Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Week's Worth of Fruits and Veggies in One Meal

The culinary improvisation continued today, this time with Hillary as my helper for Scandinavian Saturday. Again, as with Abigail last weekend, we had no recipes to follow when we went to the grocery store. Instead, I made up a menu "inspired" by Norway, and Hillary helped me toss into the cart food items that seemed like good ingredients for what I had told her we should make. Her helpfulness was over once we got home, however. She preferred to play with her sisters, popping into the kitchen now and then to taste-test before heading off again. So here's what "we" (ahem) made:

crab-stuffed mushrooms

I removed the stems from the caps of a dozen large mushrooms. I chopped up the stems and fried them in olive oil with some chopped onion and celery flavored with Worcestershire sauce, pressed garlic, ground pepper, and lemon herb seasoning. To that I added lump crab and seasoned bread crumbs and stuffed the mushrooms. Hillary came upstairs to sample the filling, so she was around to sprinkle some shredded cheese over the mushrooms before I added butter to the baking dish and popped them into the oven. They weren't quite as good as Red Lobster's, but they were tasty.

main course
steamed salmon and vegetable packets
mixed greens and vegetables salad

Into the salad of leafy lettuce, I added chopped red pepper, yellow pepper, celery, radish, sugar snap peas, cucumber, zucchini, and carrot. We served croutons, bacon-flavored sprinkles, and a selection of salad dressings to top the salad. Hillary was in the kitchen for some of the chopping, so she helped to assemble the salad.

She also helped add ingredients to the fish packets. I laid out five sheets of aluminum wrap and added to each a salmon fillet covered in lemon herb seasoning and accompanied by asparagus, potato, zucchini, carrot, and thinly sliced rings of onion. Just as with the appetizer, I had no idea how long to leave them in the oven or at what temperature. The vegetables turned out a bit al dente, but the fish was done, and the flavors were good. We were all pretty stuffed midway through the main course, but no one was willing to say "no" to dessert:

angel food cake with homemade whipped cream and berry sauce

Hillary and I bought fresh blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries, which we washed together. I put the blueberries and blackberries in a sauce pan; and after Hillary helped me quarter the strawberries, I added them to the pan, squeezed half a lemon and added the juice, sprinkled some sugar over the berries, and put them on the heat. After it came to a boil, I kept it boiling and added the dregs of a jar of blackberry jam and of a jar of strawberry sauce (for topping ice cream). I let it all cook down until it was a thick, dark, rich sauce, and then I let it cool.

I added vanilla extract and sugar to some cream, which I whipped until it was about one beater rotation away from becoming butter! It was truly thick and creamy--and, of course, distinctly vanilla-y with crunches of undissolved sugar in random bites. Hillary and I bought an angel food cake from the bakery, sliced it, topped each slice with a generous helping of whipped cream, and ladled the berry sauce over the top. Incredible.

All the fruits and vegetables in this meal are sure to put a smile on our colons. And it was quite a balanced meal: a very healthy main course balanced by unhealthy dishes at the beginning and the end. Not bad for no recipes and an unreliable aide in the kitchen!


  1. Another success! Perhaps you'd like to take on the cooking for another night of the week? :-)

  2. Kevin, I get more impressed with you every week! Perhaps you could give Nick some lessons?