Dear Diary, I don’t mind telling you, I am a genius with leftovers. My leftovers are better than most people’s fresh food. I can rejuvenate, reinvent, or extrapolate, as necessity requires or opportunity presents, nor did I learn this from my mother, who’s as bad at leftovers as she is good at cooking.
I even put people to the test. If you get the call to come “for good leftovers,” and you demure with any hint of disdain, you get on a Do Not Call For Leftovers list it’s impossible to get off of. You get only one chance. It may be unfair, but it’s just.
I went over to a Gentile’s for cocktails and, surprise, I got more than enough drink than food, so by the time I got back home at 8pm, I was past hungry for dinner, “What now?” So I open the fridge and find the final remnants of Easter leftovers: two spoonfuls of red cabbage barbary (braised by myself); a spoonful of sweet potatoes (roasted by Mom); and a spoonful or two of my mushrooms garlicky. How’s that dinner?
Answer’s obvious: frittata!
First and foremost, put frozen bread in oven.
I use a spatula to scrape the little tablespoon or two of mushrooms garlicky onto a wad of butter in a puddle of olive oil in a little non-stick frying pan, squeegeeing all droplets of original olive oil and butter from the Tupperware. I cover the pan and turn on the heat to medium. Grab 3 jumbo eggs from the fridge to crack into a mixing bowl with a dollop of milk, 3 heaping tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano, shakes of salt and grindings of black pepper. Beat to mix well. When pan sizzles, uncover and flip mushrooms around in foaming oil. When mushrooms seem happily sweated, pour eggs over them and use spatula to swirl mushrooms throughout eggs. Lower heat.
Meanwhile, grab another little non-stick pan and drizzle a swirl of olive across it; now a dollop or two of the Cava I’m drinking, ‘cause I’m too lazy to grab the bottle of white wine in the fridge; dollops of water would do as well if not better, but I’m too lazy to walk over to the faucet too—for God’s sake, it’s already 8pm! Now spoon out braised cabbage barbary on one side of the pan, and roasted sweet potatoes on the other. Cover, and put over medium low heat.
If you’re my mother, I know what you’re thinking: don’t you want to re-heat dry-roasted potatoes in the oven? No, I don’t. Leftovers lose moisture, and you need to restore it. You want to steam them back to life--but with only a little bit of liquid, and also some oil for the pan, so that once that moisture is done remoisturizing and evaporating, the food has fat to sizzle golden in again. Sure, it’d surely be better to do the cabbage and sweet potatoes in separate pans, but for God’s sake, it’s already 8pm!
Okay, egg has firmed enough to let a spatula slide under it and lift it up, so as to let still liquid egg on top run down under. Let’s lift it all along the circumference of the pan, and after that, cut a cross in the middle too, to let egg run down under the center. Now more patient waiting, over low heat, for second firming….
… Ah, formative frittata firm enough to slide around pan with butter foaming up from down under at edges: firm enough to flip. Grab plate; slide frittata from pan to plate; turn pan over, dripping pan fat onto eggy top of frittata. Now cover plated frittata with pan and smoothly turn over pan, plate, frittata, three-as-one, to drop-flip frittata back into pan, and put pan back to stove. Finish cooking underside to sunny.
Meanwhile, uncover steamy veggies, and likewise turn them over in by now sizzling oil, for tanning below.
Slide frittata onto paper towel for blotting; slide sides onto dinner-plate for winging; slice wedges of frittata for plating. 8:15! Took longer to narrate than execute.
See for yourself: now that’s genius—
if I say so myself.