What’s for supper? Vol. 223: But what does democracy smell like?

This is our second week of school and I decided that was enough excitement and/or agony, and I didn’t need to try any new or tricky recipes. Here is what we had:

SATURDAY
Burgers, I think? I don’t seem to have photographic or written evidence.

SUNDAY
Ham, peas, mashed potatoes; stone fruit cobbler

Corrie’s platonic ideal of dinner. 

I made twelve pounds of mashed potatoes, and it was too much mashed potatoes! Didn’t know there was such a thing. 

The ham was pre-cooked, which is great, but do you know what’s even better? Slice it up when it’s cold, then put it in a dish with some water or Coke, cover with tinfoil, and then heat it up when it’s dinner time. So much faster than heating and then slicing.

We had tons of peaches, plums, and nectarines that were getting a little gooshy, so I got it into my head to make a cobbler.

I can’t find the recipe for the life of me. I’ll keep looking if people want it, though! As you can see, I diverged from it pretty severely anyway. 

The recipe called for corn starch for cooking the fruit before putting the cobbler topping on. Isn’t it lovely? The fruity jewels of late summer. 

I knew we had corn starch, but I couldn’t find it. So I crankily swooped over to the convenience store and bought a small canister for $423.99, and then promptly lost that, too. I had already put water, brown sugar, and butter in the pan, so I added a can of sweetened condensed milk, on the theory that I would like the fruit to be more . . . condensed. I don’t know. I just didn’t want to go back to the store. 

I simmered it for a while until the fruit was soft, and the sauce/syrup/whatever got kind of clotty, but not too clotty.

Then I drained most of the liquid off and put it in the pan, and covered it with the cobbler batter. The top turned out lovely, with a good crisp, slighty crumby crust and a tender, cakey inside. Not especially cobbled, but it tasted nice.

The fruit inside tasted fine. You could discern that faint vanilla custard taste from the condensed milk, but it wasn’t too sweet. It didn’t exactly hold together, but nothing I make holds together. It wasn’t soupy, anyway. And I didn’t have to go back to the store! 

Would have been nice with some vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream. But I sure wasn’t going to the store to get some. 

MONDAY
Hot dogs of a limited number of nations, onion rings

We haven’t had Hot Dogs of Many Nations for a while. Hot Dogs of Many Nations is when we set out a dizzying array of toppings, so people can have a Chicago dog. or a buffalo dog, or a chili dog, or a dog of any nation!!!! 

This was a pretty lackluster display. It was about as international as when the Girl Scouts have a cultural fair but nobody’s keeping track of who’s dibsing which country, so Kayla and Kylie and Cayley and Kaeleigh all just end up doing Canada. 

I had one of those nice natural casing hot dogs with chili, cheddar cheese, and scallions. It was okay. And we had onion rings.  

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers and chips; pizza for election reporters

Damien sometimes makes some extra cash gathering election results for various news outlets, which means he has to drive around like a crazy person going from school gym to community church to other school gym, trying to persuade Pierre, the town manager who is up too late, that this is all public record and he can SO take a picture of it. Anyway he had one town too many, so I covered one. There certainly was a lot of sitting around. People think democracy looks like either marching with torches and shooting, or else dancing to Bruce Springsteen with balloons falling out of the ceiling; but actually it looks like sitting around.

Anyway the kids made supper and Damien and I got home late and got Domino’s. Democracy also looks like Domino’s.

WEDNESDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

Nothing to report. Ground beef was $1.99 a pound, so that was fairly exciting. 

My basic meatball recipe is here.

Jump to Recipe

I added diced onions and crushed garlic and a lot more oregano than I usually add, and they came out perfectly fine, like they always do. 

THURSDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, raw veg with hummus

An unexpectedly popular meal. I got some sliced buffalo turkey and Swiss cheese, and Damien fried up a few pounds of bacon. We had spinach and sun dried tomato wraps and an assortment of sauces and toppings. I had mine with chicken, bacon, spinach, salami, and spicy sweet mustard, and it was pretty swell.

Look, here’s another picture.

I love wraps. We also had sweet pepper and snap peas with hummus. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

As I was making the cheese sauce, I remembered a twinge of guilt I had felt the other day when a teacher remarked to another mom what healthy snacks she always packed. My own child, while clearly very healthy and robust in general, toddles off to school with a lunch box full of pre-packaged Sparkleberry Melon Tango Yogurt Tubes, X-Treme Salt Kracker Snackers, and to drink, a foil pouch of Purple Madness Corn Syrup Punch Sploosher. And an apple. So I tweeted out:

It got some pretty good response, and I smiled to myself as I stirred the cheese sauce. “I am helping,” I thought. “I am making the world better.”

Then I thought, “Hey, what is that?” For there was a dark patch in my cheese sauce. I poked around with the wooden spoon and then fished out not one, but two entire pieces of American cheese, still in their wrappers. 

I am helping. I am making the world better. Sometimes democracy looks like American cheese?

Even after this, someone asked for my mac and cheese recipe! I’ll go ahead and write it out here, even though it’s very vague and never turns out the same way twice. The only thing special about it is you put in tons of pepper and hot sauce. This doesn’t make the cheese sauce spicy, but it gives it some depth of flavor, and makes the whole thing more interesting. I also top the casserole with shamefully buttery panko bread crumbs.

Oh! I also have a video of Corrie explaining how to make garlic toast. It’s adorable (she watches a lot of food videos, and she has the patter down), but way too long, and I’m too dumb to figure out how to edit it. I’ll keep trying, though. 

Well, goodbye! 

***

Baked macaroni and cheese

This is a vague recipe. You can change the proportions of the ingredients to make it thicker or thinner, more or less cheesy. I don't care!

Servings 12

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 222: Back to Zuul

Sorry, there will be no follow-up Ghostbusters reference in this What’s For Supper. I just ran out of title ideas. We did go back to school, though. 

If you look closely, you’ll notice that all the food photos this week were taken either outside, or in my bedroom. This is because I’m spending half my time pining for the kids because they’re at school, and the other half hiding from them because they’re home.

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Pork ribs, mashed potatoes, corn

Damien made his lovely sugar rub for the pork ribs, and cooked them on the grill. Scrumptious as always. Great little char, great caramelization, a little sweet, a little hot, nice and juicy inside.

You could make a big batch of this sugar rub and have it on hand in a baggie for just about any kind of meat, and it really makes it special. 

Jump to Recipe

I made seven pounds of mashed potatoes, and it wasn’t enough. Next time, a full ten. I also remembered too late about garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, where you boil the garlic cloves right along with the potatoes and then mash them in, then embarrass yourself with how much cheese you add.

 

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Next time! 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara

Always popular.

Damien made dinner while I languished or something. Oh, wait, I was doing school supply shopping! Really down to the wire this year. I remember the first year I did school shopping, when we were SO broke and having SO much culture shock after years of home schooling. I remember being so heartbroken and outraged that I was expected to buy a thumb drive for my innocent sixth grader. It seemed like they were trying to turn her into a faceless drone, enslaved to technology and commercialism. So, this year, Corrie got a P.J. Masks backpack and Frozen II water bottle and a shiny gold Wonder Woman dress and Lion King socks and whatever the hell else she wanted. And all Crayola, no Rose Art at all. You can judge for yourself if that’s progress or not. Anyway, Damien made dinner.

 

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MONDAY
Aldi pizza

For the first day of school, a nice, easy meal was in order, especially since I had somehow made myself believe school was still a full week away, so we had zero acclimatization to the new bed times. 

School is . . . okay. The kids are okay with masks. The school has set up tents for outdoor classes and lunch, and the kids sit on yoga mats, and no one spends more than 45 minutes in a room with other people, and they have fans going all the time. They do temperature checks every morning. They ask my five-year-old if she’s been out of the country (and I always listen closely for her answer, because you never know). It is okay. I have no idea if they’re learning anything. Corrie has learned a dinosaur song and a fishie song and has a friend named Greta. She has a classmate named Oliver who is silly. We have no idea how long this all will last, but for now, it’s okay. 

Mirabile dictu, no one in the school has life-threatening allergies this year, so we can pack whatever we want for lunch, so there’s that. In a few weeks, we’ll add in hybrid public high school and Catholic high school, and eventually the college kids will go back to college. Moe is in quarantine. It’s been several days since anyone called Clara “Hitler” for enforcing mask rules in the store.  Walmart is selling unscented hand sanitizer again, so you don’t have to go around smelling like fermented cranberry fart. It’s okay. How are you?

TUESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, carrots and hummus, broccoli salad

I cleaned out the cabinet and discovered I’ve been diligently stocking up on sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, for some reason. So I poked around and found a recipe that uses both of them, along with broccoli and a basic dressing (mayo, white vinegar, sugar, pepper). 

Everyone liked it well enough, and it was a nice change from coleslaw. Vaguely autumnal. Some people also add bacon, but I was trying to pretend it was a vegetable. You could also put minced red onion.  Maybe a little blue cheese. But it was nice in its simple form. 

WEDNESDAY
Steak teriyaki stir fry, white rice

Feeling unambitious, I bought two bottles of ginger teriyaki sauce. I’m often unhappy with my stir fries because they are watery and the vegetables are overcooked, because I crowd the pan and overcook some ingredients while others are catching up. So this time, I cooked the food in batches and in stages. I heated up some sesame oil and cooked the strips of beef in batches until just barely not pink, then took the meat out of the pan. Then I cooked the broccoli in the meaty pan until just barely done, and then I added the red peppers and cooked them just a little. Then I put the meat back in and added the sauce and just stirred everything up quickly so it was heated through, and served it over rice.

Good results! The vegetables were crunchy, the meat wasn’t chewy, and the sauce did not get watery. I made a bunch of rice in the Instant Pot, and it was a tasty, pretty meal. 

Steak continues to be cheap, and I’m running out of ideas! We’ve had steak and cheese, steak salad, steak steak, and tortas. What else do you make with steak? Never thought I’d have this problem

THURSDAY
Carnitas with guacamole, corn on the cob

Not the very fine carnitas from J.R.’s Art Place that you cook in a pot until the meat’s all lacquered and lovely, but still not bad. I put a giant bone-in pork picnic in the Instant Pot with a can of Coke, some cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, orange quarters, salt, pepper, and oregano, and cooked it for 35 minutes on high. It wasn’t really tender, so I gave it another 35 minutes. It still wasn’t as tender as I wanted, but I was out of time, so I pulled the meat out and shredded what I could, and cut the rest off. Then I spread it in a pan and sprinkled it heavily with chili powder and salt, and crisped it up under the broiler.

I flirted with the notion of beans and rice, but it seemed hard, so we just had the meat with guacamole, and cheese, sour cream, salsa, lime wedges, and cilantro. 

I made some rather tomato-heavy guacamole with the few avocados that didn’t turn out to be all sad and grey inside. What the heck is wrong with avocados lately? They’re not overripe, they’re just blighted or something. What do you expect: These are Joe Biden’s avocados. Ask yourself if you’re really prepared for four more years of Joe Biden’s avocados.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, cheesy tomato soup

This may just be a fantasy. Most likely, people will request plain tuna with mayo. But I will offer the option of tuna burgers.

 

Jump to Recipe

And I will offer tomato soup from a can, and they can put cheese in it. Or they can act like it’s not even exciting that it’s finally almost soup season. But it is exciting! It is. 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

  3. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.

  4. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.

 

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 221: You can count on food

Gah, I missed another week! So first, here are the food highlights from last week:

Oooh, bibimbap!

I cooked some sliced pork in a gochujang sauce 

Jump to Recipe

and made a big pot of rice, and set out the pork, pea shoots, crunchy noodles, spinach, and whatnot, and everybody put together what they wanted and then reported to me for a fried egg. I like to put the spinach under a layer of something hot, so it wilts a bit. The egg seeps down and the meat sauce seeps up, and it’s pretty great.

I also sprinkled something called “balsamic crispy beets” on top of mine, along with hot sauce and sesame seeds. They were maybe a little too sweet and balsamic-y for this dish, but I liked the taste in general, and will probably get them again. They would be great on top of a salad with chicken. I always felt like I am destined to enjoy beets, but I never do, so this beet form is a little bonus.

Uhhhhh clams steamed in beer, chicken and pepper fajita deconstructobabs, bread, and more spinach

An incoherent but tasty meal 

I sautéed some onions in lots of butter, then added red pepper flakes and a few cans of beer and then the clams, and let them simmer for a bit until the shells opened, then squeezed some lemon over them. Yum yum yum. 

The plan was to make fajita chicken kebabs, but when it came down to it, I did not feel like threading anything on skewers, and Damien did not feel like grilling. So after I marinated the meat and peppers for a few hours, I just spread them on a pan and broiled them in the oven, and it was most definitely good enough.

The marinade was, I don’t know, oil and lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, etc. Just standard “weakly Mexican.” Served with salsa and sour cream to dip. 

Drumsticks, potato salad, and peach salad
Two salads, no greens! The kids were very impressed.  Or possibly they were mocking me. 

So, here we have an odd duck: a recipe that didn’t really need the prosciutto. It was sliced peaches, chopped fresh mint, crumbled feta cheese, and torn up prosciutto dressed with a honey lemon sauce, and it was super summery, fresh and full of vivid flavors.  

So vivid that the prosciutto didn’t really stand out, and therefore wasn’t necessary. What do you know about that.

I thought the potato salad was also nice, not too gloppy. Potatoes with the skin on, hard boiled eggs (which I cooked in the same pot as the potatoes, much to the amazement of one easily-amazed kid), and scallions, with a dressing of mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt, and plenty of pepper. 

Dora was supposed to stop by for dinner, but she had car trouble and Damien had to rescue her, so she got here. She’s no longer in our bubble, and we needed to keep the visit outdoors, so to prolong the outdoorness of the evening, I made a fire and we toasted marshmallows, which I have apparently been buying every week for the last five weeks, intending to someday have a campfire. 

Here is Lena telling Corrie a ghost story. 

Just the right amount of funny and scary. This particular spooky story was about a green, hairless gorilla who lives in the sewer.

And Friday was pizza with fresh basil and slices of garlic, and ricotta, and red pepper flakes, WHICH. I. RECOMMEND. I want to make this same pizza except with also eggplant, or possibly even broccoli. 

And now for this week, here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Party!

Irene’s birthday was back in April, right when everything started closing down, so we finally had her party last weekend at the town pond before school starts and everything closes down again.

I did not cover myself in glory with birthday cakes this week. She wanted a Gravity Falls cake with Bill Cipher made of rice krispies. I got off to a bad start by referring to him as Cyber Bill, even though I am not 67 years old. Then his arms kept falling off, and then it was kind of downhill from there. Please don’t give me any advice on how to do it better. I know how to do all things well, and sometimes I just choose to do them poorly, for personal reasons.

But she liked it! And there were thunderstorms right up until an hour before the party, and then the sun came out. The party kids had deli sandwiches; I forget what the people back home had.

SUNDAY
Party!

Lucy’s birthday was back in July back when everything etc. etc. so we finally had her party while etc. She asked for a cake with All Might from My Hero Academia on it. This was pre-doomed to failure even before I discovered we don’t own any food coloring and I would have to color everything with sugar and leftover icing. All Might is a weird looking dude and this was a weird looking cake, so, there you go. 

But, she liked it, and there were thunderstorms that stopped before the party.  

And they got their parties in before everything gets locked down etc. etc. etc.  The party kids just had snacks; I forget what the people back home had.

MONDAY
Koftas with yogurt sauce, pita, Jerusalem salad

The first time I made koftas I thought they were SO tasty, but they kept falling off the sticks when Damien grilled them. So this time I just made a bunch of big meatballs and broiled them, with yogurt sauce to dip them in. Good stuff, with the added bonus of not looking so much like giant turds.

Oh, I also made a big bunch of Jerusalem salad while tomatoes are still king. Cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt. A cooling, easy side dish to lighten up a savory main dish.

If anyone makes koftas on the grill and knows how to keep them from falling apart off the stick, I’d be glad to know it.

TUESDAY
Chicken and salad, fruit

I got home soooo late from shopping. I just sprinkled the chicken with olive oil and Italian seasoning and broiled it, then served it in pieces over greens with Caesar salad dressing from a bottle. We had strawberries and blueberries, plus some pineapple that I forgot to serve last week. 

WEDNESDAY
Dino nuggets, chips, veg and dip for kids, restaurant for adults

Many months ago, maybe even a year ago, Damien was out of town and my car was in the shop and OF COURSE somehow Lucy ran out of insulin. So we had to call Dora and get her to leave work and go the pharmacy for us, and bring the insulin home, and then it was somehow the wrong insulin (“somehow” meaning CVS, which we briefly used because it has a 24-hour drive thru; but also does stuff like gives you the wrong insulin and then lies about it), so she had to leave work again and get the other insulin and bring it home and then go back to work, and she was very nice about it. So, we said we would take her out to dinner. 

And we did!

Like a year later.

I myself had an insane amount of food: Fried calamari, minestrone soup, and veal piccata, not to mention a bit of Dora’s bruschetta and a bit of Damien’s gondola bread; and some kind of cocktail with bitter orange. It’s actually getting nippy here at night (hence the soup), so they had these neat patio heaters among the tables with a giant flame enclosed in a glass pillar. I guess I’m a country mouse; I was impressed. I’m not saying I would follow it into the desert, but it was a very nice flame. 

THURSDAY
Philly cheesesteak

I don’t know what is going on with cows, but steak is still $2.99 a pound. One of the fringe benefits of my kitchen reno (which is still not done. I have to finish painting and then install the ceiling tiles, and then I will take pictures!) is I finally found the little column that holds up the disc cutter on my food processor, so I sliced a ton of peppers and onions and then the steak. 

IS there some way of shredding steak in a food processor without having to constantly stop the motor, take the top off, and drag out the meat that gets wrapped around the central pin thingy and caught between the blade and the cover? I did freeze the meat a bit first, but it was still very soggy going. It took a long time, but the results were good. Nice and shreddy, just like in Philly, as far as I can recall. 

Honest to goodness, I took pictures of my sandwich, but they look gross. You all know what a good cheesesteak looks like, so picture that. 

FRIDAY
Eggs migas with refried beans

Here is a picture of the migas I made last time. SO GOOD. 

Did I share a recipe for simple migas? I cut a bunch of corn tortillas into strips and fried them in oil until crisp, then scrambled a bunch of eggs into them, and served them with hot sauce and standard taco fixings. I love this meal. You know who would have loved it? My mother. Heck, maybe I can actually make it for her at some point, once the nursing home stops being locked down, etc. etc. 

And there it is. School starts on Monday. We’ll see how long it lasts, etc. 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

 

koftas

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 3 onions
  • 1 head (head, not clove) garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 5 slices bread
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp zataar

Instructions

  1. Put the wooden skewers in water to soak for about thirty minutes before you plan to form the kebabs.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and chop it.

  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and add the chopped onion mixture to it.

  4. Toast the bread, then put it in a bowl with warm water to soften it. Squeeze the water out and add that to the bowl with the meat.

  5. Add in the seasonings and squish it up with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined.

  6. Using your hands, form logs of meat around the skewers. They should be about an inch and a half in diameter.

  7. Grill over coals if you can. If they fall apart too much, you can cook them on a hot oiled griddle, or broil them. Turn to brown all sides.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 220: Livin’ it up on top

Hola, amigos. What gives? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but there’s been all sorts of craziness going on.  But enough about me. Here’s what we cooked this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

Oh, well, we didn’t actually cook this, as it was Aldi pizza. I mean, we put it in the oven. Saturday was when we got home from our splendid ocean vacation.

Wait, I have a few last pic from last week! Friday was our last full day at the ocean, and after one final swim, the kids stayed at the house and had grilled cheese and candy, I believe, and Damien and I found a restaurant with a breezy terrace

and had llllllllobster. Note my expert technique.

You will find it much easier to crack open a lobster once you’ve had three cocktails made of lemonade, soda water, and blueberry vodka. It just makes you more dextrous overall. Oh, we also had fried calamari and seared tuna.

Dammit, I was okay with not being at the ocean, and now I want to go back. Ah well. I still can’t believe we got to go!

Four of the older kids didn’t come on vacation with us, and they had been implored and entreated and cajoled and importuned not to ignore bad food smells and not to let my flowers die and not to let the puppy become too egregious, and they listened! So it was a pretty easy re-entry. The pool had taken on a vibrant emerald hue, unfortunately, and Damien is still battling the algae. As of today, it’s only chartreuse, which is progress. 

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs

I think? One of our kids was moving into her own apartment on Sunday, and there was some kind of secondary hullabaloo. It’s a duck blur (duck not included). Damien cooked supper.

MONDAY
Pesto chicken pasta

I finally actually cooked something, if not using an actual a recipe. I cooked the chicken breasts in the instant pot and cubed/shredded it and mixed it with farfalle. Then I added a sauce in I made in the food processor with lots of fresh basil, lots of fresh garlic, lots of olive oil, lots of grated parmesan, salt and pepper, and — here’s the secret ingredient — two jars of pesto. 

Not terribly photogenic, but pretty tasty!

While I’m on the subject, did you know you can make pesto out of all kinds of things? The most traditional kind is pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmean, salt, and olive oil, but you can use other herbs and other nuts. I once made a spinach walnut pesto that was fab.

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I need to revisit various pesti while we’re still livin’ it up on top. [sighs until dead]

Made it to the town pond around sunset for an hour or so.

We still have a few weeks left, right?

TUESDAY
Honey balsamic Brussels sprouts with bacon and eggs

A great one-pan meal which I think is suitable for any time of the day.

Jump to Recipe

It’s a simple recipe, and only a time consuming if you have to make vast quantities, mainly in trimming and halving all those Brussels sprouts, but it’s absolutely a crowd pleaser and takes no particular skill.

I wished I had had some crusty bread, but it was so good. 

I didn’t even follow the recipe for the sauce, just sloshed together a bunch of honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder because I was too lazy to crush garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix it up with the sprouts and some chopped bacon, cook it all until the bacon is done, then crack some eggs over it, cook a bit more, and top with parmesan and hot pepper flakes. And I guess a sprinkle of holy water, if that’s the kind of day you’re having:

WEDNESDAY
Tortas, grilled corn

A new dish for us! I had told Damien steak was on sale, and he said, “WAIT.” and sent me some recipes. I checked them out and it idea seems to be “Mexican things, but with bread!” Can do. 

Damien seasoned the steaks heavily with chili lime powder and grilled them rare, then cut them in slices. I found some soft rolls, and I set them out with the meat, refried beans, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges, sour cream, mayonnaise, and queso fresco. I toasted my roll.

Damien also grilled some corn in the husks over the coals, and I had mine just with lime juice. At some point I guess you could assemble the sandwich and grill the whole thing, but you’d need some kind of containment system. This was a huge shambles of a sandwich. I ate mine outside because it was cooler and also so nobody could see me ravaging it. 

THURSDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

On Thursday I finally got around to excavating the jungle of my container garden, and was glad I had chosen to buy some extra basil just in case. The slugs are so bad this year. Next year I’ll . . . do better. Take care of stuff. Or whatever. Anyway, the sandwiches were good. I guess I forgot to take a picture, so here is a chicken caprese sandwich of ages past:

I heavy seasoned the chicken breasts with salt and “Italian seasoning” (I think it’s just basil and oregano) and olive oil and roasted and sliced them. We had plenty of tomatoes, basil, and leftover queso fresco, ciabatta rolls, olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. 

We were supposed to go to the drive in movies to see Inside Out and Monty Python Holy Grail, and possibly stay for The Big Lebowski, but I somehow misread the schedule, and they were showing It and Harry Potter and the Part Where It Starts Getting Crappy. So we went mini golfing instead. Corrie got the highest score, which means she won.

And now we are all set with mini golf for another eleven years.

Gosh, I hope drive in movies make a comeback because of the pandemic. Wouldn’t that be neat? The first drive in movie I remember seeing was Superman. I was wearing footie pajamas, and my father put the back seat down in the orange Subaru, and kept it down on the drive home so we could sleep. 

FRIDAY
Tuna boats, curly fries

And that’s it! Hey, I know this sounds stupid because I clearly have a very rich, full, and lucky life, with photographic evidence and everything, but I am actually massively depressed and have been for several weeks and I’m having a hard time climbing out of this hole. Please pray for me and I’ll pray for you, because I know I’m not the only one. Thanks. Duck blur over and out. 

 

5 from 2 votes
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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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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. 


5 from 2 votes
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Bacon, eggs, and brussels sprouts in honey garlic balsamic sauce

Adapted from Damn Delicious.  An easy and tasty one-pan meal that would work for any meal. Great with a hearty bread like challah. 

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 lbs uncooked bacon, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 18 eggs
  • oil for greasing pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish (optional):

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease two large oven sheets. 


  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix Brussels sprouts and bacon together, spread evenly in pans, and pour sauce all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Cook until bacon is almost done (almost as crisp as you like it) and Brussels sprouts are very slightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

  4. Pull the pans out of the oven and carefully crack the eggs onto the Brussels sprouts and bacon, here and there.

  5. Return pan to the oven and cook a few minutes longer, just enough to set the eggs. The yolks will get a little film over the top, but don't let them cook all the way through, or you'll have something resembled hard boiled eggs, which isn't as good. You want the yolks to be liquid so you can dip forkfuls of fod into it.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes and serve. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 219: Your name on a grain of rice!

WE ARE ON VACATION! All this week we’ve been at the ocean, which we adore.

We rented this beach house back in January, but didn’t know until the very last minute if it would be safe to go. But it’s been fine! We don’t share living quarters with anyone, there has been a good, brisk wind all the time, and we like the boring end of the beach with tide pools and no cool people or entertainment anyway. We warned the kids we’d be skipping souvenir shops and playgrounds and indoor restaurants and arcades and just focus on being at the beach. And it’s been great!

But wait, I guess I didn’t do a food post last week? Here are a few of the more photogenic things we ate last week:

A very delicious pizza with cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden, thinly-sliced garlic, red onion, black olives, and parmesan. Very pretty

and did not disappoint. 

They had a nice sale on steak, so I picked up a few, which Corrie helped to season

and then I broiled them, sliced them, and served the meat on mixed greens with plenty of blueberries, blue cheese, and diced red onions, with red wine vinegar, watermelon on the side.

A wonderful summer meal. This is also great with pears or green apples, rather than blueberries.

We also had sausage subs with fried peppers and onions, and here is a photo of the lovely peppers and onions

Yum.

And then we had Vaguely Asian Meatballs,

Jump to Recipe

quick-pickled cucumbers,

Jump to Recipe

white rice and sugar snap peas. A very flavorful meal, savory and filling but not too heavy. 

***

Okay, on to this week! We keep meals very simple when we’re away from home, so this is more of a “yay, beach!” post, interspersed with a couple of food pictures. Of course there are tons of pics, but I’ll mostly link to my Facebook albums, sorry, lazy person. Four of the oldest kids stayed home for various reasons, so it was just the eight of us this year. And the parakeet, whom we brought for reasons.

(We did not bring the cat, the lizard, or, after much debate, the puppy.)

Corrie packed on Friday. She was very, very ready on Friday. Then she wanted to flip a coin to see if we should go on Saturday, or just go on Friday. She dibsed Friday. 

We did whittle her essential luggage down somewhat from here.

SATURDAY
Pizza

And then it was time to go! We got to the beach house around dinner and Damien went to find hunt up some pizza while we unpacked. We don’t have an ocean view from the beach house, but I am not complaining. This is the view from the grownups’ bedroom:

One of the pizzas was sausage and ricotta, which is definitely going into our rotation. Heavens.

SUNDAY
Deli sandwiches

We slept through the 9:15 Mass right down the street, but made it to a 10:45.  Masks and hand sanitizer and social distancing were all enforced, and the priest announced before communion that we should all remember to keep our masks on until right before we receive, and that if we want to receive on the tongue, we have the right to do so, but he asked that anyone who wants that should go to the end of the line so everyone receiving in the hand could go first. Then he stepped into the sacristy to wash his hands thoroughly and mask up. A good solution. 

Then I did grocery shopping. Then we finally got to the beach! It’s such a good beach. 

Here are a bunch more pics from Sunday.

MONDAY
Fried chicken

We packed a lunch and spent the late morning and afternoon at the beach.

More pics from Monday.

Then we went for fried dough, which is Corrie’s main reason for going to the ocean, but it was wayyyy too hot, so we had ice cream. Dinner was cold fried chicken from the supermarket and I think chips and peaches.

Damien and I popped out for drinks in the evening, but I got spooked by the crowds, so we just got some Heinekens and drank them on the beach under the full moon. 

NO COMPLAINTS. 

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

We were expecting major storms, so we stuck close to the house on Tuesday. In the morning, we investigated the foggy, foggy salt marshes behind the house.

More pics from the marshes and the ocean before the storm.

We also made cookies and played games (I brought Bananagrams, some magnet maze games, Battleship, lots of markers and coloring pages, and cookie and cupcake mix) and read books and watched TV. It got pretty blustery, but we didn’t get hit that hard.

Then when the wind and rain stopped, we went to see how the beach was. Still very windy!

More pics from Tuesday evening.

WEDNESDAY
Steak, corn on the cob, chopped salad, bread, S’mores

Day after the storm and the ocean was still out of sorts. Lots of weird stuff on the sand, including this molted baby horseshoe crab shell,

absolute gobs and gobs of seaweed and a million rocks, and the water was murderously cold. This made for a challenging but exhilarating swimming day.

Guys, I cannot even begin to express how much easier it is to be at the beach when you don’t have toddlers or babies. No one wandered away or got lost. No one almost drowned. No one even tried to get drowned. Damien and I could go out and bob around past the breakers together while the younger kids played on the shore, and then sometimes we could lie on a blanket in the sun while the kids played in the water. No one got hysterical because they had sand in their mouth. No one got hysterical at all, or had some kind of diaper emergency. Everyone was reasonable and had a nice time. I never thought we’d get here, but here we are.

 I even had help pulling the wagon.

Bunch o’ more pics from Wednesday.

The steak that was on sale at home last week was now on sale at this supermarket, so I bought a bunch and Damien grilled them. He seasoned them with salt and pepper, lime juice and tequila, and they were very tasty! The corn was just boiled in salted water, and we had plenty of pull-apart bread to stop up the steak juice. 

We were all fairly exhausted and grumpy by afternoon, but I had been promising S’mores forever, and the coals were still hot after dinner, so S’mores time was upon us. I hate S’mores. They are so absurdly overrated, and the name might as well be “Goods” or “Highly Requested.” What the heck. Then we realized (a) we had no sticks to roast the marshmallows with (and not a tree in sight), and (b) the chocolate bars had already melted in their wrappers. One of the kids wanted to freeze them, but I couldn’t see taking melted chocolate and freezing it so as to re-melt it. So we laid a bunch of graham crackers on a pan, snipped the corners off the wrappers and basically extruded chocolate onto the graham crackers, doled marshmallows onto that, then balanced another layer of graham cracker on that. Then we put the pan over the coals until the graham crackers were burnt and the marshmallows were just barely heated. This is exactly the kind of treatment S’mores deserves, in my opinion. Stupid dessert anyway. S’m’less is more like it. 

THURSDAY
Boardwalk food!

We had a lazy morning and a good swim in the afternoon. There were some ducks or something bobbing around, and I told Lucy that, if she could catch one, she could bring it home. This didn’t work out well when I made the same offer about a frog, but so far we are duck-free. 

Here are several pics from Thursday.

At one point during the day, Corrie became The Head of Knowledge, and foretold that our youngest daughter would have rice and seaweed for dinner, but, failing that, that she would settle for a burger. 

 

She had a burger.

We stopped at home to de-sand and then went out again in search of dinner. It turns out the kids all wanted burgers and fries, so that simplified things. Damien and I had steak and cheese, which arrived without cheese or mayo or anything, but I wasn’t gonna start passing food trays back and forth across the counter. Then we got ice cream.

FRIDAY
Grilled cheese? 

I think Damien and I may pop out for an actual seafood dinner, which is something none of this particular group of kids wants or needs. But we may also answer a deeply adult call to lie around and watch TV. Damien has been working about half-time throughout the week (including virtually attending two hearings as a defendant in a free speech case) and I’ve been gloomily writing terrible things that will never see the light of day.

The great thing about this house is that it’s in quiet neighborhood, it’s a very easy walk from the beach, and there is this wonderful view from the bedroom. Two windows show the church steeple and the water tower, and the other window is the salt marsh, where white egrets swoop around and the brackish tide rises and falls throughout the day.

The ground is dense mud covered with waves and waves of cordgrass, and if you look close, there are periwinkles and little crabs all over the place.
Here are a bunch of pictures of our little trip to the marsh. 
The vegetation looks like coarse weeds at first, but up close, they look more like seaweed. Fascinating place. Some of the channels are natural, but some of them are man-made, and there are complicated sluice gates with floating balls to raise them and, I guess, keep the arcades and stuff from flooding. It’s not far from home, but so very different from home!

However, we did promise fried dough back on Monday, and we haven’t yet gotten any fried dough. The Head of Knowledge doesn’t forget these things. So I think we’re getting fried dough if it kills us. And maybe, if the crowds aren’t too bad, your name on a grain of rice.  

***

Okay, I guess my recipe cards this week are just for the Asian meatballs we had last week, and fried dough you can make at home.

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

 

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. 

Ingredients

  • 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 sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. 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.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

 

Fried dough

Makes about 15 slabs of fried dough the size of a small plate

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) cold butter
  • 1-1/2 cups lurkworm water
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
  • cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Cut the cold butter into bits and work it gently into the dough.

  3. Add the water and stir until the dough is all combined.

  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes

  5. Separate the dough into pieces and flatten each piece into a thin disk with your fingers. If it's sticky, put a little confectioner's sugar on your work surface.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan. You can deep fry it or use less oil and fry it in a small amount of oil; your choice. The oil is ready when you put a wooden spoon in and little bubbles form around it.

  7. Carefully lay the disc of dough in the hot oil. Let it cook a few minutes, just barely getting brown, and then turn it and cook the other side.

  8. Remove the dough, let the excess oil drain off, and sprinkle it immediately with sugar and cinnamon if you like.

  9. You can keep these hot in the oven for a bit, but they're best when they're very hot.

What’s for supper? Vol. 218: In which I make poor choices with peppers

Two or three new recipes this week! And, because you’re very lucky, one of my top notch very expert photoshop jobs so you really feel like you were there when it happened! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, pasta salad

The salad was mixed greens, buffalo chicken from frozen, cut in strips; blue cheese, and crunchy fried onions from a can. Clara made a nice pasta salad with one of those infused olive oils, parmesan, feta, lots of garlic, black olives, and basil from the garden.

 

It had a kind of potluck feel, but still a fine summer meal. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, pasta salad, cheezy weezies

Damien made the burgers outside

and I spent the afternoon putting in tiles for the backsplash in the kitchen! I’ve never had a backsplash before, much less put in a marble backsplash by myself, and I . . . did not do it right. But it looks pretty and I am happy. I still have to do the ceiling, and then I will do a follow-up kitchen reno post. Here is my post about the walls, floor, and trim

MONDAY
Italian sandwiches

Damien made his trademark Fancy Sandwiches For All. 
He split a bunch of baguettes down the middle and drizzled the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then layered plenty of ham, prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni, mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, and Italian seasoning.

I know I always say that whatever sandwich I’m currently eating is the ideal sandwich, but I’m telling you, this was a good one. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, strawberries and blueberries

If I were a millionaire, I would still have frozen breaded chicken burgers on potato bread buns with horseradish sauce every few weeks. Yum.

I went shopping on Tuesday and for once remembered to serve the berries on the same day I brought them home. Aldi berries are so cheap — I think the strawberries were $1.29 a pound, and the blueberries were 99 cents a pint — but you really cannot dawdle. 

WEDNESDAY
Chili verde

 

Jump to Recipe

I was at the store and made my usual desperate attempt to match up my pepper list with the pepper bins and the pepper labels, and then I went home and asked Facebook what I had. 

It seems I had four Anaheim peppers and a bunch of habañeros, which was a pepper error, because I meant to get some other kind of pepper, but I forget what. So that was pepper error #1. Pepper error #2 was when I heard everyone saying they were super hot, and I was like, “oh, okay, I like hot stuff, but not too too hot, so I will only use two habañeros in my chili.”

I roasted the peppers along with a bunch of tomatillos and jalapeños on a greased pan.

Then I let everything sort of steam itself under plastic wrap, then I skinned them all. This part is fun.

Then I put all the skinned peppers and tomatillos in the food processor with a bunch of onions and garlic and cilantro, and puréed it. That is fun, too, but the picture came out blurry.

I did not seed any of the peppers first. This was pepper error #2a.

I cut the pork into chunks and seared it in oil with plenty of salt and pepper. I wish I had let it brown up a bit more, but at least I didn’t crowd the pot for once. 

Then I put the puréed salsa verde into the pot with the pork and let it simmer for several hours.

You can add water or chicken broth, but I wanted it fairly thick. Just before serving, I squeezed some limes over it and served it with cilantro and sour cream.

And now for pepper mistake #3: I ate so much of it. It hurt my whole face and I was sweating from my toenails by the time I was done, and I kept getting more sour cream, but I ate so much. I sopped up the sauce with tortillas, and congratulated myself for not even suffering any heartburn afterward. 

My confidence continued until Thursday morning. 

Thursday went something like this:

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztec-human-sacrifice.htm (public domain)

But, that was some really good chili verde. 

THURSDAY
Greek chicken skewers, yogurt sauce, rice

 

Jump to Recipe

I made a marinade out of lemon zest and lemon juice, tons of fresh mint, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper, and marinated chicken breast chunks for several hours, then threaded them on skewers with grape tomatoes and wedges of red onion. Thunderstorms chased us inside, so we had to broil rather than grill it, but it was still tasty. Fresh mint is the best. 

Corrie took this picture and is very proud of it:

And I was fairly proud of the meal overall. I served it with pita and yogurt sauce and, as you can see, white rice.  Benny made the yogurt sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

 

I spent several hours wondering if I should make stuffed grape leaves, and then realizing it was 5:00 and far too late, so I just made a big pot of rice. I made so much rice I may use the leftover for inauthentic grape leaves made with leftover cooked rice today, and no one can stop me! The wild grapes are going nuts this year, and I love cooking with foraged stuff.

FRIDAY
Eggs migas

We had a spell where we kept running out of eggs, and the kids were just WORN OUT with my incompetence and malfeasance, because they want to cook themselves heaps and heaps of eggs for lunch every day. So I got 3 dozen eggs, and then forgot I had done so, and got 5 dozen eggs.

Guess whose children abruptly stopped cooking eggs? 

It’s fine. I’m trying a new dish: Eggs migas. I bought corn tortillas, which I don’t normally do. The basic idea is to cut or tear up tortillas and fry them up in oil until they’re crisp, then scramble an egg into the pieces. You can add various things in while you’re cooking, or you can serve them as garnishes/sides after cooking. I think we’ll stick with salsa, sour cream, and maybe some refried beans. I’m excited! New Mexican food really hits the spot for me. I shall report back on our success. 

Okay, here’s a few recipe cards: 

Very Spicy Chili Verde

I'm not kidding. This is very spicy. You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. But if you like it hotsy totsy, this is your recipe.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for cooking

For the salsa verde:

  • 4 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 habañero peppers
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 medium onions
  • 12 tomatillos
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro (optional)

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.

  3. Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add water or chicken broth.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

 

Greek chicken skewers

Serve with yogurt sauce. Add pita and rice pilaf or stuffed grape leaves for a nice meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 pints grape tomatoes
  • 5 red onions, cut into wedges

For the marinade:

  • 4 lemons zested and juiced
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1-2 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and let it marinate for at least three hours.

  2. When you are ready to cook, thread the marinated chicken onto skewers, alternating with tomatoes and onion.

  3. Grill over coals or broil in a pan in the oven until slightly charred.

  4. Serve with yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 217: I got sunshine on a curdy day

Hi! Back in the saddle again. Suppers last week were haphazard while I was working on the kitchen renovation, and this week because . . . I don’t know, it was hot. The best recipes in today’s post are a little vague. Sorry!

Oh, I do have one neat dish to tell you about from last week, from our July 4th party: Shrimp skewers. 

I defrosted a bunch of raw shrimp and pulled the shells off, then skewered them with cherry tomatoes, and set the skewers to marinate in a ton of lime juice, some olive oil, lots of red pepper flakes and coarsely-chopped cilantro, and salt. Then Damien grilled them over the coals. So good. Exactly what I was hoping for.

I wanted some nice charred corn on the cob to go with it, but the corn has been terrible this year. Just puny and terrible. Is this true all over the country? 

SATURDAY
Steak! Mussels! 

Steak and mussels were both super cheap, so I bought them both, planning a special Sunday meal. I did the grocery shopping on Saturday, just to test the waters and see if everyone was still being maskless idiots in the stores on Saturdays. O MY BRETHREN, THEY WERE. Then I got the bonus of discovering that, if you want to go to confession that’s not in a small, sealed-up confessional box where six people have just been in before you without masks, you have to make a special appointment to accommodate your very special request. Bah.

I got home pretty hot and upset. I was planning hot dogs for supper, but Damien reminded me that mussels really need to be cooked asap, so that is what the man did, but not before he insisted I climb into the pool with a can of beer.

Fleischer Studios / Public domain
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Superman_presentation.jpg

For the steaks, he liberally seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, and cooked them rare over the coals. Magnifico. I wish I had bought some crusty bread to sop up all the wonderful juices, but it was such a good meal. This pic does not do it justice, either in quality or quantity. I ate so much.

He made the mussels in a pot on the stove. His recipe: “Heat up a little red pepper flakes and olive oil, then cook up a diced onion in it, throw in some salt, and when the onion is soft, add white wine (actually we had vermouth) and a stick of butter and lemon juice, then throw in the mussels and another stick of butter and a little more wine and lemon juice, and simmer until the mussels open up.”

I seriously ate like a pound of steak and four hundred mussels, and then I drank the juice right out of the bowl.

SUNDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Sunday was . . . what. It was so hot and I found humanity so disappointing. I decided a lemon blueberry tart would make things better. But it was so hot! So I tried to put together a no-oven tart. It, too, was a little disappointing, in part because I used an unbaked graham cracker shell, which is just not very delicious. But the lemon part was good, and working in my nice new lemon-colored kitchen was very good indeed. 

I used this recipe for microwaved lemon curd. It was time consuming because I was making so much of it, but a normal amount would be a quick and easy project. Will definitely make again. It is very creamy and tart. It firmed up nicely after a few hours in the fridge, and turned out just as well as a curd that you stirred for eleven hours over a hot stove. I love lemon curd so much.

As I took this picture, I remember thinking, “We’re so fancy now! I don’t even have to carefully crop out the horrific parts of my kitchen, because all of it is nice!” Then as I uploaded it today, I noticed there is a flosser on the floor. OH WELL. Nice curd, though, eh?

I used this recipe for the blueberry topping, also microwaved, but I didn’t have quite enough corn starch, so it was quite soupy, and I ended up ladling it over the tart, rather than dishing up wedges of a two-layered beauty, as I envisioned.

Someday, SOMEDAY, I will make this lovely Rothoko-esque blueberry lemon curd tart. But not when it’s hot! 

MONDAY
Pulled pork, cole slaw, biscuits

The pulled pork, in keeping with life in general, was lackluster. I threw a hunk of pork in the slow cooker with some Coke, salt, garlic cloves, and some random dried peppers I found in my spice rack. I ended up adding bottled sauce after shredding it. 

My idea was to make giant biscuits that could be used to make little pork sandwiches, but I think this recipe I’ve been using does better with smaller biscuits. It’s still a good recipe, very fluffy inside with a very thin, buttery shell. But the big biscuits didn’t get very lofty.

Still a tasty summer meal.  

I was able to make most of it in the morning before things got too busy and hot. I put the dry ingredients for the biscuits together early on, then right before supper I added the wet and baked them. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday. More importantly, puppy Tuesday! 

Presenting Santino, called Sonny.

He is an eight-week-old boxer and he’s pretty great. Settling right in.

There will be more pictures. BELIEVE IT. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese on sourdough, carrots and dip

Actually Dora made supper while I brought someone to the walk-in (well, hobble-in) clinic with a puppy-related sprained ankle. Not broken, whew! I made my own sandwich when we got home and I put pickles right in with it, because no one can stop me. 


THURSDAY

Borthday! The borthday child requested calzoni, and brownie sundaes with bananas. 

I forgot to take calzone pictures. Here is my basic filling recipe.

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You can definitely fiddle with the proportions. This time I had barely any parmesan, but tons of mozzarella. I had four balls of pizza dough, enough to make sixteen calzoni, assuming no one absconds with one of the lumps of dough, which someone did. Or perhaps I sat in it and it’s still stuck to my ass and I haven’t noticed yet. Here is a calzonus of ages past:

We’re gonna work up some kind of safely distanced party soon, but we did get to the town pond after dinner, and no one was there but us chickens. 

And now we have five teenagers in the house again. Good thing we like teenagers!

She asked for pirate boots for her big present, which made me feel like we are doing something right. 

FRIDAY
Giant pancake with blueberries; scrambled eggs

Plenty of leftover blueberries! 

And now I need to get hopping on the kitchen sink backsplash and a little extra shelving, and, dun dun dunnnn, the ceiling. Well, I will not be hopping on the ceiling, but you know what I mean. I ordered a bunch of polystyrene panels and I am just going to slap them up there in the most amateurish way I can get away with. Maybe I will use a staple gun. Maybe I will use bubble gum. My main goal is to make only one trip to Home Depot, and that’s it. I know in my heart that there’s no such thing as only one trip to Home Depot, but I’m gonna try.

Calzones

This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones

Ingredients

  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  

What’s for supper? Vol. 216: Okay by me in America

Eek, I missed a week again! My weekly menu is such a mess, because I’m still shopping on Tuesdays, both to avoid unmasked weekend crowds and to leave the weekend free for other stuff. It turns out the Saturday Shopping Trip was the cornerstone of everyone’s existence, and when I shop on Tuesday, the family’s sense of time and place becomes a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives, but not in the good way! 

Anyway, last last week, the most exciting thing we had was on Father’s Day, when we had steak, four honest to goodness bloomin’ onions, and oysters. 

We like our oysters with a squeeze of lemon, a dab of horseradish, and/or a spot of Tabasco sauce. If you’re wondering how one procures fresh oysters in NH, the answer is we have eighteen whole miles of coast, that’s how. Actually these were from Massachusetts, though, which is right next door. Gosh, I love oysters. I think part of the allure is that tingly “I’m not sure I should be putting this in my mouth!” feeling, like when you would forage edible weeds from a parking lot as a kid. 

Okay, now for the bloomin’ onion. I will never understand why restaurants stopped serving these magnificent, community-building appetizers. These days, you can order a loose heap of “onion petals” at some places, which is so feeble and pointless, it makes me want to wreck the place up. 

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Behold:

Sometimes it takes the perspective of a foreigner to help you appreciate your own culture. 

THEN, one of these turned up for $3 at the Salvation Army.

I was skeptical that it should call itself a “machine,” but once I went through the whole process, I was convinced that there was so way you could replicate this thing with clever knife work, so, machine it is. 

I posted this on my local plant identification group, but it was promptly deleted. They didn’t throw me out, though, which I thought was sporting.

So you slice the top off and peel the skin off, then you hollow out the middle, and place it on the cutter and slam the top down. Then, as Spike says, you have to let it soak in ice water for an hour so it keeps its shape. Looks rather mystical bobbing around with the ice.

Then you coat it with seasoned flour, and then you have to carefully work the beer batter in between all the petals. Then you deep fry it. You have to kind of smoosh it up side down to get the petals to separate and fry separately. I had a video, but I seem to have deleted it. It’s on Instagram, though. You can follow me on Instagram if you want. I’m just as annoying there as I am everywhere else. 

My oil wasn’t quite hot enough, and I think I was supposed to do one final snipping of the base after frying, so the petals come off more easily. We ended up having to wrestle with them a bit. But it was pretty, pretty, pretty good. 

I’m not gonna lie, it was a ton of work. But I can see making a few of these once a year or so. (I made four.)

The kids liked it, and I found a good snappy dipping sauce that replicates the restaurant sauce. I can find the batter and seasoned flour recipes for you if you want, but only if you want!

Oh, and the steak was fantastic. They had something called “underblade steak” on sale, and wow, it was great. Damien made one of his miscellaneous spice rubs and grilled them rare. Perfection. 

I don’t know what the recipe is. The recipe is “have a man who knows how to cook a steak and will do it for you on father’s day.”

Okay, on to this week! or last week! Whatever!

Actually I’m in such a rush today. So I’ll do another highlights reel, based on my camera roll:

At some point we had grilled pork chops and rice.

It was supposed to be gochujang pork (just the sauce slathered on the pork, skipping the carrots and onions)

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but I think I got lazy and asked Damien to take over, and he used one of his nice sugar rubs.

 

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The secret ingredient was FIRE.

I don’t think we had a single damn vegetable all week. Except four onions. 

Looks like our old friend banh mi made an appearance.

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This surely is the queen of all sandwiches.

Actually I always think whichever sandwich I’m currently eating is the best, but pork banh mi on a toasted baguette with pickled carrots, cucumbers, lots of cilantro, and some sriracha mayo, with pineapple on the side, is truly spectacular. 

Then at some point I tried a new recipe from Kathy Gunst this week: Grilled chicken with a minty cilantro marinade.

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The marinade is mint, scallions, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I love stuffing the food processor with leaves the kids brought in from outside.

So I just slathered it on some thighs and drumsticks and let it marinate a few hours, and Damien grilled it, and you squeeze a little lemon over it when it’s cooked. Clara made a few pans of oven roasted potatoes, and I sliced up a watermelon. Lovely summery meal. 

Let’s see, what else? We had a string of very, very late nights and my brain really started to disintegrate toward the end of the week. First we had some of this action:

A few months ago, we tried to trap this  bastard that keeps strewing our garbage everywhere. He is very clever and always managed to swipe the bait without getting trapped. So we gave up, and the trap was just lying there for weeks.

Until last week. Suddenly, around 2 a.m. I start hearing this horrendous distress call but about eleven times louder, interspersed with yelps and screams, right under my window. I didn’t know what the hell was going on, so, like any red blooded American woman, I woke up my husband, who graciously charged outside shirtless and armed with a flashlight and a BB gun. There was a lot of clattering and growling and general noises of man vs. nature, and then I heard him say, “Ohhh, I see.” Which was when he discovered that our favorite raccoon had become a parent, and one of those raccoon children had not inherited the family brains, but had gotten caught in the unbaited trap for no reason at all, and the distress calls had summoned about four valiant siblings who panicked and started knocking stuff over and charging around in confusion. Eventually Damien released the one in the trap and they all went away for the night.

Then the next night, we had a kid in the ER until 3 a.m. She is fine, but 3 a.m. is what we forty-five-year-olds like to call BULLSHIT. It’s just bullshit! But you know, that doesn’t stop blood sugar alarms from going off, and it doesn’t stop the cat from worming his way through a loose screen in the middle of the night and then yarping and yowling to be let in at, you guessed it, 3 a.m. He did this five nights in a row and he was soaking wet and in need of comfort each time. And I had to drive an hour to the pediatric endocrinologist in a pounding rain storm, and I had to admit that we got juice on her insulin pump receiver and I don’t know how to reset it because I am stupid, and even though I’ve made this trip a dozen times, I made a total of FOUR wrong turns. You know, I am very grateful we have a world class hospital only an hour away, but the trip has some kinda not-my-favorite associations with it. Friggin’ place where my grandmother died slowly and my father almost died several times and my daughter almost died, and the place where they thought I might have cancer and the place where we thought Corrie had Trisomy 13 and I guess when I’m driving there, my brain is just like, no, we will go this other way, instead. But, we did get home eventually, and this time nobody died. Just the opposite, in fact: Everybody is still alive! Hooray!

I forget what I was talking about. Oh, food. 

Well, Benny had her heart set on making “buried treasure muffins” from the cookbook she got for her birthday, and my life was ruined anyway, so that happened. It is just a basic muffin recipe, but you spoon in half the batter, then put in a “treasure,” then spoon more batter top, before baking. Very nice.

She made them almost all by herself, except for working out the math of a triple recipe.

And she let Corrie help and didn’t lose her temper, which earns her a medal. We decided to use fresh cherries instead of jelly as the buried treasure. Here is my Benny Rabbit explaining how to get the pit out of a cherry. There is supposed to be a video here. I hope it shows up. 

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Oh yeah, and I cut Benny’s hair. She is eight, and this was her first haircut. I’M FINE.

Clara also did tons of baking this week. She made buns and scones and cookies and I forget what else. It’s a miracle I didn’t gain a hundred pounds during this lockdown. 

Yesterday, I ended up being out so late, I asked the kids to scrounge up something for supper, and Lena made scrambled eggs in tortillas with hot sauce, which I happen to find delicious. Damien was out taking pictures of Ghislaine Maxwell’s house and interview locals for a story he was doing for . . . The Miami Herald? And he found out he has to testify in a right to know lawsuit, and I won an award from the Catholic Press Association for my marriage and family column. It was a weird day. And I found out the liquor store is still closing early, but I squeaked in. 

Okay, so now it’s July 3 and we decided to cancel our giant annual Independence Day family reunion party. This was one of my dad’s favorite days. When he died in April and we couldn’t have a family funeral or wake, we thought that surely by July, everything would be back to normal and we’d have the greatest July 4th party ever in his memory. Ho ho ho. Ah well. Next year. I am missing him a lot. Sorry, this isn’t a very good food blog this week.

But here is what we have on the menu for July 4th. Yes, this is just for our family. It’s America, dammit, and you can’t make us stop eating.

Grilled brats with onions three ways
Cheeseburgers
Sugar rub chicken thighs
Some kind of shrimp skewers, possibly Mexican
Potato salad
Grilled corn on the cob
Every kind of chip known to mankind
Watermelon boats filled with fruit salad, possible in pirate ship (patriotic pirate ship) form 
Red, white, and blue jello cups with berries
Chocolate and vanilla frozen pudding cups with whipped cream
Ice cream
Dark and stormies

And we have fireworks with ludicrous names, and no end of sparklers. And as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to move all the furniture out of the kitchen because I’m going to put new linoleum down, which we want to get done before next week, BECAUSE . . . . we’re getting a boxer puppy next Saturday.

Not entirely to put the cat in his place, but it couldn’t hurt.

***

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

Pork banh mi


Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 12 Tbs sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 4 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1.5 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

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. 

Ingredients

  • 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 sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. 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.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

 

Kathy Gunst's cilantro mint chicken

Ingredients

  • 12-18 chicken pieces with skin on
  • lemon wedges (optional)

for marinade:

  • 1 bunch scallions, greens and white, chopped
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh mint (about 80 leaves)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • juice of four lemons
  • cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Blend all marinade ingredients together in food processor to make a lumpy marinade. Slather all over the chicken and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

  2. Grill or broil the chicken.

  3. Serve with lemon slices to squeeze over the cooked chicken.

What’s for supper? Vol. 215: The plural of clafoutis

Doesn’t it seem like we just did this? We did! And now we’re doing it again. 

SATURDAY
Pizza

No memory of Saturday. Oh, I think we were sifting piles of dirt through a metal grate to get the rocks out, and I sent a kid in to make six pizzas. Think of that, moms still stuck in babyland! Someday you will be able to send a kid in to make dinner for 12 so you can stay outside and keep doing what you want to do (even if it’s sifting dirt through a metal grate). Hang in there.

SUNDAY
Shawarma

I set the meat and onions to marinate the night before. Normally I use boneless thigh meat, which I think is the best for chicken shawarma,

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but since Damien was grilling, I got bone-in, skin-on thighs. 

Always a delightful meal. I was planning to make fried eggplant, but had stupidly left the eggplants on the windowsill, so of course they went bad. Secretly relieved I didn’t have to fry anything. It’s really an easy and delicious recipe, but frying is frying. 

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Anyway, we had spent the day moving eleven tons of sand, and sitting down seemed best. 

MONDAY
Beef burritos with guacamole

I have only ever eaten frozen burritos before, so I didn’t honestly know what a good burrito was supposed to taste like. The price of beef has shot up ridiculously, so I had two of those awful chubs of ground beef.

I fried it up with fresh garlic and lots of chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cumin. I wanted to make it relatively mild for the pickier kids.

I made up a bunch of guacamole

 

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and a bunch of beans and rice

 

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which I made somewhat hotter than usual with the addition of some chilis in adobo sauce. 

And that’s it. I had mine with some cheese and sour cream. There may be some salsa buried in there, too; who can say. 

I thought it was tasty. I definitely didn’t need more than one. 

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, chips, veg and dip/graduation dinners

On Tuesday we got caught up with celebratory graduation dinners, and took Moe (who graduated from high school) and Sophia (who graduated from eighth grade) out to the restaurant of their choice, which turned out to be a moderately-priced family sandwich place. Works for me! I had something called an Italian Stallion, which, to my disappointment, included no stallion meat at all.

WEDNESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad; plum and peach clafoutis

Simple salad for a hot day: Mixed greens, broiled chicken, feta cheese, toasted almonds, and blueberries. I forgot to get red onions, but those are good on this salad. I had mine with wine vinegar. 

It being June, I attempted to get fancy with the plating:

Turns out it’s harder than it looks to strew wildflowers in a way that looks natural, but does not look like you are actually eating daisies. 

The meal seemed a little skimpy, and we had a house full of lovely fruit, so I made two . . . well, I made a clafoutis, and then, while I was at it, I made another clafoutis. I could look up the plural, but where’s the fun in that?

A clafoutis is a very simple baked custard with whatever you want in it.

 

Jump to Recipe

You can add chocolate and hazelnuts, grapes if you’re crazy, bananas if you’re a sociopath, or pears or apples if you’re not sick and tired of apples, or I guess cherries is the most famous kind. I did actually have cherries, but did not feel like pitting them. So I made one with plums and one with peaches.

Aren’t they gorgeous? The batter takes like three minutes to make, but they do have to bake for about forty minutes. You can eat them warm or cold. I, ahem, did both, over the course of 24 hours.

We sifted some powdered sugar on top before we ate them, and they were absolutely delicious, and so beautiful. Sometimes the kids get mad at me for ruining fruit by baking it, but not this time.

 

La pêche:

 

 

Out of sheer honesty, not everyone likes clafoutis. Two of my favorite things in the world are custard and fruit, but I’m not everybody. But the kids were mostly in favor of it. 

THURSDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, chips, Rainier cherries

Everybody likes these sandwiches. I bought four long baguettes and a combination of cheap and expensive cheeses and meats. I made tons and tons of olive salad with green and black olives, a few jars of giardinera, and several cloves of garlic, all chopped up in the food processor with olive oil and ground pepper.

Everyone’s happy when I call them to dinner and the table looks like this:

 

You can make this a hot sandwich, but we absolutely did not want to turn the oven on. Everybody got some chips and some rainier cherries, and I had my sandwich outside. 

 

OH SUMMERTIME. Oh sandwichtime. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Nothing fancy. Just frozen battered fish, avocados, shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Maybe I will make some lime crema. And maybe we will put the AC in today! 

Oh, this is your annual reminder that frozen grapes are very good indeed. Just wash them and shake off the excess water and put them in the freezer. I like red grapes the best for this. It’s a beautifully refreshing little sweet treat for the hot weather, better than ice cream. 

And fine, I looked it up. The plural of “clafoutis” is “clafoutis.” As it should be.

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add sliced or quartered onions and chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

1/2 cup veg oil for frying

2 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. 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. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. 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.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

 

 

 

Clafoutis

a simple baked custard, usually with fruit. Very easy to make, very pretty. This recipe makes two round 9-inch clafoutis, but you can make individual custards in ramekins if you like.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • any kind of fruit you like
  • confectioner's sugar for sifting on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. In a bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and butter. Add the flour in gradually (sifting it into the bowl if you want to make it really smooth) and beat the batter until it is smooth.

  3. Pour the batter into two pie pans. Then carefully add the fruit on top, distributing it evenly or making a design if you like.

  4. Bake about 40 minutes until the center is soft but not jiggly. The top should be slightly browned.

  5. Serve immediately, or chill to eat later. Sift confectioner's sugar on top before serving.

What[wa]’s for supper [last week]? Vol. 214: The highlight reel

I didn’t do a What’s for Supper? last week. I didn’t actually publish anything last week. Turns out I can actually be shut up! For a week. But that’s it. 

Here’s the yummiest meals we had: 

SUNDAY
Beef koftas and Jerusalem salad

Something new for us. Koftas are ground meat, onions, and seasonings formed onto sticks and then grilled. Wikipedia says “Kofta is a family of meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent, South Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian cuisines.” But that’s it! Nowhere else! I read a bunch of recipes from various regions and concluded that you could add anything but grape jelly and consider it an authentic recipe. (After I wrote this, I dreamed that I saw someone making koftas with grape jelly, and I thought, “Dammit, now I have to fix that paragraph.” But it was just a dream. If my father were here, he would comment, “I dreamt I was making koftas in my Maidenform bra.” There was always a Maidenform bra joke.)

Since it was our first time, I decided to keep them relatively bland. I used ground beef (I mean lamb is like $15 a pound), onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and za’atar. It is bound together with, uh, wet toast.

FABOLOUS.

Sidenote: if you don’t have a food processor, may I suggest you slap on your mask and hop on over the Salvation Army and find yourself one? Don’t be a snob, get the one in Harvest Yellow with the missing foot, as long as it works. Having a food processor has expanded my cooking so much. If my brother Izzy read my blog, I’d made a coulis joke here, but he doesn’t, so I won’t. 

Anyway, for the koftas, I combined the ingredients very thoroughly, smooshed the meat mixture onto the skewers as tightly as I could, and refrigerated them for several hours, but many of them still fell apart when Damien grilled them. He ended up using an oiled cast iron griddle on the grill. They were EXTREMELY tasty and juicy, really bursting with flavor. The kids really liked them, which means I can probably get away with turning up the spice next time. 

There is a technique wherein you extrude the meat through the neck of a soda bottle, too. 

It’s not any uglier than me just smooshing it on with my hands, and probably somewhat less horrible than me inserting cheese into sausages. 

I have my doubts about the part where he puts some cheese on the grill and then just rolls the cheese up around the meat. I guarantee you, that wouldn’t work if I tried it. BUT, look at the part where he dips it in yogurt sauce and then rolls it in french fried onions! I don’t know. Maybe it would be a case of potato tornados all over again, and I’m not ready to relive that.

Anyway, the koftas we made were swell, if not exactly beautiful to behold. I made plenty of yogurt sauce, and a nice Jerusalem salad on the side.

Jerusalem salad is just tomatoes and cucumbers, parsley and red onions. I squeezed a few lemons over it and drizzled a little olive oil on it, and maybe some kosher salt, I forget. Maybe some mint. We have no end of wild mint in the yard, so I hope I put mint in. 

MONDAY
Chicken nachos

I’m including this meal because it was way more delicious than it should have been. I came up with it on the fly when I was at Aldi and discovered that the price of ground beef had gone up over a dollar a pound. They had some kind of frozen chicken tenderloins, whatever those are, so I bought a bunch. 

I honestly didn’t think anyone would like this meal, but it was quite popular. I cooked the chicken in the Instant Pot with WATER. I remember being tired at the time. Then I pulled it out of the water, shredded it up, and put a disgusting amount of Tajin chili lime powder on it. 

I put the chicken on chips and sprinkled a disgusting amount of cheese over that, and put it in a hot oven until the cheese was melted. I set out sliced jalapeños, sour cream, salsa, limes, and queso which I had microwaved. 

Look at that queso, glowing in the twilight. 

TUESDAY
Grilled sugar rub pork ribs, cole slaw, biscuits

Damien uses some variation of this sugar rub

Jump to Recipe

for all kinds of meat. He says the most important parts are the sugar, garlic, and chili powder, and then everything else is whatever he has on hand. 

These ribs turned out SO GOOD. Look at that lustrous caramelized sugar. It’s sweet and hot and charred, just magnificent, and comes out so juicy. 

I made this biscuit recipe again and it turned out just as good this time, so it’s definitely a keeper. It has eggs and cream of tartar, which I’ve never seen in biscuits before, but gosh, it works. I made twelve big biscuits and cut the rest of the dough into squares, which amused me. 

Very basic cole slaw, just cabbage, mayo, vinegar, sugar, pepper. Tastes like summer. Here’s a slightly more complicated recipe I use sometimes:

Jump to Recipe

THURSDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, pasta salad, tiramisu

It was Dora’s birthday, and this was her requested meal. I grilled the chicken and served it on ciabatta rolls with fresh sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and freshly-ground salt and pepper. 

She made herself a pasta salad using those Frankie’s Oils with some nice feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Damien made tiramisu, and we forgot to get rum, and the espresso pot was missing a part. Guess what? It’s just as good with whiskey and strong coffee. I only got a crummy picture, but it was creamy and lovely and delicious. 

Okay, that’s it for last week’s foods. Recipe cards below. 

Oh, and yesterday a kid asked to visit the newly re-opened Salvation Army, so we went. GUESS WHAT I FOUND FOR THREE DOLLARS.

AS SEEN ON TV. 

So, hold onto your butts. 

 

koftas

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 3 onions
  • 1 head (head, not clove) garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 5 slices bread
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp zataar

Instructions

  1. Put the wooden skewers in water to soak for about thirty minutes before you plan to form the kebabs.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and chop it.

  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and add the chopped onion mixture to it.

  4. Toast the bread, then put it in a bowl with warm water to soften it. Squeeze the water out and add that to the bowl with the meat.

  5. Add in the seasonings and squish it up with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined.

  6. Using your hands, form logs of meat around the skewers. They should be about an inch and a half in diameter.

  7. Grill over coals if you can. If they fall apart too much, you can cook them on a hot oiled griddle, or broil them. Turn to brown all sides.

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

 

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix.