January Dinner Planning: First Full Week

I’m off to a funny start: This weekend is my first after the conclusion of my late work schedule, but I had parties both evenings and so did not make dinner at home. I did bring homemade cupcakes to last night’s gathering and a layer cake to today’s, both devil’s food with peanut-butter frosting. Yum.

Tomorrow Scott gets cooking duty, since I am on call, but starting Tuesday I am in the kitchen for real. The menu features two dishes from the current issue of Everyday Food, Asian Beef and Lettuce Wraps, and Sauteed Chicken with Herbed Soba; the recipes don’t seem to be online yet. I’m also making Thai green curry with tofu on Thursday night (it can simmer and be available for Scott when he gets home from his class), and pizza on Friday. I neglected to make pizza crusts over the weekend, but I can do that after dinner on one of the other nights this week so they’re ready to pull out of the freezer on Friday when I get home. We should also have enough leftover veggies to do a stir-fry on Saturday, incorporating whatever leftover protein we have the most of from the other meals. I plan to take photos and post them. Here is a picture of Scott’s dinner creation from Friday night: chicken breasts cooked on the Foreman grill, with roasted asparagus and leftover polenta, and a drizzle of homemade chili-flavored mayonnaise. Not bad, huh?

I think it’ll be good to have something already ready to cook on Saturday, because I’ve found that at our local grocery store it’s a lot better to do the week’s shopping on Sunday morning than on Saturday afternoon. Much less crowded, fewer crazy people. I didn’t have much choice yesterday, though, since I needed ingredients for the cakes.

Whenever I bake a cake or cupcakes for a gathering, there’s always at least one person who says, “I’m no good at baking.” I think that’s kind of sad; baking isn’t really that difficult, but it does require attention to detail, and it is something that you can do badly if you don’t understand the principles in the construction of a cake. Cake batter shouldn’t be overmixed, and cake shouldn’t be overbaked; you also want to be attentive to consistency and be prepared to add a touch more flour or liquid as necessary. The cake mix companies have done a fine job of persuading the public that this is all far too difficult and that we should turn to box mixes instead. But scratch cakes invariably taste better. If you must use a mix—and it’s an understandable temptation, since they’re basically engineered to be foolproof—you should bump up the flavor and interest with tips from The Cake Mix Doctor.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.