New & NowWeeknight Cooking

Amanda & Merrill's New Book is Like a Game Plan for Smoother Weeknights

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We gave a lucky handful of community members a sneak peak of Amanda and Merrill’s new cookbook, A New Way to Dinner, and we’ll be featuring one of their reviews every day this week in celebration of the book's release—we'll see how their dinner game changed when they followed the plans for the book.

A New Way To Dinner immediately grabbed me with a whole collection of weekly menus that combined Things I Want to Eat with Things I Want to Try (and, yeah, a few No Thanks Things but those are few and far between and adjustable).

The obvious starting point was a summer menu since it was August. I went with the menu that contained rosé in the first item because the spritzer was a guaranteed hit (with me, and I am the cook). It also has a good number of things that my Very Picky Husband would actually eat.

Strawberry Rosé Spritzer

Strawberry Rosé Spritzer by Merrill Stubbs

10 Ingredients, 5 Rosé Cocktails

10 Ingredients, 5 Rosé Cocktails by Food52


To start, I actually did the big whole hog fridge clean. I strongly recommend this step—it made shopping and arranging and storing a breeze as I then knew what was in there, and where. (Should have done the pantry too—next time perhaps.)

The next thing I did was completely disobey Merrill and scrap the Eton mess. While I admire Amanda and Merrill’s commitment to Dessert Every Night, I just can’t go there and expect to wear the same clothes for long. I have to choose wine or dessert and wine wins. I made the strawberry purée and put it in a jar for the week as instructed. Then I used it all up in two days in spritzers. Just me. No-one else. (I didn't get to try it in shakes but that’s okay! Spritzers before during and after dinner won out!)

Eton Mess: Proof That Whipped Cream with Fruit Is the Perfect Dessert
Eton Mess: Proof That Whipped Cream with Fruit Is the Perfect Dessert

The roasted mushroom and farro salad was a 100% hit. The husband does not love shrimp so he had the pesto (which I made with green onions—there weren't any scapes available) with grilled meat (I forget what) and it was great, and I loved the shrimp. The next night the grilled steak on arugula was a perfect summer dinner, I had pesto grilled veggies rather than toast. As you can see, the game plan is adjustable for different tastes and moods.

NOW: pasta with pesto and tuna. I admit I have always been suspicious of “add a can of tuna in oil” dinners. This dish proved that I am an idiot, I absolutely LOVED it and ate more than my fair share, then polished off the leftovers for lunch. It also worked to cherry-pick a few recipes: roasted vegetables for a week of add-ins, a big pot of grains to use several ways, and salad dressings.

While I have not followed the plan step-by-step I have incorporated this way of thinking about weekend cooking and planning to save weeknight time and food waste. If we were a family of four and worked 9-to-5 I would follow a plan more closely, perhaps add some additional vegetables (we eat a lot of vegetables around here), and call the week a success.

[OLD, DO NOT ACTIVATE] Signed Copy: A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

[OLD, DO NOT ACTIVATE] Signed Copy: A New Way to Dinner, ...

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze by Merrill Stubbs

As an aside, I WILL be making the braised ribs fall menu and I WILL make the chocolate olive oil cake. The overnight pork roast will also happen when the weather cools down.

As another aside, I make Merrill’s applesauce and caramel cake on the regular. It’s not like I am a non-dessert eating weirdo or anything.

Did you miss yesterday's review from MrsWheelbarrow? Find it here!

Tags: Weekend Cooking, Community, Books, Cookbook Club