What’s for supper? Vol. 331: Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Happy Friday! Are you ready for some PEPPERSSSSSS!!!!!!!

But first, just like old times, there’s a little dust-up going on in my combox, which began when one reader wanted to know how it is that I’m over here eating kale salads and lean protein crumbles, but yet feeding my kids buttered corn dog nuggets and hot salt slop noodle casserole pie. A few readers jumped to my defense, which I appreciate very much, but the real answer is simple: I don’t like my kids. Please address any further questions to my menu planning assistant, who can be contacted here.  

I kid, I kid. I love yez all, more or less. 

The real question of the day is, WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS RHUBARB? 

Short version, I planted a rhubarb root in early spring, and it didn’t come up at all, but by the time I had given up hope, nobody in town was selling rhubarb anymore. Or so I thought! I stopped by the Cheshire Floral Farm, honestly mainly just to cheer myself up, because it’s so pretty up there. It’s a nursery built on top of a hill, and it’s the cleanest air I’ve ever breathed in my life. Even the birdsong has a special clarity, because the air is so clear. The man who owns it is 74 years old, and he has thousands and thousands of plants which he appears to know intimately, individually, and everything is thriving. He showed me the rows of pots with seedlings he has prepped for next spring. Next spring!

So I mentioned rhubarb, and he started hiking up to the top of the hill, and I panted up after him. There were half a dozen potted rhubarb plants about two feet high, and half a dozen smaller ones. He said, “This rhubarb has a history, you know.” It started as a plant in England that his grandfather grew, and they divided the root and brought it over, and he planted it here in New England, and off it went. I chose a smaller plant, and he knocked the seeds off and told me to dig a deep hole and fill it with manure. Then he kept walking up hill, so I followed, panting. We went through a gate, across a lawn, past a garden, and around a shed, and there, my friends, were three rhubarb plants, each as big as a Volkswagon Bug. He snapped off three stalks and presented them to me. 

So now I have rhubarb! Rhubarb for now, and for tomorrow, and for all my days to come, if I don’t screw it up. Usually I just make strawberry rhubarb pie, because it’s expensive and I only get it once a year, and that’s my favorite treat. But now I have plenty! What else do you like to make? Pickled rhubarb? Rhubarb jam? 

He also said you can chop up the poisonous leaves along with some tobacco leaves, boil them, and make an insecticide, which you use as a spray. I’ll probably leave that one alone, but I love knowing that there’s a use for the leaves besides murder. 

Okay! So here’s what we ate this week. And I apologize in advance, but I added in a lot of medical complaining, because it was that kind of week. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs

H.O.T. D.O.G.S., and I think fries

SUNDAY
Cuban sandwiches, coleslaw, fruit salad

Sunday I took a big step forward with the patio, finally. I salvaged some pressure treated lumber from various old projects, and shoved them in around the perimeter, and staked them in place with lawn stakes. I rented a vibrating plate compactor and ran it over the soil. Then I roped the kids into trucking the gravel down to the backyard, spread that out, ran over it with a makeshift screed, and ran over it with the compactor several more times.

Then the dog ran over it several times, because of course he did. It’s fine. He’s helping compact everything. The gravel I ended up getting is not exactly what I wanted, but I did want to move forward, and I achieved that! So, hoot hoot. Next is sand, and then finally bricks. 

A few hours in, I remembered “oh, supper,” and I had a boneless pork loin or something, so I threw it in the Instant Pot along with several giant glugs of apple cider vinegar, some water, a lot of cumin and garlic powder and some salt and pepper. I pressure cooked it on high for 22 minutes and it came out non-beautiful but very tender and quite tasty. 

For the sandwiches, I had big pieces of sourdough bread, and I built them in this order: bread, mustard, Swiss cheese, pork, pickles, ham, more Swiss cheese, mustard. Mayo on the outside, fried in butter. 

There is no particular reason this heavy, greasy, carby sandwich appears to be leering at you. You’re just imagining it. 

I made a nice fruit salad with watermelon, mango, strawberries, and blueberries, and a quick coleslaw with cabbage and carrot with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, a little olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. 

MONDAY
Lemon pepper chicken, taboon, and muhammara (red pepper walnut dip)

Last week, I asked for more recipes with pomegranate molasses, which I had used so deliciously in the cherry walnut herb salad. Several people suggested muhammara, which is a Turkish red pepper walnut dip.

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE RIGHT. I followed this recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, and made a triple recipe. It calls for two red bell peppers, but I had four red and two orange. I keep learning and then forgetting again that red and orange (and yellow) bell peppers are just green bell peppers at different stages of ripeness (and therefore sweetness). Red is the sweetest; orange is the medium stage. (Yellow, which I didn’t have, is the first “turning” stage.) But it’s all the same pepper. 

Anyway, I oiled and roasted them peppers, which is something I enjoy.

So pretty. 

These recipes always tell you to cover the roasted peppers with plastic wrap and let them steam themselves, to loosen up the skins; but I have found (by the scientific process of forgetting to do it) that this isn’t necessary. The skins come off just as easily if you just let them sit. 

So I pulled off the skins, which I enjoy, and yanked out the core and scraped off most of the seeds. This is about half the pepper flesh. 

And then you just whiz it up in a food processor along with toasted walnuts, olive oil, raw garlic, tomato paste, bread crumbs, of course pomegranate molasses, sugar, sumac, and salt. Now, this recipe also calls for Aleppo pepper, and says cayenne pepper is optional. I didn’t have either, and suddenly got an attack of the cheaps at the store, so I only bought cayenne.

Since I had so much dip, I divided it and added cayenne pepper (somewhat more than the recipe called for) to only one portion. 

Friends, for something so earthy, it is heavenly. This is one of these profoundly nourishing, joyful foods. It just tastes like it’s feeding your whole being. It’s wonderfully tart but not in an aggressive way. The heat in the peppered one built gradually, and it tasted good with chicken, with vegetables, and with bread. And just by itself. 

I made twelve little taboon breads. Last time I was a little unhappy with how they turned out, rather tough and chewy. Not sure if this is what caused it, but I realized that I forgot to put the pan in the oven to heat up before putting the dough on it to bake. This time I followed that step, and they turned out much more tender and fluffy. I love taboon. 

It’s so easy, and you can start it less than two hours before you want to eat. Fast as a quick bread, but with the texture and heft of a yeast bread. So good. It doesn’t puff up and separate into a pocket like pita, so don’t expect that. It’s more bready, while still being a flatbread, so you could use it for wraps, or for scooping or sopping purposes.

I just made very simple roast chicken breast sprinkled with a lemon pepper seasoning mix and cut up, and spinach, black olives, and cherry tomatoes.

Damien and I ate the muhammara steadily for lunch and snacks for the rest of the week. It was wonderful with those flattened pretzel chip things, and also really nice with baby carrots, and with cucumbers. I am completely sold on muhammara. 

Still happy to hear about more pomegranate molasses recipes, but if this is all I ever use it for in the future, diyenu

TUESDAY
Tacos

Tuesday I made a bunch of taco meat, put it in the slow cooker, and then I was like, screw it, I’m going to the ER. Here’s the most exciting part:

Yes, that is my blood pressure. No, I did not eat tacos when I eventually got home, even though they had ruled out heart attack, as well as cancer and pulmonary embolism. But I do not recommend this blood pressure, at all. 

WEDNESDAY
Shawarma

Wednesday I wanted to get back to normal as much as possible, but I had lots of help! Clara made the shawarama marinade, Corrie made the yogurt sauce and Benny cut up the cucumbers and gathered and chopped the mint, and I had bought readymade pita and hummus, so it was just a matter of finishing everything up.

And very good it is, shawarma. 

At this point, I had learned that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with my heart, and all my lab work so far came back showing that I’m actually extremely healthy, except for when my terrible doctor takes me off my medication and makes my blood pressure go nutsy; so yeah, I had a big blob of yogurt sauce. Ugh, I guess I’m self conscious about my food pictures now. Boo. 

THURSDAY
Aldi pizza

Thursday I drove up to the pulmonologist in Lebanon and they did all the breathing tests. I stopped to check on my parents’ grave (they are still dead, whew), and the lilac tree and rose bushes I planted made it through the winter, so that was nice! I said a decade and went on my way. Damien bought and served Aldi pizza, and Moe came by and helped with the driving. 

FRIDAY
Spinach chickpea stew

Friday morning I found out that my lungs are very healthy, capable, and working fine! Which is great, except . . . you know, I still can’t breathe, and my chest still hurts, and my lungs still make a sound like bacon frying at night. Like, other people can hear it, so I can’t be making it up. I don’t know! I don’t know. I’m getting an echocardiogram at the end of July, and I’m going to look into chronic anemia and sleep apnea, because I don’t know what else it might be. It’s not the smoke from the wildfires, because this has been going on since November. Albuterol doesn’t help at all. Maybe I’m just making bacon in my lungs. If anyone could, I would.

ANYWAY, today we are having this lovely lemon chickpea spinach stew

the recipe for which you can find here at Saveur. This weekend I’m going to work on my patio without worrying it’s going to be my last act on earth, so that will be nice. 

Anyway, rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb. Allegedly that’s what crowds of extras on movie sets are supposed to say, in order to convincingly sound like they are having a conversation in the background. Someone smarter than me can write an essay about turning food into the logos. Imma go lie down.

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. 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

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 11. Vol. 11!

It has come to my attention that I have been numbering these posts wrong. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit down and figure out how long this has been going on, but somewhere along the line, I think months ago, I jumped the track and slipped back into the 200’s, when I should actually be halfway through the 300’s. I think. I don’t know, I don’t know! I just keep cooking food and they just keep eating it, and then I keep taking pictures of it, and they keep making fun of me, and I keep saying, “But people like it! Well, some people, anyway.”

For example:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs grilled outside

Don’t remember much about Saturday, ‘deed I don’t. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps

Sunday I was planning tacos al pastor, but by the time I got it going, I didn’t think the meat would have sufficient time to marinate, so I decided that would be tomorrow’s meal, and for now we would have wraps. Nothing spectacular, but tasty enough: Turkey, salami, bacon, and provolone with horseradish sauce.

And I had a nice little time working on the marinade. This is the recipe I use, and it’s rather time-consuming, but fantastically delicious. First you blister up the guajillo peppers

then you scrape the seeds out

and then you soften them up

and then you blend them up with a bunch of other ingredients,

including achiote paste, which I can never find, so I also make that out of a bunch of other ingredients

which you make into a paste

and then chuck it all into the food processor. Actually, I ran out of ground cumin, so I had to grind some up in my mortar and pestle. At this point I was starting to feel like it was possible this recipe was Too Much Work, but I was in too deep, so I went ahead and pestled it. And that was the last ingredient.

And then you can marinate the meat overnight, which I did. Whew. It felt a lot like finally getting a beloved but rather dramatic child to bed. (If you are planning to eat the child later, with sour cream.)

MONDAY
Tacos al pastor; pico de gallo and tortilla chips

Monday I made a big bowl of pico de gallo out of very sweet little grape tomatoes, onion, fresh lime juice, kosher salt, and cilantro. 

Jump to Recipe

And when it was almost dinner time, I heated up a bunch of tortillas, and then set up two greased pans to broil: One with the marinated meat

and one with chunks of pineapple; and I switched them and stirred them up a bit, so they both got a little charred. (The pineapple takes several minutes longer than the meat to cook, which I always forget.)

And that’s it. I had mine with just a little sour cream on the tortilla, just the meat and the grilled pineapple, and a little cilantro, with pico and chips on the side. 

Stupendous. The marinade has so much flavor, it’s ridiculous, and you will not want to add any hot sauce or salsa or anything. It’s got a tangy, nutty, smoky kind of sweetness that’s incredibly pleasing, and the meat is of course so tender from all that marinating. The pineapple turns almost candy-sweet on the outside when you grill it, and I am completely in love with the combination of the savory meat and the juicy pineapple with a little sour cream. It was not Too Much Work. It was Totally Worth It. I have made this recipe many times and it never even occurs to me to look for another one. 

TUESDAY
Korean beef bowl with rice; cucumbers

Haven’t had Korean beef bowl for a while.

Jump to Recipe

It came out so nice. I used plenty of fresh garlic and fresh ginger, and what I’ve been doing is cooking the meat about 80% of the way through, draining the fat, and then adding the minced ginger and garlic and cooking it. The ginger and garlic bits stay really bright and pungent that way. 

I served it over white rice, and just served plain cucumbers on the side. I briefly considered one of those cute little piquant cucumber salads with the rice vinegar and the hot pepper flakes, but sometimes I like to have mercy on the kids and just serve regular old cucumbers.

WEDNESDAY
Moussakhan and taboon

Always a popular meal. This time I had some especially good sumac from the International Market, and woof, it made my nose quiver. Lovely dark plum color, in glossy little flakes.

This is quite an easy recipe with a massive return on your effort, and you can serve it over rice or just eat it plain, or with pita, or whatever you want. I do like the dramatic presentation of the enormous platter of piping hot taboon bread, with all the chicken and its juice served on top of it, so everyone can help themselves to whatever pieces they want, and tear off some taboon to go with it.

I had a long tray of drumsticks and a half dozen thighs, and you slash the meat to the bone to get the marinade really deep in there, and then just marinate it for half a day or so. 

I only had two regrets: One was that I ran out of lemons to juice, and decided to use lime juice, which wasn’t disastrous, but it’s not ideal; and the other was that I was working outside on moving my raised garden beds around and whatnot, and was so afraid I would get garden madness and lose track of time, so I checked the clock frequently and had it all worked out exactly when I had to put everything in the oven so it would be done on time, and I did work it out, down to the minute, but then I . . . . forgot to do it. And you know, it really just doesn’t cook well that way, I find, when you don’t actually put the food in the oven. Awfully slow.

But EVENTUALLY we did have supper, and it was delicious. 

I made my Giant Pan o’ Taboon, which is quite fast to make, and only takes one rise, so you can start it about an hour and a half before you want to get dinner on the table, and that’s enough time. 

Jump to Recipe

and I used the last of the big pouch of pine nuts I splurged on a while back. You toast them up in olive oil just before serving the meat,

and you put the chicken and onions on the bread, and sprinkle that with sizzling pine nuts and chopped parsley, and BOY is it good. 

Just so good. 

I decided that the taboon recipe as written had a silly amount of salt in it, so I decreased it, and you know, I just didn’t like it as much. I honestly don’t know if the amount of salt I wrote is a typo or not, but I like it that way, so I’m going back to a truckload of salt next time I made this. Salty taboon for all!

THURSDAY
Ravioli

The kids were on vacation all week, so most days this week, I have been rushing around doing a lot of pent-up yard work and gardening and whatnot. The ducks have been spending more and more time outside, and overall I like the looks of things around here, and I’m making slow but steady progress toward my patio area. Thursday Benny and I made a little trip into Massachusetts to get some used bricks,

and then she had a couple of pals over. Corrie had a friend over earlier in the week. Why is it so hard to have friends over! I guess it’s because we live far away from everything, and so does everybody. But having ducks helps. People do want to come see ducks, even if they have their own ducks. 

FRIDAY
Aldi pizza

Friday Elijah and I climbed Mt. Cesar.

This is not a very big mountain, but it was steep enough to make me wheeze like a, like I don’t know what, a big wheezer. I’m not even in bad shape, it’s just my dumb lungs. Whatcha gonna do. Go to the doctor, I guess. But Friday was also the most important day all year in our little town: Rummage sale day!!! It’s not even a very good rummage sale, but there are people crowded outside the door waiting to get in. So we went and got our weird mugs and our dubious John Le Carré paperbacks and our little glass hummingbirds and our rusty scooter and then came home and,,, had some Aldi pizza. 

And this is the kind of paragraph that makes me think it doesn’t really matter much which volume of What’s For Supper? it really is. It’s eleven. It goes up to eleven. 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

 

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 243: The next big hing

Here it is Friday again! What do you know about that. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, veg and dip

Damien made these, and they were yummy. Nothing much else to report, except look at the pretty dish Clara made. 

SUNDAY
Pasta carbonara

Bacon was on sale and we had leftover parmesan in the house, so I was powerless. Carbonara was calling and would not be denied. 

Here’s my easy peasy nicely greasy recipe:

Jump to Recipe

And very good it was, pasta carbonara. 

MONDAY
Ham, peas, mashed potatoes

The meal for when ham is on sale for Easter and you’re planning to make a big Passover meal the day before Easter so you don’t need ham for that, but despoiling the Egyptians is always in season. Or something. Anyway, the kids like ham. 

I don’t know why there is a marble on my plate. 

On Monday, despite being full of potatoes, I was already getting excited about Tuesday’s meal, when I would finally get to use my little bottle of hing. 

Hing is the Hindi word for asafoetida, which means “stinky ass.” Not really, but kinda really. It is made from the resin of giant fennel plants and whoever smelled it and thought, “boy, I bet this is just the thing to make my food taste really excellent!” must have been super high. It smells like . . . did you ever have a kid who got really really attached to a pair of green rubber boots with frogs on the toe, and he insists on wearing them all summer long, but won’t wear socks? And then finally takes them off and fills them with hot shrimp ramen? Hing kind of smells like the ramen that comes out of those boots. 

So naturally I was quite excited about adding this ingredient to my family’s menu. I decided to test the waters with another ingredient I also haven’t tried before: Flattened rice. 

Look at those guys! Look at them dance!

I cannot possibly miss when I have poha and hing on my side!

The recipe I landed on described itself as “mild,” and “easy” and “quick” and “for complete dumbasses” so I thought it would be a good first foray. 

Benny and Corrie had never seen a fresh coconut before, so we had fun stabbing it in the eyes and beating it over its hairy head with a hammer. Then I sent them off to bed and shredded the meat, which I was was the boring part, but really I wanted to keep all the end pieces for myself to gnaw on.

Then I bagged it for the next day, pretty excited about the poha to come. 

TUESDAY
Indian roast chicken, coconut poha, mango

First let me tell you about the main dish, which was roast chicken. As I have mentioned, I get kind of crabby when I have to roast a whole chicken, but mixing together a bunch of pungent Indian spices did cheer me up. I followed this easy recipe from Aarthi at YummyTummy, and it turned out great. I quadrupled the recipe and it made more than enough marinade paste for two six-pound chickens.

You just stab the chickens all over, rub the marinade in, including inside cavity, and roast it covered, and then uncovered. You do have to change the temperature once, and baste it toward the end. 

It was juicy and delicious. I didn’t have every last ingredient, but it had a little fiery burst at the first bite, which mellowed out quickly and just became warm and cheering and lively. The kids are very quickly acclimating to Indian flavors, and most of them ate the chicken happily, including the rather spicy skin, which was very crisp and packed with flavor. 

Definitely going to make this again. I may keep it covered a bit longe, just to avoid blackening the marinade quite so much. That being said, several people went back to the kitchen to scrape pieces of said blackened marinade off the pan after dinner, so the color clearly wasn’t a deterrent. 

And now for the poha. I more or less followed this recipe from SharmisPassions , except I had peanuts instead of cashews, dried ground mustard instead of mustard seeds, and I didn’t have any jeera. I also misread the directions and left the nuts in the pan when I was tempering the peppers and curry leaves and spices, so the nuts got a little burned.

THAT BEING SAID, I had hing, darn it! I had been led to believe (possibly by myself) that if you have hing, the magic of umami is going to grab you by the taste buds and drag you straight to flavortown.

This . . . did not happen. I swear I used plenty of it, and I had so many fresh ingredients, fresh curry leaves, fresh coconut, and did I mention hing, and I let it splutter and everything like the recipe said! But the whole dish just tasted like hot wet shredded paper with burned peanuts in it. 

Oh well. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t taste like much of anything, and was more baffling than anything else. I don’t know, maybe I got confused somehow and messed up the proportions when I was sizing it up. I have lots more poha, and I’m definitely going to try again! Just . . . not that particular recipe. (I don’t blame the recipe, but it’s cursed now, and I have to move along.)

The chicken was great, the poha was at least hot, and the fresh mango was nice. Still a pretty good meal, just weird. 

WEDNESDAY
Chinese pork, chopped salad, pineapple 

Now this was a bit of a triumph, and made me feel better about my cooking. I had this big lump of pork and only the very vaguest of plans. I had bought a little red cabbage, and a bag of kale on clearance — sale kale, if you will — and some crunchy noodles, and that was as far as I got. It seemed like we’ve been having a lot of rice lately, so I wanted to make something different. And it was kind of late in the day to start char siu. 

So I mooched around some recipes, and decided to try something that I thought should work.  Famous last words, right?

I put together some classic Chinese roast pork ingredients — soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, white pepper, and five spice — and I just mixed it together and hucked it all in the Instant Pot with the meat for 22 minutes. It came out undercooked, which was okay, because I was planning to finish it on the stovetop.

I put the sliced meat in a big pan with all the sauce and just simmered it slowly 

stirring it occasionally, to make sure all the sides of the pieces of meat got coated. And I’ll be darned if it didn’t reduce way down until it was sticky and glossy and dark reddish-brown, and truly delicious. 

It took about half an hour, maybe forty minutes, and it really, really tasted like restaurant roast Chinese pork. I was so pleased. Very little effort. I was afraid the pork would be tough with all that cooking, but it was not. 

I chopped up the red cabbage and kale and just served the meat on top of it with the crunchy noodles, and it was fab. I bought some bottled sesame dressing, but ended up not using it, because the meat had such an intense flavor. I served pineapple on the side just to round the meal out. 

Extremely pleased with this. I was so nervous about serving meat without rice, but I think it worked so well. The meat has a very potent flavor and is very sticky, so it was good to have the fresh crunchy vegetables for texture contrast, and the extra snap of the thin noodles made it perfect.

Here’s the recipe with the exact directions:

Jump to Recipe

You could really taste the white pepper in the sauce, too. I highly recommend getting a canister of white pepper to keep around, even if you only use it every once in a while. There really is no substitute for that strange little sizzle it adds. (Warning: It smells like horse manure for some reason.)

THURSDAY
Burgers and chips

When I tell you how relieved I was to look at the menu and see it was just burgers and chips. I know I’m the one who makes these stupid complicated menus, but still! Why do I do this to myself! Because I like good food, that’s why. But still, I was relieved. And burgers are good food, too. 

I was determined to take a more interesting picture of a burger, and the only thing I could think of was to deliberately stick my finger in the frame.

This struck me as hilarious at the time. Then I took a two-hour nap. 

In other food news, on Thursday morning we did try poha again, this time as a sweet breakfast dish. I soaked the poha in water for about five minutes, squeezed it out, doused it in milk, and heated it in the microwave for two minutes, then put honey on top. 

(It occurred to me too late that I could have just soaked it in milk and saved myself a step, and also made it taste richer.) The little kids liked it. I tried a bit and it was nice, reminiscent (understandably) of rice pudding. My kids like hot cereals — oatmeal, cornmeal mush — and this is along those lines, although the grains of rice don’t meld together into porridge but stay separate and sort of fluffy. Neat stuff!  

FRIDAY
Sabanekh bil hummus for adults, tuna for kids

We had this stew just a few weeks ago, but we’re headed toward spring and I only have a little bit of soup season left. It’s been blustery and nippy out, so a nice pot of this earthy, nourishing Palestinian spinach and chickpea soup with a lemony twist while the predicted rain washes away the last of the snow is going to be just the thing. 

And if you don’t like it, you can have tuna! Sprinkle some hing on it, see if I care.

(I do.)

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

 

Quick Chinese "Roast" Pork Strips

If you have a hankering for those intensely flavorful strips of sweet, sticky Chinese roast pork but you don't want to use the oven for some reason, this works well, and you can have it in about an hour and a half, start to finish. You will need to use a pressure cooker and then finish it on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 4+ lbs pork roast

For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice

Instructions

  1. Blend all sauce ingredients together. Put the pork in the Instant Pot, pour the sauce over it, close the lid, close the valve, and set to high pressure for 22 minutes.

  2. When pork is done, vent. Remove pork and cut into strips, saving the sauce.

  3. Put the pork in a large sauté pan with the sauce and heat on medium high, stirring frequently, for half an hour or more, until sauce reduces and becomes thick and glossy and coats the meat.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 240: Challah round the world

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. 

SATURDAY
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. 

SUNDAY
Pizza 

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! 

MONDAY
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. 

TUESDAY
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 challah

Jump 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. 

WEDNESDAY
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. 

THURSDAY
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. 

FRIDAY
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! 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Italian Wedding Soup with pork meatballs

Lots of variations to this pleasant, nourishing soup with little meatballs.

Ingredients

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
  • pepper
  • more parmesan and Italian parsley for garnish

Instructions

To make the meatballs:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. Add the meatballs back in. Add the broth and white wine, the kale, and the pepper to taste. Simmer for several hours.

  3. About half an hour before serving, add the uncooked pasta and turn up the heat to cook.

  4. Serve with shredded or grated parmesan and coarsely chopped Italian parsley for a garnish.

 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. 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.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pork nachos

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Heavily season the pieces of meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides.

  2. 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.

  3. Discard bay leaves and orange peels, remove meat from broth, shred, and serve.