Sunday, June 30, 2013

A black bean bisque, and our weekly menu




It has been a while since I posted our weekly menu. With the busy last few weeks of visitors and barbecues and weekends away, my meal planning has been much looser. But I'm happy to get back to it, because it has been one of the best things I have adopted since we started consistent family meals where we all eat the same thing, when Pablo was about 12 months. I can't recommend it enough: taking 45 minutes to an hour once a week to sit down and make the week's menu, saves me so much time and the annoying 'So what are we eating tonight?' conversations and debates. It insures a good variety in our meals throughout the week. It makes it easier to think of trying new recipes from cookbooks or food blogs (I use Pinterest a lot for this purpose). It makes the food shopping easier. It helps not spoil food and keep good inventory of what we have (and as such, is a money saver). It removes a lot of stress. 

In short, it's a simple thing, but it makes our lives better.  

Do you plan your weekly meals too? Do you think it would make your life easier? Would you try it for even a couple of times a week?

I wanted to share this very easy soup which can be served hot or cold. Perfect for a busy night. We had some leftover, so we enjoyed it hot the first night, and chilled the next day. Delicious either way. 

Wishing you a summery, flavorful week. Scroll down past the recipe for our week's menu!


Cilantro black bean bisque, with goat cheese toast

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 15 min

Age for babies: 8-10 months

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large shallot
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 can of black beans
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
5-6 sprigs of fresh cilantro

Optional garnish if served hot:
1 toasted slice of bread

Finely chop the shallot and garlic. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet. Add the shallot, garlic, oregano and cumin and cook over medium heat until the shallot is translucent (don't let it brown), about 8 minutes. 

Rinse the black beans. 

Add the beans to the shallot mixture, and stir to coat the beans. Add the broth and cook for about 15 minutes on medium low.

Pour into your blender, add the vinegar and cilantro (leaves only), and whirl for a good long while, until very smooth. 

Serve HOT:

Pour into 4 bowls. 

Toast 4 slices of bread, spread some creamy goat cheese on top, and gently deposit on top of the soup. 

OR COLD:

Let cool completely and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. Give it another whirl in the blender before serving with some crumbled goat cheese on top.



Cheeses of the week: Following French tradition, I always offer a little bit of cheese at the end of every meal, between the main course and dessert. Rotation this week: Comté, Port Salut (cow cheese), and a lot of goat cheese these days, thanks to my collaboration with Vermont Creamery and the Kids & Kids campaign. I'm happy to have a continuing "goat cheese series" of recipes, so look for that in the coming weeks! 

DessertsAt lunch, I offer a fruit yogurt (or plain yogurt with fresh fruit), but at night, I prefer sticking to plain yogurt (regular homemade* whole milk, sheep’s milk, goat's milk and Greek yogurt for extra protein) to avoid too much sugar before bedtime.

If you would like a particular recipe on the menu, feel free to contact me! (I marked with a * the recipes that will be the topic of upcoming posts).

MONDAY

Lunch - OUT at Le Pain Quotidien.

Goûter (4pm snack) – Donut peach or plum

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger FoodsAuthentic Greek salad
Main course: Chicken basquaise (with all the summer vegetables!)

TUESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Chickpea feta cilantro salad
Main course: Beef patty, butter lettuce with fresh herbs

Goûter - Strawberry rhubarb compote

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Corn soup*
Main course: Cauliflower stuffed peppers from Food Loves Writing

WEDNESDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger FoodsGrated carrots French-style
Main courseQuails eggs en cocotte with smoked salmon, leek and zucchini from La Tartine Gourmande

Goûter – Apricots

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Lentil shallot salad
Main course: Braised fennel with saffron and tomato from Green Kitchen Stories

THURSDAY - Happy Fourth!

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Cold zucchini with mint vinaigrette
Main course: Avocado sardine tartine

Goûter - A special treat, this lovely peach gratin soufflé

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger FoodsWatermelon Gazpacho with crumbled Feta
Main course: Oven-roasted ribs and blue potatoes (to cover the red, white and blue! ;-))

FRIDAY

Lunch

Appetizer / Finger Foods: Roasted apricots & burrata salad
Main course: Ham with cucumber fennel slaw

Goûter - Cherries

Dinner 
Appetizer / Finger FoodsArtichoke bottoms with green parsley sauce
Main course: Soft boiled egg with mouillettes of Vanilla Bean Blog's delightful cardamom flatbread

SATURDAY

Lunch
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Eggplant caviar*
Main course: Leek Feta Quiche

Goûter - Watermelon fig granita from Fig & Fauna

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger Foods: Endive, blue cheese salad
Main course: Clams in fennel shallot broth from Cannelle & Vanille



SUNDAY

Lunch - OUT 


Goûter - Plums

Dinner
Appetizer / Finger FoodsSorrel & cucumber cold soup
Main course: Tomato polenta pie from Fig & Fauna, mâche salad





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7 comments:

  1. This looks yummy! Thanks for sharing. Quick questions about your weekly menu: 1-how do you prepare your beef patties?, and 2-at what time do you prepare your lunch and dinner, meaning, how far before you sit down to eat, and what does Pablo do in the meantime? I'm home alone with my twin girls, and I find it so challenging to cook while they're running around. It's hard to get creative in my "american" (open) kitchen with two 19 month olds...Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Well, I must admit you're faced with more of a logistical challenge than I am, being alone with 2 toddlers. I have only one toddler and I do have my mom's help, and my husband's help for dinner prep (he usually bathes Pablo while I prep dinner). That said, I think it's a matter of finding a good system that works for you. For lunch, we prepare it about 20 min prior to sitting down, dinner about 45 min-1hr prior (including cooking down time) depending on what we're making. When alone with Pablo for lunch for example, I try to keep him occupied with an activity in the kitchen (the toddler kitchen tower is great for that purpose), either play dough, or at the sink helping to wash vegetables or washing measuring cups, something like that. Stickers and magnets on the fridge work well too. I have always tried to nurture his ability to entertain himself (it is a work in progress, some days are more challenging than others!) and have a safe area for him to play freely so I can get stuff done. The other thing is since I do meal planning, I try to prepare some things one or two nights before, things like grated carrots, lentil salad, cooked green beans, cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, to just toss into a salad with vinaigrette. That makes lunch prep much quicker. Also for lunch, if it's a very busy week, I do simple things like a slice of ham, or smoked salmon, or sardines, or quickly pan-fried meats that only take a few minutes prep. The eating in courses helps also: I put Pablo in his high chair and can get him started on the first vegetable course (like a vegetable salad for ex), and while he's working on that, I can go pan-fry the beef patty (we simply pan-fry it in a bit of olive oil). I also have an open kitchen looking out onto the dining area, so I can talk to him while prepping (and engage him about what he's about to eat and how I'm making it). You might check out my post called "Anatomy of the French four course meal", where I go over a lot of my logistics, see if that can be helpful, http://frenchfoodiebaby.blogspot.com/2012/10/anatomy-of-french-four-course-meal.html.
      I hope this answers your question, let me know if you have more, happy to help if I can. :-)

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    2. Thank you so much for your lengthy response! I should have mentioned that I just never get around to planning in advance, and I think that's why now, more than ever before, feel overwhelmed. At 18 months, the twins seem to have made this change. (I think that my mom was visiting for a month in May didn't help that transition.) They were great at entertaining themselves, and often played together, while I cooked. Now, it's just "Mami, mami, mami," the whole time. So I think this is a good moment to implement the weekly menu, and plan ahead, just as you suggest. I plan to try the lamb meatballs tomorrow for lunch. :)

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    3. Yes, they go through so many phases and transitions...! It can be hard to keep up :-) Meal planning is a huge time/stress saver, I definitely recommend it. Let me know how you and your little ones like the lamb meatballs! :-)

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    4. Hi, again, helene,
      My daughters and I tried the lamb meatballs today...YUM! Managed to save a few for daddy since he's at work. Is it fine to reheat them in the microwave? I saved the sauce separately. Also, do you think I could make chicken meatballs (or turkey, or beef) the same way? Or better to simmer in chicken broth instead of coconut milk? THanks again!
      Aída

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    5. Hi Aida, great! So glad you liked it. I think it's fine to keep the balls and sauce separate, and perhaps reheat on the stove over low heat. Microwave would probably work too though. You can definitely substitute the lamb with ground turkey or chicken with the same coconut milk sauce. I'm not sure about about beef though, worth a try... Have a great Fourth! Thanks for your feedback! :-)

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  2. I plan our weekly menu the week before and then my husband does the marketing on the weekend (he's much better at sticking to the grocery list than I am). It's SUCH a time and brain saver - I can't imagine doing it any other way!

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