To kick-off summer, our family chose to make five dinners in five days. Each person chose a recipe and did some, if not all of the work to make it. I got a nice break from meal prep and we all got to make some new meals. Here is how it went.
The first meal was chosen by my youngest and is a reliable standby that everyone likes. I found this recipe in a copy of Real Simple magazine last year. It is simple to make but has a few pre-cooking steps that you have to budget time for. The lime juice, salt and oil vinaigrette that the radishes soak in really add an additional freshness and kick to the quesadillas.
Day 2: English Garden Salad and Poisson Meunière
Both of these recipes came from Rachel Khoo. The first one, English Garden Salad, is from her Kitchen Notebook and the Poisson Meunière (fish with lemon and brown butter sauce) is from her first cookbook, The Little Paris Kitchen. My daughter loves Rachel Khoo’s cooking shows and her adorable illustrations. These recipes were by far the most involved and expensive but she pulled them off and they turned out nicely.
Day 3: Homestyle Jerk Chicken with Oil and Vinegar Slaw
My son loves spicy food, so it was no surprise that he chose a jerk chicken recipe. He ended up choosing Nigella Lawson’s Homestyle Jerk Chicken, so I pulled up a video of her making it. I could watch her make food all day. She has such a pleasing voice and is unapologetic about her likes, dislikes and what she won’t waste her time making.
This is the first recipe where we ran into an issue. The chicken ended up being overdone. We should have used our common sense, but we were so focused on following the steps of the recipe that we didn’t question any of it. The recipe’s cooking time was an hour, which meant it was quite dry by the time we took it out of the oven. Had we not been using a recipe, the chicken would have come out of the oven after about 30 minutes. Overall, the jerk chicken flavor was good with just enough heat and we learned a lesson in following your instincts in the process.
It took me all of 2 minutes to choose my recipe. I grabbed the Eat Well Eat Happy cookbook by Charity Ferreira, looked up “grilled” in the index and found this grilled flank steak. One look at the picture and I was sold. I also knew it would be a popular choice with the salsa verde loving crowd in my family. No one likes artichokes, so we substituted onions and asparagus instead. My son is the official salsa verde (recipe here) maker in our family and I knew I could pass that task off to him, which made my job even easier. This was an easy recipe to make, but you might have trouble finding good tomatillos depending on the season. Substitute a jar of salsa verde if you can’t find tomatillos or just want to simplify the recipe even more.
The final meal, chosen by my husband, comes from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis. We added orange peppers and swapped out the broccoli rabe for regular broccoli because we couldn’t find any of the rabe. In addition, we eliminated one step by buying Italian sausage already out of the casing. This recipe was by far the easiest and least expensive meal of the five. I am sure we will make it again.
Of the five recipes we made, four were new to us. It was great fun experimenting with flavors and seeing what everyone would choose. Also, it was interesting to see the kids try and balance wanting to make something difficult, but also not wanting to do the work or clean-up. In the end it all worked out and the kids definitely have a new appreciation for how difficult it can be to make meals for people with different tastes, how expensive some foods are and how time-consuming meal prep can be.
Do you share kitchen duty with other members of your family? What works best for you and what are the challenges? Let me know in the comments below. Bon Appetit!