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The Friday Night Conundrum

You and I know how hard it is to get a meal on the table Friday night (let alone Saturday morning) that’s well-cooked but not over-cooked, tasty and colorful, and not entirely dried out after a long tenure on the blech. It’s not easy! In honor of these hardships, here’s a laundry list of questions from my dear friend Sarah about how, exactly, to coordinate a Friday night dinner service….and my answers.

Sarah: I need some food related advice. I’m making Shabbat dinner for friends on Friday. I have the day off on Friday but have a 3pm doctors appt that will make the afternoon kind of rushed and give me only an hour to cook. I’m making zucchini and pumpkin muffins before hand and roasting squash and potatoes (your recipe!) beforehand too and just reheating. Is that a bad idea?

The main dish is terriyaki salmon. Was just going to Marinate and broil… but then I realized I really dont know hot to broil! How long do you leave it in for and do you leave the door ajar? You rock.. thank you!

-Stumped in Seattle

Rivka: Sarah you rock! Ok… in answer to your qs:

muffins are a perfect idea! The potatoes should also hold up really nicely; you might stick them in the oven just before you leave for the dr, so that by the time you return they’ll have been in for a good two-ish hours. If you’re using small potatoes, this is more than enough. If you’re using large ones, you can leave them in for a bit longer. In any event, the reheating should be fine. Just check their moisture level when you’re about to stick them back in the oven; if they’re a bit dry, add a splash of olive oil and a splash of water or stock and reheat covered for a few minutes, then finish uncovered; if they’re soft, crisp them by reheating without a cover.

Squash will also keep very well. If you’re doing delicata, make sure you only par-cook it in advance (say about 15-20 minutes) so that your re-heat won’t overcook the squash. Butternut, acorn and other winter squash varieties will withstand a reheat without getting mushy.

Teriyaki salmon — yum! Broiling can happen two ways: some ovens actually have a broiler, usually found beneath the regular oven. To use this, turn your oven on broil and when it’s nice and hot, stick your salmon inside. My broiler has a metal tray with three shelf heights, and I use the second from the top for fish. If your oven doesn’t have a broiler, just turn the knob to broil, put your fish on the highest rung in your oven, and yes — leave the door ajar. This allows the steam to escape so that you achieve the crispy crust of a good broil. Baste the fish at least once in the middle of the broil. Also, a note on reheating — make sure that you don’t overdo it, so that it doesn’t dry out when you reheat it. I’d estimate about 10 minutes per inch of fillet. My fillets are usually an inch and a half at their thickest. I’d say broil it for 10-12 minutes, then check for doneness. You don’t want it to be raw inside, but if the very center is a bit underdone, you can finish cooking it during the reheat.

I want to be at your Friday night table! 🙂

Happy cooking and coordinating and chowing…it’s a delicate dance, indeed.

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