Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


I read somewhere, oh, a hundred years ago, that the average cook settles on 10-15 dishes and makes those over and over again.  I thought about that and said to myself, “Self, you’re so much better than that.  So much more well rounded, (watch the fat jokes there, Sara!) well read and adventurous – you’re not like that at all!”

But, deep down, this New England cook is a lot like that.  I might find new Cucumber and Tomato Salads to make from half-a-world away or try to cook dishes from Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, but when I write out the menus for the week (yes, I’m a geek), they all center around my Go-To Dishes.  A Go-To dish is one you make a lot, like it a lot and always seem to have the ingredients on hand.  Here are some of my Go-To Dishes:

  • Shepherds Pie – A favorite my whole life, literally.  I use less vegetables than a “real” Shepherds pie, but most people (like myself)  also use a lot less lamb than the real one, too – so I don’t feel too bad about it.  Here’s my baked potato version.
  • Chicken Meredith – A fancier dish, but when I need to make food for company, this is the first thing I think of.
  • Sunday Gravy – I know, what is an guy of Irish Descent making a classic Italian-American dish, even going as far as to use the Italian-American vernacular for red sauce?  Two words: Sara Moulton.
  • Baked Beans – My grandfathers, what can I say?
  • Corn Chowder – I love thick, cream or creamy soups.
  • Fresh Salsa – OK, I don’t have the ingredients on hand all the time, fresh tomatoes are only available for a month or 6 weeks a year, but canned tomatoes work pretty well, too.

I know there’s a few I have left out, they’ll come to me while making next weeks menu, but this gives good flavor to Mike’s Go-To Dishes.

What are yours?


September 10, 2008 - Posted by | Random Blather

1 Comment »

  1. Truthfully, I wish I made lists and menus for the week. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. And since much of my day is spent writing about food, researching an article to write…about food, and even sometimes cooking food 😉 what I cook is all over the place.

    That said when I’m too tired to think…then it’s some form of pasta with whatever inspires me from the fridge and pantry.

    Comment by Ruth | September 16, 2008 | Reply

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