By now you know I took a holiday in the kitchen last week. But I did stumble upon two amazing recipes that will forever be stashed in my Thanksgiving file, along with all my various November issues of Bon Appetit, Food&Wine and Gourmet dating back to 1994.
Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto
The first: Mediterranean salad with pomegranate and prosciutto. The recipe jumped out from Bon Appetit circa 2008 when I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand: arugula, mint (not yet frozen in the garden), a pomegranate (I buy them just because they’re pretty and remind me of my grandmother; she had a tree in her yard when I was little); and prosciutto. The only questionable ingredient was fennel. Time to dig through the snow and see if my fennel plant had been fertile enough to yield a bulb. It wasn’t.
Luckily we stopped by Pike Place Market the next day during an outing to see the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. I picked up the remaining ingredients for our day-after-Thanksgiving dinner of “Scampi fra diavolo” – a clever way of making shrimp both garlicky and spicy. The recipe was just a few pages away from the pomegranate salad recipe in the old Bon Appetit. Together, the two made a welcome departure from the previous day’s turkey feast.
The chowder is amazing (this photo, not so much)
The second Thanksgiving keeper was another extracted from an old issue of Bon Appetit – 2007: Turkey Chowder with Wild Rice, Crimini and Pancetta. It actually took me a couple of days to get my act together on this one. First, I had to strip the turkey carcass and precook the wild rice. Then I made turkey stock in the pressure cooker (first time making stock in the PC – 30 minutes under pressure, done. Excellent!) And then finally assembled the chowder which was sinfully rich and chunky with carrots, celery, rice, mushrooms, turkey, corn. Thumbs up all around. Which is a good thing since I’ll be out tomorrow night and the guys will be enjoying round two!
A pattern has been brewing for a while in the schema of meal-planning: Despite the best intentions I lack interest in cooking on most Friday nights. We rarely go out on Fridays, preferring to end a busy workweek with a relaxing evening at home. But that tempo is reflected in the kitchen as well. The longer the week wears on, the less interested I am in standing at the stove.
Scallops in Curry Sauce
As usual, we started off fairly strong on Monday with Scallops in Curry Sauce — actually rescheduled from the previous night’s plans (I’ve found Sunday nights are just as likely to burn out as Fridays.) In this case, the scallops proved to be the highlight of the week.
We moved into Tuesday with a homemade carrot ginger soup and ravioli with bacon and chard. I’ve been hankering for the carrot soup ever since our trip to NYC, but my homemade version from one of the Seattle Junior League cookbooks just didn’t come close to my fabulous snack in the Village. The search goes on.
Wednesday’s barbeque ribs in the pressure cooker prompted one of my frequent warnings about becoming a vegetarian. “You always say that,” my husband noted. It’s true, my body keeps talking to me. On Mother’s Day we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a picnic lunch. The options seem endless. The guys picked up sushi, turkey sandwiches, chicken noodle salad. I went for the tempeh, kale and chickpea salad — a subconscious response to an overload of carbs and meat the day before. I rally on meat for the kids at home because they’re not ready for the tofu-and-beans route anytime soon. It’s no surprise, for instance, that bacon was a major appeal in Thursday’s Spaghetti Carbonara.
So what to do about the Friday flame-out factor? We’ve resolved that Fridays will be subject to the whims of the week. Sometimes it’s a time to cook together, be creative, and enjoy the easy pace of a late dinner at home.
Other times I’ll be reaching for the phone.
This week’s meals were a mash-up of simplicity and duplicity with mixed results, to no surprise.
We started out easy with salmon burgers on Monday. No problem there. By Tuesday fish sauce worked its way into the ingredient list. It was noticed. Kale showed up on Wednesday and was largely ignored by the boys. Then, adding injury to insult, I substituted veggie “protein crumbles” for ground beef in the tacos on Thursday. We nearly had an all-out revolt. Fortunately I had fish sticks as a back-up (I know what you’re thinking, but they do fit into taco shells quite nicely).
So what was I thinking? Truth is that I started the week with little time or energy to think about a meal plan. Menus were scribbled on a card, scratched out and revised daily. We did end up with a couple of winners but largely, meals were spontaneously created from ingredents on hand. Here’s how it shook out:
Monday: Salmon burgers on Orowheat Sandwich Thins; spicy roasted broccoli; french fries; arugula and fennel salad with balsamic vinaigrette.
Tuesday: Thai pork chops with spicy vegetable salad*; rice. *Excellent recipe from Sheila Lukins’ cookbook “Ten” – featuring her top 10 recipes in several food categories.
Wednesday: Chicken with carrots and olives; rice; sauteed kale with garlic
Thursday (a new low in culinary depravity): Tacos with veggie crumbles or fish sticks, cheese and salsa; corn; “margarita” cole slaw (a spontaneous concoction of shredded savoy cabbage, diced carrots and a dressing of mayonnaise and Trader Joe’s margarita mix) and … margaritas, of course!
Friday: Sole with orange brown butter; polenta with goat cheese and rosemary; caesar salad.
It’s Friday afternoon and I’m pondering dinner plans. Fresh fish feels right. Just discovered our local fishmonger has 396 recipes listed on his website. And then I have a few new apps on the iPhone that are begging for attention: Whole Foods recipes; Big Oven; Epicurious.
Decisions, decisions. Stay tuned for results!
Filed under Recipes, Seafood