What’s for supper? Vol. 197: Latkes! Jelly donuts! Sushi! Oh the sushi! and Calzones.

Happy new year! If I had stayed on track back in October, I would have hit Vol. 200 of What’s For Supper right on Christmas. Instead, here we are, starting out the new year and new decade with . . . Vol. 197. The good news is, I won’t wake up at 3:45 a.m. feeling bad about this, because I’ll be too busy feeling terrible about not doing a podcast, not exercising, why is my fat head so fat, not inculcating my kids with a love of the saints and the arts, and the fact that one of them saw a bumper sticker that said “GOD BLESS JOHNNY CASH” and disagreed. Also, one of them heard Bob Dylan for the first time and said, “Who crawled into a hole and found this guy crouching there?” but I can’t really argue with that. 

Anyway, here’s what we had this week, spanning 2019 and 2020 or whatever it is:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, broccoli and dip

I had to spell “broccoli” three times before the red line went away. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, cheezy weezies, more broccoli

I ate broccoli with the fervor of someone who needs vegetables like fresh meat needs salt and vegetables. 

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, jelly donuts

Monday was the last night of Hanukkah– 

Wait, did I show you my lovely latkes? I guess that was during that weird in-between week after Christmas day, during Hanukkah, before New Year’s. Weird, man. Anyway, we have some lovely latkes, which I will now show to you:

It was a Friday and we finally decided that Friday within the octave of Christmas was a very nice day indeed, but not a solemnity, so it had to be meatless. I dunno, we get scrupey sometimes. But I really wanted latkes, so I went to the store and brought home the following side dishes: Frozen cheese blintzes, which I served with blackberry jam; frozen cheesy bread sticks, which I served with marinara sauce; crab cakes with lemon wedges; almond stollen; and crackers with sour cream, smoked salmon, and caviar. This is how we preserve Fridays as a day of penance and I don’t want to talk about it. 

Latke recipe card at the end. See my latkes! See my lovely latkes!

Gosh, they were so good. Crispy on the outside and soft and mealy inside, just right. 

Okay, so I was saying how Monday was my final chance to try making jelly donuts. (It’s traditional to eat foods cooked in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days in the temple lamps.) I didn’t feel lucky about using yeast, so I found this King Arthur recipe for easy donut holes that just uses baking powder. It really was easy. (I did use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil was hot enough, and was very surprised at how long it took to come to 350. If I had been winging it, I would have started frying much too soon.)

You just mix up the batter (and if it seems too thin, let it sit for a bit, and it becomes more dough-like) and blop it into hot oil. It puffs into cute little balls,

which you then roll in sugar and fill with jelly. 

Actually the recipe says to put the jelly in first and then roll them in sugar, which makes no sense to me.

See, you get sugar on your jelly. It’s weird.

It also makes no sense to attempt to make jelly donuts when the most advanced jelly-squirting equipment you own is a sandwich bag, and yet that is what I did. 

They became somewhat less cute in the process, but the kids did like them, so I may make it a tradition. But I will make sure I have some kind of pastry bag or injecting tool, because yeesh, what a mess. 

Oh, the soup was good. Beef barley soup is always good. 

Jelly donuts were a strangely good match for the soup, I thought. Although I may have become deranged from breathing in hot oil. Honest to goodness, Hanukkah is going to kill me. Don’t tell my doctor. Tell him about the broccoli. 

TUESDAY
NYE Sushi party!

I took most of the kids to the vigil mass while Damien and Lena covered some political thing. Corrie was . . . she wasn’t even being bad. She was just being Ultra Corrie. Right at the elevation of the Host, she turned to me with a scratch pad picture clenched in her teeth, and, through clenched teeth, said, “This is a picture of you, dead.” Which it was. 

Then we came home and STARTED MAKING SUSHI. This is our New Year’s Eve tradition, and I like it. Normally we make DIY sushi cones (which just means you take a sheet of seaweed, slap some rice in one corner, poke whatever you want on top of the rice, and then roll or wad it up and stick it in your mouth; but this year, I attempted actual rolled sushi. It wasn’t that hard, with a bamboo rolling mat, but you can see, these are a little rough.

Oops, forgot the fishy eggs! Shprinkle, shrpinkle, fishy eggs. 

Next year I’ll watch some videos first, but we muddled through. I also bought a few kits of something called sushi candy, which turned out to be plastic trays with little packets of powder marked “tuna,” “seaweed,” “rice,” etc. , and you mixed the contents with water from a little dropper and used a tiny plastic paddle to make various kinds of gelatinous heaps of gel that actually resembled tuna, seaweed, rice, etc. Then you could shape them into sushi. It was simultaneously ingenious and very terrible, which has been my experience with every single kind of Asian candy. 

I made a batch of good rice (Nishiki brand. They look like mother of pearl) and mixed it gently with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (I cooked eight cups of raw rice and used 1 cup of rice vinegar, half a cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of salt. You put the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a pot and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then fold it gently into the cooked rice while someone stands there fanning it with a paper plate so it doesn’t make the rice mushy). The Instant Pot makes great, sticky rice for sushi. 

We had raw salmon and raw tuna, seared mahi mahi, sautéed calamari, black caviar (couldn’t find any of that neat red-orange roe), little cooked shrimpies, sticks of cucumbers, avocado, and mango; wasabi sauce, sriracha mayo, pickled ginger, and of course soy sauce. We needed more crunchy elements. Maybe next time I will do a shrimp tempura. Or even just toast up some panko flakes. You know, it takes a lot of sushi to make twelve people feel like they ate too much, but we managed. 

We did make a bunch of hot dogs just to make sure everyone had something to eat (and this accounts for the bottle of ketchup you may see in some photos! We may be uncultured swine, but we do not put ketchup on our sushi). Then, according to tradition, we watched a Marx Brothers movie. This time it was A Night At the Opera, one of the best. Boogie boogie boogie!

WEDNESDAY
Calzones, banana splits

Birthday! She was the first child born in that city on New Year’s Day. They sent a reporter and photographer to the hospital and tried to get me to say that it wasn’t a big deal because we already had a bunch of other babies. I remember saying that it was a big deal, though, so there. Sophia is still a big deal, and always will be. 

We went to see a Star War (and I am exactly the right level of Star Wars fan, which means that I had a vague idea of who most of the people were, and found the movie entertaining and nice, and then as soon as the lights came on, I forgot about everything I just saw) and then came home for calzones and banana splits. A few of them spilled their guts in the pan

But most of them retained their dignity.

Corrie helped me with the egg wash, which she called “polish.” 

THURSDAY
Nachos

The high school kids had to go back to school on Thursday, can you believe it? The other kids were still on vacation, and had an “argh, vacation is almost over and we didn’t have enough fun” sleepover. I went to visit my mom and somehow persuaded myself that I’d be back in town in time to take the little guys to the caterpillar lab thing, but I barely had time to buy extra meat and fry it up before dinner. You can see that I went all out with the exotic seasonings.

Today, caterpillar lab o morte

FRIDAY
Pahster.

And very find pahster it was. I decided I didn’t want to deal with caterpillars, and we went to the children’s museum instead. Here is a photo of Benny and Corrie, intergalactic heroes, running out of oxygen shortly before crashing into the sun.

(Ten years later, they returned triumphantly to earth with a dog they had rescued from space, so don’t worry!)

And here are your recipe cards! Smell you next week. 

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take handfuls of potato mixture and squeeze out any excess moisture. Flatten mixture slightly and lay them in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

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.  

What’s for supper? Vol. 189: Suppli! Canolli! French onion soup! Jacques Pepin’s chicken thighs! Parmesan asparagus! and more

Come, come away with me, on a magical food journey withouten any potatoes in it! 

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, broccoli and dip

I can’t even remember what we were doing on Saturday. Running around, no doubt. 

SUNDAY
Pork ribs, cole slaw, mashed squash

This is my new favorite way to make acorn squash. Cut in half, scoop out seeds, roast, scoop, mash with butter, brown sugar or maples syrup, kosher salt, and a little chili pepper. It’s easy enough that I don’t mind making it for the very few people who like it. As I was eating, I asked Damien if he remembered that wonderful squash we had in the hospital after Corrie was born, and he reminded me that he and I have very different experiences of that first post-delivery meal. (He did not remember the squash.) 

I sprinkled the pork with salt and pepper and put them in a roasting pan under the broiler, turning them once. 

The cole slaw was very simple, just shredded cabbage in a dressing of mayo, vinegar, a little sugar, salt, and pepper. 

MONDAY
WELL. LET ME TELL YOU. 

Monday is our annual “I don’t want to talk about it; we just really like Italian food and there aren’t any birthdays in October, so we have some free time” October 11th meal. We had a houseguest this week (my oldest kid’s friend from college), and my son’s girlfriend was here, and so was my father.

Excellent guests, all. I poured a little wine, and away we went!

For antipasto, we had two kinds of salami, fresh mozzarella, provolone, purple olives, giant green olives stuffed with garlic, fresh bread, toasted bread, artichoke hearts, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, breadsticks, pears wrapped in prosciutto.

And something called “pepper drops,” which turned out to be sweet, tender, marinated infant peppers. I didn’t get great pictures, but this is the basic idea, in the middle of my “everything happens here” kitchen:

While they were munching on that, I made the suppli.

Suppli are breaded, deep-fried balls of risotto with mozzarella in the center, and if that doesn’t sound good to you, I just don’t know what to say to you. You can add various things — mushrooms, pancetta, herbs, tomato sauce, etc. — but that is the basic form. 

It’s much easier to make suppli if the risotto is chilled, so I made it the night before. I love my Instant Pot for easy, weekday risotto, but nothing beats creamy, fragrant, labor intensive, stovetop risotto for suppli. I formed them in the morning

and fried them while people were eating the antipasto. I am extremely proud of my suppli, and they turned out so well this year! Next year, though, I’ll let them all warm in the oven for at least five minutes, to make sure all the cheese is melted. 

Then Damien served his course, which this year was pasta and homemade tomato sauce with sausages, and a mountain of garlic bread. Because I am frail, I skipped this course, and just ate some pomegranates. 

Totally worth extra time in the underworld. 

Finally, we had mini cannoli and Italian ices. I had to call around a bit and get a bakery to set aside some empty cannoli shells for me. I don’t really have a recipe for the filling — just ricotta cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla or almond extract. You can pipe it into the shells with a ziplock bag, and then sprinkle them with rainbow sprinkles or chocolate shavings, and pop a maraschino cherry in the end. 

And that, my friends, was a very good meal, and a very good day.

TUESDAY
Leftovers.

It was such a good meal, we had some of it twice.

WEDNESDAY
Jaques Pepin’s insanely crispy chicken thighs with mushroom sauce; parmesan asparagus

Someone posted this recipe after I asked for truly easy meal ideas last week. I was skeptical then, since it looked complicated and weird. 

WELL. This is definitely going in the rotation. It’s a weird cooking method, but it’s almost brainless, and comes out ridiculously tasty and oh ye gods and little fishes, that skin is remarkable. You may never in your life have had chicken thigh skin this good. Recipe from this site

Basically you take chicken thighs, turn them skin down, and slash the meat on both sides of the bone, then salt and pepper it heavily. You put the thighs skin down on a COLD SKILLET, turn it way up until it sizzles, then turn it to medium, cover it tightly, and walk away. Well, you can check it a few times to make sure it’s not burning, and loosen the meat up off the pan, but that’s the only thing you have to do for it.  

When it’s done cooking (about 25 minutes), you keep it warm in the oven while you sauté some mushrooms, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and white wine in the chicken fat, and then you have a lovely sauce to spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle some chopped chives over the top, and there it is.

You are thinking, “But what is a French recipe without butter? Surely this needs some butter to add richness and flavor and moisture.” Do me a favor and try this one time without butter, and see how it goes.

You will also think, “I’m only seasoning under the thighs? Surely the skin needs some flavor as well.” It turns out I was supposed to season them on both sides, but it didn’t matter! I don’t know how it works — I guess those slashes help the seasoning rise up into the whole thigh? — but the whole piece of chicken was flavorful. The thighs get sort of flattened, and the skin turns into . . . argh, how do I say this so it doesn’t sound gross. It sort of becomes a crisp cap or a rind to the meat. It’s just great. You really have to try it.

I will admit I made a huge mess with this, but that’s mainly because the skillets I used have almost no rim, and I slopped hot chicken fat everywhere. Next time I’ll just use some big frying pans, or maybe keep a baster on hand to keep the fat under control. I do recommend cast iron if you have it, but any stick-resistant pans should work. 

Oh, and if you have mushroom-haters in your family, you can easily serve the chicken plain, since the mushrooms get cooked separately. 

I didn’t get around to serving the asparagus with Monday’s feast, so I spread it in a pan, drizzled it with olive oil, shook on plenty of salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese, and roasted it.

Perfect, and so fast and easy.

THURSDAY
French onion soup, smoked turkey and Swiss sandwiches

‘Tis soup season. I follow a very simple, flexible recipe where you slowwwwwwwwwly cook a ton of onions in a ton of butter, maybe stir iin some sugar, then stir in some flour and pepper, then add chicken or beef broth and parmesan cheese, and let it simmer for as long as you can. Top with more parmesan. I don’t like having a thick layer of cheese on top. I hate it when you’re supposed to bust through a layer of something and all you have is a spoon. Life is hard enough. 

Infected with some madness, I picked up a gallon of glue so the kids could make slime (no school because a nor’easter left a lot of downed power lines and debris in the road) which I’ve somehow managed to resist all these years. We made the kind with glue, baking soda, and contact lens fluid.  It turned out well, but it needs a lot more contact lens fluid and mixing than they say! We also had a dentist appointment, and we needed to hit the flu clinic, so it wasn’t exactly the sleepy, cozy, rainy day at home I envisioned. I rushed the soup a bit, so it was a little on the light side, but it was still delicious, buttery, sweet, rich, comforting. No leftovers, which is rare in this house. 

I made a bunch of leftover hot dog and hamburger buns into big croutons. I drizzled them with olive oil and shook on plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and toasted them slowly in a 300 oven. 

We had smoked turkey from the deli, Swiss cheese, and ciabatta rolls. I had mine with dijon mustard and pickles. We all went to a flu shot clinic at 5, so it was good to come home to hot soup and easy sandwiches. 

This was the swankiest flu clinic I’ve ever seen. They had apples and cider, and the kids got stickers, pencils, and candy, and then they were allowed to pick out a teddy bear and bring it to a nurse, who would then put a cast on it wherever you wanted.

The place was absolutely mobbed. I am very proud of NH. I know nobody was showing up with all their kids on a Thursday evening just to get a teddy bear. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas

Just quesadillas, I believe. 

Okay, here’s the recipe card for the suppli and risotto. Will add more cards later as time allows! Get your flu shot! 

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven.