let’s eat: on the menu

on the menu 2

This is a bit of an extended version of let’s eat – I’m carrying last week over until tomorrow, and then the series will be on hold for a bit as I sit on my duff and let the dinner come to me…

It’s been awhile since we did a Blue Apron box, but this past week was a good time for us to do it. I emailed them the week before to switch my delivery date from Wednesday to Friday because I knew my parents were in town over the weekend and I wanted the food to stay fresh until the start of the next week. I usually do the main menu planning and shopping over the weekend – and I’m not going to lie, it takes awhile. I knew that I didn’t want to do that with my parents in town, so it was nice to start off the week with the menu planning and shopping already done for me.

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Sunday night we made the Tofu Bahn Mi with Napa Cabbage and Peanut Salad. These sandwiches were delicious, and gorgeous. There was a notable change this week in my dinner prep photographs on Instagram too – natural light, at dinner time. (At least the clock thinks it’s spring.) My counter looked so pretty and colorful. Tofu, I’ve discovered, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really like it (all four of us). Blue Apron uses it occasionally, but they always send silken tofu. It’s a little too fragile for my liking. I prefer to use extra firm, and I drain it by stacking folded paper towels on the top and bottom of the brick, and then sandwiching it in between plates, stacking several on top to press the water out. The dryer the better. Extra firm tofu can be cut into cubes, tossed in olive oil to thoroughly coat, and then fried in a skillet on super high heat. 

Despite the flimsier tofu in this recipe (that made tossing in the spices tricky) everything was spot on. The cucumber and carrots are pickled while you make the rest of the meal, the sriracha mayo spread, the spicy fried tofu – all of it was delicious. The purple cabbage was tossed in a peanut and sesame oil dressing which was plenty salty enough without extra salt  – a great crunchy, healthy side dish for the sandwich. I’d make this again, for sure.

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Monday night was Mushroom Stroganoff with Brussels Sprouts and Fresh Egg Pappardelle. I’m going to have to say that Deb Perleman’s Mushroom Bourguignon has completely ruined me, and nothing in roughly the same category can measure up. This was very fresh and very tasty, but not make-it-again-spectacular… until I had the last of the leftovers today for lunch and they rocked my world. I think the flavors and sauce really melded together with the extra time – less brothy, more creamy.

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Tuesday night was the best meal of the three – Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds, Carrots & Broccolette En Papillote with Feta Cheese & Crispy Shitake Mushrooms – now there’s a mouthful. While you cook bulgur in one pot, you make the most amazing smelling lemon-shallot butter in another pan. Think melting butter with shallots, garlic and thyme and lemon zest – with a shot of lemon juice in the end, off the heat. The butter is stirred in with the bulgur, and you fill two parchment paper bags with a layer of it, then top with the carrots and sweet potatoes and broccolette. The bags are sealed, and then the whole thing steams in the oven until finally emerging, hot, fragrant and perfectly cooked. The portions were very large, but it tasted so good we could have eaten it all. M stopped at the halfway point because he wanted to have another meal of it – and then we talked about how good lunch was the next day. If you can find the bags (or make them yourself), this is a keeper.

Things were getting really busy at work by Thursday, and so we all met up for a late dinner at Twin Oak. We eat here occasionally (it’s a good central location near some of our weekly errand places) and it’s pretty good. The girls break their vegetarian home streak with a full rack of ribs that they split, and the vegetable sides are always different and delicious. M and I usually split a salad and a pizza and go away fed and happy.

Friday we cleaned out the fridge and the freezer, and Saturday (all day) was a blizzard of activity. In the middle of it all, I managed to get to two grocery stores where I picked up food for the next four days. I debated making some meals for the freezer, but I decided I had enough on my plate. Instead, I focused on making four delicious dinners before retiring from dinner duty for awhile.

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Saturday night was the recently posted Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli, Cheddar and Wild Rice Casserole (cooked in a skillet and finished in the oven). Banish those velveeta flashbacks from your mind forever with this one.

Sunday night I made two (sort of) pies – Caramelized Onion Galette with Blue Cheese and Honey which pairs nicely with Pablo Neruda’s Ode to the Onion, how I love Eat This Poem so. It also pairs nicely with the Purple Plum Torte I’ve made before, only this time it was a hundred times better. Maybe because it shared some oven time with the onions? Who knows. I just know it goes down easily with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I also roasted some strawberries and rhubarb in the oven with a little sugar to make a topping for some key lime ice cream I have stored in the freezer for post-surgery treats. (Ha! No make ahead frozen casseroles for me! What do I do to prepare? Ice cream.) No one complained about the extra long oven warmth since it was snowing outside. Again.

If you are still reading, thank you. I know it feels like this week is going on forever. In more ways than one.

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Monday night brings us to this very night, and we did our own veg rift on the Irish staples of cabbage and potatoes. I tried out The Yellow House’s Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad and paired it with a recent favorite, these Tarragon Oven Fries. Double yum. The cabbage is a little bit tricky without a nice dinner knife – we really need to get some sort of alterna-steak knives – but I threw manners to the wind and ate it up. I’m chasing it a few hours later with some more of that plum torte.

Tomorrow night is easy comfort food night – a Sweet Potato Puree with Roasted Corn on top and some grilled, crusty bread on the side. Easy to make, warm on the inside, filling and nourishing, before the fasting. I’m going to miss these food conversations, but it won’t be for too long. At least I’m going into everything healthy and happy and full. 

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