J:

I had one of those Sundays where the number of people kept
changing. I decided to make a vegetable pot pie and then I
kept changing the number of side dishes depending on how many
people I was going to have. I ended up even adding a "side
dish" of BBQed rump roast, although only a few people ate that.
The final menu wound up being

Vegetable Pot Pie with Wine Sauce and Polenta Crust, recipe
from Bon Apetit magazine. I've made this before and
it's really good.

Vegetable Chowder from the Moosewood Cookbook. Ditto.

Cranberry Sauce. I have some frozen cranberries in the freezer
because I always stock up at the holidays. Well, *I*
like it.

Broccoli Salad. This is a recipe from Lotsa Pasta, a local
pasta restaurant that's really good.

Rump Roast. An easy thing to add to the menu at the last
minute. No recipe except this: rub with garlic,
rosemary, and black pepper. BBQ over indirect heat
until done.

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Bleu Cheese. I had a little
bleu cheese left from something so I added it to the
mashed potatoes.

I told everyone not to feel like they had to take some of
everything, but I think most of them did anyway. Although
there's a lot of things, it didn't really take that much
effort. I made the broccoli salad and cranberry sauce in the
morning. The rest of the stuff is mostly just cutting and
assembly and not a lot of intensive stove time. It would have
made a better buffet than sit-down dinner. Everyone was
passing a lot.

Actually, the most tedious part is writing all these. Maybe
I'll stick to fewer dishes just so I won't have to spend all
this time typing.

Well, here goes...

Broccoli Salad

2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup rasins
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 green onions

Dressing

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup mayo
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Blend dressing until smooth. Toss.

The recipe calls for 1/2 cup fried and diced bacon, but I skipped
that. Also, I used non-fat mayo.

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup sugar
1 12 oz package cranberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
pinch allspice

Bring all to boil, simmer about 7 minutes, stirring often,
until berries burst. Chill

Whew. The two easy ones out of the way. Here's the main
course. It's also the most typing, because there's three parts
to this: the filling, the sauce, and the crust.

Vegetable Pot Pie.

For the pot pie, you have to roast the vegetables first, and
you can do that hours in advance.

1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 russet potatoes, about 8 oz each, peeled
2 rutabagas, about 6 oz each
(Rutabagas are like sweet turnips. I love these but I
couldn't find them this time. You can use turnips, I used
cauliflower.)
1 red bell pepper
1 leek chopped
10 oz mushrooms, coarsley chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each dried thyme, basil, savory and fennel

Cut everything into 1/2 inch pieces. Put it all except peas in
a heavy large baking pan. Toss with olive oil and herbs.
Roast at 425 for about an hour or until veggies are tender,
about an hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in peas, and salt
and pepper to taste.

Sauce

1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Mix a little wine with the cornstarch. Mix the rest of the
wine with the broth and bring to simmer. Add cornstarch
mixture and simmer until it thickens. Pour sauce over roasted
vegetables.

Polenta

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Romano cheese

Boil broth and water. Slowly stir in corn meal and salt. Stir
constantly over medium heat until polenta thickens and pulls
away from sides of pan, about 10 minutes.

Pour warm polenta over vegetable mixture, covering completely.
Sprinkle with Romano. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or
until vegetables are heated through. Put in broiler for about
4 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Mashed Potatoes

No rocket science here. I sauteed about a dozen minced garlic
cloves and added them and some milk and some margerine and some
salt and pepper and about 6 oz of bleu cheese to 3 lbs of
steamed, peeled potatoes. I mash by hand but use your favorite
implement.

Vegetable Chowder

I used the recipe from the 2nd edition Moosewood Cookbook. The
brown one, with all the recipes handwritten.

Saute For
2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp basil 5 minutes

Add and sautee For
1 medium potato, diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cauliflower 5-8 minutes

Add and sautee For
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped
2 cups corn, frozen, defrosted
lots of fresh ground pepper 8-10 minutes

Add 1 1/2 cups water and simmer about 15 minutes, or until
everything is tender.

Stir in 1 quart heated milk (lowfat ok) and 3 more minced garlic
cloves and heat gently. Serve.

So, that's all there is to it. As much work as this sounds
like as I read it, I think the whole thing only took about 2
1/2 hours from start to finish.

But for a really quick Sunday Dinner, stay tuned for the next
installment -- chicken fajita/taco/burritos in 50 minutes.

Later,

Bruce