Sunday, 3 February 2008

Planning Ahead

It's dawned on me that it's February, and my after-work commitments are starting this coming week, or next week. I'm going to need to be prepared with the dinners, because an unfed Cath is a cranky Cath. I don't want to spend hours getting dinner ready, when I've only got home at 8pm.

Last year I'd usually work out a rough menu for the week on Saturday after shopping, and make most of it on Sunday. I've been able to lapse from that over the summer break, but it's time to get back to the routines now. So reheatables and leftovers and make-ahead dishes are going to have to be the thing. I've made a plan. I don't know if I'll keep to it, but here it is.

Saturday (yesterday) - Shanghai noodles with brown bean pork sauce.
Sunday (tonight) - BBQ lamb sausages & cajun roo, salads, and sorbets
Monday - stir fry chicken with chilli & Thai basil & rice & veg
Tuesday - Sorrel, Potato & Brie Frittata bake; salad
Wednesday - leftover frittata & salad
Thursday - refrigerator pasta with roast tomatoes
Friday - off to Goulburn for Blues Festival. Pub Grub.

Tonight we're having a BBQ dinner tonight with old friends, and I've promised meat and sorbet. I have saltbush lamb sausages, and roo fillets marinaded in bourbon, lime juice and Herbie's Cajun mix. I've got most of the mango sorbet still, and I've added a chocolate one. To my horror, Chocolate & Zucchini was offline yesterday when I wanted to make the mix, so I had to snaffle the recipe from the Google cache. I'm saving it here (below the fold) for emergencies.

Here's how it works. On Monday I can do stir fry prep while the rice is cooking. I have the chicken now, defatted & sliced to BBQ piece size, in case anyone objects to kangaroo. Tomorrow I can just slice it further to stir fry pieces, and freeze some if there's too much. On Tuesday I may leave a note for the bloke to turn the oven on, so when I get back from dance class I can toss it in the oven & have dinner in 20 minutes. Wednesday after a different dance class is even easier - just reheat. Thursday I have a singing lesson, but I should get home early enough to make a random pasta. I have some ready cooked in the freezer, from a semi-failed recipe, which produced *way* too much pasta for the quantity of sauce and number of diners. I'll add the tomatoes I roasted yesterday, and whatever else needs using up. Maybe the odds and ends of chicken; maybe leftover BBQ meat & veg.

I've also saved brown bean sauce in the freezer for the future; and I have a single night's serve of the lamb chilli. That should form the basis of the following week's meals. I'm so together. Yay for me. Bring on term 1, week 1.

Sorbet & frittata recipes follow.
Recipe 1: Sorbet Chocolat Noir
550 ml water
80g unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
200g sugar
175g dark chocolate, chopped as finely as your patience allows
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Pre-freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker as instructed by your friend the manufacturer.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, cocoa powder, and sugar. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking continually. Remove from heat, and add the chopped chocolate. Let rest for 30 seconds as the chocolate begins to melt, add the vanilla and salt, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate until chilled.

Whisk the mixture again just before using, and freeze using your ice cream maker.

Notes: Makes about 1 litre. Recipe adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini, which is also adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz. The quality of the chocolate and cocoa do matter here. Dutch cocoa is amazingly dark and rich compared to the old Cadbury's. The sorbet is not very sweet, but it is rich and intense.

Recipe 2: Sorrel and Brie Frittata Bake

350g potato, cubed
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g sorrel
1 tablespoon butter
100g firm Brie
6 eggs
pinch salt

Fry the potato cubes gently in the olive oil for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly so they do not stick. Add crushed garlic and stir for another minute. Set aside.
Fry the sorrel in the butter for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Beat eggs and salt until well combined.
Chop Brie, combine with potato and sorrel, and mix in eggs. Pour all into a large cake tin, and bake at 180C for 20 minutes or until set.

Notes: Sorrel will shrink massively, and turn an ugly dull green like overcooked spinach. This is perfectly fine. Keep going.

Also, why firm Brie? Well, I found some left over from Xmas, rather dried out, up the back of the fridge. Still in date, definitely not off, but not going to be good enough to eat on its own. So cooking it is the thing, and a frittata is a great use-up dish.

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