Because we need things to eat, and I feel like I am running behind in getting this project completed by the end of the year, I decided to make TWO Martha recipes today. Two! One for lunch and one for dinner. The entrees are rather similar–sautéed protein covered with a nut sauce, so let’s compare, shall we?
Meal No. 45: Lettuce Hearts with Fried Croutons and Tomatoes; Trout with Almonds and Orange; Porcini and Parsley Farro; Sugared Grape Phyllo Tart
Meal No. 46: Chickpea-Olive Crostini; Chicken Paillards with Walnut Sauce; Arugula and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad; Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates
Let me just say that you can watch Martha cook the chicken dish on the Today show, here. It is worth watching because Meredith puts the smack down on Martha when she tries to make her eat a date. Ha!
The video also reveals Martha to be the biggest, fattest, lyingly liar around. (If this is my last post you know that she has sued me and I am locked in jail somewhere). She says that all of the meals in her Dinner at Home can be cooked in an hour or less! ALL OF THEM! Do you know how many have actually been cooked in that amount of time? Two, I think! Definitely fewer than five! Liar liar pants on fire!!!!
Right off the bat we are unable to provide scientifical analysis of the two salads because I only made one, the roasted sweet potato and arugula salad. My Whole Foods didn’t have Serrano ham, and I didn’t feel like going anywhere else, unless they sold shoes. Making a salad with just Boston lettuce, cherry tomatoes, croutons, oil and sherry vinegar sounds rather boring. I think we can all imagine what that tastes like, yes? Also, why put ham into a pescetarian meal?
The sweet potato salad was actually quite good, and the best part of that meal. Maybe both meals! I roasted slices of sweet potatoes and leeks in olive oil, with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, until tender, then added them to a mixture of romaine lettuce. The recipe called for arugula, and I bet that would have been even better, but there was a greens snafu so we used what we had. The dressing was a mixture of Dijon mustard, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Yes, I finally got some, and no, it hasn’t changed my life into an amazing super duper fantastic life. Yet.
The trout was salted and peppered and sautéed in olive oil, then removed from the pan when done. Then I toasted some chopped almonds, and mixed them with some orange zest and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I don’t know what was up with that orange, as it was extremely acidic. I had a sip of the juice and it burned my throat like battery acid. I had to scrape the topping off the fish and eat it plain. (If you are a reading this and are a doctor, and think this may mean I have a vitamin deficiency or scurvy, please let me know). Lucky for me, I enjoyed it better without the sauce, as it was simultaneously acidic and too sweet. The Husband enjoyed the fish with and without the sauce. He would like it known that he enjoyed the fish so much that he ate the skin.
The chicken was flattened, and also salted, peppered and sautéed in olive oil, then removed. This time, I added toasted walnuts, chicken stock and sherry vinegar to make the sauce. I have no idea how this tasted as I am allergic to walnuts so I ate my chicken plain. The Husband asked, “So, what’s this walnut sauce about? I don’t get it.” He thought the walnuts were superfluous, but did say the sauce had some flavor that he appreciated.
The fish dish called for a side of farro and porcini stuff. Farro is very hard to find here, and expensive, so I substituted pearl barley, per Martha’s suggestion. I forgot that it takes 45 minutes to cook. I also substituted dried shiitake mushrooms for porcini. After the barley and mushrooms cooked, they were tossed with flat leaf parsley and olive oil. We tried a bit Martha’s way, and oh, was it bland. It tasted like water. Then we tried mixing in some black truffle olive oil we happened to get yesterday, and the dish was much improved. I still didn’t think it was all that great, but The Husband thought it was tasty.
The appetizer for the chicken meal involved topping crostini with a cooked/mashed up mixture of chickpeas, red onion, red pepper flakes, cumin, and a paltry six oil-cured black olives plus parsley. (On the Today show segment, the bread was magically toasted, and the topping was pre-prepared. All she did was saute the chicken and stuff a date). You would think that this would be flavorful, but you would be wrong! So, so bland and dry. The bites with olives had a better flavor, and that is saying a lot from someone who doesn’t even like black olives!
Both were very disappointing.
And I do use that term loosely! I wasn’t too worried about making two desserts because I knew we could make one of each and neither one of us would like them much. This is good because my birthday and Thanksgiving occur within 48 hours this week, and I have a feeling I will be having plenty of treats soon enough, and maybe not all of them will be of a sparkling, liquid variety.
The fish meal dessert was to be phyllo dough swabbed with melted butter, sugar, and crushed toasted fennel seeds, topped with red grapes and baked. We all know how I feel about fennel at this point. Even The Husband, who likes fennel, thought it sounded odd. So, I wasn’t keen on making it, but since I already wasn’t making the salad I felt compelled to try something. Back when we made the phyllo and squash tart I didn’t like how half a package of phyllo dough went to waste, so this time I just bought a little package of the phyllo cups. I put a couple grapes in each, topped them with melted butter and sugar and baked them for about 8 minutes. The Husband thought they were a total waste, but I didn’t hate them. I would never make them again, but they weren’t terrible. There just wasn’t anything to recommend them.
The second “dessert” was Medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese mixed with cream and sprinkled with sea salt. We are not date fans; I have had this type of thing before and while I didn’t hate them, I didn’t really think that much of them. But these were surprisingly tasty. The filling tasted like cream cheese, but the sourness helped tone down the sweetness of the date, and the salt really helped, too. Still, we each only ate one and that was that. Does anyone want some dates?
Fish: A vs. Chicken: B
Pretend Salad: N/A vs. Sweet Potato Salad: A
Chickpea crostini: C- vs. Farro Salad: C-
Phyllo Dough: C vs. Dates: B+
I guess it’s a toss up. By cooking two Martha meals in one day I ensured that I wouldn’t be crazy about any of the food I ate today…