Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Delectable Weekend Dinners or, "I Am Worth Seafood, Even Without Company!"

I know, the weekend is already over, but I am still enjoying the leftovers, and am inspired to share.

Friday's menu was a fairly quick one, but quite delicious and popular with the kids. I made the mistake of buying Panko crumbs at Costco before I realized they have a looming 'best-by' date. So I am working at finding many uses for them. This combo of mayo/Dijon and panko crumbs is fast becoming a favourite, both on fish and other meats.

Panko-crusted pork cutlets
Quinoa pilaf (saute chopped onion, carrot, celery, add quinoa, water and some Mrs. Dash and salt, cook til water is absorbed)
Baked spaghetti squash
Shredded Brussels sprout salad

I love love love this Brussels sprout salad, and even Baby G asked for seconds. It's like a Caesar-dressed coleslaw. Delish! The flavours of everything matched very well, with the lemon zest and mustard in the pork cutlets balancing really nicely with the salad dressing. Yummy.

Saturday morning started off with my dad's home-cured bacon, blueberry buckwheat pancakes, and basted eggs. To kick off the weekend, the boys' uncle came over to share breakfast with us. It was the perfect start to Saturday.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

1/2 c. buckwheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/3 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla
3 T. canola oil
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 peeled, cored and chopped apple

Mix first six ingredients in a large bowl. In small bowl, beat together egg, milk, milk, vanilla and oil. Add to flour mixture. Stir until moistened and then gently add blueberries and apple. Fry on a griddle until golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Every time I serve these pancakes I'm surprised at how good they are. I've been making them for years, but lately we've taken to making banana pancakes a lot, because we always have bananas to use up. The blueberry buckwheat pancakes are truly my favourite. In fact, it's less about pancakes for breakfast and more about having a 'pancake day'. I made a double batch, and everyone in the family preferred to eat a cold pancake instead of any of the other options for lunch or snacks for the rest of the day.

I kept feeling the urge to invite people for dinner this weekend, but when Saturday afternoon hit and neither my husband nor I felt like doing anything (burn-out from my business trip and his full-on kid care and two resulting sleepless nights), we decided we should probably hunker down and hang out on our own.

But that didn't mean we couldn't eat well. I was thinking of using up the last of the scallops and shrimp that I had left in the freezer after my Christmas catering gig. We don't usually buy that kind of thing, since we try to stick with local fish as much as possible, and occasionally we catch a windfall from friends who have done their own ocean fishing. I was wondering whether we should cook seafood for just us, and my husband said quite forcefully, "I am worth cooking seafood for, all by myself, dammit!"

Well, that decided it. There was actually just enough for the four of us anyway, so it worked out well, and boy did we ever enjoy our Saturday night dinner!

Seared Scallops (and Shrimp) with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce (I just added shrimp to the pan along with the scallops, but pulled them out after just a few seconds, once they were opaque)
Simple Risotto (I didn't use a recipe, but what I did is basically repeated here)
Roasted broccoli and cauliflower (toss broccoli and cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic, place on a sheet pan and roast at 375F or 400F for about 15 minutes, or until browned and softening)

This was a heavenly dinner, and I enjoyed it with a glass of Joseph Mellot Sancerre, which I also used in the risotto and the pan sauce. Definitely a treat—but we were worth it!

My husband had stated Saturday that he didn't really want to have people over for dinner on Sunday because he likes some down-time before the work week starts again. We tossed that out the window when some good friends of ours called, whom we hadn't seen in FAR too long. "Sorry hon, they're coming for supper tonight." His response, "Oh, that's okay, it will be great to see them!" Twist his rubber arm.

We had a fairly simple meal, but I finished it off with a nice dessert, so it felt pretty luxurious:

Tortilla Pie
Orange, Radish and Avocado salad with citrus Dijon vinaigrette
Tres leches cake

Tortilla Pie

2 T. oil
1 t. cumin
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pkg. 10" tortillas
Fresh cooked, refried pinto beans (a la Rick Bayless), or you could use a 14oz. can refried beans
1 14 oz. can corn, drained
2 c. grated cheese (I used half mozzarella and half cheddar)
Handful cilantro, chopped.

For the fillings:
Fry in oil onion, cumin, tomatoes, chilies and garlic. Add peppers at the last minute

In a separate bowl, mix corn, cheese and cilantro. Set aside.

Have refried beans ready as well.

Preheat oven to 375F. Layer tortillas and filling in a springform pan that just fits the tortillas. Alternate fillings, using tomato mixture for one, then corn/cilantro/cheese, then refried beans. Finish with a tortilla on top, cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before unmolding and slicing like a pie.

Orange, Avocado and Radish Salad (adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian)

Citrus Dressing:
1 t. salt
3 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange juice
1 t. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 t. black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. olive oil

Make dressing by combining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well and set aside.

Toss together: 6 c. mixed lettuce, 2 or 3 sliced oranges, 1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced, and approximately six sliced radishes. Pour dressing over and serve.

Enjoy on a weekend, or any day you feel like it!

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