On weekends, time hopefully lends itself to lovely and meaningful time & perhaps during some of that time….. you may find yourself having a bit (a lot) of fun in the kitchen.
Now that the weather has cooled, I personally am leaning towards slow-cooked dishes to make on the weekends. Nourishing soups and stews, slow-cooked ragu. Vegetarian curries…the list goes on. If the whole family happens to be home altogether, we might then roll up our sleeves to try a little handmade pasta or bake a sweet treat or two to enjoy that day and to help for the week ahead (always a ‘leg-up’ for the lunch box stakes). In the perfect world, each week, there is an easy but nourishing soup for all to slurp on or to fill a thermos with for lunches during the week. I am usually poaching a chicken for mid-week versatility and or caramelising onions for their plethora of uses.
Sounds ideal, right!? Well, …here’s the real story. My work weeks are (& may never be) a ‘usual’ daytime Monday to Friday gig. The week involves many hours doing what I dearly love teaching cooking classes and inside our cooking club. The truth of the matter is that I (and certainly you, too) juggle a busy schedule. How & why did we all become so time-poor? It is a question I still ponder but not something I feel I have control of just YET. I will return to you when I find the answer to that one, but for now, shall we return to the topic at hand?
In many instances, you may not want to spend your time in the kitchen on a Tuesday night. You may have many other plans for that Tuesday night (I, for one, am a latecomer to ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. My goodness……ADDICTED)!
I want to give you this gift. It is a gift of strategies and recipes for the week ahead. This is just one week, but you will get the picture for the weeks that will always follow.
Just like my book Relish Mama ‘Family’, both that very cookbook & this post hope to change the way you get a delicious dinner on the table in a quick time, and it will help you to plan meals and reduce food waste.
It is not always easy, and it can be a chore to be inspired for mid-week dinners. The planning and some cooking ahead is what keeps it inspiring and allows us, as a family, to always be enjoying great food, no matter what day of the week it is
I believe we all can celebrate delicious food done smarter. Something better doesn’t have to mean more work.
I hope this selection becomes immediately indispensable to you and the gift I hope it to be.
Thank you for the many years of love and support. We would not be here without you.
The strategy and the menu
On the weekend, or wherever you find you have a little stretch of time, I would strongly suggest you cook these to help you a great deal and to inspire you for the following weekly menu.
Poach a chicken – whole or breast fillets (can make mid-week meals and lunches that much more speedy. Not to mention adding to soups or fried rice and the likes)
Finely shred some cabbage & store in an airtight container (making salads and, slaw and sliders a breeze to throw together)
Make a soup you love – works for Monday nights and nourishing lunches.
Some other Monday nights, if we weren’t organised & didn’t have that soup in the fridge, it may be a meal using good quality free-range eggs, toasts drizzled with Cobram estate extra virgin olive oil and a dash of harissa and dukkah. This is sometimes where it is at and I have no shame in that at all. This,is one of my favourite ‘quickie’ meals of all.
Curry night is always a winner and I have found myself heading back to this old faithful quite a bit of late. A cracking midweek, no-hassle curry (thanks to my friend Michele Curtis) & it is aptly named ‘bloody good chicken curry’. I was thrilled to include this tasty curry in the new Relish Mama ‘Family’ cookbook. Thanks, Michele 🙂
Tonight it is a must – cook a little more rice than is needed to serve with your curry and store it in the fridge. Ideally, you will have 4 leftover cups of rice.
Grab that leftover rice from last night and turn it into ‘our go to’ fried rice. This is a ten-minute dinner – truly.
Often we might add some poached chicken and some additional sautéed greens to make it more nutritious but that can only be your call.
Place a wok over medium heat. Add 30 ml oil and add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a thumb sized piece of grated ginger and cook until crisp and brown. Transfer on to some absorbent paper towel. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add a further 30 ml oil. Cook 1 cup of finely sliced (washed) leeks for approx 8 minutes. Raise heat to medium and add leftover cooked rice. Cook, stirring often until heated through. Add 4 teaspoons soy sauce and season to taste. In a non-stick frying pan, fry one egg per person, sunny side up and cooked to your liking. To serve, place rice in serving bowls and top with a fried egg. Drizzle with a gentle splash of sesame oil and sprinkle with the crisped garlic and ginger. I also like to top with Spring onions.
Some nights it’s about quick pasta dishes like this one or we might add some poached chicken for extra protein and a lovely new spin. Then zonk out on the couch, finally write back to text messages, emails and sorting what’s on for tomorrow.
Remember those caramelised onions you made and neatly tucked in your fridge? Well, pop them to use in these easy but delicious canapés, along with your favourite tipple (it is Friday after all).
You could make an easy Friday meal of them in and allow them to find their way into these insanely good toasties.
Alternatively, and if you feel up to a half hour in the kitchen, whip up a one pan chicken with pearl couscous.
If you get time, tonight, mix together a teaspoon each of ground fennel, ground coriander, smoked paprika and oregano. Add ½ teaspoon chilli powder as well as 3 teaspoons salt. Pop away in an airtight container.
This morning you are setting off to buy a 1.5-kilo free-range pork shoulder as well as a 2-kilo leg of lamb (the lamb is for tomorrow). When you get home, place the lamb in the fridge and pop the pork on your bench. Whip those spices out that you mixed together last night & add also 80 ml extra virgin olive oil. Rub this paste all over the pork. The rest of the recipe takes 5-6 hours of cooking time. You are big enough to work out when to fire up the oven or when and if the pork needs to go back in the fridge, should you not be cooking soon.
Fire up the oven to 140oC. Place the marinated pork shoulder in a baking dish along with 150ml red or white wine vinegar, 75 ml apple cider vinegar, a head of garlic, halved and lastly, 1 tin of 400g chopped tomatoes. Go forth and do whatever you wish for the day, knowing that in 5-6 hours you will be enjoying pulled pork, shredded with ease using two forks.
I serve this with a slaw or a huge pile of shredded lettuce. Chipotle mayo always works a treat as does a lemon or harissa spiked yoghurt.
You will very likely have some leftover pork and this is intentional. You are now set for Taco Tuesday or pork slider night. The leftover pork will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days Life is good.
Tonight is all about the Sunday roast. Follow this recipe here & allow 80 minutes for the lamb to cook in the oven as well as 20 minutes resting time.
This dish keeps on giving. Any leftover lamb can be used for shepherd’s pie or perfect for souvlaki’s.
You are only at Sunday and yet from your weekends cooking, you already have two weeknight dishes ready to go for the week ahead. You see……now you are getting the picture.