No real new recipes this week, but no complaints, either. Except from me. I complained nonstop, and I’m still just warming up. Here’s what we had:
Caprese sandwiches with salami
I guess this is technically new, actually. And so much tastier than I expected, and easier than the chicken version. I toasted a bunch of ciabatta rolls, and set them out with sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil, and genoa salami, plus olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simple and fabulous. Everyone loved them. A nice valediction for summer.
I recommend putting more than one layer of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in among the other ingredients.
Chicken shawarma, zaatar pita and yogurt sauce
I forget why I planned a rather involved meal for the day before a big party. Probably because someone told me about zaatar paste, and I had to build a meal around it.
The oven chicken shawarma recipe, which I’ve simplified from the NYT recipe, is on a recipe card below. I put together the marinade the night before and cussingly skinned, trimmed, and boned about eight pounds of chicken thighs (worth it. We’ve had this dish with bone-in meat, and it’s good, but not scrumptious) and set it to marinate in a ziplock bag with a couple of sliced red onions.
That’s the hard part (and it’s not hard if you have boneless meat!). Before dinner, it’s quick enough to spread the chicken out in a shallow pan and broil it up. I like to chop it up a bit a few minutes before it’s quite done, so you get more crisp pieces.
While it’s cooking, you assemble the fixings. We had it with chopped cukes, parsley, green and black olives, plenty of pita, feta, and of course yogurt sauce (whole Greek yogurt with minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and a little fresh parsley). And grapes. You just put everything you like on your plate, and hop to it.
I planned to make zaatar bread by mixing zaatar with olive oil, spreading it on the pita, and heating it, but shortly before dinner, my will to do even one tiny speck more of work leaked out the back of my ankle
so I mopped that up with a baby wipe and just set out zaatar paste for dipping, and that was lovely, too.
We sometimes have this meal with tomatoes, many other kinds of olives, or something made of eggplant, or pomegranates. All good. So good. The zaatar was a welcome addition, too. Now that I think of it, it does taste like sumac smells, which is also very summery.
Back in July, our annual family reunion was sparsely attended; so we tried again for Labor Day. It was nice! Cousins galore, and such lovely ones.
Some of them needed to become acquainted with the lizard:
and some of them just needed to cool their heads with a little chess:
My father brought burgers and hot dogs, and Damien made his sugar rub chicken thighs and, well, all the mahogany clams in the world. Fine, just all the clams in the supermarket.
Look at that price! I’m not made of stone! I bought all 75. He scrubs them good, then sets them over the coals until they pop open (and they really do pop. I watched them this time. It was pretty cute), then put them in the sauce (white wine, melted butter, lemon juice, and chopped onion cooked in olive oil with red pepper), and mix ’em up, then row back to Spain like there’s no mañana!
Or, just suck down four or five helpings while your family politely averts their gaze. If you don’t have memories that include buttery clams in wine sauce with a reflection of the blue September sky in ’em, I feel bad for you, son. I got ninety nine clams, but I don’t actually know this song.
Chicken berry walnut salad
Back to school. Back to school. (We started last Wednesday, but had Monday off.) In the morning, I put dem chicken breasts under the broiler with some olive oil and basic seasonings, and when they were cool, I cut them into cubes. Spread some walnuts in a pan and let them toast for a few minutes. (Yep, the microwave way is easier, and gives more even results. But someone broke our microwave, and now it cooks for three seconds and then it goes ZUUUUUUUUL. I haven’t thrown it out yet, in case it fixes itself, but it hasn’t yet.)
Mixed greens, crumbled feta, dried berries (cranberries, blueberries, and cherries, but to be honest, they tasted all the same), and diced red onion. And some broccoli we happened to have, which went along with the rest better than I expected.
A little balsamic vinegar, and it’s a nice, filling meal. Everything was set up ahead of time, which makes me feel so smart.
Pizza ala furry bastard
Now you’ll see how smart I really am. I had twenty minutes before it was time to go, so I buttered and floured five pans and stretched out the pizza dough, and left them on the counter to finish up when I got back. And when I got back, here is what I found:
So I took a baseball bat, and I . . . no I didn’t. I threw out the dough and complained about the cat for the next 48 hours. This is also the day that we went for a run and got a dramatic flat tire on the way back, and then the tire wouldn’t come off, so while we were waiting for AAA to come and hit it with a stick, we saw we had missed a phone call from the kid at home, who wanted to know how much to worry about the smoke that was coming out of the dryer. I blame the cat. He did catch a mouse the other day, though. I came pretty close to emitting an “eek,” let me tell you.
Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus
I called one of my teenagers to make this meal while I was teaching one of my other teenagers to drive. She did fine. They did fine. We all did fine. We needed new tires anyway.
I must have been feeling guilty about something to agree to this. I bought them all new shoes! What the hell do I have to feel guilty about? Do I go stomping around on vulnerable pizza dough? No! Do I buy up all the clams? Well yes I do, but it was for a good cause. Do I hit anyone with baseball bats? Not at all. And yet here I am feeling bad and squeezing the juice out of six cans of tune. Line-caught tuna, because I feel guilty about the frickin’ dolphins, too. What a world.
Well, here’s your recipe cards.
- Ciabatta, baguettes, sourdough, or other dense bread
- sliced tomatoes
- sliced mozzarella
- fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- prosciutto, genoa salami, or sliced grilled chicken (optional)
- pesto sauce or pesto mayo (optional)
You know how to make a sandwich.
- 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
- 4-5 red onions
- 1.5 cups lemon juice
- 2 cups olive oil
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
Mix marinade ingredients together, then add sliced or quartered onions and chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or more.
Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.
Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.
Yogurt sauce (tzatziki)
- 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)
Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc.
Grilled clams or mussels in wine sauce
- 1 white or red onion
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- live clams or mussels
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups white wine
- 2 sticks butter
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
Prepare sauce: Coarsely chop the onion and sautee it in the olive oil with the red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper.
Add two sticks of butter and let them melt. Add the wine and lemon juice.
Light the fire and let it burn to coals. While it's burning down, sort and clean the shellfish, discarding any damaged or dead ones. (If they're open, tap them. If they don't close, they're dead. If they're closed, they're fine.)
Lay shellfish on grill until they pop open. The hotter the fire, the shorter the time it will take - five minutes or more.
Add shellfish to sauce and stir to mix.
Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- .5 cups white sugar
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- 20 chicken thighs
Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit.
Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked.
Chicken berry nut salad
Any number of variations. Use whatever fruit is in season and whatever nuts are on sale. Dried fruit is also fine.
- chicken breast, seasoned, cooked, diced
- salad greens
- blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, fresh or dried
- toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
- feta or blue cheese, crumbled
- diced red onions
- balsamic vinegar or other light dressing
To toast the nuts: Spread them in a single layer on a plate and microwaving them on high for three minutes. This is the easiest, most reliable way to toast nuts, which improves the flavor and texture immensely for salad.
You can also toast them in the oven in a single layer on a pan in a 350 oven for 6-7 minutes, but watch carefully, as they burn quickly.