Weekly Menu, 8/2-8/8

It is so hot here in New Orleans.  So hot, in fact, that I actually feel sorry for my air conditioner.  Despite the heat, I’m baking a fresh loaf of bread today and using it for a couple of my meals this week.  I’m trying to stand over a hot stove as little as possible, so I’m hoping to plan my meals so that the leftovers can be used again.  These are my weekly recipes, Saturday is out to eat and Sunday is left-overs.

Monday (8/2): Fresh baked bread & Tuna Salad:

For the bread:

  • 3 c. warm water
  • 3 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 8 c. all-purpose flour

Combine water, yeast, salt, oil, sugar and half of the flour.  Mix well and allow to rise until double in size.  Gradually add remaining flour while kneading to keep dough smooth.  Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with damp towel and allow to double in size again.  Punch down and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.  Divide dough into 3 equal parts and place into greased loaf pans (I like to bake 2 loaves and wrap 1 in saran wrap and freeze).  Allow to rise until almost doubled.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

For the tuna salad:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 1/4 diced yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp. sweet relish
  • 1/3 c. mayo
  • dash of salt
  • dash of fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and spread over fresh baked bread.  Top with lettuce leaves and tomato slices.  Serve with pickle spear.

Tuesday (8/3): Barefoot Contessa’s Perfect Roast Chicken and Vegetables

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

Wednesday (8/4): Chicken Salad Sandwiches

  • Chicken shredded from 2 breasts (from Tuesday’s roast chicken)
  • 1/2 c. mayo
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch green grapes, halfed

Mix all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper.  Serve over fresh baked bread.

Thursday (8/5): Orzo with Roasted Veggies

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3/4 lbs. feta cheese, diced
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. orzo pasta
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • sliced green onions to garnish

Coat onions, peppers, garlic and eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 until brown, about 35 minutes.  Make sure to turn to prevent sticking.  Cook orzo according to package directions, drain and place in large bowl.  Scrape roasted veggies on top of orzo, making sure to include all pan drippings.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over the orzo and veggies.  Toss and allow to cool.  Once at room temperature, add the sliced basil and feta and season to taste.

Friday (8/6): Rachel Ray’s Steak Fajitas with Spanish Rice and Black Beans:

  • 1/2 a Corona beer
  • 1/2 c. chopped chipotle in adobo sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp. Mexican chile powder
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

For the fajitas:

  • Flank steak
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lg red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow dish. Turn flank steak in marinade and let stand 15 minutes. The meat can be placed in marinade in the morning and allowed to marinate until suppertime if you enjoy very strong, spicy flavors. The short marinade will result in a milder tasting meat which is more palatable to many not-too-hot taste buds.

Follow directions on packaged rice and get it simmering, it will take 18 to 20 minutes.

Heat a grill and sear the flank steak 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and cook meat 6 to 8 minutes longer, turning occasionally.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over high heat. Blister tortillas 30 seconds on each side and stack them on a plate. Loosely wrap tortillas with foil and place them on the dinner table. Add oil to hot pan and sear sliced peppers and onions for fajitas. Season peppers and onions with salt and pepper. Char edges and stir-fry the peppers and onions until just tender, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter and cover with loose foil to keep hot.

Remove meat from grill and let it rest 5 minutes for juices to distribute. Slice meat very thin on an angle against the grain. Stack meat and veggies in warm tortillas and enjoy with a side of spicy black beans.

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