3 May 2012

Meal planning for a new week

We met again on Monday last, across a bed strewn with recipes, notepads, pens and Jack Russell terriers - and planned this week's meals.  Oh, the romance!

Well, actually, making a menu plan is a nice excuse for a cup of coffee and a couple of hours spent talking (almost exclusively) about food, flavours, what goes with what, what might go with what, what cooking methods to use, what turns out to be way too expensive, etc.  Allow for a bit of deviation from the focus of the conflab, to scratch a dog's ears or retrieve a pen from the other dog's mouth - you can imagine, if you've ever owned a dog, I'm sure.

We started from a position of "what do we know for sure we'll be cooking?", moved on to "what have we been yearning for?" and "what have we had in mind to cook?", winding up with "what's a family favourite that's easy to do?".

The final list looks like this :

Tues : Pizza
Weds : Springtime Pasta and meatballs
Thurs : Maneating Chicken, roast sweet potato with sesame broccoli & beans
Fri : Kari Udang with rice
Sat : Tarragon Chicken & Asparagus, Jersey Royals, broccoli & peas
Sun : Slow Roast Cinnamon, Fennel & Cirtus Lamb with Roast Rosemary & Sea Salt Jersey Royals, Green spring vegetable Thoran & gravy.
Mon : Chilli con carne with potato wedges.

Well, Tuesday's Pizza doesn't come into any of the categories above, as it forms a bit of a breathing space in between weeks.  It's good to just chuck a pizza into the oven every so often - and it's always a winner with son & heir.

Eat at lunchtime .. sleep rest of day
Wednesday's Springtime Pasta and Meatballs got bounced from last week owing to our having broken our tummies by eating the remains of the Tuna & Vegetable Lasagne for lunch.  I hasten to add that they weren't broken in a bad way, just broken in a "I couldn't eat another thing for many hours" kind of way.

Everything was keepable - even the Little Gem lettuce, which has kept very well in the vegetable drawer of the fridge - so it was easy to bounce along to this week.

Thursday's "Maneating Chicken" originated as "Man pleasing chicken", but the name got adjusted along the way by hubby.  He discovered the original recipe on the Witty in the City website and loved both the look and the sound of the recipe - plus, its reputation as "man pleasing chicken" is always a good sign.

He's going to be making roast sweet potatoes in a very similar fashion to the roast butternut squash (except with different spicing) that we had this last weekend with the pork.  It will be interesting to see how they turn out, as I have a great deal of problem getting sweet potato to caramelise and look roasted, instead of just mushed!

I think this one qualifies under the "what have we been yearning for?" category, as hubby has always wanted to find a really really good chicken recipe - one which knocks spots off of all the others.

The Kari Udang is a Malaysian recipe recommended to me by The Spice Traders.   Taken from their website, it has required a bit of sourcing of things like curry leaves and fenugreek, but we (pretty much) had the remainder of the spices in the cupboards and fridge already.  I really like prawn curries and we've picked up some King Prawns to use, so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be great.  I think this one comes under the "what have we had in mind to cook" category, as I'm always in the market for an authentic Malay recipe.

Saturday's Tarragon Chicken with Asparagus is a recipe from this month's BBC Good Food magazine.  The minute I saw the photograph, it was love at first sight and I knew I had to make it - and soon.  It doesn't seem to have hit their website yet, or I'd show it to you - but take it from me that it looked completely gorgeous.

Cooked with lovely steamed Jersey Royal potatoes (which are our favourite type of new potato), broccoli and peas, I think it'll make a superb Saturday dinner.

Hubby's back in the kitchen with his "Sunday Lunch Chef" hat on next. We were originally planning on a salmon dish - right up until I saw an advert for reduced price lamb at Tesco.  I'm afraid I was swayed by this and we drove down to our local Tesco and made off with a leg of lamb just this morning.  We have since reconvened the brainstorming session (complete with accompanying Jack Russells, ever keen to be in the midst of a major conflab) and come up with what sounds like a terrific menu for Sunday's lunch.

Photograph c/o BBC Good Food website
It will now be a slow roasted leg of lamb - marinated in lemon & orange, rubbed with cinnamon, fennel & garlic, then roasted for a minimum of 4 hours.  As side dishes, we've come up with roast Jersey Royals with sea salt & rosemary, after which we go off up a complete side road with an Anjum Anand recipe for Green Spring Vegetable Thoran.  You can find the exact same recipe here, although it isn't credited to Anjum at all, so I don't know who got which from whom - but here it is, anyway.  The Thoran has no sauce as such, so will go very nicely with the lamb & potatoes, leaving us the elbow room in the ingredients list to make a lovely gravy from the lamb pan juices.

Wish hubby luck with this one, he's not going to need it, but he is going to need some support with just thinking about creating it all and having it all go right!

Good old Chilli con Carne makes another showing on the menu list for Bank Holiday Monday.  We all love this one, but to make it a little different this time, we thought we'd serve it with potato wedges.  It all depends on whether we've a lot of potatoes going wrinkly as to whether we make the wedges or just chuck some in the oven from the freezer!

Either way, with grated cheese and some sultanas to sprinkle on the top (you don't have sultanas?  What?  Try it, next time!) I know it'll be empty bowls all round.

I don't suppose the weather will do anything but rain, however, with the chance that we might see some sun on that day I've purposely not scheduled anything that takes a long time to make.  It'd be nice to get out and see something other than these four walls! 

Ruby's first crop of rhubarb - plenty more where that came from!
As for extra cooking, well we're still on the lookout for a good rhubarb chutney recipe and I've still to bake a cake.  I'm guaranteeing nothing where either of them are concerned, it all depends upon finding the right recipe (or dreaming one up!) and the time available!



  1. This is such a good idea! I tend to do this without really thinking about it as it depends what turns up in my veg box! That lamb sounds amazing.

    1. Funnily enough, I just turned down a veg box because I couldn't have done enough of a menu plan in the week prior to getting the box. I agree with you about the lamb - I'm looking forward to that one, too. :)

  2. You guys sure eat well! Lots of great recipes in here.
    A lovely spring time menu :)

    1. I do try to strike a balance between dishes that are rampantly bad for you with dishes that are disgustingly good for you, though. I figure that a) you've got to eat, so why not enjoy it and b) I'm writing a food blog - there's only so many Shepherd's Pies you can write about! lol


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