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What are your thoughts on leftovers?
I am perfectly happy with leftovers as-they-are for lunch (or even breakfast), but when it comes to dinner, I usually want things in a different form. Which is one of the great things about roast chicken – the leftovers are endlessly adaptable. Soups, pastas, enchiladas, sandwiches, you name it.
Last night, we went with tostadas.
Grilled tortillas, black beans (homemade this time and on hand, but canned just as often), spinach, a bit of cheese, tomatoes, avocados and my favorite chipotle-lime cream (with yogurt last night). Combined with some heated-until-crispy leftover shredded chicken.
So easy, fresh and so good – meals like these give leftovers a good name.
I am infinitely curious about what people eat and make for dinner at home. Not “magazine” weeknight dinners, or even blogs that showcase only one component or require endless time, but real dinners. To be honest, if I make dinner 3-4 nights a week, I consider that a HUGE success. I know there will be a dinner or two out, plus perhaps take-out and a ‘single gals’ dinner of popcorn or wine and cheese.
So every so often, I thought it would be fun to showcase a real weeknight dinner. Some of course will be more fun than others, but that’s life, right?
While there are very few things I love more than roast chicken for dinner, I think it might be Billy’s absolute favorite. That, plus how easy it is, and the guaranteed leftovers means that it is without a doubt the most often repeated dinner I make.
This is the version I most often make – the crispy skin and short cooking time keep it in constant rotation – although I did through a lemon and some garlic in the cavity on a whim. Instead of my usual green salad with vinaigrette, I went for a super fast riff on Zuni’s bread salad. Toasted bread, tossed with a warm garlic vinaigrette and pan drippings, plumped currants, pine nuts and arugula.
Perhaps not the healthiest of Monday night dinners (at least not for me, as I think the skin is the main course), but definitely makes for a happy way to start the week.
What is most often in your dinner rotation?
This weekend was good for the soul… sunshine and friends, good food and a bit of relaxation. The only problem with weekends like this, is they make Mondays a bit tough. There was a barbecue in Dolores Park, giant beers and pretzels at the Biergarten, the best spicy crab and garlic noodles at PPQ, ice cream and movie time to start.
But as the weekend left, so did the sunshine. Which, being in San Francisco, I have to get used to as “summer” heads our way. I think tonight might just call for a simple roast chicken… That and the promise of a long weekend, might just get us through this week after all.
A few recent conversations with friends, sometimes over morning coffee, other times late into the night, have had me thinking about happiness. Everyone has a different outlook on things, but more often than not, I try not to dwell on the negatives. I am optimistic by nature, or more likely, by teaching – my mom is crazy positive, even when you would least expect it. Of course there are rough patches (hell, some patches seem like they will be indefinite) but even during those times, there can be bits in the everyday that bring us joy.
I think I am going to pick up The Happiness Project for my next read – and see how it goes. Anyone else want to join in?
Being not much of a dessert person, it is often a footnote on my menus … just a little something sweet that complements the dinner. If my husband had his druthers, dessert would be the star, and dinner the afterthought. But alas, I am the one who likes to cook.
That being said, when looking for desserts, seasonal and EASY are often the two most important factors. I love making simple vanilla ice cream taking cue from the season or menu for a topping, but this time decided to switch it up a bit. Panna cotta, which is also a cream based dessert, seemed to be the perfect fit.
This one was inspired by Cannelle et Vanille, but adapted from a Food & Wine recipe, as the batteries in my scale were dead and my store only had powdered gelatin. The cream and vanilla bean give it a lovely richness, but the real star is the yogurt, which gives it a bit of tartness, and in my book “makes it sing.” Particularly complementary to the season’s sweetest strawberries!
I also love just serving it in simple glasses or ramekins, another notch in the easy belt, versus the traditional unmolded style.
Yogurt & Vanilla Panna Cotta
Whoops – thought this went up before I left for vacation, but apparently it did not. Well. enjoy while I sort out a few photos from Mexico… xx
If it is not yet apparent, friends & dinner is my favorite thing ever – and I particularly love the combination at home. On Saturday, we had a few friends over and did another version of spring favorites. You may notice that the many of the ingredients below mimic those found at the first “spring dinner” – some in a new way, some the same.
It was much warmer this time around, so the overall feel was a bit lighter, but definitely just as good.
We started with ...
Fresh Pea & Fava Puree and Ricotta with Lemon Zest
Great with grilled bread - eaten solo or piled together for the perfect bite. This is the same Jamie Oliver version as before (and several other dinners in the meantime), but with favas too, as they were available at my farmer’s market. Good ricotta doesn’t need much, but a little sprinkling of lemon zest and a drizzle of good olive oil takes it over the top!
And for dinner ...
Little Gems with Pickled Green Strawberries
I saw the green strawberries at the market, and decided to attempt the same method from a recent salad at Cotogna – with a quick pickle. I used the same recipe as when I pickled grapes, and added roasted beets and goat cheese to the little gems. As for the vinaigrette, I added a few smashed ripe strawberries in place of honey for sweetness, and love the ying and yang of it.
Spring Risotto with Preserved Lemon
When looking around for different versions of spring risotto, I found one on Food 52 that added chopped preserved lemons at the end. I loved that idea, and used it myself — I didn’t follow the whole recipe (which called for Pernod instead of the usual white wine) and just did a fairly traditional version with asparagus and spring peas, but I did sub green garlic and fennel for onions, which made it particularly “springy” too me.
yet, the pièce de résistance (in my book) was the ...
Whole Roasted Brazino with Caper Butter
I have never roasted whole fish before (grilled once) and must say, I am hooked. Super simple but so tender and delicious! I stuffed it with lemon, fresh rosemary & oregano and followed this technique. Served it with caper butter and it was perfect! Added bonus it comes across as quite a showstopper.
And for dessert ...
Yogurt Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries
A truly perfect dessert for spring and summer. In fact, it was such a hit that I had to make it again on Sunday when some friends dropped by. Suffice it to say, we will be following up with our own post on this one.
Have you had a chance to capture spring yet. What are your favorties? And can you believe that summer is almost here?