Menu 44 – FATHER’S DAY is almost here…

Let’s be honest – brunch is terrible. The food is average; the drinks are watery and dreadful. And you most often WAIT for the privilege! Time to re-do brunch.

And what better time to re-do brunch than on Father’s Day. Time to make brunch a real meal, in your home – and today, a meal that puts hair on your chest. This is not a brunch for the faint of heart. This is a brunch for DADS.

Start strong with a Bloody Bull. Bloody Bulls are a riff on the bloody mary – but better. We’re talking beef broth (stop – just stop – listen to me). Read the link below for why bloody bulls are superior to the average bloody mary. Your dad is superior – he deserves this. Next, oysters. I said put hair on your chest. Oysters will do it (and I bet your dad will NOT be expecting oysters. A little surprise never hurt anyone). For the main event, Steak and Eggs. “Steak and eggs” are a father favorite in my house. Serious protein. A real meal. But let’s fancy it up some and serve the steak and eggs over spinach and OVER polenta (over over!). This is the way to eat eggs.

And of course, coffee. But frankly after eating all of this what you really should do for your dad is prop him up in the best chair in the house, hand him a remote and the paper and keep those bloodies on refill. He will probably nap. And one of the best things you can ever give a dad is a nap (same with moms).  Plan a little, and get this done for your pops.

Menu 44 - 6 16 2016

 

Tips and notes

In support of the Bloody Bull: http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/2015/11/29/heres-why-bloody-bull-better-bloody-mary

http://www.framedcooks.com/2015/05/the-best-steak-and-eggs.html

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/classic-mignonette

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Menu 42 – Memorial Day PICNIC

Memorial Day – about so much more than burgers on the grill. It’s about honoring all Americans who died while in military service, and their families who by extension, gave so much. It began as Decoration Day when family members visited cemeteries and decorated gravesites of the war dead with flowers. This traditional of having Decoration Days still remains today and often involves many family members meeting at a cemetery, decorating together and then having a picnic-like “dinner on the ground” (at least according to Wikipedia).

Also according to Wikipedia, “On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”

So on this day, remember with your own family and friends how grateful we need to be for all who’ve sacrificed their lives. Attend a parade. Say thank you. Prepare a meal that you mindfully share with those family and friends.

I’m sticking with Decoration Day here and suggesting a picnic. Nobody will be mad if you pour them a Back Nine to start – you know, a spiked Arnold Palmer. Next, everyone seems to like cold fried chicken – how about turning that into a sandwich on this day. Make a spicy slaw too, and slice pickles – people can top their chicken sandwich as they wish. Alongside, a fresh couscous salad (keeps well outside – a little fancier than baby carrots and hummus…not that there’s anything wrong with that). I always want potato chips at picnics, so find the best you can and snag a few bags. And last, it’s not a picnic without dessert…at a picnic cherry pie might be messy, so go with bars – cherry pie bars.

Have a happy, healthy, grateful and mindful Memorial Day.

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Tips and Notes

A refreshing drink: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nancy-fuller/back-nine-spiked-arnold-palmer.html

The chicken from this sandwich, make ahead, grab some buns, make the slaw, have people assemble on their own: http://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/buttermilk-fried-chicken-sandwich

Buy the best pickles you can find: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/07/taste-test-what-are-the-best-pickles.html

THIS couscous salad! http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/couscous-salad-zucchini-and-roasted-almonds

Also smart to buy the best potato chips you can find: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/05/taste-test-potato-chips.html

And last but not least, a not messy “cherry pie” http://joythebaker.com/2014/05/cherry-pie-bars/

 

Menu 40 – Mother’s Day Menu

I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think taking your mom to a crowded pricey brunch with bad champagne and poorly cooked yolks is the right way to shower her with love. She BIRTHED you for heaven’s sake. All the scars, the body aches, weight gain, bloated feet, the resulting butt wiping, nipple soreness (if you just cringed, imagine how your mom felt), 2AM wake-ups, barfy clothes, whining, cajoling, Cheerios, rotten milk in car seats, playground anxiety, pretending Dr. Seuss is interesting, Kraft mac n cheese smell, lunch-making…(I haven’t even gotten to the teenage years!)…

And your way of saying thanks is with overcooked eggs and questionable hollandaise. *shaking head*

We can do better, and we will. We will make an effort. With moms, effort counts.

When I think of my mother many things come to mind but one of the biggest memories I have is of her making me clothes. She had two sewing machines when I was a kid – one super functional and the other was her grandmother’s – an antique Singer sewing machine. It is quite beautiful. It still works. It mends, it makes, it creates, it is sturdy…just like my mom. Sewing is a bit of a lost art. My mother (and in fact both of my mothers-in-law) is an expert. She made it look easy. And isn’t that sometimes what mother’s do? We get dinner on the table, make/mend/buy clothes, we pick up and arrange, we organize, etc…and it’s like it just happens.

It doesn’t JUST happen. There is work and effort and thought behind all of that. So for your mom, give her some of the same. This is a lunch or dinner menu. It looks fancy, is absolutely delicious and totally doable. Start with Minted Pea Soup, served cold. Add a bit of crème fraiche before serving and it looks gussied up. Next, Potato Crusted Halibut over Wild Mushrooms and Haricot Vert. You make this plate look above and beyond with swirls of carrot reduction and a truffle vinaigrette (hard to spell – not hard to make). Last, in the best glasses you have (cognac snifters would be nice), serve your very deserving mother Panna Cotta topped with a gorgeous Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

All of this can be made and prepped ahead except the halibut, which you cook before serving. If your mother likes to cook, ask her to help with this part. Doing things with your mom is as rewarding as doing things for your mom.

Now get out there and shop. Make this one really count for your mom.

Menu 40 - 5 6 2016

 

Tips and Notes

Soup: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/minty-pea-soup-51154900

So the fish. Apparently to get the Wild Mushroom and Haricot Vert part of this recipe you need this book: http://www.amazon.com/Its-About-Time-Recipes-Everyday/dp/1586420879 It’s worth buying…For the fish part follow this: http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a6136/potato-crusted-halibut-recipe/.  For the Wild Mushroom and Haricot Vert part, basically in some butter and olive oil, saute sliced shallots, then your mushrooms, then your blanched haricot vert. Add salt and pepper. A squeeze of lemon juice. To plate, veg on the bottom. Fish on top. If you buy the book, you get the benefit of fancy truffle vinaigrette and carrot reduction.

The panna cotta: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/easy-vanilla-bean-panna-cotta and the compote: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/strawberry-rhubarb-compote

Menu 35 – Easter Day

When your dad is an Episcopal priest, Easter is more than bunnies and chocolate. It’s about getting to church early so you can get a seat, and seeing parishioners you haven’t seen since the Christmas Eve service. It’s about looking serious while you prepare communion with your dad because you are an acolyte and this represents the body and blood of Christ (“for heaven’s sake stop that smirking”). It’s about wearing a spring dress on a cold April day so you bundle up with a winter coat and make the best of it. It’s about tulips lining the alter. There was one Sunday my mother got all commercial on us and we woke to bunny prints (powdered sugar!) all over the house which eventually led to a monumental basket of chocolates. That was a great day. But then, off to church.

It wasn’t all about bread, wine and hymns. Dinner was an event in our house. Usually ham. Often scalloped potatoes. A green vegetable. I don’t know if we had dessert. My mom isn’t big on desserts.

I almost never go to church now. This is for another blog post OVER HERE sometime. In short, Easter for me is another way to be present with family – kids and grandparents – and enjoy hunting for eggs together, making a meal together (definitely an expression of love and perhaps rising again) and coming together at a table. This year will be no exception. I have never hosted Easter, but if I did, I would make this menu. Lovely deviled quail eggs that are a cute surprise. A braised lamb dish that is (yay!) cooked ahead and dreamy – and comes alive with a bit of lemon. Serve with, as the recipe suggests, over fregola. It’s a day partly about bunnies so let’s make some delicious carrots. And then this cake – I’ve wanted to try this cake for a year. I even bought a special tart pan. Rhubarb is barely around and worth grabbing up. Happy Easter everyone, whatever that means to you and your family.

Menu 35 - 3 25 2016

Tips and Notes

Eggs: http://www.dartagnan.com/deviled-quail-eggs-with-bacon-and-thyme-recipe.html

Lamb: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018017-braised-lamb-with-egg-and-lemon

Order Fregola: http://www.amazon.com/Rustichella-Abruzzo-Fregola-Sarda-17-5/dp/B000B38C6A

Carrots: http://www.marthastewart.com/863971/glazed-carrots-thyme

Cake: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/rhubarb-almond-cake

Menu 34 – Saint Patrick, You Old Dog

I get it – you were over-served. Someone spiked your green beer you spent the weekend hungover. You hate Ireland and vow to never ever chase leprechauns and pots of gold again (while consuming copious amounts of alcohol). St. Patrick’s Day went from a Christian holiday to, let’s say, a religious experience where you ended up worshipping the porcelain god.

Time to redeem yourself. Time to reconnect with all that is good and Irish and enjoy the wonders that come from that beautiful country. Friends, time for Traditional Full Irish Breakfast.

Yes, now that the green haze is wearing off, invite your ne’er do well friends over this Saturday for brunch and go back to the land. The Irish know how to start the day. Pretend you’re in an old Irish manor house and serve a Traditional Irish Breakfast. This breakfast is meant to last you through much of a long cold work day. It’s got several types of sausages, bacon, fried eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and bread and ALL of the above (ex the beans) has been thoughtfully fried up in good old Irish butter. Procuring traditional white and black (i.e. BLOOD) pudding (sausage) might be hard – if you have time, order blood sausages online. If you skip that part and stick with regular pork sausage, I won’t tell. The beans – you can make your own or you can buy the canned version. Eggs are easy, fry them up preferably in the same pan you’ve fried up the meats and the mushrooms/tomatoes. Not a ton of cooking to be done here (you are recovering, after all) but I would urge you to try to make this low maintenance and delicious bread. The idea here is to eat enough to feel better about leprechauns. Wash all of that down with copious amounts of good dark tea, and begin to feel happy and lucky again.

 

Menu 34 - 3 21 2016

 

Tips and Notes

Make this bread! http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2015/06/ballymaloe-irish-brown-bread-recipe/

HERE is a wonderfully descriptive breakfast cooking plan (though it doesn’t include beans but how hard is it to add them? Dump a can of beans on a pot and you’re good to go. Excellent hangover food). I might skip the Boxty as that seems like more cooking than I want to do, but that’s just me being not fully Irish.

ORDER White and Black Pudding.

Menu 23 – Merry Christmas!

The big day is almost here! (still totally behind with the shopping; annual cards haven’t gone out…) but don’t panic – the menu is done!

I have the best memories of my mother’s Christmas dinner. She was a goose lady, and it was delicious, gamey and not tough. She also went whole Anglo and made English Plum Puddings with hard sauce of butter/sugar/brandy…just what a kid needs.

I am doing none of the above. Some things are meant to be memories. This year we are keeping things relatively simple but you know, awesome. We will be enjoying champagne kept cold with frozen cranberry skewers. There will be salmon dip on rye. On Christmas Eve we will prep a pork shoulder with porchetta flavors and roast it Christmas morning (everyone deserves pork fat cracklings on Christmas). The pork requires fennel fronds, so let’s use the rest of the fennel in our potato gratin and bask in potato cream and gruyere glory. Because I live in Brooklyn and fall victim to stereotypes, we are serving a kale salad with crisp lemon dressing – there’s a twist – it has brussel sprout leaves too! And last but not least, chocolate mousse. I’ve recommended this mousse before and just love it. It’s not too heavy but it’s so decadent. And it’s made in advance so there’s no whipping drama.

Merry Christmas to all!

Menu 23 - 12 22 2015

Tips and Notes

Please click SaveGourmet Christmas 2015 Game Plan for my plan – shopping list, recommended timeline, recipes. I also included Chicken Liver Mousse (two mousse Christmas!) because I love it and might be motivated enough to make another app.  Any questions, email me at savegourmet@gmail.com 🙂

Menu 22 – NOGGFest 2015!

I know. There are so many parties. Does it even make sense for you to throw your own? OF COURSE IT DOES! Do it. You know you want to. Especially when I say that you can still be in bed by 10PM watching Netflix! (This assumes you’re like me and want people out of your house by 9. Cool if you’re more of a partier than I am.)

Have an open house and call it NoggFest! People love this kind of thing. Friends can stop by this Saturday or Sunday afternoon, grab a snack and a cup of NOG and wish you the merry merry, happy happies that are so this season.

It’s all make ahead and easy. Make your own eggnog but stock up on extra boxed (we run out every time). Doctor the boxed with nutmeg and booze. Everybody loves Chex mix. Make a lot. Sausage stuffed mushrooms? Oh yeah. Lobster Chowder…I know it’s spendy but it’s the holidays and it’s a real treat. And it’s delicious (thank you Ina). The puff pastry can be assembled early and left in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. Everything looks awesome in puff pastry (look at the pic). Kale salad. Well. Don’t you need something green other than your tree? And these cookies – they are the best ever. They smell like Christmas. Add a little ground clove and they are even better (yes, better than Martha’s original version). Throw it all on a table, mix up the nogg, throw open your doors and it’s HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Menu 22 - 12 17 2015

Tips and Notes

(P.S. this is also a great menu for 12/26, Boxing Day or maybe a New Year’s Day open house…)

You will not regret making your own eggnog…

Even better snack mix

Happiest mushrooms ever

Once again, Ina Garten kills it: Lobster Corn Chowder

This looks SO good: Puff Pastry Salami and Cheese

Come on, you know you feel like you need to make a salad

Add a half a teaspoon of ground clove to these and you will be so happy: Molasses Cookies