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.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 323: We are an Epiphany people are we are going to bed

Happy Epiphany! It’s Epiphany, right? I get all my liturgical information through social media, and generally through a lens of people arguing over whether it’s actually [whatever day] or not, and if not, which bishop is to blame for this outrage. The impression I have today is that Benedict XVI is in heaven going, “This Beatific Vision is prettty good, but BOY AM I MAD THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY THROWN OUT THEIR TREES.” This is what’s known as “being an Easter people.”  

What I know for sure is this is the time of year when we just have massive dump trucks of food crashing through the walls of the house and unloading food after food after food, and I am powerless to stop it. And I guess I didn’t do a WFS last week, because I didn’t know what day it was, not for liturgical reasons, but just because I am self-employed and my boss is kind of an idiot. So I’ll just do a highlights reel, and you must imagine crowds of cinnamon buns and leftover egg rolls and fudge and buckeyes and rapidly staling tree cookies pushing in from the wings, clamoring to be eaten.  

TUESDAY after Christmas
Chicken salad with pears, pecans, blue cheese

Absolutely desperate for some kind of vegetable two days after Christmas, I made a salad with mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced pears, toasted pecans, and crumbled blue cheese, with something called “champagne dressing,” which turned out to taste sort of fruity and violently salty, and not in the fun way.

The rest of the salad was good, though. It really was good to have something green that wasn’t green icing. 

WEDNESAY 
Spaghetti carbonara 

I made it with plenty of butter, flat leaf parsley, and freshly-grated parmesan, and it was fab.

Spotlight on carbonara! I think the eggs cost more than the bacon, alas. Strange times.

I think my recipe plugin should be functional again, so here’s the card:
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THURSDAY
Chicken shawarma

Everybody was mad on Thursday and nobody said anything nice about my shawarma, so humph, I said it to myself. This shawarma was simply delicious.
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Boneless skinless chicken thighs were on sale, which is the easiest, tastiest thing to make oven chicken shawarma with.

Marinate in the morning, dump it in a pan with onions in the evening, and do a little chopping and stirring, and you have a top notch meal.We had all the usuals, olives, tomatoes, cukes, feta cheese, pita, and yogurt sauce.

Briefly considered making homemade pita or fried eggplant, but I’m toooooo tired. 

SATURDAY, New Year’s Eve
Lamb, sushi, pork dumplings

I bought a boneless leg of lamb back when it was $4.99 a pound a few months ago, and Damien slow roasted it all day until it was tender and lovely. We have tried more laborious recipes, but this very simple one always turns out the most toothsome.
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Turns out it’s scrumptious with a little dab of wasabi. Boo, I didn’t get any pictures. Too busy eating lamb. 

My contribution was something new this year: Pork dumplings. I followed this recipe for the filling. I had my doubts about a Chinese recipe by someone named Emma Christensen, but man, it was perfect. It only has a few ingredients — ground pork, Napa cabbage, kosher salt, soy sauce, scallions, cilantro, fresh ginger, sesame oil, and eggs — and it’s easy. You shred the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt, and then squeeze it to get the moisture out, and the mix it together with everything else. 

This was my first time using my dumpling press. You just put the wrapper on, plop a heaping tablespoon of filling on it, wet half the wrapper edge, and close the press firmly. 

Very quickly fifty dumplings took shape!

When it was time to eat, I set my bamboo steamer in a pan of gently boiling water and steamed 8-10 dumplings at a time for ten minutes.

It is a double-decker steamer, and you have to line the inside trays with something so the dumplings don’t stick to the bamboo. At first I tried coffee filters with steam holes poked in them, because they were the perfect size, but they still stuck, so I used parchment paper with steam holes, and that worked perfectly, and I used the same paper for all the batches. 

They were just scrumptious. The perfect blend of sharp and savory and gingery with a tiny bit of crunch from the cabbage.  I had some with some jarred sauce, but they were wonderful on their own. Just delighted to have this in my repertoire. 

I made a 2.5X batch of the filling, because that’s how much pork I had, and I ended up only using half of it before I ran out of wrappers; so I froze the left over, and we shall have dumplings again! You can also fry them or boil them. 

New Year’s Eve is also . . . .SHUSHI DAY. Clara had a friend over and Moe came over and we had a lovely time. I made a giant bowl of sweet, sticky sushi rice.

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I sprang for a couple sacks of really good short-grain rice

rinsed it a propitious number of times and cooked it in the Instant Pot, and then the next part takes three people: One to dump the rice into a bowl, one to slowly add the sauce and fold it into the rice without mushing it, and one to fan it vigorously so it dries. 

I have no idea if this really makes a difference for how the rice turns out, but it’s part of the tradition at this point.

Then we also had . . . 

raw tuna (frozen at sea and sliced thin)
cooked shrimp
fake crab legs
coconut shrimp
red roe 
pickled ginger
cucumber
avocado
mango
sesame seeds
furikake
and also 
duck sauce
hot mustard
wasabi
soy sauce
and then honestly just whatever asian-looking bottles I could find in the fridge

The kids gave me lots of little bowls and ramekins for Christmas, because that’s what I like, so had fun arranging things prettily. 

This is a really neat way to set up a party, because it encourages people to keep circulating and trying new combinations of things.

And we had fun! Everyone at plenty of food, and we had store-bought cheesecake and cream pies, and we watched Duck Soup and toasted the new year. Phew. 

SUNDAY
Calzones, tiramisu

Sunday was Sophia’s birthday, and she requested calzones and tiramisu, which meant an easy supper for me
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and a rather more time consuming dessert for Damien to make. Here is the recipe he uses. I never seem to get a good photo of tiramisu, but it is luscious and wonderful. 

MONDAY
Taco Bell

No bones day. We just got a bunch of tacos. 

TUESDAY
Italian meatloaf, french bread

New recipe! It was a chilly, drizzly, grey day and the recipe email from Jim at Sip and Feast featured this very cozy-looking meatloaf smothered in mushrooms and crushed tomatoes, and I knew what I had to do. It’s just a regular meatloaf, with a few elevated ingredients like plenty of freshly-grated parmesan, fresh parsley, and minced garlic, and you drench it in dry red wine and surround it with crushed tomatoes. Put it in the oven to cook and start frying up a generous bunch of mushrooms and onions in olive oil with a little salt, and then add those to the meatloaf, and let it finish cooking.

I mean, how could it. not be good. It was so good.  Hands down the best, happiest meatloaf I’ve ever had. (I used 5.5 pounds of meat and made two loaves, so it took closer to an hour and a half to cook.)

I had the opposite of the zoomies, and so Damien shopped for me and Clara picked up the kids for me, leaving me at home to putter around the kitchen with my meatloaf, and I thought how nice it would be to have some fresh bread to sop up all that lovely mushroom and tomato sauce.

So I used my trusty french bread recipe

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and turned out four pretty, golden loaves.

Every time I make french bread, I’m grateful and astonished that I happened to stumble upon some kind of success accidentally. But I have to admit that this happens every time I make bread, and if it were anyone else, I would conclude that this means this is, you know, a person who knows how to make french bread. Not me, though. I’m a moron who gets lucky every time. But who cares, as long as there’s squishy hot bread! Bread now, self-worth later. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, fruit salad

Wednesday I finally finally went shopping for the week, and let me tell you, it was again a no-bones day. We had some grilled ham and cheese and a fruit salad made of pineapple, grapes, blueberries, and kiwi, which is a special recipe made of only the most carefully selected elements that were on sale at Aldi.

Then I went to lie down for a minute and suddenly it was nine o’clock and someone had drooled on my face (me). So I got up and watched a little TV and then went back to bed, because I am an easter people and I am going to bed. 

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Nothin to report. Well, except that I had an apple instead of chips [insert medal].

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Yeah! It’s been a while. Got some batter fried fish fillets, tortillas, avocados, cabbage, limes, sour cream, and salsa. I also grabbed a bag of frozen shrimp I could sauté up with a little lime juice or whatever, but I may just pretend I forgot about it by the time dinner rolls around. 

I’m vaguely considering putting together some kind of king cake, but I usually palm that off on Clara and I don’t have any experience with it. Anyone have a very simple recipe? I have all the normal staples in the house. 

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.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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.

 

Tom Nichols' Grandmother's Leg of Lamb

Ingredients

  • boneless leg of lamb
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt
  • oregano

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. Slash the meat several times, about an inch deep.

  3. Fill the cuts with plenty of garlic powder.

  4. Slather olive oil all over the meat.

  5. Crust it with garlic salt. Sprinkle with all the oregano you own.

  6. Cover meat loosely with tinfoil and cook three hours. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.

 

Sushi rice

I use my Instant Pot to get well-cooked rice, and I enlist a second person to help me with the second part. If you have a small child with a fan, that's ideal.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups raw sushi rice
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and cook it.

  2. In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Put the rice in a large bowl. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture over it while using a wooden spoon or paddle to fold or divide up the cooked rice to distribute the vinegar mixture throughout. You don't want the rice to get gummy or too sticky, so keep it moving, but be careful not to mash it. I enlist a child to stand there fanning it to dry it out as I incorporate the vinegar. Cover the rice until you're ready to use it.

Calzones

This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones

Ingredients

  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  

 

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 317: Little Bear food

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Happy Friday! Another week of nippy weather, and I’m really settling into cozy fall cooking. I’m doing some planning for Thanksgiving, by which I mean I bought a second potato masher at the thrift store. I have always been a wiggly line potato masher kind of gal, but now I’m branching out into the grid-on-a-circle style, and I have high hopes. Because I just don’t make very good mashed potatoes, and it’s probably the masher’s fault.

However, I am happy to announce that I used up the last of the apples! Very satisfactory. Read on. 

SATURDAY

I’m skeptical Saturday even happened. I have no idea what we ate. 

SUNDAY
Pizza

You may recall how, last time I made pizza, I committed the high crime of not making any just-cheese pizza. Well, this time I did! And the kids made exactly as big a fuss about it as if I hadn’t (“Well SHEESH, Mama, the only reason we’re ASKING is because LAST time . . . “). But I did make a cheese pizza. I really did.  I also made one pepperoni and one olive, fresh garlic, and anchovy. 

Man, I need to do something about that grout. Good pizza, though. 

MONDAY
Pork ribs, applesauce, mashed acorn squash, risotto

APPLE ARMAGEDDON. There were dozens and dozens of soft, spotty, dinged-up apples hanging around the dining room in bags and boxes and government-owned mail cartons driving me mad, so on Monday I gathered them up, hacked them  into quarters, threw them in my biggest pot, added a little water (too much, like I do every year), and let them simmer loosely covered for a few hours. 

I left everything intact, peels, cores, everything, and when they were soft enough to collapse under the weight of a wooden spoon, I ran them through my wonderful food mill, very similar to this one (affiliate link):

 

The food mill is one of the few once-a-year kitchen gadgets I allow to take up space in my tiny kitchen, because nothing else does exactly what a food mill does (i.e. not only smooshes the food, but separates out the undesirable parts). I was a little dismayed to dismayed to discover that someone had put it away last year after using it to make applesauce but not necessarily super duper washing it out, bleh. It has a pot with handle and bowl clips, a crank and blade, and a screw with a sweeping arm for underneath, and [deep shuddery breath] you really do need to take it apart to clean it properly. 

But a little scrubbing did the trick, and I was soon cranking out sweet, beauteous applesauce.

I didn’t take a picture of the refuse because it’s just not pretty, but I’m always impressed at how efficient the food mill is. If you keep cranking, it really gets every last possible scrap of edible material, and just leaves the barest minimum of waste behind. Then you crank it backwards a few turns and it scrapes the leavings up into a little heap for you to whack out into the trash. Very satisfying activity altogether.

After several batches, I was left with a heavy, steaming bowl of fragrant, rosy applesauce, and it smelled so nice, I was tempted to just leave it at that. But I did pitch in a bunch of cinnamon, a generous drizzle of honey, and a lump of butter, and mix it up.

I covered it and left it alone, and it was so dense, it stayed warm until dinnertime. I felt like a fairy tale mother. Everyone was very pleased. 

I served it with pork ribs, just roasted quickly on a rack in a very hot oven with salt and pepper, and some rich, cheesy Instant Pot risotto, and some mashed acorn squash

What an excellent meal. Here is the recipe for Instant Pot risotto, which isn’t quite quite as creamy and luxurious as stovetop risotto, but it’s pretty darn close, and it’s easy enough to throw together on a weeknight, with onions, sage, white wine, and chicken broth.

Jump to Recipe

You can add in any number of things, including squash if you’re not already serving squash. 

But I was, and I was trying a new method. Normally I roast it in the oven and then mash it. This time, I cooked it in the Instant Pot, and I learned a tip to sprinkle it with kosher salt and baking soda first, allegedly to help caramelize it, before mashing it with your add-ins. Here’s the full recipe:

Jump to Recipe

and whoa, it was excellent.

I have no idea if the process really made that much of a difference or if i just got hold of some really tasty squash, but it was amazingly flavorful. Yay! Damien really liked it, so I’ll definitely do it this way from now on. 

TUESDAY
Ima’s Everything Soup and overnight bread

On Monday night, I started some bread dough using an exceedingly vague recipe someone, I’m sorry I can’t remember who, put on Facebook. To wit:

Ingredients
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
 
In a large bowl combine flour, active dry yeast and salt. Mix together. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be sticky. Give it ten good folds. Cover bowl with a tea towel. Let dough rest overnight for 10 to 12 hours at room temp.
 
In the morning, your dough will have grown x2- then give it a few folds (I basically scraped the dough off the sides of the bowl towards the middle), empty it out onto a piece of parchment paper and let it rest for 30 minutes. If dough is sticky and hard to work with, add a bit of flour so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Score your bread with a knife. (I made an “x” on the top.)
 
While dough is resting, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Put a covered 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (Dutch oven, enamel, ceramic) in oven as it heats for about 30 minutes.
 
Carefully remove pot from oven. IT’S VERY HOT. Pick up parchment paper with dough and slide directly into pot (ie dough sitting on the parchment).  Cover with lid and bake 35-40 minutes at 425 Degrees F. LID WILL BE HOT – remove lid and bake another 10-15 minutes, until loaf is golden brown.
 
You can eat it warm with butter or wait until it cools.

Okay, that seemed simple enough!  I tripled the recipe and left it in a big bowl to rise overnight. I ended up using more flour than it called for because it was not just “sticky,” it was like batter, and really couldn’t be called dough. 

The next day, it had risen nicely and was more dough-like, but I did add yet more flour to be able to handle it. I poured it out in two batches onto parchment paper and let it rest 30 minutes as directed. 

I don’t seem to have any dutch ovens (the contents of my kitchen are always vaguely mysterious to me), so I heated up a glass casserole dish and a large iron frying pan, and baked it in two batches in that. You’re supposed to bake it with the lid on, then uncover it and finish baking. Since my containers didn’t have lids, I used tin foil, which stuck to the dough, so when I pulled it off, it peeled some of the bread crust off with it. I could have avoided this by spraying it with cooking spray, or covering it with a bowl or something else with more clearance. 

But overall, it came out of the oven looking like bread!

Quite dense and rather chewy, but real bread, a really good return for the miniscule amount of labor and very basic ingredients I put into it. 

So that was nice. It was pretty good with a little soft butter and a sprinkle of salt, and it hit the spot along with the hearty soup I made.

This seems to be a version of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread that everybody got all worked up about a while ago. He gives more precise directions and his technique requires more time, but does seem to produce a nicer loaf. So now you know everything I do. 

The soup is an adaptation of my mother’s minestrone soup, which she used to call “everything soup.” Minstrone soup usually has vegetables, greens, beans, tomato, and some kind of pasta or rice. My mother’s version doesn’t have tomato and it does have meat. She used ground beef; I used mild sausage. She used celery; I swapped in zucchini instead. She specified frozen spinach, and I used fresh. I skipped the wine and used fresh parmesan. But otherwise, this is basically her recipe, which is basically minestrone. Or not! It has onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini, chick peas, sausage, spinach, beef broth (and wine) and is topped with a little parmesan.

I cooked it a little too long and it got a little blurry, but it was tremendously nourishing and cozy. This is Little Bear food. 

Together with the world’s most basic bread, it was a very fine little meal for a chilly day. 

And here is where I have to express my admiration for people who cook but don’t enjoy the process. I salute you! I like to eat; goodness knows, I like to eat. But I like to cook almost as much, if not more. The sight and sounds and sensations, the smells and textures and patterns of food being processed are a constant delight to me, even when I’m in a hurry. Peeling and cutting and chopping and grating, rinsing and stirring, steaming and simmering and tossing. Every onion is different inside! Every head of lettuce has its own music when it’s torn. The colors, the colors. It is all absolutely my jam.

What a treat to peer down through the top of a shiny box grater and watch the little torrents of parmesan billowing through the holes as I shred, and then sensing that the grater is stuffed full and needs to be knocked empty against the scarred wooden board, until it spills out its little bounty of delicate curls into the sun.

And then I also like to eat! Lucky me. 

WEDNESDAY
Shawarma

Honest to goodness, I thought it was Thursday, and I was so annoyed at myself for putting off this meal all week, so I was painted into a Thursday corner and had to make a slightly laborious dinner twice in a row, first the soup and bread, then the shawarma. I had been up all night with a cold and fever, struggling with the delusion that I had hidden a terrible, purple secret on top of a mountain and so needed to get my socks off. Then I got up and I was like, OH NO, AND NOW I HAVE TO MAKE SHAWARMA, I HAVE NO CHOICE BECAUSE IT’S THURSDAY. In retrospect, I may still have been a little sick. Luckily, shawarma is actually easy enough that you can make it when you’re a little loopy. 

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs were on sale, and that is the best kind of chicken to use for shawarma, so I didn’t have to do much processing, just trim the fat off a bit. The marinade is easy, and the rest is just really chopping and opening  jars and cans. And crushing plenty of garlic. 

Jump to Recipe

So I set several pounds of chicken to marinate in the morning, and made up a big bowl of yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

Corrie was home too, so she juiced lemons for me, and also cut up the cucumbers. So we had pita, cucumbers, tomatoes, black and kalamata olives, feta cheese, yogurt sauce, and hummus. I marinated just the chicken and then spread red onions over the top of the chicken before I cooked it. And that was it! Great meal. Everyone loves it. A little bit of work on the front end, but it’s all easy, with no exotic ingredients, and it’s just so tasty. 

Sometimes I make homemade pita or stuffed grape leaves or fried eggplant with this meal, but this is the basic form and it’s great as is. 

THURSDAY
Taco Thursday

Thursday turned out to be Thursday, for whatever reason, and so we had tacos. I don’t make the rules. (Well, I do, but I don’t have to explain myself.) 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti pangrattato

Something new for us. Pasta with lemon, parsley, seasoned breadcrumbs, capers, and bits of fried egg!! from Smitten Kitchen. I think this is one of those delicious, delicious poverty dishes the Italians are so good at. I’m guessing most of the kids will just want plain pasta, but you never know.

Or maybe we’ll just have spaghetti! The kids have the day off for Veteran’s Day and maybe I’ll do the weekend shopping on Friday and have the actual weekend off for once, to do something fun. Although so far all I have managed to do is sleep for twelve hours, which I haven’t done in years, and I think that means I am still sick. 

Oh, I just remembered what we had on Saturday. Corn dogs! Corn dogs and hot pretzels. With a side of mustard. 

Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn quashes
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.

  2. Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.

  3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.

Ima's Everything Soup

heavily adapted from a sort-of-minestrone soup my mother used to make

Ingredients

  • 1+ lbs loose mild sausage (my mother used ground beef)
  • olive oil if necessary
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced with the skin on
  • 6-12 cups beef broth
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (frozen is also fine)
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 cup small pasta like pastina, raw
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a pot, cook the sausage, crumbling, until it's cooked through. Add olive oil if necessary to keep from burning. (If using an Instant Pot, use the sauté function for the first two steps.)

  2. Add in garlic, onion, oregano, and pepper. Cook another several minutes until the onion is soft.

  3. Add in the carrots and zucchini, and pour in the broth (and wine if using), and stir. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for twenty minutes. (If using an Instant Pot, add all the ingredients except the cheese, close the lid, close the valve, and press "soup.")

  4. Add in the spinach and chickpeas and continue simmering another ten minutes. Add in the pasta ten minutes before serving and cook until soft. If the soup is too thick and too much broth has been absorbed, add another 4-5 cups of broth. Top with parmesan.

 

Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 308: A kind of Koyaanisqatsi mouthfeel

This week starts so well.

But, dear reader, read on. 

SATURDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Always a tasty option. A variety of cured meats from the deli, some jarred pesto, olive oil and vinegar, basil and tomatoes, and plenty of fries. 

And cheese! Do not forget the cheese. 

SUNDAY
Bagel, bacon, egg, cheese sandwiches, OJ

Ran out of eggs; was not sad to have to send a kid to go get some fresh local eggs, some with those lovely blue shells. Fresh eggs just fry up different, especially in bacon fat. 

I set a timer for eighty seconds to toast the bagels in the oven, and immediately forgot they were in there, so if you were wondering how quickly I can forget something, it’s much shorter than eighty seconds. 

This reminds me of a joke Irene once told when she was four, when she owned a riddle book and would adjust most of the jokes to make them funnier:

Irene: Will you remember me in a year?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Will you remember me in eight years?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Will you remember me in a million years?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Irene: HIYA, GRAMPAW!!!!!!!!!
 
Anyway, I didn’t burn the bagels OR the bacon. 

 

Still some chances to eat outside. The hummingbirds have departed, though. 

On Sunday I also made two batches of ice cream for Monday, as I will describe shortly. 

MONDAY
Smoked pork ribs, coleslaw, grapes; homemade ice cream

Monday was Labor Day, and the two moved-out kids came by for dinner, which was lovely. Damien smoked three racks of pork ribs for several hours using his sugar rub and Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce. (This recipe says “chicken thighs,” but it’s the same rub)

Jump to Recipe

An absolute pile of luscious, juicy, tender ribs, so good. Lena made a bowl of wonderfully tart coleslaw and I contributed by washing off some grapes. 

We all liked the ribs, but Corrie really enjoyed them. 

Then for dessert, we had ice cream sundaes. I made two kinds of ice cream: Chocolate and Lucky Charms. I just now had to google “Marshmallow Mateys vs” to remember the phrase “Lucky Charms,” because my brain is too smooth to remember the name of rich person’s cereal at this late date.

I followed the recipe at We Are Not Martha because they told a sad story about how they once got picked up by Bon Appétit but now the food blogging world is clogged with Pinterest copycats and people who put all their effort into photography, and I guess I have a soft spot for people who lead with a kvetch. 

The recipe was fairly labor intensive, because they are trying to get the taste of cereal without including actual cereal, which would be gross. So you have to infuse some milk with Lucky Charms cereal for half an hour, then strain out the cereal

and then use that milk to make a custard

Any time I use a thermometer in a recipe, I feel so put-upon. I feel like I’m using a bellows or an Erlenmeyer flask or forceps or something. Of course this was all 100% my idea, but never ind. I have the ability to create resentment against nobody at all, out of thin air, and to sustain it for hours. So you whisk and heat this custard and then mix it with heavy cream and push it through a sieve again, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill it for four hours. And then you can actually put it in your ice cream machine. 

I churned it for thirty minutes, then added some marshmallow fluff and the marshmallows I suddenly realized I needed to pick out of the remaining box of cereal; and then I refrigerated it overnight. I have to admit, it turned out great. It’s very cute ice cream. The ice cream has a very cozy, custard-y taste that absolutely reminds you of watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, which is something I don’t think I ever actually did. We did not have a TV when I was growing up. I remember once my father brought home a film projector from the college where he worked, and he tacked up a sheet on the living room sliding doors and we watched Koyaanisqatsi, and that’s why I am the way I am.

The marshmallows softened slightly, but some of them still had that peculiar cereal marshmallow crunch. I skipped the sauce and whipped cream and just had ice cream with a cherry. 

I also made chocolate ice cream, which I somehow haven’t made yet, in all our ice cream-making adventures. I was reading over the various recipes and Corrie was looking over my shoulder and reading the little recipe descriptions. 

Corrie: ‘Mouthfeel?’ What’s mouthfeel? 
Me:  It just means how it feels in your mouth. I think I’ll make this simpler recipe, instead.
Corrie: Dang. I like mouthfeel.
So obviously you know how this story ends. I used the Ben and Jerry recipe for Jerry’s Chocolate, which is the version with, as the book says, “a more complex texture. Jerry refers to this as ‘mouthfeel.'” 
It’s a slightly more time-consuming recipe than some of the others I’ve been making, but mainly just because you have to chill the cream mixture for a few hours before you pour it into the machine to churn. I froze it overnight and our freezer is having some kind of personal crisis, and parts of it are MUCH colder than others, so this one came out so hard, I couldn’t scoop it at all. I had to pry it out of the container with a pancake flipper and then carve it into blocks with a knife. Yes, I covered it. I bought a special container with a lid, and lectured the family about how it was just for ice cream, and everything.
 

It was delicious, though. I already had a migraine, so I had a spoonful, and it was very rich, like the ice cream version of very good hot chocolate. And that mouthfeel! Superb. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

Back to school. My car mysteriously broke down, so we had to do a rigamarole with borrowed cars to get everyone to school. I shalln’t keep you in suspense: We just got the call today that my car will need an ennnnntirrrrreee newwwww enginnnnne. Yes this is my “nice” “new” car, which I took out a loan to pay for for the first time in my life, which I have had for less than a year and a half, and which already required, among other major repairs, a new t i m i n g c h a i n, which takes twenty hours of labor. My feelings about the car are . . . not very mouthfeel, let me tell you. 

Unless you would like to buy it from me. In which case it’s a great little vehicle, very clean, hardly driven. DM me. 

Anyway, we had tacos. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken shawarma with pita and yogurt sauce

On Tuesday, because I was carless at home, I decided to prep Wednesday’s meal ahead of time, so I marinated the shawarma meat. Then on Wednesday, all I had to do was cut up some cucumbers, wash a bunch of little tomatoes, chop up some parsley, make a batch of yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

open a bunch of cans and bottles of various kinds of olives, cut up a bunch of feta, pile up a bunch of pita bread, and slice up a bunch of onions. I’m making it sound like a lot, but it’s like 20 minutes of work, and the rest is just fishing the meat out of the marinade where it has been resting all night,

Jump to Recipe

spreading it in a pan, festooning it with onions, and cooking it just nicely. This is such a low-skill, high-reward meal. Look at this lovely chicken. I included some breasts, some thighs. Red onions are better than yellow, but it’s all good. The thighs are the superior meat for this dish, but it’s all good. 

And here’s my lovely tasty plate. 

Just a fantastic meal. Everybody likes at least a few elements of this meal, and several people like every last bit of it. Everyone’s happy on shawarma night. 

THURSDAY
Pulled pork, cheesy cabbage, hash browns

On Thursday I industriously got the pork into the slow cooker bright an early. I added half a liter of Coke, some onion quarters, a few chopped jalapeños, and bunch of cumin, salt, and pepper, and I set it to low and went away happy. 

Several hours later, I realized Suzy Homemaker here never plugged the damn thing in.

Luckily, the Coke was very cold and the crock pot kept it chilled, so the meat was okay. I moved it all to the Instant Pot and pressure cooked it on high for 22 minutes, then moved it back to the slow cooker for the rest of the day. Came out looking promising.

and it shredded well enough.

I had been planning coleslaw, but I’m a little tired of coleslaw, so I looked up other cabbage recipes, and guess what? They all suck. The only one that seemed remotely tasty was a kind of au gratin idea, with a cheese sauce and maybe a buttered crumb topping. But I was caught between some obnoxiously high brow recipes that called for gruyere and heavy cream and braising, and some distressingly trashy ones that wanted you to smother the whole thing with Cheez Wiz and top it with Ritz crackers. Caught between two worlds, story of my life, very tragic.

So I ended up cutting the cabbage into eight wedges, drizzling it with olive oil and salting and peppering it, and roasting it for about 45 minutes. Then I made a white sauce and added in plenty of various kinds of cheese, plus paprika, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. This I spread over the roasted cabbage, and topped it with crunchy fried onions and parsley. Then I baked it in a high oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese was melted. 

It was disgusting. Never making this again. I don’t know what I was thinking. Cabbage can go screw. 

Here’s a nice picture I took before I tasted it.

I mean it was not the worst thing I’ve ever had in my face. But the cabbage was underdone and the cheese only reached the top layer, so most of it was just plain cabbage; and the cheese sauce had a flavor I can only describe as . . . bricky. It tasted like if you ground up a brick and tried to pass it off as seasoning, with cheese. Maybe put some pennies in there. I don’t know what happened. 

I also served some hash browns. Well, that was the plan. I bought four bags of what it said were hash browns (and this may actually explain what was up with the freezer. That is too many bags), but which turned out to be just straight up shredded potatoes, nothing else. Which is fine, but look, I don’t know, I guess I can’t read. I definitely cannot think. By this time the sun was low in the sky and I was already worried about the cabbage, not to mention the demoralizing Suzy Homemaker situation, so I just spread the potato shreds in a pan, drizzled it with oil, and sprinkled it with salt, and cooked it at a high heat until some of it was burnt and some of it was pale and limp, and it was just going to have to do. Good grief. We did have some leftover Baby Ray’s sauce and everyone was very nice about it.

FRIDAY
We have two different school cookouts that we’re supposed to be at, and we were going to try to split up and go to both, IF the mechanic was done with my car by now. And you know how that story ends! It ends well! My car is diagnosed as having a terminal case of cheesy cabbage and there is no hope. Oh well, maybe there’s some ice cream left. 

Speaking of ice cream, this weekend I intend to hide from reality and spend my time picking the millions of concord grapes we grew for some reason, make some grape juice, and see about making grape gelato. The only reason people don’t make grape gelato more often is that they are cowards, I’m sure of it. 

God save the queen. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. 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. 

Jerry's Chocolate Ice Cream

This is the more textured chocolate ice cream from the Ben and Jerry's ice cream recipe book. It has a rich, dusky chocolate flavor and texture. Makes 2 quarts. This recipe requires some chill time before you put the cream mixture into the machine.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate. I used a double boiler, but you can use a microwave if you're careful. Whisk in the cocoa and continue heating until it's smooth. It's okay if it's clumpy. Continue heating and whisk in the milk gradually until it's all blended together. Remove from heat and let cool.

  2. In another bowl, whisk, the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the sugar and continue whisking until completely blended. Add in the cream and vanilla and continue whisking until blended.

  3. Add the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for about three hours, or until it is cold.

  4. Use the cold mixture in your ice cream machine. I used my Cuisinart and let it churn for thirty minutes, then let it cure overnight.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 281: Wellness with yogurt sauce

Another week, another vow to write more, another week in which I did not write more. It’s just that I only have a very few things to say, and those things are paralyzingly overwhelming, that’s all. Good thing there’s food! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Tacos, corn chips

Just regular tacos. Actually slightly irregular, because it was a pre-packaged seasoning kind of day, but all they had was fajita seasoning. They were fine.

I had cilantro and jarred salsa verde with mine, and they were fine, mild little tacos.

SUNDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s sauce, sausages, garlic bread

Damien made dinner again. Yummy.

I skipped the sausage either because I was virtuously counting and limiting calories and decided to forego sausage, or because I had already consumed a monstrous number of calories that day and didn’t deserve sausage, I forget which. I’ve been alternating all week, sometimes within the same day. Follow me for more wellness tip. Wellness bellness mellness shchmellness tips.

Anyhoo, this is the voice of your conscience telling you to try Marcella Hazan’s amazing three-ingredient red sauce already.

Jump to Recipe

Don’t get cute and start adding basil or anchovies or anything. Just do the recipe and be amazed.

MONDAY
Cuban sandwiches

Slowly working my way through meals that people have been begging for. Cuban sandwiches are supposed to be made on Cuban bread, which is made with lard. I just went with sourdough bread because these are gigantic, unwieldy sandwiches, and sourdough holds up well. 

The essential ingredients are: Pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese, and mustard, and it’s grilled in butter. There are all kinds of scrumptious ways to prepare the pork, but I was in a hurry, so I just chunked a boneless loin in a pan in the oven with some cider vinegar and salt and pepper, covered it with tin foil, and cooked it at 325 for 40 minutes or so. 

Then, after I sliced it up and put it on the sandwich, I sprinkled each piece with cumin, oregano, and garlic powder, and more salt and pepper before frying. Kind of a backasswards way to do it, but sometimes I have to prep dinner in bits and pieces throughout the day, so that’s how it went. 

I made sure there was cheese on both sides of the sandwich, to glue it together, and used plenty of butter to grill it. And my dears, this is one tasty sandwich. 

TUESDAY
Chicken caesar salad

Another hurry-hurry day. Damien roasted the chicken. I shredded some fresh parmesan and made some croutons from stale hamburger buns, and then somewhat burned them, which was sad. Just bottled dressing. An okayish meal, but everyone was hungry, so that helped.

I do have a kickass recipe for caesar salad dressing, if you feel like making it from scratch, and you don’t care about doing it “the” “right” “way.”

Jump to Recipe

It tastes good to me, and a few teaspoons will wake your face head up. Last summer, I made it with local raw duck eggs and it was insane. 

WEDNESDAY
Quesadillas ala leftovers

We had lots of taco/fajita meat left from taco/fajita night, plus chicken left from chicken caesar salad night, so I sliced up some cheddar cheese and away we went. I also chopped up some cilantro and opened a jar of jalapeños, and Benny went around taking orders. 

I had chicken, jalapeños, and cilantro in mine.

Nothing to report. I managed not to burn anything. There was one quesadilla that had some cheese that just wouldn’t melt. I fried and fried and fried it, but it just wouldn’t melt. I don’t know what the hell was up with that. I just thought I’d let you know. 

THURSDAY
Chicken shawarma, fried eggplant

For the first time in my life, I made chicken shawarma, and didn’t really feel like eating it. The reason was because I also made some fried eggplant, and could not pry myself away from the pan.

I tweaked the recipe a bit 

Jump to Recipe

so there is more batter coverage, it’s a tad spicier, and I increased both the water and the baking powder. They turned out SO GOOD.

A lovely crisp outside with a little bit of lofty batter inside, and the eggplant is almost creamy, with that thin sharp ribbon of skin, and a little shpronkle of kosher salt that nestles in the nooks and crannies, and then a very subtle spicy aftertaste. 

I ate some shawarma just for propriety’s sake, but I was totally in it for the eggplant. I didn’t even bother with any yogurt sauce (although I made plenty)

Jump to Recipe

I used to add red onions in with the chicken when I marinated it, but they got a little mushy, so I started holding them back until it was time to cook. This time I forgot to put them in, so I sprinkled them over the top of the chicken halfway through cooking it.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t matter. It’s all good. It’s shawarma. 

FRIDAY
Tuna boats and hot pretzels for the kids, supermarket sushi for adults

Gotta have some fun. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

veg oil for frying

3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

What’s for supper? Vol. 277: Lamb

Yesterday, Epiphany, we went to Mass.

IN OUR DINING ROOM.

I still can’t even believe it happened, and I will never ever forget it. This is why I’ve been pushing so hard to finish the dining room renovations! I got it all more or less done in time (and I will write a whole other thing about that with copious before and after photos). Meantime, here’s our What’s for Supper for the week, including Epiphany, when WE HAD MASS IN OUR DINING ROOM.

ON OUR DINING ROOM TABLE. I still can’t even believe it. 

SATURDAY
New Year’s

Oh wait, first, we did have homemade sushi for New Year’s Eve, as planned. My sushi rolls turned out okay, not amazing. But the sushi party was fun, and there was lots of tasty food.

Everybody found something they liked, including the cat.

We watched a Marx Brothers movie (the one where they go to college. A college widow is a woman who dates college students and then still lives in town after they graduate, thereby making her a “widow” of sorts every year when they leave. We have to look it up every few years) and then an MST3K episode (Reptilicus). Corrie could have stayed up all night, I believe. 

And now I also have to tell you about one of the most boneheaded things I have done in the kitchen in ages. Earlier in the week, I had scouted around town and found a large and beautiful lamb shank, probably six pounds. I intended to roast it on New Year’s Eve and serve it with pita bread for a nice little treat. So on Saturday afternoon, I got all the other ingredients and all the stuff for sushi, and got home just in time to season the lamb and get it in the oven before we need to get the sushi rice going. 

And . . . I couldn’t find it. I could not find this rather large piece of lamb, which, as I mentioned, is at least six pounds. How do you lose a hunk of lamb? True, we have two refrigerators, but we ended up taking everything out of both of them, and I simply could not find that lamb. I knew I had put it in there! I felt like I was losing my mind! The only thing I could find was this piece of pork, and where did that even come from? Didn’t I already cook the pork a few days ago for those kind of mediocre . . . nachos . . . 

Oh no. 

Yes, friends, I had made a terrible mistake. Somehow, I was so busy and stressed out and dopey that I had tossed a giant $7-a-pound lamb shank into the crock pot and boiled the hell out of it, shredded it, and served it on top of store brand tortilla chips with wads of melted cheese. LAMB NACHOS. We had lamb nachos, and we didn’t even know it. 

Here’s a picture of the lamb nachos that I thought were pork nachos.

I am eating them on a box of shoes and miscellaneous crap because I was in the middle of putting in a new dining room floor and was *sob* just gulping down my food, not even really tasting it. 

So . . . we just had sushi for New Year’s Eve, no lamb, and Damien fried up some frozen dumplings and heated up some egg rolls and dumplings, and it was plenty.

You know, when I was working on the floor, at one point there was a big gaping hole leading directly to the basement, the the dog of course came along and instantly lost his Christmas ball down the hole. And he could not figure out what had happened. Ball . . .no ball! No ball. No ball! Where ball go? There was ball, now ball no here! No ball! Was ball . . . but now . . . no ball! Even after we got it for him, you could see that there was still this cold pocket of confusion in his brain, and I still think that even to this day, he hasn’t completely gotten over it. 

Well, that’s what I was like with this friggin’ lamb. I knew I had cooked it and eaten it and it was gone, and it wasn’t coming back. But I still spent the next few hours opening boxes and lifting cushions and peeking under tables, like it was going to be there waiting for me. Which would be weird! But I couldn’t help myself.  

A fitting way to end the year. 

ANYWAY. 
SUNDAY
NEW YEAR’S DAY
BIRTHDAY!

Baby New Year requested her traditional birthday meal, calzones and tiramisu. The calzones are my job, and I have a reliable but unspectacular method with pre-made pizza dough and sauce. Everyone likes it well enough, so I don’t mess with it.

Damien made the tiramisu using this recipe, and it was light and creamy and delicious as always. 

She elected to go visit an art museum with some of her friends in lieu of a party. 

MONDAY
Sheet pan lemon chicken on potatoes, garlic knots

I had a bunch of chicken thighs and no clear plan, so I tried out this NYT recipe, more or less. I skimmed, I skimmed. Basically you lay down a bunch of scallions, then a bunch of sliced potatoes, then some chicken thighs. You’re supposed to save out half the potatoes and arrange them around the chicken, so they probably would have come out more crisp than mine did if I had done that. You drizzle olive oil and sprinkle on plenty of salt and pepper on each layer. Then you cook it, allegedly for 35 minutes. For whatever reason, it took more like an hour and 15 minutes. Some chicken be like that. 

Then you remove the food from the pan, deglaze it, throw in some lemon juice and capers, and I also added some white wine, and make a little sauce to spoon over the chicken.

Serve with more lemon. And you can see the little girls also made up a bunch of garlic knots for us out of pizza dough. 

It was fine. It definitely would have been better if I had distributed the food over two pans to crisp it up more. But it was super easy to make, and I can imagine all kinds of combinations of things instead of the scallions and the potatoes. So there you go. I do love lemons and capers.

TUESDAY
Banh mi

Some of the family is tired of banh mi, but some of them still love it, and I happen to be a member of the latter group, so guess what’s staying in the rotation. 

Yes, I used the pork that was supposed to be nachos. A fitting way to bring closure to my lamb grief. My Lammkummer. 

WEDNESDAY
Burgers

Nothing to report. This seems like eleven years ago. 

THURSDAY
Shawarma, stuffed grape leaves, king cakes

So Thursday was Epiphany, the big day I had been pushing to get ready for all week. I, addition to putting in a new floor and trim, I bought a breakfast nook off Craigslist. I have been thinking of a breakfast nook ever since we moved into this house, and the perfect one finally turned up at the perfect time. 

The only thing wrong with it was that it smells like cigarette smoke. But this turns out to be not a catastrophe when it’s wood. (It was a catastrophe when I bought a giant curved leather couch that turned out to smell like cigarette smoke. I solved that by not sitting on the couch for several years, and then throwing the couch away.) I scrubbed it down with vinegar and then just let it air out, and the smell is almost gone. 

It came with a square table which has a Patriot’s logo stained and woodburned into it. I may eventually start using that as our main table. But that was not the table I was going to use when we had Mass at our house. Instead, Lena scoured and scrubbed and bleached the heck out of the old wood and tile one we’ve been using for almost 25 years, and I covered it with a fresh white cloth, and . . . guys, we had Mass on our dining room table.

I supplied our friend Fr. Matthew with some candles and a bowl to wash his hands, and he brought his Mass kit and a little bag with hosts for everyone in the family, and we set up chairs facing the table, and we had Mass.

I didn’t take any pictures during Mass, because I wanted to be as present as possible. But if you are picturing an intensely reverent atmosphere, that ain’t it. We were running a little behind schedule and made the tactical error of just throwing the dog into his crate, rather than giving him time to figure out that Fr. Matthew is an okay guy. So the entire Mass was set to the horrible music of a frantic boxer expressing profound self-pity and woe, woe, woe, woe, woooooooe. Then, right after the Sanctus, the kitchen timer went off for the shawarma, and then of course the smoke alarm went off. In other words, there is no way it could have been any other way, and Jesus came to us, and it was beautiful and ridiculous and holy. And the Benadryl we gave the dog eventually kicked in, sort of. 

I did take some photos of the rest of the evening! Pardon me while I do a bit of a photo dump. We did the Epiphany house blessing, with the blessed chalk on the door way 

and holy water in the four corners of the main rooms. 

and the kids did some of the readings for the blessing. 

Then we had chicken shawarma and stuffed grape leaves and fruit. We had the chicken with pita, yogurt sauce, cucumbers and tomatoes, various olives, feta, and hummus; and grapes and pomegranates. The stuffed grape leaves were a mish mash of various recipes, but they were filled with rice seasoned mainly with mint and dill. 

They were pretty good, if not very tidy. I definitely prefer fresh grape leaves. These were from a jar. 

Then we at the two Rouse’s king cakes Fr. Matthew carried on a plane from Louisiana, because that’s the kind of priest he is

and then we had some piano time,

some guitar and ukulele and kalimba time,

and some more animal time. 

Corrie sang all the verses of “Mississippi,” her favorite murder ballad, and some of us discovered we can sing in harmony when pressed. And then we all got a blessing and then it was time to go! I have never had a more wonderful Epiphany day. 

I will tell you, when Fr. Matthew suggested having Mass at our house, I almost turned him down, because it seemed overwhelming, and we’re not the kind of people who etc. etc. But if you ever have the opportunity, please do it. It was a joy. 

And good grief, you guys. I just realized. The last thing I did in 2021 was lose the lamb that was supposed to go on our table.

The first thing we did in 2022 was . . . this. 

Well. 

And now this seems like a terrible anti-climax, but this is still a food blog, so. . .

FRIDAY
Quesadillas

Having quesadillas today! And then I am going to drop dead, because I am exhausted. 

 

Calzones

This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones

Ingredients

  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  

 

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. 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. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. 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. 

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. 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.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 275: It’s “tah-ZHEEN”

Happy Friday! Or whatever! Tell me it’s any day at all, and I’ll believe you. Tell me it’s the 34th Throosday in Blorgvent and I’ll believe you. It’s been the kind of week where I’m literally dreaming about sleeping. I seem to have two weeks of What’s For Suppers to catch up on, so I’ll just hit the highlights of last week: 

Two Fridays ago was ramen with shrimp, broccoli, and soft boiled eggs. I’m sharing a pic because I so infrequently manage to actually soft boil eggs. I always go hard. 

The shrimp was tasty. I think Damien sauteed it in sesame oil and garlic and then squeezed lemon over it, or something along those lines. 

Another fine meal was toward the end of Chanukah, when we had
Potato latkes and homemade applesauce, smoked chicken thighs and homemade barbecue sauce

Latkes are easy to make,

Jump to Recipe

but when you’re making a lot of them, it’s a problem to know how to manage all those potato shreds ahead of time. Normally, peeled potatoes discolor very quickly, and I usually solve this by keeping them in water until I’m ready to use them; but if you’re going to fry several batches of them, it’s a hassle to get all the water off first so the hot oil doesn’t spatter. This year, I tried something new: I shredded the potatoes in the food processor, and then I just rinsed the shreds thoroughly in very cold water, left them in the colander, and covered them with plastic wrap. Guess what happened? THEY STAYED WHITE. 

Amazing. 

Now, the absolute truth is that, when I added the eggs and flour and salt and pepper, the potatoes ended up giving up so much water, they were pretty wet anyway, and I still ended up having to squeeze the mixture pretty vigorously before putting the latkes in the oil. But I still got a little thrill because at least they weren’t brownish purple. 

The latkes turned out well, crisp on the outside and tender and mealy inside. It’s dark as heck and after all these years, I haven’t figure out how to rig up some good indoor lighting to take good food pictures during winter, so here you go:

We had them with sour cream and homemade applesauce, which I made in the Instant Pot. I peeled and cored a few dozen apples and put them in the IP with about a cup of water and cooked them on high for maybe eight minutes, twelve minutes, I don’t know. Then I drained off what turned out to be too much water and added some butter, vanilla, and cinnamon, and gave it a little stir, and that was it. Hot damn, homemade apple sauce is just the best thing in the world. 

I was astonished at what a lovely rose color I got even without the peels. 

I don’t think I added sugar, because these are still local, in-season apples and the flavor shouldn’t be tampered with much.  I used Cortland, Macintosh, and Granny Smith, which are all on the tart end of the scale. 

Damien made his wonderful sugar smoked chicken thighs out on the grill, and he used the same spices to made a homemade barbecue sauce which turned out a little spicier than expected, so he served it for dipping, rather than brushing it on. 

Man, it smelled good in the house, with the smoked chicken, the warm apple sauce, and whatnot. A strange meal, but hearty and tasty. I never know what to make with latkes! The only thing I can think of is chicken soup, which we have at other times, and brisket, which I remember from my childhood with loathing. 

Then I squeaked in a bit batch of rugelach on the very last day of Chanukah. I do love rugelach, and I give you my blessing to make them for Christmas, because they are delicious and not hard to make and they’re adorable. (And you can take advantage of my brilliant ooze rescue method.)

I ended up with four varieties this year: Cinnamon honey walnut, ginger walnut, cherry, and blueberry. Lovely, lovely. They ended up a little fluffier and less flaky than normal this year, for reasons unknown, but I did not mind.  

Last Wednesday was Benny’s birthday and she requested Damien’s delectable basil chicken cutlets with homemade red sauce and provolone. He uses this Deadspin recipe and it has never been anything but excellent. Juicy chicken in a fluffy breading with a basil leaf tucked under a slice of provolone, served with a scoop of hot red sauce over it, so the cheese melts and melds the whole thing together. 

He made so much, we had it the second day, layered into a casserole dish and heated up like a giant chicken lasagna. So good. 

Over the weekend was her birthday party, which we managed to have almost entirely outdoors, because NH is all ate up with Covid again. We had a pallet bonfire, and the kids whooped it up on the trampoline in the dark with glow sticks, and then we came in for presents, went outside to set off fireworks, and came in for cake. Some party photos on Facebook here and here

We decided to make bonfire cupcakes, which are very easy to make, but are pretty impressive. Chocolate frosting, broken hazelnut Pirouline wafers for the logs, shredded coconut with green food coloring for the grass. We put a bunch of Jolly Ranchers in a bag and smashed it with a hammer, then spread the chunks in a parchment paper-lined pan in a low oven for a few minutes until the candy melted. Then we let it harden into a sheet, then cracked it into little “flames.” Stick a few in between the logs, sprinkle on some gold sugar for embers, and you have little cupcake campfires. 

 

Top each one with a mini marshmallow on a toothpick, and it’s just cute.

I did toast each one with a butane lighter because my life was ruined anyway.

And that was last week! This week, let’s see. 

MONDAY
Carbonara 

A sweet Facebook friend sent me three pounds of most excellent smoked bacon from Tennessee, with a warning not to attempt to eat it straight like breakfast bacon, because it’s powerful stuff.  My dears, I’ve never had such bacon. Such an intense, earthy, smoky flavor. It was really exciting! I really get the best mail and have the nicest readers. I didn’t get very good pictures because I was in a bit of a hurry to start gobbling it up.

If you’re not familiar with carbonara, it may be the most cheering, flavorful dish you can make with the fewest number of ingredients. Just pasta, bacon, eggs, pepper, and parm. Well, I guess that’s five, and maybe not so surprising that it tastes so good, but it really is wonderful, and you should make it soon. 

Jump to Recipe

TUESDAY
Vaguely Mediterranean chicken on pita with yogurt sauce; Greek vegetable salad

Not exactly shawarma, but I did throw together several of the ingredients for the marinade

Jump to Recipe

and put some chicken thighs in it for several hours. Then I broiled it, turning once

and served it with pita pockets and yogurt sauce, and a little salad. Pretty tasty with very little effort. 

I served it with grape tomatoes, baby cucumbers, black olives, red onion, fresh parsley and dill, kosher salt, and olive oil.

We also had some kalamata olives, which I ended up serving on the side, thinking they had pits in them, but they did not, oops. And some hunks of feta cheese. 

It was a really good meal, and I liked it a lot. Fresh squeezed lemon juice in the marinade on a Tuesday! Freshly pressed garlic in the yogurt sauce! Two kinds of fresh herbs! I’m making a fuss because NOBODY ELSE DID, which for some reason still bothers me even at this late date after all these years. Oh well. 

WEDNESDAY
My birthday!

The kids had chicken nuggets and Damien and I ran away to Luca’s, where we haven’t been for many a year. I went ahead and ordered the garlicky escargot, because I’ve never had escargot, and if not when your husband has offered to take you to a Rather Expensive Restaurant, then when? 

They were . . . fine. I don’t know why you would have escargot if you could have seafood, though. They were just kind of chewy and muddy, kind of like if someone was trying to somehow reconstitute mussels or oysters from scratch but had only heard them described. So now I know! 

Then, after surreptitiously looking up how to pronounce “tagine,” I ordered the Moroccan lamb tagine, and that was a good idea.

The lamb was braised tenderly in a lovely, slightly spicy broth, and it had carrots, fingerling potatoes, apricots, and pistachios, and I forget what else, served with a yogurt sauce. Very  pretty, warming, and interesting to eat. I also had a couple of delicious cocktails made with pear vodka, ginger liqueur, and nutmeg on the rim, and the whole meal was extremely pleasant and autumnal. 

Then we saw West Side Story, which Damien and I both loved. The older kids and Damien got me excellent, thoughtful gifts, and the younger kids made me wonderful cards. (The middle kids acted like I was some sort of vaguely familiar insect who was late picking them up, but what are you gonna do.) 

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl on rice; sugar snap peas

Always tasty, even when you run out of brown sugar and have to use honey, and don’t have red pepper flakes and have to use chili powder. I did put red pepper flakes on the list right away, though. We felt that loss more keenly than the brown sugar part. Although it was a bit dry, because we didn’t have the sugar melting into a sauce. Being hungry helped. Write that down. 

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FRIDAY
Omelettes and hash browns

But I have to buy more eggs! The kids have been doing distance school all week, and apparently that means Egg Time. 

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. 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. 

Rugelach

These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.

Servings 80 rugelach

Ingredients

dough

  • half pound butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling

filling

  • 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.

  2. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400.

  4. Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.

  5. Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.

  6. Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.

  8. Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.

  9. Repeat for each ball of dough.

  10. Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.

  11. When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.

  12. When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.

  13. Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.

 

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.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 260: In which I say tomatermorts

It’s been a while! We’re in a bit of a summer fun frenzy and going on a lot of day trips and side quests, so I’m busy and confused. There are only a few food photos on my phone and lots of zoo, planetarium, concert, birthday, swimming, yard project, and campfire photos (along with flat tire, dumb dog, flooded basement, calamitous kitchen, and ER parking lot photos). We also bought a used ice fishing house and Damien’s converting it into an office. More on that later, you bet.

I’ll just do highlights of the last few weeks’ suppers, to bring us up to speed. And you know, I’m pretty impressed at what yummy meals I made. My secret is that now I have more time and more money. And that’s my secret. 

Here’s what we had:

Buffalo chicken wraps

Another meal-turned salad-turned wrap, like the chicken caesar wrap of last edition. I cooked some frozen buffalo chicken tenders and served them on pita with tomatoes, lettuce, crunchy fried onions, and blue cheese dressing. I think there was also shredded pepper jack cheese. 

Not mind-blowing, but tasty, and a good addition to the rotation. 

Taquitos and cowboy caviar

Aldi’s chicken taquitos are really tasty. They include discernible bits of meat and the flavor is nice, and they get crisp in the oven. Plus they are called “Casa Mamita” which makes me laugh, because you have to say all their food names with a German accent. 

I made a big bowl of what’s apparently called “cowboy caviar,” which is one of those completely unnecessary cultural phenomena, like a Polaris Slingshot, or neufchatel cheese, or the state of Arizona. Cowboy caviar itself is delicious, but I’m talking about that name. They should have named it literally anything else. The zoo has an anteater named “Giacomo,” so that proves we have more freedom than we may realize. 

Anyway, I made it with  . . . well, I didn’t write it down, but squinting at this photo, it looks like tomatoes, avocado, green peppers, scallions, corn, black beans, and red onions. Probably cilantro. I think I made the dressing with white vine vinegar and olive oil, but I honestly don’t recall. There are tons of variations of this dish, so if you mooch around on Google, you’ll get the idea.

I skipped the chips and just had extra cowboy caviar. No ragrets.

I also tried not one but two TikTok recipes. I’m too old to be on actual TikTok, but I found websites that describe what may be found there, without any danger of having to see sassy nurses dancing and pointing to things. I went with the tomato feta pasta bake and the suggested cream cheese sausage balls.

The first was a win. It’s a very easy dish to make. You throw all your vegetables in a pan with a few seasonings and olive oil. As you can see, I added onions and basil. 

Then you chunk some feta and stuff on top and just bake it. People tell me the secret is to use the kind of feta that comes in brine, so it melts well.

It’s done when the tomatoes are squashy and the feta is toasty.

While that’s cooking, you make a big pot of pasta and then throw it all together and mix until the feta is a creamy sauce, and throw some lemon zest in there just for nice. 

I wish I had roasted it just a tiny bit longer to make those tomatoes really piping hot and collapsed, but it was very, very good. Tonys of melty flavor, very filling and pleasant. I might add the basil after cooking next time, so more of the flavor comes through. 

The little meatballs, made of sausage, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and bisquick, were easy enough to make (although it took a LONG time to get the ingredients blended), and they were fine.

but if something is going to taste, and be, that fatty, it really needs to be magnificent, and these were just fine. (To be fair, I didn’t make the suggested dipping sauce, so maybe that would have made a big difference.)  We only ate half, and I froze the rest so I’ll have a quick meal on hand, but I won’t bother making these again. The feta pasta was a hit, though. Very happy to have a new meatless meal, with tons of variations possible.

Chicken shawarma again!

Well met, old friend.

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I marinated the chicken overnight and just threw the onions on top of the meat before I cooked it. This is the way. 

Served with pita, garlicky yogurt sauce,

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feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Still the tastiest low-skill meal around.

Mexican beef bowl

Actually, all the bowls were dirty, so we had Mexican beef plate. This is sounding less and less like an actual recipe, and more like one of those foods that can’t quite bring itself to be specific. I wish I could remember what I saw, but it was something like “chewy munch snacks” and it did not inspire confidence. But anyway, this is an actual recipe and quite a delicious one.

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The marinade is simple but excitingly tangy and rich. 

I served the marinated meat strips with rice, fried peppers and onions, a mixture of tomatoes and chili peppers and black beans, slightly charred corn, and cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges. It was so much food I forgot to eat corn chips, which is saying something. 

Looks like I have one more photo: 
Chicken caprese sandwiches

Grilled sliced chicken on baguettes with tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and freshly-ground salt and pepper. If your stupid refrigerator freezes your cheese, you can defrost it gently by submerging the sealed package in warm water for a while. The vital part of this dish is the fake Pringles in a violent shade of orange. This is the way. 

***

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. 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.

What’s for supper? Vol. 241: What gets blossomed next?

And a happy Friday to you, week who just about killed us. We’re very glad most of the kids are back in school in person, but YEESH. We Fishers do not excel at transitions; we certainly do not. It didn’t help that we had lots of Nighttime Diabetes Excitement, which is one of my least favorite kinds of excitement. 

Pretty good food, though. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Meatball subs

I always say “nothing to report” when I make meatballs, but guess what? I have something to report! I have been under seasoning them. I bumped up all the seasoning by maybe 20%, and then I added a healthy glug of red wine. So nice! Just a little more savory and rich. I didn’t take a photo, possibly because of being busy eating.

I used the leftover sauce from Friday’s spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s magical sauce. And that was a good meal. 

SUNDAY
Hot chicken wings, beer brats, bloomin’ onions, a vast assortment of crunchy snackeroos and dips

Super Bowl food! Damien made his easy peasy hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip, and lots of beer brats with onions three ways (cooked in beer with onions and served with sautéed onions and raw onions); and, fearing that wasn’t enough onions, I made three bloomin’ onions. 

The hot wings were fantastic, as usual. Damien used full wings, rather than wingettes (gosh I hate that word), which I actually prefer. 

The bloomin’ onions were probably more fun to make than they were to eat. People were obliging, but we only ended up eating about half. I guess I had it in my head that it was a party since it was the Super Bowl, so I made three giant onions. 

Here I am demonstrating the lovely job my little onion blossomer does:

I didn’t show this part, but because the onion sits on a little base that’s lower than the blades, the “petals” are still attached at the root end when you take it off the cutter, which is how you can fry the onion all in one piece.  Now I’m wondering what else I can use this device to cut. Definitely a cantaloupe. We will have melon blossoms come summer, let me tell you, with little berries here and there. And maybe . . . potatoes! I’m seriously considering making some deep fried potato blossoms for Valentine’s Day.

And I’m almost ashamed to tell you this, but what I really want to try is a pork blossom. I’ll get a nice piece of lean, boneless pork, maybe marinate it for a while, and then freeze it for an hour or two to firm it up, and then . . . VOOM. Pork blossom. I guess I could deep fry if after that.  THIS IS BIG BRAIN TIME, EVERYBODY. I feel like there is some disadvantage to my plan, or some wrinkle I’m not anticipating, but I also feel like it’s going to happen anyway. 

I took so many damn pictures of these onions at various stages, I might as well share them.

Onions in ice water, firming up:

Onions coated in seasoned flour:

Onions coated in seasoned flour, then dipped in egg batter, then seasoned flour again, waiting for the oil to heat up:

Onion merrily frying in oil:

You have to fry them upside down first, shoving them down pretty hard in the pot to force the petals open; then flip it over and finish cooking it right side up. Then you can pull it out . . . 

drain it, and set it on a plate with a little dish of sauce.

Then you pull the petals off and dip. 

I used the flour, batter, and sauce recipes on this page, but next time I make this, I’ll use more ketchup and less horseradish in the sauce, which tasted a bit harsh. A bloomin’ onion should be nothing but fun and delight, no harshness at all. 

MONDAY
Turkey bacon avocado wraps; leftovers

I figured there would be lots of leftovers, and I was very right. So we had what passed for a light meal (supplemented by wings and brats): Spinach wraps, deli turkey, bacon, avocado, and Swiss cheese, with honey mustard dressing.

I don’t know why wraps feel like more of a treat than sandwiches, but they do. Maybe because I always used to order one after giving birth, and I associate them with having room service (and that first meal you eat after you have a baby is just indescribably delicious). Now I just need my own chipped ice machine and I can live that swanky hospital life every day. 

TUESDAY
Golden rice with salmon; egg rolls

New recipe. Frozen salmon is actually fairly cheap if you’re not making a giant slab of salmon your main course. We didn’t have any furikake. I don’t even know what furikake is (okay, I looked it up, and it sounds neat), but I thought the rest of it sounded delicious enough that we could limp along without it. 

Alas, this dish was not a hit, despite lots of fresh ginger and garlic and both parts of the scallion. You cook the rice, then coat it with egg yolk before stir frying it.

Also you fry up the egg whites in the pan separately and then add them into the rice. This recipe has an awful lot of putting things into the pan and then taking them out again and then adding them back in, then making a little space in the middle of the thing you’re cooking and cooking something else in there, and then combining it with the other thing . . . to be honest, I was a little relieved that it wasn’t a popular dish, because it was too much work and I don’t want to do it again!

It wasn’t bad, just bland. Needed furikake, no doubt. I also crowded the pan when cooking the salmon, so the fish part was kind of soggy, rather than crisp and toasted, which is sad. We ended up adding soy sauce and/or hot sauce. I did like the egg-coated rice, and will probably adopt that for another recipe. It gave the rice a nice richness, plus of course a cheery yellow color. And I did like the addition of the fluffy egg whites in with the rice. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken shawarma

I was going to make this over the weekend, but it seemed like everyone needed cheering up mid-week, so I made shawarma, which everyone loves. 

We had these cute little mini pita breads, which aren’t really better than normal pita, but they are cute. Tons of various kinds of olive, feta, cucumbers and tomatoes, parsley, yogurt sauce. So much garlic in everything, my lips were fizzing. So good. 

I usually put the onions in with the chicken to marinate, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with onions first thing in the morning, so I just spread them over the chicken right before I cooked it, and it turned out fabulous.

Probably do it that way from now on. There is plenty of flavor in the meat, and I liked having the onions a bit more crisp. 

THURSDAY
Pork nachos

Another successful meal that I decided on at the last minute. I’ve made John Herreid’s carnitas many times, and everyone likes them, but I was going to be driving around all day, so I chunked a piece of fatty pork into the Instant Pot with a bottle of Mexican coke, some cinnamon sticks, a quartered orange, some bay leaves, a splash of canola oil, and tons of oregano, salt, and pepper, and pressed the “meat” button. This still cracks me up. YOU MAKE MEAT NOW. *boop*

It cooked it on high pressure for 35 minutes, and then I left it on warm for a few hours until dinner, when I took the meat out and shredded it, then spread it over tortilla chips and sprinkled it with shredded cheese, and broiled it.

My land, it was good. Really tasty and tender, middling spicy and warming but not too sweet, with no need to add additional seasoning. I had mine with scallions and sour cream.

FRIDAY

I think we are having migas. The kids are having their Valentine’s Parties at school, so I’m hoping they’ll be full of hygienic store-bought individually wrapped treats and won’t care very much that it’s migas for supper, which they don’t like because they are culinary fools. 

(Pictured: Past migas)
I may make some beans and rice, but then again, I may not. Maybe I’ll just have some Pixy Stix.

Hey, don’t forget to leave your suggestions for what gets blossomed next around here! Although we all know it’s going to be a potato. (And yes, I looked up “getting blossomed” on Urban Dictionary to make sure it’s not a kink of some kind. It is not.)

Here’s the recipe cards!

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

Hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip (after Deadspin)

Basic, tasty hot wings with blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • chicken wingettes
  • oil for frying

For the hot sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • salt
  • vinegar (optional)

Blue cheese sauce:

  • sour cream
  • blue cheese
  • optional: lemon juice, mayonnaise
  • celery sticks for serving

Instructions

  1. Fry the wingettes in several inches of oil until they are lightly browned. Do a few at a time so they don't stick together. Set them on paper towels to cool.

  2. Melt the butter and mix together wit the rest of the hot sauce ingredients. Toss the wings in the hot sauce.

  3. Mix together the sour cream and crumbled blue cheese. Use a food processor or whisk vigorously to break up the blue cheese. You can add lemon juice or a little mayonnaise to thin it.

  4. Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 215: The plural of clafoutis

Doesn’t it seem like we just did this? We did! And now we’re doing it again. 

SATURDAY
Pizza

No memory of Saturday. Oh, I think we were sifting piles of dirt through a metal grate to get the rocks out, and I sent a kid in to make six pizzas. Think of that, moms still stuck in babyland! Someday you will be able to send a kid in to make dinner for 12 so you can stay outside and keep doing what you want to do (even if it’s sifting dirt through a metal grate). Hang in there.

SUNDAY
Shawarma

I set the meat and onions to marinate the night before. Normally I use boneless thigh meat, which I think is the best for chicken shawarma,

Jump to Recipe

 

but since Damien was grilling, I got bone-in, skin-on thighs. 

Always a delightful meal. I was planning to make fried eggplant, but had stupidly left the eggplants on the windowsill, so of course they went bad. Secretly relieved I didn’t have to fry anything. It’s really an easy and delicious recipe, but frying is frying. 

Jump to Recipe

 

Anyway, we had spent the day moving eleven tons of sand, and sitting down seemed best. 

MONDAY
Beef burritos with guacamole

I have only ever eaten frozen burritos before, so I didn’t honestly know what a good burrito was supposed to taste like. The price of beef has shot up ridiculously, so I had two of those awful chubs of ground beef.

I fried it up with fresh garlic and lots of chili powder, red pepper flakes, and cumin. I wanted to make it relatively mild for the pickier kids.

I made up a bunch of guacamole

 

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and a bunch of beans and rice

 

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which I made somewhat hotter than usual with the addition of some chilis in adobo sauce. 

And that’s it. I had mine with some cheese and sour cream. There may be some salsa buried in there, too; who can say. 

I thought it was tasty. I definitely didn’t need more than one. 

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, chips, veg and dip/graduation dinners

On Tuesday we got caught up with celebratory graduation dinners, and took Moe (who graduated from high school) and Sophia (who graduated from eighth grade) out to the restaurant of their choice, which turned out to be a moderately-priced family sandwich place. Works for me! I had something called an Italian Stallion, which, to my disappointment, included no stallion meat at all.

WEDNESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad; plum and peach clafoutis

Simple salad for a hot day: Mixed greens, broiled chicken, feta cheese, toasted almonds, and blueberries. I forgot to get red onions, but those are good on this salad. I had mine with wine vinegar. 

It being June, I attempted to get fancy with the plating:

Turns out it’s harder than it looks to strew wildflowers in a way that looks natural, but does not look like you are actually eating daisies. 

The meal seemed a little skimpy, and we had a house full of lovely fruit, so I made two . . . well, I made a clafoutis, and then, while I was at it, I made another clafoutis. I could look up the plural, but where’s the fun in that?

A clafoutis is a very simple baked custard with whatever you want in it.

 

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You can add chocolate and hazelnuts, grapes if you’re crazy, bananas if you’re a sociopath, or pears or apples if you’re not sick and tired of apples, or I guess cherries is the most famous kind. I did actually have cherries, but did not feel like pitting them. So I made one with plums and one with peaches.

Aren’t they gorgeous? The batter takes like three minutes to make, but they do have to bake for about forty minutes. You can eat them warm or cold. I, ahem, did both, over the course of 24 hours.

We sifted some powdered sugar on top before we ate them, and they were absolutely delicious, and so beautiful. Sometimes the kids get mad at me for ruining fruit by baking it, but not this time.

 

La pêche:

 

 

Out of sheer honesty, not everyone likes clafoutis. Two of my favorite things in the world are custard and fruit, but I’m not everybody. But the kids were mostly in favor of it. 

THURSDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, chips, Rainier cherries

Everybody likes these sandwiches. I bought four long baguettes and a combination of cheap and expensive cheeses and meats. I made tons and tons of olive salad with green and black olives, a few jars of giardinera, and several cloves of garlic, all chopped up in the food processor with olive oil and ground pepper.

Everyone’s happy when I call them to dinner and the table looks like this:

 

You can make this a hot sandwich, but we absolutely did not want to turn the oven on. Everybody got some chips and some rainier cherries, and I had my sandwich outside. 

 

OH SUMMERTIME. Oh sandwichtime. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Nothing fancy. Just frozen battered fish, avocados, shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Maybe I will make some lime crema. And maybe we will put the AC in today! 

Oh, this is your annual reminder that frozen grapes are very good indeed. Just wash them and shake off the excess water and put them in the freezer. I like red grapes the best for this. It’s a beautifully refreshing little sweet treat for the hot weather, better than ice cream. 

And fine, I looked it up. The plural of “clafoutis” is “clafoutis.” As it should be.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

veg oil for frying

3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

 

 

 

Clafoutis

a simple baked custard, usually with fruit. Very easy to make, very pretty. This recipe makes two round 9-inch clafoutis, but you can make individual custards in ramekins if you like.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • any kind of fruit you like
  • confectioner's sugar for sifting on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. In a bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and butter. Add the flour in gradually (sifting it into the bowl if you want to make it really smooth) and beat the batter until it is smooth.

  3. Pour the batter into two pie pans. Then carefully add the fruit on top, distributing it evenly or making a design if you like.

  4. Bake about 40 minutes until the center is soft but not jiggly. The top should be slightly browned.

  5. Serve immediately, or chill to eat later. Sift confectioner's sugar on top before serving.