Dinner (and lunch!) for the week

Rehearsals started on Monday for James’ new Broadway show, A Time to Kill.  He’s been doing pre-production for the past two weeks — organizing the rehearsal space, assembling contact sheets, getting in touch with all the actors and designers, talking to the director about the rehearsal plan —  in short, being the conduit for all information and action for the production.

Now, on a big Broadway show like this, the producers usually cater the first rehearsal (which usually starts off as a big meet and greet between the actors, director, designers, general managers and producers.)  This one was no exception, and James and his assistants helped assemble a generous selection of bagels, doughnuts, cookies and fruit.  Sadly, no Backstage Baker treats here!

But I thought it might be interesting to read about how the Backstage Baker plans his non-baking menus.  Frankly, I’m always impressed at how well James eats all the time, not just for dessert.

So, last weekend, he emailed me that he was “Cooking away for the week. Roasted carrots and beets (not together). Did that Green and Yellow Beans with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette from Melissa Clark’s column this week… it is VERY good and easy. Also since peaches are still in season I did Roast Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Ginger and Basil.”

Not only does he get several dinners out of that, but also lunches.  I WISH I could be that healthy, economical and organized!!  Below are a couple of the recipes:

Roasted Beets

Ingredients:

8 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

3.  Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), you may want to add 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Season to taste.

Melissa Clark’s Green and Wax Bean Salad with Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
(from the New York Times, August 2013)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed
1 overripe large tomato
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Method:

1.    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Drop green and wax beans into boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and immediately transfer to the ice bath. When cool, drain and dry with a towel and place in a large bowl.

2.    Cut tomato in half across its equator and squeeze out seeds (use for another purpose or discard). Using the largest hole on a box grater, grate the tomato flesh. Discard skin and transfer grated flesh to a medium bowl. You should have about 1/2 cup. Stir in vinegar and salt, then stir in olive oil and garlic. Taste and adjust vinegar and salt as needed.
3.   Add just enough vinaigrette to coat beans, add olives, then toss well. Let sit for at least 10 minutes (and up to 4 hours) before serving. Add torn basil and serve.
YIELD 4 servings
Roast Chicken Thighs with Peaches, Ginger and Basil
(Also from the New York Times, c. 2009)
Ingredients:
1/2 pound hard peaches (about 1 large or 2 to 3 small ones, see note)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry (fino) sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch-long piece fresh ginger root, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread or rice for serving.
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve peaches, remove pits and slice fruit 1/2 inch thick.
2. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, toss all ingredients except 1 tablespoon basil. Roast until meat is cooked through and peaches are softened, about 20 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil. Sauce will be thin, so serve with crusty bread for sopping or over rice.
Yield: 3 servings.
Note: Peaches can be any stage of ripeness, but firmer ones are easier to work with.

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