A Multi-Coursed Menu

Last night’s dinner capped off the fourth week of daily family dinners. As such, I figured it was high time to kick things up a notch and make it a really special meal, something I haven’t made before.

One look out my kitchen window at the newly-fallen snow and one word came to mind. Soup. Homemade soup (ok, that’s two words).

But what kind? It had to be one all of the boys would eat, easy enough to make and fancy enough to kick off a real meal.

What I found was a recipe that would not only satisfy both the carnivores and herbivores in my clan, but serve as the centerpiece of the meal itself –  broccoli cheese soup.

In the wake of the Paula Dean diabetes brew-ha-ha that bubbled up in the news recently, I’ll admit that homemade does not necessarily equal healthy. The nutrients in the cup or so of fresh broccoli required by this recipe hardly makes up for the cholesterol-heavy half and half, cheese and butter.

But still, it was incredibly good – even it I do say so myself (pausing to pat self on back).

To consider this a true multi-course meal, I knew I had to serve other things. Enter, loaf of crusty french bread and the oft-written about chopped salad.

Voila. A three-course meal that just so happens to have been served all at once. Semantics, really.

I’m not sure what the boys enjoyed more – seeing me tear off hunks of bread and toss it to them or watching me dunk said bread into my bowl, then encouraging them to do the same. Either way, those delegated to loading the dishwasher afterwards were happy to see that the bread they used as a utensil did a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to clean-up.

For tonight’s meal, I’ve once again plunged into my trusted copy of Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good’s “Fix-it-and-Forget-it Cookbook” (Good Books, 2000). We’re having Hungarian Goulash, but instead of serving it over egg noodles, I’ll be making my Mom’s potato pancakes (recipe below) from her dog-eared copy of “Dishes Children Love” (1955).

Unless you count the applesauce that I’ll serve as a side, it’s a one-course meal, but the week is just getting started…

Potato Pancakes

Heat in heavy skillet over low heat shortening to at least 1/4″ depth.

Combine and set aside:
2 tblsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Wash, pare, and finely grate 6 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs.) to about 3 cups, grated. Set aside.

Combine the flour mixture with 2 eggs, well-beaten, and 2 tblsp. grated onions.

Drain liquid that collects from grated potatoes; add potatoes to egg mixture and beat thoroughly. When shortening is hot, but not smoking, begin cooking.

Using about 2 tblsp. for each pancake, spoon batter into skillet, leaving about one inch between cakes. Cook over medium heat until golden brown and crisp on one side. Turn carefully and brown the other side.


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