Menu 27 – Ladies’ Night!

It takes forever to find a date. Babysitting/husband/partner/work/travel schedules have to align. But when that night arrives, you cherish it. You know what I mean, that evening when it’s just you and your girlfriends. The talk swings from houses to hair to new business ventures to books to how to form an LLC to the best kids’ apps to wine to how to tell your assistant her skirt is too short and on and on. Make it happen. And make it happen over dinner, at someone’s house. Restaurants are great but at someone’s house you can sit on the floor with friends and laugh and get to the table and grab a bowl of soup and then head back to the floor for dessert.

But we all know that everyone doesn’t eat everything. Now things get hard. What to cook?

The answer is soup – THREE soups to be exact…one meat, one seafood, one veg. Offer a Boeuf Bourguignon Soup (made in advance) and a side of noodles; Ina’s Seafood Chowder (made day of); and last, make Potato Leek soup (in advance) for a vegetarian option. Voilà! Problem solved.

That should cover just about anything people throw your way in terms of restrictions. Also, people always ask what to bring. Get someone to bring a salad – a great winter salad of under-appreciated collard greens and life changing crispy shallots. Ask another to bring dessert (which MUST MUST MUST be these amazing lemon bars!). Stocking up on wine goes without saying. Now go send an email to those friends and pick a date. You won’t regret it.

Menu 27 - 1 28 2016

 

Tips and Notes

The Salad: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/collard-green-and-radish-slaw-with-crispy-shallots

The Soups:

http://www.marthastewart.com/296351/a-perfect-pot-of-boeuf-bourguignon-soup

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/seafood-chowder-recipe.html

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/potato_leek_soup/

The Lemon Bars!  (I cut the sugar in these down to 3/4 of what it says)

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-heavenly-lemon-bars-with-almond-shortbread-crust-recipes-from-the-kitchn-191597

 

Menu 26 – Airplane Food

“Yay! Airplane food for dinner!” said no one ever. More like “I am running late and oh no there is McDonald’s but I don’t want that…guess I will buy in flight hummus and chips for $20.00”

Going on a trip? Don’t leave yourself in an airplane food lurch. Pack your own. You’re already packing clothes, it’s not that hard to pack yourself something good to eat on that plane. You’ll have to plan a little in advance (and cook) but how hard is that? And the leftovers you leave in the fridge for your family will make them miss you that much more.

There’s an amazing little shop near me called BKLYN Larder. If you’re in the neighborhood, go there and take your food winnings to Prospect Park for a lovely picnic. They have the World’s Best Travel Sandwich…Ham & Gruyere with Spicy Pickles. It’s life changing (so good, so durable, and so crave worthy). We’re going to make our own version for our fictional airplane ride.

Taking food on a plane is tricky – shouldn’t be smelly. There’s a chance the gruyere and aioli here might be a tad strong, but you’re not using much of it, so take the chance. It’s not like you’re taking egg salad on the plane (total travel foul).

What’s our menu? Treat yourself right and start with spiced nuts. You can buy them or make a batch yourself. They keep nicely and are a good way to pretend you’re in First Class. Bring some sliced cucumbers and add them to your iced water and you’ll feel downright spa-like. Next, the perfect sandwich. A little garlic aioli…not too much, a toasted hard roll, a few slices of shaved gruyere and the best ham you can find (sliced thin) and this is critical – a few slices of McClure’s spicy pickles. A good grain salad is a nice accompaniment – try Farro with Swiss Chard and Radicchio (grab a fork at a behind security deli). And to finish, bake yourself a batch of oatmeal cookies and take one (or two) on the trip. Have a nice flight!

Menu 26 - 1 21 2016

Tips and Notes

Buy some spiced nuts or make these: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sugar-and-spice-nuts

Remember to take some sliced cucumber. It makes your water that much better.

The Sandwich: Inspired by BKLYN Larder: get the best ham you can find and have it thinly sliced. A hard roll – nothing mushy. A baguette would do. Good gruyere, also sliced thinly. Slice the roll, spread with a little aioli on one side (recipe here) and a little butter on the other side; layer your ham, then gruyere and a few thin slices of these pickles. Top on, press, wrap.

Farro with Swiss Chard and Radicchio: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/farro_with_swiss_chard_and_radicchio/

Basic Awesome Oatmeal Cookies http://allrecipes.com/recipe/19247/soft-oatmeal-cookies/

Menu 25 – Almost A Week of Homemade Dinners!

The elusive homemade weeknight dinner.

We can do this.

You can do it almost ALL week. Don’t fret. Just a LITTLE prep time this Sunday and you too can exit the land of plastic container pre-made mystery food. Enlist your kids to chop. They’ll love it and feel important.

Seriously, give this a try. Below is four days’ worth of easy meals that you can have on your table within 25 minutes of taking your coat off. Do this Sunday:

  • Roast a chicken (on the larger side – 4.5 lbs.). Then cut off the meat and refrigerate. Throw carcass into a slow cooker. Roasting a chicken is easy. Do not be intimidated by a 4 pound dead bird.
  • Make rice pilaf
  • Chop an onion, carrots, celery, peppers and broccoli into bite sized pieces. Place them in separate containers and refrigerate them.
  • Steam your broccoli.
  • Make overnight chicken stock in a slow cooker

I can hear you fretting. I promise none of this takes long. A chicken roasts basically on its own. Pilaf is slightly fancier rice. Don’t like pilaf? Then just make rice. Pre-chopping is a god-send later in the week. And throw all of the remnants (chicken carcass, carrots, celery, some onion, bay leaf, cover with water) into the slow cooker and let it go all night. ALL RECIPE  SUGGESTIONS BELOW.

Then here is what happens:

MONDAY: roast chicken breasts and rice are reheated. Make a quick salad (greens, maybe some chopped veg if you want, dressing). DINNER.

TUESDAY: grab salmon fillets on your way home. Upon arrival home heat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper the salmon; squeeze of lemon. Into the oven for about ten minutes. While they are cooking, sauté your already steamed broccoli with a little garlic. Serve them together.

WEDNESDAY: Bake some cheesy polenta. Cook your Italian sausages in a little oil. Remove when done. In the same pan, sauté your onion and peppers. Plate – polenta, sausages and peppers. Cheese on top. Easy.

** After the kids go to bed, make this recipe for Chicken-y Noodles. You already have the vegetables cut. You made stock the other day. After it’s made, put it in the fridge.

THURSDAY: heat up your chicken noodles. Add more broth if you want it soupier.

FRIDAY: ok enough already. Order pizza!

None of this is fancy but it’s also pretty doable. And good tasting. See what a little prep can do?

Menu 25 - 1 15 2016

Tips and Notes:

Roast Chicken: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/my-favorite-simple-roast-chicken-231348?. SKIP the trussing! No need. It’s done when internal temp is 165.

Rice Pilaf: you know, a little twist on rice: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-simple-rice-pilaf-46100. I add mushrooms to mine and cook it using beef consomme.

Baked Salmon: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-salmon-in-the-oven-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-204559

Baked Polenta http://saramoulton.com/2010/11/creamy-baked-polenta/ (NOTE the heavy oven use this week. Ovens are your friend)

Chicken and Noodles: improvise from this recipe. You’ve already got most of it prepared: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/homemade-chicken-and-noodles/

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock: this is a good one, but don’t feel the need for this level of meticulous chopping: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/11/perfect-uncluttered-chicken-stock/

 

Menu 24 – Yes, We Can Still Ring in 2016!

I love everything about the holidays – the music, the decorations, the festivities and the ending. I love when they stop. It’s just so much of everything that by the time January rolls around I am thrilled to shut it all down and start fresh. It’s cliché but healthy to lighten up the eating, slow down the drinking, to begin anew. That is what this week is about. At the beginning of the year, we always find a need to clean out closets and drawers (partly driven by my craziness – my husband can see it coming around December 30th when I start asking how much we really like or need anything in the house that isn’t bolted down). It’s a great time to set the budget for the year (I do a monthly budget – I can’t help it, I am a CFO of a business and my house). We plan vacations for the year which come around so fast. With all of this happening, we still need to eat. So let’s do that with a nod to lucky New Year traditions. Black-eyed peas are a must and this shrimp dish is delicious and so easy. Collards go alongside to represent money. Why not? And eating ring/round shaped cookies is a nod to good fortune (these linzers look delicious!)

It all makes donating that coat you haven’t worn for six years so much easier.

Menu 24 - 1 6 2016

Tips and Notes

Garlicky Shrimp and Black Eyed Peas – Despite what the recipe tells you, this is a one pot wonder. The recipe suggests that you cook the shrimp separately from the other stuff. Here is what I do. I start with the shrimp, garlic and salt and pepper in the pot. I lightly cook them and then remove them to a separate bowl (make sure you get all the garlic out). Then I do the bacon and the veg etc. in that same pot. Why lose that shrimp taste? Seems silly. I add the wine and broth etc. and once that has all cooked, towards the end I add the shrimp back in. It’s just easier that way. This is great with garlic toast too – but I think everything is better with garlic toast.

Collards – try this straight up recipe.

Cookies – I have two discs of sugar cookie dough leftover in my freezer (you don’t?). Punch out traditional lucky New Year ring shapes. Bake. Decorate as you wish, or eat plain – they are delicious. OR if you don’t have extra, make these from the wonderful Lindsey http://hartandgarnet.com/l-is-for-linzer-and-lindsey/ . Who doesn’t love linzer cookies!

Also, take a moment and draw some stick figures. This is surprisingly fun. You can bring so much life into a little man or woman made only with a few marks. Give it a try.

Guest Menu! Michael Granne’s Feast of the Seven Fishes…

We have a number of friends who love to eat, and a handful who love to cook. Of the latter, while they are all great, there are one or two who really stand out. One is our friend Michael Granne. We know Mike through his amazing wife Rebecca and as soon as we met, we all started eating. Mike is a lawyer by day (need a lawyer? click HERE to see Mike’s bio) and a phenomenal cook by night (really, the rest of the time). He is a multi-course, challenge your senses, artful-plating kind of cook. Yes, the chef-y kind. But he does all of this at home. He will tell you that much of his craft he learned from his father (best potato leek soup maker ever) and I will tell you that his artfulness and creativity in cooking also comes from his late mother, Regina Granne. We had the pleasure of meeting Regina on several occasions. Her artwork speaks for itself (I really like the Liberty paintings – please click here and peruse) and lives on in her son’s cooking. Finally, Mike and Rebecca have two boys, twins, who are forces of nature in and of themselves. Zachary happens to also share in his family’s artistic ways and he drew a wonderful picture of his dad’s Christmas Even menu. While this is a traditional feast of the seven fishes, I don’t know why this menu couldn’t also be enjoyed throughout the year. I’ve included a number of pictures (that I stole from Mike’s Facebook page :-)) of the dishes themselves – please enjoy and be as inspired as I am by this wonderful home chef. You can see how artistry, care and craft are passed down from generation to generation.

 

Zach s Christmas Eve Menu-page-001

Not your average clam chowder
Not your average clam chowder
Fried Smelts
Fried Smelts
Squid Stuffed with Wild Arugula
Squid Stuffed with Wild Arugula

 

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