Culinary school prepared me for a lot of things, but getting dinner to the table on time while also serving meals that every single person in the household would enjoy minus the lip service wasn’t one of them.
Enter Cookie magazine editors Pilar Guzman, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang and their cookbook "Time for Dinner…strategies, inspiration, and recipes for family meals every night of the week". This is a book that tailors to the needs of the modern family, the single working mother, the two working parent home, kids food issues, kids with health issues, and kids who are just straight-up picky.
The chapters aren’t broken down by ingredient, season, or even meal course; instead they have such titles like “If I Could Just Make It to Wednesday”, “I want to use what I already have”, and my personal favorite “I want to have a family dinner where we all eat the same meal”. The recipes are a nice combination of current American classics and more popular ethnic fare like Tacos and Chicken Curry. There is a great chapter called The Family Kitchen, which suggests items to stock in your pantry (nothing that can’t be found at your local supermarket or farmers' market), fridge, and freezer to lessen trips to the market. This chapter also offers tips for keeping the kids occupied during meal preparation. One such idea is the Babysitter in a box kit - a small plastic bin of kitchen supplies like measuring spoons, mixing bowls, etc. designed to keep your most inquisitive toddler engaged (works for mine).
This a book that I know I will turn to over and over again, especially on those days when I’m suffering from some sort of short-term memory loss in terms of cooking know how or as the authors say, when “your baby spirals into the witching hour the minute you walk in the front door”.
Soups/stews are something I usually don’t get too much protest over at the dinner table. The recipe below for Smoked-Salmon Chowder is easy to make and big on flavor. You can always pull out the pieces of salmon for the ones who have “fish phobia”.
Recipe from Time for Dinner by "Pilar Guzmán, Jenny Rosenstrach, and Alanna Stang " (Chronicle Books, 2010)active time: 15 minutes| total time: 30 minutes | serves: 6
Simple to make, this soup can also work as a healthy weeknight meal. The kids will enjoy some oyster crackers on the side, if you have them. Grown-up guests will need only a crusty baguette.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium leeks (white and light green parts only), rinsed and sliced (about 3 cups)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 large stalk celery, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups milk (any fat content)
- 8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the potato, celery, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the broth and simmer until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and milk, then the salmon, and bring the mixture back to a simmer for a few minutes. (Don't let it boil, or the milk will separate.) As it simmers, stir in the cream. Remove from heat and garnish with the chives
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.