What’s for supper? Vol. 210: Carbonara, yes.

The fog’s getting thicker, and Leon’s getting larger! There is no Leon. I am Leon. Here’s what we had to eat this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

We had our usual combination of plain, pepperoni, and olive, and also there were some leftover mushrooms we fried up, and then Damien cut up some anchovies (leftover from last week’s anchstravaganza) just for my two slices, so everyone was happy. 

Saturday was the day the kids showed me the part of the woods they’ve apparently been clambering around in all spring. A beautiful and blessed place with an underground stream you can hear but not see. They found the  spot on the top of the hill where the spring that feeds our stream emerges from the ground, and there is a long string of enormous, moss-covered rocks that got shoved around by some passing glacier many thousands of years ago. Sometimes I can’t believe we’re allowed to live here.

I also got some hardier saplings and shrubs in the ground (in NH, there may be a frost any time until Memorial Day, so only the toughest stuff is safe to plant outside) — a pink crabapple sapling, a mock orange shrub, and some forsythia I got started in pots last year and then forgot about. Looks like the day lilies I transplanted made it through the winter, too! And I have a pile of purple and yellow pansies waiting for a home. We did have some snow this week, and the heat is still coming on every night, but we’ll get there. 

SUNDAY
Rigatoni in béchamel with little meatballs

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, where she adapted it from Marcella Hazan. Basically, you make a bunch of little meatballas (that was a typo, but I’m letting it ride), you make a big batch of white sauce, and you boil up a bunch of rigatoni, and you mix it all up with a bunch of freshly-grated parmesan, and then bake it until it all melds together. 

Look at these wonderful little meatballas, twinkling like the stars in the sky!

Normally I bake meatballs, which is faster and not so messy, but this recipe seemed worth going the extra mile for. Here’s the recipe, which I will probably not make up a card for, as this dish got increasingly cursed as the day went on.

Don’t get me wrong: it was completely scrumptious.  Imagine the aroma:

Just the coziest, most creamy, savory thing imaginable.

But like I said, it was cursed. I ended up spending something like five hours making it, which is completely unreasonable. And there were some . . . interpersonal problems that cropped up along the way, and I don’t think I’ve processed them fully yet. If it’s okay with you, we’ll just move along. 

MONDAY
Buffalo hot dogs, hot pretzels, broccoli and dip

Buffalo hot dogs are hot dogs with blue cheese, hot sauce, and chopped scallions on them, and they are my current favorite hot dogs. 

Can we all stop for a moment and admire the stellar chopping job I did with that one scallion? 

Scallions are one of several things I’m currently sprouting on my windowsill.

The others are celery, which is coming along nicely

and horseradish, which is just sitting there like an asshole. 

It was sprouting, until I put it in water, and then nothing. Whatever. You can be replaced, pal. Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.

There’s also this. I’m not sure what the expectations are here. 

Well, there’s no rush. 

TUESDAY
Chicken salad with strawberries, nuts, and cheese

Old reliable. I bought one of those cartons of mixed greens, and then also some other lettuce just for the lizard, as well as some pea sprouts, which I happen to know he likes. I told Moe I had bought his lizard some pea sprouts, and he said, “Oh, good. I was just feeding him apples, which he is tired of, so he got mad and pooped in his water dish.”  That’s what kind of house we’re running here.

The salad was greens, as I said, and roasted and sliced chicken breast, strawberries, feta cheese, and your choice of almonds or walnuts  (miraculously left over from Passover), which I didn’t bother toasting, but which I admit are much nicer lightly toasted microwaved. Tasty salad, though. 

Some bottled dressing and there it is. 

WEDNESDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, fries

I tried a new recipe for the pulled pork this time. It was, as far as I can recall, chunks of pork, a diced onion, several minced garlic cloves, some sliced jalapeños, a bunch of chili powder, a can of Coke, and generous sloshes of soy sauce, wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. I put it in the slow cooker and let it cook for about six hours.

As is so often the case with these things, it smelled PARADISAL and tasted fine. 

I ended up putting some bottled sauce on it, just to give it a little more punch.

If you’re looking for a pulled pork/carnitas recipe that has tons of flavor on its own, do try John Herreid’s recipe, which we made last week

I’ll put Lena’s tasty coleslaw recipe at the end, but really I just made the dressing with mayo, white vinegar, and white sugar, and it was fine.

THURSDAY
Spaghetti carbonara, nice grapes

There was this NYT recipe that caught my eye, Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara, and I managed to snag it before it disappeared behind the paywall. Sort of a combination of pasta primavera and spaghetti al carbonara. It called for English peas, asparagus, and basil. But I couldn’t find the peas, and the basil got shoved to the back of the fridge, where it froze. It turns out Irene was trash talking me behind my back about planning to put vegetables in anyway; so I just made good old spaghetti  carbonara.

Jump to Recipe

 

No ragrets. I can’t think of another dish with so few ingredients that tastes like such a luxury. 

Irene, because she has to get worked up about something, was horrified to discover that you throw raw eggs in at the end. Which is how you make this dish, and she’s always eaten it happily, and they’re not really raw, because the hot pasta cooks it. I guess it just doesn’t taste right until you add a little dash of outrage. 

Irene is the kid, by the way, who was on a Zoom meeting yesterday, and got it into her head to stay perfectly still until her classmates started scrambling around, closing tabs and shutting down programs in an effort to unfreeze her. IRENE. 

FRIDAY
Probably Matzoh brei (pronounced to rhyme with “lotsa pie”)

They had cases of matzoh for 75% off, so I did what I had to do. Check your supermarkets and see what you can find! This is a neat little breakfast or brunchy dish that’s easy to make and has lots of variations. Some people have it with jam, which I find a little bleh; but I have to admit, it’s basically french toast, so there’s no reason not to eat it that way. 

Jump to Recipe

I like it as a savory dish with salt and pepper. If you had some crisp fried onions, that would be excellent. The important thing is to cook it in hot oil, so it gets really crisp on the edges. Here’s some matzoh brei in its basic form:

I think I may also make Giant Chocolate Pancake, and maybe some oven fried potatoes, because I am fat, but I could be fatter!

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 

 

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.

 

matzoh brei

A quick little dish you can make whenever there's matzoh around. Rhymes with "lotsa pie." One sheet of matzoh per serving. I like mine with just salt and pepper, but you could have it with jam

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet matzoh
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Break the matzoh into pieces about the size of saltines, and put them in a bowl.

  2. Pour hot water over the matzoh pieces and let it sit for a minute to soften. Then drain off the water and press on the matzoh pieces to squeeze out the water.

  3. Pour the beaten eggs over the matzoh and mix a little so the matzoh is all eggy.

  4. Heat up a little oil in a pan. Pour in the matzoh and egg mixture and fry, turning once. You want it crisp on the edges.

  5. Serve with salt and pepper and fried onions if you want it savory. You can also take it in a sweet direction and serve with jam and powdered sugar.

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 98: Sometimes a hot dog is more than a hot dog

Well, let’s see.

SATURDAY
Spaghetti carbonara, caprese salad

A lovely meal that comes together very quickly. For our newly shrunken family, I used a scant two pounds of pasta and two pounds of bacon, which turned out to be almost enough. I followed this simple carbonara recipe from that noted Italian chef, Fannie Farmer.

For the caprese salad, we visited our squalid little garden and got the last of the basil and the few tomatoes that the woodchuck missed, and supplemented it with supermarket tomatoes. Package of mozzarella pearls, some olive oil and vinegar, some freshly-ground salt and pepper.

So yummy, and easy enough that you can shout some vague directions toward your lovely daughter as you fry the bacon, and she throws together a lovely dish with no trouble.

***

SUNDAY
Deconstructed shish kebab, corn on the cob

On Sunday, we had a sudden break in the dark, rainy, oppressive weather. The sun came out, the water sparkled, a fresh breeze came up, and we headed to the beach for one last happy wallow, bringing strawberries, grapes, and the traditional Giant Bag of Candy with us.

Before we left, I cut up a bone-in pork shoulder(?) into chunks and set it to marinate. I wanted to use the spiedie marinade in the NYT, but I guess I looked up that recipe too many times, and it’s now behind a paywall for me. (I know you can clear cookies or switch browsers, but that feels stealy.) So I put together lemon juice, white wine, wine vinegar, oregano, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and dried basil. Pretty darn close.

When we got home, I cut up peppers, red onions, and mushrooms, mixed them with the pork, and spread it out in my two giant sheet pans [Amazon affiliate link]. I set the oven to broil, and when the first pan was a little charred, I took it out and moved the other one up.

So juicy and delicious. We ate it on potato rolls.

I also boiled up some corn, just plain old, good, good-bye-summer corn.

***

MONDAY
Hot Dogs of Many Nations, chips, root beer floats

My father came over and we played stinky pinkies until we couldn’t stand it anymore. For supper, I got a bunch of natural casing hot dogs and a bunch of Hebrew National Hot Dogs. It was raining again, so we skipped the outdoor grill, but laid out every kind of hot dog topping that seemed good.

We had ketchup, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, sauerkraut, chili, pickle relish, chopped onions, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, chopped scallions, pickled peppers, pickles, tomatoes, cheese sauce, and a cute little bulbous jar of onion chutney. I didn’t really know what chutney was. It turns out it’s some kind of purple nightmare jelly. I still don’t know what it’s for, except not for hot dogs.

My two favorite combos: The Chicago hot dog (“dragged through the garden), which is topped with chopped onion, pickle relish, pickled peppers, tomatoes, a dill pickle, mustard, and celery salt:

and even better, the buffalo dog, which has bleu cheese, scallions, and buffalo sauce:

This is a really swell combination. Makes the hot dog worth eating. I think we have a new Labor Day tradition, and it’s not very laborious.

***

TUESDAY
English muffin pizzas

Nothing to report.

***

WEDNESDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, roast potatoes, cole slaw

The only interesting thing to report is that a bag of shredded cabbage mixed with carrot is sometimes cheaper than a whole cabbage. What a world.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken breast and salad

By 5:00, my life force was hanging down around my ankles like a pair of decrepit underwear. I had a package of chicken and several bags of greens. The greens went in a bowl; the chicken went on a pan, and then, o my friends, I sprayed it with butter-flavored cooking spray. With my last scrap of integrity, I flung some salt and pepper in its general direction and nudged it toward the oven with my foot. We also had cheez puffs.

***

FRIDAY
Giant chocolate pancake!

In which our heroine pours an entire box of pancake mix into a bowl, adds enough water to make it spreadable, stirs in a bag of chocolate chips, butters a pan, dumps in the batter, and chucks it in a medium oven. We are ditching the school BBQ today because Mama Can’t, so maybe I will take the critters out for ice cream instead.

***

Well, I notice that we are nearing VOLUME 100 of this What’s for Supper feature. How should I celebrate? As you may know, I am open to ideas of every kind, including and even giving pride of place to stupid ideas.

What’s for supper? Vol. 75: Garlic will save the world

Good grief, Vol. 75? What do you know about that?

The little rats stole my chalk, so my weekly menu blackboard isn’t telling me anything. Here’s the best I can recall:

SATURDAY
Calzones; birthday cake

We had four extra 13-year-old boys in the house for a sleepover, and the birthday boy requested calzones for dinner. Easy enough! I used premade pizza dough, and divided each ball into four calzones. Roll ’em out, add a scoop of filling, fold the dough over and pinch it closed. We made twenty calzones, plus an extra pizza for weirdos who don’t like calzones, plus a gluten-free pizza for that one guest. This is one of the benefits of being used to cooking for twelve. You  might as well cook for sixteen, and you might as well also make cupcakes, plus special cupcakes, plus this, plus that, why not. Your life is already ruined anyway.


For the filling, I used either eight or twelve cups of shredded mozzarella, probably eight, and 32 oz. of ricotta, plus a bunch of parmesan. After you crimp the edges shut, you can press on them to distribute the filling more evenly. Lay them in a greased pan with space to expand (I put three on a full-sized cookie sheet), and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a 450 oven. Serve with warm tomato sauce for dipping.

The cake was just one disaster after another. It was supposed to be chocolate, but I got yellow mix. So I was going to add cocoa powder, but we were out. So I told him I’d make chocolate frosting. Then I somehow bought cream cheese frosting. Then I reversed the colors on the design by mistake; then the sugar sheets I bought were too dry to use, so I piped in the designs with frosting in a sandwich bag that I bit a hole in.
But, I did NOT spell his name wrong.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the cake I was trying to copy and the cake I eventually presented to my beloved son:

Ehhh, whaddaya whaddaya. He liked it. We also made a Super Smash Ball pinata, which turned out just as malformed and blobby as the cake, even though a Smash Ball is just a round ball with different colors all over it. He liked that, too. We like him!

***

SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara; salad; garlic bread; ice cream sundaes

Unaware that the Solemnity of St. Joseph was moved to Monday, we went ahead and celebrated with bacon and ice cream on Sunday. A not-great photo of a terrifically yummy meal here:

If you’re not familiar with carbonara, it’s easy and wonderful. You fry up some bacon and cut it into bits, then cook up a bunch of pasta. Drain it, add in the bacon and a truly ridiculous amount of parmesan, butter, and tons of pepper, and mix it up. Then, you stir in a bunch of raw egg, which cooks itself right onto the strands of pasta, melding with the cheese and the bacon. Heavenly.

Here’s the recipe from Fannie Farmer. Please note that the very next recipe is for Spaghetti with Lima Beans. This shows that even the great Fanner Farmer has her limitations.

***

MONDAY
Beef barley soup; garlic knots

A tiny bit disappointing, but I’m not sure why.
I cut up the beef (chuck roast or something) into cubes and sauteed it in the Instant Pot along with diced onions and garlic. When it was almost all browned, I added diced carrots, a can of diced tomatoes and juice, some beef broth and red wine, and most of a little pouch of mixed grains.

I couldn’t find barley anywhere, and last time I asked a stock boy for help, he was a huge jerk about it, and I was mad for ten days. I just want barley! You work at a supermarket! Do you even understand that you wouldn’t have a job if people like me didn’t need things like barley? Maybe I’ll just go home without buying anything, and then you can have your ideal work day of nobody bringing money into your place of employment! That seems like a solid business model! Jerk.

I pressed the “soup” button, because I was making soup and feeling belligerent, and didn’t feel like checking if that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Looking back, there was a lot of belligerent cooking this week. Hence all the garlic, I guess.

The soup was fine; it just didn’t live up to the Platonic ideal of beef barley soup, and this grieved me. Should’ve added more garlic.

For the garlic knots, I used readymade balls of pizza dough. Cut each ball into twelve pieces, roll them into snakes, tie them in a knot, and top each one with garlic or garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. Bake on a greased pan at 425 for . . . I dunno, eleven minutes. Always a hit.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs; cucumber salad

There are suddenly these giant, beautiful cucumbers for really cheap, so I bought . . . kind of an inappropriate number of giant cucumbers. They just looked good, okay?

Tito Edward’s eye just started ticcing, and he doesn’t even know why.

I sliced them pretty thin and mixed them with a dressing made of plain yogurt, tons of minced garlic, a little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Wish I had had some parsley and red onions. It was tasty and interesting, although it probably wasn’t necessary to add nuclear holocaust levels of garlic; but I’ll probably do it again next time.

I took a picture, which I’m adding only because I forgot to take a picture of the next meal, which was actually good to look at.

The other day, my son woke up and couldn’t find any clean jeans or khakis, so he was forced to put on dress pants. He evened it out by wearing a ratty T-shirt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches with provolone; french fries; raw stringbeans

A swell and laughably easy meal in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

You just dump a hunk of beef in, empty a jar of pepperoncini in with the juice, and let it cook until it’s tender. I’ve always made this dish in the slow cooker, and it comes out ready to fall apart, like pulled pork. This time, I used the “slow cook” button on the IP, which runs for four hours. It wasn’t quite done when I checked, so I pressed the button again, and let it run for another hour-and-a-half. It wasn’t shreddy, but nicely tender, so I sliced it. I think I prefer it that way. Less time probably would have worked even better.

I forgot to cut the tops off the peppers before adding them to the pot, so it was only mildly spicy.

I served the meat on ciabatta rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. Tragically, I had snacked so much before dinner, I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it. But it smelled fab-u-lous.

Stringbeans finally look decent again. Just popped the stems off and served them raw. Spring is coming, dammit. We can have juicy green things again.

***

THURSDAY
Roasted chicken on salad; grapes

We were home for a total of about eleven minutes on Thursday, so it’s a miracle I got dinner made. I doused the chicken breasts with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and shoved them under the broiler for 25 minutes or so, then sliced it up and served it on bagged greens. Bagged greens will save the world.

***

FRIDAY
Eggs and risotto and . . . frozen peas? Salad? Maybe green peppers?

It’s been a week without risotto so far! This aggression will not stand, man. (For more on risotto and how it alone can justify the purchase of an Instant Pot, see last week’s post.)

***

What’s for supper at your house? What’s the longest you can go without garlic?