What’s for supper? Vol. 136: Charlotte was neither

Something something food something! Ho ho, Sam Sifton, aioli. Remoulade, cabanas with that wonderful old-fashioned smell of hot canvas, and gin rummy. At any rate, then we all popped over to Sonya Yoncheva’s flat, where the most amusing thing happened with some lobster knuckles, ho ho ho. Then here’s what we had the rest of the week:

Giant grilled ham and cheddar cheese, strawberries, chips

We normally have these sandwiches on sourdough bread, but Aldi had this ludicrously big loaves on sale. I forget what it’s called — something Italian — but those were some hearty sandwiches, let me tell you. For size reference, this is a twelve-inch pan they’re cooking in:

Nice summer meal, yum.

If you don’t know the trick of skimming a little mayo on the outside of your grilled cheese before frying it in butter, you should. It’s a good trick.


We usually have a huge family reunion party on July 4th, but too many people couldn’t make it, so we rescheduled for the 8th — and then a bunch of people got sick and couldn’t make it. So we had the party anyway, with a small but cheerful group, and we’re shooting for Memorial Day to get the band back together.

We had burgers and hot dogs and chicken, chips, watermelon, potato salad, ice cream, and cookies, with sparklers, fireworks, and the Declaration of Independence. Three cheers!

Pork ribs, rice, string beans

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as supper at 5, but by 5:45, we had oven roasted pork ribs, white rice, and raw string beans. Pork ribs with salt and pepper in a pan with drainage, slide under a hot broiler for maybe 8 minutes, turning once. Rice using the 1:1 method in the Instant Pot. String beans thrust at unwilling children for stem removal, standards lowered as necessary. Boom, dinner. I had mine with gochujang sauce to make it even more boom.

Apricot chicken salad

I had a recipe, but I didn’t like the looks of it, so I invented something brand new not to like. The recipe called for greens and cooked chicken, fresh apricots, celery, blue cheese, and some kind of peculiar buttermilk dressing. We all agree that buttermilk is problematic, because we’ve all read Charlotte’s Web and now expect buttermilk to taste like ambrosia, rather than bad milk, and it never does. (We also have some inappropriate notions about potato peels and old cabbage cores, but never mind.) So I skipped the dressing, and happened upon some white balsamic peach vinaigrette dressing at Aldi, which, it turns out, is only offered for a short time for a reason, the reason being that it is yucky.

Well, apricots aren’t quite in season yet, it turns out, so I bought dried apricots. Just like you can substitute raisins for grapes, okay? It’s the same thing!

So, the salad was okay. We ate it. I could redo it when apricots are in season, I guess, but I think we’ll just move along [shakes fist at passing spider].

Pizzas by Irene

For our child-led dinner series (which I say because I’ve forgotten how to talk), Irene chose pizza. So, you know how some parents watch their children get all upset and stressed out while trying to accomplish something tricky, and they respond to that stressed-out child by shouting, “Calm down! Just take it easy, okay? Calm down!” and you know how that’s not helpful at all?

Well, you go ahead and watch the world’s least chill 9-year-old attempt to stretch somewhat cold pizza dough over five extra large pans, and see what happens when she gets a hole in the dough and it’s the ennnnnnnnnd of the world. You see what comes out of your mouth!

Anyway, she actually did very well. We all did very well. Yes. [shakes fist at passing spider]

Carnitas with salsa verde

We just had carnitas last week, but I wanted to try some new toppings for it. I had big plans, but ended up settling for just one new thing: salsa verde. Oh my stars, this was a good choice.

I took about fifteen tomatillos and unwrapped them, and put them on a pan with three medium jalapenos, a quartered onion, and about ten cloves of garlic. I roasted them for a few minutes until they were a little charred.

Look how dramatic the onions got!

Then I cut the stems off the jalapenos (I left all the seeds in), pulled the wrappers off the garlic cloves, and trimmed the ends off the onions, and shoved everything in the food processor with a big handful of cilantro and about 3/4 tsp of sugar. I blended it until it was pulpy.

Then I heated up a frying pan with a little olive oil and put the salsa mixture in, and heated it, stirring, until it was a bit thickened. Then I added about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and about 1/4 cup of lime juice; then I let it simmer for another 15 minutes until a lot of the liquid was absorbed.

I will admit that I have only tasted salsa verde once before in my life, but I do believe this is how it’s supposed to taste. Sweet and hot and greeeeen. So very nice.

It was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork, which I made in the slow cooker with a can of beer and two cans of diced tomatoes with chiles. When the meat was tender, I trimmed off the considerable fat, shredded it, and spread it in a shallow pan to be browned up under the broiler.

The meat came out a bit bland, but the salsa verde more than made up for it. I had my carnitas with salsa verde, sour cream, raw red onions sliced thin, and a little fresh lime juice. More fresh cilantro would have been nice.

Penne and sauce

Oh, we had a birthday in there, too. Sonny wanted to go have pizza with his friends and then sleep in the yard in a tent, so my main contribution was this . . . thing.

Look, he wanted a cake with a bearded dragon wearing a top hat, and that’s what he got. In real life, bearded dragons are even stupider-looking. [shakes fist at passing spider]

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18 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 136: Charlotte was neither”

  1. I made the salsa verde from this post this afternoon, and I couldn’t stop eating it. It tasted just like summer sunshine! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love carnitas with salsa verde. If you want next time, you can just slow cook the meat in the salsa verde. It’s called chili verde. Bada boom, bada bing.

  3. Life is carcinogenic, so you might as well enjoy a little char in your salsa verde.

    But if you are going to go all in for carnitas, try Kenji Lopez-Alt’s version of the real thing at Serious Eats. Carnitas actually has a much simpler flavor profile than beer and chilis (probably delicious too, but not carnitas!) – mostly just orange and cinnamon – but what makes it special is the slow, low cooking that can only be achieved in fat.

  4. Not offended, but no one has ever shown a definitive link between charred food and cancer in humans. We like the way it tastes, and we eat charred food a couple of times a week. *shrug*

    I would rather die AND be fat than take the seeds out of my seedy food. Many seeds have fat in them, so if you eat a *lot* of seeds, you’ll probably gain weight; but tomato seeds, for instance, are not going to make anyone fat.

    1. Colored sugar! I just recently found out you can color your own sugar for decorations, but the gold would be hard to make at home.

  5. Two salsa suggestions: first of all, get that mess out of your kitchen and grill it! I blacken my onions even more, and it’s totally intentional and not at all because I forget they’re out there. Secondly, try toasting a handful of pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, just until they start to puff up, and then blend them with the rest of the salsa. I don’t know why, but it’s so much better that way.

  6. That is an excellent cake with a bearded dragon wearing a top hat on it. He even looks happy, in a not-too-cutesy, reptilian way.

  7. Do you worry about serving so much charred food? I mean, I get that it’s easy, but sometimes it’s just burnt. My family won’t eat charred stuff. Very rarely. CArnitas look good though! Those of us who grew up on some type of hot pepper or chile daily remove as much of the seeds as possible. It tends to make the food bitter. I love all the recipe links, keep em coming!

    1. Leaving the seeds in…
      My husband was gone all week so I could watch anything I wanted on TV without supervision. Lo and behold, I discovered that the Real housewives are still doing their thing, and that Justin Beiber is engaged. Modern Family still has enough ratings, and that oldest daughters’ eyes just get larger and larger. (My kid told me that Sofia Vergara is the highest paid actress on TV. Wow.)

      I was dosing off to my debouched viewing when this thing on “E!” comes on. It’s Kelly Clarkson, shrinking before our eyes. She blows up she shrinks down, big small, big small. So she says “Yeah, I followed Dr. So and So’s advice, and now I’m 5 dress sizes smaller!” Dr. So and So comes on and says, “it’s the seeds. We haven’t been removing the seeds from our tomatoes, our cucumbers, and our peppers.” (they do another replay of Kelly blown up and shrunken down, blown up, shrunken .) “…Or the skins.” He says it slowly, and with emphasis. His eyes have narrowed, and he says, “for millennia, our fore bearers have removed the skins and the seeds from their tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers. The great French chefs always. remove. the. skin. and. the. seeds. Why? Because if we don’t, our bodies feel that they are being attacked, inciting autoimmune disease. Bloating. Puffiness. FAT.
      I sat up on the couch in a panic. I have never removed the skins and the seeds. I have disobeyed my husband by not removing the skin and the seeds, and this is why we can’t lose weight.
      If anyone thinks I’m kidding, I’m not. This is a real news story, (Google it). I have finally repented of my crimes.

      1. So this is why my mother told me not to swallow watermelon seeds! The whole “a watermelon will grow in your stomach” was a metaphor to ward off dangerous FAT. Thank you, Anna Lisa, for making everything clear.

        Years ago, one holistic doctor did tell me not to eat seeds. It didn’t make any sense to me. No corn, no rice, no nuts, no peas, no green beans, no bananas? (You go ahead and try to remove the seeds from a banana). I didn’t follow his diet advice and that is why I am middle-aged and overweight.

      2. I have the plant paradox book and cookbook which is what you are referring to! It’s truly interesting; I haven’t totally made my mind up, though.

        1. People who want to sell diets make me suspicious. Remember when butter and eggs were considered bad? My Mom also decided that sauteed food was also bad, and then red meat. After that she went macrobiotic.

          I don’t believe in anything but the proof in the pudding.

          I’ll take the French diet. They’re skinny and they eat well.

    2. I know some like the taste of charred foods. Without meaning to offend anyone, isn’t that a major cause of cancer, though????? I wont let my poor husband have a grill because of the black stuff that usually is part of the process. I’m pretty sure it’s carcinogenic????

    3. Seriously. I do not personally know Simcha but she feeds upwards of TEN people every day. And she makes dragon cakes. And she counts carbs. Char away Simcha. I will personally grant you a “char pass”.

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