…at least insofar as it comes to feeding my notoriously finicky family. After some fits and starts, successes and fiascoes, we’ve finally got this family supper thing figured out: give them some garlic and lemon, loads of lean protein and fresh vegetables, olive oil instead of butter, and toss everything on the grill. Voila, supper is ready in an instant and the entire family is pleased. Was it really that simple?!
Last night’s meal confirmed what I should have already known: all they really want is quality product prepared healthfully that doesn’t taste like rabbit food or contain any of their hot-button ingredients like mushrooms or beans, or (as my sister’s salty trainer put it) “no more fucking cheese!” Suddenly, all of the dishes I’d prepared for them that tasted fabulous but garnered a lukewarm response made sense: my sister was horrified to witness how much butter I used to caramelize shallots for homemade pizza night, and my mother wouldn’t dare go near leftovers of the same enchiladas she’d raved about the night prior. Simply put, the success of my meals was hampered by not giving my audience what they wanted. Perhaps Richard Blais isn’t the only one who needed to embrace the pleasure principle…
Behold, the home run supper menu:
- Surf & Turf Kebabs. As I’ve discovered over the past month, involving a grill in dinner preparation dramatically improves my chances of success (guess we’re suckers for a smoky char). I used New York Strip Steak (hand cut into 2-inch cubes), wild white prawns, Campari tomatoes (the ideal size for skewering whole) and hearty chunks of red onion and bell pepper. A healthy sprinkle of kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and extra virgin olive oil and the kebabs are grill-ready. Delightfully simple, truly. (And if you’re a hot sauce junkie like us, harissa is the condiment you should be reaching for.)
- Toasted Couscous Tabbouleh. This recipe debuted in Martha Stewart Living ages ago, and while my mother and I used to make the deliciously simple dish with some frequency, it had fallen out of our repertoire until I spotted pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous) at the market this week. Decidedly not your traditional tabbouleh, this dish swaps bulgur for pearl couscous, omits tomato and eases up on the fresh herb-to-grain ratio (the parsley in tabbouleh can be a bit much sometimes). DO NOT skip the cold water soak for the raw red onion — it really does remove some of the acrid bite and enhances the onion’s natural sweetness.
- Tsatsiki. I’ve mentioned this recipe before, but it bears repeating because I’ve tried a zillion tsatsiki recipes and this is, hands-down, the hus-b’s and my absolute favorite. Trust us and double the recipe, as you will invariably go through more than you think you’ll need *and* it makes killer leftovers. P&V recommends using Fage Whole or 2% yogurt (the nonfat version is simply not creamy enough to make a satisfying tsatsiki). Serve as a condiment for the kebabs or as a savory dip to be scooped up with warm pita.
The progression from prep to dinner table is lightning quick if you execute the steps in a sensible order. Our effortless 10-step method:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Wrap stack of pita in foil and toss into the oven to warm.
- Cover wooden kebab skewers in cool water and soak for 10 minutes.
- Put water on the stove to boil for the pearl couscous. Follow recipe prompts to cook and then cool couscous.
- Preheat grill.
- Knife work: Dice red onion and soak. Chop and salt cucumber, and then place in a strainer according to recipe prompts. Chop parsley and mint for couscous dish, and mince garlic for tsatsiki. Chunk up red onion and bell peppers.
- Assemble and dress kebabs. Toss on the heated grill.
- Whisk yogurt and olive oil base for tsatsiki, and then add the remaining ingredients per the recipe.
- Toss couscous ingredients to combine.
- Remove kebabs from grill.
An extra-credit dessert (if you’ve got a little spare time and some fresh fruit on your hands): Berry compote with fresh meyer lemon curd. Remember that meyer lemon curd recipe from the meyer lemon bake-a-thon last month? Well, I wasn’t kidding when I said that the natives liked it. A lot. So I whipped up another batch a few days ago, and I can honestly say that this dessert is just as satisfying (and a heck of a lot less guilt-inducing) as a slice of lemon cake. Sure, there are some butter and eggs in the curd, but just a small dollop of curd atop the berries is sufficient to transport them from a plain old bowl of fruit into a proper dessert.
Drop P&V a line if you try out this supper on your own family. We’d love to hear how it goes!