I know I’ve mentioned my me-time and my TV nights on this blog before, but I’ve never really talked about what I eat on those nights. Well, Thursday night is a big TV night for me, and I’ve recently taken to using these divided/sectioned melamine trays I bought at Target on super-clearance a few years ago to serve myself a TV dinner. Reinvented. Most everything on the tray is homemade, and it’s a very filling, nutritious meal – dessert included – that I can wrap myself in my Snuggie (Christmas gift and I love it!), put a couch pillow on my lap and then lay the tray across that and eat while I watch TV. I love it.
Unfortunately, I just browsed around the Target site looking to see if they still sold them, and apparently they do not. I’m sure you can find its equivalent somewhere – though I note a few things. I paid $1 for them because they were on clearance, and only the green ones were on clearance. They had hot pink ones right next to the green ones (I hate green), but they were full price at $5 or so. The obvious choice was to get the green ones, and they suit their purpose. I probably should have gotten more than two, though…
I’m trying to eat more fish (again) so I bought a nice piece of salmon from the local Chinese supermarket. Since it was 1.5 lbs, I cut it into 3 pieces (evenly sized, so each one was approximately .5 lbs) and roasted it simply sprinkled with kosher salt and some freshly cracked black pepper. I did it simply because I knew I was going to make a clementine relish for use on top of the salmon…
The first night (non-TV-night), I served it on a bed of lightly cooked kale, alongside garlic marinated mushrooms and topped with clementine relish.
And on TV night? I went all out, breaking in my tray fully. (There’s a groove on one side that is elongated; I used it for utensils and a napkin.)
First up: a piece of simply roasted salmon (kosher salt & black pepper), on top of a bed of kale, with two wedges of lemon. Did you know that citrus (vitamin C, really) helps you absorb iron from leafy greens? No? Well, it’s helpful if you’re cutting red meat out of your diet, to know such things.
The clementine relish that I whipped up to top my salmon!
Garlic butter cooked broccoli & garlic marinated mushrooms. Hey, the night is mine and I live alone. Poor doggie, I guess 😉
Appetizer compartment: Annie’s Cheddar Bunny crackers, a few cherries, two cornichons, and a bit of Fiscalini Bandaged cheddar (yum). Great for picking at during the beginning of the meal.
Homemade chocolate custard! I was really excited when I made this.
Here are the garlic marinated mushrooms and clementine relish being prepped and made.
Garlic Marinated Mushrooms
1 container cleaned and dried button mushrooms
2-3 cloves of minced garlic, depending how much you like garlic
Cherry Gold balsamic vinegar (or any good balsamic vinegar will do, honestly)
Extra virgin olive oil
Toss all ingredients together in a container. Let sit for an hour or more before eating. I stuck mine in the fridge overnight before consuming, which let all the flavors meld together and the mushrooms ‘slumped’ or cooked a bit. Also – bear in mind I ate that alone, when I knew I wouldn’t be seeing anyone that day/night, because the garlic starts to just permeate your pores…
5-6 clementines, supremes only
Chopped cilantro, mostly leaves and less stems – I used a lot
Lemon juice (optional)
Mix everything together and let sit in the fridge for a few hours or however long until you’re ready to eat it.
If you have a good eye, you’ll notice I didn’t properly supreme my fruit. Partially cuz I had small tangerines, partially cuz I couldn’t find my paring knife, partially cuz I wasn’t sure I could do it… and partially cuz at the end of the day, it doesn’t bother me to eat a little pith. I felt if I’d gone that route, I’d probably wind up wasting a lot of fruit… plus, I actually scored the peels, then pried them carefully from the fruit to freeze for later candying (a future post). After I had a peeled tangerine, I held it in my hand and cut out the fruit segments, so there’s still an outer ring of white-part (I don’t know if it’s pith since pith is supposed to be super bitter and this isn’t, at all). It didn’t make much of a difference in taste to me, but you could certainly make the extra effort if you plan on serving this to other people. It’s just me, right? 😉
I figured out quickly how to separate yolks and whites for the next recipe. I think I did an OK job for my first time. Can someone tell me what to do with the whites leftover though? I put them in a container in the fridge and have no idea how long before they go bad, or what to do with them. Help…?
Chocolate custard! Well, they call it something else, and if you have a good eye, you’ll notice some white splotches in there. Mostly because I didn’t want to overmix/deflate the custard, so when I was folding in the whipped cream, I stopped pretty early. Not really a good idea for aesthetics and also because it wasn’t mixed thoroughly, some parts of the chocolate custard were thicker and almost chewy, since they’d had no whipped cream incorporated. Ah well. The recipe comes from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast (affiliate link), but is posted here (with minor modifications).
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Guittard chocolate buttons and didn’t chop them)
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar, separated
2 cups heavy cream, separated
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat. [Note: I have cheap metal bowls, thin, that I paid about $2 for from a restaurant supply store, that work excellently for melting the chocolate quickly over a small sauce pan, and then when removed from the heat, cool fairly quickly so I can handle the bowl without a glove. Love. Nothing fancy.]
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until mixture coats back of spoon, 3-4 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat; whisk in melted chocolate and vanilla until completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Refrigerate, covered, until cool.
- Beat the remaining 1 3/4 cups heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. [Note: I used my immersion blender with the whisk attachment. You know how to whip cream, right? You’re not SWSNBN. You can use a metal whisk or your hand mixer or an electric mixer, whatever, as long as you get the whipped cream to give up.] Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the cooled custard mixture, then use a flexible spatula to gently but thoroughly fold in the rest.
- Spoon into serving dishes; chill, covered, at least one hour and up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.
If I may be completely honest, while I received positive comments on the end product, and it was certainly tasty enough, there was just too much work and too many dirty dishes for a product that in the end, tastes good, but not amazing. I sieved that stuff and no solids remained! Why did I have to then spend 10 minutes scrubbing and rinsing that stupid thing [I hate sieves; they are great for their job but take an ungodly amount of time and effort to clean properly]? The chocolate custard was good, and BF was duly impressed that I made that (because I don’t generally make sweets), but … *whispers* I could have had the same result from a box, I think. It was just not mind blowing nor simple enough to deserve the process it required, if that makes sense. Ah well.
The other two items were too simple to really require a recipe: the broccoli (which I didn’t actually make, they were leftovers) and the kale, which was basically olive oil into the bottom of a pan with sliced garlic, then throw the chopped leaves in there, stir, salt, lemon juice, voila, done. I purposely undercooked them a little bit the first time because I knew I’d be reheating them repeatedly throughout the week, so they were perfect in the middle of the week and just the slightest bit overcooked by the very end bit. No big deal.
I look forward to continuing to reinvent the TV dinner for my TV nights! Any suggestions or requests as to what I make and put in the tray? What do you eat as a special treat for when you watch TV?