One Of These Meals Is Not For My Family

Want to really confuse a pizza deliveryman?  Answer the door with oven mitts on and pause long enough before paying him that the unmistakable smell of roast chicken and potatoes wafts out to the porch where he’s standing with, well, a pizza.

The roast chicken, potatoes and salad were for a family down the street.  The pizza was for us.  You see, my husband is a dying breed.  He’s a hard-bound encyclopedia set salesman and with the spread of the internet, sometimes he and his co-workers have to be gone for long stretches of time, looking for cities that haven’t been ruined by computers like the one you’re reading this on.  When another encyclopedia salesman is on the road, the rest of us band together, bringing meals and helping with watching each other’s kids as necessary.

So, for the brave fellow encyclopedia salesman’s family, dinner last night was:

What’s funny is my kids feel like they got the better of the two dinner options:

P.S. If you ever meet my husband, please don’t tell him about this blog.  He’d be crushed if he knew we owned a computer and discovered I wasn’t getting all of my information from our beautifully bound set of  encyclopedias in the living room.

– Catherine

Salmon, Kale and Mushroom Rice Bowl

I could eat some version of this meal every night and be very happy.  I love the combination of ginger, soy and sesame oil.   I love Asian flavors so much that I was convinced that there must be some Asian influence in my family tree somewhere.  When I was seven, I told my class that I was Korean which completely confused my teacher and made it very difficult for my non-Korean parents to pick me up from school.  My mom finally told the teacher that she had bulgogi on the stove at home and needed to get going.  That night over our bulgogi dinner my parents let me in our lineage.  It turned out I was not Korean after all, but a combination of Lebanese, French Canadian and Pennsylvania Dutch.  How does that happen?

Back to dinner, I served this over jasmine rice in a bowl so that all of the flavors would run down into the rice.  The salmon, kale, and mushrooms are each flavorful enough to stand on their own but together creates a kind of deconstructed stir-fry with the rice absorbing the best of all of it.  That seems like that could be a metaphor for something.

-Andra

Ginger Soy Salmon

2 lbs of salmon

1/2 cup soy

1 tablespoon of ginger

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of honey

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade.  Pour marinade over salmon and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat a grill pan over medium high heat  and place the salmon skin side up cook for 4 minutes.  Turn fish over and move to the oven for 5-6 minutes, or until fish is cooked.

Kale and Mushrooms 

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of mirin

2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of soy

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

1 pound of kale, chopped

1/2 lb mushroom, sliced

In a wok, heat the sesame oil and mirin.  Add the ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute.  Add the kale and cook until wilted.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushroom soften.  Removed from heat and add the soy sauce and sesame seeds.

Linguine with Fried Eggs and a Weekly Dinner Evolution

My husband ran the Wildwood Half Marathon here in New Jersey on Sunday morning.  I wish I could say that running 13.1 miles was something unusual for him, but he does it most weekends.  He just usually does it alone.  On the occasion when he’s running an official race, we treat it like a special occasion and do unusual things like skip Happy Hour and eat as many carbs as possible the night before.

We’ve talked a lot about what constitutes the best pre-race dinner over the past year.  Andra is convinced that the unique combination of complex carbs and protein in Polenta, Swiss Chard and Eggs makes it the best choice.  I’m convinced it should be meatless, but I still vote for pasta.  As of Saturday night, I believe we have a new winner.

I made a variation of Mark Bittman’s Spaghetti with Fried Eggs.  In the step where the olive oil is infused with garlic, I added a sprig of rosemary.  I didn’t have spaghetti, but I loved the heartier linguine with it.  I used five eggs for one pound of pasta and there was enough for the four of us with seconds and leftovers.

The run went so well that we didn’t skip happy hour on Sunday.

For dinner on Sunday, I made our weekly staple, “Quiche with Whatever You Have Without Going to the Store”.  (That’s the official name of it.)  We eat this often, as you can see here and here.   Here’s the rundown of the easiest, last-minute dinner (other than pasta) in my repertoire.

Preheat the oven to 375° and defrost the frozen (gasp), roll-out pie-crust.  Crack six eggs and whisk them with a cup of cream, salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  Roll out the pie crust into a pie dish, tart pan or springform pan.

Clean vegetables and sautee them in olive oil, butter or (best yet), saved bacon grease (that’s what’s in that tall ramekin).

Pour vegetables into the crust.

Top with cheese.  Any kind.  We like goat cheese.

Top with egg and cream mixture.

Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.  Yes, I said jiggly.

Serve with salad.

– Catherine

Curried Chicken Salad Collard Green Wraps with Lentil Salad

We had a health-night tonight after a not-so-healthy week.  I won’t go into the details but we needed a dose of green.  I made a curried chicken salad with leftover chicken from our weekly winner-winner-chicken-dinner.  I rolled the salad into collard green leaves with julienned red peppers and basil.  I also made a lentil salad with many of the same flavors of the chicken salad with the addition of a little freshly grated ginger.

The six-year-old resisted the collard greens at first but the lentil salad went down so quickly, the whole plate disappeared really without anyone realizing it.  I looked everywhere for the collard green leaf, under the table, in the trash, in his pocket, but I couldn’t find it.  I’m convinced he ate it.

Thankfully, I have enough for lunch tomorrow.  Or maybe breakfast,  it’s been known to happen.  Ask Catherine about how many bowls of lima beans she’s had before noon.  Some might call it a problem.

-Andra

Curried Chicken Salad

2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded

1 stalk of celery, diced

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

1/4 teaspoon of Garam Masala

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of coriander

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 Collard Green leaves, large, tough part of the stem cut out

Combine all of the ingredients and then roll into a collard green leaf just like making a burrito. Add other vegetables and fresh herbs according to your taste and what you have on hand.

Lentil Salad 

1 cup of lentils

2 cups of chicken stock or water

1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

1/4 teaspoon of Garam Masala

1/2 teaspoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of coriander

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 carrot, peeled and diced

salt and pepper, to taste

Bring water or stock to boil and add the lentils.  Turn down the heat to simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness and drain.

While the lentils cook, combine the next eight ingredients to make the vinaigrette.

While warm, add the vinaigrette to the lentils with the diced carrots and salt and pepper to taste.

Summer Roast Chicken

We eat roast chicken pretty often.  Because we eat it so much, I have a couple of tricks to give the meal variety.  In the winter, I add grainy Dijon mustard and thinly sliced onions to the bed of potatoes and I’ll occasionally make a beurre blanc sauce for both the chicken and the salad.  But in the summer, I try to keep the meal light with lots of lemon and fresh herbs.  I’ll sometimes use butter on the chicken, but if I’m trying to keep it tasting light and am using lots of lemon, I’ll only use olive oil for the potatoes and chicken.  Last night I got a handful of herbs (rosemary, thyme and parsley) from the garden and stuffed them in the cavity with a quartered lemon.

For the potatoes, I just used lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon wedges and more fresh thyme.  The lemon wedges roast and get caramelized along with the potatoes that I cut into rounds instead of wedges because they cook more evenly and have more surface area to get crunchy.  I roasted the whole thing at 375° for an hour and a half, checking with a meat thermometer toward the end  of the cooking time to ensure I didn’t overcook it.

I’ve tried a number of cooking vessels for roast chicken and I love the cast iron skillet, but when you have a chicken as big as I did last night, you’re sort of stuck using the largest dish you have, which in my case is this enormous Pyrex.  Pyrex isn’t glamorous (unless you work in a laboratory), but it’s dishwasher safe, which I love.

You know what would be glamorous?  Roast chicken in one of the new Dansk Kobenstyle enamelware bakers that Crate and Barrel is selling again for the first time in more than 20 years (shipping when they’re available):

Image via Crate and Barrel

Image via Crate and Barrel

But, when you have a four-year old and a two-year old, dishwasher safe still beats glamour.  Most of the time.  If this were under the Christmas tree, I’d happily hand wash it after roast chicken every week.

– Catherine

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