This past week I joined Cathy Erway in her Week of Eating In. When I first accepted the challenge, I figured it would be a piece of cake, since eating in is what I do best. What I hadn't counted on was a work week from hell, and two full-day photo shoots, not to mention my usual bevy of extra-curricular gigs.
There were a few nights, where I nearly threw in the towel in favor of take-out, but I persevered and as a result I ate very well all week and saved myself a boatload of money. When life get's crazy (when isn't it?) it's easy to compromise on quality, budget, and nutrition, but being a part of this challenge made me realize that it doesn't have to be that way.
But enough chit-chat, here's the daily play-by-play.
Breakfast: skipped... I know, not a great way to start the week.
Lunch: Grilled onion, gruyere and rosemary pizza.
Dinner: I was shooting photos all day for the box of a new kitchen product, so I had tons of props laying around including a crispy skinned snapper on spinach, grilled red peppers with garlic and capers, lemon meringue tarts, lemon banana tarts, and crème brûlée. I just noshed on the props for dinner.
Breakfast: A peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich on 7 grain bread from the office pantry.
Lunch: Leftover pizza from Monday.
Dinner: Beef Cheek Confit with caramelized baby turnips and garlic scapes. I happened to have some wagyu beef cheek confit sitting in a tub of its own fat in the fridge, so I crisped the exterior and served it on a bed of turnips and garlic scapes that were caramelized in a reduction of the beef juice that was produced during the confiting process. To say it was incredibly rich would be an understatement. The beef cheek, barely held together by a matrix of gelatin, was redolent of five spice and soy sauce and burst into a pool of flavor as it hit my tongue. The quick sear gave the exterior a crisp crust, while the tender interior gave it a luxurious contrast of textures. Perhaps the best part was the turnips that were caramelized on the outside and took on all the flavors of the beef and garlic scapes. Look for a recipe this week.
Breakfast: Plum and Walnut Liberté Méditerranée yogurt from the office fridge.
Dinner: Quick Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce. Yea, I know I'm a little crazy to attempt a roast on a weeknight, but it all came together in 40 minutes thanks to a few shortcuts, and I had enough leftovers for 2 more meals.
Breakfast: Meeting madness, no time for breakfast.
Lunch: Pizza with grilled peppers, grilled red onions, enoki mushrooms, asiago cheese and sumac.
Dinner: Udon noodles with a soup made from the remaining beef juice from the confit, topped with a stirfry of some leftover roast lamb, garlic scapes, green peppers, cumin and fennel. It was a leftover meal, but it came out pretty close to the Cumin Lamb noodle soup at Xi'an Famous Foods, which is one of my favourite noodle dishes of all time.
Breakfast: Fage Greek Yogurt with Honey.
Dinner: A 2 oz. cut of wagyu shortrib and a 3 oz. cut of wagyu flatiron steak, cooked tableside with onions and served with sesame oil and smoked sea salt. You can't really see the marbling from this photo, but trust me, it's there. I've always been more of a quality over quantity guy, but I think it's epitomized in my preference of steaks. I'd rather have a few bites of blissfully tender and flavorful beef than a 24 ounce porterhouse. These miniscule steaks cost about $7 together and it comfortably fed 2 people with some brown rice and other accompaniments.
Breakfast: After the week I had, I opted for an extra 3 hours of sleep for breakfast.
Lunch: Okay, so this is the closest I came to cheating. I made a package of Shin Ramyun, but in my defense, it was heavily augmented. I added green peppers, garlic scapes and scallions to the noodles, and an egg was gently mixed in just before serving. I topped it all off with some shredded white cheddar (yes it sounds weird but it's delicious) and the last of the roast lamb. No photo because I was too hungry to stop and snap pictures.
Dinner: I made some takikomi gohan with brown rice, burdock, baby anchovies, fried tofu, and carrots. This was topped off with some grilled unagi and a dusting of sansho powder. It was earthy, rich, salty and sweet and oh so satisfying. Unfortunately I didn't have anything green to garnish it with, so no photo.
Breakfast: Pancakes with blueberry caramel sauce inspired by Savory Sweet Life's post of the same name. I saw her post late Saturday night and realized I had all the fixin's in my fridge. For my version I used some caramelized sugar I had made for a photo shoot and whisked in some butter at the end for more body.
Lunch: Rice from last night with some baby anchovies simmered with soy sauce and sansho berries (sichuan peppercorns), as well as some kabocha pumpkin pickled in nuka (fermented rice bran)
Dinner: Grilled Sablefish (a.k.a. Black Cod) marinated in miso, sugar, sake, garlic and ginger. Served on top of a bed of broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and natto (japanese fermented soy beans). Look for a recipe this week.