First, some important news. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but this week, we all saw the dawn of a new era in America. It’s easy to sit around and hope for great things on a macro level, but it behooves us all to look around and see what changes we can make on a personal level. I’ve been thinking hard about the direction I want to go in, and after much prayer and reflection, I’m ready to announce the launching of a brand new project, and I truly hope you will all join me. It’s called Potatoes with butts, and you can follow it @PotatoesButts.What it is, is a twitter account that is just photos of potatoes with butts. I got the idea last week, when I saw this potato with a butt.
Here’s the thing, folks. This won’t work if I try to do it alone. My DMs are always open, and you can submit your photos of potatoes with butts and I will share them with mankind, and together we will do our part to make the world a little more full of photos of potatoes with butts. In these unprecedented times let us all work toward unity, and never allow ourselves to be cleft in two unless we are a potato with a butt.
In other news, I am determined to be less of a potato butt on a personal level, so I started on my treadmill again, and I was passing the time by processing some food photo files. Here’s a little preview of what you’re in for this week:
That does sound tasty!
EDIT: I have unintentionally caused confusion with this joke. The screenshot above shows what autocorrect does to the names of my food photos when I’m on the treadmill and huffing and puffing too much to fix it while I upload them. If you wanted to, you could guess which of the following photos match up with irk chops, yffalo doh, hi ken plate, and Eminem inside chicken. I regret to inform you that “chickens vertical” is actually what I meant to type. I had a number of chicken photos, and in this particular one, well, they weren’t horizontal.
Okay, here’s what we had this week:
Spaghetti carbonara, french bread
Delightful as always, and low-skill (although cooking for a crowd does require you to keep your head). I used four pounds of bacon and 3-1/2 pounds of spaghetti, and 423 mashed ends of butter sticks, and a whole thing of parmesan cheese.Jump to Recipe
Some day I’ll get a block of parmesan and grate it fresh into the carbonara, but even the jarred stuff makes a great meal.
I haven’t made fresh bread for a while, so I was a little nervous, but it turned out well, fragrant, light, and a little sweet.
Nice simple recipe, just flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar, oil. A little cornmeal for the pan and a little butter to run over the hot top.Jump to Recipe
This recipe makes four long, fat loaves. (I do not intend to start a Twitter account for loaves of french bread that look like something it’s not. Because it’s VULGAR, that’s why.) A couple of them split, as you can see, because I didn’t slash them deeply enough, but no one complained. If you’re not great with bread, this is a reliable recipe, as long as you give it plenty of time to rise (it takes two rises).
Ina Garten’s roast chicken with fennel and lemon, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce
Now here is a tasty roast chicken. Damien volunteered to make the main course, and he followed Ina Garten’s recipe, which calls for stuffing the bird with lemons, garlic, and thyme, and roasting it atop a bed of fennel, onion, carrots.
Very, very juicy and tasty. The lemon, garlic, and thyme flavors really make themselves known in the meat, but it was the caramelized vegetables that really wowed me, especially the fennel. Must get more fennel into life.
This led to me browsing my way through Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Classic Cooking, so we shall see what fennel may come.
And here, for the curious, is a picture of Eminem inside chicken:
I also opened up some cans of cranberry sauce, which turned out to be whole berry because I’m a monster; and I made some candied sweet potatoes. It’s a fine recipeJump to Recipe
but in retrospect, something less sweet would have been a better foil for the other two dishes.
Hot dogs of many nations, cheezy weezies
Not even really hot dogs of many nations. I intended to serve Chicago-style hot dogs (mustard, tomatoes, pickles, pickle relish, onion, pickled peppers, and celery salt) and buffalo hot dogs (blue cheese, scallions, and hot sauce), but by the time dinner came, buffalo seemed adventurous enough.
Ugh, I will be so glad when it’s finally light at dinnertime again. The lighting is killing me. You can see all the grime in my house, but everything looks so garish and dire. Oh well.
Oven fried pork chops, pink risotto, peas
I’m just over here exhausted with all my same old same old pork recipes, so I poked around a little and tried something different, yet decidedly un-exotic: Breaded fried pork chops.Jump to Recipe
I was planning to just chunk them in the oven, but at the last minute I thought they really needed a little browning up first, so I fried them in oil just to cook the outside
and then baked them to make sure the meat was done. I thought they were great, if a little bit of a hassle (because I made 12).
Will make again, probably using boneless pork ribs. The breading could easily be made more spicy, but it had a good, balanced flavor, and the texture was perfect, crunchy and light, and the meat was juicy. My mother used to make pork chops often, and they looked and tasted like a mitten that had fallen in the slush by the bus stop and been run over repeatedly, so I feel pretty good about this.
I made my reliable Instant Pot risotto, which is so easy and always turns out creamy and lovely, especially when I’m generous with the butter and cheese. On this day I was a little low on cheese, so it was slightly less gooey than normal, but still very nice.Jump to Recipe
It calls for chicken broth and white wine, but all I had was three half-empty bottles of rosé and merlot, so in they went. Predictably, this changed the flavor slightly, and the color dramatically.
I definitely prefer white wine in this, but the kids thought pink risotto was amusing, and I cleared up some counter space, so overall a win.
The last few times I made fancy ramen, it caused a lot of suffering, I mean really bad suffering, like really bad, because someone’s mother had made JUST RAMEN FOR SUPPER (and meat and vegetables and crunchy noodles and sprouts and sauces and eggs), and so there was a lot left over. So this time, I only made six packages of ramen. You will be surprised to hear that everyone was very excited about ramen for supper, because it’s SO GOOD, and they gobbled it up and howled for more. So Lena made some more, but by the time it was ready, everyone had left to go lie on their necks and listen to K-pop.
Anyway, here’s my ramen.
I ha it with wilted spinach, scallions, accidentally hard boiled eggs, quick-pickled carrots, scallions, pea shoots, a little broccoli, and pork sautéed in sesame oil, then sliced and simmered in soy sauce. I usually put hot sauce on it, but I tried some sweet chili oil and it wasn’t great. The carrots and vegetables added enough sweetness.
Beef fajita bowls
I love this meal. I got the meat marinating first thing, using this very sharp, savory marinadeJump to Recipe
I actually used lemon juice rather than lime, and didn’t really notice the difference. Then, close to dinner time, I was afraid there wasn’t enough meat, so I went out and bought more, so some of the meat only had an hour to marinate.
Ladies and gentlemen, marinating is magic. I was too hungry to stop and take a picture, but the difference between the two hunks of meat was astounding. The acid in the lemon (or lime) juice and the Worcestershire sauce breaks down the connective tissue and makes it so tender and yielding, and really opens it up to receive the flavor.
I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and I set out bowls of everything so people could build their dinner as they pleased. I chose, uh, everything: Rice, beef, some sweet corn slightly charred in oil, scallions, fried onions and sweet peppers, black beans with tomatoes and chili peppers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and corn chips. Oh, and some Taijin chili lime powder.
I scooped up a bunch of the gravy and poured it over the bowl because I can’t get enough of that tangy, garlicky juice. So good.
I really love this meal. Beef is my favorite meat by far, and this is one of my favorite things to do with it.
I guess just tortillas, batter-fried fish from frozen, shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream, limes, and avocados. This would be great with guacamole, or, even better, pico de gallo, but we always have it on Fridays when my ambition is so low.
Well, adios. Don’t forget to send me your potatoes with butts. DM my Twitter, or email it to simchafisher at gmail dot com, or message me through Facebook, or just throw it through my window as you drive by.
An easy, delicious meal.
- 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
Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.
Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.
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.
Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.
Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!
I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.
- 4-1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 5 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
- 10-12 cups flour
- butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
- corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)
In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.
Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.
Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.
Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).
Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.
Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.
Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.
Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.
Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.
Candied sweet potatoes
Easy and pleasant. Please do not top with marshmallows, as that is an abomination.
- 3-4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. Canned is fine, although they will be slightly mushier.
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400. Grease a baking dish.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and stir to make a paste.
If you're using canned sweet potatoes, drain them. Spread the potatoes in the dish and distribute the butter-sugar mixture evenly over them. Use a spoon or spatula to toss the potatoes so they are coated with the mixture.
Cook for 30-40 minutes. If you're using fresh potatoes, stir every 15 minutes to keep the sauce distributed well. If you're using canned, let it be, so they don't turn into mush.
Instant Pot Risotto
Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups rice, raw
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese
Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.
Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.
Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.
Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.
Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary.
Beef marinade for fajita bowls
enough for 6-7 lbs of beef
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 head garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together.
Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.