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 20 – Eat WELL

So Thanksgiving happened and you ate ALL the pie. Not a crumb left in sight. There were also midnight drumsticks dipped in gravy and fried stuffing patties topped with cranberry sauce (creative, yes?). You drank nothing that wasn’t caffeinated or alcoholic. Elastic waistbands were required.

Friends, the holidays are long. Let’s maintain a little self-control and not totally crap the Healthy Bed (Crass. Don’t care). I overindulged last year and my memory of that Christmas is more about feeling huge than enjoying myself. You may not need rules. I do. Here are mine.

  1. Alternate all alcoholic beverages with water. Lots of water all day.
  2. Start the day with a protein and vegetable breakfast.
  3. Snack on whatever you want as long as you eat something healthy beforehand. Want a cookie? Great. Have a few slices of raw chopped peppers first.
  4. No food magazines after 9PM. This is a year round rule – late night perusing makes me hungry. Big holiday meals and leftovers don’t need any help from cravings I can avoid by say, reading a book instead of looking at food on Pinterest.
  5. Move around. Keep up your exercise routine.

The theme => No deprivation. All excess in moderation.

Set yourself up right with a meal that isn’t 6,000 calories. A few days of virtue is a healthy way to appreciate the cookies, the butter, the creamed spinach…remember, it’s barely even December and the parties are just starting. Try this delicious and easy fish dish. Over spinach and a little rice, you will be satisfied. There should be dessert. I listed broiled grapefruit (which sounds really fun) but this would also be a great time to have banana ice cream – link below – which is delicious and best eaten the day you make it.

Let’s treat this holiday season like the marathon it should be.

Menu 20 - 12 4 2015

Tips and Links

Thank you, Ellie Krieger: Thai Style Fish in Coconut Curry Broth

Try Broiled Grapefruit OR Banana Ice Cream!

Menu 18 – Dinner for TWO before the holiday craziness begins

Before the family arrives…before the eggnog hangover…before your house is covered in turkey and tinsel, might I suggest reconnecting with your spouse over a nice dinner for two. It’s the only responsible thing to do. You owe it to yourself as a couple. After all, you might be in the same space through the holidays but face it, you’ll hardly talk other than the occasional “Please cut Uncle Joe off and take his keys.”

But the holiday list is long and daunting (and yet “Quiet Dinner for Two” never seems to make the list). So to make this happen, you’ve got to keep it simple. Simple, but delicious. We start with oysters. A pain in the ass for ten (all that shucking); a treat for just two. Then a really tasty cod dish which marries so well with chorizo. It’s hearty over beans, and in advance of 5,000 calorie a day eating, a relatively virtuous treat. To end, let’s head to Italy and enjoy a quick and delicious dessert….espresso over ice cream. It’s so good and so easy, and let’s face it, you need all the caffeine you can get. Pick a night between now and just after Thanksgiving. You and your partner deserve it.

Menu 18 - 11 19 2015

 

Tips and Notes

Awesome Easy Cod Recipe

Eyeopener Dessert

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 17 – Real Weeknight Dinner

Evenings are hectic. We start with the best of intentions, but then the kids are tired, everyone’s starving, the milk spills. It’s a weeknight.

Do not be discouraged. Even with a messy house and tired kids, you are still minutes away from a good tasting, healthy meal on a weeknight. Yes, you are. The answer is not McDonalds. The answer is fish. Don’t assume your kids won’t like it. On this we must remain firm – they won’t like it if it never appears in front of them. We must try. I’ve seen mine eat it and my fully formed opinion is that they want to dislike it more than they actually dislike it. How can I expect them to develop their palates if I cave at their resistance? Besides, I have a secret weapon. Soy sauce. In general, soy sauce conquers all. Tonight, we cook a healthy fish meal that is ready in minutes for tired, hungry, backpack dumping kids (thank you, Melissa Clark).

When we get home the first thing the kids do after dumping their backpacks is open the fridge. I will be ready. Raw vegetables and dip…Asian inspired dip which you (yes) made ahead. This is a tactic I regularly employ – a bowl of cold vegetables for them to pick at while I cook. They are starved and it’s a great time to work the vitamin chain. While they eat that, I will quickly steam mild tasting flounder and greens. I usually have rice cooked ahead and tonight is no exception. If you still think this won’t work, offer dessert (it’s not a bribe…it’s an incentive.). A little green tea mochi (they are cute and fun) keeps the Asian theme going and provides a great bribe incentive for kids to clean plates.

Give this a try Monday or Tuesday.

Menu 17 - 11 13 2015

Tips and Notes

Asian Style Dip (add the liquids less than recommended – if it needs more you can always add more later)

Flounder with Ginger and Garlic Mustard Greens

For the mochi, check your freezer section. A little handheld ice cream fun.

Menu 14 – Apples All The Time!

So you went apple picking…and now you’re feeling overrun. What on earth are you going to do with 85 apples? It seemed so fun at the time. The web is filled with ideas for apple overflow (pies, sauce, butter). But maybe you want to create a meal, or, surprise surprise, a menu out of your apples! There is a restaurant near us called Applewood that hosts theme dinners where an ingredient is highlighted throughout the meal. That is what I am doing here. Bring on the apples!

We start with a cocktail. Forget apple martinis – we are going hard cider here with The Pork Chop from Miami’s Yarbird. Next, a big bowl of a crisp salad from Eye Swoon (click, it’s gorgeous – and do not skip the basil, it makes it). Because you called 10 friends to join you, you need a huge pork shoulder like the one from Pioneer Woman roasted with apples and onions, and smartly paired with wild rice (we need more wild rice in life). To finish, you’re taking everyone to Russia with a simple and gorgeous Apple Sharlotka from The Smitten Kitchen. Happy eating!

Menu 14 - 10 21 2015

Tips and Notes

But first, a hard apple cider cocktail…The Pork Chop

and then, this lovely crisp SALAD…served alongside Pork Shoulder With Apples and Onions and wild rice.

To finish, this gorgeous Apple Sharlotka

Really? You still have apples? Ok. Pickle some (http://food52.com/recipes/16743-quick-pickled-apples) and serve cold the next day with leftover pork. Chop them and mix them with breakfast sausage (more pork!) and freeze. Infuse some vodka and make this cocktail: http://www.whatkatieate.com/recipes/apple-ginger-and-cranberry-vodka-cocktail/. Mix up apple pie filling, freeze it and use in pie, a galette or over pancakes.

Still more? Jeez. Drop them in brown paper bags, create a cute drawing and give them to your dinner party friends as parting gifts (look at you the creative host).

AND then there’s THIS great idea – use the apples for the table! Look at this gorgeous table design from the super talented Little Green Notebook!