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Weekly Meal Planning

Posted: April 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner, Lunch | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

[Happy photo of the day: Pepper, getting a belly rub.]

For the past few days I’ve been making more concerted efforts to plan my meals so that I know what I’m going to eat for dinner before 4:30 pm. Cutoff time of doom. So at the beginning of the week I sat down with a big stack of magazines and cookbooks to gather some ideas for some good home made dinners.

Sunday Night: Curried Red Lentil Soup.

I decided to make myself some lentil soup. In a medium soup pot, over medium heat I added a few tablespoons of olive oil, and a small pat of butter. I sauteed 1/2 a red onion, the white part of a leek, about 1/2 a link of chorizo that was in my freezer, and 3 small roughly chopped carrots in the pot, for about 20 minutes, until everything was starting to get brown and soft.

At that point I added 1 cup of red lentils, and 1/2 cup bulgur wheat. I added in a pinch of red pepper flakes and a small knob of ginger. I then added four cups of water, brought it to a boil, and then turned it down to simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring every ten minutes or so.

At the end, I lightly toasted a tablespoon of curry powder, and added a tablespoon of tomato paste. I added this into the soup, and a can of light coconut milk, and a heaping teaspoon of sea salt. It’s lovely when you put the salt in, because it goes from a very boring dull soup, to something absolutely delightful. I let everything simmer on low for about 20 more minutes, until I couldn’t wait any longer to eat. I topped my bowl with some chopped cashews and grated coconut.

Lunch next day:
This soup only got better on day two. I also brought some fennel and celery salad, with fresh parsley, dill and lemon dressing.

Monday Night: Grilled Chicken Pita Salad adapted from Sunset Magazine’s “30 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Dinners” from this months’ issue. Devon’s mom gave me a subscription to Sunset this year, and it’s grown to be one of my favorite magazines. I grilled a chicken breast and the asparagus on my griddle pan, got the bulgarian feta and kalamata olives from the cheese shop on 24th, and made my own pita chips by popping a pita in the oven at about 400 for 8 minutes. Easy peasy.

Lunch the next day:
I brought the second chicken breast that I grilled, and a few of the leftover spears of asparagus, extra cherry tomatoes, and a lemon. I also brought an apple for snack.

Tuesday Night: Braised Swiss Chard, and Mac + Cheese Ever since trying Tori Ritchie’s braised swiss chard with cannellini beans, I’ve been meaning to go back and recreate this recipe. I did it last night as a nice complement to some Annie’s Mac and Cheese which I’ve been craving for weeks. I didn’t put the cannellini beans in this batch, and I used spring onions, carrots, and chard from my farm box.

No leftovers today for lunch, because I have the day off!

Matzo Ball Soup

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Today was a rainy day off, so I sat in my house cleaning and decided that it was a perfect day to make some rich chicken stock for some Matzo Ball soup. I broke every single passover dietary law yesterday at the Edible Art Contest, so I decided that I was going to make up for it with tonight’s dinner.

Around noon, I went to Drewes’ and got myself about 3 pounds of frozen chicken backs. Sure, I could have roasted a chicken, and then used the carcass, but chicken backs give the nicest flavor, and Drewes’ carries bags of the bones specifically for stock making at only 99 cents/pound. It’s a bargain!

When I got home, I wanted to refresh my stock making skills, so I decided to head to the You-tubes, to watch this episode of Alton Brown (part one and part two). People forget how handy Youtube is for learning kitchen skills. You can look up an Yiddish bubbe making kreplach, or any culture’s grandmother making their traditional foods. Seriously, try it, it’s fun!

And so after 20 minutes of Alton’s best advice, I dumped the chicken backs into my big Le Creuset, added a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, a quartered onion, a big handful of parsley, about 10 Szechuan peppercorns, and covered it all with cold water. I brought it to a boil, and then simmered the golden brew, uncovered, for about 5 hours. At which point I made my matzo balls, unceremoniously, with Manischewitz mix. Well, Manischewitz mix made with some tasty Tomales pasture raised eggs. I dumped them in the strained stock, and then served it with the 5-hour stock carrot and some fresh dill.

It’s not my grandmother’s, but it was a pretty good consolation. If you want to make everything from scratch, I’d highly recommend Deb’s recipe for Matzo Ball Soup on Smitten Kitchen.

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