What’s for supper? Vol. 129: In which I let the extra mile fend for itself

Can’t remember the last time I was so glad to see a week be over. The food was good, though. Here’s what we had (carb counts at the end of the post):

SATURDAY
Grilled ham, cheddar, and apple sandwiches; onion rings 

Sometimes you show up at Aldi, and in the place where there’s supposed to be those wonderful, heavy sourdough loaves, they just have a torn-up bag with some stale, loose bread sprinkled around on the shelf. So, with a heavy heart, you buy some ciabatta rolls instead, and ask your husband to make dinner.

Sliced cheddar cheese, deli ham, slices of Granny Smith apples, and a little mayonnaise on the outside to help it fry nicely. Lemon meringue pie was supposed to be for dessert, but I got started way too late. The onion rings were from frozen, obviously.

SUNDAY
Gochujang pork ribs, rice with nori, raw broccoli; lemon meringue pie

I set the pork to marinate the night before, using a double recipe of this sauce:

5 generous Tbs gochujang
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce
5 cloves minced garlic

But I didn’t feel like slicing the pork up, and I didn’t feel like slicing up carrots or onions, even though I had splurged on a real working $7 food processor from the Salivation Army. So I just dunked the meat in the sauce and walked away. I just walked away! Well, I sat on the couch and drank gin. On Sunday, Damien cooked the meat on the grill, and it was fab.

But someday soon, I’m going to go the whole nine yards and make bulgoki. We did have seaweed to wrap up the rice in. Guess who likes seaweed? The cat. Too bad.

I made some sort of promise regarding lemon meringue pie to a certain Amelia Bedelia fan, and it seemed like as good a time as any to get that over with. Oh lord, what a pain in the neck. I even bought ready-made crusts and bought boxes of pudding mix, but it still consumed far, far too much time. So much stirring! Meringue is pretty easy to make, though. I bought four boxes of pudding, for some reason, so I had way more pie filling than crust; so I filled up a bunch of ramekins.

Simcha Fisher, Person Who Owns Ramekins. Take that, alumni association.

MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips, strawberries

Nothing to report. I was expecting Damien home not too late, so I just made burgers for the kids, and set aside the ones for the adults to cook later. Then, after watching the kids tear into their burgers, I made myself a burger. What, do you want me to get anemic?

TUESDAY
Kielbasa, red potato, and cabbage with mustard sauce

A good one-pan meal, pretty popular. You just chop up kielbasa, slice up potatoes, and slice up cabbage (just don’t call it steak!), oil and season it, and shove it in the oven. The sauce is good, but way too oily in the recipe from Budget Bytes. I changed the proportions to 1/2 cup olive oil, 4 Tbs red wine vinegar, 3 Tbs mustard, and 2 Tbs minced garlic, plus plenty of salt and pepper. Much better.

As you can see, I had parsley in the house. I’m a big believer in fresh parsley. I don’t know if it actually makes food taste better, or if it just signals to the 8-year-old in my brain, “ooooh, we’re going to get something fancy!” but I like it.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken enchiladas

How, do you wonder, do I manage to fulfill all my obligations and still produce a fabulous meal for my family at the end of the day? Really all you have to do is plan ahead. Specifically, eighteen years previously, you give birth to a daughter who will one day offer to make enchiladas for supper. And there you go.

She used Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I mysteriously only bought half the sauce we needed, but they truly did not suffer by not being smothered into hot tortilla flab by all that sauce.  I may make them this way deliberately in the future. So good.

THURSDAY
Chicken and chickpeas, yogurt sauce

This meal is normally almost panic-inducingly delicious, but I skipped a few steps, and it was just quite good, instead. I had about ten pounds of chicken thighs and 64 ounces of Greek yogurt to work with, but was short on red onions, and lost my cilantro altogether (but still had parsley, as you can see). I also would have liked some pita bread, and some grapes or pomegranates. Still, a pretty meal, and tasty.Full recipe in this previous post.

These particular chicken thighs had tons of skin attached, which is perfect for this recipe.

Check out that skin. It would make a meal in itself, if you’re some kind of a weirdo.

I was too impatient to let the chickpeas and the onions get crunchy. Will definitely keep making, but the extra steps and garnishes are worth while.

I took tons of pictures, so here’s another one:

Mustn’t waste film.

FRIDAY
Ziti with jarred sauce

But I’m not going to swear I won’t be sneaking into the bedroom with a platter of sopressata, mozzarella, and sun dried tomatoes, just in case there’s a husband in there who likes that kind of thing.

***

And now for the carbs. I really struggled with working out carbs this week. I don’t know if my brain was just sluggish, or I chose recipes where the math was especially vexatious, but it sucked. If you’re cooking for a diabetic, please be alert when using my numbers!

GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE SANDWICHES:
I don’t seem to have written this down. Ham, cheese, mayo, and pickles are all low- or no-carb, though, so you just have to count the bread and apple.

GOCHUJANG meal:

Gochujang sauce

10 Tbs gochujang: 100

4 Tbs honey : 68
4 tsp sugar: 16.8
4Tbs soy sauce: 3.2
2 Tbs minced garlic : 6 g
100+68+16.8+3.2+6 = 194
12.94 in Lucy’s serving
____
Total sauce:
sauce on Lucy’s portion: 12.94
pork: 0
seaweed: 1 per sheet
cooked rice: 45 g per cup
broccoli: 1/2 cup: 3
quadruple recipe for some reason:
Lemon meringue pie:
My-T-Fine lemon pudding mix:  272
sugar: 400
8 egg yolks: 0
crust: 88
meringue (egg white, sugar, cream of tartar): 201.8
____
961.8 per four pies
240.85 per pie
30.6 per 1/8 pie
40.14 per 1/6 pie

HAMBURGERS:

hamburger with salt and pepper: 0

l’Oven Fresh hamburger bun: 23
ketchup, 1 Tbs: 5
1 onion slice: 1
mustard: 0
15 chips: 16g
5 medium strawberries: 4.5
16 +23 + 4.5 = 48.5
2 ice pops: 18
____
67.5 meal

CABBAGE, POTATO, KIELBASA:

cabbage: 4.1g per cup

red potato: 26g per potato
kielbasa: 21 g per 14-oz kielbasa; .875 per piece, cut into 24 pieces each
olive oil, salt, pepper: 0
—–
2 potatoes: 52
cup cabbage: 4.1
5 pieces kielbasa: 4.375
sauce:
olive oil: 0
red vinegar: 0
mustard:0
minced garlic: 2 tsp, 2 carbs
salt: 0
pepper: 0
8.475 + 52 = 60.475
ice tea: 18
—-
78.475
ENCHILADAS:

2 Tbs green enchilada sauce: 2.25g

tortilla: 34
chicken, salt, pepper, chili powder, oil: 0
onions, 2 Tbs: 3g
cheese: 2 Tbs., .5 g
sour cream: 2 Tbs, 2g
salsa: (doesn’t want)
32 corn chips: 16

CHICKEN AND CHICKPEA:

Marinade:
Greek yogurt: 35g
1/2 cup lemon juice: 0
1/2 cup water: 0
1/4 cup cumin:10.8g
45.8g in 32 oz/ 65 Tbs of marinade; 2 Tbs per chicken = .073 per tablespoon of marinade
chicken:
chicken thighs: 0
red onions: 3.84 per large ring
olive oil: 0
cumin: 2.7g per Tbs
sat and pepper: 0
chickpeas: 8g per Tbs
sauce:
yogurt 35g per 32 oz/65 Tbs
lemon juice :0
garlic powder: 7g per Tbs
salt: 0
pepper: 0
.65 per Tbs of sauce

parsley: negligible

What’s for supper? Vol. 114: Hello, chicken, my old friend

Sorry for the light posting this week! It’s just been crazy-go-nuts.
Thanks so much for the prayers for my father as he recovers from his triple bypass surgery on Monday. He has had some ups and downs, as you can imagine. He is recovering, but it is a tough road for sure, especially as they work on managing his pain without too many bad side effects.

At the end, I have a few things to say to Etsy merchants and other craftsmen, plus a hat recommendation, because it’s a food blog. I don’t know.

**

SATURDAY
Chicken blueberry salad

Blueberries were 99 cents a pint at Aldi, so I changed my menu on the fly. I roasted some chicken breasts and sliced them thin. We had mixed greens (no Romaine lettuce, just to be safe) with the chicken, plus minced red onions, toasted walnuts we never managed to bake with over Christmas, feta cheese, blueberries, and balsamic vinegar dressing.

So pretty and delicious.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlets with basil

The Husband wanted to cook, so he made homemade marinara sauce and these magnificent chicken cutlets. Very labor intensive, but so worth it, especially when your husband is making it.

You pound the chicken, bread it (he used panko bread crumbs, which are so nicely fluffy), fry it, top it with a fresh basil leaf and a slice of provolone, and then ladle some hot marina sauce over it all so the cheese melts and tucks in the basil leaf like a sweet little sleeping child which you then devour.

 

Whenever he suggests making this dish, I think, “Oh, we should have some pasta. Just chicken and sauce isn’t enough.” I am always wrong. This meal is paradise in your mouth. Even the savages appreciate what a treat it is.

We also had a ridiculous chocolate trifle for dessert. I made enough for two nights, which was not truly a problem, as problems go.

I baked one box of triple chunk chocolate brownies, then broke it up into little pieces. I made four boxes of instant pudding, two chocolate and two mocha, and I grated one giant chocolate bar and six or seven Heath bars, and then whipped up some cream with sugar and a healthy amount of Kahlua. Then I just layered everything up in several layers in two glass bowls.

I only got lousy pictures, but this is truly a fail-proof dessert, and is going on the list of fancy-danciness. I don’t yet own a trifle bowl, but oh, I see more trifle in our future.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs and chips

Monday we had my sister’s little kids over so she could drive up and be with my father during and after his surgery, so we kept dinner simple.

***

TUESDAY
Kids still here. Arms getting tired. Chicken nuggets and . . . something. Oh, frozen corn. It turns out I am old and frail, and yell a lot.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken quesadillas with cheddar and jalapenos.

Wednesday I drove up to see my father in the hospital, an Damien took a sick day to hold down the fort at home. When he makes quesadillas, he folds the tortilla in half on the pan, and then he turns the tip over again, to seal it like an envelope. Maybe I was feeling sentimental, but this seemed so tidy and brilliant and wonderful to me. No chicken escaped.

It was also on Wednesday that everyone noticed I had made a weekly menu that was just wall-to-wall chicken. This was unintentional. I guess we were simply having a wonderful Chickentime.

***

THURSDAY
One-pan chicken thighs with roast vegetables

Everyone loves this dish from Damn Delicious.

I used a large butternut squash, two pounds of Brussels sprouts, three pounds of red potatoes, a pound of baby carrots, and about 18 or 20 chicken thighs. It was way too much food, but I can’t help myself. I filled my two giant quarter sheet pans, which, by the way, continue to be my smartest purchase ever. No warping, and they are useful for so many things — containing the mess when rolling out cookie or pastry dough, for instance, or keeping beads or buttons from rolling away while the little guys play, or for preserving unfinished board games if you have to clear the table to eat. We also use them as serving trays to organize meals with lots of little bowls and saucers and bottles of things. Pans!

I am old and frail. I yell about pans.

I was able to prep all the vegetables in about 25 minutes in the morning, and then I finished it up pretty quick right before supper. It’s a lot of chopping, obviously, but then you just season everything, put it all in the pan together, and chunk it in the oven. It takes slightly longer than the recipe says. Here’s an old pic of pre-cooked veg, because I have lost track of the ones I took yesterday. Isn’t it pretty? You want color in January.

I cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scooped out the pulp, then put it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes to soften up a bit. Then I could peel it pretty easily with a sharp knife. I have lost my potato peeler, so I’ve been using a cheese plane, but I lost that, too. Somehow I can always put my hand on a knife, though, she said somewhat ominously.

Why is it “omInous” instead of “omEnous?” I protest.

Ah, I found a picture! Here’s the cooked dish:

So nice. I’m having leftover veg for lunch right now.

***

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Frozen fish sticks on tortillas with shredded cabbage, sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and lime. Good schtuff. Here’s a picture from a previous meal:

Oh, I’m trying out a new affiliate program called Skimlinks. It’s sort of an umbrella affiliate system that works with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of merchants. So the links above, to the pans, the cheese planer, and the trifle bowl are affiliate links which can earn me a small profit. So click away, me hearties! (As far as I can tell, Skimlinks just requires bloggers to follow FTC regulations about disclosing relationships with merchants, so fingers crossed I’m not violating anyone’s arcane TOS this time!)

I’ve also become an Etsy affiliate, and will be doing a monthly Etsy artisan feature. In the meantime, may I point you toward an awesome shop called Hats By Charlotte? We ordered this hand-knit Samus hat for our oldest for Christmas, and it’s awesome.

It’s soft, comfortable, and well-made, and Charlotte was a pleasure to communicate with. We ordered late and the hat came sooner than we could reasonably expect. Highly recommended! Lots of neat, geeky patterns.

ONE MORE THING. I’ll be doing a handmade Valentine’s Day feature here in a few weeks. If you have romantic or relationship-related gifts to sell, especially unusual or hard-to-find items, please drop me a line at simchafisher[at]gmail[dot]com with “Handmade Valentine Feature” in the subject heading, with links and photos of one or two items with a short description. Deadline is January 26. Thank you!
(Open to all, not just Catholics. Not all submissions will be featured. No essential oils, please. They give me a headache even just online.)

 

How to make chocolate caramel almonds without panicking

When we manage to make treats for Christmas, we usually make fudge and buckeyes, sometimes rum balls or peanut brittle, and of course rugelach. Last year, looking for something a little more decorative, I tried chocolate caramelized almonds from Smitten Kitchen. You don’t need a candy thermometer to make them, and you can use whatever kind of sugar or sprinkles you like, so they are adaptable gifts for just about any holiday.

Here’s the ingredients list from Smitten Kitchen:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • Approximately 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sanding or coarse sugar, or sprinkles to coat

You will want a good, heavy pot and some parchment paper or silicone pads for this, too.

I’m trying very hard not to run afoul of recipe copyright laws here, so I’m going to send you right to her page to get the detailed directions. Basically you put sugar and water in a pot and bring it to a simmer, add the almonds and simmer them until they’re caramelized, stir in the salt, and then spread the almonds out on a pan covered with parchment paper.

Put the pan in the freezer for a few minutes until they are set. Then break them up and dip them in melted chocolate; then roll the chocolate-coated almonds in various fancy coatings. Let them set again, and then you can store them for quite a long time at room temperature.

Here’s my reason for writing a whole post about it: In the detailed instructions for caramelizing the almonds, she says,

“Once the liquid has fully evaporated, it will become sandy and you will think something has gone wrong; it has not. Continue stirring and the sandiness will dissolve into a bronzed but clear liquid; this is the caramel.”

I was glad of the reassurance, and prepared myself not to freak out. But then! I freaked out anyway! Weird stuff happens in that pot!!! So I’m sharing the photos of the caramelization process here, so you can see how it goes and maybe not panic like I did.

Here we are simmering, fine, very good:

then it got thicker, and yes, there are soap-like bubbles forming:

the the liquid was just about evaporated, and all was well:

then, sure enough, it started to get dry and a little bit cakey, and I was like, “Wow, she was right! That is sandy.”

Then it got dry and even more sandy, and I thought, “Good thing she warned me, because this does not look normal at all. I would definitely be worrying right now.”

Then this happened. And it went on and on. Just kept on being sandy. I didn’t stop stirring, but it was the stirring of futility. I assumed the candy gods were onto me, and knew I had no business in any kitchen, smitten or otherwise. Look at this!

Yeah, these are totally ruined. Great, now they’re clumping. No one said anything about clumping. Dammit. Almonds are expensive! Dammit!

But wait! Down there in the center of the pot, under all the nuts, there’s a little, kind of syrupy patch!

Well, hallelujah! Those little bastiches are caramelizing after all, aren’t they.

And there they were, coated with caramel, just like Smitten Kitchen said. So I put them on parchment paper, slid them in the freezer, and went to sit down for a bit.

I was so emotionally spent by this time that I left them in the freezer for a few days, rather than the suggested five minutes, until I did the next step. I don’t recommend this, as they got a little soggy; but you will be the best judge of what kind of load you can carry at this point in the evening. It still worked, but they weren’t as crunchy as they might have been.

Now I’ll send you back to Smitten Kitchen for the rest of the directions. You’re going to pour the nuts into melted chocolate, stir to coat, and then pick out the almonds and roll them around in your sugars or sprinkles or whatever. It’s messy and time-consuming, especially if you’re making a large batch, so don’t think you can just zoop-zoop-zoop (as my mother used to say) and be done with it.

The good news is, you can make them ahead of time and then store them at room temperature for a long time. Here’s the finished product:

I wish I had a brighter picture of the finished product. They were so pretty, especially the sugar-coated ones! They looked like little Christmas gems. (I buy up expensive seasonal-themed sugars and sprinkles after holidays, when they are marked way down. This doesn’t work, as the kids tend to develop an unconquerable hunger for tiny little bats in May, but it’s a good theory.)

I think these almonds make nice treats on their own, or they would make lovely accents to a package of fudge or cookies. Just keep telling yourself, “It’s supposed to look this way,” and you’ll probably be right.

 

 

 

How (and how not) to make rugelach for Hanukkah

Hey, it’s your friendly neighborhood Jew lady! It’s the first night of Hanukkah tonight, and I’m here to show you how to make rugelach (and what horrible errors to avoid). The fact that I kept on chugging even after screwing it up so many times tells you how good rugelach are.

Rugelach (pronounced “ROO-guh-lachhh,” possibly Yiddish for “little twists,”) are sticky little filled pastries, made of insanely rich, tender dough and rolled up with any kind of sweet filling you like. My favorite is apricot and walnut, but you can also use raspberry or any other fruit preserves, nuts-and-cinnamon, sour cherry, raisins, poppy seeds, even Nutella. A few years ago, for Thanksgivukkah, and I made pecan pie rugelach. Rugelach will work with you.

Other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach. These are all plurals. I don’t know what the singular is, because who could eat only one? This recipe is from my sister, Abby Tardiff, who reminds us that these freeze beautifully.

I’ll share the ingredients and very basic directions first, and then go through it step by step with photos and more detailed instructions. This recipe will make about eighty little pastries or more.

INGREDIENTS

Dough
Two sticks of butter (half a pound)
One 8-oz package of cream cheese
Two cups of flour
White sugar for rolling

Filling: 
Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of preserves or jam
1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

You will also need parchment paper and a pizza cutter.

BASIC DIRECTIONS

Blend dough ingredients together. Roll dough into 6- 8 balls, cover, and chill them in fridge.
Roll chilled dough in sugar into a round. Add filling, leaving the center bare. Cut into triangles, roll from wide end, place on pan on parchment paper, and chill rugelach again.
Bake at 400 for 11-14 minutes.

Now here’s the more detailed instructions, with photos:

Blend the dough ingredients together until it’s smooth. This is not like pie crust dough; you can use the standing mixer and really manhandle it.

Divide and roll the dough into 6-8 balls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Chilling it should make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Rugelach get very messy while baking.

Sprinkle the counter (or a very large sheet pan, if you have it, to contain the mess) heavily with sugar.

Yep, you’re going to roll out the dough in sugar, rather than in flour. Roll it out as thin as you can, so it’s the size of a large dinner plate. I like to turn the dough over a few times while rolling it, so both sides get coated.

It doesn’t have to come out perfectly round.

Swizzle up your jam with a fork to make it more spreadable. Spread the filling and sprinkle the nuts all over the dough, leaving a circle in the middle bare.

You really just want a thin skim of filling, even less than what is shown here. Too much will bubble over and make a horrible mess. If you are using nuts, it’s also good to chop them finer than I did here, so they stay put.

You can make more than one kind of rugelach at a time. This pic shows too much filling, though, so don’t do that.

Cut it like a pizza into 16 triangles. I use a rolling pizza cutter. It helps to hold the center in place with one finger so the dough doesn’t curl up while you cut.

Roll each triangle up, starting from the wide end.

Put the rolled-up rugelach, tip down, on the pan covered with parchment paper. Leave at least two rugelach’s width between pastries. In this picture, I had put several batches in one pan to chill! Do not bake them this close together!

Chill them again for half an hour or more before baking. At this point, turn on the oven so it can preheat while the rugelach are chilling. You can make a ton of rugelach ahead of time and chill them all, then put them on pans in smaller batches to bake.

Bake them in the preheated oven for 11-14 minutes. They should be slightly golden on top.

They will leak a bit when baking. This is inevitable, and this is why you used parchment paper! Just let them cool for ten minutes or so before you peel them off the pan.

After much trial and error, I came out with three batches that turned out pretty good. Did I take pictures of them? No, I did not! I am very angry at myself. But you can get the general idea.

The finished rugelach will be slightly crisp on the outside, studded with sparkling sugar, and tender, sweet, and rich inside.

And now here are some horrible errors you can commit:

You can spread too much jam on and bake them too close together, so the filling will all leak out and form one solid platform of jam taffy with little rugelach islands trapped in it.

You can still eat them, but it cuts down considerably on how presentable they are. It’s only really a problem if you use too much filling, bake them too close together, and burn them, too:

I’m here to tell you that you can still eat them like this, if you break them apart. I did it for science.

Believe it or not, you can also get tired of waiting for them to bake, and turn on the broiler for “just a second” to brown up the tops, and then you forget to turn the broiler off before sliding the next batch in:

This, too, cuts down on their general attractiveness, as they become quite turdly.

Good luck! They’re a lot of work, but so worth it.

 

What’s for Supper? Vol. 108: In which we have two vegetables for Thanksgiving, not counting potatoes!

Just the Thanksgiving food this time! I know it makes more sense to share Thanksgiving recipes before Thanksgiving, but none of this stuff would be out of place for a Christmas meal, either, except maybe pumpkin pie and stuffing.

All of my kids genuinely helped. Except for Corrie. Corrie mainly supervised.

They chopped, sliced, trimmed, buttered, grated, juiced, stirred, basted, and baked, and I would have been a complete wreck without their help. We started baking and cooking on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday afternoon, I felt calm, confident, cheerful, and ready. I highly recommend having kids who are old enough to help!

Here’s what we had:

Turkey with gravy and stuffing. I have no desire to argue with anyone about how to make a turkey. Not Alton Brown, nor his acolytes, nor anyone. I’ve roasted dozens of turkeys. I butter it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper, turn it breast down on a rack for half the roasting, then flip it for the rest of the time, and I (well, my sons) baste it every half hour. It turns out good.

The skin is crisp and varnished-looking, the meat is moist and flavorful. I don’t want to argue about it! Your way is good, too! Hooray for your way! I like my way! Hooray!

I made stuffing (Pepperidge Farm herbed cubes, I think) with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and celery. Not original, but always good.

I wanted to get the gravy over with, so I started with a ton of melted butter, then added a ton of flour until it was a thick paste, then thinned it gradually with turkey stock I had made with giblets and neck, celery, scallions. Then, when the turkey was done, I added salt and pepper, a fried and diced turkey liver, and plenty of pan drippings, scrapings, and fat.

Lyonnaise Potatoes. My father brought this dish. Will add the recipe when I get it! Very tasty, and it reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking, which is high praise.

Sweet potatoes with blue cheese and walnuts. A simplified version of this recipe, which also calls for dates, parsley, and gorgonzola, rather than blue cheese. I baked the potatoes, sliced them open, mashed in the toppings, and then reheated them in the microwave before dinner.

Parkerhouse rolls. I’ve made this recipe before, with good success, but this year we just bought frozen dough. My daughter rolled the dough into golf ball-sized balls and put them in buttered cupcake tins — one ball in the mini tins, and three balls in the regular size.

 

Hobbit Bread (braided bread stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and cheese). This is (according to my 17-year-old) the best recipe in An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.  I’ll paste the whole recipe into the bottom of this post. She used frozen bread dough for this, too, and added poppy seeds to the top.

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon. Easy peasy. Boys trimmed and halved the Brussels sprouts, daughter snipped a pound of bacon into pieces, and I mixed it up with oil, salt, and pepper, and spread it in a shallow pan, then roasted at 400 for about twenty minutes. The bacon wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked (I should have laid it on top, rather than mixing it in), but the Brussels sprouts still magically gathered in a ton of bacon flavoring. It was great.

Hasselback butternut squash with bay leaves. This dish puts the hassle in butternut squash, let me tell you. But it was worth it. So pretty and exciting. I made it the night before, then warmed it up for the meal. We ended up using jalapeno peppers instead of Fresno chilis, fresh bay leaves instead of dried, fake maple syrup instead of real, canola oil instead of olive, and salted butter instead of unsalted! Still great! We’ve never had a spicy dish for Thanksgiving before. It found myself cooling my tongue with cranberry sauce in between bites of squash. Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.

Cranberry orange nut bread. Worth the trouble to zest the oranges and squeeze fresh juice, especially if you have kid slaves to do it for you. They also chopped the nuts and cranberries with my lovely mezzaluna knife. Recipe from Epicurious. This is very festive-looking, with the bright cranberries and flecks of orange zest, and it makes the house smell wonderful.

Banana nut bread. I always start baking for Thanksgiving with banana bread, because it’s so dang easy. Fannie Farmer has the classic recipe.

Apple pie. I don’t really follow a recipe for the filling – just sliced apples, sugar, a little flour, cinnamon and a little numeg, and dots of butter on the top – but here is the crust recipe I use — except I use butter, which I freeze (or even just chill) and grate it into the flour, so it only takes a few jabs with a butter knife to fully incorporate it. The butter does warm up in your hand as you grip it, so be careful of your knuckles if it slips!

My 17-year-old used cookie cutters to make stars and flowers, and made an overlapping pieced crust, which was lovely. We brushed it with an egg wash (beaten up egg with a little warm water) and then sprinkled sugar on top before baking.

I baked the pies until they were almost done the day before, then put them back in the oven at 250 while we were eating the meal. By dessert time, they were hot again and perfectly browned.

Pumpkin pie. I used readymade graham cracker crust and followed the recipe on the side of the pumpkin can. And yes, I had to run to the convenience store and buy evaporated milk, because all I had was condensed milk. I always know what the difference is, except for two times: when I’m shopping, and when I’m baking.

We had whipped cream and ice cream for the pies. I intended the kids to have a choice, but they intended to have both ice cream and whipped cream on everything. Corrie skipped the pie and just had ice cream and whipped cream.

Crock pots were very useful. I made the gravy on the stovetop, then transferred it to a slow cooker, to free up space and keep it warm, and filled the gravy boat from that. I also microwaved the gravy boat, so it stayed warm while it was on the table. I used my other slow cooker for mulled apple cider.

It was my husband’s turn to worry that there wouldn’t be enough food, so he bought an extra turkey breast, so we roasted that, too. I helpfully added garlic eyes so it could glare at us.

And now for the Hobbit bread recipe!

Next time she makes it, I’ll take pictures at different stages, so you can see how the dough gets that braided effect.

Braided Bread Stuffed with Mushrooms, Onions, and Cheese

This hearty bread is practically a meal unto itself. In celebration of Hobbits well known love of mushrooms, this is stuffed with mushrooms, onions, cheese, and English country herbs. It’s best fresh from the oven while the cheese is still runny, but the leftovers are almost as good served alongside supper to help soak up a hearty plate of mutton or venison gravy.

Dough:
1 ½ c / 300 g water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
4 tbsp / 85 g honey
4 eggs
½ c oil
6 ½ -7 c / 825 – 850 g bread flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
8 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp fresh basil leaves, minced

Filling:
2 tbsp butter
2 c / 200 g sliced mushrooms
2 onions, diced
2 c / 250 g shredded mozzarella
2 cloves garlic in filling
1 tbsp rosemary in each
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp coarse salt
To make a loaf , start by dissolving your yeast in the warm water. Feel free to add an extra tsp of honey at this stage to help kick start your yeast. Walk away for ten minutes. When you come back, the yeast should have bloomed so it looks like a mushroom cap rising up out of your bowl. It knows its fate.

Mix in the eggs, oil, salt, and the rest of the honey. When you achieve a soupy mass, add the minced garlic , fresh rosemary leaves, and fresh basil. It should smell delicious.

Now mix in the bread flour. Modern cooks with a stand mixer can attach the dough hook and let it knead away for 6-8 minutes. If you want to get a real feel for the period, knead it by hand for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be soft, pliant, and not too tacky.

Form it into a ball, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and let it rise for an hour, or until double in size.

Meanwhile, make your filling. Melt your butter in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add your onions and cook until they start to brown . You want them to lose a lot of moisture while gaining some flavor.

Once the onions start to brown, add your garlic, rosemary, and basil. Keep cooking for another 3-4 minutes, or until the garlic barely starts to brown . Finally add the mushrooms. You don’t want to overcook them. Mix them in and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Take the pan off the heat and finish it with the coarse salt. Set it aside to cool while the dough continues rising.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle . Put that rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper so you can easily move the finished loaf to a pan. Trim away any rough edges.

Now that you have a trimmed rectangle of dough, mentally divide the rectangle into thirds. The center third is where you place your filling. The outer two thirds will be cut into braid strips. To give it an attractive , braided top, make neat, even, 1 inch 2.5 cm wide cuts along each side. Make a bed of cheese in the middle ⅓ of your bread. Pile the mushroom filling on top of that. Cover the filling with any remaining cheese. Fold both end pieces inwards so they cover some of the filling.

To create the braided top, pull the cut edges of dough over the center, alternating sides and tugging tight, so the dough completely covers the filling. This makes a single, massive rectangular loaf . Slide it onto your largest cooking pan. If you don’t have any oversized baking sheets, just slide it into a heavily buttered 9×13 glass baking pan. Either way, let it rise for another hour. You put this much work into it, so you might as well make the bread pretty. Whisk together an egg and 1 tbsp of water to make an egg wash.

Use a pastry brush to paint the surface of the bread. If you’d like, sprinkle another 1 tsp of coarse salt on top. Bake the bread at 350F / 180C for 35-40 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with foil.

Due to the moist interior, the bottom of this bread has a tendency to get soggy if you leave it out overnight. That means it’s your duty to consume the entire loaf before bedtime. If you don’t have a party of dwarves or a couple teenagers on hand to help you finish it, you can always use the leftovers to make savory mushroom bread pudding for tomorrow’s dinner.

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What’s for supper? Vol. 103: Kitten pie, Mr. Tweedy

Sad story, short version: I was sitting in the bathroom, half-watching Corrie paddle around in the tub, half-writing something or other. Enter the kitten, who strolls in placidly, sniffs at my feet, checks out a little toothpaste smear on the cabinet, and then propels himself into my lap with the force of a rocket and anchors himself to my thigh with his claws. I jumped up, knocked over my seltzer, and killed my laptop dead dead dead.

I tried putting it in rice for 48 hours. No dice. Maybe I should have put it in dice.

Here is the kitten, by the way. I KNOW. He’s very cute.

“Please, please, master, don’t make me into pie! I’ll be ever so good!”
We’ll see, cat. We’ll see.

We’re working on getting a replacement computer. We have probably fourteen internet-enabled devices in this house, but I can’t get any of them to work well with WordPress or uploading images, and the hilarious podcast we recorded, using a new program on my husband’s notebook? It turned out it wasn’t recording. I’m setting up as much as I can on the weekend, and hoping it won’t be long before I get a replacement.

But food still fooded! Here is what we ate last week:

FRIDAY
Birthday party!

I think we probably had pizza. This was so, so long ago. I made my first and last gorgon cake

and magically transformed the dining room into ancient Macedonia by . . . tacking some leaves up.

Look, it was short notice. It definitely looked different from how it usually looks.

***

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I forgot to buy limes, and I did buy cilantro, but I forgot to serve it. Oh well. Batter fried fish fillets on flour tortillas with salsa, sour cream, shredded cabbage, and sliced avocado. Still quite good.

***

SUNDAY
Italian Food in the Middle of October Day!

Suppli, pork ragù with fettucine, bruschetta with basil, tomatoes, and provolone, and many kinds of olives; garlic bread, pears with prosciutto, and cannoli with shaved chocolate and cherries, and lemon ices.

We briefly considered salad, but only briefly.

My husband used the fabulous Deadspin recipe for pork ragù.

This has milk in it, not tons of tomato, surprising carrots, and a kind of meaty fluffiness that you really have to experience to understand.

Here is my suppli recipe, which I have updated to include information on how many suppli you will actually end up with. I made thirty suppli the size of goose eggs, and we froze a dozen of them.

If our family keeps shrinking like this, we won’t even be able to drain an entire lake dry by each taking one little lap of water with our little pink tongues. Mew mew!

Well, they turned out quite lovely. I didn’t crowd them in the pot or rush to take them out, so they held their shape. Refrigerating the risotto is vital.

Nice and melty on the inside? This is why they’re sometimes called “suppli al telefono”: because the cheese looks like telephone wires.

I have been to Italy, and their telephone wires look very much like that.

I didn’t even try to find empty cannoli shells this year. I got some of those anise pizzelle waffle cookies and topped them with cheese filling, then shaved chocolate and a maraschino cherry. I used about 32 oz. of whole fat ricotta cheese, maybe 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, and a tablespoon or more of vanilla extract. You don’t want it too sweet.

Well, the food was fantastic. As you may have noticed, the photos get worse as the food gets better. So we’ll close with a day-after shot of the cat eating the cannoli my husband was saving for later.

And that’s how it goes.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs? I think?

I think I put blue cheese and buffalo sauce on mine. I can never decide if it’s pretentious to write “bleu cheese” instead of “blue cheese,” so I alternate.

***

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, roast red potatoes, salad

I used dear old Fannie Farmer’s meatloaf recipe, and then vandalized the loaves with a lot of ketchup. Nobody wants to admit that they like eating chewy, hot ketchup varnish, but they do, they do.

I put things in the potatoes. Come on, you know how to make potatoes. Oil and spices, hot. Kinda burnt, oh well.

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cheez puffs

They lost the valve to my Instant Pot again, so I was reduced to cooking the pork in the oven like an animal. I forgot to get some of that nice Mojo marinade, too, so I just put some frickin spices on it and put in a shallow pan, fat up, at 425 for maybe 35 minutes.

Then I ate all the fat. You think this is disgusting, and I’m not saying it wasn’t, but it was also crisp, golden, savory, and sizzling, and some people’s destinies look like that.

I had some amazing sourdough bread from Aldi, and made ten enormous sandwiches with mustard, Swiss cheese top and bottom, sliced pork (I cooked it in the morning, then sliced and heated it in the microwave in the evening), sliced ham, and sliced pickles.This is one of those sandwiches that you lean into while cooking it, as well as while eating it. I put them in the oven for a bit to make sure the cheese was all melted.

It was. 

***

THURSDAY
Spicy pork with vegetables and rice

I had a little gochujang in the house, so I mixed it up with the other stuff I happened to have, which was a little soy sauce, a little sugar, and a lot of maple syrup. And garlic, of course. I will let myself run out of arms and legs before I run out of garlic.

I cut the pork into little nuggets and let it marinate all day, then cooked it up in a shallow pan with the sauce. I heated up frozen veg in the microwave and added that to the meat, and served it over rice. I don’t know why I’m explaining all this. You cook the thing. You eat the thing. It was fine.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

My husband came home late and lightly sauteed the cooked penne in a pan with olive oil and minced garlic, and added just a tiny bit of sauce, and it looked fantastic. Gonna try it that way next time.

***

SO ANYWAY, now I have to give this computer back to my husband, who selfishly wants to take it to work with him, the swine. If you were a little bit on the fence about maybe you should or shouldn’t make a pledge to support my site, this would be a great time to YES YOU SHOULD. Or you could use my Amazon links! Or you could come over and kidnap this cat before he gets made into pie.