Another Friday! We have arrived. We really launched our warm weather cooking this week. We also had our first “oh yes, that skunk is definitely rabid” situation, so I guess spring is officially fully here. I made some berry pies and only partially roont them.
Here’s what we cooked and ate this week:
The kids had an assortment of frozen foods, and Damien and I went back to Royal Spice, where we had the same vegetarian appetizers as last time, because they were so appetizing, and then I had goat biryani and Damien had goat vindaloo. Superb. So delicious, I forgot to take pictures. I need to get back to some Indian cooking. Gotta break in the new mortar and pestle Lucy got me for mother’s day!
Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, grilled corn, blueberry-strawberry pie
We had our elderly neighbor over. I’ve been meaning to have her over, ever since we moved in, uhh, sixteen years ago. Listen, we don’t like to be pushy in these parts. We did have a nice time, although she is fairly deaf and the conversation kept circling back to a reliable topic, i.e. her roasting me for buying vegetable plants for the garden instead of starting seeds. The dog thought she was absolutely incredible, and she thought the kids were absolutely amazing for swimming in the pool even though it was a little chilly. She dug up some of her bleeding hearts for me, and I gave her some pie. A good visit.
Damien cooked burgers and hot dogs and corn on the grill, always tasty. He cooks the corn right inside the husks, which makes it super sweet and juicy. You just peel and eat. I will admit, at least 50% of the reason I like this method is because it looks so dramatic.
I made a couple of pies for dessert, and let me tell you, I was worried the whole time that the filling would turn out too runny, and guess what? It did. Not that I took any steps to prevent that from happening; I just worried about it. I sprinkled a good amount of corn starch in with the fruit and sugar, and let it sit for a while before baking; and I let it sit for a while after baking and before cutting. But it was still runny. I guess I should add even more corn starch? Anyone? It tasted great, just sweet enough, and they were very pretty. Just runny.
I just mixed together strawberries and blueberries, sugar, a little salt, what seemed like a good amount of corn starch, and some fresh lemon juice.
Here’s the unbaked pies:
and baked, with an egg wash and a little sugar on top, sadly somewhat burnt:
but still pretty
Here’s my recipe for pie crust, which is reliable and easy to work with.Jump to Recipe
The main secret is to freeze the butter and grate it into the dry ingredients, and then just barely handle it after that.
We made some fresh whipped cream to top it with. Then the kids cleared the table and put the whipped cream away in the fridge. In a ziplock bag. I know that this is technically better than the other way they were likely to put it away (in an open bowl, with some old meatloaf on top), but somehow it didn’t feel better.
Chicken caesar salad, grapes
A decent meal (if one that I’ve been eating a little too often for my liking in one form or another these days, in an effort to shed my Covid Ennui weight). Chicken breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil, grilled and sliced, served on romaine lettuce with dressing from a bottle and freshly-grated parmesan cheese, and buttery homemade croutons. (FYI, the dressing and buttery croutons are not included in the Covid Ennui weight shedding plan, sadly.)
We did bat around the idea of getting ducks this year. Maybe next year. I do love duck eggs, and I would abase myself for homemade caesar salad dressing made with fresh duck egg yolks.Jump to Recipe
Maybe next year! Quack.
Honey mustard drumsticks, homemade tortilla chips, corn and bean salad
Sweet, colorful, mostly finger food. I thought this was going to be a super kid-pleaser meal. This despite that fact that I have met my kids.
Of course you can tell with an introduction like that that they mostly ate cereal. One proudly showed me the dusty can of chicken noodle soup she had discovered in the back of the cabinet. Oh well. I still thought it was a pleasant warm-weather meal.
I roasted about 24 drumsticks with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then rolled them around in a honey mustard sauce, made with probably a cup of honey, half a cup of mustard, and the juice of a large lemon. Then let them chill in the fridge for the rest of the day.
The corn salad was made with 3 ear’s worth of corn leftover from the cookout, a can of drained black beans, a can of diced tomatoes with chiles drained, the juice of one lime, half a red onion minced, a small bunch of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper. I kept it bland so the kids would eat it, ho ho ho.
The tortilla chips, I made by cutting flour tortillas into triangles, tossing them with oil, and sprinkling them heavily with Taijin powder a few times, then spreading them on a pan and baking them in a 350 oven for about half an hour, stirring them a few times so they wouldn’t stick. They don’t turn out completely crisp, but some of them are a little bit chewy.
Here is my helper, performing a crispness test:
You could probably avoid this by baking them longer at a lower temp, and giving them more space, but genuinely I like them a little chewy. I honestly have the palate of a sickly Victorian child. I want at least some of my foods to be milky and the consistency of tapioca. I also like more exciting foods, but my first love will always be the diet of an invalid. And now you know my secret.
Tacos, pineapple and papaya
I optimistically planned the menu this way, with tacos on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, thinking we’d have leftover corn salad and tortilla chips to go along with the tacos. Which we did, but (see previous day) nobody was happy about it. They were happy about the tacos, though, so there.
I sweetened the deal with some fresh pineapple and papaya. Boy, papaya sure is, it sure looks, boy. I feel like I ought to have someone else in the room when I cut it up, just so there’s no misunderstandings.
Something weird happened with this pizza. Maybe a weird batch of dough, I don’t know. Maybe I used too much sauce. It just clung to the pan and didn’t act right. It was okay, just kind of heavy. I also forgot to buy olives.
I made one plain, one pepperoni, one garlic and onion, and one ham and pineapple.
Plenty of fresh parmesan on all of them, which was nice.
Mac and cheese
A couples Fridays ago was supposed to be mac and cheese, but I ran out of steam and just bought some Aldi pizzas. We have SO much stray cheese in the house, though, so I really want to use it up this time.
Oh, last Friday I did make the seafood lo meinJump to Recipe
with the mixed frozen seafood pouch from Aldi, and it turned out just great. It had all kinds of great stuff, mussels, scallops, a little octopus, wonderful. I threw a little fish sauce in there, plus some asparagus and some scallions, and it was a very tasty little meal.
My wish now is to make empanadas. It just came into my head and I can’t think of a reason not to do it. I am thinking of buying the dough disks, if I can find them, so I can get the hang of it; and then if people like them, I can always try making my own dough next time. Any empanada advice? I think I have a press I bought to make dumplings, so I can probably use that.
caesar salad dressing
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
Just mix it all together, you coward.
Basic pie crust
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
- 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube
Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.
Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.
Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.
If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.
If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!
If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.
You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.
basic lo mein
for the sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 5 tsp sesame oil
- 5 tsp sugar
for the rest
- 32 oz uncooked noodles
- sesame oil for cooking
- add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.