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.
Tips and Notes
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.
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.
Tips and Notes
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.
The kids are back into the school swing and it’s time to have some folks over to gossip about the teachers. Host a Back to School Open House! Nothing hard here – but a few old favorites guaranteed to make everyone happy. Set out homemade onion dip with good/evil dippers (vegetables and chips – good chips). With a chili bar and hot dogs, the possibilities are endless. Chili dog topped with onions? Chili over rice with lots of cheese? Plain hot dog (maybe not). And everyone loves Tater Tots. Make the chili and dips ahead. Organize your toppings. Cook your hot dogs and keep them warm in the oven. And when did you last bake snickerdoodles, the king of cookies? The time is now!
Tips and Notes
Beer – where to start. Use THIS as a guide.
Onion dip. Why mess with a good thing, right? But we’re going homemade here. Pick one of THESE
My friend Sharon makes incredible, award winning chili. Look HERE
Tater Tots – don’t even CONSIDER trying to fancy these up. Get to your freezer aisle and buy the ones we know and love.
Snickerdoodle’s from the amazing Smitten Kitchen
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.
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.
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.