Menu 36 – Host an Art Party!

SaveGourmet is an exciting project for numerous reasons. One of the most satisfying elements of this project has been working on a drawing every week. What to draw? How to represent a meal / a theme in an illustration? Once I figure out what to draw, I have to figure out how to draw it. I am (clearly) not a trained artist, so settling on drawing a crab, for example, means I actually have to figure out how one might draw a crab. For me, this process is fun, immersive and meditative.

The benefits of coloring are well documented. This week let’s take that a step further and pick up a pencil and actually draw something. Anything. A flower. Your computer. The mug on your desk. A sphere. For most of us, there comes a sad time in our lives when we eliminate drawing from our activity set, probably around 5th or 6th grade. My kids draw all the time. Why not adults? People say “oh I cannot draw” or “I am not an artist.” Who says! I challenge you right now to stop reading and draw whatever is sitting in front of you. Your phone, most likely (amiRIGHT?). Everyone draw an iPhone – take two minutes.

Back now? Wasn’t that fun! Is it terrible? Who CARES. You made something. The world now has you re-thinking your role in it – not just consumer, but creator.

Let’s not be defeatist. Let’s not assume crayons are just for kids. Make it easy – host a party, an art party, where you set up a still life and other random objects on a table. Lay out watercolors, crayons, pencils, erasers and markers. Send the kids out back to play (because that is what they do – play) and all of the adults sit around your table and draw for an hour. That’s right, an hour. It’s a little silly and nerve-wracking, so serve some cocktails to loosen everyone up but I guarantee people will surprise themselves.

And then, eat. Since we are making everyone think of themselves as artists, let’s make dinner a French theme (I know artists are from all over the world, but let’s give France a little shine – when I think of France, one of the top three things that comes to mind after Food and Wine is Art).

This is not a hard menu and, as is often my custom, it is best made ahead. Start with springy asparagus soup. Pretty, green, easy. Next, coq au vin over buttered noodles. Something of an old school dish – a classic and you can’t go wrong. Last, serve a wonderful raspberry tart. I have made this one several times and it’s delicious, and pretty with the green pistachios sprinkled over bright berries. Happy Spring and happy creating, friends!

(Below is an attempt at watercoloring and I have to tell you, it’s fun! I am not happy with how the bag turned out but I like the red flower, the wine bottle, the brushes and the brown frond on the right.)

Menu 36 - 4 04 2016

Oh and if you want a quick read on art benefits, read this article http://jamesclear.com/make-more-art from James Clear. He says it better than I can and references medical studies backing this up. Then close your phone and pick up a pencil.

Tips and Notes

Take advantage of springtime asparagus: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/creamy-asparagus-soup.aspx

There are numerous coq au vin recipes online – this one is thoughtful and gives you step by step instructions. http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/02/how-to-makethe-best-coq-au-vin-chicken-braised-in-red-wine.html

This is a delicious and pretty tart (a work of art, one might say J). http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/raspberry-tart-with-a-pistachio-crust

And, a great art idea:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/everyones-painting-their-own-abstract-art-and-you-should-too-229632?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Category%2FChannel%3A+Main

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 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 🙂

Thanksgiving Game Plan!

It’s a week away, people. Maybe you’re ready. Maybe you’ve got your plan. Perhaps you’re already cooking.

Or maybe you’ve done nothing and are paralyzed by impending turkey doom.

If you’re in Camp Turkey Panic, let me help. Put aside your fears. You can do this. It’s just another meal, and a lot of it can be made ahead. Just click the link below and see. It’s a Thanksgiving Game Plan I created for myself years ago, and it works. It’s a great menu with updated favorites. I’ve included a shopping list (generally in order of how most grocery stores are laid out); a To Do timeline of what to prep and cook when, and recipes that are broken down by make ahead and make day of. SaveGourmet Thanksgiving Game Plan

Take a deep breath. We’ve got this covered. Any questions, email me at savegourmet@gmail.com.

(PS YES this omits an actual turkey recipe. I go really simple on the turkey itself and I don’t stuff mine. Roasted turkey is about weight and math. Read and do THIS. This is a classic case of keep it simple.)

Menu 15 – Post Trick or Treating “Stopping by” Goodies

I’m not really sure how it happened, but last year our house became a landing pad for several trick or treating families. Maybe it was the open door, the surprisingly cold weather and the open bottles of bourbon. I expect this year will be no different – but THIS year I will be prepared…with more than just, you know, bourbon. After everyone is trick or treated out, the kids can watch Hotel Transylvania and count their candy. The adults can grab a slice of lasagna, a bowl of soup or a wedge of pasta pie (EPIC). Nothing particularly Halloweeny or Spooky about those, but it’s all delicious. The lasagna is a family recipe – from Kansas (yes, Kansas) with a lot of meat. The bucatini pie will have no meat – so everyone should be happy. The soup just sounded good on a cold night. And last but not least, a lot of garlic bread. At least that will keep the vampires away. Have your friends bring their favorite drinks. But open your own bourbon. Somehow Halloween doesn’t seem complete without it.

Menu 15 - 10 29 2015

Tips and Notes

Look how cool this pasta pie is…http://food52.com/blog/14299-why-pasta-pie-is-the-make-ahead-recipe-and-leftover-you-ve-been-seeking

And this farro soup). Page down, you will find it. Make ahead. Perfect on a cold night.

This internet is FULL of garlic bread recipes… this one looks pretty delicious.

Last but not least, my family lasagna recipe. I don’t claim to be a recipe writer – so email savegourmet@gmail.com with any questions! Kansas Lasagna