What’s for supper? Vol. 157: Banh mi, banh you (uh-hunhhhhh)

My father kept telling me time will speed up when you get older, and he was right. Sorry I’ve been a bit scarce on the blog lately. I have a bunch of big projects I’m working on, and they’re kicking my butt. Here’s what we apparently ate this week, in a blur:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese on sourdough, broccoli, chips

I put out the sandwiches and broccoli, waited ten minutes, and then admitted there were also chips. It was worth a shot. (It didn’t work.)

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi with pickled vegetables

Fabulous. Just so ridiculously tasty. Sometimes I leave the cucumbers unpickled, and have plain mayo instead of sriracha, and skip the jalapeños, but this time I went for the full heat. Grrrrrr.

You can make this with steak, but I actually prefer pork, because it takes on more of the marinade flavor (FISH SAUCE). I pickled the cukes and carrots and sliced and marinated the meat when we got home from Mass, and then almost the whole family went out to see Into the Spiderverse, and wow, it was great! I loved every minute of it. Parts of it were too scary and overwhelming for Corrie, but she got through them and enjoyed the rest. If you only rarely see movies in the theater, this is one to splurge on.

We got back very late and I was so glad all I had to do was cook the meat. I spread it in pans and broiled it up. I also decided to grill the bread on on iron skillet with a little olive oil, and I liked that; but toasting in the oven works fine, too. The ideal bread for this sandwich is a crusty split baguette, but the generic sub rolls we had were fine.

Banh mi and pickled veg recipe cards at the end.

MONDAY
Southwest chicken salad

This was not as popular as I thought it would be. The idea was mixed greens, spicy grilled chicken, corn with red pepper, black beans, avocado slices, grape tomatoes, and spicy, crunchy tortilla strips, with lime wedges. I even bought some kind of name brand Chipotle Ranch Dressing in one of those bottles designed to be upside down like millionaires have.

I got a resounding “meh” from the family. True, I accidentally bought frozen rice with corn in it, rather than frozen corn with peppers in it, but I don’t think the success of this meal was entirely riding on the corn aspect of it. I dunno. I thought it was okay! Oh well.

To make the tortilla strips, I (you’ll never guess) cut tortillas into strips, then tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with plenty of chili lime powder. Then I spread them in a shallow pan and baked them at 300 for maybe half an hour, stirring occasionally, until they were crunchy.

I actually burned the first batch and started all over again; that’s how dedicated I was. Anyway, these tortilla strips would make a good topping for all kinds of salads or soups.

TUESDAY
Chicken spinach-walnut pesto pasta salad and garlic knots

The kids have been asking for this dish, which I used to make a lot. I like it, although it seems like more of a side dish to me; but it’s labor-intensive enough that I definitely don’t want to make a main course in addition. So I forged ahead.

I can’t decide if I can really even call what I made “pesto” or not. I usually make this dish with just basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, because pine nuts are expensive. But I did have tons of walnuts in the house from when I was still telling myself I’d just have to go ahead and bake after Christmas. (I did not.)

So I fed about two cups of walnuts into the food processor until they were pretty crumbed. I had a giant bunch of basil, but it had been pushed to the back of the fridge, where it froze. I figured it was going to be pulverized anyway, so maybe it didn’t matter? So that went in, too. But it looked way too nutty, so I says, “Spinach is a leaf, just like basil!” But all I had was a box of mixed greens including spinach, and I sure didn’t feel like sorting leaves. So I just shoved a few big handfuls of mixed greens in, and then about a cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of kosher salt, tons of minced garlic, and an entire jar (I guess 8 oz?) of shredded parmesan cheese. Corrie was helping me at this point, so. We just kept shoving stuff in and pressing the button.

The end result actually tasted nice. Definitely walnutty, but not in a bad way, especially with all that cheese. I think it may have come out more spreadable if I had toasted the walnuts, but I didn’t think of that.

The basil held its own against the spinach and whatnot. I wasn’t crazy about the texture — it was very pasty. But it was definitely too late to turn back, so I pressure cooked some chicken thighs and broke them into bits, and boiled up some farfalle, and just shlorped the whole thing together.

They liked it! I liked it. I guess I will go ahead and make a recipe card. Definitely cheaper than pure pesto. Hard to get a decent picture of it, though. It doesn’t look like a heap of garbage in real life.

For the garlic knots, I just cut balls of pre-made pizza dough into eight lumps, rolled them into snakes, tied them in knots, and topped each one with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of kosher salt, garlic powder, and parmesan. They get baked in a 400 oven on a greased, floured (or better, corn mealed) pan for 12-15 minutes, if I recall.

I made enough for everyone to have two. Corrie had four.

I love these inordinately. Something about how nicely they come apart and how steamy hot their tender insides are. I am not actually a bird of prey, despite how I sound here.

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Five of them.

I took this picture because I heard myself saying, “Ugh, it’s after noon and I haven’t gotten anything done today!” Then I realized I had taken the kids to school, conducted a phone interview, written a 900-word essay, and made five pizzas, or, as I like to call it, “getting nothing done.” This is what Damien calls having a head full of bullshit, and it may never clear, but at least I can challenge it. Those were fine pizzas.

THURSDAY
Chicken enchiladas

Dora made Pioneer Woman’s chicken enchiladas, may her name be praised. Eighteen red and eighteen green.  Yadda-dadda-dadda-dadda-dai-dai-dai!  I didn’t get an enchilada photo because I wrote through dinner time and didn’t eat until 8:30 or so, and couldn’t spare a second. Here’s something, though:

And there it is.

FRIDAY
Fish taco rice bowls

A new dish I’ll be trying today. I got the idea from Damn Delicious, but I have no energy to make the pico de gallo, sadly. We’ll just have rice topped with batter fried frish (I’m gonna leave that typo because it’s funny), shredded red cabbage, sliced avocado, cilantro, salsa, and fresh limes. She includes what looks like a yummy recipe for cilantro lime dressing, which I bought Greek yogurt for, but I just remembered I ate half of it with honey. Should I buy more, or maybe just make a lime crema? I don’t really see any downside with this. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Banh mi with pickled vegetables

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork butt (or other boneless cut), trimmed and sliced thinly

10-12 rolls, split and toasted or grilled

  • 1-2 bunches cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • mayo, with or without sriracha stirred in
  • jalapeños, sliced thinly

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 18 cloves garlic, minced (8-9 Tpsp)
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced (or a few shallots, minced)
  • 2 tsp ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix all sauce ingredients together. Mix up with sliced pork, seal in ziplock bag, and let marinate overnight or for at least five hours. 

  2. Remove meat from marinade and grill over low heat or under broiler.

  3. Spread mayo or sriracha mayo on toasted or grilled bread, lay on meat, add pickled vegetables (see recipe card), jalapeños, and cilantro.

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

Spinach walnut pesto

You can play with the proportions to get the consistency you like. This version is cheaper than using pine nuts and all basil. Makes 2-3 cups of pesto for adding to pasta or spreading on bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cups fresh baby spinach (can include radicchio, etc.)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Whir nuts in food processor until crumbed. 
    Add basil and greens, and whir until blended. 
    Slowly add olive oil and blend again.
    Add salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese and blend again until it's the consistency you like. 


What’s for supper? Vol. 143: Septemberbot

Ah, September, the time of year when you could easily replace me with a robot that does two things: Driving people places, and complaining about driving people places. The deluxe version of Simchabot also stares wistfully at the silvery, dry grasses at the side of the road and feels bad about everything dying. We did have food, but mainly the food of sadness, rabbit, mainly the food of sadness.

SATURDAY
BLTs

It seems like we would have had a special reason for making BLTs, which are generally classified as party or treat food, but hell if I can remember what was going on Saturday. The only bit of information I can offer is that we have sworn off Aldi bacon, which barely has a taste at all.

SUNDAY
Chicken quesadillas with lime crema; tortilla chips

Do you know, it’s hard to take interesting pictures of quesadillas? They are so flat.

All the pictures this week are pretty sub-par, as supper kept getting pushed back until after the sun was down, and I haven’t figure out how to take pretty food pics with artificial light. The quesadillas were tasty, though, if not photogenic.

I put the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with some water on high pressure for eight minutes, then I shredded it and mixed in some chili lime powder. We had our quesadillas with your choice of cheddar cheese, chicken, chopped scallions, and jalapeno slices from a jar.

We also had lime crema, which is fine crema.

It’s just sour cream with some lime zest and juice, plus salt and garlic, but it elevates meals like you wouldn’t believe. (recipe card below) And yes, I reserved some lime zest for garnish, because I am a golden god.

MONDAY
Butter chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

This week’s installment from Kyra’s Bag o’ Peculiar Foods. I had three packets of butter chicken curry paste

and was determined to try butter chicken, which I’ve heard described as an Indian food entry meal. (Of course I like naan, but you can’t be human and not like naan, so that doesn’t count.)

So. I tried butter chicken. To be fair, I did mess up the recipe. I cooked the chicken in oil, and then added the butter later, after asking myself, “Well, if it’s called ‘butter chicken,’ then when does the butter –oh.” I threw it all together and then put it in the slow cooker all day, rather than simmering it. And it turned out we were out of rice, so I made some last-minute mashed potatoes for a side, instead.

Buttttt, despite all these deviations, I didn’t like it for completely other reasons — specifically, curry reasons. The seasoning came from the pouch, so whatever else I screwed up, the taste is the taste, and I guess I just don’t like curry? It tastes like a dessert taste to me, and I just can’t get it to make sense with meat dishes.  I feel guilty about this just in case an hour of the day should pass without me feeling guilty about something.

However, a couple friends recommended a recipe for quickie, yeastless naan, which I believe I will try. Because I (human) do like naan!

Oh, also, I was sure most of the kids wouldn’t like the curry, so I made up a batch of pan-fried chicken. I dredged it in flour and everything. I put it in the fridge and then, half an hour before dinner, I put it back in the oven to warm up. But, rabbit, I did not turn that oven on. Also, I hadn’t cooked the chicken all the way through, and Irene took a big bite of raw meat and promptly threw up. Can’t blame the Indians for that, I suppose.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos

Tortillas with sour cream (sadly, the lime crema had all been lapped up), finely shredded cabbage, avocado slices, fresh lime, cilantro, and of course fish sticks. I also got some lime chipotle salsa from Aldi, and it was pretty good, although a little mushier than I like.

Some day I will make this meal with fresh, pan fried fish, but not today, rabbit. Not today.

WEDNESDAY
Kielbasa, red potatoes, sweet peppers, and onions with mustard sauce

This meal was easy and attractive, but a little low on flavor, because I put all my effort into hacking things up and none into sprinkling things on. It was a bunch of kielbasa, red potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers, chunked them on a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and whatnot. Then I put it under the broiler and forgot about it until it was almost too late.

At the last minute, I put together a dressing that saved it (or would have, if I had made enough). Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and minced garlic. It looked like tarry sludge, but had a good, zippy flavor.

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets and that is seriously it.

One of the kids asked me why I didn’t make anything else, and I didn’t even know. I remember thinking, “. . . .eggs? . . . . ” at some point mid-morning, but that’s as far as it got. I assume they all eat vegetables at school or something, so that’s fine.

FRIDAY
Pasta primavera and fresh bread

I bought some frozen bread dough which is defrosting right now, because I told myself ninety-three times during the week that I was probably going to forget to defrost it. I have made pasta primavera before, but can’t seem to find the recipe. Basically you just want pasta with a light cream sauce, plenty of parmesan and garlic, and an assortment of fresh vegetables.  I have no intention of blanching things and then putting them in and out of ice water. Remember, yesterday it was too hard to bring hard boiled eggs from potentiality to actuality. We keeps the expectations low, precious.

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

What’s for supper? Vol. 138: Notes from Bism

Trying something new this week. I’ll blab about my cooking as usual, then put recipe cards at the end, so you can save them if you like. Just for the things that turn out good, mind you. Do let me know if this is useful or not.

SATURDAY
Spaghetti and Sausage with What Can Only Rightly Be Called Awesomesauce

Damien says he wants to try some kind of new tomato sauce, and I’m all: silly husband, there is no such thing as “new tomato sauce.” But when the man wants to cook, the woman lets him cook. So he made this ridiculous recipe by the apparently famous Marcella Hazan. (recipe card below)

You put canned tomatoes in a pot. You put a bunch of butter in the pot. You peel a couple of onions and put them in the pot. You cook the pot things for a while. You take out the onions. And that’s freaking it.

He says he kept wanting to add, you know, tomato sauce things. Bay leaf, garlic, oregano, something.  Nopey, just the three things. Okay, salt if you’re fancy. It was so good. I don’t know why! It tasted like a whole meal in itself! It tasted like meat and wine! So savory, so interesting! Crazy, man. I couldn’t get enough of it.

He also made about a roomful of garlic bread, which I ate as if it were the only way to save the world.

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, brats, chips, dip

He built this gargantuan grill for himself out of cinder blocks in the backyard

and he cooked supper on it. And sent me gifs of the fire while I was lying down. I still have more calculating to do, but I think I got a good deal.

MONDAY
Chicken sorta caprese sandwiches; cucumber salad; cherry pie with whipped cream

These sandwiches were so good last week, I made them again. This time, I used ciabatta bread instead of kaiser rolls and provolone instead of mozzarella. Grilled chicken, prosciutto, provolone, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Yuhm.

For some reason I dug in my heels about buying frozen fries this week, so I made a cucumber salad instead. I mostly-peeled about four cucumbers (I like to leave some festive stripes of green peel like Chef Pat always did. It makes me think of the early 90’s, Squeeze, things like that) into half circles and mixed them with a red onion sliced very thin. Then I mixed together some white wine vinegar and water and some sugar tossed it together.

I wish I had had some fresh dill. It wasn’t fabulous, but it was refreshing, and fine for a summery side. Would have gone well with fries.

The cherry pies, I had actually made Sunday night, but Lucy’s pancreas was having some kind of fit, so we saved the pie for Monday. I was in a rush, so I just made the cherry filling and poured it into pre-made pie shells and baked them that way, no lattice topor anything. I served it with whipped, unsweetened cream, and that was the right choice because the pie was so very sweet.

It was a bit of a mess when I cut it, but oh, cherries. So wonderful.

Also, so dramatic as they sat there macerating in the sun, like the juiceable gemstones from Bism.

TUESDAY
Mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli

My friend Maureen’s sister once made me a cheesy chicken casserole after I had a baby, and it was the best damn thing I ever ate in my life. I’ve been trying to replicate it ever since, even though I know perfectly well the missing ingredient is “just had a baby.” Once I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was the best damn sandwich I ever had, right after I had a baby. Really, it brought tears to my eyes. Such jelly! Such peanut butter! Gevalt.

Anyway, this was not terrible, unlike the picture I took but can’t find.

I made mac and cheese in the Instant Pot (using farfalle instead of macaroni) based off this recipe from Copy Kat, only I realized for the first time that her recipe calls for one pound of one kind of cheese, and one cup of another kind. What the hell kind of recipe is that? I also ran across a recipe that called for ten teaspoons of something. Ten teaspoons. Honest to goodness, I’m the only adult on the internet.

So then (okay, first I burned the noodles because I’m too stupid to push a button without burning something) I steamed some cut-up broccoli spears and some chicken that I had I guess cooked in the Instant Pot previously. Okay, this is also a terrible recipe. I’m sorry.

Upshot: It was fine. I guess I put it in a buttered pan and put it in the oven until it melted together a bit. It would have been better if I had just had a baby, but I don’t think you can do that in the Instant Pot.

WEDNESDAY
Tacos with lime crema; tortilla chips with more lime crema

Just regular old tacos, but!!!!! I got this easy recipe for lime crema from Budget Bytes, and now I realize how brave I’ve been to have gotten through 43 years without lime crema. SO BRAVE.

I zested and juiced a couple of limes and then thought, “Oh, let’s not be stingy!” and zested and juiced one more. I added the zest and juice to a 16-oz tub of sour cream, glopped in a few tablespoons of minced garlic, and stirred it all in with a little salt.

I did get some help cutting up the tomatoes from a . . . blue fairy of some sort.

See? We finally redid the floor, just like we said we would this summer! Shut up! It’s still August! *sob*

We had some lettuce, but no fairies appeared to cut it up for me, and I discovered plenty of leftover pea shoots from the fancy ramen last week. I thought it would be weird, but it was great! Spicy meat, fresh tomatoes, springy pea shoots, and plenty of that wonderful lime crema. You don’t have to tell your abuela that this is what we call tacos, but we’re not going to stop.

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas

I saw to my dismay that there was yet more chicken in the fridge, so I slumped over to the Instant Pot and snarled, “You know what to do.” I threw a bunch of chili lime powder in there with the chicken and a cup or so of water and set it for 7 minutes high pressure, but it came out tasting like just water anyway. I let the chicken cool, but not enough, and skinned, boned, and shredded it. Ow, still hot.

Some people had cheddar, some had pepper jack, some had jalapenos from a jar. I always regret letting people order special combinations, but then again, some people are easy to please.

 

Yes, we had potato chips with quesadillas. Don’t tell abuela.

FRIDAY
Eggs and harsh browns

And that’s it! It’s the end of the week! Ha! I win again!

And here are my nearly professional recipe cards. Lemme know what you think.

5 from 2 votes
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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!

 

5 from 2 votes
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Cherry pie filling for TWO pies

Keyword cherries, cherry pie, desserts, fruit desserts, pie

Ingredients

  • 7 cups cherries pitted
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Mix together the pitted cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and let it sit for ten minutes or so until they get juicy. 

  2. Put all ingredients except butter in a heavy pot over medium heat and bring to a boil Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes. Stir in the butter.

  3. Let the mixture cool a bit, then pour into pie shells. 

Recipe Notes

This would also be fine over ice cream. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

 

5 from 2 votes
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Chicken Caprese Sandwiches

Keyword basil, chicken, mozzarella, prosciutto, provolone, sandwiches, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Ciabatta rolls, Italian bread, or any nice bread
  • Sliced grilled, seasoned chicken
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sliced prosciutto
  • Sliced mozzarella or provolone
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: Pesto mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler. Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, whatever. Put chicken on shallow pan with drainage, and shove under broiler, turning once, until chicken is browned on both sides. Let cool and slice thickly, you animal. 

  2. Toast bread if you like. Spread pesto mayo on roll if you like. Slice tomatoes. 

  3. Pile chicken, tomatoes, basil, cheese, and a slice or two of prosciutto, sprinkling with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper a few times as you layer.