. . . not necessarily especially brown, but actually just named after a hotel.
I swear this seemed like a joke in my head.
Anyway, here’s what we ate this week:
Turkey sandwiches, spanakopita triangles, chips
The last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Not spectacular sandwiches, just a split baguette with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss cheese.
Damien reheated the last of the spanakopita triangles, and even though they’re amazing when they’re piping hot fresh out of the oven the first time, they’re still pretty darn good when they’re a little soft and old and leftover. As who among us is not.
If you’re having a party in December, I do heartily recommend spanakopita triangles. They’re easy to make if you get ready made phyllo dough (what are you, crazy? of course get ready made) and they come out great if you make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until the guests are almost there, and then you just pop them in the oven.Jump to Recipe
Green masala beef curry, rice, naan
I had bought a couple of of those weirdly cheap lamb breast plates several weeks ago, and threw it in the freezer, planning to make this excellent green masala curry. I also picked up a few extra lamb chops just to make sure there was enough meat.
So, but, when it was time to cook, the lamb just did not smell right. I inquired on social media, and most folks claimed lamb is supposed to smell weird. Gamey, metallic, and so on, especially if the butcher wasn’t careful and let the wool contact the meat, giving it a lanolin flavor. I just kept sniffing and sniffing it, and I wasn’t sure if it was normal-weird or rancid-weird.
Then I recalled that a few kids already had a stomach bug even before eating potentially bad meat, and I threw that meat away. No ragrets. I had been planning to make beef barley soup later in the week, so I cut up the beef I have saving and used that instead of mutton.
This is quite an easy recipe. I ground up everything in my food processor and set it to marinate with the meat in the morning. Then the only thing left to do is wake up some spices in oil (I didn’t have everything, just cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves)
and then add the meat and marinade, and let it cook.
I do prefer lamb or goat, but the beef was great. Extremely tender, and the sauce is lovely, not too spicy but very warming. I actually did quite a few substitutions: I had black cardamom instead of green; I forgot jalapeños, so I just threw some green Tobasco sauce in there; and I forgot cilantro, so I used Italian parsley and extra mint (I had some of those cubes of frozen mint I saved from before the frost). I forgot the poppy seeds, and of course it was beef instead of mutton. STILL GOOD. Indian cooking is so forgiving.
I decided we wanted homemade naan, so I pulled up the King Arthur recipe and made a double batch. It needs about an hour to rise, and then you separate the dough into balls
and let it rest for twenty minutes. Then you just fry each one on both sides in a hot pan, and brush it with butter or ghee
I find it helpful to keep a damp cloth by the stove to wipe the flour out of the pan in between each piece. Otherwise, it just hangs around and gets black and makes your naan taste burnt when it isn’t.
I put the naan in a pan and kept it warm in the oven, but I forgot to cover it, so some of them were a little too crisp and dry by the time it was dinner; but a lot of the were still chewy and reasonably tender. Nothing I bake really comes out very tender, but fresh hot naan is fresh hot naan!
I splurged on basmati rice and made a big pot of that. I moved the meat into a pot on the stove, and used the Instant Pot to make the basmati rice. I did a 1:1 with rinsed rice and water, taking out a bit of the water afte measuring, to compensate for what would be on the rice after rinsing it; and I cooked it for ten minutes with ten minutes of natural release before venting. And we had a lovely meal.
I want to try more Indian recipes, but the few I have are so tasty, I just keep coming back to them. Maybe next week!
Turkey barley soup, hot pretzels
When I pulled the last turkey off the Thanksgiving bird over the weekend, I simmered the carcass all day in water with carrots, onions, and parsley, thinking it would be nice to have some good stock for later. So I figured Monday counted as later, and just pulled that out again and threw some more carrots and a bunch of barley and some mushrooms in, and we had some okay soup.
I guess I just don’t like turkey soup that much. It was fine, just nothing to write home about. I heated up some frozen hot pretzels and it was fine.
Ham, mashed acorn squash, green beans with cashews
The kids were a little dismayed that I had not planned their ideal dinner, which is ham, peas, and mashed potatoes, but I’m not ready to mash potatoes again yet. Instead, I mashed squash! That’ll larn ’em!
I cut two acorn squashes in half, scooped out the seeds and gunk (and I saved the seeds! My empire of saved seeds continues to expand), sprinkled them with baking soda and a little kosher salt, and put them in the Instant Pot with half a cup of water. (The reasoning behind the baking soda is that it raises the pH of the squash, which hastens and deepens the caramelization that happens when you cook it. Does this really work? Nobody knows, but it’s so easy that I’m not gonna do an experiment and risk having slightly less flavorful squash.) I cooked the squash at high pressure for like 24 minutes.
I couldn’t find the little metal trivet that keeps the food from touching the bottom, so I put some mason jar rings in there under the squash, and it worked fine. Probably raised the pH even more, who can say.
Then I scooped them out, burning myself forty-six times; and then mashed it up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and cloves. The recipe I usually followJump to Recipe
calls for nutmeg, but it had disappeared. My kitchen is like a shifting mirage, where things drift in and out of reality without regard for the fact that I am trying to get supper on the table. But the cinnamon and cloves tasted great. I love this dish.
The ham was already cooked, so Damien heated it up the oven while I went to get the kids, and then while the squash was cooking, I made some quick string beans.
I had cashews left over from the green curry, so I chopped up a bunch. I trimmed the string beans and cooked them in boiling water for like four minutes. Then I drained them and ran cold water over them until they were cool. (This is because, when they get hot enough, they will continue cooking away inside their little skins, even if you take them out of the hot water, and they get overcooked very quickly; so you need to cook them just a little and then make sure they stop cooking!)
Then I heated up some olive oil in a pan, slightly browned up the chopped-up cashews, and added the string beans back in and kept them moving until they were hot. I guess I added salt and pepper at this point.
And it was a nice little meal!
If I had to do it over, I’d cook the string beans in butter, rather than oil. They were a little greasy. But still pretty good.
100% regular. I heard the kids reading the blackboard menu and commenting that “regular tacos” sounded a little suspicious, like probably I was trying a little too hard to lull them into thinking that it was going to be a normal meal, WHEN IT WASN’T. Joke’s on them: They really were just normal tacos. Everybody wins, except the taco.
Kentucky Hot Brown
So, in retrospect, what would have made my turkey soup better is if it had had more turkey in it. But actually I had pulled the meat off the carcass and frozen it, and then I took the meat out on Thursday to try this sandwich recipe. But because I’m the queen of making things hard on myself for no reason, preferably over the course of several days, the meat I saved was enough meat for soup, but not really enough for sandwiches. So we ended up with sub-par soup, and then I had to run out anyway and buy some chicken and roast it so we’d have enough meat for the sandwiches, which are perfect for when you have tons of leftover turkey in the house and you don’t know what to do with it, and/or you are crazy.
NEVERTHELESS, they were good sandwiches! I had some thick Italian bread which I toasted in the oven, and on top of that you put the turkey, then some sliced tomatoes, then a mornay sauce (which is just a white sauce with cheese in it. I used freshly grated parmesan, some cheddar, and a little pepper jack) with plenty of nutmeg (which had graciously appeared again), and then bacon on top of that.
You’re supposed to toast the whole thing under the broiler, but I forgot. Still good!
I made the mornay sauce in the pan that the bacon had been fried in, because fat.
Quesadillas I guess
I think I saw the writing on the wall (the writing saying “Mene mene you keep using up food that you meant to save for another meal, you dope!”) and, when I was making the mornay sauce, I actually hid some cheese from myself, so I would have some for the quesadillas and not have to go to the supermarket yet again. I don’t know where I hid it, but it’s gotta be in the fridge somewhere, and WHEN I FIND IT . . . I’m gonna make some quesadillas.
And that’s why they call me Kentucky Hot Brown. (They do not.)
- 1 lbs spinach
- 1 stick butter, plus 1 Tbsp for sautéing spinach
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups crumbled feta
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 roll phyllo dough, thawed
To make the filling:
In a big pan, melt the 1 Tbsp butter and sauté the spinach until it's soft. It will be a giant heap of greens at first, but it cooks way down and will fit in the pan when you're done!
Let the spinach cool and then squeeze out as much water as you can.
In a bowl, mix together the cooked spinach with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir in the feta until it's combined. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375
Melt the stick of butter and set it aside. You'll need it handy for assembling the triangles.
Unroll the phyllo dough and cover it with a slightly damp cloth to keep it from getting brittle. Take what you need and keep the rest of the stack covered.
To assemble the triangles:
Carefully lay a phyllo dough square on your workspace, long side horizontal. Brush it with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top of it and brush that with butter.
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into three strips.
Put a scoop of spinach mixture at the bottom of each strip. Then fold that section of dough up diagonally, enclosing the spinach, so it forms a triangle. Continue folding up to make triangles, like you'd fold a flag, until you reach the top of the dough. If you're having trouble figuring out how to fold it, here is a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVwA3i_tmKc&t=2s
If there's a bit of leftover dough on the triangle, fold it under. Lay the finished triangle on a baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with butter again.
Continue until the phyllo dough is gone. I made 18 pockets, two sheets thick, with one roll of phyllo dough, but you can change the proportions and make lots of smaller triangles if you like.
Bake about 25 minutes until golden brown. Let them sit in the pan for a moment before removing. Serve hot or cold.
Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn quashes
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.
Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.
When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.