What’s for supper? Vol. 310: Back on my biryani

GOOD
MORN-ING
GIRLS-AND-BOYS!

{Good morn-ing, Miss El-lis!}

Sweet, sweet Miss Ellis, our music teacher who seemed to have descended from another era and remained untouched by all the very small town 1980’s public schooliness that swirled around her modestly clad ankles. She died relatively young, and so she still remains in my mind as a tall, gentle, slightly stooped, slightly pained-looking woman with a feathered bob, still wearing the plaid jumpers, clogs, and clunky folk jewelry that looked right to her while the rest of the world succumbed to Cyndi Lauper. She had us tootling into our recorders and scraping away at our lummi sticks while she labored away on her autoharp, teaching us folk songs from around the world against our will. And I still remember them, dozens of them. What a lovely woman. Good morning, Miss Ellis!

I guess it’s just fall, remembering time. It’s also cool weather, drizzly weather, and time to really start leaning into things that smell lovely and warm you up from the inside out. It helped that I didn’t have a car all week, so I was home to cook and take my time at it. Here’s what we had: 

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Damien made this meal while I sweated and slaved over a hot computer, putting together an Instacart order. Nobody’s tired of Italian sandwiches yet. I’ll tell you, this has not been a great year for tomatoes, though. They look okay, but they just don’t taste like much. The basil is fine, though. 

Sandwiches are a fine time to practice your pepper grinding skills. Also don’t be afraid to really bend that elbow when you’re pouring the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Tips!

MONDAY
Carnitas, guacamole

Just another manic Monday, that’s my carnita day. You start out with some hunks of pork sprinkled heavily with salt, pepper, and oregano, and simmer them nicely in a ton of oil and some Coke, a few quartered oranges, some cinnamon sticks, and a few bay leaves.

Jump to Recipe

Give it plenty of time. 

Pull the extries out and keep cooking it until the meat just gives up. 

and then maybe cook it a little longer just to give it a little more texture and color. 

I like carnitas with pico de gallo and sometimes beans and rice, but this time I just made a bowl of guacamole. 

Jump to Recipe

It wasn’t the greatest, and I’m not sure why. I forgot to order tomatoes, so that was missing, but it also just had a kind of harsh taste. Maybe the onions were a little old? Not sure. I mean don’t get me wrong, I ate plenty. It just wasn’t the greatest. 

The carnitas were good. Sweet and a little smoky or something. Not smoky, I don’t know. I had plenty. 

TUESDAY
Chicken biryani, coconut mango sorta-sorbet

A new recipe! I could not have been more pleased with how this turned out. This is from Simply Recipes and I followed it exactly, except for extending the cooking time, which I was prepared for, because last time I made biryani, the rice was so underdone. Oh, I also used chicken broth instead of water, and I skipped the golden raisins, because I knew it would prejudice the kids against this meal. 

I started cooking in the morning. First I gathered the spices. Salt and pepper for the chicken, and then onion, fresh ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. 

Next, I accidentally dumped about 1/4 cup cardamom down the heating vent. This is not a bad way to begin the heating season, and I may sell this idea to Martha Stewart. I did manage to get the rest into the mortar and pestle and grind it up.

The next step is to prep your rice (I just used regular shorty rice, no fancy basmati or anything) and set that aside; and then slice the chicken thighs up along the bone, then season and fry them in oil. 

At this point, I realized that my almost lifelong horror of frying chicken is probably outdated and unnecessary. When I think of frying chicken, I think of a miserable, stressful catastrophe with hot oil spattered all over the place, billowing clouds of smoke, people screaming, the earth cracking open like a giant egg, species going extinct, I don’t know. Just a bad chicken scene in general. 

But that’s probably because last time I tried to fry chicken, I had a ton of little kids in the kitchen literally hanging off my legs, if not my boobies, while I fried. I probably had a terrible, thin, warped pan to cook with, and not enough oil, and no tongs, and maybe a broken stove, and I was probably in the habit of constantly telling myself what a rotten cook I was while I cooked; and supper was probably late, and everyone was upset, and the earth was probably cracking open like a giant egg. The odds, in short, were against me at the time. A bad chicken scene indeed. 

But things are different now! I have better equipment, I’m a much more confident and skilled cook, and I almost always cook alone. Or if someone comes in, I tell them to go away, and they do. 

What I’m saying is, I’m going to fry some chicken next week. I will probably still tell myself I’m a rotten cook, but, per my therapist, I will catch myself saying this. 

Anyway, back to the biryani. The next thing is to take the chicken out of the pan and fry up the onions and ginger in the oil. Lovely, lovely. Then you add in the turmeric and cardamom and it gets even better. Turmeric, as you know, is this deep golden hue, and you wonder if it’s going to stay so golden when you mix it in to other things, or if it will become diluted. And you will not be disappointed! Oh, I enjoyed myself so much.

Cook a bit more and then add your rinsed rice into the pan

and then add in the chicken, the broth, and the bay leaves and cinnamon. 

My friends, I had to physically force myself to put a lid on the pan. The aroma was straight from paradise and I did not want to be separated from it. 

So it just simmered for about 20 minutes, and when I took the lid off, this magic had occurred:

I don’t know what I expected, but I was just thrilled. Look at it! It’s biryani! 

According to the recipe, the biryani is now cooked. As I expected, though, it was cooked unevenly, and much of the rice was still crunchy. This is a very common issue with biryani, apparently. This is why I started in the morning. So I transferred the whole thing to the slow cooker and set it on low, and let it steam itself for the rest of the day. 

By dinner time, it was piping hot and thoroughly cooked, but not mushy or anything. 

I served it up with some toasted almonds and some chopped cilantro. 

They liked it! Just about everybody liked it. This dish has plenty of depth and cozy layers of flavor, but it’s not spicy at all. This recipe is most certainly going into the rotation, and I may even sneak some golden raisins in next time. So delicious. 

I love that I was able to make it all in the morning. It would make a great party dish. Tasted even better the next day. Wonderful stuff. 

Now for the sorta-sorbet. As I mentioned the other week, the Concord grape sorbet I made turned out so well, I thought a mango sorbet would be great to go with Indian food. The mangoes I ordered were nowhere near ripe, though, so I asked Damien to bring home some frozen mango chunks, and then quickly chose this recipe, which looked simple but promising enough. 

Foolish Simcha, ignoring the biggest red flag at all. She calls it a “sorbet dessert,” rather than just sorbet. This is classic recipe vacillation language, when you come out with something kind of gloppy and you don’t really know what it is, so you just straight up lie about it, and then call it “dessert” to cover your butt. 

Or maybe I screwed up, who knows. Anyway, you’re supposed to blend the mango, coconut milk, lime juice, honey, vanilla, and a little salt in a blender, and …. that’s it. 

In her world, this comes out of her blender the consistency of thick, creamy soft serve ice cream, and she scoops it into an adorable coconut-shaped ramekin and boops a mint leaf on top for the photo. 

In my world, it looked like someone ate a mango and then their stomachs changed their mind. 

I tried freezing it in separate little cups and everything. No dice. I mean it was fine. It tasted fine. It wasn’t any damn sorbet, though. I probably should have put it through my ice cream maker, but by this time, I was kind of mad, and decided not to, on principle. I comforted myself with more biryani. 

WEDNESDAY
Bacon, brussels sprouts, and eggs

Second dark, rainy day in a row. This is a most excellent, one-pan meal that comes together pretty quickly, and that just about everybody likes. I kifed this recipe from Damn Delicious, and I like Chungah, but she calls for four pieces of bacon, and what is that. I used four pounds of bacon, plus three pounds of brussels sprouts, and about fifteen eggs. It was too much bacon, but on the other hand, it was dark and rainy out

You make a nice little sauce with balsamic vinegar, honey, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you cook the bacon and brussels sprouts with this on a sheet pan

Then you crack some raw eggs carefully over the pan, sprinkle some red pepper flakes and freshly-grated parmesan cheese over that, and some more salt and pepper, and cook it several minutes longer, just until the whites set but the yolks are still wobbly.

And that’s it. So easy. Gosh, it’s delicious. The bacon and brussels sprouts soak up the sweet vingary garlicky sauce, and you can pick up forkfuls of this and dip it in the hot egg yolk and just have a wonderful time. 

Would have been great with some hot crusty bread or some hot pretzels. I think I served tortilla chips. 

THURSDAY
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, rolls, pizza rolls, cake

Thursday was Clara’s birthday! I still owe her a decent cake and a real present, because the whole entire day was eaten up with the worthy project of BUYING A CAR. 

There is a whole long agonizing story about the old car, which is still unresolved, but I did miraculously find this lovely 2010 Honda Odyssey and now it’s mine. Well, I guess technically it belongs to the Service Credit Union, but in five short years it will be mine! I truly love it. I haven’t heard a single bad thing about Honda Odysseys, and this one has heated seats and a sunroof and it only smells a little bit weird, and only in a cat way, not in an automotive way.

Clara modestly asked for chicken soup with matzoh balls for her birthday, and I had the foresight to get the soup going the night before. The soup could not be simpler. It’s really a broth with a few garnishes, more than a soup. A big pot of water with chicken parts with bones, big pieces of carrots, onion, and celery, salt and pepper, and a big handful of fresh dill and fresh parsley. Simmer all day, then strain. Put back as much of the solid bits of chicken and vegetables as you like, but understand that it’s mostly for texture and looks, as the taste has gone into the broth. Let the broth cool and skim off the fat if there’s too much. Then reheat and use as you wish. (I wish to use it to cook matzoh balls.)

So on Thursday I got the matzoh ball dough going when I got home (it needs to chill for at least half an hour), then strained the soup, heated it up, and started cooking some pizza rolls I bought in a panic because what if there’s not enough food? Then I made about 50 matzoh balls and let them simmer and steam for about half an hour.

Served with some soft rolls because what if there’s not enough etc etc
I threw a little fresh dill and parsley on top of the soup, and it was very nice.

I don’t know if all of the matzoh balls were cooked properly, but all the ones I got were!

And then we had a STORE-BOUGHT CAKE. Because I may be an idiot, but even I know that if you get home after 6 PM, it is too late to start baking a cake. I still owe Clara a real cake. Maybe this weekend. 

FRIDAY
Land, I don’t know. I think we are having spaghetti. 

 

John Herreid's Carnitas

Very easy recipe transforms pork into something heavenly. Carnitas are basically pulled pork tacos with the meat crisped up. Serve with whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • pork butt/shoulder, cut into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • oregano
  • oranges, quartered
  • cinnamon sticks
  • bay leaves
  • 1 can Coke or Mexican Coke
  • 1 cup or less vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the chunks of pork with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the oil and Coke, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours. The oranges will start to get mushy and the liquid will begin to thicken.

  4. When the meat is tender, remove the oranges, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat up and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat has a dark crust. Be careful not to let it burn.

  5. Remove the meat and drain off any remaining liquid. Shred the meat. It it's not as crisp as you like, you can brown it under the oven broiler, or return it to the pot without the liquid and fry it up a bit.

  6. Serve on warm tortillas with whatever you like.

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. 

Bacon, eggs, and brussels sprouts in honey garlic balsamic sauce

Adapted from Damn Delicious.  An easy and tasty one-pan meal that would work for any meal. Great with a hearty bread like challah. 

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 lbs uncooked bacon, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 18 eggs
  • oil for greasing pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish (optional):

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease two large oven sheets. 


  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix Brussels sprouts and bacon together, spread evenly in pans, and pour sauce all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Cook until bacon is almost done (almost as crisp as you like it) and Brussels sprouts are very slightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

  4. Pull the pans out of the oven and carefully crack the eggs onto the Brussels sprouts and bacon, here and there.

  5. Return pan to the oven and cook a few minutes longer, just enough to set the eggs. The yolks will get a little film over the top, but don't let them cook all the way through, or you'll have something resembled hard boiled eggs, which isn't as good. You want the yolks to be liquid so you can dip forkfuls of fod into it.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes and serve. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 304: It’s souvlaki all the way down

Happy Friday! The name of the game this week was souvlaki! We didn’t really have that much Greek food; I just like saying “souvlaki,” and apparently so do Greek people, because every time I look up a recipe for something Greek, they let it slip somewhere in the recipe that this is souvlaki. No matter what it is. I have looked it up, and apparently the main ingredient necessary, in order for a dish to qualify as authentic Greek souvlaki, is “various meats.”

This is what makes me take a dim view of arguments that such-and-such dish isn’t really authentic. I mean, if it’s made of sawdust, then no, it’s not authentic cuisine. One time I told my kid I was eating imitation crab meat, and she said with great condescension, “Weww, Mama, I woudln’t eat wubba cwab if I was you.” But that is as far as I’m willing to go. Beyond that, it’s all authentic souvlaki as far as I’m concerned. (This is a complicated joke about fake meat, mock turtle soup, and turtles all the way down, if you like. If you don’t like, you can just keep reading, and eventually there is a nice picture of pork.) 

Weww, Mama, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, veggies and dip, chips, cherry pies with ice cream

My sister and five of her kids came over on Friday. On Saturday, we had a lovely guest for lunch, Fr. Michael Eades, a Toronto Oratorian who was passing through, so we had a little cookout in the middle of the day, and then we went to the beach, and then we came home and had another little cookout, because It Is Summer. 

I had a lot of fun making the pies. I do recommend sitting down in the afternoon and pitting several pounds of cherries while chatting with your beloved sister, and all your kids goof around playing cousin games and being silly. It’s just nice. Then I made the pies and Corrie brushed them with egg wash for me

and of course I managed to burn them, but they still got ate up. 

Here’s my reliable pie crust recipe:

Jump to Recipe

SUNDAY
Spaghetti al carbonara 

Other meats have gotten more expensive, but bacon, which was always expensive, has stayed about the same, so I convinced myself this counted as a cheap meal, because I hadn’t gone shopping yet and it was literally the only dinner I could think of. 

Just about everybody likes it, and I managed not to burn the bacon, anyway. I bet you haven’t made carbonara for a while! Why not make it this week?

Jump to Recipe

Just pasta, bacon, parmesan, eggs, butter, and lots of pepper. Sticks to your ribs, as my grandfather used to say. You can make it fancier if you want, but the basic version is so easy and good.

MONDAY
Chicken drumsticks, pasta salad

Drumsticks really are cheap, to my sorrow. I hate drumsticks. I mean, they’re fine. On the drumsticks, I put olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika, and roasted them, turning them once. The pasta salad had olive oil, wine vinegar, black olives, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and I imagine salt and pepper. 

Not a sophisticated meal, but I went shopping in the afternoon, got home late, got the food put away because the grocery-put-away kid was at work, and then cooked supper, so everyone has hungry and appreciated food. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

I used to think Taco Tuesday was so silly. The kids would get so excited if I served tacos on Tuesday, and I just could not see what the big deal was. It was just tacos, regular tacos, and it happened to be on a day that also started with T, big deal. 

But you know what? Taco Tuesday performs the valuable service of letting me not figure something out. What day is it? Tuesday. What are we having? Tacos. What are people? Happy. Take a little nap, brain. THIS IS WORTH FORTY MILLION DOLLARS.

To the drained ground beef, I added lots of cumin, lots of chili powder, salt, plenty of garlic powder and onion powder, and some water. I guess I am officially weaned off using those little packets of taco seasoning. The secret ingredient is, as I suspected, salt. 

I went to take a picture of my tacos, and the camera was open the other way and captured this somewhat portentous photo of myself, looking like I am considering devouring not only the tacos, but the entire world, because the world is asking for it.

 

And here is the picture of my tacos.

WEDNESDAY
Pork gyros (souvlaki), homemade vanilla ice cream

The star meal of the week. I had a pork loin that I cut into thin slices and marinated in the morning. I sorta kinda followed this recipe (souvlaki), except I used a lot more garlic than it says, skipped the thyme, and went with fresh rosemary and fresh oregano. The one important thing is that this marinade includes honey, which he claims (and which I have no reason to doubt) breaks down the pork fibers. I marinated the meat about five hours and then pan-fried it in batches, and it certainly came out amazingly, yieldingly tender. 

I also made a big batch of garlicky yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

and cut up a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, and we cooked some french fries and I sent the girls out for a bunch of wild mint leaves, we and wrapped it all up in pita with feta cheese and hot sauce. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. (Actually I skipped the fries because I ran out of room and I secretly think it’s kind of gross.) I forgot to take a picture of it actually wrapped up like a wrap, because I just gobbled it up. You really cannot beat fresh herbs in a wrap. I think I’m going to take another stab at growing herbs inside this winter, because it makes such a difference. 

THEN, my ice cream maker arrived! Actually it arrived on Tuesday. I’ve been haunting Facebook Marketplace, and found a great deal on a Cuisinart ice cream maker (this one, and I didn’t spend any $83.10 on it!). We dashed out (that’s an ice cream maker joke) for some heavy cream and decided to just start with vanilla. I had put the bowl in the freezer in the morning (this is the kind you don’t need ice or salt for, but you do need to freeze the bowl for at least six hours ahead of time), and we made one batch that came out great, but the bowl did not stay cold enough in our sweltering kitchen to make a second batch. So I went ahead and ordered a second bowl from eBay, plus the Ben and Jerry’s recipe book everyone is telling me is the best. 

Benny always strives to dress appropriately for the occasion. 

So, no thrilling ice cream tales so far, but our first foray was pleasant enough. The machine is very simple to use. The ice cream comes out of th machine like soft serve, but I spread it in a pie plate and put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it came out like high quality hard pack ice cream.

There are some peaches on our peach tree, and we intend to make them into ice cream when they’re ripe; and we’re planning some ginger ice cream for next time we have Asian food, and probably, oh yes, blackberry ice cream when we get back from vacation and haven’t been scrounging away at the blackberry bushes for a whole week. 

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, cheezy weezies

Just good old oven broiled ribs with salt and pepper with the fat crisped up, nothing better. I was planning mashed potatoes, but it was and is way way too hot, so cheezy weezies it was. It’s been so hot all week. Hot hot hot. I actually got a bunch of work done on Thursday morning and then did something I haven’t done in decades: I draped myself over a floatie and just drifted around in the pool thinking about nothing. Just drifted like a screensaver, drift, bonk, driffffft. 

Actually before that, I went to jump off the little deck, got caught on a nail, and left most of my swim suit bottoms behind. Straight out of Looney Tunes. The kids may never recover. 

I’ll show you various meats. 

One of my kids immediately climbed out of the pool and went to find me a towel to cover my modesty. And another of my kids immediately shouted, “Not that one! That’s my towel!” And I am taking notes. 

Anyway, after that is when I decided I would just drift for a while. For some reason, the kids got out of the pool after my comic mishap. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

And now, I can hardly believe my luck, but we are getting ready to go to the ocean for a week. I planned (and, in a stroke of good sense, pre-paid for) this vacation back in the middle of winter, and boy oh boy. Are we going to swim in the ocean. We usually go to Hampton Beach, but we’re venturing a little further down the coast this year. I bought Aldi’s entire stock of oversized towels on clearance, and we have our shark-spotting app all fired up, and we might not have our absolute favorite kind of insulin, but we do have insulin, and the check engine lights are on but are not flashing, so off we go! The house we rented has a small balcony and a SPIRAL STAIRCASE in it. And is near the ocean!!!!!!!!!! It allegedly has a little boardwalk leading to a private beach 300 yards away, but many of those words can mean all kinds of things, so we shall see. But still. The. Ocean. I’ll probably be posting photos on Facebook and possibly Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to.

Yes, there will be someone watching the house at home, so please do not feel free to rob us of all our cool and valuable possessions, such as our, um, our very valuable, you know what, go for it. I guess the printer is only a few years old if you want. I may have a Creedence tape in there somewhere.

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

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.

 

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. 300: We eat in the shade

For months, I’ve been watching the approach of What’s for Supper? Vol. 300 and wondering what spectacular thing I would do to mark the occasion. It turns out vol. 300 hit on a week where I was insanely busy and did almost no cooking, I wrote up a long post complaining about all the home renovations we did instead, and the whole thing was so whiny and boring, I couldn’t bear to publish it.

So here we are at actual vol. 300, and guess what? I’m VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS NEW COLD SICILIAN FRIED SWEET AND SOUR ZUCCHINI DISH. So it all worked out! I wish it were a Spartan zucchini dish, but it is still very good. 

There were be no further 300 jokes. That’s all I got, unless I think of another one. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken tenders maybe? 

We were, as I mentioned, coming off a long week of very intense home renovations, some planned, some thrust upon us. I think we also had cold broccoli.

SUNDAY
July 3 cookout!

Sunday was our lovely annual Independence Day/family reunion cookout, somewhat smaller than some years, but still a wonderful day with perfect weather and the very best of company. Here’s the whole album of photos on Facebook, if you care to take a look at all the cousins and hamburgers and sparklers and one very happy puppydog

We kept the menu pretty basic: Hamburgers and hot dogs, veggie burgers and tofu dogs, and smoked chicken thighs with a sugar rub

Jump to Recipe

I decided life would be better for everybody (me) if we didn’t need forks for anything, so I didn’t make any side dishes at all; I just bought about forty bags of chips. Didn’t even buy corn. My neighbor Millie brought over a banana bread. Clara made patriotic cream puffs

and I made a bunch of red and blue Jell-o cups with Kool Whip on top, and we had little ice cream cups and lots of candy, lots of soda and beer, and dark and stormies (ginger beer, dark rum, lime juice, and ice).

We had sparklers, snappers, glow sticks, googly-eyed glasses, patriotic tattoos, the pool and trampoline, and Damien flew the drone around and the dog just about lost his so-called mind.

Then we read the Declaration of Independence, ate candy, swatted bugs, and set off fireworks. A very good day.

Sharing this one photo out of sheer vanity, because my arms look okay for once.

MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips, cherry hand pies

This seems strange in retrospect, but I guess I felt like making eleven little pies the next day, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t really sure what shape to do, so I made them ridiculous.

I used my very reliable pie crust recipe, with the frozen grated butter and ice water

Jump to Recipe

and I made a filling with just cherries (Benny used the “narrow-neck bottle and chopstick” system of pitting her half of the cherries, but I prefer the “just rip their little hearts out” method, with is messier but faster), a handful of sugar, a few spoonfuls of cornstarch, and a little salt. I brushed a little egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar over the top and baked them up, and I thought they were just swell.

Tart and juicy with a tender shell.

I actually just had pie for dinner.

No regrets. 

TUESDAY
Nachos, fruit salad

Nothing fancy. Just seasoned beef and cheese on chips, with salsa and sour cream and cilantro on the side, and a fruit salad of watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.

I bought four watermelons for the cookout and forgot to serve them. I managed to smuggle two of them into my sisters’ cars as they drove away, but I still have two to get through, so that’s been a feature this week. 

Not exactly a hardship. The fruit is all so sweet right now, you can’t imagine. Well, I hope you’re having some fruit yourself, right now, so you don’t have to imagine. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, garden lettuce, and sweet and sour zucchini and summer squash

Bone-in pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I knew what I had to do. I got this pork, about a 9-pounder, going the night before, with a cup of sugar and a cup of salt rubbed all over it and wrapped up tight with plastic wrap. Then at about noon the next day, I unwrapped it again, put it in a 300 (oh! 300! There you go) oven in a pan heavily lined with tin foil, and that, my friends, is just about the whole entire deal. It’s so easy.

Goes in like this

and comes out six hours later like this

You don’t even need a knife.

There is supposed to be a part at the end where you put brown sugar, cider vinegar, and a little more salt on it and let it finish cooking into a crunchy little savory sugary crust, but half the time I forget to do this part, and nobody notices. The pork I got had a nice fat rind on it, so it already had a wonderful caramelized crust on top. Oh, this roast is just superb. You squint hard at it, and it falls to pieces, that’s how tender it is. 

Now, how about sides? Damien and I admitted to each other that we just don’t like kimchee. We’re not all that crazy about spicy coleslaw, either, which is kimchee for babies. But I wanted something piquant and tart to go along with the dark, salty flavor of the pork. Seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe I’ve been eying: cold fried sweet and sour zucchini, or zucchini agrodolce (literally “soursweet”) from Sip and Feast.

I followed the recipe slavishly (I used three zucchini and two summer squashes), and it turned out so well. I was so skeptical! You fry and salt it,

then make a little sour onion sauce for the vegetables and let it chill,

and serve it cold? Or room temperature? But I cannot stop eating this stuff. It’s sparkling tart, and the vegetables retain a nice crunch.

But it doesn’t have that “every cubic centimeter of this tastes exactly the same” that you get with pickled vegetables, and they didn’t get rubbery at all. I don’t know! I just love it. The recipe was written very clearly and agreeably, too. Looking forward to exploring the site for more recipes. 

So in the morning, I threw the pork in the oven and made the zucchini and put that in the fridge, and then spent the rest of the day going out of my mind because everything smelled so good, but it wasn’t time to eat yet. I guess that’s how the dog feels all day, every day. 

In the evening, I made a big pot of rice and sent Benny out for some lettuce from the garden, and we had a wonderful meal. It all went together so well.

An exceptional summer meal, mostly made ahead of time.

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, leftover zucchini, watermelon, leftover broccoli

I’m a little tired of Korean beef bowl, but this time it turned out really tasty with a tiny tweak. I usually fry up the fresh ginger and garlic in sesame oil, then add the beef, then drain off the fat, feeling sad about draining away all the flavor from the ginger and garlic. So this time, I cooked the meat 3/4 of the way, then drained it most of the way, then added the ginger and garlic, then finished cooking the meat.

The flavor was much brighter this way. You can see I also left the ginger and garlic in fairly big pieces. I also upped the amount of red pepper flakes. I’ve updated the recipe card

Jump to Recipe

and I’m definitely doing it this way from now on! Of course you can still use powdered ginger and/or garlic, rather than fresh.

I served it with rice, sesame seeds and chopped scallions, and of course more watermelon, and leftover zucchini, and some leftover raw broccoli from who knows when. Great little meal that went from a hunk of frozen beef to hot dinner in about 25 minutes.  

It didn’t hurt that, after I got my writing done for the day, I had spent a hour stapling welded wire to the garbage enclosure, and then an hour playing cow-catcher choo choo train with the girls in the pool. If you ever need to work up an appetite, this is a recommended method. 

And I helped myself to some more cold zucchini and squash, and it was even more delicious

It was a little bit of a hassle to fry all that zucchini and squash, but it was totally worth it. I hope you can tell I’m going to keep harassing you about this dish. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

I even remembered to take the dough out of the freezer. I am a golden god. 

 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 213: Pied beauty

Holy cow, that was a fast week. We worked hard and ate hard this week.

Wow, that does not sound right. 

Well, here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Meatloaf, cheezy weezies

Saturday was big dig day. Dig dig dig!

Why dig? Well, like everyone else, we don’t know what the summer is going to look like, so we went and bought a 20-foot above ground pool! To prepare the ground, you have to make it level, and remove all the rocks from the soil, so nothing pointy or poky makes a hole in the bottom. 

Well, as you can see, there are a lot of rocks. 

The ground is also not level, so we’re just . . . digging some more. And in some cases, hitting a giant hunk of gneiss with a sledgehammer until it’s flat enough to cover with soil. It’s an immense amount of work, but I am openly, obnoxiously enjoying having the whole family working wholesomely outside together on a project. Eventually we’ll get this done, and then we’ll level it, cover it with sand, level that, put down some foam, then a ground cover, and then POOL. Pool pool pool!

Oh, so I didn’t want to stop digging, so I sent Dora in to make some meatloaf. 

Jump to Recipe

SUNDAY
Cobb salad

Well, approximately. We had lettuce (which I didn’t bother chopping), tomato, cucumber, avocado, hard boiled eggs, bacon, chicken, and some kind of shredded cheese, and some kind of dressing. 

You’re supposed to have chives and Roquefort cheese, but nobody was complaining. They were too busy complaining that I only made four pounds of bacon. 

You know, I’ve been beating myself up over my careless, slipshod ways because the grocery bills have been so high lately. So high, for like . . . two months now . . . oh. Yeah, right about the time we started having twelve people home 24 hours a day, I started spending more on food. SHAME ON ME. 

Next time I’ll get more bacon.

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, raw veggies and dip

This picture makes me laugh because at first you’re like, “oh, good for her, look at all the vegetables” and then you’re like “wait, is that a demitasse cup brimming with french onion dip?” Yes, it is, and I licked it clean. 

TUESDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, hot pretzels

Tuesday I went shopping. This is a great meal to throw together in a short amount of time: Salad greens, buffalo chicken cut into strips, crunchy fried onions from a can, shredded carrots, and either blue cheese or shredded pepper jack.

It’s better with ranch dressing, or buffalo ranch dressing, but it’s also good with whatever you have, if you’re hungry enough.

WEDNESDAY
Grilled pork ribs, cole slaw, strawberry rhubarb buckle

Damien made a sugar rub for the pork ribs, and grilled them over the coals. Nice and juicy.

Lena made a nice snappy peppy coleslaw.

Jump to Recipe

Look at that lovely color on the pork (no filter!). That sugar rub is magic– lots of flavor, and it gives it a wonderful caramelized crust.

Jump to Recipe

 

It says “chicken thighs,” but you can use it on all kinds of meat. 

Now let’s talk about rustic fruit desserts!
Rus!
Tic!
Fruit-des-serts!
[clap!clap!clap-clap-clap]

There are a lot of them, with lots of subtle variations, but there are more names than there are variations. You know what pie is. You know what a crumble is. But what about cobbler? What about crisp? What about betty, buckle, slump, and grunt? The answer is: some are oven, some are stovetop, some are steamed, some have streusel, and some are just from Connecticut, so who knows. And honestly, which is more fun? Just quietly knowing something, or looking it up and then insisting your kids stand there and listen while you read out loud about it? I think we know. 

I wanted to make something that was just fruity on bottom and sweet and crumbly on top, but I couldn’t find any cornstarch, so I ended up making a buckle, which is a sort of coffee cake with fruit layers. It was quite easy, and pretty delicious. And pretty. 

It has a layer of cake, then a layer of strawberry, then cake mixed with sugared rhubarb, then a streusel. We had it with whipped cream on top, because it is Wednesday, my dudes.

When I shared this picture on Facebook, I captioned it “O my chevalier!” It’s okay if you didn’t understand right away that I said that because it’s a buckle. That’s a weird joke and doesn’t make sense. HOWEVER, don’t you think I should write a cookbook in the style of G.M. Hopkins? You’d buy that, right, you weirdo? I could call it Sprungform Rhythm Pans. I could call it Carrot Cake Comfort. I could call it . . . PIED BEAUTY THAT IS MADE OUT OF ACTUAL PIE. 

I use my college degree all the time, why do you ask?

THURSDAY
Meatball subs 

Dora to the rescue again. I was so useless on Thursday, and I’ll tell you why, so you can feel smart. I got up and grabbed my two morning pill bottles, which have my green thyroid and purple blood pressure pills in them. I thought to myself, “Huh, they’re white, that’s weird,” and I swallowed them. Then I thought, “Ooh, I need to call in a refill for these.” So I started calling it in, and then I was like, “Hey, how come these bottles have someone else’s name on them? That’s so weird!”

So yeah, I took someone else’s drugs, for no reason at all. That’s how dopey I was before I started to feel the side effects of someone else’s drugs, which included dopiness. (Luckily, the dopiness and a headache, because of course there had to be a headache, was all that happened.) I can’t explain how I could have come to do something so stupid, but there it is. I’m sure this brain fog will get better as I get older though, HO HO HO HO HO HO HO.

Anyway, here is the meatball sub:

And here is the oven-baked, less-mess meatball recipe:

Jump to Recipe

 

FRIDAY
Pizza

All I have to say about this is we are now a six extra large pizza family. Five pizzas is enough for dinner, but not enough for people to have cold pizza for breakfast the next day, so now we make six. I’m a good mother.

 

Meatloaf (actually two giant meatloaves)

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk OR red wine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder or fresh garlic, onion powder, fresh parsley, etc.

  • ketchup for the top
  • 2 onions diced and fried (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Mix all meat, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together with your hands until well blended.

  3. Form meat into two oblong loaves on pan with drainage

  4. Squirt ketchup all over the outside of the loaves and spread to cover with spatula. Don't pretend you're too good for this. It's delicious. 

  5. Bake for an hour or so, until meat is cooked all the way through. Slice and serve. 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 

 

Strawberry rhubarb buckle

You can substitute in all different combinations of fruit. Makes two buckles in 9-inch pie dishes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 4 stalks rhubarb, stringed and diced

For the cake:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk

For the streusel:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease two 9" round pans

To make the cake:

  1. In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.

  2. Beat in the vanilla and sugar.

  3. Stir in the baking powder, salt, and nutmeg

  4. Alternate adding in the flour and the milk, a bit at a time. Set the batter aside.

To make the streusel:

  1. Cut the butter into pieces, and then add in the other ingredients, mixing until it is crumby but not pasty.

To put it together:

  1. Spread about 1/4 of the cake batter in each buttered pan.

  2. Spread the sliced strawberries on top of that.

  3. Add the rhubarb to the remaining batter and stir to combine. Spoon the rhubarb-batter mixture over the strawberries in each pan as evenly as you can (it's okay if it's gloppy).

  4. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter in each pan.

  5. Bake for about an hour, until the top is a bit browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

 

 

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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 200! Let me not be misconstrued: All I really know is food.

“What’s for supper” was this thing
I started on a whim.
I thought it would be nice to take
A weekly break from grim
And ghastly stories all about
The Church and sex and stuff,
And write, instead, about meat loaf
And peanut butter fluff. 

Well . . . 

Let the happy news be thundered:
“What’s for supper” turns two hunderd.

SATURDAY
BURGERS AND CHIPS

“Burgers and chips,” the blackboard says.
So I guess that’s what we had.
Burgers and chips are always good.
They really can’t be bad.

I didn’t take a picture, though.
You know what burgers look like, bro. 

SUNDAY
PEPPERONCINI BEEF SANDWICHES, MEYER LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Pepperoncini beef is great
Chunk it in the crock pot, then you wait. 

Shred the meat and serve on rolls,
Dish some nice jus up in bowls,

Top with cheese and mayonnaise,
Then enjoy the songs of praise.

Finish up with lemon pie!
Sweet meringue piled nice and high.

Two cheerful pies for gloomy weather.
They took six years to put together.

MONDAY
FISH TACOS

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
Fish tacos is the meal for me!
Fresh cabbage shredded cheerfully!
Lime wedges waiting plump and green!
Keep the salsa, just gimme that sour cream.

Fish tacos is an easy dish!
Fish tacos are all made with fish!
Aldi has avocados cheap!
Darling, I love you, but, oh, that cabbage heap. 
♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

TUESDAY
SHAWARMA, FRIED EGGPLANT

Sometimes life is very dark.
Joys are feeble, pains are stark.

Wherefore all this shuck and jive?
What’s the reason we’re alive?

It’s shawarma

Cease your weeping, wipe your eyes.
Marinate those chicken thighs

In garlic, cumin, cinnamon.
Filthy eastern ways are fun

With shawarma.

Slice some eggplant, salt it well
Dredge in batter, what the hell. 

Fry ’til crisp and serve it hot
With yogurt sauce. Yes, please, a lot.

And shawarma.

WEDNESDAY
PIZZA

Somewhere in my kitchen, 
Is a missing ball of dough. 
I had it Wednesday morning
But by noon it had to go. 
I made four pizzas with the rest
And looked both high and low
But dough ball number five skipped town
Like Barry Manilow.*

*I don’t know, what do you want from me

THURSDAY
ONION SOUP, BEER BREAD, BRATS

It’s only melted butter,
Melted butter in a pot
Cuddled up with onions
And some beef broth, not a lot. 
Salt and pepper and flour
And a drift of parmesan.
But it smells like heart’s desire
And it tastes like supper’s on.

 

FRIDAY
MAC AND CHEESE

You know what, you write a poem about mac and cheese. 

***

5 from 1 vote
Print

Beef pepperoncini sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 hunk beef
  • 1 jar pepperoncini
  • several glugs Worcestershire sauce
  • rolls
  • sliced provolone

Instructions

  1. Put the beef in a slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini and the juice. If you like, cut the stems off the pepperoncini. If there isn't enough juice, add some beer. 

  2. Cover, set to low, and let it cook for several hours until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork. 

  3. Shred the meat. If you like, chop up a few of the pepperoncini. 

  4. Serve meat on rolls with mayo if you like. Lay sliced provolone over the meat and slide it under the broiler to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Serve the juice on the side for dipping. 

 

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.

Beer bread

A rich, buttery quick bread that tastes more bready and less cake-y than many quick breads. It's so easy (just one bowl!) but you really do want to sift the flour.

This recipe makes two large loaf pan loaves.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 12-oz cans beer, preferably something dark
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. Butter two large loaf pans. Melt the stick of butter.

  3. I'm sorry, but you really do want to sift the flour.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, and stir in beer until it's all combined and nice and thick.

  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and pour the melted butter over the top.

  6. Bake for about 50 minutes until it's crusty and knobbly on top.

What’s for supper? Vol. 173: The pineapple gets the works

Today, I bought dental insurance. That has nothing to do with what’s for supper. I just wanted to tell someone. I’m pretty excited, as this is basically me and Damien:

SONY DSC

(Image by William Murphy via Flickr )

Why dental heath is not included in regular health, I’ll never know. I guess it’s because teeth are just inside your head and your skull, so how important could they be. Anyway. Onward! 

SATURDAY
Regular tacos

This is my meal when I’m feeling merciful toward the kids. No fermented vegetables, no sprouts, no seasonings with diacritical marks in their names. Just ground beef with orange powder from a little packet, sour cream, salsa from a jar, and shredded cheddar cheese. Completely unchallenging food has its charms.

I had to put greens on mine because I am a mom and that’s the rule.

SUNDAY
Spiedies, raw peppers, blueberry tart

This recipe is really, really good if you have the time to zest lemons and chop fresh mint and such, marinate the meat overnight, skewer it, and cook it over the coals. It’s still quite nice if you just slosh in a bunch of stuff, chop some cheap pork into chunks, let it marinate for a few hours, and shove it under a hot broiler.

Serve the meat on toasted rolls with a lot of mayo. It comes out tender, juice, and a little spicy. 

The original recipe is a NYT one which is currently behind a paywall. The quickie one I threw together was olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, kosher salt, oregano, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes. Basically Italian dressing but with extra lemon juice and red pepper flakes. 

For dessert, Clara made a blueberry tart. Every single last damn time I go to write “tart,” I type “tard” first. I choose to believe this is because I have watched so much Dr. Who, and not because I don’t deserve to live in the 21st century. Anyway, here’s the picture.

If you zoom in, you can see that I accidentally sprinkled yarrow pollen all over it while trying to get an Instaworthy photo. If I could figure out the right SEO for this post, I could probably form a partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow and pass it off as a cure for yarrow allergies, uterine prolapse, and ennui. 

Clara and I worked on this together, and it certainly did highlight the difference between our cooking styles; it certainly did. She is more of a “wait, stop, what is seven eights of a cup times two and a half?” baker, and I’m more of a “just mash faster, no one will know” baker.

Between the two of us, we came up with something tasty, anyway, although it was reluctant to leave the pie plate. To appease the Visigoths, we chose the kind of whipped cream that comes squirting out of a can.

I’ll get the recipe link from her when she gets home.

MONDAY
Chicken enchilada rice bowls, corn chips, pineapple

This meal looked better than it tasted. I was going for a “all the ingredients you love in Mexican food, but without a tortilla, for some reason” kind of meal. So I cooked up a pot of rice, then roasted some chicken with lots of chili lime powder. Then I cut up the chicken and cooked it again in green enchilada sauce from a can. I mixed together some black beans, chili beans, and diced tomato with chili peppers in it. We had limes, cilantro, sour cream, and shredded cheese, and corn chips.

It was. . . fine. I will just go ahead and make enchiladas next time. 

The exciting part was I finally bought a pineapple corer from Aldi for like $3, and it was so cool! I thought it would just extract the core so you can peel it and get rings, but it cores and peels it, and leaves you will a continues spiral of pineapple. Corrie and I made a video, and we hope it blows your mind. 

This is my first attempt at including a food video, and I hope it’s not terrible, because people keep telling me this is the only way to make some money, and if you can’t make money sharing a video of yourself testing a $3 pineapple corer, than is this even really America? 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday was the final school concert of the year. If you wish to hear my views on school concerts, I can make that happen. This time, I dropped the kid off, nipped over to the liquor store and picked up some liquid courage in small bottles, and zipped back to my seat before the curtain. And now I have a brand new plan for school concerts.

I made a few pizzas before I left. There was a limited edition “everything dough” available, so I got some. It wasn’t everything, per se, but it certainly had poppy seeds in it.

Oh. You know about the “Make me one with everything” joke, right? This remains my favorite moment ever recorded on video. Especially the part where he leans in and goes, “Know what I mean?”

It’s so beautiful. 

Oh, here are the pizzas. I only made four, for some reason. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers

What was I even doing on Wednesday? I think I was writing like a maniac while Damien brought Lucy to the pediatric endocrinologist and then rock climbing. And that’s what chicken burgers are for. 

THURSDAY
Deli sandwiches, fruit salad, chips, cookies

Actually, that was lunch. I had planned cumin chicken thighs, yogurt sauce, pita, and tabbouleh for supper, but in lieu of that, I took a nap, and everyone just ate more lunch. But what a lunch it was! One of my favorite families in the whole world, John and Aletheia Herreid and their wonderful kids were in town. The weather was great, Clara made a ton of cookies, we have a trampoline for bouncing and stream for floundering, John and my older kids swapped sketch books, Aletheia brought sunshine to the whole world as she so often does, and they brought cheese and beer and a luchador mask, and it was just swell. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli

Just frozen ravioli. Not one of my most thrilling culinary weeks, but it was a good week. And thorough. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 170: All weather is soup weather

Sorry it’s been quiet on the site this week. There were so many people saying so many things that I just. . . kept shutting up. Anyway, thirty Helens agree: It’s time to talk about what we ate this week! 

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and chips

I think maybe we had burgers on the actual outside grill? I have no memory of Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Deli sandwiches, onion rings, spicy honeyed pineapple with ice cream

Mother’s day! I was showered with gifts and flowers and treats all day, as is truly right and just. We were supposed to go hiking, but it was crummy out, so instead I wandered around Home Depot and picked out some wonderful peonies. And I requested deli sandwiches for my special mother’s day dinner because, dammit, I like deli sandwiches. I think I had roast beef, smoked provolone, bacon, and onions. Mmm. And one of the boys, in addition to giving me a homemade present, ceremoniously threw out his most egregiously ratty sweatpants right before my eyes. *grateful tears*

For dessert, we had caramelized pineapple with vanilla ice cream.

I made some of the pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before it went under the broiler, and some dressed with a mixture of honey, olive oil, and tabasco sauce. I had the latter, and I thought it was scrumptious. Some of the fruit crystalizes, and the hot juice mingles gorgeously with the ice cream. Great texture. I absolutely adore sweet, spicy, and creamy flavors together. Next time I will make some rum caramel sauce and maybe sprinkle with pralines, but it was very good as is. (Recipe card at the end.) I should add that I was the only one who liked it, but oh well. 

MONDAY
Tacos

 . . . for the poor unfortunate souls at home. I went skippingly off to the city to meet three friends from college for dinner, and I had such a nice time, I didn’t even take a picture of my food. I did, however, ask if the waitress if had Blue Moon on tap, even though I was sitting directly in front of seven ceiling-high copper brewing vats that wordlessly proclaimed, “We are a brew pub, you witless bumpkin.” Anyway, I had a Cuban panini and sweet potato fries and . . . some kind of beer that was good. 

It snowed. 

TUESDAY
Kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato with mustard vinaigrette; asparagus

A few kids have been asking for this dish, and I’m happy to comply, as it’s a nice easy meal with very little prep work. (Recipe card at the end.) Chop kielbasa and red potatoes and slice up some cabbage, and it’s all in one pan, and the dressing is easy and tasty as well. 

This meal is better if you let it brown up longer, but we were starving.

I also had some asparagus which I just sautéed in olive oil. A little bland, but this is my favorite way to prepare asparagus for texture. 

WEDNESDAY
Bacon tomato bisque; grilled cheese

Wednesday was the first day we finally emerged from the damp, shivery, blustery outrage of late spring in NH. I had to cover my new peonies and geraniums to protect them from the freezing rain. But Wednesday was fair and mild, verging on balmy. So of course I whipped up a heavy, creamy soup. 

Honestly, all weather is soup weather, as far as I’m concerned. Last time I made this soup, I used canned tomatoes. This time, I had fresh. I briefly considered blanching them and maybe seeding them, but then I decided that the extra work would render me too exhausted to enjoy the soup, so I just chunked them in, skins, seeds, and all, and pressed on the food processor button a little bit longer. 

Here’s the magical moment where I added the bacon, rosemary, and cream cheese-tomato puree to the pot:

Yeah, no complaints from anyone. Long live the bisque. Although I think I might add the bacon it at the end, next time, so it stays crisp. The onions and garlic get cooked in bacon fat, so the flavor would still be there. 

THURSDAY
Cumin chicken and chickpeas with red onion and pita

Every single person in my family likes this dish. A few of the kids only eat the chicken, but most of them went for the chickpeas as well. It’s another easy, one-pan dish, and I highly recommend marinating it as long as you can, because the skin is just stupendous.

I don’t necessarily recommend wearing a bright purple shirt in the evening sun when you take your food photos, though. In real life, the food was far less psychedelic. But the chickpeas gleamed like pebbles in a brook. I don’t know how I lived so much of my life without roasted chickpeas. 

As you can see, we had pita and onions with lemon juice and cilantro (and you can see I was still wearing that purple shirt), and I also made a big tub of nice garlicky yogurt sauce. I probably could have made a meal out of just the pita, yogurt, chickpeas, and onions.  

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

I think I’ll once again return to making a white sauce with cheese in a pot, then adding it to the macaroni and baking that in the oven, rather than using the Instant Pot for everything. I somehow never got the hang of adding the right amount of liquid to the IP so pasta reliably comes out cooked. Still love it for some things, just not this.

And now it’s the weekend! I ran the optional hill today, so I am feeling pretty impressed with myself, and shall almost certainly reward myself with food. Hey. It’s an ethos. 

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. 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

 

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 - 1 lb bacon (peppered bacon is good)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 35 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 46 oz tomato juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy fried onions (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, chop it up, and drain out all but a a few teaspoons of grease.

  2. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the grease and sauté until soft.

  3. Add tomatoes (including juices), bay leaves, rosemary, and tomato juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Save some rosemary for a garnish if you like.

  4. With a slotted spoon, fish out the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and most of the rosemary, leaving some rosemary leaves in. Discard most of the rosemary and bay leaf. Put the rest of the rosemary and the tomatoes in a food processor with the 8 oz of cream cheese until it's as smooth as you want it.

  5. Return pureed tomato mixture to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Heat through. Add chopped bacon right before serving, and top with crispy fried onions if you like. Garnish with more rosemary if you're a fancy man. 

 

Spicy honeyed pineapple with ice cream

You could drizzle this with a caramel rum sauce and maybe sprinkle with pralines, but it's good just with fruit and ice cream, too. You can also serve the pineapple as a side dish (without ice cream!) for many Mexican foods.

Ingredients

  • 1 pineapple, cut into spears or rings
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • sriracha sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler; or, if grilling outside, let coals die down.

    Mix olive oil, honey, and a few dashes of sriracha sauce, and slather the sauce all over the prepared pineapple.

    Spread in single layer on pan or over grill and cook, turning once, until it's slightly charred. 

    Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream. 

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 168: For the love of Miguel

What’s For Supper is back! I took a few weeks off — first because two Fridays ago was Good Friday, and then the next Friday was Exhausted Friday. But here we are again, and I have some lovely meals to tell you about. 

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

It was a long time ago, but I feel like I remember Damien made these on the grill in the rain. I like him. 

SUNDAY
Chicken rice bowls, strawberry short cake

I didn’t have a clear plan for this meal, but it turned out well enough. Needs some tweaks, but we’ll definitely have it again in some form.  

I cooked some chicken breasts in the Instant Pot on high pressure for eight minutes with about a cup of Goya Mojo Criollo marinade, and then I shredded it and returned it to the marinade to stay warm. Then I made a big pot of white rice. I set out the rice, the shredded chicken, shredded cheese, chopped scallions, black beans, lime wedges, tomatoes with diced chiles, sour cream, hot sauce, and chili lime powder, and I heated up a can of green enchilada sauce. Everyone made whatever combination they wanted. 

I wanted everything.

I deliberately kept things bland so more kids would eat it, though. Damien and I agreed that it needed something crunchy, like corn chips, and maybe the rice and/or beans could have been seasoned. But overall, a quick and easy meal.

For dessert, we got some of those sponge cake shells (I prefer actual shortcake, which is just basically a sweet biscuit, but no one else does) and piled on sugared, lightly mashed strawberries and whipped cream. 

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, terrible potato salad

Despite years of evidence, I still firmly believe I can whip up some delicious potato salad without really thinking about it. Some of the kids thought it was great, but it was not. It was weird and bad.

I diced some potatoes and boiled them, then mixed them up with mayo, vinegar, hard boiled eggs, leftover scallions, dried dill, pickle relish, and paprika. These are all potato salad ingredients, but it is two or three recipes merged together in an unholy union which shall be potatonathema. I should have skipped the pickle relish, or the dill, or all that paprika. I should have skipped town.

TUESDAY
Salami caprese sandwiches, string beans, cheesy bread sticks

Always a hit, and so simple. Ciabatta rolls, genoa salami, fresh tomato, fresh basil, sliced mozzarella (or provolone works, too), olive oil, vinegar, and freshly-ground pepper and sea salt. Yes, it has to be freshly-ground pepper and sea salt or else you have to pinch yourself viciously the whole time you’re chewing. I don’t make the rules! 

We also had some cheesy bread sticks I got at Aldi. There was some dolor and confusion as, according to some, I allegedly announced we were having cheese sticks as a side, leading people to believe I meant cheese sticks; and then some people asked other people if they could eat their cheese sticks, and the other people said they could, because they thought they meant cheese sticks, not cheesy bread sticks. When I mentioned there were also nice, fresh string beans, well, that just made it worse.

WEDNESDAY
Tacos al pastor with pico de gallo

Something I’ve always wanted to try. I made the marinade the day before, and let me tell you, it was a pain in the neck. But it was fantastic. But it was a pain the neck. But it was so good! I think I need to find a simpler recipe that delivers the same flavor. 

This is a Mexican-Lebanese fusion dish. The BBC says:

How is al pastor different from carnitas, chorizo, pollo, pescado and other common taco toppings? For starters, by the way it’s cooked: the pork is first marinated with various spices (including achiote, which is native to Mexico) and then roasted by an open flame via the trompo. Next, the pork is carved off, placed inside a corn tortilla and topped with cilantro, onion and pineapple – much like lamb is shaved from a spit and served in some pita bread at a shwarma place.

I guess it’s the paprika, cinnamon, and cumin that give it a middle eastern twist, as well as the way the meat is supposed to be cooked. I did not happen to have a trompo, so I just put the thinly-sliced marinated meat in a shallow pan and shoved it under a hot broiler. For the recipe I used, from the cleverly-named site Carlsbad Cravings, you are supposed to slice the meat, then marinate it, then cook it, then chop it into bits, but I skipped the last step. No regrets.

First I broiled some pineapple spears on a greased pan. I love grilled/broiled pineapple. It amps up the syrupy sweetness, and the juicy pump under singed edges make an exciting texture. To me, okay?

I also made some simple pico de gallo from tomato, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and a little salt

and I had my tacos with sour cream, meat, pineapple, pico de gallo, and that’s it. Magnificent.

The pineapple is also supposed to be cut into chunks, but I left mine in spears – and again, no regrets. I used flour tortillas, which I prefer to corn, and which I warmed in the oven for 20 minutes before serving. 

So, that marinade. It’s not tremendously spicy, but instead has a warm, smoky, faintly nutty taste that’s set off gorgeously by the caramelized pineapple. Then the bright, piquant pico de gallo just makes it sing. Gosh, I wish I had some right now.

But as I said: Tremendous pain in the neck. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find dried Guajillo chiles in any local supermarket, so I bought them on Amazon. They came out of the bag flat and glossy, like fruit leather

but when I heated them up in a skillet to give them a singe, they puffed up like balloons, which was hilarious. (I have had kind of shitty week and I guess I was ready to be amused.)

Then you seed them and FOR THE LOVE OF MIGUEL DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES

then you simmer them to soften them up, which is lovely as well

and then you add them to the thirteen other ingredients in the food processor. One of the ingredients is achiote paste, which I also didn’t have, but which you can approximate by mixing together . . . eight other ingredients. So you can see how this was going. It wasn’t difficult, but it was a lot of ingredients! It was so tasty that I will make this recipe again someday; but I also wouldn’t mind if someone could suggest a simpler recipe. Also, you could speed up the process by not gasping and stopping to take pictures every few minutes, but where’s the fun in that?

We had tortilla chips to scoop up the rest of the pico de gallo. I’ll put a recipe card at the end for that. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Damien made the pizzas while I lay down and practiced being tired. I’m getting pretty good at it!

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

Least that’s what it says here. I think Damien’s going to make Marcella Hazan’s amazing three-ingredient sauce (recipe card below).

And now my story is all told. I think Damien is making some simple syrup so we can celebrate Cinqo de Gringo in style this year. How about you? Anything neat going on in your kitchen?

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. 108: In which we have two vegetables for Thanksgiving, not counting potatoes!

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

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

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

Here’s what we had:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now for the Hobbit bread recipe!

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

Braided Bread Stuffed with Mushrooms, Onions, and Cheese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What’s for supper? Vol. 97: Beautiful schlopp

Hold the cherry.

SATURDAY
Steak and pear salad, rolls, fruit cobbler and ice cream

Well, steak was still on sale, and I’m not made of stone. My husband heavily seasoned and perfectly grilled the meat over the coals

and then sliced it up, and I put together mixed greens, scallions, blue cheese, and sliced red pears.

It’s so good, you can’t imagine. A little fresh pepper and a vinaigrette on top. Damn.

I got some snowflake rolls from the supermarket, and the shopping turn kid wanted rhubarb pie, but I guess rhubarb is over for the year. Instead, we got strawberries, blueberries, and peaches

and made a basic cobbler, to be topped with vanilla ice cream. Cobbler, if you recall, is very easy to make.

Well, we ended up having ice cream with hot, delicious fruit schlopp ladled over it. Oh well. It tasted good, even if it was completely formless. It’s a swell combination of fruits, perfect for late summer. I SAID “LATE SUMMER.” Not fall. Back off, man.

We did run 5k on Sunday for the first time!

It felt fantastic. Since then, with school and no babysitters, we’ve been fitting in shorter runs in the evening, which is far, far less exhilarating; especially, as most people wouldn’t have to learn the hard way, if you accidentally eat a drippy pork carnita with sour cream forty minutes before you head out. See: Wednesday.

***

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs, chips, brownies

This was supposed to be our traditional end-of-summer “head out with a giant bag of candy and swim at the pond all day long and never, ever, ever have to go home until we want to” day, but kids were throwing up. So we just cooked stuff on the grill. We had brownies even though people were puking because puking kids are not the boss of us.

On Sunday, which was also the day the Mormons came, I also took a big step in Operation Very Slowly Renovate Kitchen: I yanked down rotten, miserable, useless wall cabinet. I don’t even know what this thing was for: It had shelves all way across, but a door on only one side, with the hinge in the middle. So you had to pull everything out if you wanted to reach the stuff on the left side. Also, it was falling off the wall, so the door swung out and bonked everyone in the head all the time. Some things hurt more, but few things make you hurt angrier than getting conked in the top of the skull unexpectedly by a rogue cabinet door.

Anyway, here is a crummy before-and-after shot:

You can’t really tell, but it’s SO much more light and open in there. I also took the doors off most of the remaining cabinets, and I’m going to paint them yellow. I bought some rather corny rustic, cast iron shelf brackets off eBay, and I’m going to put in open shelving where the miserable, rotten cabinet was.

Now we just need to do something about the ceiling, which is stained, sagging acoustic tile full of dead mice, and the floor, which is torn linoleum designed by Satan and installed by also Satan.

***

MONDAY
Chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, raw string beans

This was supposed to be our very, very last chance to have summer fun that is fun, even if all we do is go to a playground or something, because there were still a few kids left who hadn’t started school yet. I don’t even remember what happened, but we just ended up having chicken nuggets and no fun. I think there was some kind of lizard emergency.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

First day of school. And the first day since 1998 where it was routine to be home alone with one child. I was nervous, since the child in question had spent a good part of the the last three weeks rolling around on the floor, gnashing her teeth, and spurting hot tears over, for instance, “NO, YOU NOT [whatever you just did because she told you to do it]!!!!!!”

But it went fine. We had a very peaceful day, and was remarkably undemanding when she has no competition. She is an adorably earnest help in the kitchen. She also packed some Altoids in a sandwich bag, zipped them into a spare backpack, and announced she is going to high school.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork carnitas, Doritos

Pretty good. I put a half pork loin (I actually did this Tuesday, that’s how easy Tuesday was) in the slow cooker with some Coke, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, pepper, cloves of garlic, and chopped onion. I let it cook all day, then shredded it and spread it out in a pan and browned it up under the broiler.

Served on tortillas with sour cream, salsa, and cheese.

Did I mention that it was too dark to run in our usual spot, so we drove downtown and trotted back and forth for two miles on sidewalk, much to the fascination of the people taking their ease with fancy nitrogen ice cream? At least I didn’t throw up.

***

THURSDAY
Mac and cheese with kielbasa; peas

Corrie helped again. We made this nice, simple Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe from CopyKat, and added chunks of browned up kielbasa. Then I put it in a buttered pan and added buttered bread crumbs on top. Everyone who likes mac and cheese and kielbasa liked this dish of mac and cheese and kielbasa.

Damien and I actually snuck out to Chili’s. I had the baby back ribs I’ve been hearing about all my life. Meh.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, risotto

Who has neat ideas for tuna burgers? I usually make them by adding one beaten egg and half a cup of bread crumbs and some seasoning to each can of drained tuna, then forming patties, and frying them up in a little oil. What would make them more interesting? I feel like I’ve asked this before, but I can’t find the answers. I do have horseradish sauce.

Okay, now I need some other inspiration. For Labor Day, we’re going to fulfill a request for Hot Dogs of Many Nations. Sort of a hot dog buffet with everything you could possibly want on a hot dog. This is not my wheelhouse. What do I set out? My ideas so far: Chili, onions, sauerkraut, cheese . . . . maybe bacon . . . I don’t know.