I have a message for you: You’re going to be okay. I hope that isn’t the wrong thing to say, but it keeps coming into my head, so I’m passing it along.
And now for what we ate this week! My lame excuse for the title is that we had Italian soup, Jewish bread, Palestinian soup, Korean stir fry, Mexican quesadillas, and I guess American Jell-o. I guess pulled pork is American, too. The steak, however, was out of this world, ho ho ho ho ho.
Steak and Jell-o
Saturday was Corrie’s birthday, and she had this very definite dinner request. Actually she wanted steak and blue Jell-o, but I didn’t get started early enough in the day to make that happen from Jell-o powder, so we got a few packs of baby’s very first pre-made gelatin cups in assorted colors, and she was pretty happy.
Her party is supposed to be tomorrow, if it doesn’t get cancelled by yet another snow storm, and I need to get started on that cake today. It will be an under-the-sea theme, and I HAVE AMBITIONS. They include Jell-o.
For the next photo, regarding the steak we had, you may want to engage your custody of the eyes, because it’s a Friday in Lent, and boy.
First I’ll tell you how Damien cooked the steaks: Season the steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Get an iron frying pan screamingly hot and throw a few cloves of garlic and some olive oil in, and then cook it three minutes, then spread some butter on it and cover it and cook it for another minute, then flip it and do the same thing on the other side. May or may not need to cook it more after that, depending on how thick the steak is.
Okay, here’s the picture, and don’t say I didn’t warn you:
Sigh. It was so tender, so juicy.
I’m starving. This is fine.
Museum day! It was the very last day of February vacation and we made the trek to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, which Damien and I have been to before, but the kids have not. It’s a wonderful ride that takes you way up in the Berkshires, and the museum itself is excellent, and they have FREE ADMISSION THROUGH MARCH. I shared a few photos of our trip here:
Very nice. We stopped for pizza on the way home at a little Greek place, Village Pizza in Greenfield, MA. Tasty pizza, friendly service, clean and cheap.
This was the trip where I finally let the kids use the DVD player in the car. We’ve never had a vehicle with a DVD player before, and I’ve been holding off using it because I am a big believer in the value of both scenery and boredom; but this was a pretty long haul, so they watched some Harry Potter thing on the way there, and Barbie as the Island Princess on the way home. Now Corrie is going around gleefully singing, “Some people say that we’re VERRRRRRRmin, but we’re just misunderstood!” Those Barbie movies were not half bad!
Chicken broccoli stir fry with rice
Boneless, skinless chicken breast was on sale, so I got a few pounds of it and cut it up small, and a few pounds of broccoli crowns and cut them up small, and I made a batch of simple sauce that I was pretty happy with. I used the sauce in this recipe from My Korean Kitchen, which is meant for a noodle dish, which also sounds delicious.
The sauce calls for equal parts oyster sauce, soy sauce, and honey, plus some minced garlic and sesame oil. Nice and easy but tons of flavor. I had two open bottles of oyster sauce and wasn’t sure how old they were, so I smelled them both and they both smelled like old feet, so I used them both.
I threw in some mushrooms and I think maybe some onions, and it was delicious. I cooked the chicken about 3/4 of the way through before adding in the broccoli, because overcooked broccoli is so very sad.
I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot. I also made a little fruit salad of strawberries and mangoes.
I love to have something sweet along with the strong umami flavor of the oyster sauce.
Italian wedding soup, challah
Snow day! Actually a remote school day, because they knew there was a storm coming, so they sent the kids home with packets so they could get work done and the day at home wouldn’t count against their summer vacation. Okay with me. And a good day for soup and bread.
And this was tremendous soup. Simple, but powerful. I more or less followed this meatball recipe from Sip and Feast, except I had ground chicken instead of turkey, and shredded manchego instead of grated parmesan (and I used about twice the cheese that was called for). The other ingredients are breadcrumbs, grated onion, eggs, a little milk and olive oil, pepper and kosher salt; and then it calls for fresh basil and parsley, which I didn’t have, so I just dumped in a generous handful of [shield your ears] dried Italian seasoning, which is probably, I don’t know, oregano and parsley and basil. These are small meatballs, and I baked them on parchment paper in the oven.
I did run into a small snag, wherein I was mixing the ingredients by hand and trying to stifle my increasing alarm at the wet, pulpy texture of it. Was it really supposed to be this gritty? And why was it that color? And how could this possibly be enough for a double recipe??
Then I realized I forgot the meat. So I put in the meat in the meatballs and then they were fine.
Follow me for more cooking tips.
The soup, I first sauteed some diced onions and carrots and wedges of zucchini, then added about ten cups of chicken broth. Then I threw in the meatballs and kept that warm all day. When it was almost supper time, I added several handfuls of baby spinach and a cup of ditalini, and simmered it until the pasta was done.
So not really traditional Italian wedding soup, but extremely tasty and warming, and a wonderful shimmering gold.
I also made a couple of challahs. I made two separate batches, and accidentally conducted a science experiment, one with a control challahJump to Recipe
and one eliminating the oil. Challah needs two rises, and I didn’t realize I forgot the oil until after the first rise, so I decided to just see what would happen. (This was after I had almost made meat-free meatballs, so I was trying to be kind with myself at this point.)
Then I decided, oh, what’s the worst that could happen, I’ll just quickly learn how to do a four-strand braid, rather than my usual technique, which is to make a big challah with a little challah lounging on top. I followed this helpful video from Jamie Geller, which was helpful for a minute or so until my battery died, and then I had no idea what the hell to do. Even when I’m not exhausted and extra dumb, I am very very bad indeed at left-right stuff, and get unreasonably confused. I can see that it’s simple, but that doesn’t help! My brain goes, “Okay, I see, I see, I see . . . HWAA????”
So this is what I made:
Eh, it’s still bread. I brushed them with egg wash, let them rise again, and guess what, they came out looking lovely:
I took the advice to keep the braid loose, and some real magic happened in the oven.
So we had a really good snow day meal of soup and bread.
Oh, as for the challah with vs. without oil, the one without oil was somewhat less supple to work with, but I could honestly hardly tell the difference when I ate them. Here are photos of the insides of both:
Did I remember to make a note of which is which? I did not. I remember thinking that mayyyyybe the one without oil tasted a little dryer, but it also might just have been the power of suggestion. I think maybe the first one is the one without oil. It does look dryer, but honestly, you could not taste much difference. So there you have it.
Chicken spinach quesadillas, chips and salsa
Boneless skinless chicken breast was also on sale, so Damien broiled it up with a bunch of hotsy totsy spices while I was running around, and Elijah shredded up a bunch of sharp cheddar cheese, and I made quesadillas to order.
I had mine with chicken and spinach, no jalapeños, and it was very fine.
I’m adding spinach to more and more things, and no one can stop me! When they dig up my barrow millennia from now, they will say, “WHO WAS THIS POWERFUL WOMAN, AND WHY ARE HER BONES SO STRONG AND FIRM AND RIDDLED WITH SPINACH?” Yes that is how it works. I have an online degree, it is how it works.
Pulled pork sandwiches, baked potatoes, peas
Went back to the recipe I used last time for pork nachos,Jump to Recipe
but this time I just served the pork on sandwich rolls. Also this time I split open the chipotle peppers and let the seeds spill out, which upped the spiciness a little bit.
Part of my reasoning for making this dish was that Damien was being interviewed for a documentary on Thursday, IN THE LIVING ROOM, and we did clean up the house as much as we were able on short notice, but I thought if it smelled good in there, the muddy floor would be less visible? I don’t know, maybe that only works with me. Anyway I made pulled pork.
Here’s another Lenten carnal detachment test for you: I cut up pork in big chunks, seasoned them heavily with salt and pepper, and browned them in oil
then chunked them in the Instant Pot along with some orange quarters, a can of Coke, some bay leaves, three chipotle pepper, and a heaping tablespoon of cumin. Closed the lid and valve and cooked it on high pressure for 24 minutes. Opened it up, oooooh . . .
Picked out the bay leaves, oranges, and peppers, and poured out most of the liquid (but saved it for gravy, as it’s a very tasty gravy), and shredded the meat
It should be mega mega tender and easy to shred. I served it with toasted rolls, thinly sliced red onions, and bottled barbecue sauce, and some peas on the side just for green.
I also splurged on baked potatoes, as you can see, which hardly seems like something to splurge on, but big potatoes are expensive, especially for ten people! But everyone does love them every once in a while. I briefly considered having baked potatoes with pork on them, but I’ll save that adventure for some other day.
Sabanekh bil hummus (Palestinian chickpea spinach stew)
A new recipe. Don’t ask me why I decided to try a new recipe when I’m supposed to be making an under-the-sea cake, but that is what I planned. It does smell absolutely scrumptious so far, and it’s cheap and Lent-y, and who knows, maybe a couple of people will even eat it. I’ll keep you posted. The recipe is from Saveur.
It comes together pretty quick. You have to saute some onions, then toast a few spices and grind them up, then add the spices and some garlic to the onions and cook that, and then add in chickpeas and stock, and simmer. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Gosh, it smells amazing.
Later comes spinach and some fresh lemon juice.
If I’m feeling like a hotshot, maybe I’ll make a Giant Taboon to go with it. There’s always the possibility of a Giant Taboon.
I think I forgot to tell you what the secret fiendish thingy was in the last food post! Several people did spot and correctly identify it, right in the bowl of butter chicken.
It is the little stopper for the cream carton.
Nicely stained with turmeric, too.
I must have pulled it off and then dropped it into the cream, and then poured it into the pan and then served it to myself and then taken a picture of it. Follow me for more etc. etc. At least I didn’t eat it.
Okay, that’s a wrap! I think I may have to reschedule Corrie’s party, but I’m not sure, and this cake needs to be started quite a ways ahead of time. It looks like a pretty big storm, AGAIN. Gah, I am so tired of snow. We did pop outside and gawk at Jupiter and Venus blazing away about an inch and a half away from each other last night, and that was pretty neat. I suppose if they can show upand put on a good show, so can I. Hup!
Italian Wedding Soup with pork meatballs
Lots of variations to this pleasant, nourishing soup with little meatballs.
For the meatballs:
- 4-5 lbs ground pork (can mix in some ground beef or turkey)
- 5 eggs
- 2-1/2 cups bread crumbs
- 4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups freshly-shredded parmesan
- 1/2 cup butter for frying
For the soup:
- 3 lg carrots, diced
- 1 lg onion, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 16 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups white wine
- 3-4 cups raw kale, torn into pieces
- 2 cups uncooked small pasta like ditalini
- more parmesan and Italian parsley for garnish
To make the meatballs:
Thoroughly combine all the ingredients (except the butter) with your hands. Form them into small meatballs. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter and lightly brown the meatballs in batches. They do not need to be cooked all the way through, as they will continue cooking in the soup.
To make the soup:
Remove the meatballs from the pot. Put the onions and carrots into the butter and cook until they're slightly soft. Add in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant but not too browned.
Add the meatballs back in. Add the broth and white wine, the kale, and the pepper to taste. Simmer for several hours.
About half an hour before serving, add the uncooked pasta and turn up the heat to cook.
Serve with shredded or grated parmesan and coarsely chopped Italian parsley for a garnish.
Challah (braided bread)
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
- 2 eggs
- 6-8 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp yeast
- 2 egg yolks for egg wash
- poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
- corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking
In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.
In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.
(If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)
Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.
Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.
Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.
- 3-4 lbs pork butt/shoulder, trimmed and cut into pieces
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying
- 2-3 oranges or clementines
- 3 chipotle chiles
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 can Coke
Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Heavily season the pieces of meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides.
Transfer the meat to the Instant Pot. Add the Coke and the rest of the ingredients. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes.
Discard bay leaves and orange peels, remove meat from broth, shred, and serve.