Let’s have a pahty! Here’s what we ate this week (and don’t miss the video of Benny and Corrie rolling grape leaves like pros):
Hamburgers and chips
I know I always say I have no memory of Saturday, but this time I really mean it.
Chicken sandwiches with basil and tomato
This was supposed to be chicken caprese sandwiches, but I tragically forgot to buy mozzarella. They were still good, but the Käsewegfall loomed large. I had mine with salt and plenty of pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on ciabatta bread.
I also like this sandwich with salami instead of roast chicken, which makes it even easier and cheaper.
Then we went to see Toy Story 4 at the drive in movie, where we discovered, as we re-discover each year, that my vehicle simply will not play the radio with the lights off. The movie was just okay anyway. Our popcorn game, though, was on point.
Meh. Sometimes this is a really enjoyable meal, but it fell a little flat. Maybe it was just too humid for ramen. I sliced the pork thin and sautéed it lightly in sesame oil, then finished cooking it in soy sauce. We had soft boiled eggs, scallions, crunchy noodles, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds.
Anyway, I produced hot food. Two cheers!
BLTs and tiramisu
Birthday! The birthday girl requested BLTs and tiramisu. I can’t claim we have any particular family recipe for BLTs, except that I think we’re up to seven pounds of bacon, which seems excessive to me, especially since I didn’t get the memo that it was okay to take more bacon because somebody went out and bought two more pounds.
Damien made the tiramisu using this recipe. Pretty tickled that the kids often choose this as their birthday treat. When I was that age, my heart’s desire was a cake in the shape of Garfield. My mother rented a pan and spent an entire day following a guide for where to put little blobs of icing in Garfield colors. Man, I hope I thanked her.
Here’s an unglamorous shot of the tiramisu in the middle of being demolished.
People added shaved chocolate to their individual pieces.
Pork gryos, fried eggplant, stuffed grape leaves
It had been a big week of being hunched over a computer screen, so I was really glad to throw myself into a big kitchen project.
I’ve been wanting to make stuffed grape leaves forever. The wild grapes in the yard are having quite a year, so the kids had no trouble finding some fine, clean specimens. We followed this recipe from Saveur, more or less, which makes 60 grape leaves. It’s not hard, but there are many steps. You have to make the rice filling and let it cool, then boil the grape leaves, dunk them in ice water, and dry them, then roll them, then steam them.
Here is Benny gathering mint, which, as always, is also having quite a year:
And here she is drying off the grape leaves:
The girls did so well rolling them! I was truly impressed at how good they are with their little paws, and also how good Benny is at explaining what she’s doing. At one point, Corrie shouts, “I have a idea! Let’s have a pahty!” She says this several times a day, every day, just in case. Check out her proud smile at the end.You know, we’re all having quite a year.
The recipe says to put three layers of leaves in the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, but I had run out, so I used parchment paper instead. We only made about 30, since I didn’t think people would eat them.
They turned out so well! You squeeze a little lemon juice on top and have them with yogurt sauce. These are not perfect grape leaves, but they held together and tasted good, and we had a nice time making them.
I don’t know how to describe the flavor of grape leaves. Not cabbage, not asparagus. They have a sort of cool, woody, herby taste, and they are much more tender than I was expecting. The filling we used was packed with herbs, and the whole thing was somehow both oily and refreshing. I’d like to start making these at least once a year, when the leaves are abundant.
We also had pork gyros. I marinated the meat in the morning and Damien cooked it outside on the grill. So zippy and tasty. I’ll add a recipe card for the marinade at the end.
I used up all the tomatoes in the marinade, so we had the meat wrapped up in pita with just cucumbers, french fries, yogurt sauce, and hot sauce. Tasted perfect to me. Although honestly I have never gotten used to french fries being in there, and will probably skip it next time. So sue me. My mouth thinks it’s weird to have fries and bread in the same bite. But overall, this was a stupendous meal.
While he was cooking the meat, I fried some eggplant. You have to cut and salt the eggplant ahead of time to draw the moisture out, but the batter is simple and they fry quickly. I love this recipe because it tastes a little bland with the first bite, but this amazing warmth starts to sneak up on you until it’s quite a little pahty in your mouth. Wonderful texture, too — crisp and knobbly, with soft, tender eggplant inside. Very, very fond of fried eggplant. Recipe card at the end.
I promised the kids tuna noodle, but then realized we’d be out of town on Friday. But a promise is a promise. Damien and I went out for an evening run at dinner anyway, so I really wasn’t hungry when we got back. I think I had beans and pita bread and a plum or something around 10 PM. Summah!
And away we go. Oh, there are still adults in the house, so there, robbers.
Here are some recipe cards:
You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.
- 3 medium eggplants
- salt for drying out the eggplant
veg oil for frying
3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp veg oil
- optional: kosher salt for sprinkling
Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture.
Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming.
Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.
Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.
Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.
Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.
- 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)
Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc.
Marinade for pork gyros
Marinate thinly-sliced meat for several hours, then grill over the coals or broil in the oven. Serve wrapped up in pita with cucumbers, tomatoes, french fries, hot sauce, and yogurt sauce. This marinade is enough for about five pounds of meat.
- 4 medium tomatoes diced and smashed a bit
- 2 onions grated
- 2 Tbsp oregano (or a large handful of fresh oregano, chopped)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 12 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- kosher salt and pepper