What’s for supper? Vol. 246: Comfort food

It’s been quite a couple of weeks. If you are thinking to yourself, “They are not eating like it’s Lent!” you are right. We are eating like a family who are being very nice to a grieving person who went a little bit crackerdog after the funeral, and whose comfort food is food.  Damien and the kids have done so much of the cooking. (For those who don’t know, my mom died two weeks ago.)

These are the food highlights of the last 2.5 weeks or so:

Khachapuri and asparagus

I shared the recipe for this on the morning before I made it, and all I had to report at the time were high hopes. Well, they were absolutely delicious. This is a Georgian (as in the country) dish, a cheese-filled bread boat with an egg cooked into the middle. I made a triple recipe of this recipe. FABULOUS. 

I didn’t end up using much more than half of the filling, though, and they still overflowed.

The kids immediately started suggesting variations of various meats and sauces that could be added, which I am not opposed to, but there’s also something to be said for not turning everything into pizza. 

Anyway, will definitely make again. I may use ready-made dough next time to speed things along. You can see that you add and cook the egg just briefly toward the end, and then you can break up the yolk and stir it into the hot cheese. I also threw some hot pepper flakes on top.

I also pan-cooked a bunch of asparagus in olive oil and squeezed fresh lemon juice on top. The lemon juice seeped into the khapachuri on my plate, and that was not a problem at all. 

Comfort-your-wife sandwiches

One night Damien made a big platter of sandwiches with all kinds of lovely salamis and other cured meats, cheeses, tomatoes, and lots of basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and freshly-ground salat and pepper

and another night he made Reubens with kosher dills and jalapeño kettle chips, which isn’t necessarily a photogenic meal, but oh man.

The deli a special sale on sliced corned beef (which either is or isn’t the same thing as pastrami, I forget) and Swiss cheese together, so he got a bunch and made grilled sandwiches with Russian dressing and sauerkraut. Heavenly.

St. Patrick’s Day

Everyone having finally acknowledged no one is really crazy about the corned beef boiled dinner, Damien made a full Irish breakfast instead. Completely delicious, and an insane amount of food. 

Irish bangers, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, roast potatoes and mushrooms, sourdough toast, and fried eggs on top, and everything cooked in lots of butter and bacon grease. Here’s a better view of those wonderful mushroom and potatoes:

I wasn’t a big fan of the Irish bangers — they were kind of mealy — but other than that, I think we’ll have this for St. Patrick’s Day every year from now on. 

St. Joseph’s Day

We moved our annual Italian feast from Columbus Day to St. Joseph’s day. Works for me. Clara put together a giant antipasto plate, which she replenished several times as it was ravaged 

and Damien made his lovely pork and veal ragu with fettucine (you can’t see the lovely savory gravyish part here, but there was lots of it) 

and I made a stab at making suppli, but I forgot you have to chill the risotto really well to form it into balls. So I just put it back in the fridge (and everyone was already pretty stuffed anyway}. We had Italian ices for dessert, just as St. Joseph would have wanted. 

Then on Sunday, Clara made the risotto into suppli while I took the kids to the farm, and then I fried them up for dinner, and even the stove was happy

I had to throw some of the suppli back in the oven for a while to make sure the cheese inside was completely melted. Worth the wait.

We also had the leftover ragu, and I made cannoli, which was also supposed to be on Friday.

I made the filling with just ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and a little almond extract. The taste was perfect, but I wish it was a little thicker and less runny. Other than letting it sit in the colander longer, any tips on that? 

Ham and biscuits

Only worth mentioning because one of the biscuits, the one formed out of all the leftover scraps crammed together, kinda looked like a turkey.

It is a good recipe. A little weird, as it calls for cream of tartar and eggs, but they always come out light inside, with a nice fragile buttery crust.

Jump to Recipe

Pizza

We’re basically empty-nesters, with only nine children at home, and I’m finally ready to face the fact that we don’t need six extra large pizzas anymore. That is too much pizza. But the final Pizza No. 6 was a doozy: Olives, red onions, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and little blobs of pesto. 

We usually use Portland Pie frozen pizza dough,  which comes in generous portions and is easy to handle, especially the beer one. This time we tried their Everything dough (with “everything bagel” seasoning mixed it). I’m not a fan. It tore very easily and didn’t rise well, and I guess I just don’t want poppy seeds in my pizza dough after all.

Here’s a pro tip for you: While you’re sitting in the kitchen for forty minutes cooking two pizzas at a time, it’s okay to pass the time by snacking on a few sun-dried tomatoes, but it’s not a great idea to mindlessly scarf down about a cubic foot of them, unless you are angry at your stomach and wish to punish it. And everyone watching TV with you that evening when it’s too chilly to open a window. Wooooo-eeeeee. I sure do like them sun-dried tomaters. 

Tonight Damien is going to teach Irene how to make Marcella Hazan’s magic sauce, since she is its biggest fan.

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!

Suppli (or Arancini)

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

Ingredients

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

To make suppli out of the risotto:

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

Instructions

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


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

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

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

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

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

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

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

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

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

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

moron biscuits

Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

What’s for supper? Vol. 218: In which I make poor choices with peppers

Two or three new recipes this week! And, because you’re very lucky, one of my top notch very expert photoshop jobs so you really feel like you were there when it happened! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, pasta salad

The salad was mixed greens, buffalo chicken from frozen, cut in strips; blue cheese, and crunchy fried onions from a can. Clara made a nice pasta salad with one of those infused olive oils, parmesan, feta, lots of garlic, black olives, and basil from the garden.

 

It had a kind of potluck feel, but still a fine summer meal. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, pasta salad, cheezy weezies

Damien made the burgers outside

and I spent the afternoon putting in tiles for the backsplash in the kitchen! I’ve never had a backsplash before, much less put in a marble backsplash by myself, and I . . . did not do it right. But it looks pretty and I am happy. I still have to do the ceiling, and then I will do a follow-up kitchen reno post. Here is my post about the walls, floor, and trim

MONDAY
Italian sandwiches

Damien made his trademark Fancy Sandwiches For All. 
He split a bunch of baguettes down the middle and drizzled the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then layered plenty of ham, prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni, mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, and Italian seasoning.

I know I always say that whatever sandwich I’m currently eating is the ideal sandwich, but I’m telling you, this was a good one. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, strawberries and blueberries

If I were a millionaire, I would still have frozen breaded chicken burgers on potato bread buns with horseradish sauce every few weeks. Yum.

I went shopping on Tuesday and for once remembered to serve the berries on the same day I brought them home. Aldi berries are so cheap — I think the strawberries were $1.29 a pound, and the blueberries were 99 cents a pint — but you really cannot dawdle. 

WEDNESDAY
Chili verde

 

Jump to Recipe

I was at the store and made my usual desperate attempt to match up my pepper list with the pepper bins and the pepper labels, and then I went home and asked Facebook what I had. 

It seems I had four Anaheim peppers and a bunch of habañeros, which was a pepper error, because I meant to get some other kind of pepper, but I forget what. So that was pepper error #1. Pepper error #2 was when I heard everyone saying they were super hot, and I was like, “oh, okay, I like hot stuff, but not too too hot, so I will only use two habañeros in my chili.”

I roasted the peppers along with a bunch of tomatillos and jalapeños on a greased pan.

Then I let everything sort of steam itself under plastic wrap, then I skinned them all. This part is fun.

Then I put all the skinned peppers and tomatillos in the food processor with a bunch of onions and garlic and cilantro, and puréed it. That is fun, too, but the picture came out blurry.

I did not seed any of the peppers first. This was pepper error #2a.

I cut the pork into chunks and seared it in oil with plenty of salt and pepper. I wish I had let it brown up a bit more, but at least I didn’t crowd the pot for once. 

Then I put the puréed salsa verde into the pot with the pork and let it simmer for several hours.

You can add water or chicken broth, but I wanted it fairly thick. Just before serving, I squeezed some limes over it and served it with cilantro and sour cream.

And now for pepper mistake #3: I ate so much of it. It hurt my whole face and I was sweating from my toenails by the time I was done, and I kept getting more sour cream, but I ate so much. I sopped up the sauce with tortillas, and congratulated myself for not even suffering any heartburn afterward. 

My confidence continued until Thursday morning. 

Thursday went something like this:

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztec-human-sacrifice.htm (public domain)

But, that was some really good chili verde. 

THURSDAY
Greek chicken skewers, yogurt sauce, rice

 

Jump to Recipe

I made a marinade out of lemon zest and lemon juice, tons of fresh mint, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper, and marinated chicken breast chunks for several hours, then threaded them on skewers with grape tomatoes and wedges of red onion. Thunderstorms chased us inside, so we had to broil rather than grill it, but it was still tasty. Fresh mint is the best. 

Corrie took this picture and is very proud of it:

And I was fairly proud of the meal overall. I served it with pita and yogurt sauce and, as you can see, white rice.  Benny made the yogurt sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

 

I spent several hours wondering if I should make stuffed grape leaves, and then realizing it was 5:00 and far too late, so I just made a big pot of rice. I made so much rice I may use the leftover for inauthentic grape leaves made with leftover cooked rice today, and no one can stop me! The wild grapes are going nuts this year, and I love cooking with foraged stuff.

FRIDAY
Eggs migas

We had a spell where we kept running out of eggs, and the kids were just WORN OUT with my incompetence and malfeasance, because they want to cook themselves heaps and heaps of eggs for lunch every day. So I got 3 dozen eggs, and then forgot I had done so, and got 5 dozen eggs.

Guess whose children abruptly stopped cooking eggs? 

It’s fine. I’m trying a new dish: Eggs migas. I bought corn tortillas, which I don’t normally do. The basic idea is to cut or tear up tortillas and fry them up in oil until they’re crisp, then scramble an egg into the pieces. You can add various things in while you’re cooking, or you can serve them as garnishes/sides after cooking. I think we’ll stick with salsa, sour cream, and maybe some refried beans. I’m excited! New Mexican food really hits the spot for me. I shall report back on our success. 

Okay, here’s a few recipe cards: 

Very Spicy Chili Verde

I'm not kidding. This is very spicy. You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. But if you like it hotsy totsy, this is your recipe.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for cooking

For the salsa verde:

  • 4 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 habañero peppers
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 medium onions
  • 12 tomatillos
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro (optional)

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.

  3. Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add water or chicken broth.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

 

Greek chicken skewers

Serve with yogurt sauce. Add pita and rice pilaf or stuffed grape leaves for a nice meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 pints grape tomatoes
  • 5 red onions, cut into wedges

For the marinade:

  • 4 lemons zested and juiced
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1-2 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and let it marinate for at least three hours.

  2. When you are ready to cook, thread the marinated chicken onto skewers, alternating with tomatoes and onion.

  3. Grill over coals or broil in a pan in the oven until slightly charred.

  4. Serve with yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 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.