Does it throw you for a loop when you open the fridge and there is absolutely NO meat, then you open the pantry and there is no pasta...ummmm...WHAT can I possibly make for dinner?
Lucky for me, there was a half pack of bacon that I could thaw from the freezer for this meal, but I was still in need of some more protein, so the pantry had to provide. The problem with pantry products is that so often they taste like pantry products, so I've learned to really manipulate them so that they start to taste a bit more fresh. The trick to making pantry items taste fresh? Well add some fresh ingredients of course! (You'll see how...just stay tuned!)
So here we go...out of the pantry came risotto, miniature pink pinto beans and hominy. You might wonder why I have such random indredients in my pantry, and I assure you, it is for a reason. This is the way it works. When we are in the grocery store, we make it through the produce and bakery section just fine because there are things to weigh and measure and fun colors nad shapes to look at and sometimes even a sample or two at the bakery for the boys. After an aisle or two of foodstuffs though, the kiddos start to break down a bit. Luckily, the break down hits right about the time we enter the international foods aisle. Perfect. Alex and I are pretty much into anything international, so there is very little the kids can pick off the shelves that we won't like. So they get to choose, anything, any can, any jar (well anything under or around a buck) and if they are on a roll they can pick 2 or 3. Thus, we return home with 5 or 6 cans of new stuff. Hence, miniature red pinto beans and hominy.
If you know anything about me at all, you will know that I am a "inspiration through material" type of girl as opposed to a "inspired, now go find material". You know what I mean, right? In design, it is free dressers from the curb and big box lots from auctions that inspire me to make design choices, artwork, etc. In cooking, the ingredients are the jumping off point to trying something new.
...and I've got to tell you...I was very pleasantly surprised by hominy. Did you know hominy is a corn product, basically a precursor to grits?? I know very little about the actual process, but it is corn soaked in a lye solution...and I've got to tell you...they are like little chewy bundles of sweet corn goodness - I like them!
Hominy Cornmeal Pancakes
- 1 can hominy (GOYA), drained
- approx 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- approx 1/4 cup cake flour
- one egg
- dash of sugar
- dash of salt
- dash of milk
Basically, you are making a cornmeal pancake with little bursts of corn in it...the cake flour helps with consistency and the sugar plays up the sweet taste of the hominy. Top with butter and you've got a fresh tasting pantry side dish - awesome :) To get the sweet crispy crust on the hominy cakes, I did the unthinkable. I used the leftover bacon fat on the griddle and cooked the cakes as is. You don't get those little bits of brown goodness without a little bit of quality cooking fat. Sorry teflon.
To contrast the sweetness of the cakes, I used a liberal amount of white pepper in the risotto and to tame the wild wildebeasts that are going to tell me how unhealthy all of this is...I actually crumbled 4 bacon slices over the entire meal and served the risotto with peas...this was just the premade plate that happened to grab 3 full slices of bacon. The wildebeasts that are my children dug into the food too quickly to get a photo of the meal peas and all...and so it goes...you don't mind, do you?
So now it is your turn. What trips you up in the kitchen? I still am tripped up by anything that my mother in law makes with ground beef. I just do NOT have the touch when it comes to meatloaf, meatballs or the almighty goulash. nope...I am a goulash loser and I have given up. I'll do the tilapia...you can do your own goulash dearest!!