April 14, 2013 ~ Weekly Dinner Menu & Recipes

Weekly DINNER Menu Sign


Grilled Chateaubriand with Parsley Tarragon Butter*  |  Baked Potatoes  |  Chopped Raw Asparagus & Pea Salad**


Egg Salad with Tarragon, Parsley & Chives*  |  Toasted Baguette Slices  |  Broiled Grapefruit


Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon**  |  Steamed Artichokes  |  Tarragon Mayonnaise*


Rolled Flank Steak with Pesto***  |  Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Mustard-Cream Vinaigrette*


Cauliflower with Saffron, Pepper Flakes, Parsley & Pasta*


Oven- Baked Chicken Wings  |  Celery & Carrot Sticks  |  Bleu Cheese Yogurt Sauce

{* Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison, ** Canal House Cooking, Vol. No. 3  & *** Canal House Cooks Everyday, both by Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton}

Thought I was gone, didn’t you?  Well, I am getting ready…we leave tonight {technically tomorrow morning at 3am…but anything at that hour, frankly, feels like the middle of the night to me} but before I go I thought I would squeeze in next week’s menu.

You see, I have a condition {I was born with it} and it is called “Let Me Do One More Thing Before I Go Syndrome”…it results in me being 5 minutes late for everything I do {even giving birth}.  Yes, that is right…I was late for my scheduled C-Section to deliver Max because I absolutely could not miss Madison’s pre-school Holiday performance!  I inherited this affliction from my Grandmother.  I have childhood memories of my Grandfather {who, mind you, hated being late} impatiently waiting in the car for my Grandmother, who had to “do one more thing before she left”, eventually making them late for whatever event or activity they were headed off to.  My case is not as severe as my Grandmother’s but it plagues me still the same.  So, this menu {and post} is the one-more-thing-before-I-go and pack…our departure time may get pushed out to 3:30am {sigh, I just can’t help myself}.

Combine the affliction described above with the absence of a plan and well, you have a bit of a mess.  I am a planner, organization is my thing.  With no plan, I drift here, there, everywhere {in fact this post may take on a similar character}.  This recent bout began with my decision to take the few days before our trip off from menu planning & blogging.  Big mistake.  On Saturday, the girls and I headed out to shop for a few new Spring garments for our upcoming trip {the weather is supposed to bring afternoon temperatures close to 90°F during our stay in Paso Robles}…I arrived home with a new cookbook.  The entire family looked at me as if I had lost my marbles.  I couldn’t help myself, Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison {I first learned about this wonderful cookbook here} looked better to me than anything hanging on the racks & as I had no idea what we were having for Sunday dinner I considered it research material to add to my arsenal at home.

IMG_9601And, after just one hour of flipping through the first few chapters, I had more than a few pages bookmarked…


With all of this fresh material, I headed over to my computer to piece together next week’s menu.  Well, I honestly don’t know how I ended up there but, I stumbled on a new {for me} food blog…Chocolate & Zucchini.  After poking around for a while I came across a recipe there for a Blueberry Coffee Cake which, I decided, I would make to bring along on our trip to enjoy for early morning breakfasts at the ranch.  The recipe called for one of my favorite French indulgences…Fromage Blanc so off I went to the kitchen to prepare this strained cheese treat {according to my favorite recipe from Jacques Pépin ~ omitting the herbs and substituting 3 tablespoons of sugar}.  The fromage blanc, wrapped in cheesecloth and headed for the refrigerator to drain overnight…


Fromage blanc in the fridge, I headed back to my computer to tackle next week’s menu.   Looking for inspiration I decided to take a tour of my favorite food sites {listed over on the right-hand side of this page under Kitchen Inspiration}.  First stop…101 Cookbooks.  And that is where my tour ended.  Heidi had recently posted a recipe for Labneh {strained yogurt} and, with cheesecloth still sitting on my kitchen counter from my fromage blanc, made just minutes ago, well, I had to give it a try.  Can you finally begin to see how this illness of mine manifests itself?  I rationalized this little stunt as an exercise in food research & development…I would make 2 Blueberry Coffee Cakes…one using the fromage blanc and the other using the Labneh, comparing the final products.  Here is how my Labneh started…



My two “straining” projects, side-by-side…


This is where Michael grabbed me and took me out to dinner on Saturday evening to save me from myself.

Sunday morning, I enjoyed a slice of rye toast with some of the Labneh spread on top & drizzled with a bit of olive oil, topped with freshly snipped chives from my herb boxes…what a treat!  I was excited to see how the Blueberry Cakes would turn out…IMG_9619

For the first cake, I followed Clotilde’s recipe exactly, using fromage blanc.  For the second cake, I substituted the Labneh for the fromage blanc and added 1 - 1½ tablespoons of minced, preserved lemon peel to the batter…

Topped with brown sugar and ready for baking…IMG_9628 The finished cakes, hot out of the oven.  The original recipe is on the left & my adapted version is on the right…


Cooled and ready for slicing…


The final tally from my family of taste-testers was a draw…the boys preferred the Labneh version with preserved lemon & the girls LOVED the original version with the fromage blanc.  The tie breaker was left to me and, well, while both cakes were incredibly moist, my preference was the Labneh version.  It really is a matter of personal preference…the original cake was moist, incredibly dense and bearing the hint of sweet cheese in every bite.  The second cake was also moist but, as you would expect, a bit lighter with a refreshing quality provided by the preserved lemon.  Both of these cakes are keepers and I will make again when summer berries are at their peak.

Okay, so one more thing before I go

I ended up roasting a chicken for Sunday dinner,{click here for this roasted chicken recipe which has quickly become one of our family favorites} and made a simple chicken salad {using the left-over white meat from our roasted birds}, which I served, open-faced, on toasted, fresh slices of French bread {I used a batard for larger slices} for last night’s dinner.  The dressing for the salad, a Tarragon Mayonnaise with Orange Zest, came from my new cookbook, Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison and it was outstanding!  My slightly adapted version {I, of course, substituted Labneh for the mayonnaise} follows…

Tarragon Mayonnaise with Orange Zest {slightly adapted from Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison}

  • ¾ cup finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup Labneh or mayonnaise {you could use a 50/50 mix of both}
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil {if using store-bought mayonnaise}
  • grated zest of two small tangerines
  • freshly ground white pepper & sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine.  Makes approximately 1 cup.



For the chicken salad, I simply took some of the left-over white meat from our roast chicken dinner on Sunday evening and diced.  I added 3 ribs of finely chopped celery and  3-4 tablespoons of pickled shallots and some of the Tarragon Mayonnaise with Orange Zest.  The french bread slices were brushed with a bit of olive oil and lightly toasted in the oven & then topped with some of the chicken salad and, finally, a few snips of fresh chives.  Slices of the zested tangerines rounded out our dinner plate…


I am really looking forward to next week’s menu…many of the recipes are new {and from Vegetable Literacy} and, in case you couldn’t guess, my herb boxes are busting with fresh tarragon, hence the prominence of that lovely herb in several of our dinner dishes.

Have a wonderful rest of the week and I will be back blogging on Monday!


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One thought on “April 14, 2013 ~ Weekly Dinner Menu & Recipes

  1. I’m getting ready to go out of town as well, but I had to save the recipes for Labneh and the coffee cake. I’ll have to wait and make them when I get back, but you made my mouth water with this post!

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