Flavors for the weekend

I'm tired of cooking boring food with no flavor.  Or more exactly, I'm tired of the flavors that I have been using.  This weekend presented an opportunity to experiment.  We are having a friend from off the community with 3 of their daughters, the youngest of which is 16.  In addition, a number of community friends are dropping by for meals.  Its all adults, so I can try out less usual flavor combinations.

The cookbooks that I used are in the side panel.  They are old friends and are usually good for ideas or techniques.  My menu approach is like a game show.  I take a look at what my wife has provided for us in the freezer and refrigerator.  Then I make up a menu using more or less what's available.  Sometimes, I skip an item, but that's life.

So, today, I started with two whole chickens, two packages of beef medallions, a package of stew meat and a package of deboned chicken breasts.  My first thought was to make Goulash.  I haven't cooked with heavy paprika in a while and the concept appealed to me.  I could not find a single recipe in all my cook books, so I went online and found this one, that has the cook flour the meat with paprika, pepper and salt before browning it.  The result was well worth it.

Then I decided on Indian food.   My guide is the Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking.  The recipes are very nice, but I constantly have to substitute ingredients.   I've used ghee (clarified butter) before, but its not a very kosher friendly ingredient for meat meals.  This weekend, I made the Garden Tomato Soup, Savory Chickpeas in Tangy Tomato Glaze, and Rice and Split Pea Khichari (basically a pilaf).  The spices used in these dishes are uncommon to american or israeli cooking.  Cumin seeds, curry leaves, and mustard seeds create a wonderful aroma.

I'm excited to try these out on my guests.  Most are not spicy hot, so there should be no problems.  I've found that when you say spicy, most people assume hot peppers, but with Indian cooking, spicy just means that there are a lot of spices.

The next issue was to find a way to make chicken with more flavor.  John Ash's book was very helpful.   The book is basically about flavors.  For today's dish, we made Basic roast chicken with a lemon and chile glaze and Soy poached chicken salad.  Both are just bursting with flavors.  For the roast chicken, I used half filled beer cans as stands.  This keeps the chicken out of the pan and allows the heat to evenly cook the chicken.  We then basted it with a mixture of honey, lemon juice, and spices.  Afterwards, we deglazed the pan and made sauce. Wow! I can't wait for dinner.

Our guests this weekend have been here before, and they are bringing my favorite dessert, Lemon Meringue Pie.  I was brought up in a family that did not eat much chocolate, but we always had lemon desserts.

Shabbat Parshat Balak
Dinner - 16
Garden Tomato Soup
Hungarian Goulash
Roast Chicken
Creole Jumbalaya
Chickpea Dal
Cut Vegetables
Lemon Meringue Pie

Lunch - 17
Soy-Poached chicken salad with Tangy Apricot vinaigrette.
Beef Medallions braised in wine
Chicken (from one of our guests)
Lentils and Rice
Israeli Salad
Green Beans
Cookies and Cake


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