JUST spent Saturday over the Labor Day weekend counting cheeses. Oh, the joys and responsibilities of retail management. So that Saturday afternoon I hit the timeclock at 4pm after nine long hours, turned around and shopped for ingredients, and decided to pull out a few stops for dinner this night.

The biggest challenge was timing–a lot of cutting, chopping, and prepping, and the potatoes and the ‘Pojarski’ salmon croquettes (who is Pojarski, anyway? More later) had to be on the table at the same time, the salad roughly as well at the same time, and the soup…well, that was done over an hour before dinner was served, Angela was hungry, so I served her up a small bowl while I continued my cooking and…well, that was it. Really wasn’t necessary for the meal, so I left it on the countertop for another day.

Special Observation: when you go to a fancy restaurant and order a dinner, a side, and another side, think about it: half a dozen people have prepared this stuff. A chef, a sous chef, a salad guy at the cold station, another sous chef, and probably a dessert or pastry chef. And we…we at home…we do all of that. Granted, only once and not over and over, but still…we home cooks do a lot!

Instant Vegetable Soup from none other than Jacques Pepin should be pretty damn good, right? Right? Well, its remarkably…ok. Don’t get me wrong, for a soup with mushrooms, zucchini, onion, scallions, carrot, and loose greens, all in five cups of water to serve as broth (along with a teaspoon of kosher salt), it was…ok. Adding a few tablespoons of cracked wheat at the end, then serving it with a teaspoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of gruyere certainly took it to another flavor level, but…still. Ok. Not amazing. Great for a k-ration. Passable for a dive.

Soup is thick and the method of grating all the veggies assures that a lot of contact between veggie and water is allowed, providing quicker and more flavor.

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Dinner was begun with Radicchio and Bocconcini Mozzarella Salad, garnished with some chopped olives, oil-cured tomatoes, capers, and a simple dressing of red wine vinegar and olive oil, touched with a bit of salt. My wife has never been a big fan of food that ‘talks back’ to her like this pungent green does (like arugula), even though radicchio is red. The delicate Bocconcini (little bite in Italian) nicely countered the astringent aspect to that Italian salad green and the saltiness of the capers and olives was delicious.

Plus…it looked pretty!

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Once the mixture of fresh salmon, green beans, egg, garlic, bread crumbs, salt, pepper was properly pulverized in the food processor, I made little croquettes out of them and fried them in a non-stick pan in a little olive oil. I eschewed both the inclusion of jalapeño peppers as well as the suggested cucumber hot sauce and instead opted for a quick home made aioli sauce to garnish both the ‘Pojarksis’ and the herbed potatoes.

Pojarskis? Croquettes? You decide…

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For the record, a Russian czar apparently loved how a humble cook from a local inn prepared some sort of veal cutlets…and over the years, the name stuck. I think I’ll just stick to croquettes.

Accompanying the croquettes were new potatoes garnished with an herb butter with parsley, tarragon, and a bit of basil.

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Now…after a bit of relaxation, do I have the energy to make a Chocolate Terrine? I have all the ingredients…and it’s 930pm. Hmmm…

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