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Dinner for 40

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#1 tammylc

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 06:21 AM

I live in a cohousing community. Cohousing is a form of intentional community that combines private homes with lots of common spaces. Last week we finally finished construction on our common house, a 4300 square foot building with a semi-commerical kitchen, dining room for 60, and other shared spaces. This week we start our common meal program.

Teams of community members take turns cooking, and anyone is welcome to sign up to attend a community meal, up to 5 nights a week (we may drop this back if it ends up being too ambitious). Right now it looks like I'll be the head cook a couple nights a month. My first time will be on Sunday, March 7, and I need to figure out what I'm making ASAP so I can get my menu posted.

Suggestions? Average attendance will probably be 30-40 people, including children, teens and adults. It's considered polite (although not required) to have a kid-friendly option if the main meal isn't kid friendly, and a vegetarian option if the main meal isn't vegetarian. I'll have a team of two helpers to assist with the cooking. For my Sunday meal, I'll be able to do something that's a bit more time consuming for preparation, where for future weeknight cooking I'll be looking for something that's a bit faster or less labor intensive.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!

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#2 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 06:44 AM

Could you please give us an idea of your budget? Who does the shopping? What other menus have already been announced?


Italian Night 1: Spaghetti with meat or marinara sauce, salad, garlic and plain bread, green vegetable sauteed with olive oil and garlic (spinach or any other leafy green like kale, broccoli, green beans)

Italian Night 2: Baked lasagna or ziti. With and without meat. Or, lasagna can be two kinds meat & tomato and spinach & creamy. same sides

Italian Night 3: Eggplant Parmesan casserole, good for veggies & meat eaters.

Italian Night 4: Peppers & Onions with Italian Sausage or Eggs, long rolls, salad & greens

Greek Night: Moussaka or pasticio, Greek Salad (make a tossed salad with greek delecacies on the side: feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves, olives, greek salad dressing), pickled beets, scordalia, pita bread. See my eggplant link above for the moussaka's eggplant

Moroccan Night: Chicken and Vegetarian Tagines (stews), Bastilla, Cous Cous. Make extra vegetarian, because that's the vegetable side for those having chicken.

Middle Eastern Night: Felafel (use my trick of baking the balls in mini-muffin tins sprayed with olive oil, so you don't have to use a big vat of deep frying oil) (with fixings bar of salads (lettuce, cabage, cucumber/tomato)), hummos, babaganous, pickled or roasted vegetable salads (my favorite: roasted cauliflower and carrots drizzled with tahini sauce), pita bread.

Tex Mex Night: Chili (meat and vegetarian) with cornbread, baked potatoes, and/or rice. Topping bar of taco fixings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatos, shredded cheese, sliced green onions, cilantro, salsa, sour cream, and salad dressing for those making a salad out of the fixings. Soft tortillas and taco chips.

Turkey isn't just for Thanksgiving Night: Roast turkeys (two large birds should be enough, figure 1 lb per person (including the bones)), Stuffing/dressing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni & cheese, salad, rolls.

Breakfast in the Evening: Frittatas with or without meat, french toast casserole (bread pudding, with maple or pancake syrup on the side), sausages and/or bacon, fruit salad, pancakes & waffles if you can deal with it (otherwise the bread pudding covers it)

Polish Night: Kielbasa braised in sauerkraut, pierogies (boiled and served with sauteed onions and sour cream) (you can buy them frozen and they come in several flavors), steamed green veggie, rolls. Make extra sauerkraut to keep vegetarian for those veggies who want some with their pierogies.

Indian Night: see RecipeGullet for lots of recipes: Meat and Vegetarian curries, basmati rice, Naan bread, cold sides of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon wedges, Raita (yogurt with shredded cucumber)

Japanese Night: There are lots of recipes in RecipeGullet, some incredibly simple, like Niku-jyaga (Japanese simmered beef and potatoes) and Greens (spinach or green beans are my favorites) with goma-ae (sesame seed dressing for vegetables) (unlike torakris, I just mix the blanched or steamed veggies with the dressing (which I whip up in the food processor, rather than pounding them together) (good cold or at room temperature), steamed rice (sprinkle with furikaki)

~~~

Soup is a great way to make leftovers go further. You should organize massive stock making efforts once a month or so (see the eGCI class on stock making), then whatever was leftover (with some exceptions) from the previous evenings meal can be turned into a soup with minimal effort.

Edit: I keep adding stuff. :biggrin:

Edited by Rachel Perlow, 01 March 2004 - 07:30 AM.


#3 tammylc

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 07:56 AM

Thanks Rachel! Lots of good ideas there. Can you tell me more about baking the falafels in mini-muffin tins? I'm intrigued.

As for your questions - budget is variable - the cost gets split among people that choose to eat. Aiming for around $100 a meal is probably a good target. That is complicated by the fact that a lot of people would prefer if we used organic or free range products wherever possible. As for the shopping - I do that, or I could choose to delegate it to one of my assistants if they were available. Plus there's a pantry with the basics.

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#4 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 07:58 AM

Adding on to the soup and stew/chili/tagine/etc. suggestion -- I recommend the kitchen invest in either a commercial soup serving set up or just buy several large crock pots so that these dishes can easily be kept hot.

Also, what about dessert?

#5 tammylc

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:02 AM

Dinner is served family style at a specific time, so there aren't currently any plans for keep-warm systems.

For this week, one of my assistant cooks is planning to use up some frozen fruit left over from a party in the common house last week to make fruit crisp. Depending on how the budget looks, we'll probably get some ice cream to go with.

Right now I'm leaning towards either pasta or a stew of some sort. If I do a stew, I'll probably just do something from Moosewood and have it be an all vegetarian meal. If I do a pasta, I'm thinking of a tomato sauce with peppers and onions and italian sausage, with a simple veggie tomato sauce for the vegetarians and the kids. Or, one of my all time favorite pasta recipes - portabello mushrooms and asparagus in a Boursin sauce (with plain pasta for kids). But I have to see how the price of asparagus is right now. Plus salad and bread with any of these options.

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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:13 AM

It's a large group, and my general experience is that the type of person who lives in experimental community tends to run a higher risk of being vegetarian or otherwise restricted. At the same time, that demographic tends not to have the standard conservative-palate objections to robustly seasoned foods.

The best way, as I've learned over time, to feed a group like that is to create dishes that can be constructed to personal preference from different elements. For example, on New Year's Eve we did cassoulet for roughly that number of people. We had one big pot of beans that were cooked to a relatively traditional recipe, and one smaller pot of vegetarian beans. We separately cooked duck confit, lamb shanks, and Aidell's chicken sausage -- we also did a vegetable medley that could be used instead of meat. All this was laid out and assembled to individual preference. The real vegetarians had beans plus vegetables. The sort-of vegetarians had veggie beans plus chicken sausage. Most other people had a little of everything, though there were those who didn't like duck, didn't like lamb, etc. -- and they were all accommodated no problem.

This general concept can be used in a variety of settings: you choose your base product -- beans, rice, pasta, whatever -- you make a ton of it, and you offer a variety of other items as "garnishes." You round it out with salad, bread, dessert, etc., and you're all set.
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#7 tammylc

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:48 AM

That's a good idea that's been used to good result at our community meetings. Salad bars, Cincinnati-style chili, taco bars, etc.

One thing that's a little different about the common meal program is that people know what the menu is and sign up in advance if they want to come. So I don't feel really strongly that I have to make something that everyone will like. Obviously I'd like to have good attendance at my meals, but I don't want to always have to cook to the lowest common denominator, either!

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#8 JAZ

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:52 AM

I think Fat Guy's got the right idea. Other meals that lend themselves to that approach are pasta (vegetarian marinara sauce, plus meatballs and chicken sausage on the side); fajitas/tacos; enchiladas (one pan of cheese, one pan of chicken, and one pan of pork or beef). Not as upscale as cassoulet, but perhaps more feasible for weeknight cooking.

#9 Fat Guy

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 09:56 AM

Tammy, the "bars" become very tired very quickly. I'm talking about something less salad-bar-like: a deconstructed family-style meal. The idea isn't to create versions of the taco bar; the idea is to serve the kinds of foods one would normally serve, but to break them down so they're more easily tailored to individual preferences. It's not a huge distinction, but long-term I think people are bound to prefer a less cafeteria-like approach. For example, you spoke of making a veggie stew from the Moosewood cookbook. But why stop there? You can also make braised stew meat, chicken legs, or any of a number of other meat items -- the food cost on these cuts of meat is extremely low -- and serve them on a platter alongside the veggie stew. That way, you effectively have two stews, but you don't have to do a "stew bar" or anything of that nature.
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#10 tammylc

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 10:59 AM

For example, you spoke of making a veggie stew from the Moosewood cookbook. But why stop there? You can also make braised stew meat, chicken legs, or any of a number of other meat items -- the food cost on these cuts of meat is extremely low -- and serve them on a platter alongside the veggie stew.

Well, in terms of "why stop there" - less work! While only a few people are vegetarians, most everyone seems to be quite content with a vegetarian meal, so I don't feel compelled to have meat. But I'll definitely keep your idea in mind - I'm probably going to end up doing these 2 or 3 times a month for the foreseeable future, so I'll have ample opportunity to try different things out.

JAZ - I really like your idea about enchiladas - I'll definitely add that to my future meal list.

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#11 MobyP

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 12:11 PM

I read a story about a cook on a submarine who got into making stocks... when on dry land, he would make fifty gallons at a time, and reduce it down to a few cups of glace. Easily transportable, and good for storage and quick use, even in a submarine. You can freeze it, and use it all over the place - pastas, stews, ragus, chilli, braises, risotto, jus for roasts - and it will improve anything you make exponentially.

Perhaps the community as a whole can put aside the chicken and turkey bones for a general 'chicken stock' (roasted or unroasted, it doesn't matter - a couple of trotters too, for the gelatin), and the beef bones (plus calves hoof or trotters) for the beef stock. As a community, it would be an invaluable resource, giving you a much better - and theoretically cheaper - product than the high sodium cans of yuck broth from the supermarket. And of course, spare veg can make a veg stock - though I don't know how that reduces.

Between you, buy a 30 litre stock pot, and set aside some space in a freezer for keeping the bones. Have a class, then set up a rota on stock making. Once they taste the difference, no one will want to make do without it.
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#12 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 08:07 PM

Thanks Rachel!  Lots of good ideas there.  Can you tell me more about baking the falafels in mini-muffin tins?  I'm intrigued.

It is pretty much exactly what I said. You make a standard falafel batter (I like the mix you can buy in bulk at Whole Foods). Then using a commercial sprayer, a Misto filled with olive oil, or just a pastry brush, liberally coat the mini-muffin tins with the oil. Fill almost full with falafel batter (using a small disher (like an ice-cream scoop) makes them easier to fill uniformly). Then spray the tops with some more olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

The idea isn't necessarily to make them lower in fat than deep frying them, although it does I guess, but it's just that whenever I try to fry falafel they fall apart on me. This way they stay together, plus you don't have to fry them.

#13 chow guy

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 10:46 AM

Organic and free range will eat up a $100 budget in no time at all. I think $4 per person is "waay" too low for even a non organic menu. It will really limit your creativity. You should probably think vegetarian with a meat option rather than the other way around. I often do pasta and curry dishes with meat options like meat balls or chicken on the side. You can also do fried rice or casseroles with meat or seafood options. Soup or stew like Minestrone, Coq(&seitan) Au Vin and a nice salad and good bread are also great for large gorups. Where is your community? I have always loved the concept of co-housing.
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#14 tammylc

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 11:28 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, Chow Guy.

For Sunday's meal, I'm planning to serve the following:
Whole wheat pasta served with a tomato sauce of turkey italian sausage, peppers and onions OR a meat-free tomato sauce
Spinach salad with goat cheese
Garlic bread
Fruit crisp

I'm aiming to do it organic as much as possible - which probably means the pasta and vegetables, but not the meat or cheese. I'll report back on my food costs on Monday.

Other meals I've got planned include a quick and easy meal for when I have to cook on a weeknight - Moroccan Carrot and Chick Pea Stew served with couscous and salad. It's good, hearty, quick to prepare, and should be very, very cheap. And I'm intrigued enough by Rachel's falafel making technique that I'll probably make Middle Eastern night for my next meal - falafel, hummous, tabouli, baba gannoush, pita. Yum.

Oh, and to answer your question, I'm in Great Oak Cohousing, located in Ann Arbor, MI. Ann Arbor is a hotbed of cohousing right now - we've got 2 communities up and running and third in the forming stages, due to break ground this summer. Units are still available!!!

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#15 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 06:24 PM

Add some nuts (walnuts?) to that spinach salad so the veggies get some protein.

Get many mini-muffin tins and/or ones that hold at least 2 dozen at a time, so you can bake them all quickly. I'm sure they'll come in handy for other uses as well.

#16 Malawry

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 07:23 PM

I cook dinner for 40 (ok, 35) every night.

What I'd suggest you make depends on a more detailed list of your equipment and time investment. I'm one person, working alone, but I have all day to make dinner (and I make my lunches simple so I can spend most of the lunch time period working on dinner).

A couple of things that have worked well:
I did pan-fried tilapia today, with a cornmeal crust. Very popular. I cooked the filets around 4pm in two saute pans and laid out the cooked fish on two sheet pans lined with parchment. At 4:55 I slid one pan into the oven which was set to about 275 degrees. At 5:10 I pulled it out and slid the other pan in. Service began at 5:15. The fish was hot and tasted pan-fresh and not overdone. This was an experiment, so I'm glad it worked.
I did fajitas for about 90 a week and a half ago. Using the griddle for the vegetables made all the difference, since I could cook them all at once, all at the last minute, and all to the perfect level of doneness.
I think people get tired of chili and stews, but maybe that's just my girls. They didn't flock to my chili but they did flock to my pasta dishes. If I had enough time I'd make lasagna with scratch noodles for them.

Some things that did not work:
Risotto. Restaurants usually parcook it and then finish it with about 10 minutes on the stove when it's ordered. I made a huge batch beginning-to-end that was ready right at 5:15 for service. But the batch was so big it scorched a little on the bottom, infusing the rice with a vaguely cigarette-like flavor, and then despite the cream I finished the risotto with it thickened and turned gluey within 10 minutes of hitting the steam table.
Scrambled eggs don't work so well. They get gummy quickly and have a short window from perfect to overcooked. Better egg dishes are poached, or best is the almighty fritatta. I made a fritatta as the fish-alternative tonight and had many many takers...including some who wanted both fritatta and fish!

I've learned that it's easiest on me to have everything ready for dinner by about 4:30 so I can clean up all my prep dishes and my work spaces and be more mentally prepared for my 5:15 service. When I cook at home I do dishes as I go, whenever I have a few seconds, but the greater distances from stove to sink to fridge and the excessive prep required for cooking at work make it less feasible to clean as I go. I can't feel relaxed if my kitchen is dirty with piles of dishes in the sink, and I like to be able to parry with my girls or take time to explain what I cooked when people show up to eat. I recommend you preserve this time since it's the community-connection time and why you probably wanted to live in cohousing in the first place. Make it easy on yourself by not working till the last second, and by keeping the kitchen and your brain clean and tidy in time for dinner.

#17 Varmint

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 07:27 PM

When I cook at home I do dishes as I go

This is why we like Rochelle to cook in our kitchen!!
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#18 Malawry

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Posted 02 March 2004 - 07:29 PM

You only love me for my dishpan hands. :rolleyes:

#19 tammylc

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Posted 03 March 2004 - 06:47 AM

Thanks for the tips, Malawry.

The kitchen is really just a slightly souped up home kitchen. We have a 6 burner gas stove-top and two electric wall ovens. We've only begun common meals this week, so I'm not sure how we're doing on equipment yet - for example, I don't know if we've got our rice cooker yet, or what the array of oven equipment looks like - we're still getting set up.

Dinner is at 6:15. I have two assistants, and will usually aim to start around 4, unless I'm making something particularly complex or that needs a long time to cook. And I can do some prep the night before if necessary. All we're responsible for is setting the tables for dinner (including filling water jugs) and actually making the food. There's another team of people who stay after dinner to clean up and do the dishes.

Because this is our first week, everyone's been wanting to participate and meals have been very, very busy. Usually in the range of 48 adults and a bunch of children of assorted ages, filling every seat at every table. We'll see if the effect has worn off by the time Sunday rolls around!

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#20 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 03 March 2004 - 06:52 AM

So what have other people been making? Have separate items been prepared for the kids or are people expecting them to eat the grown up food? I'd love for you to keep up this thread, letting us know how the co-housing meals are progressing (or not).

#21 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 07:47 AM

So, how'd it go last night?

#22 tammylc

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 09:10 AM

Well, that was fun. And exhausting!

I got up bright and early Sunday morning to go shopping. Then, around 4 pm, I went over to the common house to start with the cooking. In retrospect, I should have started a little earlier. We managed to get the food on the table right on time (6:15), but we had to work pretty steadily to do that, and I recruited a friend as an assistant when he showed up about 20 minutes before dinner and asked if there was anything he could do. Plus, we didn't have time to clean as we went, which made me feel bad for the cleaning crew that came after.

But everyone enjoyed the meal. Despite all my querying and calculating and saying "yes" to everyone who asked at the last minute if they could sign up, I still ended up with too much food and a bunch of leftovers. I don't have an exact count right yet, but we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 64 people, of which about 48 were adults and teens.

As many people were kind enough to inform me, it just takes longer to cook this much food! It took over an hour just for my giant pots of pasta water to boil. The stove was a little annoying - the burners are too close together to easily fit a bunch of big pots at once. Plus, the cooktop has a bunch of different BTU burners, so I couldn't get water going on the highest BTU burners and still have big front burners for cooking sauce. So I ended up shuffling pots around quite a bit, and damn those were heavy pots.

I spent about $160 on food. There's a 10% pantry fee that gets added on to that, and then the cost gets divied up among everyone who ate, with reduced rates for kids and teens. Cost per person will probably come in somewhere around $4 - which might be a little high compared to some other meals, but hopefully not too out of of line. I bought some ingredients (like the vinegar and honey and mustard for the salad dressing) that will end up being added to the pantry and will just reduce the cost of another meal somewhere down the line. And I didn't end up using two large cans of tomatoes and two green peppers that I had bought. And I had a bunch of leftovers, so clearly I bought more than I needed to anyway. Plus, the salad included a number of fairly expensive ingredients.

Here's what I made, and how much food I used. I've marked the things that I was able to get in organic - turns out you can't get organic peppers this time of year, so my goal of making the vegetarian sauce entirely organic was not achieved.

Salad
3 big bags spinach (organic)
22 oz of soft goat cheese
1 lb of pecan halves
A bunch of dried cherries

Salad dressing
Balsalmic vinegar, olive oil, mustard and honey to make up about 1.5-2 cups total of dressing

Pasta (for two pots of sauce - one veggie, one with turkey)
10 twelve oz packages of whole wheat pasta (organic)
1 lb of plain pasta (for the kids)
8 onions (organic)
8 green peppers
4 red peppers
4 lg cans of crushed tomatoes (organic - already in the pantry)
2 lg cans of diced tomatoes (organic)
2 cans of tomato paste (organic)
3.75 lbs of Italian turkey sausage, removed from the casings (2 packages sweet sausage, 1 hot - I make it just with hot at home, but figured I should tone it down for the crowd)
Chopped garlic, dried oregano and basil, black pepper (already in the pantry)

7 big loaves of garlic bread (cheap Meijer brand frozen)

Dessert
One of my assistant cooks was responsible for dessert, and we were using up some fruit left from a previous even in the common house, so I don't know for sure what we used. But there were three 9x13 pans of fruit crisp, and we easily could have gone through a fourth - we did manage to run out of dessert.

It was definitely a lot of work. My legs and back and arms all hurt last night, and my arms still hurt today from all the stirring and heavy pot lifting! But given that I spent three hours cooking on Sunday but will probably eat common meal 4 times this week, all told I think it's a pretty good deal!

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#23 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 09:45 AM

OK, so what have we learned?

1) Pasta, although cheap and easy to make both vegetarian and meaty, is a pain to make because of having to deal with huge pots of boiling water. In future, perhaps a pasta meal could me made with non-boil lasagna? Or, make baked ziti, as the pasta can be par-boiled (leave quite firm) a day ahead and stored in the fridge in plastic bags, coat with a little olive oil. Also, ziti is easier to scoop out of the water with a long handled strainer than spaghetti and then the boiling water can be left until cool to drain it into the sink.

2) Figure out how long you think everything will take on the day you're cooking, then add an extra hour!

Sounds like a great meal (especially the salad), congratulations!

#24 tammylc

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 10:30 AM

OK, so what have we learned?

1) Pasta, although cheap and easy to make both vegetarian and meaty, is a pain to make because of having to deal with huge pots of boiling water. In future, perhaps a pasta meal could me made with non-boil lasagna? Or, make baked ziti, as the pasta can be par-boiled (leave quite firm) a day ahead and stored in the fridge in plastic bags, coat with a little olive oil. Also, ziti is easier to scoop out of the water with a long handled strainer than spaghetti and then the boiling water can be left until cool to drain it into the sink.

2) Figure out how long you think everything will take on the day you're cooking, then add an extra hour!

Sounds like a great meal (especially the salad), congratulations!

I still think pasta is a nice easy staple. In the future, I'd probably only make one type of sauce, and then maybe have meat on the side (like sliced grilled chicken breasts or something). The biggest problem with pasta is that the people who outfitted the kitchen made some bad choices - ie. we only have one pot with a pasta insert - the others all need to be carried to the sink and strained in a colander, and that's a huge PITA when you're talking 20 quart pots.

To me, the prospect of making pans of lasagna sounds much worse!

Timing wise, we really did quite well. I think another 20 minutes would have been plenty - the big rush was in getting everything plated up and out to the tables at the very end. Plus, we had a little bit of dead time in the middle when we should have been setting the tables but they were getting some maintenance done to them.

One of the major lessons I learned is to take into account the skill of my assistant cooks. Yes, there were a lot of veggies to be chopped, but it took them much longer to chop them than I thought it would, just because they didn't have the same level of knife skills that I have. That had the biggest impact on timing that I could see. So I might take that into account and delegate tasks differently in the future.

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#25 JAZ

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 10:47 AM

One of the major lessons I learned is to take into account the skill of my assistant cooks. Yes, there were a lot of veggies to be chopped, but it took them much longer to chop them than I thought it would, just because they didn't have the same level of knife skills that I have. That had the biggest impact on timing that I could see. So I might take that into account and delegate tasks differently in the future.

Would it be feasible to give a few basic lessons on cooking techniques to the assistants? They might enjoy it, and it would make their learning process (and the cooking process) faster.

#26 tammylc

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 11:03 AM

One of the major lessons I learned is to take into account the skill of my assistant cooks.  Yes, there were a lot of veggies to be chopped, but it took them much longer to chop them than I thought it would, just because they didn't have the same level of knife skills that I have.  That had the biggest impact on timing that I could see.  So I might take that into account and delegate tasks differently in the future.

Would it be feasible to give a few basic lessons on cooking techniques to the assistants? They might enjoy it, and it would make their learning process (and the cooking process) faster.

Interesting idea. It's not something I'd feel comfortable doing - we're all adults, none of us are professionals, and I just doesn't feel right. I certainly didn't feel comfortable giving suggestions to my assistants yesterday.

But bringing in an outsider to teach a "Kitchen Skills for Cohousers" class that included some bulk cooking techniques and knife skills could be a neat thing. Hey Malawry - if you do end up visiting this summer, maybe we could convince you to jump in the kitchen for a couple hours and teach us all a thing or too...

Tammy's Tastings

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#27 tammylc

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 11:10 AM

So what have other people been making? Have separate items been prepared for the kids or are people expecting them to eat the grown up food? I'd love for you to keep up this thread, letting us know how the co-housing meals are progressing (or not).

Meals I remember from last week:
Monday: Cincinnati chili
Tuesday: Baked chicken breasts and stuffing, assorted veggies as sides
Thursday: Chicken ratatouille with pasta

Coming up this week:
Tonight: Pasta again - this time with pesto and roasted red peppers
Tomorrow: Some marinated tempeh thing with various sides

On pasta nights most people leave some plain for the kids. The chicken and stuffing guy didn't do anything special. One of our members came up with the great idea of having a "picky eater" shelf and fridge. This has a bunch of quick and easy to prepare items that kids and picky eaters can choose from if they don't want the main meal. So that takes some of the pressure off of always making a kid friendly alternative.

I think it's a mistake to cater to the kids too much. The easiest thing to prepare is plain pasta which almost every kid will happily eat, but if the family is trying to use the common meal program a lot, then I'd worry about their kid getting undernourished! At least at home the parents would be making sure they got some protein by giving them fish sticks or chicken fingers or hot dogs or cheese or something...

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#28 tammylc

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 11:19 AM

I'm already planning for my next time on deck, a week from tomorrow.

I'm making a Morroccan Chick Pea and Carrot Stew, served with couscous. At home I used canned chick peas, but I'm planning to boil these up from dry, since I'll need so many, and it will be much cheaper! I'm planning to do that Sunday afternoon and just store them cooked in the fridge until Tuesday.

There's a bunch of veggie chopping involved again - carrots and onions and cilantro. But other than that, it's a really, really easy recipe and very quick to prepare.

I'm trying to figure out the couscous. At home, I just combine equal parts couscous and water, let stand five minutes, then fluff with a fork. That works for 1-2 cups of couscous, but obviously I'm going to need more. Since we serve family style, I was thinking I could use my regular method and just prepare enough couscous for the table in the bowl I'm planning to serve it in - I'm thinking 2 cups dried coucous for 8 people, which would be 1/2 cup cooked per person. But if anyone has any suggestions for cooking a large quantity of coucous, I'd like to hear it.

The other thing I'm curious about is how to adapt spice levels. I know that you don't just triple or quadruple spices when converting a recipe, but I don't know what ratios I should use. The main spices in the recipe are cinnamon, tumeric, cumin and cayenne, IIRC.

Any thoughts on either of these questions?

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#29 tammylc

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 07:40 AM

I was on duty as head cook again last night. The menu was Moroccan Cabbage and Orange Salad, Moroccan Chick Pea and Carrot Stew and Banana Cake for dessert. I had intended to serve the stew with couscous, but the cooks from the previous night had made way too much rice, so I just used their leftovers instead.

I was very proud of my food costs for this meal. Using almost entirely organic ingredients, I fed 30 adults and 7 children (although the children mostly ate out of the back up "picky eater" cabinet, so I really can't count them) for less than $50 total (plus my 10% pantry fee, so call it at most $55).

Here's the quantities:
Cabbage and Orange Salad
2 heads green cabbage, shredded (organic)
12 oranges, cut into segments (organic)
1 c raisins (organic)
2 lemons, juiced - about 1/2 c (organic)
1 1/4 c orange juice (Tropicana not from concentrate that I brought from home)
Salt, sugar, cinnamon from the pantry

Carrot and Chick Pea Stew
2 pounds dried chick peas, which I soaked overnight on Saturday and cooked on Sunday, when I had the time. (organic)
5 onions, diced(organic, from the pantry)
3 lbs carrots, sliced (organic)
2 bunches cilantro, minced (organic)
Turmeric and Cayenne (organic)
Canola oil (organic), cinnamon, salt from the pantry

Banana Cake
4 bananas (bought as "overripe" for 29 cents/lb)
3/4 lb butter (organic)
1 1/2 c milk (no hormones, but not organic)
6 eggs (free range)
Sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla (organic) from the pantry

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 lb butter (organic)
8 oz cream cheese (organic)
1 lb powdered sugar (organic)
Vanilla (organic) from the pantry

I had just the right amount of food - there weren't any leftovers (besides a little bit of cake) and everyone seemed to get enough to eat. Feedback was good. I was a little worried, because it turned out spicier than I had expected. I used less than 1/2 tsp of cayenne for the entire pot (the regular size recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/2 tsp, and I was roughly multiplying by five), and it still turned out to be noticeably spicy. But no one complained, and at least the people at my table appreciated the little bit of kick.

Tammy's Tastings

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Dinner for 40


#30 Malawry

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 02:07 AM

What lives in the picky eater cabinet?





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