Menu for the Week of September 24, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of September 24, 2017

We have another busy week ahead of us, with several nights where one or both of us will be out, but we will still make three new recipes.

We’ll try the first of these new recipes on Sunday night when we make Ina Garten’s Roasted Ratatouille with Polenta. With the summer winding down, we thought this would be a good choice. As the name of the recipe makes clear, this dish features a unique way to prepare the vegetables that will go into the ratatouille: roasting them, rather than sautéing them. We’ve made ratatouille several times before, but have almost always had it with fish, so we’re excited to try it with polenta. 

We really enjoyed the Jamie Oliver dish we made two weeks ago, Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes & Basil. It was easy and delicious and perhaps best of all, made the apartment smell fantastic for the rest of the night! We’ll try another one of his recipes on Tuesday night, when we make Jamie Oliver’s Ginger Shakin’ Beef. We are going to make one major change to the recipe, however. The recipe calls for using miso paste as a coating for the steak. Rather than buy a container of miso just to have it sit in the fridge, we tried to find an alternative. We found an idea on the Food 52 website, which suggests using a combination of anchovy paste and tahini (both of which we already have)  instead of miso paste. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and see how it goes.

Kim found a fun pizza recipe and since we already have some dough in the freezer, we thought we would give it a try on Saturday night. It’s Half Baked Harvest Brussels Sprout Mushroom Pizza with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage. It’s not a very traditional pizza, but we know all the toppings, including the apple butter, burrata cheese, and provolone that aren’t mentioned in the recipe name, will go great together, We can’t imagine that putting them on a pizza will make them worse. We will definitely pay a visit to our friend Michael at Columbus Wine and Spirits to see how creative he can get with a wine pairing!

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Menu for the Week of September 17, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of Sep 17 2017

We’ll only be making two dinners at home this week — we both have plans on multiple nights — so we thought we would throw in a breakfast recipe and a lunch recipe to round the post out a bit.

Our “breakfast” recipe is the The New York Times Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake. (We say “breakfast” simply because when it’s around, we’ll (this means Tony) often have it for breakfast with some fresh fruit on the side. We’ve never actually made it “for breakfast,” but instead have taken it to Tony’s mom Maria’s house as dessert when she’s made dinner for us.) This was only the second time Kim made this cake, but she’s already mastered it. It was moist and fruity and not too sweet and, as the photo below shows, very pretty. We took it to Tony’s mom’s house yesterday. Tony’s sister’s godmother, Flora, was visiting Tony’s mom and waited for us to arrive, so we all had a small piece with afternoon espresso. We also had some after dinner and left some behind for Maria and one of Maria’s neighbors.

We’ll be at the Yankee game Sunday afternoon and typically don’t have a big dinner after games. We also both have plans Monday and Tuesday evening, so we won’t make dinner until Wednesday. Since we won’t be able to have fresh peaches for much longer, we decided to try Real Simple’s Chicken Legs with Peach, Shallot, and Watercress Salad. This easy recipe promises to be delicious, plus, it will make leftovers! Sadly, we won’t be able to use any peaches from Tony’s dad’s peach tree — they were all stolen! Tony and his brother are working on some advanced security measures (like, um, a padlock) to prevent this from happening again next year.

Kim also found a fun lunch recipe that we’re going to try this week. It’s for Spinach Hummus Lunch Wraps, a recipe Kim read on the Love and Lemons blog. Kim has an excellent hummus recipe that has become her go-to, but we thought we would mix things up a bit and try this version, which incorporates spinach into the mix. It should make for some fun lunches and a nice change of pace.

Last but not least is Friday night’s dinner, when we’ll make The New York Times’ Spicy Thai Pork Tenderloin Salad. We’re big fans of pork tenderloin because it cooks so quickly, so we’re always on the lookout for new recipes . We’ve never made this version before and we’re looking forward to it. Tony is already trying to figure out how to convert the leftovers into some type of banh mi sandwich for a weekend lunch!

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Menu for the Week of September 10, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of Sep 10 2017

We took a little bit of a hiatus from blogging during August, but actually did quite a bit of cooking, making great recipes like the following:

The New York Times’ Skirt Steak with Shallot Thyme Butter: This was a very quick, very simple recipe. It only takes about 10 minutes to make the thyme/chive/shallot butter and, if you like your steak very rare like we do, just a few minutes more to cook the skirt steak.

The New York Times’ Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Cucumbers: We found this recipe in an article in The New York Times titled “A Quick, Satisfying Fix for Weeknight Chicken”. As a rule, we never make boneless, skinless chicken breasts, because cooking them to the right temperature often means overcooking them in general. We also almost never cook chicken of any kind on our grill pan, because it takes a long time and tends to make the apartment a little smoky. This recipe solves both problems by directing you to pound the chicken breasts flat to speed up cooking (we pounded them down to about a quarter of an inch thick, so they only took about 2 or 3 minutes per side to cook) and to marinate them to make sure they don’t dry out. It’s the kind of simple cooking trick that we should have been able to figure out on our own, but articles like this are part of any we love the Times’ Food section so much. We should add that the sauce for the cucumbers was delicious — and pretty spicy!

Food & Wine’s Charred Vegetable Salad with Halloumi: This recipe caught our eye not so much because it featured charred vegetables or even halloumi (though this ingredient, a semi-firm Greek cheese a little like mozzarella, was pretty intriguing), but because it includes fresh figs. It made for a nice, relatively light dinner.

Food Network’s Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Heirloom Tomato Salad: We made this recipe both because it features heirloom tomatoes, which are at their peak at this time of year, and to test the “pound and brine” method mentioned above. The method, not surprisingly, worked well with this recipe too and has become our go to approach for making chicken this summer.

The Homesick Texan’s Nachos and Ina Garten’s Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp: This was a dinner we threw together on our own. We found ourselves with a lot of jalapeños when we over ordered for the spicy cucumber recipe, but fortunately, Tony found a recipe that solved the problem: Gimme Delicious Food’s Quick 10 Minute Pickled Jalapeños. After only a few minutes of work, we had a jar of delicious picked jalapeños. (Tony was on a pickling kick that day and also made  a batch of dill pickle spears as well as  Tasting Table’s Pickled Asparagus, which may very well be the most delicious pickled thing Tony has ever made.) The pickled jalapeños made Kim think of the Homesick Texan’s nachos, which, in true Texas fashion, consist of one tortilla chip, with a square of melted cheddar, and a pickled jalapeño on top. Kim also made a big batch of gazpacho, which is perfect for summer, and some simple grilled shrimp to round out a fun, tasty dinner.

Real Simple’s Spicy Steamed Mussels: Kim is obsessed with mussels and Tony is obsessed with finding new recipes so he can make mussels for her; these two obsessions came together quite nicely last Saturday night. This very simple dish, which we ate with toasted bread, was a perfect summer dinner that took very little time to make.

We have a somewhat busy week this week, so we’re only making four dinners. The theme for the week is experimentation, both in terms of the recipes we picked (all four are new for us and all sound delicious) and for at least two of them, how we will make them.

We’ll kick off the week on Sunday with Real Simple’s Tomato Tart with Mustard Crème Fraiche. This dish uses pre-made puff pastry, so it comes together quickly. It’s a lighter dinner, which is perfect as Tony has a Sunday afternoon of football, beer, and bar snacks ahead of him, and should make enough for leftovers on Tuesday.

On Monday night, we’ll make Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes & Basil. With the weather starting to get chilly in New York City (we had more days below 80 degrees than above 90 degrees this past August, which is very unusual) and predicted lows below 70 degrees every day this week, this sounded like the perfect comfort food. We’ll have the chicken again on Wednesday.

Tony will be on his own on Thursday and decided to make pasta, specifically, Serious Eats’ Crispy Baked Pasta With Mushrooms, Sausage, and Parmesan Cream Sauce. He wants to try the recipe to see how it tastes, but is mostly making it so he can use our cast iron skillet and test Serious Eats’ technique of cooking pasta in a minimal amount of water. One of the main reasons we don’t make much pasta is because it can get a little messy; we’re hoping this technique works well enough to become our go to approach. 

We’ll have dinner with Tony’s mom on Saturday night, but we’ll make mussels again on Friday night. (After all, we haven’t had them in almost two weeks!) This time, we’ll try Delish’s Mussels with Tomatoes and Garlic. This dish will also be an experiment, not only because we’ve never tried this recipe before, but also because we’re going to buy our mussels at a local fish market instead of going to our nearby Whole Foods or ordering from Fresh Direct. We figured with the amount of seafood we make, it made sense to find one more option for buying it.

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Menu for the Week of July 23, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of July 23 2017

We have another busy week this week, with lots of evening plans, plus a trip to Baltimore over the weekend for Kim’s uncle’s 60th birthday. Nevertheless, we’re trying a couple of new, simple recipes, which we think we’ll really enjoy.

The first new recipe is Food & Wine’s Cuban Flank Steak, which we’ll have on Sunday. This recipe features a simple marinade, made with lime and orange juice, as well as cumin and fresh oregano, plus a few other ingredients. The steak is served with mangoes, which is a fruit we don’t eat often and have cooked with hardly ever, if at all. We’re looking forward to the new experience!

We’ll have seafood on Monday night, in the form of Bon Appetit’s Broiled Salmon with Scallions and Sesame. Kim picked out a fun side salad to serve with the salmon: Ellie Krieger’s Snow Pea, Scallion, and Radish Salad. It’s a bit rare for us to make two recipes for the same meal during the week, but the salmon really called out to be paired with something interesting and this salad will fit the bill!

The rest of the week will be dedicated to leftovers. On Tuesday, we’ll have the rest of  the Cuban Flank Steak, again with mangoes. On Wednesday night, we’ll have leftovers  from a dish we made last week: Serious Eats’ One-Pan Chicken, Sausage, and Brussels Sprouts. This was a very wintry dish for the middle of summer, but it was worth making the apartment a little warmer! On Thursday night, we’ll have leftovers from a dish we made a couple of weeks ago that have kept safely in the freezer: Saveur’s Easy Chicken Parmigiana. (We should point out that while this recipe was indeed easy, chicken parmigiana is quite a bit of work. We have a newfound respect for Tony’s mom, who has made this dish on several occasions for as many as 14 people, plus an accompanying serving of veal parmigiana, because, you know, once you start parm-ing things, why stop?)

We’re really excited about our trip to Baltimore. Not only will we get to see Kim’s uncle and his lovely girlfriend, plus Kim’s mom and dad, we’ll also get to try some great restaurants. On Friday night, we’ll have dinner at The Severn Inn, a cool waterfront restaurant just outside of Baltimore. On Saturday afternoon/evening, we’ll celebrate Kim’s uncle’s birthday at the Two Rivers Steak & Fish House. Crabs feature prominently on both menus, in the form of crab salads and crab cakes, not to mention soft shell crabs, so we’ll enjoying having something we don’t get very often in New York City.

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Menu for the Week of July 16, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of July 16 2017

This week’s menu features a mix of old and new favorites, plus a few totally new recipes to mix things up.

We’ll start the week off by making Food & Wine’s Piri Piri Chicken with Crispy Potatoes on Sunday evening. We made this once before and absolutely loved it. The piri piri sauce has an amazing depth of flavor with just enough heat to really perk things up. We’ll have this as leftovers on Thursday and we know from experience that both the chicken and potatoes reheat very well.

We’ll make a salmon dish on Monday night: Ina Garten’s Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs. This is one of the very first dishes we ever made together, back when we were cooking in Kim’s old, tiny kitchen and not our own new, tiny kitchen. This is a very simple dish, but the mix of scallions, dill, and parsley that goes on top of the salmon is a wonderful combination. We’ll have a green salad on the side to round things out.

Since we knew we would have plenty of dill around, we looked for another recipe that featured it prominently and remembered one we had made before: Food & Wine’s Shrimp and Lemon Skewers with Feta Dill Sauce. Our trusty cast iron grill pan will come in handy for this dish, as will our new metal skewers, which should eliminate the very real risks of putting wooden skewers so close to an open flame. We have some cucumbers left over from last week’s Greek Salad with Oregano-Roasted Salmon so we’ll work those into a salad to have on the side.

We figured we might as well take advantage of all (or almost all) of our cast iron cookware and found a recipe that will let us use our larger cast iron skillet: Serious Eats’ One-Pan Chicken, Sausage and Brussels Sprouts. This very simple dish will make for a nice Wednesday night dinner and some tasty leftovers as well.

We felt like making something different on Friday night and decided on Skinnytaste’s Southwestern Black Bean Salad. This is a pretty easy dish for a Friday night (or any night really) but it should be a nice way to wrap up the work week. We’ll add some protein to the salad to balance things out, but are not quite sure what that will be yet. We’ll probably see what we have in the freezer and go from there or maybe buy a piece of tuna on the way home and add that to the salad to mix things up.

We have ballet tickets on Saturday night, so we’ll have a (somewhat) lighter dinner before the performance: Dorie Greenspan’s Mustard Tart, from Saveur magazine. We meant to make this dish several months ago, but we never found the time. It’s a bit labor intensive, but we’ll have all day to prepare it, so we should be able to figure it out!

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Menu for the Week of July 9, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of July 9, 2017

Welcome back to another week of fun dishes with Two at the Table! A busy week means we’ll only make a few dinners. We’re returning to a few favorite dishes this week (one fish and one chicken) that we think you’ll enjoy as much as we do. For breakfast treat this week for Tony, Kim is going to make Easy Cinnamon Muffins.

We did not plan any cooking on Sunday as we’re going to the Yankee game with our friends Chris and Susanne. We will likely eat a bigger lunch than usual (we’re looking right at you, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ in Section 133) and probably go out after the game as well, so making dinner is the furthest thing from our minds today.

We’ll start the week with fish, namely, branzino and salmon. On Monday night, we’ll make the branzino according to Food & Wine’s Whole Roast Fish with Lemon and Herbs recipe. This dish is a variation on the New York Times’ Greek Style Fish with Marinated Tomatoes that we’ve made several times before, but features a salsa verde, which, we humbly suggest, Food & Wine should incorporate into the recipe’s title so as to do the dish justice. On Tuesday, we’ll make the salmon using another recipe from Food & Wine: Greek Salad with Oregano and Roasted Salmon. For this recipe, you roast salmon on top of fresh oregano sprigs, which gives the fish an amazing flavor. It’s quick and easy and perfect for a summer night.

We’ll have another all-time favorite on Wednesday when we make Rachel Khoo’s Lemon Lavender Chicken. This is not a dish we usually make in the warmer weather, but we both really have a craving, so we’re going to go for it!

We’re going to have to reassess our plans for Thursday night, when we hoped to have left overs from Real Simple’s Spice Braised Short Ribs. The problem is, we only made half the recipe and enjoyed the short ribs so much that there are none left! This dish was not too complicated, but a true labor of love on Kim’s part. It took lots of careful planning, as the ribs have to sit in a rub overnight and then braise for almost three hours, which does not include all the other steps. But what a return on the time invested it was! The ribs were fall-apart tender and the flavors in the rub–smoked paprika, oregano, black pepper, cumin, and cinnamon–came together in the most amazing way. The smoked paprika and cinnamon really came through, with the combination of flavors making Kim think of coffee and putting Tony more in mind of chocolate. We paired it with a 2007 Chateau Plince Pomerol recommended by Neil at Columbus Wine and Spirits, which was the perfect complement. It was a big wine without being an overwhelming one and complicated enough to stand up to the complex flavors of the ribs.

Tony will be out with his high school buddies on Friday night, saying farewell to his good friend Lolan, who will be pursuing a graduate degree in Chicago. It should be a good time; these mini reunions always are. We’ll reminisce about the good old days and try to convince each other that we haven’t changed a bit since that day in September 1989 when we all first came together in the auditorium of our all-boys Catholic school to be told what a uniquely challenging and immensely rewarding adventure we were about to begin.

We’ll have a fun night on Saturday as we visit Tony’s mom Maria for dinner with our good friends Tom and Sharon. Tony’s mom will make fresh pasta and her homemade meatballs and sauce. The rest of us will pitch in with salad, dessert, and possibly a meat course, though odds are Maria will make a pan each of chicken and veal parmigiana, because how could one possible leave the table after only having had two plates of pasta and a couple of meatballs? We’ll play a fun Italian card game after dinner called Seven and a Half (Sette e Mezzo in Italian). It’s based on the same principle as blackjack, in that you play against the dealer and try to get to seven and a half without going over. (The Italian deck has only 40 cards: four suits (swords, cups, clubs, and suns/coins) of  Ace (1) through 7, plus three  face cards. In this game, the face cards are worth 1/2 while all others are worth their face value of 1 through 7). It’s a fun, challenging game, with lots of twists. Since the most common value in the deck is 1/2 (the 12 face cards), the total of a hand can build up painfully slowly only to be busted by a bigger card at the end. Unlike blackjack, there is also a wild card: the King of Suns/Coins, which can be worth any value from 1 to 7, or its nominal 1/2, but not, say 3 1/2. Last but not least, it is perfectly acceptable to bluff in the hopes of making the dealer bust, as there is no rule that says the dealer must stand on any given value.

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Menu for the Week of July 2, 2017

This Week’s Menu: Two at the Table Menu Week of July 2, 2017

We took a short break from posting last week, but we’re back at it this week with bunch of new recipes. We did try a few new recipes in addition to the one noted below–Kim made Strawberry-Buttermilk Muffins to have around for breakfast, Buffalo Chicken Salad from the Skinnytaste’s cookbook, and the Kitchn’s Honey Garlic Shrimp. All three recipes were quite delicious!

We’ll kick off the week with a special dinner: Rachel Khoo’s Crispy Skinned Duck Breast with a Cherry Sauce and Creamy Spinach and Polenta. We have some duck breasts in the freezer that we purchased during our last day trip to Long Island. We’ve been waiting for a good time to make them and with a quiet day planned and a slower-than-usual week ahead with the holiday, this Sunday seemed perfect. We made this dish once before and it turned out great, so we’re excited to try it again.

We’ll start our 4th of July celebration early and have dinner with our friends Tom and Sharon on Monday. They are planning an All-American Dinner in honor of the holiday: Tom will make burgers for our main course, Kim will make brownies for dessert, and we are sure all the other items Tom and Sharon are making will be delicious as well!

Since we’re having burgers on the 3rd, we’ll stick with that theme for the 4th, but lighten things up bit by making The Kitchn’s Salmon Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise. This recipe shows how easy it is to amp up plain mayonnaise: add some lime juice and lime zest and boom! You have lime mayo. One of our other favorite ways is to add some chopped up adobe in chipotle and bam–you have chipotle mayo. Okay, that probably exhausts the best possibilities, but you get the idea.

We’ll try a new chicken dish on Wednesday: The NY Times’ Lemon and Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms. We’ll have mushrooms left over from this dish, as we bought a bit more than we absolutely need, so the extras will probably find their way into a frittata at some point this week.

We’ll have leftovers on Thursday night, from a dish Kim made last week: The NY Times’ Eggplant with Lamb, Tomato, and Pine Nuts. This was an incredibly savory and satisfying dinner that was that much better thanks to the one key ingredient not named in the title of the recipe: mozzarella cheese. Lots of good, fresh mozzarella cheese. We’ve already had this as leftovers once and it heats up very well, so we’re looking forward to having it again.

We’re back to the New York Times and another chicken dish on Friday, one that is different enough from the Lemon and Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms, especially in preparation, to keep things interesting: The NY Times Flattened Chicken Thighs with Roasted Lemon Slices. The key to this recipe is cooking the chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet, skin side down, with a heavy weight on top (yet another use to which we will put our Dutch oven and yet another reason to wonder how we ever managed to do anything in our kitchen before we got it) to get the thighs nice and crispy. This dish can be served in the skillet in which it is cooked, which should make for a fun presentation at the dinner table. It should be a perfect Friday night dinner.

As you may have seen recently, The New York Times Cooking section now requires a subscription (to the section or the The New York Times overall). So if you don’t have a subscription, the links likely won’t work. We personally applaud the New York Times for take a bold stance in terms of paying for good content–we are happy to do so ourselves.

We’ll go big on Saturday to close out the week and make Real Simple’s Spice Braised Short Ribs. This dish takes quite a while to cook, as the short ribs have to braise for about three hours, but we don’t have any plans for Saturday. The apartment might get a bit warm, but that seems like a small trade-off for the prospect of the apartment also slowly filling with the smell of braised shot ribs. We expect the neighbors may come knocking!

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