my life as I always have, one big bite at a time, with lots of champagne.
Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking with a French Accent (Running Press, $25). www.cowgirlchef.com, @cowgirlchef.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 of a medium onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 chipotle chile (in adobo), chopped
- 2 cups shredded leftover turkey
- Oil for frying, such as corn or canola
- 8 corn tortillas
1. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chipotle chile and turkey and stir until everything’s well mixed. Remove from the skillet and put into a bowl. Let cool.
2. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and turn the heat to just below high — you want the oil hot enough to crisp the flautas. To test the oil, tear off bits of a corn tortilla and if it floats and bubbles right away, it’s ready.
3. While the oil is heating, make the flautas. Put about 1 tablespoon of the turkey mixture toward one edge of a corn tortilla and tightly roll it up, using a toothpick to keep it together. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and fry them 2 to 3 minutes or until the flautas are golden brown, then turn to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Drain them on paper towels set on a plate. Eat while still hot.
Nutritional analysis per flauta: 210 calories, 13 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 27 milligrams cholesterol, 76 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 53 percent of calories from fat.
Buckwheat crepes with turkey, Swiss and sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/4 cup melted butter, plus a little more for cooking the crepes
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk
Filling (per crepe):
- 2 cups leftover shredded turkey
- 2 cups grated Swiss cheese
- 16 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk together buckwheat flour, flour and sea salt. Add the beaten egg, melted butter, and as much of the milk as you need to make a batter that’s not too thick and not too runny — it should look and feel like a very thin pancake batter, which is what it is. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
2. When it’s crepe-making time, check batter to make sure it’s still the right consistency — it may have thickened up a little, so just add more milk to thin it if needed. Put 1 tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
3. Add 1 cup of crepe batter and pick up the skillet and turn and swirl so the batter evenly fills out the bottom of the skillet. Like cooking an American pancake, when you see holes appear, it’s nearly time to flip the crepe over. Cook on the other side for just about 30 seconds. Repeat with the rest of the batter, and stack the crepes on a plate. You can make these in advance and keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
3. To finish making the crepes, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Put the already-cooked crepe on its most cooked side down. Add 1/4 cup each of shredded cheese and turkey and some of the sun-dried tomatoes (about two tomatoes for each crepe) to one side, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 1 minute or until the cheese melts. Add a small handful of the arugula, fold the other half over and slide onto a plate.
Nutritional analysis per crepe: 422 calories, 22 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 101 milligrams cholesterol, 501 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 46 percent of calories from fat.
Flatbread with sweet potato puree and Gorgonzola
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 to 2 cups leftover sweet potato puree
- 4 tablespoons Gorgonzola
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt using a mixer. Add the olive oil and mix until crumbly. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in about half of the water. If it’s still crumbly, slowly add a little more water to the mixture until it comes together — you may not need all of it. Divide the dough into four pieces.
3. Put 1 ball of dough directly onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet and roll it out into an oblong shape with a rolling pin. Make it as thin as possible, because it will puff slightly when cooked. Cook for 10 minutes or just until the edges start to brown.
4. Remove from the oven, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of sweet potato puree on the baked dough and sprinkle with pieces of Gorgonzola. Return to the oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Repeat steps with the other three pieces of dough. Serve hot.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 582 calories, 23 grams fat, 86 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 598 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 38 percent of calories from fat.
Mashed potato samosas with tamarind chutney
Makes 12 to 14 (4-inch) samosas
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (use the back of a knife to do this)
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon tumeric
- Salt to taste
- 1 pound leftover mashed (or half-smashed) potatoes
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3/4 cup water
- Tamarind chutney (recipe follows)
1. Put the oil, onion, garlic and ginger in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the spices and salt to taste and stir to combine. Let this cook for a minute or two. Add the potatoes and mix them into the skillet mixture and warm through, for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
2. Make the dough. (Note: This is a very easy dough and I like to make it by hand.) Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and stir to combine with a wooden spoon — it’ll be lumpy. Add most of the water, but not all of it, because you may not need it all. Mix with your hands until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Set aside to rest for a half-hour.
3. When ready to make the samosas, heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Roll out the dough as thin as possible and using a large cutter or a knife, make as many 4- to 6-inch squares or circles as you can (I got 14). Lay these out on the parchment.
5. Stuff the dough with 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture and fold over the edges so it makes a nice little triangle or half moon. Brush water along the edges and gently pinch to seal the dough together. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Serve with tamarind chutney or your favorite store-bought chutney.
Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 12: 188 calories, 8 grams fat, 26 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 1 milligram cholesterol, 165 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 38 percent of calories from fat.
Makes about 1 cup
- 1/3 cup tamarind paste
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Stir together all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, adding water as necessary to thin it. Let cook for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, you can store the chutney in a jar in the fridge.
Note: Find tamarind paste at Indian food stores.
Nutritional analysis per 1-tablespoon serving: 25 calories, trace fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 34 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.
Adapted from a recipe in “Saveur” magazine