Happy Friday! Happy February, finally! Let’s get hoppin.
Beer brats, fries
Saturday and Sunday were unusually busy for us. I went to one of Danielle Bean’s very fine You Are Enough day retreats in Plymouth and got home in the late afternoon, so I didn’t have time to shop. Damien bought and made beer brats (brats boiled in beer and onions and then grilled), which we haven’t had in quite some time. Yum yum.
A retreat! A long chat with my friend! A dinner made by someone else! What a Saturday.
Sunday we had a QUITE long family “retreat” for the faith formation. Our parish has switched to the family model, which means that the parents come in for regular lecture and discussion sessions, and then we go home and teach our kids; and there are also all-family events. It’s good stuff, and I see the benefit, especially when there are parishioners coming from all different backgrounds and different levels of . . . having been catechized. (I can’t figure out how to say that better.) But man, some of the events are long.
So we did get home late, but Damien had had the foresight to make burger patties the night before. So I just broiled them up, so that was easy.
I was going to clear off the island for this picture, but this is how it be.
Smoked pork ribs, coleslaw, salad, loaded baked potatoes; king cakes
Monday we had a GUEST. Fr. Matthew from Louisiana, who comes for an annual visit while visiting family up north. I briefly considered making an authentic Louisiana meal, but I remembered the video where Gordon Ramsey confidently gives some pad Thai to an actual Thai chef.
Gordon Ramsey getting roasted for making trash Pad Thai pic.twitter.com/RkbbOr13WG
— Jeff Orr (@JeffO773) December 29, 2022
and I don’t need anybody looking at me like that, even internally. So Damien dug out the smoker and made some of those luscious ribs, which I would defend with my life no matter where you’re from.Jump to Recipe
He smoked them for about five hours and then finished them in the oven. I baked a bunch of potatoes and kept them warm in the crock pot, which I forgot you could do. I mean, then I remembered, and I did it. I served them with crumbled bacon, shredded pepper jack cheese, sour cream, and scallions. I also made some simple coleslaw and a nice salad.
When we were eating. Fr. Matt (who loved the ribs) asked what I call the coleslaw. I said “coleslaw.” He said okay, because he was once at a Mardi Gras dinner where they served something they were calling “Authentic Louisiana Cabbage Salad,” and he wanted to know if I had ever heard of such a thing. I had not! But that’s why I decided not to make gumbo or étouffée or something! I know my limits!
OR DO I. I decided to make a couple of king cakes, because I asked around and learned that, even in New Orleans, there are a million variations, and sometimes real live cajuns will make king cake out of refrigerated cinnamon rolls.
So I made a triple recipe of just the dough for Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (which is the recipe I use at Christmas every year, so I know it turns out well) and also a triple recipe of just the cream cheese filling from this King Arthur king cake recipe. I divided the dough into two and rolled each one into a long rectangle.
The first one, I made a very long, thin rectangle and just spread the cream cheese filling down the middle of it, and then sprinkled a bunch of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. Then I just sort of rolled it up into a big tube with the cream cheese in the middle and pinched the long seam shut, and uncomfortably wrestled the whole thing onto a greased pan and squashed the two open ends together, so it was a ring shape, sort of. It was leaky as heck and not round in any meaningful way.
I was getting pretty strong “this can’t possibly be the way to do it” alarms in my head, but without any accompanying “you should actually look up how to do it” signals; so for the other cake, I rolled a less skinny rectangle, spread on the rest of the cream cheese filling and the contents of a can of strawberry pie filling I found, and then rolled it up in a spiral like I do with cinnamon rolls. This one, I rolled out on parchment paper, so I carefully squashed the open ends together and then just slid the whole thing on the paper onto a pan. This one was more respectable looking.
I covered the cakes and refrigerated overnight, and took them out in the morning to get up to room temperature; and then I baked them at 350 for . . . a while. I lost track of how long they were in there, because I was so nervous they’d be doughy and underbaked, I kept adding 3-4 minutes. Probably 35 minutes all together.
Then when they came out, I poured cream cheese icing over them and sprinkled on some colored sugar-sprinkles. The icing was not exactly a recipe, because I forgot to buy powdered sugar, so I ended up just whipping up a bunch of sugar, a little butter, some vanilla extract and a little lemon juice, a tiny bit of salt, and then a bunch of warmed-up cream cheese when I realized it was too runny. They came out so pretty!
The center of the ring disappeared, though, and it was really just a big dome that was kind of crinkly in the middle. To my vast relief, though, both cakes were thoroughly baked.
ctually a little over-baked, as you can see by the browned bottom. But the somewhat dry crumb was rescued by the abundance of creamy filling, which was delicious. The spiral-rolled one didn’t turn out discernibly better than the one that was just a stuffed snake, except that the shape was a little more regular.
So now I know how to make very respectable king cakes! At the last minute, I remembered to shove some “babies” in (what we could find was a couple of plastic figurines on loan from Elijah). We didn’t find them until the next day.
I guess traditionally, whoever gets the baby has to buy next year’s king cake, and I’m the one who found it anyway, so I suppose that can be arranged. Definitely one of those things that I got all worked up over for no particular reason. But with a happy ending, because we had cake.
Oh no, it was Tuesday and I still hadn’t gone shopping! I got some pizzas from Walmart because I developed a sudden aversion to going to Aldi.
On Wednesday I dropped off the van at the mechanic and was astonished to discover that I still hadn’t gone shopping? So I took Damien’s car and went to Aldi and did shopping for one day, because apparently I was determined to save myself the trouble of going shopping, and instead wanted to go shopping.
For nachos, I usually make 2/3 spicy meat and 1/3 plain, in two separate pans; and I got two bags of “hint of lime” tortilla chips, and one bag plain. But then I was seized with a sudden doubt, and had a long, inadvisable, circular conversation with the kids about whether a desire for spicy meat matched up with a desire for seasoned chips, and if so, how many people experienced that desire, and if not, how many people felt strongly about not experiencing that desire, and so on. I’m not exactly a people pleaser, but I don’t like getting yelled at about nachos, so I really tried to narrow in on what they wanted. I was starting to get a pretty clear picture about what I should do, when the chief kid I was interrogating said, “Actually, I don’t like nachos.”
So I ran them over with my van! Just kidding, the van is in the shop. I made two pans of nachos, with jalapeños on the spicy meat and lime chip one
and ate mine in the kitchen.
Then I ate the last piece of king cake.
Thursday, you’ll never guess what I did: I went shopping. But this time, I, genius, bought enough food for TWO days. We had chicken shawarma on Thursday, with pita, yogurt sauce, olives, feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
I was in a bit of a rush while I made the marinade, and my recipeJump to Recipe
calls for crushing an entire head of garlic. Which is fine if you have nice garlic with big, swollen cloves and loose skins. But what I had was that triflin’ little shrinky dink garlic from Aldi, which has puny, miniature cloves and tight, sticky skin. Then I remembered it was my kitchen and I could do whatever I want, so I put the head of garlic in a mug with about half a cup of water, microwaved it for two minutes, and then just pulled that garlic right out of its skin. It’s not really cooked, but it’s soft and loose that way. Then I put the skinned cloves in a sandwich bag and beat the hell out of them with a meat tenderizer. And that’s how you do it when nobody is looking.
Oh, the title comes from a funny tweet I saw
and that’s how I always think of it now. Sometimes it can be a satisfying, meditative little task; sometimes you just don’t have time for all the effing paperwork. (Yes, I know you can crush garlic with the skin on, and then pick the skin out, but I hate and resent doing this, for reasons I can’t really explain.)
Then I remembered I also needed to put garlic in the yogurt sauce, as well, so I was like HEY GARLIC POWDER EXISTS.
Anyway, the meat turned out great
and everyone was happy
Really no way to be unhappy with a plate like this.
This was actually Damien’s idea, even though he not only dislikes tuna noodle, he can’t stand the smell of it. But I did manage to buy the ingredients yesterday, so at least nobody has to go to the fwiggin store. As I write, the plan is for him to make himself a grilled cheese, but maybe I can pull rank and insist on some supermarket sushi or something. OR, I think there is a bag of shrimp in the freezer. So we shall see.
I just remembered I also have a ton of egg whites in the fridge. The cinnamon bun recipe called for an awful lot of egg yolks, and I didn’t want to just throw the whites away. How long would you trust egg whites to keep in the fridge, and what should I do with them? Maybe a pavlova. Maybe a SHRIMP pavlova. Maybe I’ll ask Gordon Ramsey what he thinks.
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.
- 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
- 4-5 red onions
- 1.5 cups lemon juice
- 2 cups olive oil
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 entire head garlic, crushed
Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more.
Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.
Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.