The first week of Operation: Zero Meals Out
Our first week got off to a great start. Lee kicked off the week by grilling a heritage chicken from Whole Foods. For a while, I had a real aversion to chicken, but luckily that time has passed. The chicken with potatoes and veggies made for a great meal and yielded plenty of leftovers. We used part of leftovers for chicken quesadillas. I also made this chicken and rice dish: I used a pretty standard risotto method - rice sauteed in a little fat (I used bacon drippings, because it was handy), a splash of white wine and then slow additions of chicken stock. When the rice was almost there, I threw in a generous amount of chicken and some frozen peas. I finished the dish with some amazing Italian hard cheese (a cousin of parmigiano) we picked up from our favorite cheese shop during a recent visit to Chicago and a touch of heavy cream. It came out well. The flavor was helped along quite a bit by the heritage bird and bacon drippings. If I weren't pregnant, I'd have started the risotto with some aromatics, but garlic and onion are bothering my stomach these days.We spent July 4 at a barbecue organized by some local Obama supporters. It was potluck; I made some sweet tea and Lee made tandoori chicken. Our guideline for the chicken was Madhur Jaffrey's excellent book, Indian Cooking, but the recipe was modified a bit for my dietary needs (and because we decided to grill instead of bake). Here's how we did it:
serves 15 or so
3 whole chickens, cut into ten pieces each (cut each breast in half)
1.5 family-size cartons of plain, whole-milk yogurt
1/2 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 tsp garam masala
First, cut up your chickens and remove the skin from all but the wings (not worth the hassle). Sprinkle the pieces with salt and squeeze a lemon over them. Let the chicken hang out while you combine all of the other ingredients in a food processor; you'll probably have to do it in batches. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and into a large bowl (we used one with a 4-qt. capacity). Add the chicken pieces to the bowl, making sure all pieces are covered by the sauce, and refrigerate for at least 6 and up to 24 hours (the longer the better).
Grill the chicken over direct high heat for about six minutes per side, basting with the leftover sauce as needed. You'll get a nice char and the chicken inside will be cooked through, yet moist. It's absolutely heavenly--my favorite thing we've ever made on the grill.
Lee made stock with the chicken scraps and used the rest of the onion and a couple pounds of potatoes to make potato soup. We made a simple dinner of that one night (a green salad and some zucchini fritters on the side) and lunch the next day was vichyssoise. The soup he made (adapted from a recipe by Julia Child) is the base of many other interesting soups, and we're thinking of making a weekly habit of barbecuing a whole chicken and making soup with the scraps (more on that, perhaps, next week).
Our breakfasts have been pretty standard (we usually ate breakfast at the house, anyway): cold cereal, steel oats, fruit/yogurt, etc. But one morning I was in the mood to bake blueberry muffins. I used a new recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. I truly cannot recommend this book highly enough. The muffins were the best Lee and I had ever tasted. They were moist without being cakey, delicate rather than heavy, and not too sweet. A sprinkling of salt and lemon zest upped the sophistication. Best of all, they were still delicious the next day. I have definitely found my new muffin recipe (sorry, Bittman).
I also made a simple frittata using Trader Joe's Potato Medley. I simply sauteed two cups of the veggies (along with some more zucchini; we have a ton right now) in a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of butter. When the potatoes were soft, I added six whipped eggs and popped the whole thing in the oven at 350 for ten minutes or so. That provided two light meals for each of us.
There were a few veggies burgers, bean and cheese burritos, and sandwiches in the mix, to be sure, but that's not terribly unusual for us, especially in the summer. And overall, I've been happy to see how much we've prepared from scratch--especially considering we both spend the whole day at home (I'm a student and Lee telecommutes) and it's dead hot in Tucson right now!