Menu for the 1/2 Week

We’ve been on the road and eating out so much, that all S & I want to do now that we are home is to eat in. With the exception of a delicious home cooked meal in Boston, and a great home – boat, actually – cooked breakfast in Maine, we have had every meal at a restaurant or hotel for the last 10 days. Some of our meals were truly extraordinary. Some of our meals were remarkably lousy (Yellowstone is not a haven for good food).

Here is my plan, subject to change on a whim, for the next few days:

Wednesday: Velvety Carrot Soup, Chicken Sandwiches
Thursday: Pasta with Sauteed Arugula, Garlic and Lemon; Tomato and Green Bean Salad with Shallots
Friday (with Grandma & WG): Lamb Chops, American Ratatouille, Fresh Bread, Berries with Cookies

Simple, fresh, lots of vegetables. Yea.

When Life Gives You Oranges

Marmalade on Toast
Living in California, we have the right climate for growing citrus. When we bought our house, we counted up the number of citrus trees and it was an astounding eleven. These aren’t full size commercial production trees, but dwarf trees that reach about 10 feet max. Nonetheless, we have more oranges than we can use and plenty of lemons, too. Some of the fruit is better than others – none are juicing varieties.

So, nine years ago, when we settled into having a “grove”, I looked at the oranges and thought, “Marmalade. I should make marmalade.” I’d never canned anything in my life. I mused, “I can do this.” I looked through my old standby cookbooks, and took the plunge. Ever since then, I have produced at least a dozen jars of marmalade every year – most times it is more like 24 or 36, because I have taught lots of people to make it. And, I give it away as gifts. Either people are being very nice, or there is an unusually large contingent of the population that loves marmalade. Given the plethora of varieties of marmalade at the supermarket, I’m hoping it is the later.

I usually make my marmalade in early February, when the oranges turn orange, but are on still on the sour side. Oranges are green before the rind turns orange – prompting many people to ask if we have lime trees. The sour oranges give the marmalade a nice flavor and combined with the bitterness of the rind, it always turns out pretty well. Since we have multiple varieties of oranges, I use them all: tangelos, navels, valencias, mandarins, calamondins. At least I think those are the varieties that I’m using – our trees aren’t marked.
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A Turkey Burger Success!

Turkey Burger Dinner
The last time I tried turkey burgers, I had a total flop of a dinner. I was determined to try again, knowing so many people that love turkey burgers.

In my paring down of the piles of cooking magazines, I ripped a page out of Bon Appetit, from August 2008. Just one year ago. The recipe is called “Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam, Olives and Feta”. I don’t know whether it would have sparked my interest, normally, but I read through the recipe and the combination of ingredients appealed to me. The recipe says that it is also good made with ground lamb, which I love. Rrrrrrip, in the “keep to try” pile.

The tomato jam wasn’t really a jam. It was a thick sauce. The flavor, when I stuck to the original recipe was a little dull and, well, not very jammy. So, I added more sugar and some crushed red pepper – sweet and heat. I was pretty happy with the result, but not crazy about the texture. I may fiddle with this one, because it was a good complement to the burgers. I think maybe I should puree the “jam” or make it with crushed tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes. Hmmm.
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Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Fish Sauce
Make this!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad is delicious! No batteries while I was cooking or eating and thus, no photos of the delicious salad. But you need to have fish sauce – pictured above.

This salad was reminiscent in flavor to Green Papaya Salad. But, without the effort of trying to find green papayas and shred them. I don’t know whether this salad is “authentic”, but it is healthy, delicious and very easy to prepare.

I used this recipe for Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Cooking Light magazine, exactly, except that I used purple cabbage because I had it in the house. L would love this salad. J would probably turn up her nose, but might deign to try it because she craves Vietnamese cuisine. The recipe says that it serves 6 (215 calories per serving), but that may refer to relatively small, non-main course portions. I made about 2/3 of the recipe and S & I polished it off for dinner. That means you are eating a lot of bulk, raw vegetables. You feel quite full, but the salad is very light.

If you have never purchased fish sauce, it can be found in the International aisle with Thai foods. It lasts pretty much forever in the refrigerator and is great with stir fried noodles. The brand above is not meant to be an endorsement. That was simply what was available!

Menu for the Week

Not having kids at home, we have been out for many a night and this week will continue the trend. When there isn’t any such thing as a school night or homework, it feels o.k. to have dinners late and go out with friends. Loving it.

This week, we’ll have dinners at home for 4 or 5 nights.

Here is the plan:

Monday: Vietnamese Chicken Salad, peaches and plums
Tuesday: Turkey Burgers with tomato jam, olives and feta; melon
Wednesday: Dinner for One! Eggs on toast with asparagus.
Thursday: Out
Friday: Out
Saturday: 4-4-dinner. Summer Corn Soup, Grilled Flank Steak with Spicy Pepper and Watermelon Salad, Dessert – TBD

All of the recipes (except the eggs) will be new. One of the to-do’s on my list since I’ve been home has been to go through my magazines and pitch what I don’t want or need. I’ve gone through many, so far, and have ripped out the recipes that look good. The recipes above are from magazines both recent and ancient. Can’t wait to try them.

4th of July Recap

DSC02452
I’m still full. Actually, that isn’t true. I’m full from eating leftovers for lunch.

The new recipes that I tried for our celebration last night with JS and JO were a hit.

First off, we had wonderful starters prepared by JS. Perfectly ripe honeydew melon draped in shaved proscuitto and creamy, rich deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika were devoured by our intimate group.

DSC02446DSC02448

I was too busy lounging around, kid-free, during the day to mentally time the meal and I forgot that I wanted to bake a fresh loaf of bread (from dough that I had made a few days ago – from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day). While it takes no time flat to make the bread dough, it still takes a while to let it rest out of the fridge and then to bake. And, I forgot about the beets. So, after we talked and talked, while I was getting the fruit tart ready, I looked at the clock and said, “Whoa, look at the time. Is it o.k. if we wait a little while for dinner?” “Sure,” S and our guests replied. I got out the bread dough, put it on a pizza peel to rise for 40 minutes and got started on the beets and beet greens.

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When in the course of human events

it becomes necessary to have a huge dinner in honor of the liberties we now posess, which are a direct consequence of the struggles of our forbears…. Having just been to Washington, D.C. and to Mt. Vernon, in Virginia, I am all the more appreciative of the hardships that were suffered (and are being suffered) so that I can enjoy this day. This is truly a great country and you feel it all the more when you are able to walk right in to your Representative’s office or go have breakfast with your Senator (Dianne Feinstein hosts a constituent breakfast, weekly!).

Here’s the menu for 4th of July, 2009. We are being joined by our great friends JS and JO. Who will be bringing the hors d’oeuvres. There will be happiness pursued at our house today!

Deviled Eggs
Melon and Proscuitto
Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho
Fresh Baked Wheat Bread
Grilled Boneless Pork Chops
Beets and Beet Greens
Berry Tart

I thought that I’d try the gazpacho recipe that my parents told me about. My sister-in-law, AB, made it for them and generously shared the recipe with me. It is from a book by Tyler Florence and the recipe is on the web in lots of places. One can be found here (look under soups) and another can be found here.

Both of the recipes in the links above are by Tyler Florence and they are completely different from eachother with respect to quantities. Also, they are both completely different from the recipe that AB gave me! I’m going to make her recipe as it seems tried and true.

I’ll report back with reviews and photos of the new recipes.