Monday, February 23, 2009

Anniversary Menu Plan Monday

Well, once more it's going to be eating more out of the pantry this week. My husband's windshield of his truck had gotten a small crack in it one day a few week ago, probably from a rock, and from the wide swings in temperatures we've had recently it spread all the way across the other day. So he's going to have to get that fixed and I'll help to save some money by using what's in the our pantry. I was hoping to have some Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans, but I don't have dry or frozen lima beans on hand (the fresh automatically get eaten, I don't freeze them for later). What I thought were lima beans turned out to be favas, and while they might work, I'd rather stick with limas since I don't have to peel them. I'll have to wait until the next time I head to the store and pick some up.

This Saturday is our 11th Wedding Anniversary!! :) I'm making dinner -and yes, I wanted to - the menu is below. I have a T-bone from my sister in the freezer, so I'm going to use that. I haven't decided what other vegetable I'm making and the cheesecake is going to be an experiment for me since I don't have an exact recipe yet. I'm trying to duplicate our wedding cake, kinda. I'm going to use some light cream cheese like I do normally for a plain cheesecake, and I've not made a flavored cheesecake before, and I don't really have a recipe for this so I'm just winging it. Wish me luck! Our cake had crushed chocolate cookie base, chocolate cheesecake with orange flavoring in it and a chocolate ganache top. I'm not going to get majorly fancy with orange segments and chocolate curls because it's just us. As it is I don't really want to make a whole cheesecake as it is, since it's just the two of us, but since it freezes well, I'm going to be freezing the extra in slices.

Monday: FFY (hubby will be home late- I don't have a lot of leftovers, so it's really whatever you can find!)
Tuesday: Egyptian Rice and Lentils (Koshary) recipe below
Wednesday: Red Beans & Rice (packaged mix) with Chicken sausages
Thursday: Burmese Soup (Red Lentil Soup)
Friday: Chez JJ Pizza (Homemade Pizza)
Saturday: Our 11th Wedding Anniversary - and I'm really going to mix cultures. :) I'm making Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Pommes Frittes (although oven baking them, so I guess they're more Oven fries), and Chocolate Orange Cheesecake.

For more menu ideas visit I'm an Organizing Junkie

Egyptian Rice and Lentils (Koshary)
Adapted From "Extending the Table" -Fiza, Mattareyya, Egypt; and Mary F. Beck, Cairo, Egypt
Koshary is Egypt's street food. Vendors serve this low-cost, nutritious meal in dishes or plastic bags from little kiosks. It is also an important dish for Coptic Orthodox Christians because it is meatless and can be eaten during times of fasting. In Egypt the sauce is made from fresh tomatoes, and the rice and lentils are always served with macaroni.
My Notes: From a friend on the WW CLC board (Jilly) who's husband is from Egypt, she makes a spicy vinaigrette to go on top at the end just like we would use Tabasco or Pepper Vinegar and puts a bay leaf in with the rice and lentils. She just gives ingredients for the vinaigrette, just mix them to your tastes.
Serves 8

Rice and Lentils:
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 cups lentils
3 cups boiling water (or stock)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 1/2 cups rice
1 cup boiling water (or stock)
3/4 cup tomato paste
3 1/2 cups tomato juice (or tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes)
1 green pepper, chopped
3Tbsp celery leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or crushed chilis to taste)
2 cups macaroni, any variety
3 Tbsp of above sauce
1 Tbsp oil
Browned Onions:
2 tablespoons oil
3 onions, sliced
4 garlic clove, minced
JillyBean's Spicy Vinaigrette (all to taste):
red pepper flakes
minced garlic
apple cider vinegar
olive oil

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, brown lentils in 2 Tbsp oil, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the 3 cups boiling stock, bay leaf, and the salt and pepper. Cook uncovered 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in the rice and 1 cup stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes without stirring.

Meanwhile make sauce: Heat all the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Once the sauce is made, Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and mix with 3 Tbsp of the above sauce and 1 Tbsp oil.

To make browned onions, heat oil in a small skillet. Saute onions and garlic over medium heat till brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve rice-lentil mixture in one serving dish and macaroni in another. Place side-by-side on plates, ladle sauce over and top with browned onions. Or pile rice-lentil mixture and macaroni on a large serving platter. Spread tomato sauce over, and top with onions. Individuals may add plain yogurt.

Burmese Lentil Soup
From: Katen Joshi on "Calling All Cooks" Episode CA1A08 Food Network
Serves: 4-6

2 cups red lentils
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
10 to 12 green chilies cut into rings
2 large Idaho potatoes grated on medium grater
Vegetable oil
2 to 3 cups Vidalia onions cut into 1-inch slivers
Cubed bread (1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes)
Salted butter
1 cup fresh cilantro

In advance: pour distilled vinegar into a bowl with the green chili rings and let sit for at least 1 hour prior to serving soup.

To prepare soup, wash red lentils in warm water, 2 or 3 times over. Then fill large pot with 5 to 6 cups water. Cook lentils over medium flame until they lose their form, and a soup-like base is formed. Add fresh chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to soup, set soup aside.

Next, prepare the rest of the add-ins. Grate Idaho potatoes and deep fry to golden brown in hot oil. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil, then put into a bowl. Saute onions in pan with 1/3 cup vegetable oil until golden-dark brown and caramelized, then place in a bowl. Saute cubed bread in a mixture of 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup butter until golden brown, put in a bowl. Roughly chop cilantro, put into a bowl.

To serve, place soup and add-ins on the table. Guests place 2 or 3 ladles of soup into their soup bowl, then, in middle of soup bowl, pile high with desired add-ins; do not spread out garnish.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina
From: "At Home with Michael Chiarello" Cookbook

The classic Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a large porterhouse steak that usually weighs around one kilo (2.2 pounds). In Tuscan restaurants the steak is offered by the "etto" or in 100-gram (4 oz.) increments. This great steak includes both the strip loin and the fillet. I also use a rib-eye steak with this method. Always use the best meat, gray salt, coarse ground black pepper and balsamic vinegar that you can find. The marriage of all these ingredients will reveal a noble meal of authentic Italian flavor.

For my Tuscan BBQ on Weekend Today, I paired the bistecca with two unique condimenti, or finishes, to the steak: grilled lemon halves or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. An option to using expensive and rare balsamic is to use a Tuscan-flavored steak sauce. I make one with roasted garlic,sweetened with raisins, and, to give it a nice bite, black pepper. As you’ll see throughout this menu, Italians love a mix of tart and sweet,called agrodolce.

About Gray Salt: If you change just one thing about your cooking, make it the salt. The gray salt I use, from Brittany’s coast, retains all the minerals found in the sea, echoing your body’s mineral content exactly. Because of its taste, I use gray salt exclusively, and cherish the natural flavors it highlights in all foods.

2 lb. Porterhouse steak, about 2 inches thick
Gray Salt
Coarse ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 lemon (optional)
Roasted Garlic Balsamic Steak Sauce (optional) -recipe below [make day before if using]

Let the steak rest outside of the refrigerator for one hour before cooking. Liberally season the steak with gray salt and pepper and press the seasoning into the meat.

To grill: Use a hot, clean and oiled grill. Grill the steak for about 5-6 minutes on each side for medium rare. The filet will cook a little faster than the strip loin. Move the steak every two minutes or so for even cooking and a crispy exterior.

For pan roasting: If pan-roasting, preheat the oven to 450° F. Heat a cast-iron skillet with a little olive oil until smoking hot. Turn on the fan, open the window and stand back to avoid getting spattered! Using tongs, place the steak in the center of the pan. Cook until the first side is seared brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the steak and place the pan in the oven until the steak is done, about 6 minutes for medium rare.

Remove the steak to a carving board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving.

Grilled Lemon Halves: Cut the lemon in half and brush the cut side with olive oil.

For pan roasting: Place cut side down alongside the steak. When marked, turn the lemons over and cook in the oven alongside the steak.

To grill: Place the lemons cut side down on the grill to mark. Turn the lemon over and move to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Serve all bistecca with some extra gray salt on the table.

Roasted Garlic-Balsamic Steak Sauce

Bon App├ętit | August 2007
Michael Chiarello
Yield: Makes about 4 cups
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep refrigerated.
A sweet substitute for traditional steak sauce. Try it on a rib eye, use it to marinate flank steak, or mix it into ground beef for burgers.

1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3 large plum tomatoes, cored, quartered
1/4 cup roasted garlic paste from jar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons apple jelly or red currant jelly
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon (or more) fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon (or more) freshly ground black pepper

Combine 1 1/2 cups warm water and raisins in medium bowl; let stand until raisins are soft, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour. Mix vinegar and shallots in small bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Add vinegar mixture to raisin mixture, then stir in all remaining ingredients. Working in 3 batches, puree mixture in blender until smooth. If desired, season with more salt and pepper. Return mixture to medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours to blend flavors.

Baked Pommes Frites
Michael Chiarello

6 russet potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel potatoes and cut into quarter-inch thick slices (lengthwise) cut again into 1/4-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a bowl with cold water; this will help keep the fries crisp. Just before cooking, drain water and place on paper towel, pat dry.

Put in a bowl; add olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on nonstick baking sheet. Bake until light brown. Cook for approx 30 - 40 minutes, turning frequently until golden brown.

Remove from oven, allow to cool for a minute or two and serve.

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