Date Night … Alone!

by Cate on June 3, 2005

With various errands needing to get done, The Husband and I ended up going our separate ways tonight in a “divide and conquer” approach. I had dinner by my lonesome at Panera, and if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know what I order to drink — my ICEE Mocha! Love, love, love that stuff. And I have finally found a sandwich I like at Panera, their Portobello & Mozzarella Panini. It’s garlic roasted portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella and chopped basil, grilled hot on Rosemary & Onion focaccia. So, so delicious, and coupled with their Broccoli Cheddar Soup, it really hit the spot.

Afterwards, I made a stop at Barnes & Noble to see if they had any new magazines that I couldn’t live without, and, of course, they did. Chow is a new food magazine that came out a couple of months ago. I was drawn to the new issue (July/August 2005), particularly their article is “Basic Repertoire,” which lists basic dish categories that you should have in your repertoire to entertain “anyone, everyone, anytime.” I have them all covered, except for one. According to Chow, your repertoire should include:

1. A good piece of meat or fish dish
2. The one-pot meal
3. An upscale casserole
4. Something roasted
5. Something braised
6. An almost-30-minute meal
7. A vinaigrette
8. A homey dessert

Food is like fashion: you may have an overstuffed closet but nothing to wear. Don’t be distracted by all the recipes that somehow still don’t add up to a real meal. You don’t need to master a bunch of dishes. You need a solid core of fundamentals – a style. Then, once you’re familiar with a small number of classics, you can customize them according to the season, the fashion, or your own weird whimsy.

I think that’s a great place to start. You need to have a core group of Tried-and-Trues that you can rely on, particularly when you have last minute guests. You need a go-to menu that will never fail to satisfy, and one that lets you relax and enjoy your company, instead of wondering if the dish will come out.

Their “Basic Repertoire” is a regular feature. “In each issue, Chow will ask a different chef to explain the dishes that he or she relies on most to entertain at home. Sometimes the style may lean toward Asian flavors, other times Italian. But they’ll all fit into these eight categories. You’ll be able to choose from among all the recipes to create your own Basic Repertoire – your own kitchen style.”

The recipes they’re covering in this issue are the “basics of the Basics, crowd pleasers, complicated enough to keep you interested, yet simple enough to keep you sane.” And possibly enough for me to send in my subscription card. :) I think it’s a great idea, and look forward to seeing it develop.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what the weekend has in store … until then, talk back to me. Let me know what you like about the blog. What brings you here? What do you want to see more of? Less of? Is there a good balance? Look forward to hearing your thoughts … remember, Sweetnicks is for you, as much as it is for me.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

mbrogier June 3, 2005 at 7:07 am

Don’t leave us hanging…what “basic” don’t you have covered??

inquiring minds want to know!


Cate June 3, 2005 at 1:25 pm

LOL – sorry, didn’t mean to leave you hanging! :) I don’t have a Tried-and-True in the “braised” department. Have one you’d like to share?


mbrogier June 4, 2005 at 7:07 am

How about the world’s best pot roast?? Chuck roast braised in wine for 3 hours…how can that be bad? I’ll email it to you.


Cate June 5, 2005 at 12:31 am

Anything called “the world’s best roast,” I think, would be a great addition to my repertoire. Send it over! :)


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