Sunday, March 26, 2006

Le Menu - FB2B, part 10

More than a couple of people to whom I’ve spoken about this blog have said that what they would really like to know about is putting a menu together as well as the time it takes to have it all get to the table and still be able to enjoy their guests’ company. Timing seems to be a particularly big theme.

The previous three posts can be used to pull together an easy, friendly lunch, brunch, or supper. So, here’s how I organized it when I hosted a luncheon for several friends about a month ago using all these recipes.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Playing with Fire – FB2B, part 9

We are now in the period of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation for one of the most important holy days in the Christian calendar. I won’t go into the Bible history and theology of it. Rather, I want to break it down to one of the traditions many observers still practice – giving something up. Giving up something you like or enjoy doing for Lent is supposed to emulate Christ’s sacrifices while being in the desert for 40 days.

As young children, we were supposed to think long and hard about that special item or pastime that would suitably be considered worthy of denying ourselves for that period in order to make us more in tune with our religious beliefs. Even now, I’ve had whole, complex conversations with co-workers as to what I’ve given up in the past, oh what to do this year, how challenging it can be, etc. There are always the quippy answers like homework or chores (for children), NASCAR racing (not hard at all for me), or Catholicism (not really considered funny unless one is already an agnostic).

Sometimes, there is a certain strategy involved in practicing this form of self-sacrifice. What about the time I gave up meat and ended up on a business trip to the furthest reaches of the Midwest where they couldn’t understand why I wanted to know if there were dishes without bacon or any meat-type product in them? One sibling gave up family gossip one year. I’m still surprised she made it all the way, but at the end, she had no idea what was going on among the rest of the group.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Leftovers, Yum! – FB2B, part 8

Some of the best inspiration can come from foraging in your own refrigerator or cupboards or freezer. Leftovers, fresh or pre-cooked, can, with a few tweaks, be the basis of the next day’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.  For a variation on the Fork Tacos recipe posted previously, here's a way to use up the remaining items, or, the dish could start out this way, depending upon your choice. Again, this is a dish that you could prepare with your child/ren, having them help count the layers as they are added to total the number 7.

It is also a good party dish as it can go a long way and, served in a glass baking dish, it adds lots of color to a spread. The key to this dish as well as the recipe given earlier is the flexibility that they provide, for family dinner, or even for entertaining. Both meals are relatively easy to prepare ahead so that you can enjoy your guests' company without having to constantly be in the kitchen.

Serve this with scrambled eggs, and voilà! It is the centerpiece of a hearty Mexican-themed brunch. If doing this variation, softened flour tortillas instead of chips are recommended as accompaniments. You can also create breakfast burritos from the same ingredients.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Chin Chin, FB2B – part 7

So, my undergraduate alumni chapter is trying to revitalize here in the Big Apple. They are trying out various events to see if they can lure us out of our usual social circles to meet other people with whom we all share a common tie. The biggest draw has been [as is typical of a Southern school] Beer and Football. As we are a small school, and as the college football season is but a blip in the year, the alumni board needed to come up with other ideas to draw us together.

This month, they organized a wine tasting at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, part of the Mario Batali-Joe Bastianich (Lidia’s son) restaurant group. Being on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent and the beginning of the period of sacrifice and reflection, I thought that that was an interesting choice in days. It turned out that the dark smudge on my forehead (I never can seem to get the priest who makes a nice, neat cross.) somehow became a talking point a few times during the evening. I even managed not to get any black flecks in my glass!

Here’s how we started out – with a Chardonnay.

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