My father kept telling me time will speed up when you get older, and he was right. Sorry I’ve been a bit scarce on the blog lately. I have a bunch of big projects I’m working on, and they’re kicking my butt. Here’s what we apparently ate this week, in a blur:
Grilled ham and cheese on sourdough, broccoli, chips
I put out the sandwiches and broccoli, waited ten minutes, and then admitted there were also chips. It was worth a shot. (It didn’t work.)
Pork banh mi with pickled vegetables
Fabulous. Just so ridiculously tasty. Sometimes I leave the cucumbers unpickled, and have plain mayo instead of sriracha, and skip the jalapeños, but this time I went for the full heat. Grrrrrr.
You can make this with steak, but I actually prefer pork, because it takes on more of the marinade flavor (FISH SAUCE). I pickled the cukes and carrots and sliced and marinated the meat when we got home from Mass, and then almost the whole family went out to see Into the Spiderverse, and wow, it was great! I loved every minute of it. Parts of it were too scary and overwhelming for Corrie, but she got through them and enjoyed the rest. If you only rarely see movies in the theater, this is one to splurge on.
We got back very late and I was so glad all I had to do was cook the meat. I spread it in pans and broiled it up. I also decided to grill the bread on on iron skillet with a little olive oil, and I liked that; but toasting in the oven works fine, too. The ideal bread for this sandwich is a crusty split baguette, but the generic sub rolls we had were fine.
Banh mi and pickled veg recipe cards at the end.
Southwest chicken salad
This was not as popular as I thought it would be. The idea was mixed greens, spicy grilled chicken, corn with red pepper, black beans, avocado slices, grape tomatoes, and spicy, crunchy tortilla strips, with lime wedges. I even bought some kind of name brand Chipotle Ranch Dressing in one of those bottles designed to be upside down like millionaires have.
I got a resounding “meh” from the family. True, I accidentally bought frozen rice with corn in it, rather than frozen corn with peppers in it, but I don’t think the success of this meal was entirely riding on the corn aspect of it. I dunno. I thought it was okay! Oh well.
To make the tortilla strips, I (you’ll never guess) cut tortillas into strips, then tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with plenty of chili lime powder. Then I spread them in a shallow pan and baked them at 300 for maybe half an hour, stirring occasionally, until they were crunchy.
I actually burned the first batch and started all over again; that’s how dedicated I was. Anyway, these tortilla strips would make a good topping for all kinds of salads or soups.
Chicken spinach-walnut pesto pasta salad and garlic knots
The kids have been asking for this dish, which I used to make a lot. I like it, although it seems like more of a side dish to me; but it’s labor-intensive enough that I definitely don’t want to make a main course in addition. So I forged ahead.
I can’t decide if I can really even call what I made “pesto” or not. I usually make this dish with just basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, because pine nuts are expensive. But I did have tons of walnuts in the house from when I was still telling myself I’d just have to go ahead and bake after Christmas. (I did not.)
So I fed about two cups of walnuts into the food processor until they were pretty crumbed. I had a giant bunch of basil, but it had been pushed to the back of the fridge, where it froze. I figured it was going to be pulverized anyway, so maybe it didn’t matter? So that went in, too. But it looked way too nutty, so I says, “Spinach is a leaf, just like basil!” But all I had was a box of mixed greens including spinach, and I sure didn’t feel like sorting leaves. So I just shoved a few big handfuls of mixed greens in, and then about a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of kosher salt, tons of minced garlic, and an entire jar (I guess 8 oz?) of shredded parmesan cheese. Corrie was helping me at this point, so. We just kept shoving stuff in and pressing the button.
The end result actually tasted nice. Definitely walnutty, but not in a bad way, especially with all that cheese. I think it may have come out more spreadable if I had toasted the walnuts, but I didn’t think of that.
The basil held its own against the spinach and whatnot. I wasn’t crazy about the texture — it was very pasty. But it was definitely too late to turn back, so I pressure cooked some chicken thighs and broke them into bits, and boiled up some farfalle, and just shlorped the whole thing together.
They liked it! I liked it. I guess I will go ahead and make a recipe card. Definitely cheaper than pure pesto. Hard to get a decent picture of it, though. It doesn’t look like a heap of garbage in real life.
For the garlic knots, I just cut balls of pre-made pizza dough into eight lumps, rolled them into snakes, tied them in knots, and topped each one with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of kosher salt, garlic powder, and parmesan. They get baked in a 400 oven on a greased, floured (or better, corn mealed) pan for 12-15 minutes, if I recall.
I made enough for everyone to have two. Corrie had four.
I love these inordinately. Something about how nicely they come apart and how steamy hot their tender insides are. I am not actually a bird of prey, despite how I sound here.
Five of them.
I took this picture because I heard myself saying, “Ugh, it’s after noon and I haven’t gotten anything done today!” Then I realized I had taken the kids to school, conducted a phone interview, written a 900-word essay, and made five pizzas, or, as I like to call it, “getting nothing done.” This is what Damien calls having a head full of bullshit, and it may never clear, but at least I can challenge it. Those were fine pizzas.
Dora made Pioneer Woman’s chicken enchiladas, may her name be praised. Eighteen red and eighteen green. Yadda-dadda-dadda-dadda-dai-dai-dai! I didn’t get an enchilada photo because I wrote through dinner time and didn’t eat until 8:30 or so, and couldn’t spare a second. Here’s something, though:
And there it is.
Fish taco rice bowls
A new dish I’ll be trying today. I got the idea from Damn Delicious, but I have no energy to make the pico de gallo, sadly. We’ll just have rice topped with batter fried frish (I’m gonna leave that typo because it’s funny), shredded red cabbage, sliced avocado, cilantro, salsa, and fresh limes. She includes what looks like a yummy recipe for cilantro lime dressing, which I bought Greek yogurt for, but I just remembered I ate half of it with honey. Should I buy more, or maybe just make a lime crema? I don’t really see any downside with this. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Banh mi with pickled vegetables
- 5 lbs pork butt (or other boneless cut), trimmed and sliced thinly
10-12 rolls, split and toasted or grilled
- 1-2 bunches cilantro, chopped coarsely
- mayo, with or without sriracha stirred in
- jalapeños, sliced thinly
For the marinade:
- 1 cup fish sauce
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 18 cloves garlic, minced (8-9 Tpsp)
- 1/2 medium onion, minced (or a few shallots, minced)
- 2 tsp ground pepper
Mix all sauce ingredients together. Mix up with sliced pork, seal in ziplock bag, and let marinate overnight or for at least five hours.
Remove meat from marinade and grill over low heat or under broiler.
Spread mayo or sriracha mayo on toasted or grilled bread, lay on meat, add pickled vegetables (see recipe card), jalapeños, and cilantro.
- 16 oz sour cream
- 3 limes zested and juiced
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together.
So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.
quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.
An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable.
- 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
- 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)
For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved.
Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!
Add them to the brine so they are submerged.
Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.
Spinach walnut pesto
You can play with the proportions to get the consistency you like. This version is cheaper than using pine nuts and all basil. Makes 2-3 cups of pesto for adding to pasta or spreading on bruschetta.
- 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 cups fresh baby spinach (can include radicchio, etc.)
- 2 cups walnuts
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic
- 8 oz grated parmesan
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Whir nuts in food processor until crumbed.
Add basil and greens, and whir until blended.
Slowly add olive oil and blend again.
Add salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese and blend again until it's the consistency you like.