What’s for supper? Vol. 323: We are an Epiphany people are we are going to bed

Happy Epiphany! It’s Epiphany, right? I get all my liturgical information through social media, and generally through a lens of people arguing over whether it’s actually [whatever day] or not, and if not, which bishop is to blame for this outrage. The impression I have today is that Benedict XVI is in heaven going, “This Beatific Vision is prettty good, but BOY AM I MAD THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY THROWN OUT THEIR TREES.” This is what’s known as “being an Easter people.”  

What I know for sure is this is the time of year when we just have massive dump trucks of food crashing through the walls of the house and unloading food after food after food, and I am powerless to stop it. And I guess I didn’t do a WFS last week, because I didn’t know what day it was, not for liturgical reasons, but just because I am self-employed and my boss is kind of an idiot. So I’ll just do a highlights reel, and you must imagine crowds of cinnamon buns and leftover egg rolls and fudge and buckeyes and rapidly staling tree cookies pushing in from the wings, clamoring to be eaten.  

TUESDAY after Christmas
Chicken salad with pears, pecans, blue cheese

Absolutely desperate for some kind of vegetable two days after Christmas, I made a salad with mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced pears, toasted pecans, and crumbled blue cheese, with something called “champagne dressing,” which turned out to taste sort of fruity and violently salty, and not in the fun way.

The rest of the salad was good, though. It really was good to have something green that wasn’t green icing. 

WEDNESAY 
Spaghetti carbonara 

I made it with plenty of butter, flat leaf parsley, and freshly-grated parmesan, and it was fab.

Spotlight on carbonara! I think the eggs cost more than the bacon, alas. Strange times.

I think my recipe plugin should be functional again, so here’s the card:
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THURSDAY
Chicken shawarma

Everybody was mad on Thursday and nobody said anything nice about my shawarma, so humph, I said it to myself. This shawarma was simply delicious.
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Boneless skinless chicken thighs were on sale, which is the easiest, tastiest thing to make oven chicken shawarma with.

Marinate in the morning, dump it in a pan with onions in the evening, and do a little chopping and stirring, and you have a top notch meal.We had all the usuals, olives, tomatoes, cukes, feta cheese, pita, and yogurt sauce.

Briefly considered making homemade pita or fried eggplant, but I’m toooooo tired. 

SATURDAY, New Year’s Eve
Lamb, sushi, pork dumplings

I bought a boneless leg of lamb back when it was $4.99 a pound a few months ago, and Damien slow roasted it all day until it was tender and lovely. We have tried more laborious recipes, but this very simple one always turns out the most toothsome.
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Turns out it’s scrumptious with a little dab of wasabi. Boo, I didn’t get any pictures. Too busy eating lamb. 

My contribution was something new this year: Pork dumplings. I followed this recipe for the filling. I had my doubts about a Chinese recipe by someone named Emma Christensen, but man, it was perfect. It only has a few ingredients — ground pork, Napa cabbage, kosher salt, soy sauce, scallions, cilantro, fresh ginger, sesame oil, and eggs — and it’s easy. You shred the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt, and then squeeze it to get the moisture out, and the mix it together with everything else. 

This was my first time using my dumpling press. You just put the wrapper on, plop a heaping tablespoon of filling on it, wet half the wrapper edge, and close the press firmly. 

Very quickly fifty dumplings took shape!

When it was time to eat, I set my bamboo steamer in a pan of gently boiling water and steamed 8-10 dumplings at a time for ten minutes.

It is a double-decker steamer, and you have to line the inside trays with something so the dumplings don’t stick to the bamboo. At first I tried coffee filters with steam holes poked in them, because they were the perfect size, but they still stuck, so I used parchment paper with steam holes, and that worked perfectly, and I used the same paper for all the batches. 

They were just scrumptious. The perfect blend of sharp and savory and gingery with a tiny bit of crunch from the cabbage.  I had some with some jarred sauce, but they were wonderful on their own. Just delighted to have this in my repertoire. 

I made a 2.5X batch of the filling, because that’s how much pork I had, and I ended up only using half of it before I ran out of wrappers; so I froze the left over, and we shall have dumplings again! You can also fry them or boil them. 

New Year’s Eve is also . . . .SHUSHI DAY. Clara had a friend over and Moe came over and we had a lovely time. I made a giant bowl of sweet, sticky sushi rice.

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I sprang for a couple sacks of really good short-grain rice

rinsed it a propitious number of times and cooked it in the Instant Pot, and then the next part takes three people: One to dump the rice into a bowl, one to slowly add the sauce and fold it into the rice without mushing it, and one to fan it vigorously so it dries. 

I have no idea if this really makes a difference for how the rice turns out, but it’s part of the tradition at this point.

Then we also had . . . 

raw tuna (frozen at sea and sliced thin)
cooked shrimp
fake crab legs
coconut shrimp
red roe 
pickled ginger
cucumber
avocado
mango
sesame seeds
furikake
and also 
duck sauce
hot mustard
wasabi
soy sauce
and then honestly just whatever asian-looking bottles I could find in the fridge

The kids gave me lots of little bowls and ramekins for Christmas, because that’s what I like, so had fun arranging things prettily. 

This is a really neat way to set up a party, because it encourages people to keep circulating and trying new combinations of things.

And we had fun! Everyone at plenty of food, and we had store-bought cheesecake and cream pies, and we watched Duck Soup and toasted the new year. Phew. 

SUNDAY
Calzones, tiramisu

Sunday was Sophia’s birthday, and she requested calzones and tiramisu, which meant an easy supper for me
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and a rather more time consuming dessert for Damien to make. Here is the recipe he uses. I never seem to get a good photo of tiramisu, but it is luscious and wonderful. 

MONDAY
Taco Bell

No bones day. We just got a bunch of tacos. 

TUESDAY
Italian meatloaf, french bread

New recipe! It was a chilly, drizzly, grey day and the recipe email from Jim at Sip and Feast featured this very cozy-looking meatloaf smothered in mushrooms and crushed tomatoes, and I knew what I had to do. It’s just a regular meatloaf, with a few elevated ingredients like plenty of freshly-grated parmesan, fresh parsley, and minced garlic, and you drench it in dry red wine and surround it with crushed tomatoes. Put it in the oven to cook and start frying up a generous bunch of mushrooms and onions in olive oil with a little salt, and then add those to the meatloaf, and let it finish cooking.

I mean, how could it. not be good. It was so good.  Hands down the best, happiest meatloaf I’ve ever had. (I used 5.5 pounds of meat and made two loaves, so it took closer to an hour and a half to cook.)

I had the opposite of the zoomies, and so Damien shopped for me and Clara picked up the kids for me, leaving me at home to putter around the kitchen with my meatloaf, and I thought how nice it would be to have some fresh bread to sop up all that lovely mushroom and tomato sauce.

So I used my trusty french bread recipe

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and turned out four pretty, golden loaves.

Every time I make french bread, I’m grateful and astonished that I happened to stumble upon some kind of success accidentally. But I have to admit that this happens every time I make bread, and if it were anyone else, I would conclude that this means this is, you know, a person who knows how to make french bread. Not me, though. I’m a moron who gets lucky every time. But who cares, as long as there’s squishy hot bread! Bread now, self-worth later. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, fruit salad

Wednesday I finally finally went shopping for the week, and let me tell you, it was again a no-bones day. We had some grilled ham and cheese and a fruit salad made of pineapple, grapes, blueberries, and kiwi, which is a special recipe made of only the most carefully selected elements that were on sale at Aldi.

Then I went to lie down for a minute and suddenly it was nine o’clock and someone had drooled on my face (me). So I got up and watched a little TV and then went back to bed, because I am an easter people and I am going to bed. 

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Nothin to report. Well, except that I had an apple instead of chips [insert medal].

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Yeah! It’s been a while. Got some batter fried fish fillets, tortillas, avocados, cabbage, limes, sour cream, and salsa. I also grabbed a bag of frozen shrimp I could sauté up with a little lime juice or whatever, but I may just pretend I forgot about it by the time dinner rolls around. 

I’m vaguely considering putting together some kind of king cake, but I usually palm that off on Clara and I don’t have any experience with it. Anyone have a very simple recipe? I have all the normal staples in the house. 

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.

 

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 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 out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). 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.

 

Tom Nichols' Grandmother's Leg of Lamb

Ingredients

  • boneless leg of lamb
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt
  • oregano

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. Slash the meat several times, about an inch deep.

  3. Fill the cuts with plenty of garlic powder.

  4. Slather olive oil all over the meat.

  5. Crust it with garlic salt. Sprinkle with all the oregano you own.

  6. Cover meat loosely with tinfoil and cook three hours. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.

 

Sushi rice

I use my Instant Pot to get well-cooked rice, and I enlist a second person to help me with the second part. If you have a small child with a fan, that's ideal.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups raw sushi rice
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and cook it.

  2. In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Put the rice in a large bowl. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture over it while using a wooden spoon or paddle to fold or divide up the cooked rice to distribute the vinegar mixture throughout. You don't want the rice to get gummy or too sticky, so keep it moving, but be careful not to mash it. I enlist a child to stand there fanning it to dry it out as I incorporate the vinegar. Cover the rice until you're ready to use it.

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.  

 

French bread

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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 301: I speak for the food

Friday again! With so little warning, too. 

With food prices so high, I’m making a big push to shop the sales, to think about what food we already have in the house, and to plan the menu pretty strictly around that. So we ended up with some slightly peculiar meals, and a few really spectacular days. I think I ended up saving a little bit of money. You’d think it would be easy to tell, but somehow it’s not. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Damien cooked the burgers while the kids swam in the pool. I didn’t get any food pics, but I did catch this quintessential big brother-little sister moment

SUNDAY
Pizza at Hillsborough HOP

Sunday we went the Polar Caves in Rumney, NH, which we’ve been talking about doing for years. I haven’t been since I was seven, and to my delight, they are really, really caves. You clamber down into these holes in the ground, and you’re absolutely surrounded by rock, some of it dripping wet, and you have to clamber back up out of another hole. One cave had ice in it! It’s very exciting. You can feel the cold breath of the earth coming up at you as you get close, so you know right away it’s going to be a weird experience. 

Having recently done a tiny amount of wood working, I was also vastly impressed by the catwalks, staircases, balconies, and other wooden pathways built directly onto the side of the mountain, in and around the rock. Of course I got zero photos, but the work is beautiful and ingenious. At the same time, they just made it accessible, and no more, and didn’t turn the caves into rides. The kids all had a good time and said it was worth a two-hour drive each way. 

They also have a small animal park with deer and waterfowl, and a little playground and games like cornhole so you can stretch your legs and wait your turn. The cave tours are timed for two hours. There is also a clean, pleasant picnic area, and the bathrooms are also clean. Overall, highly recommended!

We stopped for pizza on the way home at Hillsborough House of Pizza. Tasty food, cheerful service. (We saw they have a drive-thru pizza window, which is fun.) My choice was a Greek pizza with spinach, feta, olives, and tomatoes. Quite tasty. 

MONDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit salad

This sandwich has strayed pretty far afield from authenticity, but it (a) was easy to make on the day after a big trip,  (b) was yummy, and (c) used up some of the Tremendous Cheese Hoard that’s clogging up my fridge. 

I made the olive salad in the food processor with green and black olives, a few pepperoncini, some banana peppers, some scoops of red hot pepper relish, I think maybe some pesto, some olive oil and wine vinegar, and misc. Oh, and a handful of fresh parsley from something or other.

We had a few kinds of salami, some ham, and I think there was also some deli turkey, which is definitely not muffaletta-approved. And we had it on kaiser rolls. 

I don’t know if people have different recipes for deviled eggs. Mine is pretty basic: About 2 parts mayo to one part mustard, a little salt and pepper, and some paprika on top (and some more parsley).

You can see that I got a little carried away with the presentation for a Monday afternoon, but frankly I had a lot of bullshit in my head that needed clearing away, and working on deviled eggs for a while is as good a way as any to do a little mental tidying-up. 

I also made a lovely mid-July fruit salad. Watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. The blackberries in the yard are still green, but these juicy monsters were on sale. I forgot how much it adds to a fruit salad to have peaches in it! Must get more peaches in life in general. 

Altogether, a very pleasant summery meal, which I ate outside next to a patch of milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and black eyed susans. Very July.

A hummingbird stopped by and acted like a little weirdo before zipping off. A seaplane passed over the yard. Very July indeed.

TUESDAY
Maiale al latte with leeks and bread

Pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I got the biggest, fattiest one I could find and away we went. This recipe is from my new favorite site, Sip and Feast. Maiale (say “my-ALL-lay”) al latte just means “pork with milk,” and the thing to know is that the milk is supposed to curdle as it cooks. You end up with these scrumptious, savory curds in the sauce that honestly do not look especially deluxe, but they are delicioso, and you do not want to skip over them when you scoop up the sauce.

This meal was lots of fun to make. And I think I have discovered a General Principle: The worse a dish looks, the more pictures I will take, in an effort to capture and convey how yummy it is. This is because I am a friend of food. I want you to like it. I am the XXXX.* I speak for the food. 

You start off browning the seasoned pork all over in olive oil on the stovetop

and then you take the meat out and add in some wonderfully fragrant ingredients: Butter, lots of rough-cut garlic, thick peels off a lemon, lots of sage (sadly I couldn’t find leaves, so I used ground sage), bay leaves, and chili flakes. Cook that up, add some white wine,

cook it down some more, and add in plenty of milk, and then the pork goes back in.

you cover it, and it goes into the oven for a few hours. That’s pretty much it.

Hello! Look at the little curds clinging to it. 

You can add some leeks into the sauce and cook them up right at the end, to serve with the meat. And that is what we did, and we also warmed up some baguettes to sop up that toothsome sauce.

Gosh, the sauce was wonderful. You can imagine how fortifying and rich it tasted, with those ingredients. I did up hot pepper flakes and garlic quite a bit from the suggested amount, and so it was on the spicy side, but really just mostly just savory and cozy. And I did go back for seconds of just sauce and curds. 

I ended up cooking the meat a little longer than I meant to, because I had to run out and pick up a kid who wasn’t needed at the yogurt shop after all because they were predicting hail, so the meat came out of the oven shreddy, rather than sliceable. Look how it fell apart.

Nobody complained! But next time I will take it out a little sooner. 

Now let’s talk about leeks. I have never cooked with leeks before, that I can remember, so I had to look up how to prepare them. They are large and a little intimidating, like oversized scallions.

They grow right in the soil, so they need some pretty aggressive cleaning. This site suggested cutting off the root and tough green ends, slitting them up the side, dunking them in water, and then agitating them, so I filled a pot with water, plunged the leeks in, and shouted, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THERE DAY AND NIGHT? WHY DON’T YOU GET OUT OF THERE AND GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE?”

This is why I’m so popular!

But just about everybody in the family liked this meal. Several of them also carefully mentioned that it would be an especially delicious meal if it were, for instance, cold out, and not, for instance, 84 degrees and humid; and I had to agree. The weather report said it was going to rain! And hail! Oh well. It was still a wonderful dish, and I’ll make it again soon, when the price of pork and the temperature drop. And I do like leeks, even if they are bathroom hogs. 

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs, watermelon

Ground beef still on sale from July 4th, I guess. Nobody complains about my meatball subs. I put plenty of Worcestershire sauce into the meatballs, which is an easy way to make sure they don’t come out bland.

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25 minutes or so on a broiler rack on a pan in a very hot oven, and then I moved them to the crock pot with some sauce for the rest of the day. 

And finally, the final half of the final watermelon I bought and forgot to serve on July 4th has been consumed, amen. 

THURSDAY
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, Asian cucumber salad, grilled sweet potatoes, pineapple

My friends, this was a queen among meals. I could not have been more pleased about how all of it came together. 

The chicken and the sweet potatoes are new recipes for us. We’ve made gochujang pork a number of times, but chicken thighs were on sale and Damien was willing to cook outside, so this from My Korean Kitchen sounded good. Same website I got my bo ssam recipe from

I started the meat marinating the night before (and had a tiny adventure when I blindly grabbed for ginger in the basket where I keep ginger, and AUGH)

Initially, I marveled at the cleverness of whoever put little Wicket or Weechee in there, artfully matching its brown and furry trunk-like legs with the bulbous limbs of the ginger root as a devilish little prank for some unsuspecting cook; but I quickly realized they actually put it in there because it is a basket, and if I leave a basket out, people will stuff random things in it.

The marinade was pretty dramatic in itself.

It has Sprite in it, which apparently makes an appearance in a lot of Korean recipes. I started to hunt around for some background on this topic, just so everyone gets their money’s worth, and was right on the verge of clicking on a story called “Korean cold noodles for gay men,” and then I thought, you know,,,not right now.

The recipe calls for chicken filets, but I bought bone-in thighs and just pulled the skins off. I also bought a few drumsticks because What If There’s Not Enough Food? And so wages the eternal battle between the thrifty mom who wants to save money and the anxious mom who wants to stuff everyone’s face.

Well, they were fantastic. Fiery spicy, but with a good layering of flavors, and wonderfully juicy. Really perfect. Here’s my plate:

We prepared the sweet potatoes very simply, and I really liked how they turned out. I just cut raw sweet potatoes in thick slices (I tried to cut them the long way, to get the largest pieces possible), brushed both sides with olive oil, and sprinkled both sides with sea salt and pepper. They were medium-small sized potatoes and I got about five slices per potato. 

Then Damien grilled them along with the chicken, about 3-4 minutes per side, until they were soft all the way through. 

They made a really nice change from our usual Asian side dishes of rice or coleslaw. Very popular with me. 

I cut up a couple of pineapples, and I made a cool little quasi-Asian cucumber salad. (I also cut up some cucumbers plain for the babies.) This is a great little salad.

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It takes about five minutes and it’s got so much flavor, and always strikes me as rather sophisticated. 

Cucumbers, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, red onion, sesame seeds, and a little kosher salt. Sweet, slightly tangy, and refreshing, and also pretty. You do want to eat it the same day, because it’s best when the cucumbers are still fresh and crunchy. 

FRIDAY
Salmon burgers

I discovered that you can buy one bag of chopped-up frozen breaded pollock-or-whatever patties, and that won’t be enough for the family, or you can buy two bags, and it will be way too much and you’ll feel terrible throwing out all that wadded-up uneaten fish, OR, for the same amount of money as too much pollock, you can buy just the right amount of frozen salmon portions. So what the heck, I’m not made of stone, and I was tired of standing there with my head in the Aldi refrigerator thinking about it. I got the salmon, and some burger buns and tartar sauce.

I will probably just pan fry the fish in butter and squeeze some lemon juice on top and call it good. Yeah, it was a good week!

*For this joke, I consulted the rhyming dictionary to find a funny substitute for “Lorax,” and the best one I could come up with was “Withholding Tax,” which is not very, you know, what do you know about Korean cold noodles for gay men? Because maybe it’s time. 

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. 

 

 

5 from 2 votes
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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. 

 

5 from 3 votes
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spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 285: Best I can do is no lobster

Every year, I tell the kids how strict the orthodox are in Lent, compared to us. No meat, no fish, no dairy, no cheese, no eggs, no oil on Fridays and most but not all Wednesdays, no brown or yellow or oblong grains, no oily fishies, and very few whiskered or blue-eyed mammals on the final week, which is known as Full On Horrendoustide. You can eat wax. I researched this rigorously and I don’t want to hear about it. The upshot is we westerners have it very easy, with our little meatless Fridays, and I also don’t want to hear about that. So every year I give my little speech, and then I go ahead and cook like I always do throughout Lent, except I feel bad about it. I try to avoid lobster, even if it’s on sale, which it is not. 

So here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
I don’t know. Oh, Saturday was Corrie’s birthday, so we had calzones. I feel like I already wrote about this. I’m confused. Here is a picture on my phone that says “Saturday” on it:

My little cupcake. Now she is seven. 

SUNDAY
Beef stroganoff on skinny egg noodles

But her birthday was a different day from her party. Was the party Sunday, then? I’m so confused! I think the party was Saturday, but I did the food post on Monday, so I included Saturday’s food? Anyway, Damien cooked on Sunday. He used a Deadspin recipe for stroganoff and it came out fragrant and luxuriously creamy with very tender strips of beef.

But he forgot-a the mushrooms! These things happen. Still delicious. There was some kind of run on regular noodles and there were none to be found, so we had fancy skinny noodles. Don’t tell the ecumenical patriarch. (Actually it wasn’t even Lent yet by this point.)

MONDAY
Tacos al pastor with pico de gallo

I’ve tried a few different recipes for tacos al pastor, and I like this one the best. It takes a bit of work on the front end (you have to blister up the guajillo chilis, then de-seed them, then simmer them

before adding them to the marinade, which itself has quite a few ingredients, especially if you have to make a substitute for achiote paste, which I did).

I complain, but I will admit, I adore spending a morning making a marinade. If I have nothing else to do and there aren’t a lot of people climbing over me making mountains of toast and complaining about the kind of popcorn I got, it’s so pleasant, simply messing around in the kitchen.

I also made a big bowl of pico de gallo, although I forgot to buy any peppers, so it was just tomatoes, onions, lime juice, kosher salt, and cilantro. Actual recipe:

Jump to Recipe

Here’s how pico de gallo should look, if you’re not lazy:

I, however, got lazy and did it in the food processor, so it was a little pulpier than necessary, but still sharp and tasty. 

We got a big dump of snow, so we’re still cooking exclusively indoors. When it was time to cook, I got a big skillet nice and hot with oil and cooked the marinated meat in batches, to make sure it got a little bit seared, rather than basically simmering due to being squished.

The pineapple juice in the marinade made it so tender.

While I was cooking the meat, I broiled the chunks of pineapple on an oiled pan right up under the broiler, and heated up a stack of tortillas. My land, it was all so tasty. I can never get over what wonderful things happen to pineapple with a little high heat, the hot nectary insides right under the delicate trim of char. Amazing.

The marinade is not too spicy, just kind of smoky and warming. It was a popular dish altogether, and so pretty. 

Tacos al pastor is one of my favorite Mexican dishes (and it apparently has a Lebanese shawarma influence, so that’s no surprise).

I wanted some lime cilantro rice to go with it, but we were low on rice. It was really a fully satisfying meal on its own, though, with some sour cream and cilantro thrown on top of the meat and pineapple and pico de gallo.

Your choice of corn chips or lime plantain chips on the side. Good stuff.

TUESDAY
Actual Restaurant

Fat Tuesday! We’re terrible at Mardi Gras. Nobody around here is doing anything remotely debauched, and nobody in this house would be excited about pancakes, so we went out to eat. Appetizers and everything! Corrie only went under the table one time. I got a bunch of photos of the teenagers looking away with an annoyed expression, so I’ll spare you those. 

I decided to go ahead and have a steak, which turned out to be so huge, I could only eat half (I had the second half for lunch on Thursday). And a very fat Tuesday was had by all. 

WEDNESDAY
Marcella Hazan’s red sauce on spaghetti

It was suggested to the cook that, because it was Ash Wednesday, we could just go ahead and open a jar of Aldi spaghetti sauce, but it was counter- suggested that just because it’s a penitential day doesn’t mean we have to eat dirt. So in the interest of family harmony, we had Marcella Hazan’s miraculous three-ingredient sauce, and it was, of course, wonderfully savory and delicious.

Jump to Recipe

I would say the penance came in when I could only have one helping, but actually I went back for another little scoop because nobody stopped me.

THURSDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, Pringles

Nothing to report. Fell asleep sitting up on the couch, and then Corrie came down after bedtime, sobbing because there are three kinds of matter and they all take up space, but what about the ones that donnnnnn’t? People think they want smart kids, but this is a mistake. 

FRIDAY
Fish burgers, french fries, broccoli slaw

I just got some frozen breaded fish and and some fresh dill, and I guess we’ll have fish burgers with some kind of homemade tartar sauce, assuming I can stay awake. I don’t seem to have a broccoli slaw recipe saved, but I like it with all kinds of stupid things in it, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries and all kinds of bird food that nobody else wants. I’m sure they’ll all be gracious about it, and so will I, I’m sure. And a blessed Horrendoustide to you. 

 

 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

What’s for supper? Vol. 257: Something you didn’t know about Charles Bronson*

Happy Friday! I forgot I promised to take the kids to the library! Does anybody want to take the kids to the library for me!!!

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

According to my camera roll, on Saturday I made a pizza that had black olives, fresh garlic, red onion, ricotta, artichoke hearts, parmesan, and anchovies on it. Sounds like a good idea.

As I was making it, they announced on the radio that they were sentencing the guy who put razor blades in that same brand of pizza dough (Portland Pie, which is wonderfully elastic) a year ago. I forgot about that! What the heck? You should be able to trust pizza. 

SUNDAY
Shrimp cocktail, steak, baguettes, strawberry shortcake

Fadder’s Day. Damien wanted to cook, and I graciously allowed it. He made a spice rub for some steaks and grilled them outside, and they were juicy and scrumptious. Man knows how to cook a steak. 

He requested strawberry shortcake for dessert, and my baking skills are kind of unreliable, so I bought some supermarket poundcake. He likes the strawberries mashed with a little sugar and almond extract, and fresh whipped cream. 

And it was a good idea!

MONDAY
Steak nachos and baby nachos

We had tons of steak left over, and the spice rub turned out a little more Mexicany than anticipated, so it naturally lent itself to becoming nachos. I try not to stand in the way of these natural processes. I cut up the meat and spread it over tortilla chips, topped it with jalapeño slices and lots of cheese, and heated it in the oven to melt the cheese, then served it with salsa and sour cream.

I also made a tray with chips, cheese, and completely unseasoned ground beef, for the GIANT BABIES whom we allow to live in our house. 

TUESDAY
Chicken parm sandwiches, grapes

One of the kids had a sudden memory of this sandwich and became obsessed, so I was happy to oblige, especially since her memory included frozen breaded chicken patties and jarred sauce. 

Bottom bun, chicken, a basil leaf or two, a slice of provolone, and a scoop of hot sauce, top bun. Give it a minute to melt the cheese, and you’re off to the races, by which I mean you’re eating a hot, tasty sandwich.

WEDNESDAY
Grilled chicken, Greek salad, pita and yogurt sauce

I didn’t have a clear plan for this meal, but it worked out very nicely indeed. I made a salad out of grape tomatoes, baby cukes, red bell peppers, black and kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onion, and fresh parsley, glugged on some olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkled salt, pepper, and oregano over it. SO GOOD.

So summery and refreshing, cool and crunchy, and also cheerful and pretty. A kid-pleaser, too. 

Jump to Recipe

I broiled the chicken and sliced it up, and I folded up the chicken and a scoop of salad in some pita bread with lots of highly garlicky yogurt sauce.

Jump to Recipe

And more greek salad on the side.

THURSDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, fries

Finally a chance to use the food processor my friend Tina gave me when my old Salvation Army one finally crapped out! It is a Cuisinart, and my friends, it means business. I came pretty close to puréeing the olive salad before I realized what I was doing. I’m going to have some fun with this machine. 

The olive salad was black and kalamata and manzanilla olives, some giardiniera, some roasted red peppers, parsley, olive oil and red wine vinegar, and I forget what else. We have a lot of little almost-empty jars of things, and olive salad became their destiny, and a glorious destiny it was.

I used baguettes sliced the long way for the bread, and for the fillings, ham, two kinds of salami, prosciutto, and provolone, and then some uncanonical smoked turkey and muenster, which was on sale. 

There was plenty of Greek salad left over, so I had that instead of fries.

Make sure you tell everybody: I had that instead of fries.

FRIDAY
Salmon burgers, broccoli slaw

Every so often, I re-discover that individual portions of frozen salmon are actually about the same price as frozen battered whateverfish fillets with a man in a yellow raincoat on the box. So I bought a dozen or so, and now I guess I have to cook them. Looks like we also possess some potato chips, which I will no doubt not eat, except maybe a few. 

I have some kaiser rolls, and I intend to make a tartar sauce with, I don’t know, mayonnaise and fresh dill, I guess pickles and . . . sugar? I don’t know. Pepper. 

I also have some broccoli, which I have been threatening all week to turn into broccoli slaw. That was Charles Bronson’s real name, you know. Karol Broccoslaw. He changed it on Ellis Island. 

 

*because it’s not true

Greek salad

Serve with grilled chicken, pita, and yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sm red onion, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 6-oz.cans black olives, drained
  • 12 oz kalamata olives, pitted
  • 8 oz feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano
  • lemon juice, olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix together vegetables, olives, and cheese.

  2. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil to taste and salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. Stir to combine.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 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. 241: What gets blossomed next?

And a happy Friday to you, week who just about killed us. We’re very glad most of the kids are back in school in person, but YEESH. We Fishers do not excel at transitions; we certainly do not. It didn’t help that we had lots of Nighttime Diabetes Excitement, which is one of my least favorite kinds of excitement. 

Pretty good food, though. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Meatball subs

I always say “nothing to report” when I make meatballs, but guess what? I have something to report! I have been under seasoning them. I bumped up all the seasoning by maybe 20%, and then I added a healthy glug of red wine. So nice! Just a little more savory and rich. I didn’t take a photo, possibly because of being busy eating.

I used the leftover sauce from Friday’s spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s magical sauce. And that was a good meal. 

SUNDAY
Hot chicken wings, beer brats, bloomin’ onions, a vast assortment of crunchy snackeroos and dips

Super Bowl food! Damien made his easy peasy hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip, and lots of beer brats with onions three ways (cooked in beer with onions and served with sautéed onions and raw onions); and, fearing that wasn’t enough onions, I made three bloomin’ onions. 

The hot wings were fantastic, as usual. Damien used full wings, rather than wingettes (gosh I hate that word), which I actually prefer. 

The bloomin’ onions were probably more fun to make than they were to eat. People were obliging, but we only ended up eating about half. I guess I had it in my head that it was a party since it was the Super Bowl, so I made three giant onions. 

Here I am demonstrating the lovely job my little onion blossomer does:

I didn’t show this part, but because the onion sits on a little base that’s lower than the blades, the “petals” are still attached at the root end when you take it off the cutter, which is how you can fry the onion all in one piece.  Now I’m wondering what else I can use this device to cut. Definitely a cantaloupe. We will have melon blossoms come summer, let me tell you, with little berries here and there. And maybe . . . potatoes! I’m seriously considering making some deep fried potato blossoms for Valentine’s Day.

And I’m almost ashamed to tell you this, but what I really want to try is a pork blossom. I’ll get a nice piece of lean, boneless pork, maybe marinate it for a while, and then freeze it for an hour or two to firm it up, and then . . . VOOM. Pork blossom. I guess I could deep fry if after that.  THIS IS BIG BRAIN TIME, EVERYBODY. I feel like there is some disadvantage to my plan, or some wrinkle I’m not anticipating, but I also feel like it’s going to happen anyway. 

I took so many damn pictures of these onions at various stages, I might as well share them.

Onions in ice water, firming up:

Onions coated in seasoned flour:

Onions coated in seasoned flour, then dipped in egg batter, then seasoned flour again, waiting for the oil to heat up:

Onion merrily frying in oil:

You have to fry them upside down first, shoving them down pretty hard in the pot to force the petals open; then flip it over and finish cooking it right side up. Then you can pull it out . . . 

drain it, and set it on a plate with a little dish of sauce.

Then you pull the petals off and dip. 

I used the flour, batter, and sauce recipes on this page, but next time I make this, I’ll use more ketchup and less horseradish in the sauce, which tasted a bit harsh. A bloomin’ onion should be nothing but fun and delight, no harshness at all. 

MONDAY
Turkey bacon avocado wraps; leftovers

I figured there would be lots of leftovers, and I was very right. So we had what passed for a light meal (supplemented by wings and brats): Spinach wraps, deli turkey, bacon, avocado, and Swiss cheese, with honey mustard dressing.

I don’t know why wraps feel like more of a treat than sandwiches, but they do. Maybe because I always used to order one after giving birth, and I associate them with having room service (and that first meal you eat after you have a baby is just indescribably delicious). Now I just need my own chipped ice machine and I can live that swanky hospital life every day. 

TUESDAY
Golden rice with salmon; egg rolls

New recipe. Frozen salmon is actually fairly cheap if you’re not making a giant slab of salmon your main course. We didn’t have any furikake. I don’t even know what furikake is (okay, I looked it up, and it sounds neat), but I thought the rest of it sounded delicious enough that we could limp along without it. 

Alas, this dish was not a hit, despite lots of fresh ginger and garlic and both parts of the scallion. You cook the rice, then coat it with egg yolk before stir frying it.

Also you fry up the egg whites in the pan separately and then add them into the rice. This recipe has an awful lot of putting things into the pan and then taking them out again and then adding them back in, then making a little space in the middle of the thing you’re cooking and cooking something else in there, and then combining it with the other thing . . . to be honest, I was a little relieved that it wasn’t a popular dish, because it was too much work and I don’t want to do it again!

It wasn’t bad, just bland. Needed furikake, no doubt. I also crowded the pan when cooking the salmon, so the fish part was kind of soggy, rather than crisp and toasted, which is sad. We ended up adding soy sauce and/or hot sauce. I did like the egg-coated rice, and will probably adopt that for another recipe. It gave the rice a nice richness, plus of course a cheery yellow color. And I did like the addition of the fluffy egg whites in with the rice. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken shawarma

I was going to make this over the weekend, but it seemed like everyone needed cheering up mid-week, so I made shawarma, which everyone loves. 

We had these cute little mini pita breads, which aren’t really better than normal pita, but they are cute. Tons of various kinds of olive, feta, cucumbers and tomatoes, parsley, yogurt sauce. So much garlic in everything, my lips were fizzing. So good. 

I usually put the onions in with the chicken to marinate, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with onions first thing in the morning, so I just spread them over the chicken right before I cooked it, and it turned out fabulous.

Probably do it that way from now on. There is plenty of flavor in the meat, and I liked having the onions a bit more crisp. 

THURSDAY
Pork nachos

Another successful meal that I decided on at the last minute. I’ve made John Herreid’s carnitas many times, and everyone likes them, but I was going to be driving around all day, so I chunked a piece of fatty pork into the Instant Pot with a bottle of Mexican coke, some cinnamon sticks, a quartered orange, some bay leaves, a splash of canola oil, and tons of oregano, salt, and pepper, and pressed the “meat” button. This still cracks me up. YOU MAKE MEAT NOW. *boop*

It cooked it on high pressure for 35 minutes, and then I left it on warm for a few hours until dinner, when I took the meat out and shredded it, then spread it over tortilla chips and sprinkled it with shredded cheese, and broiled it.

My land, it was good. Really tasty and tender, middling spicy and warming but not too sweet, with no need to add additional seasoning. I had mine with scallions and sour cream.

FRIDAY

I think we are having migas. The kids are having their Valentine’s Parties at school, so I’m hoping they’ll be full of hygienic store-bought individually wrapped treats and won’t care very much that it’s migas for supper, which they don’t like because they are culinary fools. 

(Pictured: Past migas)
I may make some beans and rice, but then again, I may not. Maybe I’ll just have some Pixy Stix.

Hey, don’t forget to leave your suggestions for what gets blossomed next around here! Although we all know it’s going to be a potato. (And yes, I looked up “getting blossomed” on Urban Dictionary to make sure it’s not a kink of some kind. It is not.)

Here’s the recipe cards!

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. 

 

Hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip (after Deadspin)

Basic, tasty hot wings with blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • chicken wingettes
  • oil for frying

For the hot sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • salt
  • vinegar (optional)

Blue cheese sauce:

  • sour cream
  • blue cheese
  • optional: lemon juice, mayonnaise
  • celery sticks for serving

Instructions

  1. Fry the wingettes in several inches of oil until they are lightly browned. Do a few at a time so they don't stick together. Set them on paper towels to cool.

  2. Melt the butter and mix together wit the rest of the hot sauce ingredients. Toss the wings in the hot sauce.

  3. Mix together the sour cream and crumbled blue cheese. Use a food processor or whisk vigorously to break up the blue cheese. You can add lemon juice or a little mayonnaise to thin it.

  4. Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

 

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 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 out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). 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
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 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. 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,

Jump to Recipe

 

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. 

Jump to Recipe

 

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

 

Jump to Recipe

 

and a bunch of beans and rice

 

Jump to Recipe

 

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 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 out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). 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
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 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

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

veg oil for frying

3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3+ cups water
  • 1 Tbsp 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, scraping off excess if necessary, 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’s for supper? Vol. 122: Why is Walmart garlic powder taking over the world?

The theme this week was “very basic ingredients.” The most exotic seasoning to pass through my hands all week was garlic powder. Part of the New Three Sisters: salt, pepper, and garlic powder. And you know what? We ate really well. We had some snow days, so I even baked!

SATURDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips, strawberries

Chuck roast was as cheap as it ever gets around here, so I got a five-pound hunk. Damien coated it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and browned it in a heavy pot in oil until it was crisp on all sides, then put it in the oven at 350 for about an hour. We like it rare, as you see.

We had it on rolls with horseradish sauce and slices of provolone, and I put mine in the oven to melt dat cheese.


Man. Pork is great, chicken is swell, but there is nothing like a slice of rare beef. It’s just what meat is supposed to taste like.

***

SUNDAY
Salmon burgers, asparagus, fries

I wrestled with my conscience for a while, then graciously conceded and  bought a crap ton of salmon filets that were on sale because it’s “the Lenten holiday.”

Here’s the cooking technique: Dry the filets and salt them lightly. Heat up a pan like crazy, coat the bottom with oil, and lay the filets down, skin side down. Let them cook more than halfway up, then carefully turn them over, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve sizzling hot.

I served them on soft, sweet little brioche rolls, because they too were on sale. A good companion to the tender fish, with pesto mayonnaise (my recipe: put pesto in mayonnaise) and some lettuce.

Veddy good.

MONDAY
Hot dogs, cheezy weezies, broccoli

I forget what happened Monday, but it wasn’t pretty.

TUESDAY
Meatball subs, salad

Birthday! Like fresh meat needs salt, a fourteen-year-old boy needs meatball subs on his birthday. I took seven pounds of ground beef and added seven beaten eggs, about four cups of breadcrumbs, and tons garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and minced onion.

I bake them at 350 for about forty minutes or more on a pan with drainage. See how much fat gets drained away? So easy.

Then I layer them in a glass pan with sauce, cover, and keep them warm for several hours, so the sauce has a chance to soak in a bit. Pass the parmesan.

WEDNESDAY
Roman egg drop soup, roast chicken, salad, challah

We had yet another storm, and for other complicated and boring reasons were homebound all day; so I decided to make challah. I am a terrible baker, but challah is easy, as long as you have lots of time and a warm spot in your house.

Here’s the recipe I used. I doubled it to make two giant loaves:

In a bowl, I mixed together:
6 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt

Then I added:
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup canola oil

In a small bowl, I put
1-1/2 cups warm water
and dissolved into it one envelope of fast-acting yeast.
Then I mixed this into the other ingredients.

I tried kneading it in my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook, but it was just too much dough (remember, I made a double recipe. If you make a single, this method should work fine), so I had to knead it by hand. I hate kneading dough, and always give up too soon. The dough should be smooth, but very thick and not sticky at all. You may have to add more water or more flour. My dough was still kind of knotty when I got tired of kneading.

I put plastic wrap (you can also use a damp cloth) on the bowl of dough and put it in the oven to rise. (I have a cold kitchen, so to let dough rise, I turn the oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off, let it cool a bit with the door open, and then put the dough in.)

I let it rise for maybe an hour, then punched it down and formed the loaves. For each loaf, I divided the dough into four balls which we rolled into long snakes. We braided three of the snakes, pinching the ends together, and then divided the fourth one into three again, braiding those, and laying the smaller braid on top of the larger one.

Then I laid the loaves on a buttered, floured pan (I prefer corn meal to flour, but we were out), covered them again, and let them rise again for another hour or so.

Then I took the loaves out, preheated the oven to 350, and prepared an egg wash with a few egg yolks and a little water beaten up in a cup. We brushed that over the dough.

We were out of poppy seeds, or we would have sprinkled those over the top. And yes, I made Corrie put a shirt on just for the picture.

Then I baked the loaves in the middle of the oven for maybe half an hour, until the top was all golden.

Isn’t it lovely, hmmmm?

The insides were a little dense,

I suppose because I got lazy with kneading; but it was still soft and delicious. Sweet and eggy, and so fragrant. Coziest bread in the world.

The egg drop soup is a new recipe to me. Basically you take chicken broth, add some spinach, and then mix together raw egg and shredded cheese, and then whisk that briskly into the broth. It’s very cheap and simple, so I hoped it would become a miraculous new family favorite.

Instead, I got what looked remarkably like a warm pot o’ vomit.

The eggs are supposed to turn into delicate, wispy shreds when you whisk them into the broth. Mine clumped. Also, I used frozen spinach, which turned out to be in shreds. Then I overheated it, and the egg mixture kind of boiled up to the surface and got clotty.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my soup non-clotty. Just one of my peculiarities.

It did look better in individual bowls.

The taste was actually pleasant, if not thrilling. It reminded me of quiche, or of my grandmother’s noodle kugel. If anyone has any tips on how to make them eggs shred, I may even make it again. It certainly is fast, easy, and cheap. JUST LIKE ME. Womp.

The chickens, I just slathered with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and, you’ll never guess, garlic powder. I cooked them in a 375 oven, breast down, for forty minutes, then flipped them over, seasoned the other side, and kept cooking them until they were done. You get more tasty skin this way.

I hate cooking whole chickens, and I don’t even know why. Oh shucks, the challah got into the picture again! That keeps happening. Hello, lovely! I see you!

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, Brussels sprouts

Sometimes, it’s nice to just let pork be pork. You put the ribs on a pan with drainage, sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper (but not garlic powder. Let’s not be silly), and slide them under a hot broiler, turning once, until they are sizzling. So good.

The Brussels sprouts were just boiled from frozen, so not the greatest, but on the other hand, vegetable.

I’ve decided 2018 is officially a good year because I can now make Instant Pot risotto without checking the recipe. Here’s how (and this serves about 10. You can halve it):

Press the “sauté” button and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add a diced onions and a few teaspoons of minced garlic, plus a bunch of salt, pepper, and sage. Brown the onions.

Add four cups of raw rice, still on “sauté.” Keep stirring the rice with a wooden spoon until it’s all opaque, about five minutes. Then add eight cups of chicken broth, stir it up, put on the lid, close the valve, and set it to “pressure cook” on “high” for seven minutes.

When you suddenly notice it’s been done for a while while you were gooning around on Facebook, do a quick release, and then dump in as much parmesan cheese as your conscience will allow. I find it’s helpful to say to oneself, “This is the last time I will ever eat parmesan cheese. I wonder how much I should add?” and then see what happens.

Stir in the cheese carefully and serve immediately. Then, if your rotten, no-good son ever gets around to sending you the picture you took with his phone, you can post a picture of it.

EDIT: Oh, what a good boy.

About the risotto: Someone asked if I use regular rice instead of arborio. I do! Just plain old white rice. It doesn’t turn out as good as arborio rice, but it’s still very, very good. And food you actually make always tastes better than food you can’t afford to buy.

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

Done-zo.

What’s for supper? Vol. 119: It is almost March.

Well, it’s February and everything is terrible. That’s my excuse for letting things languish around here. Someone spilled something on my computer again, and the quick and easy warranty process only took eleven steps and nine years to complete. Everyone is throwing up. Corrie is hallucinating sad gazebos in the heating vent, and won’t drink Pedialyte or breast milk, only tonic water (Schweppes). If I were in charge of the liturgical calendar, I would put Lent in a month where it wasn’t already so bloody obvious that everything will return dust, but what do I know. Anyway, soon it will be March. Right? Soon?

And, now that I have a computer again, we’ll have our podcasts up and running again asap. Thanks for your patience with that. We’ll also be transferring archives to iTunes and opening them up for non-subscribers, so stay tuned, you stay-tuners!

And now for the food.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers and chips

Husband makes good cheeseburgers.

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi, rice, spicy grilled pineapple

I’ve been thinking about banh mi forever, and the time was right. The recipe I used calls for beef, but pork is cheaper, and pork takes on more of the flavor. For this meal, I go around warning everyone that it smells like the Grim Reaper’s jock strap while it’s cooking, but the taste is really very good! This will demonstrate my marketing skills.

I took about four pounds of boneless pork loin, trimmed the fat, and sliced it as thin as I could. Then (this was actually Saturday night that I did this prep work) I put it in a ziplock bag with the marinade, which was:

2/3 cup fish sauce (this is where the “death crotch” smell comes in)
8 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs minced garlic
one onion, minced
a bunch of freshly-ground pepper

So this marinated about twenty hours in the fridge. I also pickled some vegetables ahead of time. I sliced about half a pound of carrots and two long, seedless cukes thin, and set them in jars with a mixture of water, white vinegar, and sugar. I wish I had added more sugar, and I kind of wish I had left the cukes unpickled. There were so many savory, spicy flavors, the sandwiches could have used more cooling.

Before dinner, I spread the meat and most of the marinade in a single layer and slid it right up under a very hot broiler. I turned the meat once so it got a little charred on the edges.

I toasted a bunch of sub rolls, and coarsely chopped a bunch of cilantro; and I mixed about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce into a cup of mayonnaise. I also set out plain mayo, and some jarred jalapeno slices.

Sublime sandwiches. Just the best. You line the bread with mayo, pack it with pork, then stuff the pickled vegetables in the sides, and sprinkle cilantro over the top. If you do the prep work the night before, this meal comes together in a very short time.

I also made a bunch of white rice in my Instant Pot (affiliate link. I’ll make a small commission if you click through and buy one!), using the 1:1 method. (I took five cups of rice and rinsed it clean in a colander, then put them in the IP with five cups of water. Close the top, close the vent, and press the “rice” button. It automatically sets the time, and this rice comes out springy and a little sticky, which is how I prefer it for asian meals.)

The pineapple was pretty good, not excellent. I’ll try again in the summer, when we can use a real outdoor grill. I sliced two pineapples (does everyone know the easy way to process fresh pineapple?) into long spears, then tossed them with a sweet, spicy sauce made of 3/4 of a stick of melted butter, about half a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, and a little salt. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of butter, and maybe less honey.

I put them on a greased pan with drainage and put them up under the broiler while we were putting the sandwiches together. It took much longer than I expected for the pineapple to get singed — maybe twelve minutes, after I turned them once.

I liked the flavor a lot, and the slightly firey honey taste was a great accompaniment to the banh mi; but they got a little too soft during that cooking time. As I say, next time we’ll cook them over the coals. They were not bad cold the next day — almost candy-like. Weird, juicy candy.

The meal also made nice leftovers for lunch, with a bowl of rice topped with meat and veggies warmed up. Yum.

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pesto beer bread

I diced an onion and about five carrots, then put them in the IP with about a tablespoon of minced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used the saute setting until they were a little soft, then added about a pound-and-a-half of cubed beef. When the beef was brown, I pressed “cancel,” then added two small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a cup-and-a-half of red wine, and seven cups of beef broth. Then I added one of those little packets of mixed grains from Aldi, closed the lid, sealed the vent, and set it on high pressure for eleven minutes.

There is a “soup” button, but I’m too old to learn how to use it. Anyway, this turned out swell, and only got the one pot dirty. I left it on “stay warm” for the rest of the day.

I have had this little jar of pesto in the cabinet forever, so I decided to add it to this good old reliable beer bread recipe. I made two loaves. It was . . . okay. I guess I like pesto and I like beer bread, but they don’t do much for each other.

I mean, I ate it. I ate a lot of it.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos with guacamole, tortilla chips

Pretty guac, how I love thee. I could have eaten just guacamole for supper.  Four avocados coarsely chopped, about a cup of grape tomatoes, the juice of two limes, lots of salt, some chili powder and freshly-ground pepper, a few teaspoons of minced garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro. I only had jarred jalapenos, so I minced about 1/8 cup of them, and it worked out fine. I forgot onions, but didn’t really miss them. Zippy and good.

GUAC PIC

We also had shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges with frozen fish and flour tortillas.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, tater tots

This was when the throwing really gathered speed.

THURSDAY
Chicken and salad, fresh croutons

Not everyone was sick, so we still needed food. I just doused the chicken in Italian salad dressing and shoved it under the broiler, sliced it, and served it with some bagged salad mix.

CHICKEN SALAD PIC

We had tons of bread left over from this and that, so I cut up a bunch of it into cubes, mixed it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder, and put it in a pan in a 300 oven for about forty minutes. Everybody likes croutons.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. We’ll see whose tummy is ready for that.

Oh, there was no food post last week, but I do have a few photos to share. The birthday girl went sledding with her friends, and then Elijah genially manned the hot chocolate bar when they got home.

Our hot chocolate recipe: For each mug of hot chocolate, you put into a heavy pot: one heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and two heaping tablespoons of sugar, and stir it up with a little water. You heat this paste until the sugar melts a bit, and then slowly add the milk, plus a little vanilla if you like. I made two crock pots’ worth of hot chocolate, and the guests could choose whipped cream, marshmallows, and rainbow sprinkles.

Decorations were just paper snowflakes on threads, but I liked how the cake turned out. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, then laid a paper snowflake on it and used one of those squeeze sifters (affiliate link) to sift powdered sugar over it. Then I carefully pulled the paper off. Ta dah!

It would have been lovely as is, but the birthday girl requested little candy balls, so we added those on the edge. This stencil technique is great if you want a complicated design but have shaky hands. Whatever design you want, google that + silhouette, then print it out and cut it out carefully. Then go ahead with the frosting and sugar as above. Very dramatic, and almost no skill required.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you, but now I forget. It is almost March, right?

What’s for supper? Vol. 113: Just pretty much all the food. All of it.

First a prayer request: My father is in the hospital, waiting for heart surgery. He’ll have a triple bypass, or possibly a quadruple bypass, on Tuesday. We’re very glad this surgery is available, and have high hopes he’ll start feeling better than he has in a long time once he’s recovered; but of course the recovery is long and hard, especially since he is 75 and has other medical issues. He lives alone, close to where my mother’s nursing home, but an hour or more away from all his children, so the logistics are a little daunting.
Thank you!

And now the food! We ate so much ridiculously good food this past week:

SATURDAY

Gosh, this seems like so long ago. Saturday we went ice skating and came home to have hot chocolate, popcorn, and grilled ham and cheese. Corrie was very very enthusiastic about skating and won all the races.

I did a lot of skating with Benny, until the moment came when I leaned too hard on the skating frame and it collapsed. Le sigh.

***

SUNDAY
New Year’s Eve. We pretty much ate all the food that is available to the known universe. 

Some friends sent a huge, spectacular hamper packed with luxurious treats, so we hauled out all the various tea sets you accumulate when you have eight daughters, and had a sort of rolling English tea party. Tragically, I forgot to take pictures of my own, but you must take my word for it that it was fancy beyond all reason:

If you don’t have extraordinarily generous friends who send you luxury hampers, I recommend getting some right away.

While everyone continued feasting and being fancy, my husband casually strolled into the kitchen to prepare, you know, a little sauteed scallops topped with shredded duck and Hollandaise sauce.This photo miserably fails to capture how rich and sumptuous this dish is.

If you don’t have a husband who likes to casually stroll into the kitchen and make your dreams come true, I recommend getting one right away.

This dish is not an obvious combination of flavors, but it makes so much sense once you’re shoveling it into your mouth.I thought duck would be more or less like dark turkey meat, but it’s really almost closer to lamb. So good. A wonderful meal for a special treat. (Aldi has both duck and scallops on sale every so often!)

And now the sushi! Yes, we had a sushi party on the same day as our English tea and our duckstravaganza. It made sense at the time.

First, I bought good rice and several packages of nori, soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi, pickled ginger, a little jar of roe, tuna steaks that were frozen at sea, some seared and seasoned tuna, canned salmon for the sissies, fake crab legs, toasted sesame seeds, avocados, mangos, carrots, cucumbers, and chop sticks, which we forgot to use.

I bought a sack of Nishiki rice, which is just gorgeous, like mother of pearl. It is expensive, but definitely worth it for a treat. I used the sushi rice recipe in this post (after skimming, with growing horror, through numerous other recipes that discussed whether it was more auspicious to rinse the rice 54 or 128 times before cooking), except I didn’t use quite that much salt. I cooked six cups of raw rice in the Instant Pot, which makes good sticky rice.

While the rice was cooking, I peeled the carrots into strips and pickled them, and we stirred some hot sauce into some mayo, and sliced the tuna as thin as I could, and the kids helped prep the avocados, mangoes, and cucumbers. It was all so lovely.

Now that I have ramekins, I use them all the time. Ramekins!

When the rice was done, I carefully sprinkled the vinegar mixture over it (I sextupled the recipe, but didn’t need that much) and then Benny’s moment of glory came: She used her special gold lace fan to vigorously fan the rice while I carefully turned it:

I guess you fan it to evaporate the vinegar, so the rice takes on the flavor without getting mushy. It worked!

We couldn’t find the rolling mat, so we opted for sushi cones, where you break a panel of nori in half, set the rice and fillings on one side, and roll it up diagonally. It took a while to get the hang of it, and they were not dainty, but on the other hand, NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

We kept the rice covered while everyone took turns building their sushi cones.  A few variations:

It was fantastic. Just about everyone found some combination to their liking. Some of the kids skipped the nori altogether, and made deconstructed sushi; some of them just used rice and vegetables; some of them (okay, me) just parked themselves in front of the tray and systematically worked through eleven different combinations.

We’re doing this every New Year’s Eve from now on. What ingredients would you add?

***

MONDAY
Birthday! Baby New Year turned twelve and requested calzones. 

To make twelve calzones, I used three balls pizza dough divided into fourths, then made the cheese filling (this was more than enough):

32 oz ricotta
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup parmesan
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

I stretched the dough portions into the size of small plates, then added a ball of cheese mixture, plus whatever fillings were requested. I folded the dough over and pinched the ends tightly shut, then pressed the calzone to spread out the filling evenly.

We greased two baking trays with shortening and sprinkled them with corn meal, laid the calzones on (with a few inches in between, as they puff up), and brushed the with egg yolk beaten with a little water.

I baked them at 450 for — okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe 15 minutes?

 

Then we served them with ramekins (ramekins!) of hot marinara sauce for dipping.

We made this one-bowl chocolate cake recipe. I didn’t taste it, as chocolate is a huge migraine trigger, but it looked pretty good. Decorations courtesy of the 90% off shelf after Halloween. I’m a saver.

We made chocolate frosting with a recipe on the side of the cocoa powder can. I think it was just shortening (we had run out of butter!), chocolate, and powdered sugar.

My son took a few pictures of his sister blowing out her candles, and then Google helpfully and spontaneously merged them into this horrifying glimpse into the spirit realm of birthdays:

I don’t want to know what that creature wished for.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken enchiladas and beans and rice

One of the college girls offered to make chicken enchiladas before she flies away again. They were so good. She used boneless chicken thighs with Pioneer Woman’s recipe,   and made thirty nice enchilada longbois, some red and some green.

I made some quickie beans and rice. Cooked up a few cups of rice and added a can of black beans and a can of chili kidney beans, drained, a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, some jarred jalapenos, and a bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

We just had this, but I like it. I browned up some boneless pork ribs in olive oil, then sliced them thin, and then I cooked up some frozen stir fry veggies in the pork pan. I made a dozen or so soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. The trick is to do a quick release after cooking, then dunk them in ice water, and then shells slide right off, almost in one piece. Not necessarily easier than using the stove, but a good trick if the stove is in use or if you really want unblemished whites.

 

I served a big pot of cheap ramen and let people choose pork, veggies, and eggs, plus sesame seeds, hot sauce, soy sauce, and chopped scallions.

Do you make fancy ramen? What do you add? I like this meal, but would like some more variety in the add-ins.

***

THURSDAY
French toast?

I am not sure. We had a pretty good storm going, and school was cancelled, but we got the news in the morning that my dad was going to need heart surgery, and was going to meet with the surgeons on this day.

So Damien and I rolled slowly north through the storm to the hospital while the kids managed at home. We had a good visit (the only thing my father requested was The Odyssey, Fagles translation) and I like the surgeon.

We thought we’d have to spend the night, but the snow slowed down toward evening, so we pushed ahead to get home, stopping only for Five Guys, because where else would you go on your way home from a visit to the cardiology wing?

I know this isn’t the popular opinion, but while their fries were quite good, I thought the burgers were just okay. The meat was kind of mealy, and the buns were just too greasy to be enjoyable. Huge portions, though. You can see that I am not complaining.

Then we trundled the rest of the way home through the last of the storm, and Damien installed me on the couch with a lot of red wine and The Big Lebowski. 

***

FRIDAY
I think we are having beef stew.

We’ll say an extra decade of the rosary because it’s Friday, but I have this big hunk of beef going unheeded in the fridge, and it has been quite a week.

QUITE A WEEK. Here is a picture of my dad from this summer, talking (possibly about the Declaration of Independence) with my brother Joe:

My father’s name is Phil, if you’d care to mention him in your prayers! Thank you.

What’s for supper? Vol, 77: Fish tacos are real, man.

In which we have an awful lot of cake for the home stretch of Lent.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and pepper jack cheese sandwiches, roast asparagus with butter and lemon

I’m trying to wean the family off expecting some kind of potato-based side dish with every meal. That’s one Saturday under our belts. No one has died of chip deficiency, yet.

***

SUNDAY
Just pretty much all the food in the world

Sunday, we had two confirmations

and a birthday

The confirmandi requested red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and tiramisu, respectively, and the birthday girl asked for ice cream sodas for her special dessert.
I like this picture because you can see everyone spring into action when I put the food out:


Damien made the tiramisu with this excellent recipe the night before, and added chocolate shavings right before serving. This time, I bought him ladyfingers fresh from the bakery, and guess what? They sop up a lot more rum than stale, pre-packaged ladyfingers. The party got pretty hot for a while there.

The red velvet cake was from a box. Actually, because I don’t know my colors yet, it turned out to be one box of red velvet cake and one box of yellow cake; so I swirled them together and attempted to pass it off as a flame pattern for the descent of the Holy Spirit or something.

I used this basic recipe for cream cheese frosting.

So we had cake and fruit salad and fruit punch and cookies and cheese and crackers at the reception after the confirmation, then went home and had pizzas, veggies and hummus, cake with strawberries and cream cheese frosting and tiramisu for lunch, and then for dinner, cheeseburgers and chips, and ice cream sodas for dessert.

***

MONDAY
Fish tacos, corn chips

For reasons I don’t fully understand, several of the children felt unwell on Monday and stayed home from school. Something about their stomachs not feeling great.

They recovered in time for dinner.

I’ve heard a lot of grousing about how there is no such thing as fish tacos, or fish tacos aren’t a thing. But (a) they are delicious and (b) here is a picture, so I guess we’ll keep eating them.

Just regular old cheapo fish sticks, with nice, crunchy shredded cabbage, sliced avocados, salsa, cilantro, sour cream, and a personal lime on a tortilla. Best imaginary meal ever.

***

TUESDAY
Gochujang bulgoki, white rice, nori

Normally, I prep this dish the night before, so it can marinate overnight. But I forgot, and made it in the morning, and it was still great by evening. I also grated the carrots, since I didn’t feel like cutting matchsticks, and that was great, too. I sliced a hunk of pork thin and mixed it up with the carrots and a couple of sliced onions, along with a triple recipe of this sauce:

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

So then you let it marinate as long as you can, and then fry it up in a little oil while the rice is cooking.
It’s a wonderful meal, very warming and peppy. You can, no, you must use the nori (or Romaine lettuce) to scoop up little bundles of meat and rice for gobbling purposes.

(This is an old picture. We ate zero string beans.)

That reminds me, time to order some more gochujang. It’s very handy to have around. Try it with tuna instead of mayo. Ha cha cha!

***

WEDNESDAY
Quesadillas, raw veggies

I think this was the day we suddenly remembered we hadn’t brought in a school treat for the aforementioned birthday kid. Her teacher requests treats of fruit or veggies, and that’s fine, that’s fine, it’s not communist or anything. We subverted it by making these alarming little disembodied apple grins with peanut butter and mini marshmallows.

They were well-received.

***

THURSDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches, potato puffs, salad, German chocolate cake

Another birthday! My oldest requested this wonderfully easy meal:  Throw a chuck roast in a slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini with the tops cut off and the juice, and off you go.

At 11 a.m., I suddenly remembered to pull the meat out of the freezer. So this situation, along with the risotto situation, is where the Instant Pot really shines: In less than two hours, a rock-hard roast was cooked all the way through. It actually finished cooking too soon, so I kept it on “keep warm” for several hours, and ended up overcooking it. Oops. Still yummy.

We sliced it up and served it on rolls with pepper jack cheese and horseradish sauce.

I’m counting on your Friday meat deprivation to make this horrible cell phone picture look good.

Birthday girl also had her heart set on a German chocolate cake. Know why it’s called that? Because the guy who invented it was named “German.” Now you know something! This cake is a tremendous pain in the neck, but so good. We went with this recipe from food.com. The cake was good, but I had to fight the urge to just sort of swim around in that coconut pecan frosting.

Here’s the birthday girl getting some help with her birthday candles:

Sigh, oldest and youngest, 19 and 2. SIGH SIGH SIGH. I’m fine. We’re all fine.

***

FRIDAY
French toast casserole, mangoes

This is where I get back at the kids for leaving the bread bags open all week, so the bread gets all stale and crushed. It’s not really very good revenge, because it’s delicious.

***
OKAY, we have our seder on Holy Saturday, so all next week is when the schmaltz hits the road. Stay tuned. . .  if you dare.