Dinner is Served

3:34 PM

In order to bring some order to our lives and variety to our meals, I try to plan a weekly menu and shop accordingly each week at my local Kroger (affectionately known by me as the Krogie). This menu is adhered to loosely some weeks and strictly on others. This is also a good way for me to try new recipes out of my MANY wonderful cookbooks!

Menu planning is always on my Monday "to do" list, although it should probably go on my weekend list, but rarely gets done on the weekend. And it's one of those things that takes me a long time. I usually make a stack of cookbooks and then flip through the pages, subsequently becoming paralyzed with indecision as the overwhelming possibilities of culinary adventure unfold before me...

So I have decided I'm not gonna copycat Julie Powell and cook my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking...at least not at this point in my life. I would have serious problems with that anyway, since I don't eat a lot of the meat Julia Child cooked. But I am trying to cook my way through my own cookbooks by cooking something different each week. Last night was the first night of my real plan to do so. I pulled two recipes from My French Kitchen, a cookbook by Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat. I literally started at the beginning with salads, except that I'd already made the first salad which was a warm goat cheese salad. Next on the list was a Wild Mushroom Salad, so that went on to Monday's menu. Along with the second soup under the Soup section which was Butternut Soup. I would have made the first soup, but it was Gascony Tomato Soup, of which the biggest ingredient was mushrooms. I wasn't sure I would want TOO many mushrooms at the table, although on second thought, there may not be such a thing as too many mushrooms. Gascony Tomato Soup to be made at a later date. Tune in.

I added a whole wheat baguette just for dipping in the soup, plus you were supposed to put toasted baguette rounds underneath the salad and mushrooms.

So the salad was great! Sauteed mushrooms simmered with white wine, balsamic vinegar, garlic, paprika and then served over olive oil-tossed salad greens under which you hide the baguette toasts. The recipe called for slab bacon, sliced. However, I really don't do pork. Plus, even if I did, I confess I have never ventured into a local butcher, and you really have to do that to buy slab bacon, or so the cookbook pointed out to me. I may attempt to do this at some point, because so many recipes in this book call for slab bacon. I just really have issues with PORK THOUGH! I'm torn. Anyway, I left that out and I'm sure it was missing something, but it still tasted dad-gum yummy to us! Believe it or not, even Brooklyn ate the salad and mushrooms.

The soup was also really good, but next time I make it, I'll add more butternut squash. I happened to have some frozen in my freezer, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the quantity specified by the recipe (3 pounds), so to compensate, I reduced the amount of chicken stock used. Even so, I think the ratio of chicken stock to squash was a little high, but it still turned out very tasty. It had a surprise ingredient- curry powder - which made it especially good. I love curry powder, mostly cause of the different Indian spices that compose curry powder. Turmeric, for instance...that lovely thing which stains all white utensils or dishes. I love Indian food, so my love of curry powder will not surprise anyone, really.

And let me tell you, my Kitchen Aid immersion blender is just about my favorite kitchen device, second only to my Kitchen Aid mixer and just above my Kitchen Aid food processor. I'm a big fan of Kitchen Aid products. The immersion blender does wonderful things to soup, and it's also really fun to use! So, day one of my cooking was a success. And it all happened even after Kyle and I did our Monday night Total Body Conditioning (TBC) class which means we didn't get home until 7:30. The whole dinner came together in about 40 minutes...not TOO late.

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