Monday, October 11, 2010

Not So Fancy Sunday Dinner

I love Sunday dinner. When I was growing up, I spent most Sundays at my dad's house where my stepmother, building on her own childhood experience I suspect, made pretty elaborate Sunday dinners. By "elaborate" I mean substantial main course, several side dishes, bread, salad and a delicious, often homemade, dessert. Dave, too, lived in a house where Sunday dinner was often more than the run of the mill weeknight meal. I am happy to say that we have kept this tradition alive in our newer family. When we were younger and without kids, we would often use Sunday as an excuse to grill up a thick steak or roast a big, stuffed chicken, open a bottle of nice wine and even make some kind of appetizer to enjoy while watching the football games and drinking the aforementioned wine.

Now,  our current version of Sundays may not allow for sipping wine while reading the Times and watching the game, but they are still a respite from the weekly sprint of getting dinner on the table before someone, and I am as likely a suspect as either of my kids,  starts crying. Our meals are not typically fancy, and I have not taken to making a dessert on Sundays, but they are more thought-out, more relaxed, more complete somehow.

Yesterday was a good example. I finally made it to the farmers' market on Thursday and was able to buy some freshly ground turkey from "the chicken guy," as I like to call him.(I am sure he has an actual name, but everyone I know calls him "chicken guy.") Using my newly purchased ground meat, I made bleu cheese stuffed turkey burgers. We learned this trick years ago when we were on vacation and one of Dave's sister's college friends, Danielle, joined us for a few days. This was in the way back time before marriage and kids -- when vacation meant a week at the shore hanging out, eating, lots of drinking and even more lounging on the beach all day. Good times...but I digress... Danielle's husband, Lee, made turkey burgers one night and his squished blue cheese into the middle of each one. He also coated them in ketchup which was delicious. Anyway, Danielle has long since divorced Lee, but his legacy of delicious burgers lives on in our house.

And because I was feeling super motivated and energized by the lack of stress on a Sunday, I broke out the mandoline and made fries. Then, because I am crazy, I made an actual sauce for our green beans. And let me say that the sauce was apparently magic because my kids ate every bean on their plates.  Here are the basic "recipes" for your eating pleasure.

Turkey Burgers: 
Yep - I served my kids hot dogs. Keepin' it real.
  • Combine ground turkey with spices of your choosing - I used garlic powder, worcester, cajun spice mix - and a handful or so of bread crumbs to help them hold together.
  • Scoop out enough to make a small burger and flatten on your work surface. Spoon out 1-2 tbsp of crumbled blue cheese, add some additional burger on top to cover the cheese. Shape appropriately.
  • These can be cooked on the grill, but I find they do better in a skillet so they get super seared and don't fall apart.
  • Cut potatoes into strips, wedges, chunks or whatever shape you like your fries. If you want them to look like "real" fries I recommend using a mandoline -- but be careful. I have nearly sliced my finger on several occasions.
  • Let the potatoes drain and then dry them off before tossing with oil and spices or your choosing.
  • Cook at 450 for 20 minutes or longer on a sheet pan. Don't skimp on the oil or they will stick.
Magic Sauce:
  • Combine a spoonful or two of apricot jam, or use a few packets of duck sauce from your Chinese takeout, with some sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and mirin if you have it. Mirin is an amazing  sweet rice wine that is used in Asian cooking. It is excellent in all manner of vinaigrette and marinades.
  • Just adjust the ingredients to get the taste you are looking for. You could also add something spicy like chili paste/powder, sriracha, ginger. Or some soy sauce or fish sauce to give it a little more punch. 
Kara had milk, not beer, with her dinner.
  • This sauce is great as a salad dressing, on noodles, dumplings, chicken or shrimp, pretty much any vegetable. Plus it is a great way to use up those take out packets floating around one of your kitchen drawers. 

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