Chef, make me a menu

I’ve been asked to do up a small menu for a spa to serve to clients of theirs who buy a particular day-long package, which includes a light lunch. So I’ve been turning over ideas in my head, wondering what to feed people who are in the midst of massages and facials and the other assorted activities people get to enjoy when they fork over good money to be pampered.

In general, when you see things like this, the meat of choice is usually chicken. There is a reason for this: chicken is generally nonoffensive, almost everyone eats it (unlike pork or beef), and it’s versatile enough to be adapted into a number of dishes that do well as make-ahead items.

The staff wants a tasting of the dishes, of course, so they can decide what to serve their guests – who would refuse free food?

Grilled chicken with a pomegranate-black pepper glaze
Chicken roulade with feta and spinach
Curried chicken salad
Cobb salad with blackened chicken (although this one gives me pause because of the bleu cheese in the dish, since they’d need breath mints afterwards)
Roasted chicken with a cherry sauce

To go along with these, it would usually be something light – mixed greens with a variety of homemade vinaigrettes and fresh fruit, or if the main dish has a green component, just the fruit.

I was also watching Paula Deen this afternoon after returning from the doctor, and she was working with a ham that must have weighted north of 20 pounds. That got me thinking about the thick, boneless pork loin chops I picked up the other day (and which I still need to vacuum pack) and what to do with them. The first thing that popped into my head was a stuffed chop dish – cornbread and apples, specifically, then topped with a maple glaze. Sounds delightful to me.

I’ve also been told to come up with dishes that are low-fat and low-cholesterol. My entire family has cholesterol issues, a lot of which is simply due to the hereditary influences, and most of the adults take some sort of cholesterol-reducing drug(s), my mom included. The side effects of some of those drugs though, can be harsh, and it would be nice if at least the immediate family could do something on the dietary side to help out the hereditary side. Since a friend of mine insists that she wants to lose a few pounds, such a menu would be good for her as well. The dishes above would all work well for that, along with fresh veggies and good oils in the cooking.

Culinary adventures. Gotta love it.

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