The husband and I celebrated our anniversary at Steele and Rye this week – oh how I love that restaurant! Throughly delicious : see picture below of an appetizer we shared, burrata with charred apricot, pistachio pesto and beet vinaigrette. How creatively yummy! Personally, it would never occur to me to char an apricot which is probably why I don’t have my own award winning bistro.
Back to reality and into the pedestrian realm of my culinary universe – last night I whipped out lemon chicken with asparagus and I even made creme fraiche mashed potatoes for the family which I would never ever in a million years eat as I hate and despise mashed potatoes as regular readers of this blog know. I had leftover roasted potatoes for my serving. The meal was good though Helen fretted all over the place that I hadn’t cooked the chicken enough (I did! I swear it!) and she didn’t like the mashed potatoes (“too creamy”). Oh boy. No commentary from the husband, he got home after I had gone to bed.
Not much to report in the way of meals over the weekend. You would think I would try all the time consuming new recipes during the weekend and save the fast easy ones for the week but that would make too much sense ! Friday night I whipped up a quickie broccoli and swiss chard flat bread pizza for myself (Helen was at a party, husband had leftover mu shu pork). Saturday was steaks and asparagus on the grill and Sunday out with a friend for fabulous company and bad food (how can you screw up a cheese plate? guess what, it can be done !).
BUT the truly exciting thing was all weekend in between laundry/groceries/yard work/bills/etc, I was completely absorbed in this:
Wow, what a great read, interesting and quite thought provoking. I also really liked his other book, The Crimson Petal and the White which came out years and years ago.
(From Amazon) The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber: It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
Marked by the same bravura storytelling and precise language that made The Crimson Petal and the White such an international success, The Book of Strange New Things is extraordinary, mesmerizing, and replete with emotional complexity and genuine pathos.
Why do I continually try to make pork dishes when I don’t really care for pork? Selfless sacrifice for the carnivores in the family? Dogged insistence that somehow this time will be different ? Victimization by seductively scrumptious pictures? Who knows.
So, I don’t like pork and I made mu shu pork wraps last night for dinner, and guess what! I didn’t really like them. Because they tasted like pork. Ha.
The husband loved them. Helen said perhaps she doesn’t like pork either. I might turn this recipe into mu shu chicken wraps as it was reasonably fast and I always enjoy anything in a wrap.
Surprise surprise, the husband and child loved sweet potato and kale veggie cakes whereas they weren’t my absolute favorite. Probably because they had a tad too much egg going on. I abhor eggs. And I also wonder if the oil required to cook something like this offsets the health benefit of a dinner mostly composed of sweet potato and swiss chard? Who knows? But overall not bad and if the family will eat it, I’ll make it again.
If you look at the recipe you’ll see it calls for kale, but I used swiss chard as that is a more palatable green for the family. I also ignored the several different types of flour called for and just doubled up on bread crumbs.
On the side, spinach and roasted tomato chickpea salad.
I had a whole half a head of cauliflower leftover from the casserole disaster recipe so decided to try out a recipe for warmed cauliflower and herbed barley salad. It was pretty good, mostly because of the barley (which I love). I just can’t get all that excited about cauliflower. I also wanted to make salmon stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese, but my fillets were too thin to slice lengthwise for stuffing, so instead I dumped the stuffing on top. Preparing both of these dishes was a little too involved for a weeknight, but they were good.
Weekend wrap up:
Friday night: Rice and beans! I made rice and beans for a Cinco de Mayo party on Thursday and the hostess sent me home with the leftovers. Since I didn’t have to cook on Friday night I had oodles of time to debate with myself over whether to shell out $15month for HBO Go in order to watch Season 6 of Game of Thrones.
Saturday night: New recipe ! Balsamic Chicken with Orange Glaze Sauce. Pretty good and healthy to boot. Give it a try.
Sunday night: Mother’s Day so no cooking for me. My Dad hosted a lovely lunch for the mothers in the family and even bought us all roses, thanks Dad! Then the husband took us out for dinner. I choose Jack’s Abbey and had pizza and 2 beers. Which was a horrible choice as I had to get up at 4:30AM today to run (don’t ask) and was not feeling great. Apparently 2 drinks is 1 drink too much for yours truly.
I think it is panko crumb theme week. Last night I tried a recipe for chicken milanese which was remarkably similar to the fish with parsley sauce. Except that it was chicken. With no parsley sauce. But both were breaded and sautéed enough to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I thought it was fairly good but not fabulous. Helen was not a fan and I wonder if that is because there is mustard involved in the coating. The husband liked it. Two out of three !
Not a very inspiring picture, but at least you can see that we also ate our veggies- roasted broccoli and carrots with a tahini sauce which wasn’t bad but didn’t even remotely pair well with chicken milanese. I must have had a moment of insanity when I wrote up the week’s meal plan !
Here’s an old favorite – fish fillets in a delectable creme fraiche parsley sauce. The recipe calls for sea bass but I used haddock. I love sea bass but 1) it wasn’t available at my grocery store and 2) if it was, it would be shockingly expensive. Haddock was fine. I served it with a balsamic onion spinach salad with a tiny bit of goat cheese.
Not sure if I’d rate this one super healthy, the fish is breaded and sauteed and it takes a fair amount of oil to get it brown and then there is the matter of the creme fraiche… But it could be worse I suppose.
Dinner Disaster Alert! How does Butternut Squash Gratin with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce sound to you? Not so good? What if it was accompanied by a mouthwatering picture of beautifully roasted squash drenched in a slightly oh so yummy looking browned cheesy looking sauce? Would you try it ? Even if you knew the “cheesy sauce” was pureed cauliflower and almond milk? Do you convince yourself because it looks SO GOOD, how could it not taste fabulous?
I bit. I’m such a sucker for a delicious looking picture. Which has done me in multiple times and you would think I would have learned my lesson by now. But I have not.
Here is the picture that seduced me:
Here’s what came out of my oven :
It was disgusting. And for all my ranting about food waste, there was nothing else to do with this disaster except to chuck it in the compost. Yuck.
I finally made it back in the kitchen on Friday night. My cousins Amy & Dorrie were staying with us and I thought they would enjoy a family favorite : make your own burrito night! I made a big pot of (brown) rice and beans, shredded up a rotisserie chicken and had salsa, avocado, cheese and even sour cream (which personally I find disgusting but realize other people enjoy it). I also had roasted sweet potatoes to eat on the side which rounded out a reasonably healthy and also yummy meal. Plus I must have subconsciously thought all the cousins were showing up for dinner, as I ended up with at least two more meals worth in leftovers.
This worked out perfectly for me not to cook last night as I had big plans to geek out (or greek out, ha ha) and go over to Wellesley College and see a performance of Medea. Here’s a little known fact about me, I’m a big fan of Greek tragedy : Trojan Woman, Antigone, The Eumenides – love it all! Medea is a particular favorite and the performance was 1) 20 minutes away 2) $5 3) outside – I’m in !! The husband is off on a boys’ weekend so I dragged poor Helen with me. I don’t think she loved it (“too much monologue” HA) and of course the story is more than a little disturbing but she was a good sport. The performance was in a small stone amphitheatre in a little grove of trees – so perfectly eerie for the play. We wrapped up in blankets and had a thermos of hot tea to sip while we listened to Medea lay her evil plan to murder her children to spite her two timing husband. What a fun Saturday night!