Menus from the Dinner Squad

Think of these like one of those design magazines where they throw all options possible into the same room. You might just want the bedspreads and the lamp. Or the roasted potatoes and a glass of milk.

Monday: *Becky’s Grilled cheese sandwiches with pimento cheese spread, broccoli rabe with garlic, tomato soup

Tuesday: *Chiara’s chicken with prunes and orange, mixed wild greens, and bread to cry for–do what you have to do to get the good stuff

Wednesday: *Braised ribs (a Faye Delicious cooking class classic,) *pickled carrots and zucchini, roasted potatoes

Thursday: eggs any way, toast, stewed tomatoes (I have no idea how to make these, but I love them–suggestions welcome,) roasted asparagus

Friday: *Martha’s Spanish Chicken from Elizabeth H., leeks and peas, sliced mango, strawberries, banana with fresh lime&toasted coconut

Saturday: STIR FRY!! and the world is your oyster. *Kristen’s magic beef.

Or if you have never stir fried in your life (like me) and as much as you love to eat stir fry you are completely intimated every time you have even looked at the wok section, put your boots on. Get yourself a pizza.
Or from Susie who helped me remember it: make a warm potato salad of braised potatoes tossed with avocado, baby spinach leaves, new red onions and a dressing of lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh parsley and have it with a hard salami and a sharp cheddar on the side.

Sunday: Soup of choice (I suggest a massive bowl of *fruits of the sea cooked to perfection in a broth of stock, tomato, peperoncino, thyme lemon, and beautiful olive oil ) with raw vegetables and bagna cuda and side of *Mary’s cous cous


*Becky’s Pimento Cheese Spread:
In a large bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups mayo (Hellman’s or Duke’s) with a 4 oz jar of drained pimentos. Add 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper. Stir. Toast 1 cup of pecans, then chop and add. Shred 8oz of extra-sharp cheddar cheese (don’t use the pre-shredded stuff…fresh cheese makes a difference!!). Stir together..stores in frig up to 1 week. Serve with celery, crackers or as grilled cheese sandwich.

*Chiara’s chicken with prunes and oranges–do this before oranges are out of season.
Or even better, you could have the original if you come to cook with me in Italy; I’ll take you to dine with the ever lovely and elegant Chiara at the ancient Villa La Macchia.)

Rub with oil and butter, a dish that is big enough to hold the chicken. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff in a mixture of sliced oranges, prunes and chopped white onion. Drizzle the top of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with herbes de provence. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, then turn the chicken upside down (breast on the bottom now) and add another cup of prune/orange/white onion mix to the pan. (For 2 chickens, 1 box of prunes, 3 oranges, 2 onions)
Continue to roast until fork tender. Turn the chicken one more time for the last 10 minutes.

*Kristen’s beef stir fry: How about tonight’s thinly sliced fillet of beef tossed in sesame oil, sesame seeds, ginger and garlic, soy sauce and lime juice, and stir-fried with broccoli and matchstick carrots?Forgot to mention, a shake of Chinese five-spice in the beef marinade AND just BARELY cook the beef. It’s hard when stir-frying to just to continue to fry, but stop at medium rare… you’ll be glad you did. The most TENDER bites. Such a pleasure to feed my Teenager hot off the coach from

*Mary M.’s couscous salad: Simple and delicious. Couscous with chopped cucumber, green onions, tomatoes, chick peas, fresh parsley all tossed with a dressing made of olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, coriander powder, salt and pepper.

*suggested by Elizabeth H:

Braised Ribs: season intact racks of pork ribs (organic is best) with salt and pepper, and sear in a little olive oil on one side. Pour off the fat. Set the ribs aside. Add a few heads of garlic that have been cut horizontally across in one wack, a few sprigs of rosemary and a solid pour of white wine; simmer to get up all the good stuff from the pan. Pour over the ribs. The liquid should come up about a half inch from the bottom. Cover tightly with foil and slash in a few places. Braise over a low flame or in the oven at 350 degrees. Watch to keep up the level of the liquid. Switch to water if would drink the rest of the wine. After two and a half hours, check for complete tenderness.

Pickled carrots and zucchini: Bring to a simmer, 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar, 6 cups of water, a bay leaf, a clove of garlic, a sprig of parsley, a (regular) clove, a good few pinches of sugar, a few peppercorns, a celery sprig and a bit of a leek end. Give it a solid drizzle of olive oil. Let it go for a good half hour, add salt to taste and then the slivered vegetables. Simmer just til tender, first the carrots, then the zucchini.
Toss with a bit of olive oil and taste for salt/pepper.

Frutti di mare: start with a can of San Marzano tomatoes, and I remove them from their juice. I heat up the pan glazed with olive oil with half a head of garlic, a sprig of fresh marjoram, and a sprig of parsley. I add finely chopped and peeled potatoes until they have begun to color and stick to the pan, and then just enough water to barely come to the top of the potatoes. I cook that with no lid, a whole peperoncino and a little salt until the potatoes are barely tender. I add a cup of dry and delicious white wine and squeeze of lemon. Remove the peperoncino. I let that cook for another five minutes, and then add my tomatoes that I have squished with my hand. Another ten minutes over a low flame. Potatoes do not like to be rushed.
In ANOTHER pan I get my olive going with finely chopped fresh garlic, a little chopped fresh parsley and a swirl of butter. When the garlic is nearly golden, I add a half cup of white wine, let it simmer for a few minutes, and then add tiny little mussels, covered, just until they open. I remove them, and do the same with shrimp still wearing their shells as I did with the mussels. As soon as they begin to curl, and I give them a sprinkle of salt, and set them in the bowl. Lastly a tender white fish, chopped into three inch long pieces, cleaned, but bone and skin on, seared in olive oil with a pinch of salt right at the end. The fish is cooked only until no longer pink and not a second more. I combine all the seafood and give everything a swirl of the best olive oil in the house and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Another swirl of olive oil for the tomatoes and potatoes, and tiny bit of fresh parsley, and then I ladle some into everyone’s dish, and then a pile of fruits of the sea. Fantastic.

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