La Quinta, California: It was a crazy week - with having our car in the shop and jury duty - and the temperatures were over 110 degrees daily. Fun times! I always plan the weekly menu, and the plans mostly work out. Not this week. As promised, this is what we ate last week:
MONDAY: I had a cup of cooked farro in the freezer, so made a salad with farro, garbanzo beans, red onion, cherry tomatoes and artichoke hearts. The dressing was a lemony vinaigrette, and it was served it on a bed of arugula, garnished with crumbled feta. I posted this photo on Instagram with the caption Fresh salad in 37-year-old bowl.
TUESDAY: Another find from the freezer was a quart of stock with an "Asian chicken stock" label. I cannot exactly remember what chicken recipe I had made to cause the resulting stock to be Asian, but went with the flow. Ramen! Sautéed baby bok choy, ramen noodles, and garnished with sliced green onion. Eaten at the kitchen island bar, served with Japanese cucumber (from Gina's garden) salad (sunomono) and watermelon.
WEDNESDAY: An experiment! I rarely make meatloaf. Don't know why - it is cheap and delicious - but it seems like a "wintery" meal and it certainly rarely seems "wintery" here. A meatloaf recipe came up on my laptop rabbit's-hole-of-internet-stuff last week. It seemed interesting to use ground-up English muffins in a meatloaf, so I gave it a whirl (really, I whirled the muffin in my mini food processor). I made a half-recipe, using one egg and 2 Tablespoons ketchup, but had to laugh - after the English muffin had been ground - it looked exactly like the panko I usually use in meatloaf. The meatloaf was good, but with no pizzazz. No garlic? No basil? No oregano? It was served with the last of Gina's gold potatoes - which were roasted in garlic and duck fat - and asparagus.
THURSDAY: Last evening the word came down that I would be required at the county courthouse to report for jury duty today. The plans for Mushroom Bourguignon (again, half recipe) were scraped. This is a time-consuming recipe and probably not something I would want to tackle after a day of jury duty. Dave was going to hit-up Costco while I was at jury duty, so I asked him to pick-up a rotisserie chicken... which I shredded and rolled into enchiladas. A can of enchilada sauce was poured over. Done and done. Took twenty minutes to prepare. While the enchiladas were baking, I had time for a little plate of nibbles and an icy cold martini (remember the $16.99 jug o' gin Dave also brought home from Costco?). The enchiladas were served with Ambrosia melon from Gina's garden:
FRIDAY: Jury duty complete, an eggplant was sliced into two large "steaks" and were salted and weighted between layers of paper towels in the fridge most of the day. While that was happening, the bag of tomato ends, tops, soggy tomatoes, or wrinkly tomatoes I stash in the freezer, were turned into a few cups of marinara. No, I do not peel the tomatoes. I sautéed a bit of shallot and garlic, added the frozen tomatoes pieces, along with a handful of basil from the garden, and let it simmer for an - hour or so. When cool, the mush was pureed. Voila - just enough marinara for two. The eggplant slabs were dredged in flour, dipped in an egg wash and then coated in a panko-parmesan-parsley blend, then sautéed/fried in olive oil. Though not a very pretty photograph, this was probably the best meal of the week.
SATURDAY: I decided to tackle the Mushroom Bourguignon. This would be the third time to make the dish - again a half-recipe. I do not use pearl onions, but just a chopped onion, and one pound of already-sliced "baby bella" mushrooms. The whole bit about frying chanterelle or oyster mushrooms for a garnish never happens either. I had the entire day to myself, as Dave drove to Orange County for a reunion of California high school runners. He returned too late for a big meal, and the bourguignon would be even better tomorrow. Dinner was a larger-than-usual appetizer plate - with a little chicken salad spread whipped-up from that Costco chicken.
SUNDAY: No pizza for us, but finally, the mushroom bourguignon! This version was vegan, as I used olive oil instead of butter, and mushroom stock. I nearly forgot to mention the reason I decided to make this dish again - for the polenta. This stew is just wonderful over polenta and for the first time, the polenta was going to be cooked in the pressure cooker (Instantpot), using the pot-in-pot method. (PIP: a smaller pot is placed inside the pressure cooker to avoid scorching the bottom.) First time and it worked like a charm! I added one cup of water to the bottom of my 6 quart Duo Nova Instantpot, put in the wire rack, and then placed a smaller stainless steel pot (a 3 quart pot from Instantpot) on top of the rack. 1/2 cup polenta (Bob's Red Mill) and two cups homemade chicken stock (that Costco chicken again), were whisked together. Sealed the lid, put the timer on for 15 minutes. The total time to prepare the polenta was about 40 minutes - I let the pressure release itsownself - then stirred in a pat of butter and a handful of grated parmesan. Dang. I will never stand in front of stove for 30-40 minutes stirring polenta again. It was perfect. With bunch of crudities as our appetizer, dinner tonight was salad-free. But by using chicken stock, butter, and cheese in the polenta, the whole vegan thing went right out the window.
Next week? Mostly no-cook meals, except for steak frites on Wednesday - Bastille Day.
Until my next update, I remain, your well-fed correspondent.