Yeesh, it’s been three weeks! Sorry about that. Slowly scrabbling my way back to normal. Here’s what we ate this week:
BLTs and root beer floats
Saturday was Irene’s fake birthday. Her actual birthday was on Good Friday, and she has decided to postpone her friend party until she can have a beach party. So on her fake birthday on Saturday, we went mini golfing, where she (a) hit the ball completely across the highway (b) hit a baby with a ball and (c) got a hole in one and (d) still came in last. She liked her presents, though, and those parents definitely should not have left that baby sitting around so close.
And it was warm enough outside for me to slink away and eat my dinner in the yard!
I mention this because today, in this same yard, there are about 4 inches of snow outside, and it’s still coming down.
I won’t make the joke about how I brought this on by finally putting away all the mittens and boots and snow pants a few days ago, because everyone’s making that joke. Instead I will confess that it’s because I stabbed a man and buried him under the St. Joseph statue in the pansy garden. Sorry, it’s all my fault. In my defense, he was sharing that LifeSiteNews story about how Pfizer is halfway to genocide via “top up” shots. I did what I had to do.
Banh mi with liver pâté (well, chopped liver)
By a strange twist of culinary fate, we now have a tradition of eating banh mi not too long after Easter, because we usually have leftover chopped liver from Passover. Chopped liver is what most people would call pâté, and it is rich and velvety smooth and pungently wonderful. We just call it “chopped liver” to keep the goyim away so we can have it all to ourselves. I made a recipe card just for you, though:Jump to Recipe
But first you have to pass the test of knowing that it looks like this at a certain stage, and still deciding to make it:
Now for the banh mi! I usually make banh mi with pork,Jump to Recipe
but beef shoulder continues to be $2.99 a pound, so that’s what I used. I also only had about half the amount of fish sauce I needed for the marinade, so I made up the difference with oyster sauce, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; and I cut the sugar by about 1/3. Well, it tasted exactly the same. The strong flavors of fish sauce and garlic are so strong, that’s what came through.
The beef was rather tough, sadly, but still tasted good. I served it on toasted baguettes with cucumbers, cilantro, your choice of mayo or sriracha mayo, jarred jalapeños, and quick-pickled shredded carrots.
I also tweaked the pickled carrot recipe. Normally I just splash in some white vinegar, water, and dump in some sugar (yes, there’s a recipe, Jump to Recipe but I don’t always bother to look it up) but this time I carefully measured out white vinegar and cider vinegar, honey, salt, and hot pepper flakes according to this recipe. You’ll never guess: It tasted exactly the same.
So either I’m some kind of naturally gifted master chef whose culinary improvisations are flawless, or else I just like food and don’t care much what it tastes like as long as I can gnarrrrrr.
Chicken burgers, pasta salad
Chicken burgers were chicken burgers. But we had tons of leftover specialty foods in the house from various things, so it ended up as quite a nice pasta salad. I used a pasta called “casarecce,” which are sort of rolled-up little twists; and I added herb-infused olive oil, black olives, diced red onions, some bits of hard salami, sun-dried tomatoes, raw asparagus tips, and some smoked cheddar from a local farm.
Then I glopped in some jarred pesto, which probably drowned out the herbs in the olive oil, but it was delicious. I added the fixins while the pasta was still hot, so the smoked cheese melted a bit. I usually like a crumbly cheese like feta in a pasta salad, but this worked out very nicely.
And I enjoyed the victory of not serving chips or fries, even if no one else did. I also happen to love raw asparagus. I think the taste comes through well, and they are crunchy but very light. Good stuff.
Chicken on salad with green apples and walnuts
We had tons of walnuts in the house from passover. I roasted up some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, sliced it, and served it on salad greens with green apples, walnuts, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. An elegant meal, consumed elegantly in bed.
I had a brief urge to make rolls or something, but it passed.
Hamburgers, veg and dip
Nothing to report. Oh, except some of the veg were sugar snap peas, and they are so good, and, get this, 35 calories for a whole cup. I’m super tired of being fat, so I’ve started counting calories, and am very grateful that I already like raw vegetables. If you give me any advice, though, I will stab you and bury you under the St. Joseph statue in the pansy garden.
Mexican beef bowls (formerly beef fajita bowls)
Just a fantastic meal. I think only one person in my family doesn’t like this meal, which is pretty darn good. The marinade is so rich and bright and tangy, I just love it.Jump to Recipe
The meat turned out wonderfully tender. Here is one of the more well-done hunks. The other ones were bigger and more rare.
I made a big pot of white rice and served it with strips of meat (I marinated and roasted the meat and then sliced it), fried peppers and onions, roasted corn, black beans and tomatoes with chili peppers, cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, and corn chips.
I could easily have skipped the rice and corn chips and still had a very filling, satisfying meal. I forgot to use the lime wedge because there is already tons of flavor in this meal.
As you can see, these aren’t strictly bowls. All our bowls were dirty, so we used plates, so I accidentally helped myself to twice as much food, oops.
I also bought but forgot to use something from Aldi called “elote seasoning,” which is cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cheese in a little bottle. It goes on corn or whatever you like. The kids thought I was just kidding about people selling corn on the street, the rubes.
Mac and cheese
My mac and cheese recipe is just that you make a white sauce and throw in whatever cheese you have lying around, plus a little mustard and/or hot sauce. You don’t really taste it, but it gives the sauce some more depth. Mix with cooked macaroni, pour into a greased pan, and top with buttered panko crumbs, and bake at 350 until the sauce is bubbling and the top is lightly toasted.
Damien and I were actually planning to skip out on the kids and have pizza, but the heavy covering of snow is making outdoor dining less appealing. We shall see.
Here’s the recipe cards for the week.
Oh, wait, one more thing! I was browsing through a Julia Child book and she suggests an easy way to peel garlic: You cut the ends off the cloves and then dunk the whole head in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse it in cold water. The peels really do slide right off if you’ve completely detached the ends first. This is only worth the trouble if you need to peel an entire head of garlic, which I often do. I OFTEN DO.
Chopped liver (chicken liver pâté)
A very rich, pungent, velvety pâté made with cheap and humble ingredients. Spread it on crackers with a little horseradish, or add it to your banh mi. It freezes very well (but takes a while to defrost, as it is dense).
- 2 to 2-1/2 lbs chicken livers, rinsed and trimmed
- 3 eggs
- 3 onions
- 1 quart chicken broth
- oil for frying the onion
- salt and pepper
Put the livers, the raw eggs in their shells, and one onion into a pot with the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for an hour. (This part looks very weird, but don't lose heart.) Drain off the broth and set aside the livers, onion, and eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them.
Chop the other two onions. Set one aside and fry the other one in oil until crisp.
Using a meat grinder or a food processor, grind up the livers, the boiled eggs, the boiled onion, the fried onion, and the raw onion.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and chill. It should be moist and spreadable. If it's too dry and crumbly, add a small amount of oil.
Pork banh mi
- 5-6 lbs Pork loin
- 1 cup fish sauce
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 minced onion
- 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
- 1.5 tsp pepper
Veggies and dressing
- Sriracha sauce
Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can.
Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight.
Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler.
Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread.
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.
- 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 kosher salt
Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved.
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.
Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.
Beef marinade for fajita bowls
enough for 6-7 lbs of beef
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 head garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together.
Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.