Happy Friday! Today is the first day all week I’ve known what day it is.
Before we go any further, it has come to my attention that not everybody knows what an egg cream is. I made one for Corrie the other day, and she pronounced it weird but good, which it is.
You put a few inches of milk in a glass and add tons of chocolate syrup, and mix it well. Then you carefully pour seltzer in to fill up the glass, leaving plenty of room for the foam. The foam is deliciously strange, surprisingly dry, with a faint chocolate skin, and then the drink itself is refreshing like no other. More of a treat on a hot day than soda, but not heavy like ice cream or a shake.
If you’re wondering about the name: No, it didn’t originally have either eggs or cream. It’s a drink invented by Brooklyn Jews, and one theory is that it was an “echte cream,” real cream. I don’t know. Anyway, try it!
Here’s what we apparently cooked and ate this week:
Kids had dino-shaped chicken nuggets, adults went to Señor Tadpole’s and had the sampler plate with some margaritas. It was very good, but I’m now mature and secure enough to admit that, when I go to a Mexican restaurant, I’m really in it for the beans. Oh, I’ll eat the rest, but gosh, those beans.
Chicken quesadillas, chips
Nothing to report, except that Damien cooked it, and there is no better food than the food someone else cooks for you. Chicken coated with Tajin seasoning, roasted, and sliced, made into quesadillas with sharp cheddar cheese and jalapeño slices.
also OPERA NITE
Since the kids had the day off on Monday, we stayed up late for OPERA NITE, which involves, yes, opera, but more importantly, fancy snacks, including chili mango goat cheese and the all-important mini chocolate eclairs
and exotic soda in dollar store champagne flutes
Even the dog noticed how classy this was (he showed up in his tuxedo, ha ha).
Our first Opera Nite, Don Giovanni, was a howling success, but the next two times we attempted it (The Barber of Seville and Carmen), we lost steam at intermission, planned to watch the second half another night, ran out of snacks, and never got around to it. So this time, we withheld snacks until intermission, and then forged through to the end. I think it worked better (we did watch the whole thing!) but the whining about not being able to eat snacks yet kind of put a damper on the first two acts.
Anyway, we chose Le Nozze di Figaro with Bryn Terfel, Cecilia Bartoli, and Renée Fleming, and it was fab. We rented it through Met Opera on Demand.
In the past, we’ve made Opera Nite mandatory, but we have so many adult kids now, we let it be optional. We started out with six or seven kids in attendance and ended up with four by the end. Three of them spent the first two acts drawing in their sketchbooks, which annoyed me, but at least they were in the same room with the music. Then the natural drawing light faded and one kid left, but the other two started paying attention to the subtitles and were hooked. We read a plot synopsis for the first half, just to get our foot in the door, but we let the second half be a surprise, and it was very entertaining and funny. The plot moves right along, and it has some good twists but isn’t so convoluted you can’t follow it. The music is glorious, of course. A few arias are just heartbreaking. Wonderful production, sumptuous scenery and costumes, excellent casting. Kids can definitely follow the action (especially if they can read), but it does hinge on seduction and adultery and the threat of droit du seigneur, so viewer beware. I think our next opera will have more vengeance and stabbing.
Hot dogs of many nations, tater tots
Life has gotten very, very drivey lately (kids going to job interviews, kids needing to be driven to their new jobs, kids needing practice driving so they can eventually drive themselves to their new jobs, etc.) so Damien has been cooking a lot, and on Monday he made a lavish hot dog display. I just had mustard and about a cubic foot of sauerkraut on mine, which is obviously the best way to have a hot dog, but there was also chili, cheese, various vegetables, and a good selection of whatnot.
Carnitas, guacamole, fruit salad
This is the best-smelling dinner in the universe, and if you start early in the day, you get tons of flavor with very little effort. You simmer the seasoned pork in Coke and oil with cinnamon sticks, orange wedges, and bay leaves for two hours, then continue cooking the meat until it becomes dark and wonderful.
Even darker than that!
Drain, shred, and serve the meat on tortillas with sour cream and cilantro, or pico de gallo, or whatever you like. Here’s my guacamole recipe:Jump to Recipe
And here’s the carnitas recipe from J.R.’s Art Place.
This meat is also wonderful with beans and rice, but after making guacamole and a big fruit salad, I ran out of steam.
You know, sometimes people are all, oh, Simcha, you cook such heavy, unhealthy food all the time, and I’m like, oh, no, you’re right, I’m terrible, but then I remember that when I was growing up, I don’t think we ever ever had a vegetable that didn’t have cheese on it, and that included salad. And if it was fruit salad, we put sugar on it.
Sugar rub pork ribs, roasted corn on the cob
Damien made his most excellent sugar rub, and grilled the ribs outside. I bought a bottle of sauce to go with pork ribs, but I didn’t even bother putting it on the table, because I didn’t want to mess with that flavor or that beautiful caramelized crust.Jump to Recipe
If you can get white pepper, you get this extra kind of peppery effervescence you don’t get with black pepper.
The corn, sometimes you just don’t feel like boiling a giant pot of water for corn, so oven broiling works fine. I poured melted butter on the shucked ears and roasted them in a very hot oven for about ten minutes, turning them once. I had them wrapped in tin foil to keep the butter and steam in, but opened it up toward the end. I meant to get a little char on them, but I was too hungry to let them keep cooking.
Yay, pizza! Two pepperoni, one cheese, one olive, and one olive, feta, onion, fresh basil, artichoke heart, and fresh parmesan. No photo, alas. I had missed the last several days of running because I hurt my foot, and the only time we had to go on Thursday was in the evening, so I made the pizzas, went running, and came back and had cold pizza, and that’s how I choose to live my life.
Mac and cheese and mac and cheese and mac and cheese
I’m just planning to make a lot of it! Can’t help myself! My mac and cheese recipe is just to make a big pot of white sauce, throw in whatever cheeses are in the house, and then either a little mustard, or a little hot sauce, or both, to save it from blandness. Mix the cheese sauce with boiled macaroni, pour into a buttered casserole dish, top with buttered panko crumbs, and bake until golden brown.
Oh, wanna see my beautiful lo mein from last Friday? Shrimp, fresh ginger, and sugar snap peas. I usually use mirin to deglaze the pan before adding the noodles, but I was out, so I used rice vinegar instead. SO MUCH BETTER. I’m doing it that way from now on.Jump to Recipe
I didn’t realize how sweet mirin is!
I wish I had some lo mein right now. But mac and cheese is good, too, I guess.
One final culinary note: Damien and I go running on a very rural road, and a house there has started selling duck eggs. We bought a dozen and holy wow, they are good. And huge!
They taste like chicken eggs except the yolk is incredibly rich; and the white fluffs up nicely when you fry it, and doesn’t stick to the pan. Magic. We are uh thinking of getting some ducks. Probably just female ducks. I’ve been reading up on male ducks and we do not need any kind of #timesup situation in our back yard.
White Lady From NH's Guacamole
- 4 avocados
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 red onion, diced
Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two.
Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.
Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly.
sugar smoked ribs
the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.
- rack pork ribs
- yellow mustard
- extra brown sugar
For the sugar rub:
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp white pepper
Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture
Smoke at 225 for 3 hours
Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.
Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.
Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.
Finish on grill to give it a char.
basic lo mein
for the sauce
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
for the rest
- 6 oz uncooked noodles
- sesame oil for cooking
- add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.