Friday, February 1, 2013

Bloody Marys Repurposed…From Bottoms Up to Bowls Up


Bloody Marys Repurposed…From Bottoms Up to Bowls Up

Bloody Marys Mama Caruso Style 
I love leftovers. In fact, when I put together a meal I am always planning and plotting the leftover potential – which is really important since I don’t know how to cook for less than 10-15 people – even though my family currently consists of three people. If you were to come to my home on most days, you would find some of the most elaborate and fantastic leftovers just waiting for me to pull out of the fridge. I love leftovers.

Some of my favorites include cold meatloaf, cold anything from Thanksgiving, cold pizza, cold spaghetti sandwiches and today, I had the most incredible cold corned beef. My husband gave me a cast iron Dutch oven last year and while I have cooked many delicious meals in it, none have been as great as the corned beef brisket I made in there a few days ago. Usually I cook the corned beef brisket in a crock pot, but I was rushed and thought I would try it in the Dutch oven.  I have never tasted a better corned beef, it was amazing…but even better was the leftover options. I had to say goodbye to the final bite today…sadly.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t LOVE leftovers. Now about a year ago when I started hearing the term “repurposed” when referring to leftovers, I was really offended because I don’t want anyone to touch my leftovers – I want to savor them in their original, pristine state. Period.  I don’t want my leftovers transformed, elevated, reconstructed, deconstructed, or repurposed. I want my leftovers cold and abundant…that is until just a few weeks ago.

I belong to a book group that operates under the theme of “we read to eat” which means that we cook a meal each month that resonates with the theme of the book. It is a great concept and has served us well for over eight years. We select books based on the eating possibilities which are what got us to the book “The Lobster Chronicles” many years ago. While the book was not my favorite, the lobster fest that we had hosted at my house was so popular it became an annual tradition for our January meeting. This year we picked a book from a culture that is known for its bland food traditions and just overrode our “rules” and served lobster in lieu of the book’s theme.

Cooking for me is a lot about the presentation and I decided to serve a large bowl of Bloody Mary mix with large skewers of veggies for those who wanted something festive and an alternative to the Boston-based beer I was serving. I made the bowl of Bloody Mary mix without alcohol or ice so that I could make it ahead of time, allow the veggies to marinate a little and let my guests do their own mixing with their choice of alcohol or no alcohol, selecting veggies to add to their glasses. Fun, festive, flexible and interactive – something that you certainly want to offer at any dinner party.

The Bloody Marys were a hit! However, as I mentioned before, I usually make enough for fifteen people, we only had six, so I had a huge bowl of Bloody Mary mix and veggies to deal with for leftovers…which actually excited me on the first day…and the second…and then I realized I was going to throw away some really really great tasting food if I didn’t think of something to do with these leftovers…and quick! At that moment REPURPOSE hit me in the inspiration. I took all of the veggies off of the skewers, dropped them into the bowl, took out my immersion blender and voila as if by magic my leftover Bloody Mary mix was repurposed as a super delicious gazpacho. I added a little seasoning and my family enjoyed large bowls of a truly repurposed leftover for dinner. From bottoms up to bowls up – I can embrace this kind of repurposing. What is your favorite leftover food? And, what repurposing experiences have you had? Would love to hear about them and share them from my table to yours and back again…Mama Caruso

Bloody Mary Bowl Recipe Mama Caruso Style:

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and increase amounts for your own taste

            1 liter of Mr. & Mrs. T Original Bloody Mary Mix
            1 liter of Mr. & Mrs. Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
            2 - 5.5 ounce cans of V8 juice
            2 - 5.5 ounce cans of V8 Spicy Hot
            2 lemons squeezed into the bowl
            1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
            3-4 dashes of hot sauce
            1 -2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper

The Veggies:

            6-8 green onions, washed and cleaned of wilted or damaged greens
            6-8 celery stalks cut in half lengthwise
            3-4 cucumbers peeled, quartered and cut lengthwise

Stand the veggies upright in the bowl in the mix

Skewers:

Using 8-12 inch skewers

            Alternate black olives, green olives, pepperocinis
            Alternate pickled mushrooms, green, yellow or red bell peppers cut into 8ths, 
            1/3 of a bread and butter pickle spear

            Put a small lemon or lime wedge on either sides of the veggies to hold 
            everything  in place, lemons and limes also add color and a nice punch of 
           flavor too.

Stand the skewers upright so that the veggies and pickles are in the mix in the bowl.
Sprinkle fresh ground pepper over everything

Feel free to use your imagination, add other veggies and pickles to taste.

Make ahead of time, keep in the fridge until ready to serve, serve with a ladle into glasses large enough to hold one or two of the skewers, some ice, the mix and some vodka if desired.

To Repurpose:

            Take the veggies off of all of the skewers and put in mix.
            Add any veggies desired to balance out the mix
            Pulse the immersion blender, or pulse in a food processor to a thick consistency 
           for a soup with some texture, or liquefy for more of a smooth texture.
            Sprinkle ground pepper on top
            Serve cold with popcorn or croutons on top.


From my table to yours...Mama Caruso

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