As someone who travels all over the country, I’m convinced that most people would prefer a homemade meal to fast food during the work week—no matter how quick and easy fast food seems to be. The problem is how to make homemade happen.
If you work regular hours and/or have young children, it often seems as if there’s just no time to get a proper dinner on the table. Not true. I’m as pressed as anyone, yet my family enjoys a homemade dinner at least five nights a week because I know how to streamline the menu. My problem is boredom. Like the millions of Americans who do cook, I tend to make the same ten dishes over and over again, simply because doing so requires no thinking.
That’s why this little book, Gourmet Weekday, with its come-hither photographs, has become such a welcome addition to my kitchen. It’s a compilation of the best recipes from Gourmet magazine’s “Quick Kitchen” column, all of them developed by Gourmet’s food editors, who are everyday people contending with their own hectic lives and family schedules. Unsurprisingly, the recipes are quick and easy. Happily, they are also inspirational—ridiculously simple to make, but special enough to serve
at a dinner party, like Crisp Pork Medallions with Caper Sauce or Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta. They are international (but based on ingredients you can find at the supermarket), seasonal, and budget-friendly.
There are vegetarian recipes, such as Inside-Out Eggplant Parmigiana Stack (a top hit in the Gourmet dining room), that won’t scare away carnivores, kid-friendly dinners like BLT Burgers that parents will enjoy too, light dishes, such as Fish Fillets with Olives and Oregano, that don’t sacrifice flavor, and out-of-the-box weeknight mains—from sandwiches and burgers to pizza, pasta, and rice entrées—guaranteed to shoulder their way into your regular rotation. And that’s not even to mention the recipes for knock-out desserts. You won’t want to miss the decadent Chocolate Fallen Soufflé Cake!
Best of all, more than three quarters of the recipes in this book take fewer than 30 minutes of hands-on time to prepare. Problem solved: Now you too can serve your family a home-cooked meal any night of the week.
A few recipes from the book:
with Smoked Salmon
Makes 18 to 20 | Active time: 25 minutes | Start to finish: 25 minutes
FOR BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
½ cup milk
½ stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
Chopped fresh dill or chives
- MAKE PANCAKES: Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together yolks and milk in a small bowl, then whisk into dry ingredients. Beat egg whites in another large bowl with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks, then fold into flour mixture. Add 3 tablespoons butter and fold until batter is smooth.
- Lightly brush a 10- to 12-inch nonstick skillet with some of remaining butter, then heat over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.
- Working in batches of 4, spoon about
1½ tablespoons batter per pancake into skillet and cook until surface of pancakes bubbles, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and cook 1 minute more.
- Transfer to a plate and keep warm,
covered in foil. Brush skillet with butter between batches.
- MAKE TOPPING: Stir together all ingredients except salmon until combined, then dollop on pancakes and top each with salmon.
COOKS’ NOTE: You can substitute 2 ounces of caviar for the smoked salmon.
Grilled Herbed Poussins
Serves 4 | Active time: 15 minutes | Start to finish: 35 minutes
¼ cup chopped basil
1½ tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 fresh bay leaves, finely chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 poussins (1 to 1¼ pounds each) or small Cornish hens, backbones cut out and birds split in half
- Blend together herbs, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender until finely chopped, then rub all over poussins.
- Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas); see “Grilling Procedure,” page 000.
- Oil grill rack, then grill poussins, skin sides down first, directly over coals, turning once, until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Move poussins to area with no coals underneath and grill, covered, until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer poussins to a platter and let stand 10 minutes.
COOKS’ NOTES: Poussins can be rubbed with herb paste 1 day ahead and chilled.
To cook poussins indoors, brown them as above in a hot large ridged grill pan over medium-high heat, then cover with an inverted roasting pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 18 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6 | Active time: 15 minutes | Start to finish: 15 minutes
4 medium zucchini (1¼ pounds total)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3–½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼–1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
Mandoline or other adjustable-blade slicer; scissors
- Cut zucchini crosswise into slices as thin as possible with mandoline and spread them out evenly on a large platter (or use 2 large plates), covering platter completely.
- Drizzle zucchini evenly with oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle evenly with salt and cheese. Using scissors, snip thin shreds of the mint leaves over the salad.
A HOST’S BEST FRIEND
This dish would be right at home as part of an antipasto spread or arranged on individual plates for a very snazzy—and easy—first course....