In the San Francisco Bay Area September is the hottest month of the year. For those of us brought up in the mid-Atlantic states and New England, we are expecting a cool break in the weather. Even though I have lived out here for almost thirty years I am still shocked by the really hot September weather. I keep planning these welcome to Fall menus and then I have to backtrack to dishes which will not heat up the kitchen. In other words I planned a menu for this week and have not followed it at all for most of the week thus far.
On Tuesday we ended up eating a cold plate of leftover flank steak, a microwaved leftover baked potato, and some leftover lentils and rice. On Wednesday I took some cold rotisserie chicken and combined it with chickpeas, light mayonnaise, and pepperoncini. This combo was pretty tasty with Roma tomatoes and slices of toasted challah.
What I am saying, I guess, is that you have to be flexible. Whatever you make at home will end up being healthier than getting pizza delivered or Door Dash. I already know that we will not be eating off our planned menu on a hot Thursday and I am thinking ahead to cool gazpacho and a salad with blueberries and strawberries. Maybe over the weekend I will turn my clam chowder into a cool vichyssoise. I am looking forward to it already!
The dinner we had with our celebration was pretty ho-hum, a grilled flank steak and half potato plus Brussels sprouts. But the celebration platter and the fabulous round braided challah that our daughter made were spectacular!
On our platter we had apple (served with honey), dates, pomegranate seeds, green beans (edamame), beets, squash, carrots, scallions, fish (goldfish), and a head (eggs with smiley faces.) We took turns discussing each food and what it means and said a little blessing over each one. The challah was wonderful and we tore off hunks and dipped the pieces in honey to insure our sweet year coming up.
This week’s menu contains a holiday meal on Monday. Monday is not only Labor Day but also the beginning of the Jewish New Year celebration. Since at our house we celebrate national holidays, Christian holidays, and Jewish holidays I am combining the usual grill something for Labor Day with traditional foods for Rosh Hashanah. The traditional foods will be served on a large platter and we will discuss their meanings while sitting at the table.
Here is my Sunday egg dinner with a new spin on it. I made a thin egg disc and then rolled it up and cut it like linguine. I sautéed a bunch of vegetables—carrots, broccoli, celery, mushrooms, and fennel. When I used that bit of fennel that I had leftover from making something else I decided I was going in an Italian direction so I added garlic powder and oregano and finally some of the Roma tomatoes from our daughter’s garden. Ecco (John tells me that ecco is Italian for voila), I created Egg-sta Primavera.
I finished by creation with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated parmesan cheese. It was quite enjoyable to eat and something new. John had his usual omelet.
Sear the shrimp in a little olive oil/olive oil spray and then set them aside. In the same pan make a sauce using white wine, chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest, slivered onion and garlic, red pepper flakes, and a two teaspoons of butter.
While John did all that I steamed the broccoli and heated up the cauliflower rice. He had made the white rice earlier. After adding the shrimp back into the sauce to heat them through we served them on top of the rice mix. The sauce went on top.
This dish turned out pretty good. The sauce was really acid and salty due to a lot of lemon and including some of the caper brine. Next time we will go a little lighter on those components.
I eat my tacos with a knife and fork rather than folded up. It definitely takes me longer to eat them that way. The longer I eat the more satisfied I feel. John ate three hand-held tacos in less time than it took me to cut up and eat my two. Eating fewer finger foods and more foods with utensils helps you to stick with your healthy eating plan!
John shredded up the chicken and seasoned it with cumin, coriander, garlic, salt, and chile powder. He warmed it up in the microwave on low power. He seared the tortillas right on the stove top. For my part I cut up the taco toppings—cilantro, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and red peppers. Except for the cabbage those chopped up vegetables went into the black beans plus the addition of kernels off an ear of corn from our daughter’s garden. I seasoned the beans with cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes. Some fresh salsa from the grocery store and a squeeze of lime finished off our very satisfying taco dinner.
John laid down a layer of sea salt in a frying pan and started the salmon in a cold pan over low heat. The salmon took about 15 minutes to cook almost entirely on the skin side. He turned it over for two minutes on the flesh side. I started the green beans at the same time and was hoping for a bit of browning by the time the fish was done. At the end they were a little brown but also a little overcooked. The rutabaga was a leftover from our last chicken dinner and only needed reheating in the microwave.
I was reading yesterday about foods that are high in folate and how they help to keep your brain healthy as you age. Lentils were one of the foods mentioned. I have lentils on my menu twice this week! Since my mango was not yet ripe enough for the planned salmon dinner, I decided I would move up one of the lentil dishes.
Look at that bowl of lentil-y goodness! We have not made this in a while because it seems too hot for this sort of meal but it is not so hot today and this dish is just filled with yummy, healthy deliciousness.
It is really easy to make. First sauté mushrooms, then add onions and garlic and some red pepper flakes. Next I put in some more finely diced turkey sausage reserving the larger pieces for later. I want some of the turkey sausage to give up its flavor to the pot and the larger pieces just warmed through at the end of cooking.
Next all the vegetables except the kale leaves are added plus a few thyme twigs and a dash of salt and pepper. A cup and a half of lentils and 3+cups of stock go in and the whole thing simmers for about 25 minutes. At the end I add the kale so it can wilt and the turkey sausage to get warmed through. At this point I taste it and add additional seasoning. I find that a few drops of fish sauce helps with the salt level and umami.
We made this dish with whole grain spaghetti but probably any pasta will work. It is kind of like a puttanesca preparation except there are no tomatoes and tuna is added. It turned out well and I am sure we will make it again.
Put the salted water on to boil, During this time sauté 1/4 of an onion, chopped, 3 cloves of garlic, and some red pepper flakes in 1 tsp. of olive oil and some olive oil spray. When the water is boiling start cooking the 6 oz. of pasta. When it is almost done add 2 tablespoons of capers to the onion mixture, 1/4 cup Italian parsley, and 5 oz. of the greens. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta, and then put it in the pan with the onions, capers, garlic, and greens. Add the liquid from the can of tuna, about 1/2 cup pasta water, and stir around until the greens are wilted. Finally add the tuna and stir being careful not to break it up too much. Stir gently until the tuna is heated through. Correct seasoning by adding fish sauce (just a few drops) and garnish with lemon for squeezing, a drizzle of olive oil, and additional parsley. Serves 2.
In order to make our bowls seem fuller we break our spaghetti in half. I also think that olives would be a good addition to the sauce. Except for the pasta water, keep salt at a minimum as the ingredients are salty.