After a week in Africa, my husband and two older children returned. Hurley House reopened after our summer break, and we got the store up and moving again. Then, at the end of the week, my husband and son left for a sixteen-day Boy Scout hiking trip. The massive amounts of travel this summer were something we both signed up for, but the staying home part is hard. The girls and I have fun together, but nothing is quite the same when Timm is gone.
The other large shift that happened this week is that I officially took all of the Ina In A Year cooking home. For a lot of reasons, I am no longer cooking these meals at Hurley House. Primarily, my role in the business does not require me to be in the kitchen, thanks to our new Kitchen Manager Rachel, and so I have more flexibility. But secondarily, and more in line with where my heart is leading me lately, I am wanting to get better at creating space in my own home. Cooking at home is something I love, and yet I have lost that part of myself in the storm of starting a business. I want that to change, and the best way to learn something is to start doing it.
I am cooking dinner most nights at home, visiting the grocery store more frequently, reacquainting myself with the routine of making homemade meals from my home kitchen. It feels like a luxury to get to live this way, if even for a season. The unexpected result is how easy the cooking feels at home.
WHAT I COOKED
Salmon & Guacamole Sandwiches, Foolproof
Fiesta Corn & Avocado Salad, Cooking for Jeffery
Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Make It Ahead
Mustard-Marinated Flank Steak, Foolproof
Creamy Cheddar Grits, Back to Basics
Garlic & Herb Tomatoes, At Home
Strawberry Tarts, Barefoot in Paris
Mustard Chicken Salad, How Easy Is That?
Zucchini Vichyssoise, Barefoot in Paris
Pesto Pea Salad, At Home
Pecan Sandies, Foolproof
Balsamic Roasted Beef, How Easy Is That?
Snap Peas with Pancetta, How Easy Is That?
Tomatoes & Burrata, Make It Ahead
Birthday Sheet Cake, Family Style
Hot Smoked Salmon, Foolproof
Fresh Dill Sauce, Foolproof
Crusty Basmati Rice, Foolproof
Prunes in Armagnac, Foolproof
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting, Foolproof
Vanilla Armagnac Ice Cream, Foolproof
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies, How Easy Is That?
WHAT I LEARNED
For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I am going to make a blanket statement about this week’s recipes. All of them (with the exception of the Strawberry Tarts) are amazing and worth cooking. For the sake of the blog post, I am going to pick four to talk about, but I want to highly recommend everything you see in the list above. So many winners!!!!
MUSTARD MARINATED FLANK STEAK.
I happened to make this with the Creamy Cheddar Grits and the Garlic and Herb Tomatoes, and now this menu is solidified in my repertoire. The flank steak can be marinated overnight, but I forgot, and just did the best I could. It comes together so quickly, it is a candidate for weeknight cooking. I served it sliced on top of the cheese grits with the tomatoes on the side, and the whole thing worked so perfectly. I was scraping my plate to get every bite.
This is a potato leek zucchini soup that can be served hot or cold (I chose hot), and I think the best review of this recipe comes from the lips of my eleven-year-old daughter, Norah. “I always get excited about soup, but usually I end up being disappointed. This soup lived up to my expectations.” It’s true. This soup has something special about it. I did use homemade chicken stock, which is always a game changer, but I think it is the combination of leeks and the time spent cooking them until they are soft and sweet that really gives this layers of flavor. I will be making this again.
PASTA PEA SALAD.
If you’re familiar with Ina’s Pasta Pesto Pea Salad, then you get the idea. This version is very pared down, making it a cinch to throw together. Spinach, pesto, parmesan, peas. Do not make your own pesto. That’s unnecessary in a world where there are so many store-bought versions that are ideal (my favorite comes from Central Market). I served this alongside the Mustard Chicken Salad (please promise you’ll try this too), and it was blowing my mind. I ate the combination for lunch all week.
VANILLA ARMAGNAC ICE CREAM.
Warning. You will need to enjoy the boozy brandy flavor of armagnac in order to love this ice cream. But if you do, this recipe is your new favorite. This ice cream is not a custard base, but rather a flavored cream that is frozen. This makes is fast and easy to throw together. I kept mine in the freezer for a couple of weeks, and treated myself to a spoonful after dinner for several days in a row. The alcohol keeps the cream from freezing solid, and I found it particularly satisfying and grown up. My kids hated it and told me it tasted like cough syrup. I feel like this is an appropriate response to kids and alcohol.