Happy weekend! Welcome to another installment of the weekly meal plan! Maybe it’s the new year, but I’m feeling particularly productive in all aspects of my life, and I hope the inspiration lasts for a good long while. There’s a recipe at the bottom of the post for these scallops with Thai scented pea purée, which were a smash hit tonight for dinner.
It’s been a low key weekend so far – we went to see the final Hobbit this afternoon, which was beautiful, but honestly a bit of a let down. I grew up obsessed with Tolkien, and I think I’m still just bitter about the creation of Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel for the movies – a lackluster female character who definitely is not in the book, and devised for romantic tension with an all too good looking Kili. The whole thing irked me. But I was certainly glad to have seen a movie in the theaters – it’s been all too long!
This weekend I’ve also been playing around with a new app that my culinary crush Jamie Oliver is collaborating on. (Other teenagers had their favorite pop stars hanging over their beds, I had a picture of a smarmy Jamie Oliver sitting in a bathtub that I had clipped out of the TV Guide. I was completely devastated when he married Jules, but I digress.) The new app is called the YOU-app, and every day it gives you daily photo prompts to encourage simple micro-actions to make a better life. Yesterday’s action was to address your fridge – empty it, clean up, and take stock. I managed to toss a good number of things that were past their prime. Here’s the slightly more tidy version right now.
The Meal Plan: Week of December 28th
Now that you’ve seen me bare all – it’s not looking as bad as I’d worried it would, here are the things to use up in my kitchen: a little bit of cheese, some potatoes in chicken broth, a little bit of leftover tomato coconut sauce from the Moqueca (perfect for simmering an egg or two), the leftover vegetable tops from my spiralizer, some beets which I plan on pickling, some coconut milk.
Saturday: scallops and thai scented pea puree. The recipe for this one is below! I was originally planning this for last week, but life happened. Served with a Trader Joe’s potato pancakes, and a fried sardine for the cook.
Sunday: grilled chicken and winter fennel salad. I made this salad a month ago for a dinner party, and I’ve been craving it ever since. Recipe to be posted shortly!
Monday: ground beef and tomato-rice soup. My version of a stuffed pepper soup, with a Turkish twist. It’ll likely get a dollop of yogurt on top, and I’ll use up the leftover dill.
Tuesday: chicken sausage and egg shakshuka. These are all leftovers in my fridge that need to be used. I might sprinkle with some of the extra feta that needs using up as well.
Wednesday: black beans and rice. I haven’t been eating too many beans lately, but Samin got me thinking about beans with her push for ‘bean month’ this January. And I still happen to have about a dozen varieties in my house from my Rancho Gordo year of beans subscription.
Thursday: pork chops with brussels spouts. Just something simple to use up some of my CSA pork chops. I’m not sure I’ll have anything interesting to do with them – this pork is so good just on it’s own.
Scallops with Thai Scented Pea Puree
I’ve adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s original one – replacing her creme fraîche with coconut milk, and adding some extra fresh herb (mint) to the peas. Thai basil would also be good here. I use Thai Kitchen Green Thai Curry Paste, which you can find in most supermarkets now. If we’re feeling hungry, or the price of scallops is exorbitantly high, I’ll reduce the number of scallops to two, and serve the meal with some Trader Joe’s frozen potato pancakes. To cook this dish, start by putting out all of your ingredients, because you’ll want to put together this dish quickly, and eat it while hot!
16 ounces frozen peas (I get the 1 lb. petit pois from Trader Joes)
1 to 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
flaky sea salt
1 pound wild sea scallops, about 3-4 large scallops per person
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lime
Start by prepping your scallops – dry them well, and season with a pinch of flaky salt on both sides. Then, start the mash. In a large bowl in the microwave, heat the peas until hot, stirring every minute or so until warmed through, about three minutes. (You could also do this on the stovetop.) Stir in the green curry paste, coconut milk, and chopped mint leaves, and season with a good pinch of salt, and set aside.
For the scallops, heat the butter and olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. When hot, add scallops, making sure not to crowd the pan, and let scallops cook for 3 minutes without touching them. Check to see if they’re golden on the bottom, and if they aren’t let them go another minute. Flip. Cook three minutes on the other side.
While the scallops are finishing their last three minutes, puree the pea mixture with an immersion blender (A regular blender will also work, but will take a little bit more effort – if you use a regular blender, you may want to do this before cooking the scallops.) Taste, and add any extra salt and pepper you’d like. Plate the purée, and take the cooked scallops out of the pan, and nestle them on the purée.
To finish, make a quick pan sauce: squeeze the lime in the hot pan juices, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any golden brown bits that have all the flavor! Stir for about a minute, and you are done. Pour pan sauce over scallops and mash, and eat while hot!
Well hello there! If you’ve come looking for the recipe for this gorgeous Brazilian fish stew, it’s at the bottom there for you. But first – my week! I spent a lot of time thinking about the months past. I’m a sucker for resolutions, vision boards, and planning the future, but I try to make a really earnest effort to look back at the year, take stock, and feel thankful for the opportunities that I’ve experienced, people I’ve met, and things I’ve achieved.
This was also a week of rest and rejuvenation. We continued to listen to Serial, this time as we headed to IKEA for some post holiday shopping, which is code for (we’ve run out of their crack-meatballs). I ended up taking home another Lack coffee table, only to put it together and find that the color (white) totally clashed with our living room. So it ended up repurposed as part of my photography station in the kitchen. Speaking about that – I’ve been working on my photography (both with my DSLR, and iPhone – and sharing regularly on my Instagram account!) – skills that I want to continue to focus on in the new year. I also got myself an extra Lowel Ego light to take pictures in the evening – or in New England, any time after 3:30 pm. And I got another cutting board from Ikea to take photos on. And I spray painted some foam core as a photo board, but I will tell you that that experience was a little bit of a bust. I’ve also been listening to the Tim Ferriss Podcast from the very beginning, and I’m currently on the episode with Chase Jarvis, one of the co-founders of CreativeLive – an excellent resource for creative courses online.
And I must tell you about my incredible luck: last week I got a huge shipment from Chronicle Books – a few weeks ago I entered a giveaway over at SF Girl By Bay (one of my favorite blogs), and I ended up winning! Chronicle is another of one my favorite publishers, so this had me smiling for days. Some of these were in my collection already, so a few lucky people got some cookbooks this holiday season!
The Meal Plan: Week of December 28th
I’m already over the gluttony of holiday eating, and looking to get back on track. Healthy in this house is always delicious, and you won’t find any plain chicken breasts for dinner, but I do like simple meals! Things to use up in my kitchen: almost everything from last week: chopped Buddha’s hand citron, some chicken basil pesto sausage, a little bit of cheese, peppered turkey, dill. I have some cooked borlotti beans, boiled potatoes, celery, some beets, and a little bit of tomato sauce left as well.
Saturday: Whole Foods Salad Bar Night! I try to cook us meals to share, but some nights we’re craving different things, which is a perfect excuse to go and pick out our own meals. Have you tried their zucchini and tomato with garlic? It’s very good. I also came home with a maple kefir from Butterworks Farm.
Sunday: Brazilian Fish Stew inspired by my Cook Smarts subscription. (Recipe Below). I love this coconut seafood dish.
Monday: rack of lamb with pesto and roasted vegetables. My freezer currently has a bit of a storage problem – a rack of lamb came flying out at me when I opened the door this weekend, so it ended up defrosting in the fridge for Monday night dinner. The vegetables are all actually leftovers from my spiralizer sessions. I put them in a small tupperware until I have a few cups to roast.
Tuesday: greens and eggs. I used to eat this meal once a week while Devon was taking his late night classes in Hayward. It’s still my favorite meal to go to when I’m craving all of the green things.
Wednesday: Mexican flavored meatballs? Baked potatoes with caviar? I feel like I should do something significant to usher in the new year, but as of yet, I haven’t figured out what. I’ll keep thinking about it!
Thursday: scallops with Thai scented pea puree A few years ago I bookmarked this recipe in Nigella’s Kitchen cookbook, and have kept coming back to it when I want something light. It’s always a nice treat!
Friday: Out! Or possibly eating more green vegetables.
Quick Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)
Some notes – I’ve gone ahead and tweaked this recipe slightly from a traditional version – I like my onion and pepper texturally in a sort of smooth salsa-like paste before I cook them into stews. You could use any type of thicker white fish here, but I use cod. It’s also good with shrimp. You’d typically marinate the seafood in advance in lime juice, but for an easy weeknight meal, you don’t have to, and it still turns out delicious. Traditionally you would use full fat coconut milk and palm oil (which I spotted today in Trader Joe’s! – but I substitute olive oil, because that’s usually what I have in the house.)
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small bell pepper
1 tablespoon palm oil (or olive oil)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 good pinch of salt
1 pound wild cod, cut into chunks
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
juice of half a lime
lime and cilantro for garnish
In a mini Cusinart, chop onion, garlic, and pepper into a thick salsa-like consistency, alternately, you can chop these ingredients with a knife. In a heavy pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil, and cook the garlic, onion, and pepper mixture with the paprika, chile powder, and a large pinch of salt, stirring gently, for about five minutes.
Add tomatoes, coconut milk, stock, and another pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until the onion and garlic are cooked, and have lost their harshness.
Add fish chunks, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, turning the fish over after three minutes to ensure that they cook through. When fish turns opaque, take off the stove, stir in the lime juice, and taste for seasoning – you might need to add a little bit of salt. Serve over rice, with crusty bread, or with mashed potatoes. (This isn’t traditional, I’m just on a mashed potato kick.)
What are you eating this week?
Last year, tragically, I missed the shad roe. The season is very, very short – when the shad swim up the Delaware to lay their eggs, a week or two at most. Unlike the marketable items of the season, the shamrock shakes and corned beef, the asparagus you’ll be eating for weeks, if you see a lobe of these, buy them, buy them right away, you’ll likely only get one chance to, and then they are gone.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the visual aesthetic of shad roe is unfailingly feminine. Shad roe is the egg sac of the shad, a historically significant fish around these parts. Shad roe sacs are large, filled with tiny eggs that firm up when cooked. The taste is reminiscent of both offal and caviar, a distinct flavor I look forward to once a year.
Once you procure one of these, you have a few options, but most agree that gently cooking in butter or bacon fat (or both!) is the way to go. My mom dredges hers in a little flour, salt, and pepper before cooking, and makes a green salad with lemon oil dressing, preferring to stuff the cooked shad and salad into a crusty baguette. (This is always a good option.)
I happened across a lobe at Whole Foods this weekend, and surrendered $13 dollars for the delicacy. You can find it for less, but after last year’s debacle – I saw it in the store on my morning walk, committed to coming back a few hours later to buy it, and upon returning it was gone for the season – I was prepared for highway robbery in order to get my prize. Without knowing what I wanted to do with it, I stalled, by brining the roe sac overnight in a quart of water and tablespoon of salt. This helps to reduce any blood in the veins, and produce, some say, a sweeter flavor. It’s not a necessary step, but you can’t put off buying shad roe if you see it, and this gives you a little extra time after purchase to decide its fate.
To cook my shad roe, I took a note from Jody and Ken here – in some butter and pancetta, gently on one side for about ten minutes, basting every three, then five minutes on the other side. I re-iterate gently – to avoid the splattering, popping of roe exploding. (And these babies EXPLODE!). After cooking the roe, and removing it from the cast iron, I made a quick pan sauce with the juice of a lemon, and a large spoonful of chopped rinsed capers, and served everything over a nice bowl of baby spinach. Peppery arugula would have been nice here too.
For one, a half a lobe will do, for two, you have a meal, or for a lone shad roe lover, a meal, and a second go around at breakfast, with leftovers accompanied by some scrambled eggs and bacon. I dutifully saved some for myself and dinner, round two, was on a fresh Clear Flour baguette, with a slathering of homemade mayo.
Have you tried shad roe?
Go to your fishmonger, and grab a bag of mussels – you know, the ones you always see and tend to pass over in favor of the same salmon, cod, or flounder on sale each week. These bags are about two pounds or a kilo, and while they look large, they will serve one. Trust me, it’s not enough for two unless you are tossing with pasta, or eating as an accompaniment to something larger. Take your bounty home, and scrub those shells clean. You might have to de-beard some of them if you see telltale black threads around the edges of the shell – to do so take a paring knife and scrape them off. Most mussels nowadays are quite clean, but just to make sure that you are not consuming a mouth full of sand, soak your mussels for a few minutes in cool water, and then give them a good rinse.
Put the clean mussels in a pot or a wide deep pan with a lid (I use my 12 inch All-Clad), and pour a cup or so of white wine over the top (sometimes I only have Lillet on hand, so I’ll often use that), a big pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. You can put any sort of other seasoning in here if you’d like – say maybe some fresh thyme and a few cloves of garlic that have been sliced. Cover, and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a good simmer, and shake the pan every couple of minutes until the shells have all opened, anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes. Sometimes I leave them in for 10, and they don’t seem to overcook. Discard the ones with broken shells, and the ones that haven’t opened, and feast! Serve in the shell, or out, with a pat of butter and some of the steaming juices, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of parsley if you have it. A nice crusty piece of bread or hot french fries are great on the side here.
When in doubt, look for the light. I caught the light tonight at the John C. Potter estate right as the sun was starting to set – illuminating the stately mansard roof, and making the house feel magical. Somehow in the past two days nature has gotten the memo – the leaves are already starting to turn bright colors, and well, everything is beginning to look spectacular.
Today I had my first coaching session after a long hiatus – I’m not sure what prompted the shift, but I realized a few months ago that I was missing something, and working with women to help them reach their health goals is something that I really love to do. I always hear coaches and trainers going on about how much they cherish their work, and how much they learn from their clients, but I’d forgotten how true it is: listening to a client be open, honest, and trusting with you is a very special experience – and an incredibly inspiring one.
The rest of my day was low key and relaxed. I spent a good deal of time cleaning the house, organizing, and tidying. I didn’t need to do much batch cooking today because this week will be full of evening activities and most of my dinners will be solo. My meal plan will be simple: salads, eggs, some chicken are on the docket. Last minute cooking for one is so much easier than last minute cooking for two. My reluctance to cook when tired stems directly from anxiety about the meal not being fulfilling for both of us – but when I’m on my own, I’m happy enough with the simplest of foods: a mess of greens, a tin of sardines, leftovers, poached eggs.
The kitchen did get some use today – first order of business was making a pitcher of green juice to sip on for the next few days. This version has fistfuls of spinach, a large cucumber, the juice of three limes, a few green apples, and some filtered water. Typically you don’t need water with a juicer, but I made this in my Vitamix and you need a little bit of liquid to get things going.
And then there was dinner. Sunday is fish night in this house, and flounder was on sale for $6 off a pound. I grabbed a pound of fillets from the fishmonger, and brought them home with me with plans to make a riff on rollmops – stuffed pickled herring filets that are often served with buttery potatoes. I’m pretty sure that rollmops wouldn’t be appreciated by anyone other than me in this household, but stuffed flounder is another story. I preheated my oven to 400, then I took my fish and stuffed them with Whole Foods feta salsa – a mix of feta, sun dried tomato, parsley, and dill. Then I rolled them up, put them on a bed of pre-steamed baby potatoes (which I had nuked in the microwave for 6 minutes), nestled in a few halved tomatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper, and slicked everything with some olive oil. They baked for 20 minutes, and dinner was served.
Hello! Today was a quiet day, I dropped off Devon at work at 8, and headed over to Trader Joe’s to pick up some food so that I wasn’t lost without options. Newly armed with chicken thighs, broccoli, and several samples, I headed over to Formaggio Kitchen to pick up my cup of George Howell coffee, and an egg salad sandwich on caraway bread for lunch, and made it home in time for my first meeting.
I worked from home today, and it was largely full of meetings, calls, coordination, and follow up work. It was blissfully uneventful… except for a small period of panic as I waited patiently for the iOS 7 release. After several false starts: “Sorry, your phone is too damn full, this program needs 3.1 GB of storage!“, and “Sorry, you’ve waited two hours but Software Update is unavailable at this time, sucker!“, I can finally say that in my hands is the flat design and brand-spankin’ new features we’ve all been waiting for.
Actually, I’m having trouble adjusting. But I just don’t like change.
If you are only around for the food, warning, fitness rambling ahead! Just go ahead and skip below the fold for my dinner notes.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been missing many weekday CrossFit classes because I haven’t been able to make the commuting work, so a few months ago I decided to commit to Wednesday afternoons to head in for the WOD, and for Olympic Lifting class. Despite my attempts, because of traffic, I was barely making it to the later classes, so a few weeks ago I decided to try working from home on Wednesdays so that I’d avoid the nearly two hour rush hour trip from Boston to Needham. Many folks in my office work from home a few days a week – and unlike at Yahoo, we get things done! – and I feel so fortunate to have such flexibility. Today’s workout was the scheduled Lurong Paleo Challenge workout, and although I’m not competing, I jumped right in with the group.
B. “The Triplet Tester”
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of:
Wall Ball 20/14
Box Jump 24/20
For this workout, there was an 18 minute cap. I chose the prescribed weights, and the wall balls nearly killed me. I knew going in it would be hard work, but I assumed that I’d get closer to finishing – but… no dice. I made it through the 21 and 18 round with a rough time on the wall balls, and only made it through 12 wall balls of the 15 round. This was *not* my best work, and I kept missing the wall target. But, I do still feel quite sore from the weekend, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. It felt so good just to be in there working hard.
After the workout, I stayed for Lifting class – we spent an hour warming up, doing drills, and practicing Squat Cleans. I’ve been trying to get back to heavier weights, but I know that I need to commit to the best form possible, even if that means a light bar. I spent most of the hour focusing intently on leaning back, pulling the bar close, and getting my elbows up. I know these classes pay off in the end, but man, is it an exercise in patience!
After the gym I headed back into the city to pick up Devon from work before heading home.
And then we eat!
When I got home, I was keen on prepping dinner quickly – it was already past 8 when we walked in the door. After 10 minutes at the fish counter debating flounder (on sale) or scallops, the scallops won out. I think it was Adam Roberts’ instagram that got me hungry for them this week, and I knew I wanted to take them home and sear them in butter. Butttttttah.
I took out my stainless steel pan, added a few pats of Kerrygold butter, and let it heat up until it was just starting to foam and brown. The scallops, which were quite large, got seasoned with salt and pepper, and I popped them in the pan and let them sizzle in the bubbling butter. I gave them about three minutes on the first side without so much as poking them, flipped them over, and let them have another two. Afterwards I let them rest on a plate while I reheated some asparagus (leftovers from Devon’s dinner last night at Capitol Grille – I can’t complain, because yesterday I was eating lobster), heated up his small piece of leftover filet mignon, some potatoes, and cooked some pre-steamed fairytale eggplant and cherry tomatoes in the buttery dregs of the pan. After I plated, I sprinkled the eggplant and tomato with some sherry vinegar, and dinner was served!
And now? Tonight’s episode of Broadchurch. Are you watching it? It’s the newest series to premiere on BBC America – a small seaside town crime series starring the former Doctor, David Tennant, and it’s completely captivating! Are you watching it? Do you have a favorite BBC series?