Tag: The Weekender

Roasted Leg o’ Lamb Sandwich — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, February 15th, 2013

Roasted Leg of Lamb Sandwich - The WeekenderWhen I was younger, I was a voracious reader. One of my favorite book series in those days was the one about Betsy and Tacy, two girls growing up in the Midwest at the turn of the last century.

One of the events that occurs regularly in these books is Betsy’s family’s tradition of sharing their Sunday lunch with friends and family. This meal happens in the late afternoon and stars a giant platter of sandwiches that are always prepared by Betsy’s father.

Some weeks his sandwiches would feature cold roast meat, while others they’d be simple constructions of fried egg or thinly sliced onion that’d been well-seasoned. Served with coffee and slices of cake to follow, this seemed, to my mind, to be the perfect way to spend a Sunday evening.

Last week, suddenly hit by a craving for a Betsy-Tacy-style sandwich party, I went in search of a little sandwich inspiration. What I found was Guy Fieri’s Roasted Leg o’ Lamb Sandwich. It’s a three-part recipe that has you marinate and roast off a piece of lamb, make a spicy from-scratch mayonnaise and then shred fennel, cabbage, onion and Brussels sprouts into a crunchy topping.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Vanilla Dutch Baby — The Weekender

by in Recipes, February 8th, 2013

Vanilla Dutch Baby For the last month, my husband and I have been trying to clean up our eating habits (things got dire toward the end of December). We’ve increased our intake of fruits and vegetables and have eased way back on baked goods and dairy products (oh cheese, I have missed you!).

These efforts have had the biggest impact on our weekend mornings. Instead of making pancakes or waffles as a Saturday morning treat, there have been a goodly number of vegetable-filled omelets and piles of oven-crisped turkey bacon. Those options are delicious, but not particularly satisfying when you’re craving a sweet treat.

This last Sunday, as a way to reward us for a month of virtuous eating, I made an oven-baked puffed pancake. You warm a skillet in the oven with a bit of butter set inside to melt and then whip up a quick, egg-rich batter in the blender. Once the butter is foaming, you pour some of it off into the batter, reblend quickly and then pour the smooth batter into the hot skillet.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Scrambled Eggs Chiliquiles With Roasted Tomatillo Sauce — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, January 25th, 2013

Scrambled Eggs Chiliquiles With Roasted Tomatillo SauceWhen I was in my twenties, going out to brunch was one of my favorite weekend activities. I loved every part of the ritual, including waiting for a table, choosing between sweet or savory and dividing up the check with a happily full belly.

Though eating brunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning is still a beloved pastime, I’ve found that my preferred venue has changed. These days, I’m all about brunch at home. It’s cheaper, the temptations are fewer and it can be prepared and eaten while one is wearing pajamas.

Because I can far too easily default to the same three brunch dishes (scrambled eggs with turkey bacon, whole-grain pancakes or leftover stuffed omelets), I do try to seek out brunch recipes that are outside my norm. Some weeks (and much to my husband’s delight), I bake a coffeecake. Others I bake up a frittata in my trusty cast-iron skillet (though some claim that I am too heavy-handed with the kale).

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Pork Goulash With Apple and Onion — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, January 18th, 2013

Pork Goulash With Apple and OnionOne of my long-held theories about life is that most people fall into one of two entertaining camps. You are either dinner party people or potluck people. If you’re a dinner party person, the nights when you have friends over are well-orchestrated. You make the entire meal or if you delegate parts of it, you give specific recipe assignments. Wine and beer is planned, purchased in advance and appropriately chilled. Tables are set sometime in the afternoon and there’s always a carefully arranged cheeseboard.

Potluck people are less concerned with the details. They issue an invitation to gather without carefully balancing the numbers of couples and singles. They don’t make the whole meal but instead announce the main dish they’ll be providing and then ask guests to fill in the blanks as they see them. If asked to comment on whether a dish might go well with the planned menu, the answer is always a happy-go-lucky “Sure!”

I have long been a potluck person. I love eating with friends, but rarely can I be bothered with the worry of formal guest lists or long hours of prep time. I am married to someone, however, who is more comfortable when the details are firmly nailed down and so I found myself throwing a very uncharacteristic dinner party last Saturday night.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Farfalle With Chicken, Porcini Mushroom and Swiss Chard — The Weekender

by in Recipes, January 11th, 2013

Farfalle With Chicken, Porcini Mushrooms and Swiss ChardMy most vivid memories of childhood are those ones in which my family is seated around our dining room table. I remember discussing potential Halloween costumes over stuffed green peppers and soldiering through those first cold nights of winter over big bowls of chicken and rice soup.

Different eras of my childhood are so deeply linked to the meals we ate frequently during those years that I still can’t eat those dishes without recalling long-past moments. Avocados and plums taste like my earliest days in Southern California. Fried eggs served on steamed white rice with a side of pickled ginger take me back to the months after my parents returned from a trip to Hawaii.

There’s one meal that we ate a lot during my high school and college years and even a single bite of it transports me. It was chicken breast (quickly cooked with garlic) and sauteed zucchini and baby spinach (often straight from the backyard garden) heaped on top of angel hair pasta (highly valued by my mother because it cooked quickly) and topped with a shower of grated Parmesan cheese.

Before you start boiling your pasta, read these tips:

Irish Lamb Stew — The Weekender

by in Recipes, January 4th, 2013

Irish Lamb Stew - The WeekenderIt’s January and that means it’s time for clean slates, new goals and a general reshuffling of priorities. I’ve long since learned that I don’t do well with large-scale resolutions, so I try to keep my hopes for the new year manageable instead of massive.

So this month, instead of trying to drastically revamp my diet or throw my gym routine into overdrive, I’m focusing on cooking at home more. It seems simple, but I’ve found that there’s no easier way to eat better than to make it myself.

For me, this means large batches of soups, whole roast chickens, kale salads (they keep so much better than lettuce-based ones), egg bakes with lots of vegetables and house-warming stews. Best of all, these are all dishes that yield enough for three or four meals.

In my mind, there’s no tool more supportive to my eat-home-cooking goal than a couple of tasty leftovers in the fridge. I know lots of folks shy away from day (or two) old food, but truly, there are so many things that get better after a little time to mingle and marry.

On New Year’s Day, I made a batch of Paula Deen’s Irish Lamb Stew. Hunks of lamb are browned and then left to braise with a mountain of onions, leeks, celery, cabbage and tomatoes. While it was good that first day, it made a phenomenal dinner on day 2. On day 3, my husband took the remains to work for lunch. Hooray for home cooking!

Before you start browning your meat, read these tips

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Holidays, December 21st, 2012

Old-Fashioned GingerbreadWhen I was younger the thing I loved most about the holiday season was the dizzying array of cookies, candies and breakfast cakes that would suddenly appear in the our house. A practiced food sneak, I’d spirit away frosted sugar cookies and waxed paper-wrapped caramels and eat them in the luxurious privacy of my bedroom closet.

My parents were on to my sugar-seeking ways and would do their best to conceal the best of the treats from me so that I didn’t eat them all in a single day (I’ve since learned much about moderation). The one thing they never needed to tuck behind the cereal boxes on top of the refrigerator was the gingerbread. A yearly gift from our next-door neighbor, it was dense, heavy and smelled just slightly of bourbon. It was clearly not a cake for kids.

But as so often happens in life, my tastes have evolved over the years. The cookies I once craved now seem disgustingly sweet and that gingerbread I scorned appeals to me more than ever. That original recipe is long since gone (our neighbor died when I was 13), but I’ve spent the last few years searching out a similarly solid, barely sweetened cake to make and give out during the holiday season.

Before you mix your batter, read these tips

Rugelach — The Weekender

by in Holidays, December 14th, 2012

RugelachMy Great-Aunt Doris made the best rugelach. A nurse who preferred baking to hospital work, Aunt Doris never turned down an opportunity to help cater her charity functions, Temple’s holiday dinners and family gatherings.

Her instinct to feed continually vexed her sister, because no matter how clear my grandmother was that the dinner party menu was entirely handled, Doris would show up with a Saran-covered platter of freezer strudel or rugelach. At the end of the meal, my grandmother would be forced to watch as her guests gobbled up the party-crashing treat and ignored her own carefully selected pastries.

Because I grew up a country away from my Aunt Doris, I only got to see her once or twice a year. As soon as we landed in Philadelphia, however, she’d march me up to my grandmother’s apartment (they lived in the same building), slip an apron over my head and pull a stool over to the counter so that I could help her roll the dough. We’d make cinnamon twists, Mandelbrot and rugelach.

Before you start your dough, read these tips

Lola Granola Bars — The Weekender

by in Recipes, December 7th, 2012

Lola Granola Bars - The WeekenderWhen I worked full-time in an office, I both looked forward to and dreaded the weeks leading up to the holidays. The excitement came from knowing that soon I’d be on vacation, spending time with my family, far away from the office. The dread came from the fact that, soon, the break room would feature an ever-replenishing array of candies, cookies and treats from co-workers and vendors.

As a girl with an insatiable sweet tooth, this end-of-year extravaganza of sugary morsels was deadly for my long-standing goal to eat reasonably. Every time I walked into the room to fill my water bottle or make a cup of tea, I’d take a cookie or two back to my desk with me. While I never obeyed this solution unfalteringly, I did find that if I kept some better snacking options in my desk drawer, I’d have more success at avoiding the minefield of treats in the kitchen.

If you’re faced with regular access to an equally tempting holiday treat table, here’s my advice: make granola bars. Homemade granola bars are far better than the ones you buy at the store because you know exactly what’s in them, you can customize them to your liking, and you get a heck of a lot more bang for your buck.

Before you start toasting your oats, read these tips

Greek Noodle Casserole — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, November 30th, 2012

Giada's Greek Noodle CasseroleThough winter isn’t officially here according to the calendar, early sunsets and chilly nights mean that it’s fast approaching. As someone who loves daylight and loses steam once the sky goes dark, it’s around this time each year that I put my antihibernation plan into action.

During these darker months, my natural inclination is to burrow down — to stay close to home and not surface again until the warmer days return. While this might have been an appropriate survival strategy during another era, in my current life, it initiates a most unpleasant spiral of isolation. This is no good for anyone.

And so I fight back against this tendency to hole up using food. I throw dinner parties and invite friends over for spur-of-the-moment potlucks. I organize brunch outings. I make extra large batches of soup and carry it to harried neighbors. And at least once a weekend, I make an extra large casserole, just in case.

These days, one of my favorite recipes is Giada’s Greek Noodle Casserole. It’s essentially a slightly simplified version of Pastitsio and ends up tasting like an exotic, homemade version of Hamburger Helper. For those of us who grew up on the stuff (it is what my dad would make on nights when he was in charge), that makes this endlessly comforting and familiar. Perfect for combating short days and cooking as your Weekender.

Before you get cooking, read these tips