11 – 17 September 2010

Another busy weekend – so busy in fact that I actually went out last night for a fun night with the school mums. First off, our friends, A and M, and their two active little boys, came over for a bbq lunch (homemade Greek-style burgers, roasted kipfler ‘fries’ and a big cos salad with anchovy mayo),  then our friend K and her little one joined us for dinner, and a night of AFL watching (bad luck Swans!) while I was out on the tiles (well, really, at a Learning Ladder party). Then today we spent the morning planting with a local eco group. The upshot is that there was not much time for shopping (or planning…). As a result, our menu for the week looks something likes this:

Saturday (something’ new’) – Pumpkin, provolone and sage pasta bake. After an insanely busy week that included a mufti-day, speech and dress rehearsal (not to mention, work), my take on something new was a re-fashioned oldie but goodie and toddler crowd-pleaser, mac and cheese. What made it ‘new’ was that I folded some pumpkin puree, grated pecorino  and mozzarella into the bechamel along with the regular cheese, then topped it with provolone and a little sage. And I now have a couple of containers for work lunches in the fridge.

Sunday (cook once, eat twice) – Marcella Hazan’s roast chook with lemon, served with roasted lemony dutch creams, pumpkin, sweet potato  and broccoli. If you think you’ve heard of this before, you are right. I have a confession to make. Being Fathers’  Day, as it was last Sunday, and only arriving home at 5 pm after a very long and enjoyable lunch at N & S’s, last Sunday’s anticipated roast chicken just didn’t happen (quelle horreur!). Instead, we had had such a huge feast that it was pumpkin and red lentil soup that appeared on the table instead.

Monday (Sunday, take two) – Chicken and leek pot pies. Have some leftover sour cream in the fridge so I’ll make Maggie Beer’s sour-cream pastry , then use it to top bite-sized pieces of chook braised with leek, garlic, mushrooms and some of the reduced chicken stock that is simmering away on the stove right now.

Tuesday (stir-fry/rice/noodles) – Vietnamese-style stir-fried beef with garlic, fish sauce and asparagus. Steamed rice and bok choy tossed with oyster sauce alongside.

Wednesday (protein plus) – Leftover lamb tagine with mograbieh (Israeli couscous). Need to get to my daughter’s joint  school performance by 6:30pm and my wonderful cousins are babysitting her brother, so something from the freezer is the order of the day.

Thursday (veg/pulse/eggs) – Some kind of tortilla/frittata. Probably classic Spanish  potato tortilla as I still have some Rodriguez Brothers chorizo in the fridge and am always looking for an excuse to eat it.

Friday (pasta) – Penne with provolone, pancetta and asparagus.

Until next week’s dinner…

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Next week’s dinners 4 – 10 September 2010

Another week, another menu. If you want to find out what got me into the brave new world of meal planning, please check out the ‘About’ section of the blog. So, this morning’s shopping expedition resulted in some beautiful diced lamb leg (in the oven right now), oyster blade steaks (simmering on top of the stove as I type) and T-bone steaks for the freezer, all from the new local Greek butcher who I now plan to visit often.

In spite of the weather, it’s still the start of spring in my kitchen, which I am cleaning out in honour of the season (well, I needed some excuse!). Bits and pieces lurking in the shadows of my pantry dating back to my recipe-testing days (annato seeds and mograbieh, anyone?) will be used over the next few weeks (according to my meal plans at any rate).

With Fathers’ Day lunch at our dear friends, S and N’s, tomorrow (the planned yum cha was ditched as the restuarant bumped us), and the dads off to enjoy their Fathers’ Day dream of watching the Swans vs Carlton out at ANZ Stadium, it’s going to be a simple dinner tomorrow night. But, before I jump the gun:

Saturday (something new) – Lamb, pomegranate and quince paste tagine with said mograbieh. This dish was entirely inspired by the dab of quince paste, bitthe of poemgranate molasses and jar of mograbieh I never seem to get round to using. I have tossed the lamb with ground coriander, marjoram, rosemary and a little seasoned flour, then browned off and added some softened carrot, onion, celery, chopped flat-leaf parsely stalk and  garlic. Added pomegranate molasses, a spoonful of quince paste, tomato passata and chicken stock, and left to cook slowly in my le Creuset at 15oC for the past 3 hours. The mograbieh is on the stovetop now and I’ll just quickly steam some beans and serve the lot in bowls, with  plenty leftover for the freezer.

Now to those annato seeds – I found a veinamese-style braised beef with carrots, lemongrass and annato in Corinne Trang’s, Essentials of Asian Cuisnine and, with a few tweaks, it is now in my other Le Creuste slowly simmering away on my stove for another time.

Sunday – S is a fabulous cook and I’ll know we’ll only feel like something on the simple side tomorrow night after the inevitable feast and Greek hospitality we’ll be treated to tomorrow. So, roast organic chook with lemons it is, inspired by Marcella hazan’s recipe in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (what is it with Essentials books tyhis weekend!) as a change from my usual rosemary scented roats chook. Roesmary will still sneak in on the roasted crushed chats and sweet potato, and there’ll be broccoli alongside.

Monday (Sunday take two) – Will use the stock from Sunday night’s bones to make my take on a cheat’s paella, with chicken, chorizo, broad beans and peas.

Tuesday (stir-fry/noodles/rice) – Picked up some fresh Shanghai noodles and organic minced beef so it will be Chinese spag bol, that is, noodles with beef in brown bean sauce. Comfort food for my mob, but quicker than real spag bol.

Wednesday (protein plus) – pan-fried butterflied pork steaks with thyme, lemon zest and walnut oil. Will deglaze the pan with some apple juice and reduce down, then serve with walnutoil-roasted potatoes and a big salad.

Thursday (veg/pulse/egg) – Vegetable fried rice with egg rolls (rolled omellettes filled with shredded carrot, bean sprouts and spring onions) and possibly some Korean-style vegetable fritters (can’t escape the fritters).

Friday (pasta) – Rigatoni with zucchini, basil, ricotta and parmesan. Will cook the zucchini down so it’s almost melting and forms a ‘cream’, then toss in the basil, ricotta and parmesan.

Until next week’s dinner…

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Next week’s dinner 28 August – 3 September 2010

Still trying to get through the remnnants of the monster bag of onions we spent last Friday night cutting for the traditional P&C election-day barby (thankfully the stench didn’t last as long as the count!). So far we’ve had onion bhajis to accompany the zucchini fritters last Thursday, and I managed to get through a few more today, which brings me to the plan for the next week’s worth of dinners. Seeing as I’ve been down for the count with the office lurgy, and we are in the throes of winter’s last hurrah, it’s going to be a week of simple, comforting fare.

Saturday (try something new) – Having spent yesterday in bed, the trying of ‘something new’ tonight is my husband cooking! This is a man who thought that freshly ground black pepper was high up there on the Scoville scale, which was personally quite distressing for someone who thinks that laksa makes the perfect breakfast. But I digress… To be fair, he has actually  been blessed with ‘pastry hands’, and makes a textbook pate brisee, so that, combined with the fact that I picked up some rosy free-range, nitrate-free speck, and had some cream lurking about in the fridge, meant that the stars were aligned for a kind of quiche Lorraine (with one of those blasted onions, finely chopped and sauteed with the bacon, and some sweet little baby zucchinis grated in for good measure).  Rounded off with a Dijon mustardy-green salad tossed with creamy avocado, it  took me back to the 80s (minus the perm, thankfully).

Sunday (cook once, eat twice) – Slow-roast pork shoulder rubbed with a fennel seed, thyme, rosemary and lemon zest paste. Served with crushed roasted chat potatoes, garlicky broccolini and salsa verde. Getting hold of good-quality free-range pork isn’t the easiest of everyday shopping tasks, so whenever I see it I have to buy it – it’s the Chinese love of pork in me. Am looking forward to popping it in the oven to roast for 6 hours tomorrow.

Monday (Sunday, take tow) – Leftover pulled pork soft tacos with chopped avocado, tomato, lettuce and Mexican red rice. Will marinate the leftover pork in a tangy mix of lime juice, ground roasted cumin seeds, garlic powder, chopped coriander, a tiny bit of brown sugar and splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Tuesday (stir-fry/rice/noodles) – Chicken, egg and mushroom domburi. Found some msg-free dashi and short-grain rice hiding out in the pantry and will braise some sliced organic chicken in dashi broth spiked with mirin and shoyu, then toss in some shredded snow peas, sugar snap peas and fresh shiitakes I picked up today, add beaten egg and cook until just set, then serve the lot in bowls of steamed rice.

Wednesday (protein plus) – Italian sausages and lentils with balsamic and caramelised onion (hurrah-I’m getting to the bottom of that bag!) gravy, mashed Dutch creams, steamed green beans and the last of the broccolini tossed with a knob of garlic butter.

Thursday (veg/egg/pulse) – Sweet potato, chick pea and zucchini fritters with tahini and flat-leaf parsley sauce, pan-fried haloumi, Lebanese bread and salad.

Friday (pasta) – I think it might be time for a good old-fashioned spaghetti bolognese (the kids will be pleased). Have some of the sauce stashed away in the freezer that I braised for a couple of hours a few weekends ago, so we’re just about there.

Until next weeks’ dinner…

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Next week’s dinner 21 – 27 August

The kids are in bed, I’ve busted out the dark chocolate and the Kerrie OBrien/Antony Green Election Night tag team are on in the background – so  its about as exciting as it gets around here of a Saturday night! Due to on onion-slicing inspired fugue – and a morning shift at the traditional Election Day sausage sizzle/cake stall at our daughter’s school – there was not much time for the usual food-shopping bingo that generally consumes our Saturday mornings.

As a result, next week’s menu is going to look something like this:

Saturday(try something new) – Semolina gnocchi with garlic, spinach and herb butter sauce. (This has worked a treat and have made a mental note to revise this as a Sunday nigh take-two-er over summer. It makes loads and, as most of the prep. time is spent in the fridge, it will not bring on heatstroke to make.)

Sunday (cook once, eat twice night 1) – Greek-style roast lamb with lemon, oregano and olive oil-braised Dutch creams, green beans with tomato

Monday (night 2) – Greek shepherd’s pie – will finely chop the leftover lamb, braise off with onion, carrot, celery, allspice, a pinch of ground cinnamon and tomato passata, then top with garlicky skordalia mash. Serve with a lemony cos salad.

Tuesday (stir-fry night) – raincheck on the stir-fry as , with 15 minutes between the end of my daughter’s dance class and the start of a parent evening at school,  even a stir-fry won’t beat the clock. Looks like it’ll be leftover burritos from the freezer instead (or felafel rolls and haloumi pizzas from the local Lebanese bakery if all else fails).

Wednesday (protein +) – think it will be Thai stir-fried beef and gai lan with fresh rice noodles (pad sie ew, minus all the oil).

Thursday (veg/egg/legume) – picked up some organic haloumi at bargain basement prices so it will be zucchini, haloumi and mint fritter ‘burgers’, with hummus, shredded lettuce, Lebanese cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

Friday (yay, pasta!) – linguine with tuna puttanesca.

Until next week’s dinner…

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Next week’s dinner 14 – 20 August 2010

After the obligatory weekend trip to Bunnings (yawn – thank you kind stranger for the hot tip about the Rockdale Community Nursery!), we did our weekly shop. So, next week’s dinner is going to look something like this:

Saturday (something new) -Chicken enchiladas with homemade tortillas

Have been wanting to try my hand at making my own tortillas (the flatbread, not egg variety) and combined it with my first attempt attempt at enchiladas – and both turned out to be a rollicking success. First I made the tortillas with self-raising flour, salt, vegetable oil and lukewarm water , then while they had their snooze, I sauteed onion and garlic, then added some organic chicken breast fillets sliced and marinated with cumin, paprika, lemon juice, garlic powder and olive oil.  Added some organic tomato passata (leftover form last night’s linguine with chorizo and finely chopped fennel), tomato paste, water, and more parika and cumin, grated in a carrot and zucchini and simmered until the chicken was tender. After quickly pan-frying the tortillas in a smoking hot cast-iron fry pan, I removed the saucy part of the sauce and mixed a cup of grated cheese with the chicken, then rolled the cheesy chickeny loveliness in tortillas, which were baked in a greased baking dish, then covered with the sauce (and lashings more cheese), and baked until the cheese was oozy and melty. Served with guacamole and a cos, tomatoberry and cucumber salad, it was a hit all round.

You could always buy ‘fresh’ tortillas in your supermarket, however now that I’ve done it there is no going back to the folic-acid fortified commercial variety – we’ll eat our folatie in broccoli, thanks.

Based on what looked good around the traps today, the rest of the week’s dinners will be:

Sunday (something cooked once, to eat twice ie on Monday) – Hungarian goulash with mashed Dutch cream potatoes and garlicky green beans

All of which I now have the makings of in my kitchen.

Monday (Sunday night take two) – Goulash with polenta dumplings, steamed broccoli

Tuesday (stir-fry/noodles/Asian) – Miso and lemon-marinated chicken with udon noodles, snowpeas, and broccolini

Wednesday (protein +) – Greek-style lamb meatballs (keftedes) with burghul and tomato pilav and salad (Luckily, this one’s already in the freezer)

Thursday (veg/legume/egg) – Veg tagine with chickpeas and couscous

Friday (pasta) – Homemade semi-dried tomato pesto with cherry tomatoes and feta

Unless, of course I decide to really mix things up and have the pasta on Tuesday night instead!

Until next week’s dinner…

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