Happy new year! If I had stayed on track back in October, I would have hit Vol. 200 of What’s For Supper right on Christmas. Instead, here we are, starting out the new year and new decade with . . . Vol. 197. The good news is, I won’t wake up at 3:45 a.m. feeling bad about this, because I’ll be too busy feeling terrible about not doing a podcast, not exercising, why is my fat head so fat, not inculcating my kids with a love of the saints and the arts, and the fact that one of them saw a bumper sticker that said “GOD BLESS JOHNNY CASH” and disagreed. Also, one of them heard Bob Dylan for the first time and said, “Who crawled into a hole and found this guy crouching there?” but I can’t really argue with that.
Anyway, here’s what we had this week, spanning 2019 and 2020 or whatever it is:
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, broccoli and dip
I had to spell “broccoli” three times before the red line went away.
Hamburgers, cheezy weezies, more broccoli
I ate broccoli with the fervor of someone who needs vegetables like fresh meat needs salt and vegetables.
Beef barley soup, jelly donuts
Monday was the last night of Hanukkah–
Wait, did I show you my lovely latkes? I guess that was during that weird in-between week after Christmas day, during Hanukkah, before New Year’s. Weird, man. Anyway, we have some lovely latkes, which I will now show to you:
It was a Friday and we finally decided that Friday within the octave of Christmas was a very nice day indeed, but not a solemnity, so it had to be meatless. I dunno, we get scrupey sometimes. But I really wanted latkes, so I went to the store and brought home the following side dishes: Frozen cheese blintzes, which I served with blackberry jam; frozen cheesy bread sticks, which I served with marinara sauce; crab cakes with lemon wedges; almond stollen; and crackers with sour cream, smoked salmon, and caviar. This is how we preserve Fridays as a day of penance and I don’t want to talk about it.
Latke recipe card at the end. See my latkes! See my lovely latkes!
Gosh, they were so good. Crispy on the outside and soft and mealy inside, just right.
Okay, so I was saying how Monday was my final chance to try making jelly donuts. (It’s traditional to eat foods cooked in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days in the temple lamps.) I didn’t feel lucky about using yeast, so I found this King Arthur recipe for easy donut holes that just uses baking powder. It really was easy. (I did use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil was hot enough, and was very surprised at how long it took to come to 350. If I had been winging it, I would have started frying much too soon.)
You just mix up the batter (and if it seems too thin, let it sit for a bit, and it becomes more dough-like) and blop it into hot oil. It puffs into cute little balls,
which you then roll in sugar and fill with jelly.
Actually the recipe says to put the jelly in first and then roll them in sugar, which makes no sense to me.
See, you get sugar on your jelly. It’s weird.
It also makes no sense to attempt to make jelly donuts when the most advanced jelly-squirting equipment you own is a sandwich bag, and yet that is what I did.
They became somewhat less cute in the process, but the kids did like them, so I may make it a tradition. But I will make sure I have some kind of pastry bag or injecting tool, because yeesh, what a mess.
Oh, the soup was good. Beef barley soup is always good.
Jelly donuts were a strangely good match for the soup, I thought. Although I may have become deranged from breathing in hot oil. Honest to goodness, Hanukkah is going to kill me. Don’t tell my doctor. Tell him about the broccoli.
NYE Sushi party!
I took most of the kids to the vigil mass while Damien and Lena covered some political thing. Corrie was . . . she wasn’t even being bad. She was just being Ultra Corrie. Right at the elevation of the Host, she turned to me with a scratch pad picture clenched in her teeth, and, through clenched teeth, said, “This is a picture of you, dead.” Which it was.
Then we came home and STARTED MAKING SUSHI. This is our New Year’s Eve tradition, and I like it. Normally we make DIY sushi cones (which just means you take a sheet of seaweed, slap some rice in one corner, poke whatever you want on top of the rice, and then roll or wad it up and stick it in your mouth; but this year, I attempted actual rolled sushi. It wasn’t that hard, with a bamboo rolling mat, but you can see, these are a little rough.
Oops, forgot the fishy eggs! Shprinkle, shrpinkle, fishy eggs.
Next year I’ll watch some videos first, but we muddled through. I also bought a few kits of something called sushi candy, which turned out to be plastic trays with little packets of powder marked “tuna,” “seaweed,” “rice,” etc. , and you mixed the contents with water from a little dropper and used a tiny plastic paddle to make various kinds of gelatinous heaps of gel that actually resembled tuna, seaweed, rice, etc. Then you could shape them into sushi. It was simultaneously ingenious and very terrible, which has been my experience with every single kind of Asian candy.
I made a batch of good rice (Nishiki brand. They look like mother of pearl) and mixed it gently with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (I cooked eight cups of raw rice and used 1 cup of rice vinegar, half a cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of salt. You put the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a pot and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then fold it gently into the cooked rice while someone stands there fanning it with a paper plate so it doesn’t make the rice mushy). The Instant Pot makes great, sticky rice for sushi.
We had raw salmon and raw tuna, seared mahi mahi, sautéed calamari, black caviar (couldn’t find any of that neat red-orange roe), little cooked shrimpies, sticks of cucumbers, avocado, and mango; wasabi sauce, sriracha mayo, pickled ginger, and of course soy sauce. We needed more crunchy elements. Maybe next time I will do a shrimp tempura. Or even just toast up some panko flakes. You know, it takes a lot of sushi to make twelve people feel like they ate too much, but we managed.
We did make a bunch of hot dogs just to make sure everyone had something to eat (and this accounts for the bottle of ketchup you may see in some photos! We may be uncultured swine, but we do not put ketchup on our sushi). Then, according to tradition, we watched a Marx Brothers movie. This time it was A Night At the Opera, one of the best. Boogie boogie boogie!
Calzones, banana splits
Birthday! She was the first child born in that city on New Year’s Day. They sent a reporter and photographer to the hospital and tried to get me to say that it wasn’t a big deal because we already had a bunch of other babies. I remember saying that it was a big deal, though, so there. Sophia is still a big deal, and always will be.
We went to see a Star War (and I am exactly the right level of Star Wars fan, which means that I had a vague idea of who most of the people were, and found the movie entertaining and nice, and then as soon as the lights came on, I forgot about everything I just saw) and then came home for calzones and banana splits. A few of them spilled their guts in the pan
But most of them retained their dignity.
Corrie helped me with the egg wash, which she called “polish.”
The high school kids had to go back to school on Thursday, can you believe it? The other kids were still on vacation, and had an “argh, vacation is almost over and we didn’t have enough fun” sleepover. I went to visit my mom and somehow persuaded myself that I’d be back in town in time to take the little guys to the caterpillar lab thing, but I barely had time to buy extra meat and fry it up before dinner. You can see that I went all out with the exotic seasonings.
Today, caterpillar lab o morte.
And very find pahster it was. I decided I didn’t want to deal with caterpillars, and we went to the children’s museum instead. Here is a photo of Benny and Corrie, intergalactic heroes, running out of oxygen shortly before crashing into the sun.
(Ten years later, they returned triumphantly to earth with a dog they had rescued from space, so don’t worry!)
And here are your recipe cards! Smell you next week.
Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes
- 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
- 6 eggs beaten
- 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying
Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well.
Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying.
Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.
Take handfuls of potato mixture and squeeze out any excess moisture. Flatten mixture slightly and lay them in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven.
Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices.
Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)
Makes about a gallon of lovely soup
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
- 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 6 cups beef bouillon
- 1 cup merlot or other red wine
- 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
- 1 cup uncooked barley
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened.
Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley.
If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary.
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.
- 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.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix together filling ingredients.
Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate.
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.
Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends.
Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones.
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.
Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.