Happy Friday! We just about made it through the first week of 2024. Hey, I have a great idea! Let’s eat.
Chicken burgers, chips
Frozen chicken burgers reporting for duty.
DIY sushi, steamed pork dumplings, red bean and Nutella taiyaki
New year’s eve, a.k.a. a reason to eat sushi and dumplings! In the morning, I made about fifty pork dumplings using this recipe. You’re supposed to salt and then drain the extra moisture out of the shredded Napa cabbage, but I flaked out and forgot, and just shredded the cabbage and dumped it in.
I had some consternation, but I didn’t have any more pork, so I just went ahead and made the dumplings, using my smallest dumpling press.
Zip zap zop! Fifty dumplings.
Later in the day, I started prepping the sushi ingredients. I got ahi tuna and Damien found some lovely salmon, and we also had pre-cooked little shrimpies, some fake crab (I also dug up an old can of real crab, but it looked horribly mushy, so I tossed it), cucumber spears, mango, avocado, radishes, carrot matchsticks, pickled ginger, and then just all the bottled Asian things I could find, plus sesame seeds, panko breadcrumbs, and red and black caviar, and a nice big package of nori sheets. And crunchy noodles.
I made some nice short-grain rice in the Instant Pot and then folded in the seasoning sauceJump to Recipe
with the help of some avid fanners armed with paper plates.
Truth be told, I didn’t come up with any amazing combinations, and my rolling and cutting skills were not at their peak. Luckily, even boring sushi is delicious.
I think this one was tuna, radishes, and mango with red caviar and some kind of spicy mayo on top.
I also bought some calamari rings, which I read somewhere you can use to make sushi inside of (I can’t think of a better way of saying that), but I forgot about it until the last minute, so I just boiled them and then doused them with seasoned rice vinegar. This is not the ideal preparation, but I did take a stab at making a calamari-ring sushi by cramming some rice and salmon inside, and sprinkling black caviar on top
and it tasted exactly like what it was! What do you know about that.
I got to use my new thrift store bamboo steamer for the first time. I now have two double-decker steamers, which means I can make fifty little dumplings in just two batches. I mean eight batches, but in just two . . . installments.
I love these dumplings. I don’t even use a dipping sauce; they’re so tasty and lovely on their own.
There was absolutely no problem with the non-drained cabbage. The dumplings held together fine, and the filling was not drippy or anything. I honestly didn’t notice any difference, so I’ll probably just skip that step in the future.
I ended up with some extra filling, which I froze, and will probably make into fried meatballs at some point, which I have done before.
Poorhaps I will put them in soup.
Then Benny made a bunch of taiyaki with her new taiyaki iron. It has a simple recipe that came with the machine — basically waffle batter, but it uses cake flour and additional corn starch, which I believe makes them more tender. (We made cake flour by subtracting a tablespoon from a cup of flour and adding a tablespoon of corn starch.) They are fluffy inside and have a pleasantly thin, crisp outside.
She made some with Nutella and some with red bean baste, which I ADORE
In conclusion, this is the logo on the can of red bean paste:
Then we watched A Night At the Opera and at midnight Damien fired off a $5 confetti blaster I got at Walmart, and that . . . was the end of 2023. Whew.
Calzoni, “Angel” cake
Monday was Sophia’s birthday. She requested olive and pepperoni calzoni, which is nice and easy.Jump to Recipe
I label them with a little piece of what’s inside, which is inelegant but effective.
I asked her what she wanted for a cake, and she said a strawberry box mix cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Decorated how? She said surprise her with something cool and silly, and I could ask Lucy and Irene for ideas.
Okay. Now, I don’t know if you have ever had three teenage girls at the same time, but if you do, you will know that EVERYTHING’S A TRAP, especially for moms. All you can do is do your best, and remember that you are a human being with dignity, no matter what they say about you.
Frosting is an unforgiving medium! Next time I’ll just do this:
See? Ha! Angel cake, OR NOT. Your choice! Take that! I outwitted them all. And that’s what birthdays are all about.
Chicken caesar salad
After all the Christmas and New Year’s food and whatnot, it felt like high time to have a salad. But not without some dressing! I made this caesar salad dressing,Jump to Recipe
but without anchovies, because we didn’t have any anchovies. Still very rich and kicky
and incidentally about the same color as my dining room walls.
I roasted some boneless, skinless chicken with oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and served it over romaine lettuce with shaved parmesan cheese and homemade croutons.
A very fine meal.
That night, I prepped a giant pork shoulder for tomorrow’s meal . . .
Bo ssam, rice, raw broccoli, pineapple
Bo ssam! Everybody loves bo ssam. I have whittled the recipe down to the very basics, which means dry brining a fatty pork shoulder in a cup of salt and and a cup of sugar the night before, wrapping it up in plastic wrap; and then just unwrapping it and chunking it in the oven low and slow (a 300. oven) for about six hours on a pan you’ve covered with a few layers of tin foil; and then right before dinner, you spread a paste made of seven tablespoons of brown sugar, sea salt, and two teaspoons of cider vinegar on top
crank the oven up to 500 and put the pork back in for ten minutes or so until it has a lovely glaze.
And that’s it. It has a wonderful, caramelized crust on top and the meat inside is outandingly juicy and tender.
Bo ssam is supposed to be eaten with lettuce wraps, but I forgot to buy lettuce. Somehow we forged ahead. This is such a great meal because you don’t even have to cut it up. You just give everybody a fork and let them go to town.
I made a big pot of rice, cut up some raw broccoli, and cut up a pineapple, and that was that.
Live forever, bo ssam.
Old Bay drumsticks, baked potatoes, mashed squash, coleslaw
Thursday I knew we were going to go out in the evening (nothing amazing, just a family faith formation meeting), so I oven roasted the drumsticks with a bunch of melted butter and Old Bay seasoning, and then served them cold
along with big hot baked potatoes. I very rarely serve baked potatoes, mainly so it will seem like a treat when I do.
There was a cabbage in the house (which someone mistakenly bought thinking it was lettuce for the bo ssam, oops), so I made a quick coleslaw with leftover matchstick carrots from the sushi and a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, and pepper
and, feeling like an absolute homesteader, I took out of the freezer the cubed butternut squash cubed I had prepped a few weeks ago. I usually make mashed squash by cooking it in the Instant PotJump to Recipe
but the trivet has gone missing, and there’s no good substitute if the squash is already cubed! So I roasted it with a little baking soda and kosher salt, and then mashed it up with butter, cinnamon, and a little cayenne pepper. I also usually add brown sugar or honey, but decided to see how it was without it, and it was great!
Definitely sweet enough on its own. So now I know! Nobody noticed the difference.
I wrote “scrambled eggs and biscuits” on the menu board, which is a little weird. I guess I can make biscuits,Jump to Recipe
but Damien and I are going to adoration and then First Friday Mass, so maybe we’ll just ditch the kids and get a pizza. I did one of those “see if you have money in various places you forgot about!” things, and I got a check from the state for $6.42, so I feel like throwing money around. And that’s my story.
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.
- 6 cups raw sushi rice
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
Rinse the rice thoroughly and cook it.
In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
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.
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.
- 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.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix together filling ingredients.
Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate.
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.
Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends.
Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones.
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.
Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.
caesar salad dressing
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
- 1 Tbsp mustard
- 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
Just mix it all together, you coward.
Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn quashes
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.
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.
When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.
- 6 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 450.
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.
Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.
With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.
Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.