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Food Notes, Week 18.23
Lots of weekend guests required more advance planning than usual.
The weather in Ontario has been utterly miserable for most of the past week. It's cold, grey, and rainy. There was even snow in the air when I drove back from Toronto on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the daffodils are bravely poking upward and my magnificent magnolia tree is growing flowers like mad, but it still doesn't feel like spring when I have to bundle up just to go outside. I hope that changes soon.
It was another good food week! I have to give credit to my husband for doing much of the cooking, since there were several evenings when I was away. Because I'd made a menu plan last Friday before going grocery shopping, we were unusually well prepared for every recipe and he was able to follow instructions. (Apparently my husband also deleted all the food pics I took on his phone, hence the lack of photos.)
1. Roasted Arctic Char with Chimichurri, Curried Baked Quinoa with Cauliflower
I raid the clearance fridge at the grocery store for fish, buying whatever's been marked down that day and serving it that night. I was thrilled to find Arctic char 30% off, which I covered in olive oil, lemon, and herbs within five minutes of arriving home and put into the oven to roast.
I tried a new recipe for quinoa, baked with curry spices and cauliflower florets, and then whipped up a batch of chimichurri in the blender using whatever sad herbs were in the fridge (parsley, cilantro). Chimichurri is a tangy, bright green condiment made with herbs, vinegar, olive oil, and garlic that adds wonderful freshness to roasted or grilled meats and fish. I ate the leftovers with eggs the next morning.
2. Grilled Steaks, Leftover Curried Quinoa, Salad
In another clearance win, I asked the butcher if he had any marked-down steaks (I had a craving) and he thought for a moment before saying there were, actually, a few darker-looking rib-eyes that he was thinking of marking down later that day. He wrapped up three large ones for me, printed off a much-reduced price tag, and slapped on an additional 30% off. I walked out with gorgeous steaks that cost me around $20.
I served them with the leftover curried quinoa (there was a ton) and a Greek-style salad with chopped veggies and feta.
3. Caramel Tofu, Sautéed Asparagus & Shiitakes, Coconut Rice
This is one tofu recipe that my kids really like. It involves dredging in cornstarch and cornmeal, frying till crispy, then making a quick sweet-and-sour sauce with chili-garlic paste that's tossed with the tofu. I also sautéed asparagus and shiitake mushrooms and served everything with coconut rice.
4. Chicken Burgers with Grain Salad (Lunch)
We had guests for Saturday lunch, which meant a fancier meal than usual. I repeated the same "churgers" (chicken burgers) I'd made the week before, and transformed the remaining quinoa into a loaded grain salad (pictured above) that everyone seemed to love. The key to that recipe, I think, lies in the dressing, which consists of blending a jalapeño with olive oil, tons of fresh lime juice, cumin, and cilantro.
5. Bucatini with Tomato Sauce, Charred Broccoli
Marcella Hazan's famous three-ingredient tomato sauce never fails, and I made a pot of it on a cold rainy Saturday evening. I served it with bucatini, which I consider far superior to spaghetti! It's hollow and thus feels chewier and more fun to eat.
Then I mixed broccoli florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a generous shake of chili flakes, and roasted at 450˚F till charred and blackened. Out of the oven, I tossed it with lots of nutritional yeast for a cheesy taste. It's my favorite way to cook broccoli, and I got the recipe from Carla Lilli Music's cookbook, That Sounds So Good.
In lieu of actual meal photos, I’ll share the snacks table from Saturday night with my friends.
6. Chicken Cutlets with Lemon Sauce, Leftover Rice, Green Beans
Jason was on chicken cutlet-making duty because I was tired of cooking by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around. These are a baked version, and they were fantastic—very flavourful, breaded with a panko-Parmesan crust, drizzled with a zingy lemon sauce. I put a big star beside the recipe because we'll definitely make it again. Served with leftover coconut rice and steamed green beans.
7. Chicken Curry
I used the remaining unused chicken breasts to make my go-to curry recipe (pictured at top). I added a can of chickpeas to bulk it up more and served over steamed basmati with a chopped veggie salad and store-bought naan on the side (no time to make homemade!).
Sour Cherry Amaretti
Knowing I'd have guests all weekend, I thought it would be good to do some baking. I made Ottolenghi's sour cherry amaretti, which are very simple almond cookies blended with a meringue. Instead of sour cherries, I added dried cranberries. They were amazing.
I made a double batch of Bonnie Stern's blueberry-orange muffins from her newest cookbook. It's a weird recipe at first glance: you cut up a whole orange, rind and all, and blend it with oil, eggs, and milk to make the "wet" ingredients. But the orange flavour (from the rind, I suppose) is super intense and comes through the baked finished product, so they're quite delicious. I used the remnants of a bag of frozen mixed berries, so they were more raspberry muffins than blueberry, but still great.
I finally have my hands on a copy of Jenny Rosenstrach's cookbook, The Weekday Vegetarians. I've followed her blog for years and have always admired how she thinks and writes about food, particularly feeding dinner to a family. I've been enjoying reading the cookbook and will incorporate a number of recipes in the upcoming week's (loose) menu plan.
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