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Never mind the Columbus Day agita: Here’s the suppli

arancini

 

I’m gonna skip the Columbus Day agita this year and just pass along this extraordinary recipe for suppli.

Suppli are breaded, deep-fried, egg-shaped risotto balls with a center of gooey cheese, and St. Peter will be holding one in each hand when he welcomes us to Heaven.

Here’s how you make them.

SUPPLI

2 eggs
2 cups risotto (see recipe below)
4 oz. mozzarella in 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup bread crumbs
oil for frying
tomato sauce, if you like

Beat eggs lightly until just combined.

Add risotto and stir thoroughly, but do not mash rice.

If you want tomato sauce (this is how they were served in Rome), add it now – just enough to make it tomato-y, without thinning the mixture.

Form a ball about the size of a golf ball, make a little dent in it, stick a cube of cheese in the dent, and then add on another golf-ball sized lump of the rice mixture.  Form it all into a smooth egg shape.  Roll the whole thing in bread crumbs.  Do this until you use up all the rice mixture.

Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes if you can, to make them easier to fry.

Heat oil to 375 degrees; preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Fry 4 or 5 balls at a time, about 5 minutes until they are golden brown.  The cheese inside should be melted.

Drain on paper towels, and keep the suppli warm in the oven while you are frying the rest — but these should be served pretty soon.

 

Risotto recipe:

7 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups raw white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tbs soft butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

In a large pan, melt 4 Tbs. butter – cook onions until soft but not brown.

Stir in raw rice and cook 1-2 minutes until the grains glisten and are opaque.

Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

Add 2 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Add 2 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding 1/2 cups of stock until it is tender.

Gently stir in the 4 Tbs soft butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

***

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What’s for supper? Vol. 5: Shut up, bouillon cubes. You don’t know me.

whats for supper

First, I just wanted to check in with you guys, because I worry.

The last thing I wanted to do was make one more place on the internet where women go to feel bad. That’s not what these posts are, are they? It was just supposed to be a place to talk about food: the triumphs, the tragedies, the baloney sandwiches. Not a place to feel bad!

If you don’t feel like listing/aren’t capable of remembering/are too ashamed to admit what you ate this week, here’s a quick way to participate, without even going into your weekly menu:

 

FOOD QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What is the kitchen task you absolutely hate, whether there’s a good reason or not?

Me? I hate unwrapping bouillon cubes. Maybe it’s because if I’m making some kind of meal that requires broth, I feel like it should be quick and easy because I’m cheating by using bouillon cubes; but it’s impossible to unwrap ten bitsy little cubes quickly, and I resent every last second of it.

The solution is, of course, to buy powdered bouillon, but I don’t want to, okay?
The other solution is . . . BENNY!

food blog bouillon
Benny loves to unwrap bouillon cubes. I recommend getting a Benny of your own. In other news, this is the week I finally started going to therapy, because I’ve decided that forty years of getting overwhelmed by things like unwrapping bouillon cubes is about enough. (Probably doesn’t help that my mug says “Looks like it’s time to hang it up!” Shut up, mug. You don’t know me.)

And now, onto the weekly menu.

 

SATURDAY
CHICKEN SHAWARMA; FRIED EGGPLANT WITH YOGURT SAUCE; ROOT BEER FLOATS

When Iron Man says, “I don’t know what shawarma is, but I’ve always wanted to try it,” I thought, “Me, neither. And ME TOO!”

Most days, I’m the lady in black tights mopping up (except that I never mop), but this Saturday, we all got to be the Avengers.

Oh, the shawarma. You guys, it was easy to make, and it was one of those foods that makes you feel like your head is going to fall off because it just can’t handle this level of deliciousness, but you pull yourself together because you made ten pounds of it but it’s going fast.

food blog shawarma

I was so disappointed in how this picture turned out. It just looks like food lying on a plate. The reality was . . . so much more.

I used this recipe from the New York Times Cooking page: Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma. True shawarma is meat roasted on a spit, but it’s hard to imagine it tasting any better than this. I didn’t have any tumeric, but the internet tells me you can live without tumeric, and so we did.

The recipe for fried eggplant, it turns out, is basically this: Take some eggplant, and fry it. For a few more details, here’s the recipe I used, from “Almost Turkish Recipes.”
The sauce for the eggplant, which was also great on the shawarma, was plain yogurt with some mayonnaise mixed in, plus fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I had to restrain myself from buying anything that looked delicious and vaguely middle eastern, but I settled for several kinds of olives, chopped cucumbers, triangles of pita, and a hummus party tray from Aldi. It really could have used some feta cheese, and something with tomatoes to go with all the spicy, savory and creamy stuff. Either just tomatoes, or a tomato-based sauce.

We were a little baffled about dessert. Something authentic would probably have involved dates or sesame seeds, and no one was too enthusiastic about that. So we went with root beer floats. Perfect.

This is definitely going on the rotation. It’s fairly time-consuming (especially since I had ten pounds of chicken thighs to skin, bone, and trim), and you need to plan ahead to marinate everything, and the side dishes got pricey in large quantities; but everyone loved it, and in would be fantastic for a dinner party. We ate every last scrap.

 

SUNDAY
MEATBALL SUBS WITH FRIED ONIONS; SALAD; ICE CREAM

Saturday was one of those “I’m glued to the steering wheel” days, so I threw theFannie Farmer meatball recipe at my 14-year-old daughter and her friend, and they did a great job turning five pounds of meat into 80 meatballs, which we served on rolls with jarred sauce and fried onions. Fried green peppers would have been good, too, but we ran out of time.

food blog meatballs and onions

Rather than frying up the meatballs, I put them on broiler pans and cook them at 400. It’s much easier and faster if you’re making a lot, and the grease drains off, and you don’t fill the kitchen with smoke. They also keep their round shape, which is important to me for some reason.

food blog meatballs

If you are feeling ambitious, the greatest meatball recipe in all the world is from Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Damien makes these sometimes, and they are heavenly, assuming heaven involves meatballs, which it does.

 

MONDAY
HAM; MASHED POTATOES; STRING BEANS

Great make-ahead dinner. Already-cooked ham was 89 cents a pound, so I bought a big one and sliced it up ahead of time and put it in a casserole dish to be reheated. Made about eight pounds of mashed potatoes and put that in another casserole dish to be reheated. Two bags of frozen string beans, and you have a dinner that looks like dinner is supposed to look, even though I was on the radio at dinner hour.

A nice way to cook string beans is to steam them, then toss with pepper, lemon juice, and sliced almonds. Easy and delicious.

 

TUESDAY
CHICKEN BURGERS, CHIPS, SALAD

This is a “You guys go eat, Mama’s going to go lie down and let the baby hit me in the face for a while” meal. Does the trick.

mama and corrie are tired

 

WEDNESDAY
BEEF BARLEY SOUP; BEER BREAD

Because it’s fall, so we can have soup! 87 degrees, but still, fall!

I make soup all wrong, but I don’t care. Also, I used steak instead of stew meat, because it was cheaper. To satisfy my thrill-seeking gene, I play fast and loose with rules about cuts of meat.

Basic beef barley soup recipe:

2 lbs beef
two carrots
one large onion
six cloves of garlic
two small cans of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup wine
eight cups of beef broth
red wine
about a pound of mushrooms
2/3 cup uncooked barley

I diced the meat and threw it in a heavy pan with some olive oil, diced onions, diced carrots, and crushed garlic.
When the meat was almost done, I put it in a pot, and added a bunch of beef broth, some water, two cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and a few glugs of wine, plus sliced mushrooms, then let it simmer all day.
About 40 minutes before dinner, I added the barley, then seasoned it before serving.

Remember, barley isn’t like rice or pasta — it needs extra time to get tender. This soup is also great with farro, or you could add small pasta, like orzo, or even rice.
This does NOT need extra salt, because the broth is salty; but lots of pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes are nice. You could also add celery, string beans, or whatever vegetables you have lurking about.

food blog beer bread

Here’s the recipe for beer bread. This turns out great every single time. I mixed the dry ingredients ahead of time, and added the beer right before it was time to put in the oven, so it felt like it took no time at all to make.

Benny saw me pour a half cup of butter over the batter, and said, “Oh, dat is beautiful.” Dat’s my girl.

 

THURSDAY
TERIYAKI PORK STIR FRY OF GUILT; RICE

Another “Mama’s dying; here’s some meat” day. This time, one of my other teenage daughters saved the day.
Slice up a bunch of pork, saute it, drain the juice, steam a bunch of frozen veggies, mix them together with some bottled teriyaki sauce, and serve with white rice.

food blog stir fry

She took this picture. Is it just me, or do those fancy-cut carrots look like they’re looking down on me? Shut up, carrots. You don’t know me.

 

FRIDAY
TUNA BURGERS, CHIPS or FROZEN FRIED; ONE VERY TIRED SALAD

This is what’s on the menu today.

Tuna burger recipe:
One can of tuna, drained, plus half a cup of bread crumbs and one beaten egg.
Mix together, form into two patties, fry in a little oil.

Dense and serviceable; suitable as bachelor chow. I’m sure you can fancy this up in some way with chives or what have you, but I’ll let you figure that out.

***
I noticed that last week, the InLinz link-up didn’t include thumbnails, and you had to click through to see other links. That’s what I get for not reading the fine print. Should be fixed now! Thanks to everyone who forged ahead and left a link anyway. I am really enjoying these windows into other people’s kitchens. Because I like to look into other people’s windows. Shut up, you don’t know me!

Leave a comment or a link, and don’t forget to link back here! And don’t let the bouillon cubes get you down. They don’t know you.

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What’s for Supper? Vol. 4: Workin’ on my night cheese

whats for supper

 

Alternate title for this week’s dinner round-up: This Is Why I’m Fat. Hey, if you have to die young, might as well die young while full of cheese. Specifically, feta, parmesan, mozzarella, pepper jack, cheddar, and provolone, all in one week. And we’re not even vegetarians. The cheese was just to help all the meat find its way around. Whee!

You can find the first What’s For Supper? post here. Vol. 2 is here; and vol. 3 is here.

At the end of the post, there will be a little blue InLinkz button, so you can add your own post; or feel free to leave a comment. You don’t have to be a fancy pants chef! This is just a place to talk about food, the good, the bad, and the cheesy. Don’t forget to link back to this post!

Here’s what we had this past week:

 

SATURDAY:
OMELETTES TO ORDER, HARSH BROWNS, HOSTAGES

To you, that’s “hash browns” and “sausages.”
Everyone likes omelette night. Anything made to order is always a hit, if somewhat complicated.

food blog omelette list

Their choices were mushroom, feta, pepper jack, fried onions, ham, and tears of a mermaid

Was there even any promotion for this movie? It’s fantastic. One of my all-time favorites, just bizarre and hilarious, and feast for the eyes.

A good omelette makes up for a lot. A LOT.

which is almost as good as a feast for the mouth.

I was never able to make decent omelettes, or anything else that involved frying, until I got a decent pan. I use this T fal stainless steel 12-inch pan, and it turns out I’m not actually a terrible cook! I just had terrible pans. So that was nice.

 

 

SUNDAY:
BBQ PORK RIBS, CORN ON THE COB, COLE SLAW

Pork was still on sale, so my husband made a dry rub from what we happened to have in the cabinet, which happened to be brown sugar, white sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, and paprika, and he grilled the ribs outside.

with some help

with some help

I honestly thought it was going to be too sweet, but holy cow, they were fantastic. The sugar turned into this glorious, savory, mahogany, yes-life-is-worth-living glaze, and I made a complete pig of myself.

My oldest daughter made a wonderful coleslaw with a recipe I can’t find at the moment, but it was pretty standard. We don’t have a food processor, but the cheese grater works well enough. We didn’t have buttermilk, either, but used some plain yogurt instead. (You can also make a buttermilk substitute by adding a splash of vinegar to regular milk and letting it sit for a bit.)

 

MONDAY:
CHICKEN CUTLETS, ROASTED PARMESAN GARLIC BROCCOLI, ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICHES

My husband had the day off for Labor Day, so he and my third daughter made his sumptuous chicken cutlets, which involves pounding the chicken flat, breading, and frying it, and then topping it with a basil leaf and a slice of provolone, and then garnishing the whole thing with a ladle of homemade tomato sauce, so it all melts together.

The recipe is here, on Deadspin, which has many wonderful recipes, all full of cussing (which I can totally deal with) and a lot of extraneous narration (which I cannot deal with, but my husband can). I cannot say enough about this dish. It is so good. So good.

SO GOOD!

SO GOOD!

I tried a new roasted broccoli recipe from Damn Delicious, and I added a bunch of sliced mushrooms. It was tasty, and the recipe was super easy, but I will roast it longer next time, and probably dry off the broccoli better. It turned out a little damp. Probably the mushrooms added moisture, which I had forgotten they would do.

My daughter had made chocolate chip cookies the other day, and we miraculously had leftovers, so we used them to make ice cream sandwiches.

critically acclaimed

critically acclaimed

 

 

TUESDAY:
TACO TUESDAY!

I have no idea if we’ve always had tacos on Tuesdays anyway, or if the Lego movie made us do it, but we sure have tacos on Tuesdays a lot.  We love this movie, too, by the way. So weird and funny and sweet.

We’ve also figured out where to store the tortillas so they’re safe from the infamous ravening tortilla hound, who just can’t help himself.

quesadillas con dog bite

 

 

WEDNESDAY:
SPAGHETTI WITH SAUSAGE AND MEAT SAUCE

The completely wrong dish for a brutally humid day, but oh well. We had leftover (unseasoned) ground beef from the tacos, plus leftover wonderful sauce from the chicken cutlets, so I added those things to Aldi’s jarred sauce, which is not bad at all, and cooked up some sweet Italian sausages.

I seem to recall salad.

food blog just crawl away

This is Corrie just casually crawling away from a devastated omelette. What she did to the spaghetti was even worse.

THURSDAY:
PIZZA

Lovely pizza. One pepperoni, one olive, one olive and basil, and one basil, pepperoni, and red onion.

my pretties

my pretties

I like to put the toppings under the cheese, so they don’t get dried out in the oven; and I like to sprinkle garlic powder, oregano, and grated parmesan on top of the mozzarella, to give it a nice crust.

 

FRIDAY:
MAC AND CHEESE

This is what’s on the menu today. I use the Fannie Farmer white sauce + cheese recipe, but I tend to throw in a lot more cheese than is called for. I don’t even know how much I use, but it’s a hell of a lot more than half a cup. “Half a cup of cheese” is not even a thing, as far as I’m concerned.

For a topping, I either mix together melted butter and breadcrumbs (I find this technique easier than buttering each individual breadcrumb, ho ho), or else crushed Ritz crackers, because there aren’t enough calories in eleven cups of cheese.

 

***
My goal for next week: less cheese, more vegetables. Corrie’s goals remain the same: EAT EVERYTHING.

corrie eating daddy's head

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About 50 easy things to do with pork chops!

Here’s the promised pork chop post from Friday’s “What’s for Supper?” post. Some nice ideas here, collected after I asked Facebook what to do when I had a bunch of thin pork chops and no exotic ingredients.  Sorry about the terrible formatting. Today, I let the computer win.

Oh, and here’s what I finally ended up making: just regular frickin’ pork chops:

The secret ingredient is frickin.

The secret ingredient is frickin.

***

ABOUT 50 EASY THINGS TO DO WITH PORK CHOPS

***

Salt, pepper, dip in flour, shake off the excess, and cook in a frying pan.
Flour keeps them moist, and gives them color. Add some butter to the oil while they’re cookingOne of my boys’ favorite meals is when I bread & fry pork chops. I serve it with rice & a sweet/sour sauce of equal parts brown sugar, soy sauce, & ketchup. Kind of Asian & really yummy (though the breading & frying takes a while).1/3 oj, 1/3 soy, 1/3 italian dressing. pour over chops, let them soak. When you’re ready in the evening, Broil chops. Serve with sauteed apples and a salad. Pork chops with delicious pineapple marmlade is insanely good. Orange works, too. Anything citrus, really, perks it up beautifully.

My Grams always made chops with sauteed onion, cream of _____ soup (usually mushroom, but whatever you have on hand works–unless it’s chicken…a little too Frankenstein for me. wink emoticon ). She’d cut up potatoes and add them once the chops were browned, and then pour in the soup, and slow-cook on the stove top for a while–long enough for the potatoes to be done anyway. DELICIOUS.Some Italian dressing and lemon juice. Crockpot. Make some rice. Microwave frozen vegetabkes.
Balsamic vinegar, honey and shallots – just sear them, remove, throw bv, shallots and honey in and let bubble for a few minutes. throw chops back in and cook a little more. Done. There are kinder, gentler ways of doing this recipe but who has the time?Balsamic dressing mixed with Dijon mustard
Smother those suckers

Season as you like, brown both sides in a big skillet, add a couple of sliced onions and let them saute a bit, add lots of beef broth, simmer for 20-30 minutes, add a little cornstarch/water and boil to thicken the juice a little. serve with rice. Family favorite here smile emoticon (the onions are the key to the flavor)
Soy sauce, garlic and ginger (fresh, if you can!)Sliced apples, cinnamon, alcohol of choice (beer, wine, etc), butter, sage or rosemary. Serve with egg noodles or rice.
Dip in egg, bread crumbs and pan fry on each side just to brown, cook spaghetti, put pork chops on top of noodles and pour red sauce over top, bake 350

serve cereal.Cereal, the other other white meat.

Dice an onion and slice a bell pepper (not a green one) if you want to use one up. Slice up a few stalks of celery (1/2 cup or so) Layer chops, onion/pepper/celery, and one can of diced tomatoes in a large skillet and sprinkle dried parsley, salt, pepper and a few dashes of gar
lic (you can add a clove of garlic with the onion if you have fresh, instead) over top. Simmer for one hour on stovetop. (If you want to double, you can do it in the oven in a 9×12 at 350 for an hour, but it’s better on the stove…I’ve done two skillets before!) Serve with rice. We call it “Pork and Veggies.”

brine them for an hour in salt water in the fridge, then just salt and pepper and pan fry or brown them in the pan and finish in the oven.

You have soda (Coke) in the house? You can cook it down to a great glaze and then fry the chops in it.

 Sweet and Sour Pork III Recipe You can sub out the pinapple for other fruit. We did mango, but I bet almost anything would work in a pinch.

Smothered Pork Chops Recipe
Here is an simple way to make sauteed pork chops smothered in a scrumptious gravy.

Fry up some onions, put the chops in a baking pan, mix the onions with some cream of mushroom soup and 1/4 cup of milk, pour it over the chops, throw it in the oven covered at 350 for an hour. serve with rice.

I was going to make slow cooker ranch porkchops. Google the recipe. You know, if this baby ever stops screaming.

Do you keep minced garlic on hand and onions? Cook together with a bit of salt and pepper, some oregano and Rosemary. Then remove and cook two cups of basmati rice (you want basmati because it cooks pretty fast). It will retain the flavor of the chops and is delish.

This is one of my husb’s favorites: pound them even thinner, dip ‘em in raw egg, roll ‘em in bread crumbs, add any seasonings you want (I usually add garlic and onion), and pan-fry them for a couple of minutes and voila! A dinner that everyone will eat. If the kids are willing to wash their hands, they can do the prep and that makes them happy too.

Chopped apples and a little cinnamon bake them together.

Baked with cream of mushroom soup spread over them, serve with rice.
Soak em in honey and whiskey and grill them.

My mom always just cooked them in some butter and put garlic salt on them, served with veggies and mac & cheese. It was cheap and easy.

I do something like this with thin boneless skinless chicken breasts. Delicious.

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops : Giada De Laurentiis : Food Network
FOODNETWORK.COM


Marinated Baked Pork Chops Recipe
Pork chops cook in a tangy marinade of soy sauce, Worcestershire, and ketchup-15-minute prep!

Salt and pepper, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and some sliced mushrooms and onions… it’s easy — takes about a half hour — and it makes a gravy too!

2 cloves garlic chopped, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup soy sauce…marinade for as long as possible (the longer, the better it tastes), and fry up in oil about 4 minutes on each side.I am a terrible cook and my picky kids will actually eat this.

Just pan fry them after coating in flour, salt, pepper. Yum.


Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Slice some potatoes up as thin as you can, mix with a can or two of cream of mushroom soup, add some garlic and paprika, stick the chops down in the soup on top of the potatoes and cook for 1 hr. All you need to add is a salad or whatever veggie you have around.

Fr Leo FOR THE WIN. I’ve used this maranaide for every form of pork, from skewers as recommended, to pork chops that I then cooked in a skillet, to crock pot.


Food for the Soul » Blog Archive » Cola Pork Skewers

Rub them with olive oil, powdered ginger, rosemary and black pepper, then pan sear them.

I like them pan fried or broiled with nothing but salt pepper and dried thyme oh and olive oil

Here, all pork chops must be panfried, then pan gravy made from the drippings and butter, flour, and milk… And served with a heaping pile of bread and gravy. It is one of my favorite, if not it all healthy, meals.

Mix jam and a little creole mustard (or dijon or anything). Lay the chops out on a broiling pan, brush with mixture. Broil on one side (2-5 minutes max), flip, brush again, broil again (2-5 min max). Done!

Brush with oil, coat with a mix of half Italian bread crumbs and half Parmesan cheese, with a bit of garlic powder and pepper. Bake in foil lined pan at 350 for 50 minutes. So good, SO easy.

Pour a dab of Louisana Hot Sauce on each one both sides and spread it out thin and sprinkle sea salt, pepper and garlic powder over that and bbq.

Bake them with 5-spice or just salt and pepper, or marinate with soy sauce and bake. Slice into bite sized bits and set aside. Cook rice or brown rice the usual way. Set aside. Scramble some eggs a bit dry. Set aside. Sautee some bite-sized vegetables in oil and set aside. Mix them together in a pan, sauteeing with a little more oil until warmed together. Fried rice.

ooo thin chops… very easy: brush with BBQ sauce and put them on the grill, about 5min each side. If you prefer a very quick stove top choice, dredge in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, (cayenne pepper if you like it up a notch), rosemary, and saute in olive oil. also 5 min each side. By very thin, I assume you mean less than half an inch.

Crush juniper berries, salt and black pepper together, and rub into the surface. Bonus: juniper is gin flavour!

Salt pepper and Rosemary. Pan cook or broil.

Per 4 pork chops: 1c of chicken broth, 1t of orange zest, 1t of ginger, 1t of garlic all simmered. After simmering for a minute, toss in chops and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and cook until soft

I use a pyrex dish and add sauerkraut, including liquid. real easy and good.


Asian Pork Chop Recipe • Just One Cookbook

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What’s for supper? Vol. 3: so much pork

whats for supper

Yay, it’s Friday! Time for the What’s For Supper? round up, where you can share your inspired, inspiring, dull, or humiliating weekly menu, or pass along recipes, or find recipes, or just complain about food and feeding people and eating in general. Most of us think about food a lot, so why not talk about it here?

At the end of this post, you’ll find an InLinkz button, so you can add your post. Feel free to join in in the comments, too.

Here’s the inaugural What’s for Supper? post,
and here is vol. 2.

A few questions:

Is Friday the best day to post these? I leave the link-up open all week, so people can add to it whenever they like.

What about a question of the week? Something like, “What’s your favorite potluck dish?” or “What’s the best thing about cold-weather cooking?” or “Where are all these moths coming from, and should I just kill myself now, or what?” Or should I just keep it free-form?

And here we go.

Saturday
Domino’s terrible yet salty pizzas, Swiss Rolls, my brother-in-law’s homemade beer.

***

Sunday
Kingston Pizza on the way home from the beach.

I’m linking to this restaurant not because the food was so outstanding (the fries were yummy, though), but because I feel bad that we drank bottled water from the van instead of ordering drinks, and I feel like we owe them. I had a cheesesteak. In Kansas, I met the inimitable Catharine Bitting, and I asked her why Philadelphians would let an empire rise and set on whether or not a candidate properly understands a cheesesteak. It’s just a sandwich, after all, yaas? She explained it’s because Philadelphians’ lives are so empty and miserable, they have nothing else to live for, so they focus all their energies on cheesesteaks.

Some of us spend a lot of time thinking about food, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Some of us spend kind of a lot of time thinking about food, and there is nothing wrong with that.

We had gotten about five hours of sleep all weekend, and so on Monday, I went shopping without a list. I just grabbed the panstless baby and lurched through the aisles grabbing anything that looked familiar. So the rest of the week looked like this:

Monday: Brats, potato chips, salad (a real one, not a “let’s say we had salad” salad), and five avocados that were right on the brink.

***

Tuesday: Pulled pork sandwiches on onion rolls with red onions, spinach salad, and oven roasted potatoes.

We are close to being tired of pulled pork sandwiches, but we are not there yet! Aldi has these wonderful boneless half loins for $2.29 a pound, so I get a 4- to 5-pound hunk, put it in a shallow pan, pour a can of beer over it, salt and pepper it generously, cover it loosely with tinfoil, and chunk it in a 275 oven for a few hours. When it’s done all the way through, I slice or shred it with fork, knife, standing mixer, or whatever, and toss the fat to the dog so that he will continue to worship me as a god. The meat comes apart more easily if you work on it while it’s still hot. Then I throw the shredded meat right back into the beery juices

The beery, porky steam the fills the kitchen doesn't hurt, either.

The beery, porky steam the fills the kitchen all afternoon doesn’t hurt, either.

cover it with foil again, until it’s time to reheat it for dinner. It just gets better as leftovers, IF ANY. And I just use bottled BBQ sauce, because my homemade kind never thickens up enough. Go ahead, tell me what an inauthentic heretical pulled pork poseur I am. I can take it. I’m fortified with pork.

Re the potatoes, I was thinking, “Oh no, I just did oven roasted potatoes last week! Everyone will be bored reading about it again!” But then I remembered my kids really like oven roasted potatoes, so that settled that. I found a few envelopes of onion soup mix, so I used that for a quickie seasoning. It turned out not to be any faster or tastier than whatever seasonings I usually grab off the spice shelf.

***

Wednesday
Sliced chicken breast served over salad and various raw veggies with bacon ranch dressing, and naan (from a mix that was on sale at Aldi).

For the chicken, Benny and I made a quick marinade of olive oil and lemon juice, with the Faithful Four: salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed garlic. She pronounced it “gross nemmonade,” and warned me that I would die if I ate it.

You will die.

You will die.

Duly noted. You let the chicken sit in the marinade for a few hours, then put it in a broiling pan under a high broiler for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until it’s golden brown. Let it sit for a few minutes (this lets the juice redistribute along the meat fibers or something) and then slice it. This meal makes me feel SO VIRTUOUS, I can hardly live with myself.

This is the first time I’ve made naan. I’ve never even eaten it before, so I have no idea if I did it right. Except I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to burn it.

They look okay, but some of it was naan-edible, ho ho ho.

They look okay, but some of it was naan-edible, ho ho ho.

I think I didn’t make them flat enough. They turned out more like pancakes, and didn’t have the bubbles I see in pictures.

***

Thursday
Teriyaki pork chops, flavored rice, frozen peas.

I just glugged a bottle of sauce over the chops and let them sit a couple of hours, then put them under the broiler for a short time until they edges were crisp. The kids begged for flavored rice, so threw some bouillon cubes into the water (one cube per cup of water) before adding the rice. I did manage to cook the peas until they were hot, so that was a win.

Before I discovered the bottle of teriyaki sauce, I asked Facebook for simple pork chop recipes made with non-exotic ingredients, which Facebook was happy to provide! It’s a long list, so I will make it a separate post, which you can see here. 

 

 

***

Friday
I have no idea.

Did I mention I never actually made a meal plan this week — just kept putting meat in the cart until it looked like I had enough meat? I’ll have to buy something on the way home from school this afternoon. Probably spaghetti, le sigh.

Don’t forget to check out the separate pork chop post! There are dozens and dozens of simple ideas there.

Uncategorized

What’s for supper?

food irene

One of two things is happening here today. Either

(a) I’m launching a recurring feature sharing my family’s weekly dinner menu. While I’m no cooking jainyus, I do manage to feed twelve people, seven days a week, without spending a million dollars and without anyone getting rickets.

I’ll list our dinners and include any recipes that might be interesting, and I hope readers will share their menus and recipes, too, so we can all get some good ideas from each other. If there’s enough interest, I may start a weekly blog link-up;

or

(b) I’m launching a dumb, useless thing that everyone hates, and in a few weeks I’ll sheepishly kick some dead leaves over it and hope everyone forgets it ever happened.

Come onnn, (a)!

***

 

Our deal:

We’re busy people. I work from home, I have two pre-schoolers and eight other kids in three different schools, my husband works late most nights and has a long commute, the kids all have clubs and activities and jobs, and I spend two hours in the van on a good day.  I don’t expect myself to cook like someone who’s home all afternoon, or someone who has leisure in the evening, or someone who cares deeply and intensely about optimal diets. We can’t afford the farmer’s market, and our garden stinks.

I stay within a certain budget, but I no longer have to shop as cheaply as possible. It’s worth it to me to pay a little more for convenience or variety. We now have an Aldi nearby, which means that foods that used to be luxuries are now staples.

I don’t have a crock pot or a microwave, because I’m stubborn and I enjoy suffering.

I started making a weekly menu several years ago, planning and listing and buying only exactly what we needed to eat, because we were super broke and I had to make, say, $30 stretch for seven days. The menu habit stuck after our situation improved, and I’m glad it did. I hate hate hate grinding out the menu on Saturday morning, but I love always knowing what’s for dinner each night, and always having all the ingredients on hand.

General goals:

  • I try not to make any main dish more than twice a month.
  • I try not to serve chips more than twice a week.
  • I try to serve a vegetable with each meal. I am for produce in season, but frozen veggies are still veggies.
  • I try to serve three things at dinner, but two happens a lot.
  • I try to provide a balanced diet over the course of the week, rather than over the course of a day.
  • I try to make sure there’s always yogurt, cheese, pretzels, and fresh fruit in the house, so the kids can get themselves healthy snacks. This is especially important for kids who are picky about dinner, because I refuse to stress out about everybody eating dinner. 
  • I try to serve meals that at least half the family enjoys eating.
  • I try to get the kids involved with cooking when possible, even if it’s just peeling carrots or measuring out water for rice.
  • I let them have straight-up dessert, plus candy and maybe soda, on weekends, but loosely limit sugar during the week.
  • I try to make at least a few actual homemade-from-scratch meals each week, but don’t beat myself up for filling in the rest with semi-homemade or box-and-bag food.
  • I fail in each of these things repeatedly, but I try again next week, or next next week. It’s a constant slide and correction, slide and correction.
  • I try to remember that it’s just food.

 

How I make my weekly menu:

On Saturday morning, I write the days of the week on a piece of paper, and I make note of any upcoming events that will affect what food I buy (a birthday, which means the kid picks dinner; or lots of dentist appointments, which means I’ll be out of the house during the day; or an evening concert, which means we’ll need to eat early and clean up quickly; or a radio spot right at dinner time, so the kids need to be able to just heat and eat; etc.).

I write in easy meals for whichever days seem like they will be trickiest.

Then I look up online supermarket flyers and add a few meals based on what’s on sale.

At this point, kids start swirling around me, and, seeing food on my computer screen, they start shouting out meal names. I yell at them to leave me alone and let me drink my coffee, and then guiltily fill in at least one meal that they shouted for the loudest.

Then, if I can’t think of anything else easily to fill in the rest of the days, I go to Budget Bytes, AllRecipes, the NYT food pages, Epicurious, Good Eats, and Pioneer Womanfor inspiration, if not for actual recipes. (Sometimes I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, chicken! I forgot about chicken.”) Most of my staple recipes are from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which I recommend highly as a comprehensive, clear, and encouraging resource.

Then I make a list.

Well, you guys know how to make a list.

***

Suddenly I’m nervous that you’re going to think, “Why is she telling about these dumb, boring, obvious, yucky foods?” Well, maybe I’m just trying to make you feel better, you fancy person.

Okay, here goes. This past week we had . . .

 

Saturday: Corn dogs and frozen french fries. We had an insane-o busy day and it’s a miracle I managed this much. Anyway, I like corn dogs. We had rice krispie treats for dessert because I was afraid someone might mistake us for people of good breeding.

Sunday:  Sesame chicken* (quadruple recipe) and white rice (5 cups uncooked rice).  I usually make sesame chicken with steamed broccoli, but I forgot to buy broccoli. This recipe is much easier than it looks, but don’t crowd the chicken! Also, put on the air conditioner, or else you will get hot and frazzled and will accidentally just throw the chicken in the garbage when you meant to transfer it onto a tray.  P.S. the most expensive part of this recipe is the sesame seeds. I’m going to look into growing my own sesame tree. I’ve made this recipe with inauthentic white vinegar, vegetable oil, and powdered ginger, and it still tastes fine.  Dessert: fancy Aldi cookies and orange sherbet, much to my husband’s dismay. (Whoever’s shopping turn it is gets to choose dessert.)

Monday:  Hamburgers, fried red onions, potato chips, and raw sweet peppers and baby carrots with hummus. (This is a “kids heat and eat” dish, because I was on the radio.) We use about 3 lbs. of 70/30 ground beef for the 11 of us. I’ve found that the easiest way to make hamburgers is to make the patties really flat, season them, and lay them on a two-piece broiler pan, so the fat runs off. Put the broiler on “high” and flip the burgers once.

Tuesday: slow-cooked pork tenderloin* (about 5 lbs), two loaves of beer bread, and an enormous basin of salad. I don’t have a slow cooker, so I just put the pork in the oven at 250 and covered it with tin foil. I also ran out of baking soda, so I used this baking powder+cream of tartar substitution, and it turned out great. The pork sauce is savory and fantastic, if you like salt, which we do. When it gets colder, I’ll make this dish with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday: Giant Pancake with chocolate chips, and scrambled eggs. The chocolate chips are because it’s still summer vacation, hoop de doo.  I had plans to cut up a pineapple, but I got mad and tired, and went to bed with a handful of eggs, instead.  The pineapple went bad, too bad. Giant Pancake is just pancake mix, you add water, you throw it in a shallow pan and chuck it in a 350 oven until it puffs up. Everyone gets a giant wedge and they tell Daddy “DUESS WHAT? WE HAD TATE FOR SUPPER.”

Thursday: Nachos!!! Three giant trays of tortilla chips, layered with ground pork and beef cooked with a few envelopes of taco spice, refried beans, corn, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole*. (Our guacamole is: avocados, fresh garlic and tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.)

Friday: Tuna noodle casserole and salad. This is the guilt dish that some kids were begging for, although I will admit, I like tuna noodle. I got a frozen pizza for Damien, who never did become reconciled to this dish.  Our tuna noodle is: cooked egg noodles mixed with six cans of drained tuna and a three cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Put the mixture in a buttered casserole dish, and top with crushed potato chips and corn flakes. Bake at 350 until the topping is toasted. Serve with dressing made from ketchup, mayo, and vingar. Tell people online that this is what you eat. Take a bow, you prince among chefs.

*I recently discovered that you can crush garlic without peeling the individual cloves. I can’t believe I didn’t know this. You have to pick the peels out in between crushing cloves, but it’s SO much faster than peeling first.

***

Now you know! And I’d love to hear what you’re eating at your house this week. Remember, everyone has different priorities and situations, so don’t feel like you need to be fancy or fascinating. Whatcha got?

Uncategorized

Simcha’s favorite passover recipes that will have you schvitzing under the eyeballs

In the past, I’ve written about the emotional and spiritual experience of celebrating the Passover seder as Hebrew Catholics.

passover

This year, I’d like to talk about what’s really important: THE FOOD.

We do not keep kosher, and we don’t clean the house of chametz (leavened bread), and we don’t follow the special, even stricter “kosher for Passover” rules. The foods we prepare for Passover are symbolic and nostalgic, as well as delicious; but I wouldn’t serve them if we had a rabbi for a guest! We serve some homemade and some store bought food.

To keep this post from getting too long, I’ll post all the recipes on a separate page. Click on the names of any of the homemade foods below to get to the recipe page. Here’s what’s on the menu:

 

WINE

For the full Jewish American experience, you should at least know what Manischwitz tastes like.

horror

I’ll save you some trouble: It’s completely awful. With every swallow, you will feel like a giant hand made out of hot syrup is squeezing your brain to death. MD 20/20 (here listed as #3 in the top five Bum Wines) is only marginally better. So unless you’re keeping kosher, which you’re not if you’re coming to me for recipes, then go ahead and just have whatever goyishe red wine you actually enjoy drinking (for cheap and drinkable, I’m partial to Yellow Tail). The seder is supposed to be a spiritual exercise, but not a penitential one.

 

CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZOH BALLS

You know what schmaltz is, right? It’s anything corny, sappy, sentimental, and overdone (but you secretly love it)

But literally, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. That’s the secret ingredient in what is sometimes called “Golden Chicken Soup.”

Chicken_fat

That tightness you feel in your chest is just your heart being happy!

Talk about “beaded bubbles winking at the brim!”  You want to give the flavor ple-e-e-e-e-e-enty of time to develop — all day, at the very least. You know it’s almost done when the air in the kitchen is shimmering with a golden, chickeny haze. If you can walk through the room and not come out smelling like a happy childhood in Eastern Europe, keep simmering.

Some years, the matzoh balls turn out fluffy and airy; some years they stay small and rubbery with a dry nut of undercooked matzoh meal in the center. Every year, they all get gobbled up.

 

CHOPPED LIVER

If you can get your hands on one of these:

meat grinder 2

then do!  (The good ones are pretty expensive, new.) You could, of course, use a food processor, but there are few tactile experiences more fulfilling than turning a heavy steel crank and watching the velvety pate come churning out the other end. If, you know, you like that kind of thing. WHICH I DO.

GEFILTE FISH

I was never, ever, ever tempted to make this by hand. Apparently the authentic method is to buy a few live cod and pike from the fishmonger in the Bowery, dump them in your bathtub, and then on Friday morning you head in there with a club and WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK WHACK.
Then the real work begins. “Gefilte” means “stuffed,” as in “a fish stuffed with other fish”

gefilte fish whole

For those days when you have seven or eight hours to spend wrist deep in a fish that you have clubbed to death. So, we get it in jars.

gefilte fish jar

I prefer the Manischewitz brand — the other ones I’ve tried are sweeter. I prefer the fish packed in gel, rather than broth. We serve this on top of a sheet of matzoh with a dab of horseradish. It’s likely that, if you haven’t tasted gefilte fish by age five, you’ll never learn to like it. I’m okay with that. More for me.

CHAROSET

Best best best best best. Chopped walnuts, chopped apples, red wine, cinnamon, and sugar or honey.

charoset

The charoset is supposed to remind us of the mortar the Hebrew slaves used between bricks as they worked building Pharaoh’s cities. When I was little, this gave me the impression that maybe slavery wasn’t so bad after all, because best best best best best!

This is the year I finally bought what is apparently called a mezzaluna

mezzaluna

a sharp rocking knife, for chopping all those apples and walnuts. I like this tool very much. It’s heavy and quite sharp. And if this is the year that Elijah comes back and he turns out to be a zombie– wait, no, that’s inappropriate.

 

SPICED GARLIC CHICKEN

I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but it’s moist and yummy, and I only make it at Passover, so therefore it’s Passover chicken. You already know what roast chicken looks like, so here instead is a picture of something that is very, very important to our family:

garlic

We put the lick in garlic!

as well as to this particular recipe. And here is a gratuitous chicken joke:

Tevye: As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
Mendel: Where does the book say that?
Tevye: Well, it doesn’t say that exactly, but somewhere there is something about a chicken.

 

SPINACH PIE

A vegetable dish for the times when you can’t bring yourself to say, “But we areserving something green! See? Olives!” It’s pretty, anyway, and doesn’t take much time to throw together, especially if you have a food processor. Bunch of vegetables shredded up, sauteed, mixed with egg and matzoh meal, and baked (no crust involved).

TSIMMIS

not to be confused with tsuris. I don’t actually make tsimmis, but I remember when my mother used to, and it gives me an excuse to tell this joke:

Two old friends reunite after many years. One brags about her children, their professional success, their beautiful houses, their talented offspring. The other one says, “Well, I don’t have any children.” The first one says, “No children? So what do you do for tsuris?”

Anyway, Wikipedia describes tsimmes as “Ashkenazi Jewish sweet stew typically made from carrots and dried fruits such as prunes or raisins, often combined with other root vegetables. Some cooks add chunks of meat.” Am I punchy, or is that hilarious? You can almost hear the sigh at the end. “Look, this is what we eat, what do you want from my life.”

 

ROAST LAMB

Some day, when we win a million dollars or a sheep farm, we’ll serve this as the main dish. As it is, we usually buy the biggest leg of lamb we can afford for the seder dish. Last year, the electricity went out just as we were putting the lamb in the oven, so we ended up grilling it outside

grilled leg of lamb

and it was magnificent. Gonna do it that way every year now.

EXTRAS

Two kinds of horseradish, olives, and dill pickles. We ground our own horseradish one year, and it was unbelievably strong. The air around the dish went all wobbly, and it made an audible snarling sound when you spooned it onto your plate. Call me a coward, but I’m sticking with the jarred kind. I’ve never really tasted bad horseradish, so I don’t have a particular brand to recommend. The red horseradish is just dyed with beet juice, but tastes about the same.

Also, don’t forget a little dish of blonde raisins. These are like raisins, only they areyellow. I know.

 

DESSERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

MACAROONS

macaroons

Not to be confused with macarons, which are an entirely different food! I always think I’m going to make these myself, but I always run out of time, so I buy them ready made. My favorite are the plain almond-flavored ones, but there are dozens of varieties.

HALVAH

Halvah is not strictly a Jewish food, but just a Middle Eastern one. It’s made of crushed sesame seeds, and I’m not gonna lie to you, it tastes kind of like sweet, gritty Play Doh.

halvah

I usually buy a few bars of it, some plain, some dipped in chocolate, and serve it in little slices. You gotta have it, but a little goes a long way.

CHOCOLATE MATZOH CRUNCH

Nice easy recipe. I didn’t grow up with this, but my kids go berserk for it.

SPONGE CAKE

We usually have two kinds of sponge cake made with matzoh cake meal and made poofy with tons of egg whites. We usually make two chocolate walnut cakes and two white ones. So nice with the slightly eggy crunch of the crust and the light, spongy insides.

JELLY FRUIT SLICES

fruit jell slices

 

possibly my kids’ favorite part of Passover.  These symbolic confections remind us of, um, the Land of Caanan, I guess? With fruit? Anyway, I like them, too.

***

Passover begins on the evening of April 3 this year. We always have our seder on Holy Saturday, regardless of when actual Passover is. Since Jesus’ last Passover seder with the disciples (the Last Supper) was on Holy Thursday, it almost works out this year! We usually spend Holy Week cooking and baking, and try to schedule things so the most fragrant foods are already made and in the freezer before we start fasting for Good Friday, because nobody needs to suffer that much.

Again, click here to get to the page with just the recipes.

L’chaim! Let’s eat.

 

***