How to do a family meal makeover

More and more families are choosing to cook at home due to health and cost factors. It is no surprise that home cooked food is comparatively healthier because you know exactly what you put in it (hopefully not preserved and canned items.) Also, it’s much cheaper than ordering in, especially for 2+ people households. The challenge families’ face is how to keep the same homemade recipes interesting and appealing to the entire family, young and old.

Here are some simple recommendations to make a typical family meal makeover –Duck and sour cherries pizza

1. Make it healthier by using substitutes like olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil, wheat flour instead of white, low fat cheeses, etc. Always use fresh herbs, garlic and spices to make the dish more flavorful. Avoid recipes that are deep fried. You know what’s not food for you!

2. Create the interest by blending flavors across cuisines. Grab a starch from one country and add a sauce from another. Try a thai red curry with penne pasta, then add shrimp or chicken depending on what your family prefers. Top chicken tikka masala on a flat bread or pizza. Serve a gazpacho with shells or macaroni pasta for a delicious & healthy meal. Read more on fusion cooking.

3. Presentation is key. We tend to judge a book by its cover and perceive the flavor of the food by its looks. Try to plate the food like you would see in an expensive restaurant. It doesn’t take much, just a garnish of cheese or parsley for most dishes would do. You can also control the portions your family is eating by pre plating them.

The way you go about doing this each night is by being conscious and creative. Try to diversity with what you know rather than trying new complicated recipes. For example, you need not serve the same old spaghetti with marinara. Add some fresh tomatoes, green onions, olives, feta and make your own instant sauce. Have the kids pitch in while cooking and make something using some of the ingredients they prefer to eat. These are simple makeovers to do and the whole family can enjoy the process.

Chateau du Sucheta

On March 20, my neighbor Daniel Sklar wrote: Sucheta served a lovingly prepared three-course meal for four. 

She began the evening with an aperitif of red wine.  Her husband, Dipak, served as sommelier.  She expertly had on hand a nicely chilled non-alcoholic cold duck (a type of sparkling wine made from Visit SmileyCookie.com!burgundy and champagne) for the non-drinkers.  This was a nice touch.

A tasty salad was served as the first course.  Fresh baby spinach leaves were mixed with baby carrots, golden raisins, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cranberries, and shredded cheeses.  The salad was tossed with a dressing made of apple vinegar and three cheeses.  A sliced avocado, ripe and of just the right softness, was added to give a wonderful creaminess to the starter.

The second course was a Sucheta specialty:  homemade roasted butternut squash ravioli.  A filling of pureed butternut squash, mascarpone cheese, parmesean cheese, and cinnamon was prepared.  Next, fresh pasta was made with semolina, rolled out with a pasta maker, and used with the squash filling to make individual ravioli.  The ravioli was cooked quickly in boiling water, drained, and immediately served with a light sauce of sage-infused olive oil and toasted walnuts.  Scrumptious!

The third course was a homemade chocolate mousse tart served a la mode with homemade dulce de leche gelato.  The bittersweet chocolate was a perfect compliment to the flaky crust.

The verdict:  elegant, tasty, and fully satisfying.  Sucheta has done it again!