Turning Cold Rice and Old Bread Into Dinner

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's six o'clock and the dinner bell is tolling, but your refrigerator is filled with nothing but the detritus of dinners past. Fear not! The Takeaway is here with food writer Cecilia Hae Jin-Lee, author of the forthcoming book “Quick and Easy Korean Cooking.” She gives us international ideas for turning leftovers into gourmet fare.

If you've got old tortillas, leftover rice or stale bread, click through for Cecilia Hae Jin-Lee's recipes for Turkey Chilaquiles, Kimchi Fried Rice and Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Turkey Chilaquiles (Chilaquiles de Pabo)

Makes 4 servings.

(From Cecilia Hae Jin-Lee's forthcoming book: Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking) 

Chilaquiles are the ultimate in Mexican comfort food. It's what moms and abuelas (grandmothers) make for you for breakfast when they have some old tortillas and some left over salsa. Usually eaten for breakfast with eggs and a side of nopalitos, you can enjoy it as a quick lunch or an afternoon snack, as well. The staler the tortillas, the better. And it's easy to cut them with kitchen shears.

This is a recipe for turkey (so that you can use your Thanksgiving leftovers), but it's possible to use leftover chicken as well.

  • Vegetable oil
  • 12 corn tortillas, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups, any kind of Salsa Verde or Salsa Roja
  • 3 to 4 sprigs epazote (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, shredded and warmed
  • 2 cups cotija or queso fresco
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons crema
  1. In a large frying pan, preheat enough oil to coat the pan about 1/8 inch in depth over high heat.
  2. Add the tortilla pieces and fry until golden brown.
  3. Remove the tortillas and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. Sprinkle with salt. 
  5. Remove any brown bits of tortilla from the pan, but leave the oil.
  6. Bring the pan back up to high heat.
  7. Add the salsa and springs of epazote, if you wish, and let cook until bubbling.
  8. Add the tortilla wedges and toss to coat.
  9. Divide among 4 plates and top with turkey, cheese, onion and avocado.
  10. Sprinkle cilantro on top and add a tablespoon of crema onto each plate.

Kimchi Fried Rice (Gimchi Bokkeum Bap) 

(From Cecilia Hae Jin-Lee's Quick and Easy Korean Cooking)

Makes 2 servings

When you have leftover rice and leftover kimchi, what do you do? I don't know about you, but I usually make fried rice. Because fried rice works best with cold rice, nothing could be easier. I usually like to add pork, since it tastes best with kimchi, but feel free to add beef, chicken, shrimp or whatever bits of vegetables you have in the fridge.  

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces pork loin, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked short-grain rice, chilled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped, with its liquid
  • Salt 
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
  2. Add the onion and pork and cook until the onion is browned and the pork is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat to medium, add the butter and sesame oil, and heat until the butter melts.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the grains are no longer hard, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add the green onions and kimchi with its liquid and cook until the green onions are limp but still retain their color, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.  

Variation: If you like, you can fry a couple of eggs sunny side up and top each dish with an egg. 

Chocolate Bread Pudding 

Makes 10 to 12 servings

This dessert is so decadent, you'd never know that it was made from stale French bread. It's great to make when you have too much milk, and too many eggs to go with that stale loaf. The staler the bread, the better, or else your bread pudding will end up soggy and lifeless.  

  • 1 loaf stale French bread, cubed or broken into small chunks
  • 3-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • Whipped cream, for serving 
  1. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish and put the bread into the dish.  
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, optional liqueur and butter. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and combine. In the bowl that had the sugar, crack in the eggs. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and cinnamon and whisk together. Pour the egg mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.  
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips. Then, pour everything over the bread in the pan. (This is a good time to preheat the oven to 325° F.) Let the mixture stand for about 20 minutes or until the bread absorbs most of the liquid, stirring occasionally. Bake pudding for 1 hour or until set. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If it doesn't come out clean, put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so until set. 
  4. Serve it warm with some whipped cream on the side.



Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee


Jen Poyant

Comments [1]


Old lettuce goes in soup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov. 04 2009 09:55 AM

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