If you’re deciding what to bring for a meal at a friend’s house, it’s probably best to leave the stale bread at home. But “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil defied conventional wisdom by showing up with an old baguette to a recent lunch at the home of CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger.
He also brought along chef and author Tamar Adler, who has made a specialty of cooking with leftovers. Her new book, “The Everlasting Meal Cookbook: Leftovers AZ,” will go on sale Tuesday.
“I’m so excited about this,” exclaimed Schlesinger, who agreed to let Adler rummage through her kitchen for neglected food that could be used for another meal. “Everyone has exactly this situation,” Adler told Dokoupil, describing a kitchen full of leftovers as “the state of each person’s refrigerator and household.”
“The Everlasting Meal Cookbook” is published by a division of Simon & Schuster, owned by CBS parent company Paramount. In it, Adler shares her philosophy that “by having saved what’s left from a previous meal, you’re already cooking another.”
She developed that philosophy as chef at Farm 255 in Athens, Georgia. Adler was often short of money and ingredients and told Dokoupil that she was often forced to improvise.
“We can’t afford to buy more stuff… and I just burned the rice. That was my restaurant,” she said.
When asked what lesson home cooks can take from that, Adler replied, “It’s like nobody cares what you cook. I mean, I think people come for the experience of being served and people love being hosted. become.”
The new cookbook contains more than 1,500 recipes for, for example, old hamburgers, moldy tomatoes, banana peels and opened bags of chips.
As Jill Schlesinger watched, Adler took several old containers of rubbery chicken, stale noodles, and soggy vegetables from her refrigerator. Adler also found some stale tortillas, which Schlesinger joked she could use “like a Frisbee.”
“This looks promising,” Adler concluded, opening a container of leftover Chinese takeout.
She then pulled a frozen bagel from the freezer that Schlesinger warned her “isn’t great, but… you are, girl.”
Adler found more of what she called “treasures” in the cupboards, including several canned foods approaching expiration dates and a bag of mixed nuts.
Using the skills and experience it took to create “The Everlasting Meal Cookbook,” she planned three dishes, leaving Dokoupil and Schlesinger to get to work chopping, shredding, and mixing.
About an hour later, they sat down for a meal, unrecognizable by the depressing state in which it began.
“You could make a multiple choice of what was this before and people would have a hard time,” Dokoupil said. Schlesinger agreed.
The first dish was what started out as overcooked chicken, shredded and mixed with corn, cilantro and lime – paired with takeaway salsa and served on the tortillas, which were saved by baking them on the stove. The group agreed it tasted “like a great chicken tostada.”
The second dish started out as leftover rice. Adler made it into a salad by mixing it with olive oil, mustard, two kinds of spices and the mixed nuts – which were chopped.
The third dish consisted of the frozen bagel and old baguette – revived with a splash of water and a little time in the oven. The bread was sliced and rubbed with garlic, then topped with a puree of vegetables, including some of the leftover Chinese foods.
“This is the most incredible transformation for me,” Schlesinger told the group as they began to eat.
“It’s just cooking,” Adler said. “While it’s true that I mostly enjoy using what’s there and solving these problems, I think all cooking is actually problem-solving.”