Menu 38 – Spring, At Last!!

Are we ALL singing Etta James by now, “At Last”??!?! Spring finally decided to show up and warm us from what was an endless winter season. I mean come on – opening day required beer, hot dogs, hats gloves and blankets. Enough is enough!

So…At Last.

There is a wonderful tree in front of my house that we watch bloom every year around this time. It’s like watching change in motion as the tree buds and grows leaves. The other night at dinner the kids and I watched a marvelous bird enjoying the breeze and the sun. I tried to replicate the bird here – so proud and happy.

Time to celebrate Spring with a dinner. Start with a Sparkling Paloma which is citrusy, so a nice “goodbye!” to winter when citrus is at its best and a refreshing way to ring in the new season. Next a biting bruschetta with radishes. I love radishes and these offer crisp radishes with capers all on top of crusty bread. You cannot go wrong – and they’re pretty. For the main it’s a slight hodge podge with grilled lamb chops – always so good – and a bright Lemon Spinach Orzotto. And to finish, have (almost summer) strawberries in this lovely compote, that you serve with orange almond shortbread.

Now THAT is how you ring in Spring. Enjoy it while it lasts!!

 

Menu 38 - 4 21 2016

Tips and Notes
The cocktail: http://www.loveandlemons.com/sparkling-paloma/

Radishes my friend: http://frenchpressmemos.com/spring-tastes-like/

Grill some lamb chops. Very little seasoning. Salt pepper…

What is orzotto? Glad you asked: http://www.purewow.com/recipes/Lemon-and-Spinach-Orzotto

Save room for dessert…http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/orange-almond-shortbread-with-strawberry-compote

 

Menu 32 – Scandinavian Night

In 1999 I did a bike trip through Denmark where the roads are flat, the people are pretty and the beer is awesome. I remember leaving Copenhagen and saying “I know I will be back.” What a wonderful colorful city. So when I asked my mom what she’d like for a menu, I was happily surprised to hear “How about a Scandinavian menu?” Excellent! It’s always good to please your mother. And it also gave me a chance to research new cuisines, and attempt to sketch a Danish port. What could be better.

My dad always wanted to be Scandinavian. He was half Finnish and kept grouping himself with the Scandinavians but really, that is a stretch. We also share a family rumor from my mother’s side that we have Viking roots (based on some hand issue my grandfather had that a random doctor in Arizona said had only been traced back to the Vikings…I know. Did the doctor quack when he said that?). Back to the food….

This is a simple menu with nods to Denmark, Sweden and Norway. I wanted to go fancier but my mother is the QUEEN of simple (except when it comes to popcorn toppings where she lets it all hang out), and since this is her menu, I thought I would oblige. If I dare say, it’s about as Scandinavian as you can get – pickled herring, delicious roast pork with cracklings (go Denmark with the cracklings), a new way to make potatoes (hasselback, accordion potatoes!), a cucumber dill salad and Sabayon Lingonberry Mousse. I chose simple dishes as I found those were very traditional and because I’m suggesting you make something that sounds and looks fancy “Sabayon!” but is actually pretty straightforward and must be made ahead. I just love the idea of this creamy, brandied mousse layered with pretty tart lingonberry jam. Go to Ikea and grab those lingonberries (Challenge! Try to get out of Ikea with JUST the lingonberries!). Then make everyone in your family research interesting facts about each Scandinavian country. See? I took care of your dinner, your dessert and your table talk.

Menu 32 - 3 3 2016

 

Tips and Notes

To start: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/herring-in-mustard-sour-cream-on-rye-bread

The pork, thank you very much: http://sweetsoursavory.com/blog/2013/11/17/danish-pork-roast-flskesteg

It’s not summer but who cares. Maybe like age, summer can be a state of mind….http://www.outside-oslo.com/2013/06/21/cucumber-salad-for-your-scandinavian-midsummer-menu/

Potatoes http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-hasselback-potatoes-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-199763

The Pretty Pretty Dessert: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sabayon-lingonberry-mousse-109137

Menu 29 – What to Take a Friend Post Surgery

“I asked ‘Can I bring dinner?’ and within 30 seconds got a “YES” reply.”

This was the text my sister relayed to me when a friend of hers came home from surgery. So my sister hopped to and got right into planning her menu.

My sister is a really good friend. She’s full on in the “it takes a village” camp when it comes to child-rearing and being part of her community. Her first thought is “How can I help?” When I had my first child, she came up and stayed with me (non-maternal me) for a week and helped out. She was a god-send. She didn’t ask, she just unloaded the dishwasher, took out the trash, folded laundry. She held the baby – through all the crying. She is THAT friend. You want her in your ‘hood.

And you want her to cook for you when you come home from surgery and would kill for a home-cooked meal but can’t get it done yourself.

Don’t tell me when you look at this that it’s too much work. YOUR FRIEND JUST HAD SURGERY! And my sister – mother of two rambunctious boys; pregnant lady with an incoming girl; and a NICU nurse who works nights – managed to make all of this in about half a day for her friend (to rave reviews). So there. Stop complaining and be a good friend. On to the menu…

Menu 29 - 2 11 2016

 

This is unapologetic comfort food. The ranch dressing doubles as crudité dip. Be sure to include paper plates and disposable flatware. Yeah yeah I get the environment issues but your friend just went under the knife – they don’t need to do any dishes.

DISCLAIMER: Reconsider menu if your friend has gastro issues. I don’t know what to do in that case. Maybe broth and a movie.

BONUS! You could also tuck in a bouquet of flowers or you can print this menu in black and white and let your friend have some Zen coloring time! DOWNLOAD here…Menu 29 – 2 11 2016 BW

Tips and Notes

The Pork Roast. Take in one piece to maintain juices. http://chefmommy-brandao.blogspot.com/2012/03/pork-tenderloin-with-pan-sauce.html

Hash Browns – so bad and so good.  http://www.thechildatheartblog.com/cheesy-hash-brown-casserole/

Your own Ranch Dressing Mix. http://happymoneysaver.com/diy-copycat-homemade-hidden-valley-ranch-mix/

Guilty pleasure – Stouffer’s Escalloped Apples.  Try this homemade version…http://my-extraordinary-life.blogspot.com/2010/02/escalloped-apples.html

Please, you don’t need a recipe for a Big Green Salad.

Dessert! Or Breakfast! Pound cake…http://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/05/lemon-blueberry-pound-cake/

Menu 28 – The Super Bowl…of FOOD

“Because I’m all about that food, that food, NO football…”

 OK I’ll stop. But I will admit, I had to look up who’s playing. Don’t we all agree that unless your team is in it, the Super Bowl is really about commercials and snacks?

And what could be better! Fun commercials and an excuse to eat ridiculously indulgent food. I’m all over it like Defense on the QB 🙂 (I’m trying over here. Really.)

It’s not the Super Bowl without dip. This Blue Cheese Caramelized Shallot dip is ugly (it turns kind of blue and brown with the cheese and the shallots) but it doesn’t matter – it’s delicious. Get the best potato chips you can find and cut some vegetables if you feel you must. Set this out right away. Also, Jerk Wings. There’s really no recipe for these – but they’re always just right. Go buy Walker’s Wood. Dump a bunch of it in a bag with your wings. Pour in a beer. Close it and marinate for a few hours. Roast the wings for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. They’re sinus clearing and amazing (just don’t touch your eyes). And now the main event – the Cuban Sandwich. I’m always looking for reasons to eat a Cuban Sandwich. Break it down – roasted pork, ham, cheese and a pickle – all pressed and delicious. For a Super Bowl crowd, make it like a slider. These sandwiches beg for rice and beans on the side. Try the recipe below and set out a bunch of hot sauce. To finish, toffee bars. So good and bad at the same time.

We’re not trying for a lot of coordinated flavors here – we’re going for indulging in awesome hot sticky slow roasted fattening deliciousness. Wash it all down with a lot of local beer and no matter who wins, you will be a happy watcher.

Menu 28 - 2 4 2016

Tips and Notes

Make this dip. Don’t think twice. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/blue-cheese-and-caramelized-shallot-dip-104792

Cuban Sliders!! SHOWSTOPPER http://www.beantownbaker.com/2013/01/cuban-sandwich-sliders.html

Must have Rice and Beans: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/rice-cooked-in-black-beans-em-moros-y-cristianos-em-364829

Brownies are so last season. Try these gooey sticky toffee bars. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/amy-thielen/toffee-bars.html

 

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

Menu 21 – Get Those HOLIDAY Cards Done!

Getting holiday cards is great. Preparing holiday cards is dreadful. All of the signing and stuffing and addressing. It’s self-inflicted pain – we could outsource most of that to a nifty service but my husband (god bless him) likes to add a personal note to the cards. Fine. Since it’s a pain, let’s try to make a night of it. Enlist the kids. Invite another family over with their dreaded box of cards and have a festive meal. Reward yourself with treats. Everybody wins.

Start with Negronis and an Italian meat board. Everyone likes to pick at things like this. Then serve Chick Pea – Pasta Soup which, because you’re a great planner, you made ahead of time. Last, enjoy the biscotti you also made the day before.

I know what you’re thinking…you’re thinking this is a bad idea…eat soup while I stuff cards? Sounds dumb. Absolutely NOT dumb – just break up the timing – stuff cards/drinks and apps/address cards/enjoy the soup/lick cards/have dessert! See? It works. And it’s far better than licking 200 envelopes by yourself while listening to the news and eating Pad Thai out of a box. Trust me.

Menu 21 - 12 11 2015

Tips and Notes

I want to be able to smell THIS SOUP.

Never made biscotti? Not hard. Very rewarding. Try these.