Day 1: Balsamic Glazed Baked Salmon
Total time: 25 minutes
The honey-vinegar makes a lovely glaze with a hint of hot from the mustard.
- 2 salmon fillet or steaks, 6oz each (180gr each)
- 2 tbs Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs honey
- 1/4 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tbs olive oil
- In a small sauce pan heat the vinegar, honey, mustard and oil, whisking to combine. When combined remove from heat and set aside.
- Put the salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet.
- Brush with the honey/vinegar.
- Bake in 400F (200C) oven for 15 - 17 minutes, depending on thickness, basting with the honey/vinegar twice more. Salmon will be done when it flakes easily, slightly pink in the center is fine. Baste a final time and serve.
Day 2: Coq au Vin
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes plus marinating
Chicken in red wine. Traditionally this would use a cock (rooster) and cook for several hours (as the coq would tend to be a tough old bird - but full of flavor). Without the skin the flavors get deeper into the meat and we eliminate a lot of the fat. Use a full-bodied Burgundy or Cote de Rhone (or equivalent) for this. Not expensive, but drinkable. Do not use 'cooking wine'. The secret to this dish is the cocoa - it gives an amazing richness and depth of flavor.
- 4 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- OR 1 whole chicken, cut up
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bouquet garni - or 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1 bottle (.75L) red wine
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 slices bacon, 100gr, 3.5oz
- 4oz mushrooms, 125gr, 4oz
- 6 - 8 shallots (the recipe calls for pearl onions but I normally have to buy a huge bag to get the few I want, so I often use shallots.. Plus I like the taste better)
- 1 chicken stock cube or 1 tsp granular or paste chicken base, optional
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 tbs pure cocoa not a 'hot chocolate' mix
- 2 tbs cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 3 tbs water (you may not use it all)
- To marinate:
- Roughly chop the onion and carrot.
- Smash the garlic lightly.
- Put the chicken, onion, carrot, garlic and bouquet garni in a deep bowl.
- Pour the wine over and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To cook the chicken:
- Remove chicken from marinade and drain well (over marinade).
- Reserve marinade.
- Heat oil in heavy, deep pot over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, a few pieces at time, about 10 minutes.
- Return all chicken to pan and pour over reserved marinade and vegetables.
- Add nutmeg and chicken base (if using).
- Cover, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
- To cook the vegetables:
- Clean mushrooms and shallots, leaving shallots and small mushrooms whole; slice large mushrooms in half.
- In nonstick skillet sauté bacon until crisp.
- Remove and crumble (don't eat!)
- Add shallots to pan with 2 tbs water, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Uncover and cook off liquid.
- Add mushrooms to skillet and sauté over medium heat until both are nicely browned on all sides about 15 minutes.
- When done, cover until time to add to chicken.
- To finish:
- Remove chicken from pan and cover to keep warm.
- Strain sauce, discarding solids.
- Return sauce to pan removing 1/2 cup. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat.
- Put cocoa into a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup reserved sauce.
- Slowly whisk cocoa mixture into simmering sauce. Continue whisking until it returns to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to reduce slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Dissolve cornstarch in water. Use to thicken sauce to desired consistency if needed. (The cocoa will thicken it slightly.)
I used about half - the sauce is supposed to be a bit thick but not gluey.
- Return chicken to pan along with mushrooms, shallots and bacon. Allow to heat through over low heat, 10 - 15 minutes.
- Arrange chicken, mushrooms and shallots on a small platter. Spoon some sauce over and serve the rest on the side.
Day 3: Split Pea Soup
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Traditionally made with a ham bone or ham hock, I made this with a slab of local, dry-cured ham. Regular baked ham would work as well. This will make 4 servings.
- 1 1/4 cup (8oz, 240gr) split peas
- 6 cups water
- 2 thick slices Prosciutto, (6ozm 180gr total weight) (for most intense flavor) or a meaty ham bone
- 1 large onion
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 medium potatoes
- 3 ribs celery
- If using a ham bone, put in water with split peas. If using Prosciutto or other ham, cut into bite-size chunks before adding.
- Bring ham, peas and water to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes
- After 45 minutes:
- Roughly chop onion and add to pot.
- Peel carrots. Slice by cutting in half the long way (in 2 or mores sections) then into half circles. Add to pot.
- Peel and slice potatoes to a similar size; add to pot.
- Slice celery, cutting the wide end in half lengthwise and add to pot.
- Cover and simmer until all vegetables are done, 30 - 45 minutes longer.
- Remove ham bone, if using, and cut ham. Add ham back to soup.
Day 4: Coq au Vin Pasta
Total time: 25 minutes
This is an easy use of leftovers: just cut, combine and heat!
- 1 1/4 cup (4.2oz, 120gr) bite-size pasta (penne, rigatoni)
- leftover coq au vin, chicken, mushrooms and shallots
- 2 shallots, medium
- 1 tsp olive oil
- leftover sauce
- Cook pasta according to package directions, Drain.
- Slice shallots.
- Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Cut the leftover coq au vin into small, bite-size pieces and add to skillet.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of sauce to skillet and heat through.
- When pasta is done, drain and toss with chicken and sauce. Add more sauce if needed and heat through. Serve.
Note: if you don't have enough sauce add a bit of chicken stock and 1 - 2 tbs tomato paste to skillet.
Beef Patties with Caramelized Onions
Total time: 35 minutes
We use 10oz and make 2 nice burgers. If you want more meat just increase everything else (not the caramelized onions) proportionately.
- 10oz (300gr) ground beef
- 2 tbs bread crumbs
- 1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tbs red wine (or beef stock or ketchup
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 medium onions
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
- Mix bread crumbs, mustard, red wine, garlic powder and thyme.
- Add beef and mix thoroughly - hands are best. Shape into 2 or 3 patties.
- Cut onions in half then into 1/4 inch (.65cm) think slices.
- Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Uncover onions and sauté until browned, stirring frequently, another 15 minutes.
- Add patties (moving onions out of the way but leave in pan) and sauté 5 - 7 minutes per side.
- Remove burgers and keep warm.
- Add sugar and mustard to onions and stir until well blended and sugar is melted.
- Spoon over burgers and serve.
Day 6: Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Sauce
Total time: 35 minutes
Braised pork chops, with a simple pan sauce of mushrooms, onions and chili powder.
- 2 - 4 pork chops, depending on size, 12oz (360gr) total weight
- 4oz (120gr) mushrooms
- 1 small red onion
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) beef stock
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- Clean mushrooms, slice thickly.
- Roughly chop onion.
- Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add pork chops and brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add chili powder and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds.
- Add onions and sauté 3 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes longer.
- Add stock and deglaze pan, stirring up any browned bits.
- Add vinegar, tomato paste and stir well.
- Return chops to pan, cover, reduce heat and simmer until chops are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes longer.
- Uncover and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve.