Ambition in the kitchen

November 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Posted in gastronomy | 3 Comments
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I’m not sure what came over me*, but I got super inspired/organized on Sunday and sat down with some cookbooks and came up with a menu for the week and went shopping and prepped all the food and put it in Tupperware and in the fridge (like a walking advertisement for a women’s magazine!). This week’s menu:

Monday: Barefoot Contessa Indonesian ginger chicken with roasted sweet potato and squash and brown rice (mostly for Tim — see footnote). Verdict: I made the marinade Sunday and let the chicken sit in it overnight. Melting the honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic wasn’t really any different from marinating in Soy Vey with some extra fresh ginger, which would have been much easier. Also, this is the problem I have with baking chicken: by the time I’m satisfied that it’s fully cooked, it’s rather dry. The roasted sweet potatoes were delicious though — just tossed in salt and pepper, roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Tuesday: Turkey chili. On Sunday I sauteed onions and the chili spices, browned the ground turkey, and diced red and yellow peppers. In the morning, it all went into the crockpot with two cans of crushed tomatoes. I ended up working late, so nearly 12 hours later I served it over the left over brown rice from Monday. Verdict: Delish delish delish. I used the Barefoot Contessa chicken chili recipe (halved the onion and replaced the baked chicken with the ground turkey). To make it a little less healthy, I topped it with sour cream and shredded cheddar, of course.

Wednesday: Tim was out, so I had left over mac and cheese that Janet had made for Buggy (with chopped broccoli, so it’s healthy! Right?) and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from last Friday. (Cookies not helping the blood sugar — see the footnote, below…)

Thursday: Sunday’s dinner was Barefoot Contessa’s butternut squash apple soup (I also added to her recipe some fresh ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon).  I put two Tupperware’s full in the fridge for tonight, and three in the freezer for future dinner emergencies. I’ll serve it with leftover refrigerated French bread, warmed in the oven with some Fontina cheese. Actually, I’ll probably be working late tonight, so Tim can heat up his little Tupperware whenever, and I’ll have nuke mine when I get home. The perfect who-knows-what-time-you’ll-be-home meal

Proof (aside: I don’ t know why this picture is so huge!)

Friday: Costco whole wheat raviolis, which I will pluck from the freezer, and steamed broccoli, which I had cut up Sunday night. This obviously will not be an earth-shattering culinary experience, but at least I didn’t have to chop the broccoli, something I hate doing so much that it keeps me from eating broccoli (which, generally, I like) more frequently.

*I do know what came over me. Two things: (1) Ellen and Wildon came to dinner on Saturday night, and I made the Barefoot Contessa’s roast chicken with lemon. We were talking about the movie Julie and Julia, and Ellen said she would have to find herself a cookbook to make her way through. I have most of the BC’s cookbooks — she really can do nothing wrong — and so I decided to just dive in to those instead of getting myself overwhelmed on Epicurious. (2) I have my glucose test next week. I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy, and was on a restrictive no-carbs/no-sugar diet. This time, I was really good during my first trimester with my carb/sugar intake, but once the doctor told me how good I was doing I immediately got lazy and started baking cookies every week and resorting too often to our weeknight standard: pasta with Classico sauce. I’m not a big meat-eater and so don’t often think to cook it, but really do need to eat more protein and less carbs if I want to avoid gestational diabetes again. So while we’ll have rice with the chicken and the chili, it will mostly be for Tim (I can have like 1/3 of a cup per meal…)

Overall verdict:  

  • It took a bit of work on Sunday to get this all organized. We didn’t really have anything else going on (it was rainy, we were all still tired from Halloween on Saturday night), so I’m not sure it’s realistic to do this every week. In addition, I’m not yet sure all the effort was balanced by the end result, although it may end up being so once/if I become more efficient at planning and prepping. 
  • But it is nice that I have some chili and soup in the freezer.
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Blogroll addition: mmmmm

December 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Posted in gastronomy, tax law is sexy, weekend | 6 Comments
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mark-bittman

Mark Bittman in his tiny kitchen. His appliances, however, are still nicer than mine!

This is the time of year when I want to cook. I want a Kitchen Aid mixer on permanent standby on my counter for cookies (see this great article in today’s Times about the perfect temperature for butter. I suppose Kara and my habit of tossing the butter in the microwave before making cookies or fruit crisps is not all that great for the final product); I want an orange Creuset dutch oven permanently bubbling with stew on the stove top. (Alas, my tiny city kitchen is big enough for neither — I can’t even store them as the cabinets are too narrow, the counter space too scarce! Although Mark Bittman’s recent article on his own tiny kitchen has quelled my whining, somewhat — I’ll just pretend I’m in Paris, no? Where people make five course meals on two burners?) 

Somehow I have found myself throwing a dinner party for 10 (four couples who are “Tim’s” friends, graciously trekking in from the ‘burbs…) this Saturday and am currently obsessed with the menu. I’m not a big meat eater nor, as a consequence, cooker, so while the Barefoot Contessa’s leg of lamb on potatoes (throw it in the oven for two hours with some rosemary) seems easy, it also calls for a meat thermometer, which kind of scares me. Several friends have recommended a pork tenderloin, which I’m not sure I’ve ever even eaten (so how could I cook it?) Risotto is always a good standby for me — the proscuitto and the butternut squash in the recipe I’m contemplating might be an acceptable replacement for real “meat,” but will it be enough for my meat-loving husband and his friends? And can one really pull off risotto for 10? So here are my two menu options for now (in both cases, dessert will be mini cupcakes ordered from Sweet Cupcakes, just down the street):

Menu 1:
Smoked salmon & black bread
Shrimp cocktail (the seafood in lieu of a real meat main course)
Butternut squash risotto
Roasted tomatoes
Wilted spinach with lemon
Cheese plate

Menu 2:
D’Avignon cheese with fig spread and rosemary crackers
Endive with caramelized onion spread
Rosemary leg of lamb on potatoes
Roasted tomatoes and/or wilted spinach with lemon

Fortunately, to help me through my dinner party crisis, I have found a new blog for my Google reader — “Three Clever Sisters.” Of course, I have a soft spot for families of three sisters.  These three not only knit and crochet amazing things, but are also quite formidable amateur cooks. And since I know for a hard fact that one is a tax lawyer with a baby, I feel a new resolve to reignite my former recipe obsession.

Also, Three-L and Fortune’s Feast have merged into a new blog by another lawyer-cook, here at Letters to a Young Attorney, a brilliant and poignant idea for a blog.

Anyway, any and all comments are most welcome!

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