Tonight’s menu, Super Tuscan Burgers and Potato Salad with Capers and Celery [recipe] was good, although not necessarily super. After all that hoo-ha, we couldn’t find veal in the grocery store, so we made the burgers with a mixture of ground pork and ground beef. Made with sage, wine, garlic and onions, and topped with mushrooms, greens and cheese, the burgers should have been delicious. The pan drippings from the burgers and mushrooms were deglazed with red wine, and the lids of the burger buns soaked up the juices. This was a nice touch, making me feel a bit like a fancy chef, although again somehow it didn’t quite hit the spot. The burgers were decent, tasty even, but just not as good as we hoped; somehow the flavours seemed a little flat.
The potato salad recipe called for large Idaho potatoes, to be chopped and then mixed with celery, capers, red onion, lemon, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Our potatoes quickly looked battered and floury around the edges. I noticed that the recipe on the Food Network website calls for small waxy potatoes, which would have probably been more successful, and definitely more photogenic. The combination of ingredients worked well together, although maybe some chopped cherry tomatoes could have been added for colour and flavour. Overall, this meal was much better than average, but somehow a little one dimensional. The vinegar in the potato salad gave the meal the air of being a fancy version of burger and chips (Chips as in fries; British ones ideally being served with malt vinegar). We should have probably added some more greens or something else to pad out the flavours a little. Even some peas would have helped balance elements and freshen the palate.
There are some great benefits to having your meals planned out in advance. For many years, some weeks it was as if we bought salad stuff and vegetables, only to throw them out when we next looked for them, finding them rotting in the bottom of the fridge. So far this year we have only ditched stuff which was purchased before the start of the Rachael Ray regime. This afternoon we did the grocery shopping for ingredients for the next seven days. We have never bought so much meat at one time. Ground pork, ground beef, pork chops, chicken tenders, turkey cutlets, chicken sausages, deli-sliced turkey, deli-sliced ham and chicken breasts were piled into the cart. If there wasn’t a bag of potatoes alongside we’d have looked like rampant Atkins addicts. We normally eat that much meat spread over about six weeks. When we got home I split everything up into labelled freezer bags so that we will only defrost what we need. I feel a whole new level of home organisation coming on. At least in the freezer. If we can just concentrate on emptying the random food and leftovers floating around and eat the unlabelled, unidentified stuff for lunches, there’ll be room for all our meat and meat by-products.
Tomorrow, Oregon-Style Pork Chops with Pinot Noir and Cranberries; Oregon Hash with Wild Mushrooms, Greens, Beets, Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese; Charred Whole-Grain Bread with Butter and Chives, the most ambitious-sounding meal to date. That certainly sounds like a 30 minute challenge.