Menu 13 – She’s Coming to Dinner…your MOTHER IN LAW

I am lucky. I like my mothers-in-law (I have two). One recently came for a visit. She is funny, eccentric, opinionated. She raises her eyebrows a lot. She calls me “darling”. She buys me clothes that actually look good on me. She is, in short, a riot. She also is dying to go back to Paris but has no plans in sight yet. So for her visit, we thought we would do our best to take her there.

This menu starts with gougères. They are a home cook’s entertaining secret weapon. They are made ahead, baked from the freezer and wildly impressive. Next, potato leek soup but glammed up with some fried parsley…PURTY.  For the main course we go old school but with a modern twist – spiced duck à l’orange. Do not freak out – if you can cook chicken you can cook duck. In fact, everyone should cook duck, it’s delicious. And last but not least, a flashback to 1970s dinner parties with creamy delicious (make ahead) chocolate mousse. Dreamy.

Menu 13 - 10 14 2015

Tips and Notes

The Gougeres

Leek and Potato Soup

Please make THIS DUCK

lick the bowl Chocolate Mousse

For the duck you will need to order a couple of items in advance – the Orange Blossom Water, maybe the Buckwheat Honey and the Ras Al Hanout. Amazon carries each of these things. You may also need to ask your butcher for the duck. Make the effort…your mother in law will appreciate it.

REQUEST: If you make one thing from this menu, I would URGE you to try the gougères. They are the killer app (ha!). Go straight for gruyere…don’t mess with inferior cheddar. I follow the linked recipe exactly, and I mix by hand. There is always a scary moment when you add the eggs and you’re SURE you’ve ruined it – just keep stirring and trust…it will come together. They are hot light steamy cheesy awesomeness. They go straight from your freezer to the oven to a plate where people will swoon and loudly proclaim your greatness.  Feel like a hero.

Menu 12 – Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday dinner is a THING. Or at least I want it to be a THING. I want my family to know that on Sundays, we have a family meal. Family meals happen other nights too but on Sundays, always. More often than not, we grill a steak or roast a chicken. This week we are planning ahead, keeping it classic and cooking enough for leftovers. And while it may seem extravagant to do a standing rib on an ordinary Sunday, why the heck not? It’s family – let’s make dinner special. Break out the nice china while you’re at it.

We are not raising our kids to eat like animals. They need to understand courses. Start with soup. Lucky me, my kids eat almost any soup I put in front of them. Start with zucchini soup (make ahead/easy). I’ve been dying to try this roast beef recipe – it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. I’d serve it with straight up horseradish but if you want to make more of a cream, go for it. Beef is heavy – steamed asparagus is crisp. And of course, potatoes. Your oven will be occupied…this twice-baked version can be made ahead and heated when the beef comes out. And of course a little sweet treat. It’s family, after all.

Menu 12 10 7 2015

Tips and Notes

Zucchini Soup.

I’ve GOT to try THIS ROAST BEEF RECIPE– legendary. In the comments there is a consensus around leaving it in for only one hour after you turn the heat off. I would do that rather than the two hours in the recipe.

Martha, for potatoes. And for those that eat good dinners, COOKIES!

And with any leftovers, try this Beef Farro soup.

Menu 9 – End of Summer Deck Dinner, for Two

Deck eating really is the best. We especially love it after the kids are asleep – a peaceful evening for 2. Fall is coming but there is still time to enjoy eating outside. We are dreaming of Tulum this week and are inspired by Mexican cuisine. Tuck those kids in and get going…

A michelada is the perfect start. This is not a drink for the faint of heart. If you like bloody marys, you will love this…if you don’t like bloody marys, well then can’t be friends. Tomatoes are still glorious so start with chili spiked crab salad stacked on an heirloom slice. The asparagus dish has a “put hair on your chest” chili topper, so let’s keep the lamb chops simple with salt and pepper. Now that the sun has set and the grill is cooling, finish the evening with Mexican chocolate pot de crème and a nice big spoon.

9 17 2015

Tips and Notes

The Michelada! There are a lot of recipes out there. I like THIS one. This is not a Corona drink – use Negra Modela, Bohemia, Pacifico, Dos Equis, or Tecate.

Asparagus. A little involved but the pasilla cream can be made ahead.  Oh and where to get the chilies? Amazon of course.

Pots de Crème, oh my.

Menu 8 – Cabin on a Lake Weekend

Still not ready to give up summer, so you get a cabin for a night or two on a lake and keep the spirit alive. So many meal opportunities. There will be pancakes and bacon, strong coffee, BLTs with avocado, chips (with ridges!), smoked trout on crackers with cocktails, and of course ice cream. For one dinner you might go cabin style and do a Chili Night. Make the second dinner a plated affair. In the morning, blend the gazpacho and create the icebox cake. Assemble your potato foil packets. Go hiking then swim in the lake. Around dinnertime, get your grill going. Have someone mix together sour cream, capers and dill. Someone else mixes up cocktails and sets the table. Once the salmon and potatoes come off the grill, dinner is served.


Tips and other notes

The Gazpacho – so many recipes – this one looks great.

Potato/Spinach packets, consider THIS for inspiration.

Classic Icebox Cake, because you don’t need to spend time baking this weekend.

Menu 7 – Labor Day Celebration

Are we really here…the end of summer? I say not quite yet. Let’s revel in the moment and celebrate the old fashioned way – with a Labor Day BBQ. In our house this tends to come about last minute with six packs and Hebrew Nationals. Nothing wrong with that, but with a little advanced planning you can get your cookout to the next level. This menu highlights what’s great about summer – watermelon, corn, clams for a taste of the sea, and tomatoes. Chimichirri is something we wish we made more often so here’s a chance. And a trifle…it’s so messy and gooey and delicious. After eating dessert you’re begging for one last dip in the pool.

9 3 2015


Tips and other notes:

Watermelon Margaritas

Clams here is a method – instead of herbs just use garlic, unless of course you want herbs.

Chimichurri every time we make this we say “why don’t we make this more often!”

and last but not least THIS TRIFLE so gooey, so delicious

Menu 6 – Night One of Vacation…

It was a long drive. Everyone is tired. You considered eating out and then looked at your grumpy exhausted kids and thought better of it. Good call on getting a vacation rental with a kitchen. First, feed the kids scrambled eggs and toast and send them to bed. Next, for the adults, a “Mezze” menu of mostly assembly is in order. And since you’ve been driving, keeping it light seems like the right thing to do.

This requires a little advanced planning – you need to pack this stuff in a cooler and bring it along with your 27 bags. Don’t freak out, it’s not hard. You can buy almost all of it and cook none, with two exceptions…the mushrooms should be made ahead, and I would prep the items for the cucumber salad before leaving and toss it all together when it’s dinnertime. Bring the sausage uncooked and toss in the broiler upon arrival. Toast the pitas. Mix drinks. Lay it all on a platter. Sit back and enjoy night one of vacation.

Menu 6 - 8 24 2015

Tips and other notes:

Baba is a nice change from ubiquitous hummus. If you want to make it, try this, or BUY it!

Mushrooms are best made ahead anyway.

Look at this pretty cucumber salad which would be delicious in a pita with a sausage!

Sausages, the only thing you are cooking upon arrival…maybe just broil them.

And for baklava – you’re nuts if you want to make this but be my guest. I would consider buying here.

Menu 1 – Farmer’s Market Celebration Dinner

It’s pretty easy to find reasons to celebrate, so make something up if you want to. At the farmer’s market, grab a pork blade roast, fresh zucchini, cucumbers, arugula and a few fingerlings and you can’t go wrong. The blade roast is pretty awesome – fast cooking. Be sure to score the meat for cracklings using the hot water trick (Google it). For the cake, I was inspired by this It’s just so good.

Menu 1 - 7 23 2015