Menu for the Week

After the deluge of last week, I have been in a comfort food mode. We finished last week with a very relaxing dinner with old friends and I made braised lamb shanks (pictures and recipe to follow in my next post). While I was at the market buying the lamb shanks, I picked up a chuck roast and thought I would cook it in the slow cooker using an old recipe from Everday Food magazine. However, I decided that the lamb braise worked so well that I would throw the meat in a pot and braise it in the oven. We are starting our rainy week with that pot roast for dinner.

With S busy one night this week and leaving with the girls for a long weekend of skiing in the fresh Sierra snow, it won’t be a heavy cooking week. I cooked the pot roast yesterday. Therefore, I’m almost completely off the hook tonight!

Monday: Pot Roast, salad, sliced strawberries
Tuesday: Zucchini soup, panini sandwiches
Wednesday: Vietnamese cabbage salad with chicken
Thursday: Leftover delight?


Menu for the Week

This is a belated menu for the week. How does time fly by so quickly?

Monday: Chicken breasts picatta, risotto with artichokes, green beans
Tuesday: Fritatta with potatoes, tomatoes, onion and cheddar; salad
Wednesday: Papardelle with bolognese sauce, salad
Thursday: Pork tenderloin, rice, broccoli, salad
Friday: (guests for dinner) Martini olives in blankets (hors d’oeuvre), braised lamb shanks, polenta, sauteed spinach, fresh bread, dessert? (our guests will be bringing it…)

Carnitas (Mexican style Slow Cooked Pork)

Out here in the great state of California, we have a phenominal selection of ethnic foods. When I cook, I usually stay pretty close to what I ate as a kid, maybe a bit more adventuresome – but I don’t have 4 children. Still, I like to try new cuisines. Sometimes I make a flop (like last Monday) and sometimes I find a recipe that really works.

I cut out a recipe for carnitas from the April 2008 issue of Bon Appetit this summer, while I was going through my piles of old cooking magazines. It was in a section called “Family Style” and is made in the slow cooker. L, in particular, orders a carnitas burrito almost every time we go to our favorite local taqueria. Carnitas remind me bit of Hawaiian Kalua Pork, the kind you eat at a luau. Moist, flavorful, succulent. I had to try this recipe. When I made it earlier in the fall, and I was just getting back into the kitchen, I was pretty proud of an easy success that took almost no time. When L & J asked about our menu for last week, they were very pleased that carnitas were being served again.
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Monday Blahs

For the second Monday in a row, I made a meal that was, well, not my best. L and S were fine with it (especially the tomatoes), but J just wouldn’t touch it. “Too many herbs,” said she. She was right, but she could have eaten it anyway. It wouldn’t have killed her.

The lesson that I learned from this “C+” fish preparation was that it was the seasoning, not the method that was the problem. Actually, the method was very good. Easy to make, easy to cook, easy to clean. I hadn’t ever broiled fish before and that is what I tried. Fresh herbs might have been better than the dried variety, but I didn’t have any. I think there may have been too much garlic as well.
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On to a New Decade

Luckily, I was in pretty good shape by the end of December so that S & I could host our annual New Year’s Eve dinner. While this year’s menu was not as elaborate as last year’s feast based on luck (hmmm, can’t decide if that one worked or didn’t), longevity and prosperity, we did have plenty to eat and I finally agreed to a pot-luck dinner, which was a good move. We were a smaller crowd than usual, but my friends JGK and LH came through with some delicious dishes.

We tried to have a somewhat Italian/Mediterranean theme, but coudn’t stray from our annual shrimp cocktail and pigs-in-blankets. The year just wouldn’t feel the same. And, I was going to make a chicken dish with fresh lemon and parsley that I learned to make at a class in Ravello, Italy, but then I remembered from my research for last year’s dinner that eating foul was bad luck because your luck could “fly away”. Instead, I went with a fish dish (large silver scales mean $$$) and risotto (also for abundance).

New Year’s Eve Menu

Pigs in blankets (LH)
Shrimp cocktail
Caprese skewers

Blood orange, orange beet and shaved fennel salad with arugula, and Parmesan, citrus dressing

Wild halibut Mediterranean style
Risi e bisi (risotto with peas and parmesan)

Dessert – JGK’s choice…Molten Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and mixed berries!! She used Paula Deen’s recipe.

New Year’s Eve Toast with Limoncello and Dark Chocolate with Dried Fruits and Nuts (mendiants)

For the fish, I used this recipe and changed it up a little bit by using nicoise olives (about 1/4 cup chopped), a big pinch of dried oregano, and the full 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with their juice. This recipe is one of my staples. It is so easy and so good. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it when you prepare the fish. There was not a bit left on anyone’s plate on New Year’s Eve. Well, that is, except for JGK. She was talking and didn’t get to finish hers at the table. But, she finished it in the kitchen while she was preparing the dessert!

Menu for the Week

Week 2 of the new year, new decade. Ready for both old and new recipes. Still keeping it easy. Healthy, relatively.

Monday: Broiled petrale sole with lemon and butter, Israeli couscous, broccoli, roasted tomatoes
Tuesday: Black bean soup (pureed so that it is “broth” for J), European Peasant Bread
Wednesday: Carnitas Burritos, salad
Thursday: Orrechiette with Cauliflower, salad
Friday: Zuni Cafe Chicken with Bread Salad, green beans with shallots and tomatoes, baked apples

Monday Yuck, Tuesday Yum

Last Monday’s dinner – Orange Beef Str Fry – was, in a word, blah. The picture is way better than the taste of the dish. I’d had such hope for a recipe that was dog-eared long ago. L and S were generous and actually ate theirs. J was not so compliant and ate rice, then made herself a bagel. Instead of interesting conversation, I think most of the meal was spent trying to convince J that she should eat what she is served and dinner was fine, that she was whining for no reason. It is hard to convince this kid and even harder when you know the food is mediocre. I’m a stir fry failure. Further indication to me that I should only eat most Asian cuisine at restaurants.

Tuesday was a different story. Our good friend, JO, joined us at the spur of the moment for dinner. Always a treat (and he brought Citizen Cake cookies for dessert!). We were engrossed in conversation, so I forgot to take a picture, even with the camera on the table, until it was too late.

I made another dog-eared recipe from an old copy of Cook’s Illustrated. The recipe was for pan roasted chicken breasts. Easy, elegant, relatively quick. S ate the leftovers for lunch on Wednesday and L asked for them as a snack. She was pretty sad to hear that the leftovers had been consumed already. I tweaked the recipe because of ingredients on hand. Here it is. Make it. It is very delicious.
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