Summer, almost! Summer foods, yes! Grilled corn, fresh fruit, fresh basil, smoked meats! I’m very excited about summer food. And other warm weather things.
Here’s what we ate this week:
The local garden club had their annual sale and I stocked up on things that we all know are supposed to grow in this area, because that is where they are from, so there is no excuse.
We had burgers cooked outside on the grill, which are the best burgers. Even better, burgers eaten outside while I squint menacingly at the stuff I just planted.
Pizza and ice cream
On Sunday, we went to see my mother in the nursing home.
I got a bit of eye contact and she held my hand, which was more than I was hoping for. It is a beautiful spot on top of a hull, full of trees and birds.
Then my father took us out for pizza and ice cream down by the river.
A good day!
Hot Dogs Of Many Nations, potato salad, sorta-elotes, fruit salad
You can sing “hot dogs of many nations” to the tune of “look for that silver lining” if you want to. Children find it very irritating and pretend they don’t hear you, but I know they hear.
I didn’t go all out and do all the possible hot dog toppings, but we had a good assortment of mustards and whatnot. I had a buffalo dog (blue cheese, hot wing sauce, and scallions) and Damien had a Chicago hot dog (chopped onion, pickle relish, pickled peppers, tomatoes, a dill pickle, mustard, and celery salt).
Don’t they look nat-u-ral together? Just like two Essem franks should be.
Dora made some tasty potato salad, and I put together strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi in this Walmart leaf dish which I’m inordinately fond of. It makes me feel like Mowgli.
I also got mangoes, but they were still hard as a rock.
Damien roasted the corn over the coals with the husks still on, which makes the corn tender and sweet. Then we sprinkled them with parmesan cheese and chili lime powder and squeezed on some lime juice.
Next time, I want to roast the corn after shucking it, so it chars a bit, and maybe I will make up a kind of paste to rub onto the cooked corn. Anyway, first corn of the season a success!
And we went to the beach! Oh lovely beach. Here are some mermaids:
Smoked roast beef sandwiches, chips, raw string beans
Damien actually did the roast beef the previous day in the smoker, while the hot dogs were cooking. He dried it off, slathered it with A1 sauce, then sprinkled it with chili, plenty of kosher salt, and some onion powder and garlic powder, and then he smoked it for two or three hours until the meat thermometer showed between 120-130, so it was rare.
I sliced it as thin as I could, and it was fantastic.
The smoky flavor permeated the whole thing. I put pickled pepper rings on my sandwich. I mixed a little horseradish into mayo, and we toasted some kaiser rolls and I picked up some decent provolone from the deli. I have finally sadly concluded that Aldi provolone is the right color and the right shape and definitely the right price, but it doesn’t actually taste like anything at all. It’s not bad, so it’s not really convolone, but I guess overall a neutralvolone.
Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken, pasta salad
On my quest to insert every possible edible substance into chicken, this week’s installment turned out quite nicely. I cut the chicken breasts in half and folded each half over a scoop of jarred spinach artichoke dip, then wrapped each folded chicken breast in three strips of bacon. Tasty! Recipe card at the end.
I laid out two strips of bacon and put the chicken on top of that, and spread a scoop of dip on top
then folded the chicken in half and wrapped the bacon up and over the top
and secured it with two toothpicks through the top. I was going to leave it at that, but I was afraid the dip would leak out when it cooked, so I took a third strip of bacon and laid it crossways over the top, then tucked the ends underneath. This made a nice little packet.
I put the wrapped chicken on a rack on a pan lined with tinfoil. I hoped having the heat circulate underneath would make the bottom bacon cook well. It wasn’t flabby or gross, so that was good, but it wasn’t as crisp as you want bacon to be, either.
Still a cute and tasty meal. This would be a great dish to make ahead and then shove in the oven later, if you have company. It wasn’t really hard to make, and I made the chicken and the pasta salad, start to finish, in under an hour.
Ah, the pasta salad. For the first time in the history of my pasta salads, there was no leftover pasta salad. I used cavatappi, julienned sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, freshly-grated parmesan . . .
Wait. I just wanted to make sure you heart that. FRESHLY-GRATED PARMESAN. I like grating it big, almost shredded. It’s just so sharp and wonderful. Okay.
. . . and some raw kale just to show who’s boss around here, and some spicy dry salami bits, and a dressing I made from fresh basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, and a little red wine vinegar, and then just a little kosher salt.
Next time I will make three times as much. It was a really zippy salad. I know this isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, but using fresh ingredients makes such a difference.
Benny has been asking for bibimbap, possibly mostly for the name, but at least partly for the rice and the egg. I made a slightly different sauce to cook the pork in this time, and I think I’ll stick with it. I’ll put the recipe at the end. I just dumped a hunk of pork in the Instant Pot with the sauce and used the meat button, then shredded it and cooked it a little longer. I think for texture I prefer pork that’s been cut into bits and then cooked on the stovetop, rather than shredded, but it was a good flavor.
We got home late and I didn’t have a lot of fixings prepared, so I just made some rice, and we had pea sprouts, cucumbers, crunchy noodles, sesame seeds, and of course a runny fried egg on top. I had raw spinach and tabasco sauce with mine.
The mangoes I bought for Sunday finally ripened up, and they made a good accompaniment for this meal. Also a good meal to prep early (especially if you have two slow cookers) and then throw together at dinnertime, as long as you have time to fry a few eggs up.
Pasta, I guess?
I feel like I have put in my kitchen time this week, and now pasta will be fine. Gonna post this now and circle back later to put the recipe cards in. Tell me about your favorite things to do with roasted corn, though!
- 24 oz cavatappi or other pasta
- 7 oz sun dried tomatoes (I like julienned)
- 4 oz crumbled feta
- 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan, loosely packed
- lg handful kale, chopped
- 6-8 oz dry salami, chopped
for the dressing:
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
- kosher salt to taste
Cook the pasta in salted water and drain.
Make the dressing by whirring the basil and garlic in the food processor until you get a paste, then slowly add the olive oil and vinegar. If it's not thin enough, add more olive oil.
Mix the rest of the ingredients into the pasta. Salt to taste.
Korean sauce for bibimbap or other dishes with meat
A sweet, spicy, savory Korean sauce for cooking, marinating, or brushing on to grill. Susceptible to many adjustments if you like it sweeter or spicier, thicker or thinner. This recipe makes enough to cook 4-5 lbs of meat.
- 1/2 cup gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar or plain vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
Blend all ingredients together. If you're cooking in the Instant Pot, you may want to add 1/4 cup water or so to make sure there is enough liquid to prevent burning.
Chicken stuffed with artichoke dip and wrapped in bacon
This is actually fairly easy to put together, and you can make it far ahead of time and then put it in the oven when guests come over. One large chicken breast yields two servings.
Of course you can make your own spinach artichoke dip, but using jarred dip keeps it simple.
- 6 large chicken breasts
- 36 slices bacon
- 2 cups spinach artichoke dip
- salt, pepper, garlic powder
Line a large pan with tin foil and put a rack on it, so the bacon can drain while it cooks.
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut the chicken breasts in half, so each one yields two flat breasts.
Lay two strips of bacon side by side and lay a chicken breast on top of it. Spread a scoop of artichoke dip on the chicken.
Carefully fold the chicken in half to enclose the artichoke dip. Then fold the bacon up and over the chicken. Secure it all with two toothpicks.
Take a third slice of bacon and lay it crosswise over the top of the chicken. Push it down onto the toothpicks, and carefully tuck the two ends underneath the chicken.
Cook the chicken at 375 for 25 minutes or more, until it is cooked all the way through.
If the bacon isn't browned sufficiently, turn on the broiler for a few minutes to finish it off.