Easter Saturday 2017

This is the first Easter in forever that we have not had at my parents’ house. That’s because their lovely house is currently being torn apart and turned into a two-family house, with one unit for my folks and one for our crazy gang of four.

We had our annual Easter Saturday lunch and egg hunt at my parents’ temporary gigs, where due to size restrictions we simplified significantly. My mom asked people to bring salads and she and my dad served up lots of good bread, cold cuts and other sandwich fixings.

It was not our usual savory pie extravaganza (which you can read about here, here, here and here) we’ll get back to that next year, but it was easy and perfect. And a gorgeous day to boot.

As always, there were over 100 eggs and a gang of kids who were delighted to find them. This year, the eggs were numbered and it wasn’t the kid who found the most eggs, but the kids who found the three lucky eggs with a fiver in them who won. So basically everybody was happy and every kid won.

After lunch we died eggs using tinted shaving cream in plastic bags, which was pretty weird and also lovely to behold.

Christ is risen, y’all.

xoxo

Sous chef Sid and eggplant


I love me some roasted eggplant. It’s my go-to thing for when my family is eating meat, or just to have on hand for adding to salads to make them more delicious and special.

The easiest way I’ve found to cook eggplant is to slice it thin-ish, lay it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spray with spray oil, sprinkle with salt, flip over, do the same, and then roast at any old temperature (really—I just bung it in the oven with whatever else is cooking, it’s very forgiving) until soft and a little golden. Flip it halfway through if you like.

It may seem weird to hear me talk about using spray oil—it’s weird for me to hear me talk about it—but after experimenting with lots and lots of eggplant-roasting methods, I realized that this is really the best and easiest way to evenly coat your eggplant with oil.

It may make you feel a little better to use canola or olive oil spray rather than Pam which can seems ambiguous in terms of being something that’s ok to consume.

Are you dying to know what’s in the taped-up aluminum foil box? I know you are. That, my friend, is the work of sous chef Sid. We discovered these gorgeous tomatoes called flavor bombs which—contrary to what the color, flavor and name would lead you to believe—are not actually genetically modified.

Sid thought they would best be presented like so:
And then insisted we tape the box back up. Thanks for the help little guy.

All hail the hot dog

Hot DogsLook, I don’t eat hot dogs, I don’t even like them, but give me some dogs on a busy weeknight and I’m one happy mother. Why? Because while my family is happily eating their meat, I can have a lentil salad with roasted beets and goat cheese all to myself.

Lentil SaladI’ve been making lentils cooked like risotto lately and they’re really good. You can eat them on their own or combine them with salad stuff (like roasted beets, goat cheese and arugula) and a simple vinaigrette for a complete meal.

• Risotto-style Lentils •
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 tablespoons butter
1 small or 1/2 an onion chopped fine
1 cup small green lentils
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable broth or water mixed with 2 teaspoons vegetable Better Than Bouillon

Sauté your onion in the butter on medium low heat until soft and translucent. While that’s happening, heat your broth to a simmer and leave it simmering. When onion is soft, reduce the heat to low, add the lentils and stir until they’re coated with the butter. Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add the broth one ladle-full at a time, cooking the lentils slowly stirring occasionally until the broth is nearly absorbed. Add more broth as the broth in your lentils gets absorbed.

Cook for about 25 minutes at which time the broth will probably be all gone. Test lentils for doneness and add a bit of water if they are not tender enough yet. Cover and cook until they reach desired tenderness – keep them moist with more water as needed to keep them from getting dry. Serve as part of a salad or however you like.

Puttanesca and Irish silliness 

This week’s dinner awesomeness came in the form of pasta with puttanesca sauce (the kind without tuna) and a simple salad. The puttanesca recipe came from the Italian Classics book which Rose got Shane for Father’s Day at a yard sale. Aw.

We also had some fun on St. Patrick’s Day with green rice and some awfully good (and totally unrelated) lentils cooked like risotto. If you like lentils you should really try cooking them like risotto. Green rice is fine if you can get your head around it, or if you’re hungry enough.

Today is Shane’s birthday, so check back tomorrow for a post about everyone’s favorite topic… cake!

It’s all about that cauliflower 

 Seriously though. The best thing I ate this past week was a fantastic cauliflower dish from food52. My family won’t agree, but in this case, they’re wrong.

Last week, one of Rose’s classmates told me that cauliflower is good with salt and vinegar. I can’t say I was convinced, but it did inspire me to put cauliflower on my wunderlist.

I took some liberties with the recipe, halving the cauliflower but using the full amount of other stuff, because who doesn’t like their veggies with extra stuff? I also used a whole hell of a lot more salt than called for. A quarter teaspoon? Pshaw!

In addition to being delicious, this was quick and easy. A make again for sure. 

Lookin’ good at 50

The awesome thing that happened this week was that our good friend Drew turned 50. Being a chef and all, he invited the whole gang out to his family’s amazing home in the countryside for a weekend of eating well and relaxing with friends. Added bonus? Drew did almost all of the cooking.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and wasted no time getting started on margaritas, oysters and the biggest and best batch of guacamole I’ve ever eaten.

The party really started when the young boys got naked and jumped off the furniture, and the young girls took up darts and pool. With the kids occupied, the parents were free to drink more margaritas. And eat more guacamole.

Dinner was fajitas of many kinds. It seemed like Drew was prepared for pretty much any fajita request. Chicken or beef? Yes. Pulled pork? Natch. Vegetarian? But of course. The homemade pickled jalapenos were a big hit too.

Dessert was a massive tray of tiramisu made by Drew, a gorgeous cake of unknown origin, and a whole pasta pot full of molasses chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt (by Shane who missed dessert because he was putting Sid to bed).

There were even more desserts but we didn’t have room, so we ate them in the morning.

Happy Birthday Drew, we thought you looked good already.

 

Risotto two ways

Risotto & AsparagusWhat’s more awesome than risotto with a side of asparagus cooked to perfection by your loving spouse? That same risotto the next day when it’s been mixed with cheese, breaded and deep fried. Crispy, golden patties of deliciousness. That’s what we’ve got for you this week. Hope you like it, we sure did. xoxo
Fried Risotto

• Leftover Risotto Arancini •
Take leftover risotto, mix it with shredded mozzarella, about 1 part cheese to 3 parts risotto. Form into patties about 3/4″ thick by 2″ in diameter. Refrigerate until the patties are somewhat firm, an hour or overnight. Dip each patty in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and set aside. Heat a half inch to an inch of neutral flavored oil (peanut, safflower etc) in a pan and fry the patties on one side until golden, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Drain on paper towels and enjoy.

Other accomplishments

Sometimes the bigger accomplishment is not the meal you planned for and executed so well, but the dinner you somehow pulled off when at 6:30 you realize neither of the adults has thought about dinner and there’s seemingly nothing in the fridge.

That was Wednesday this week. I had my head in the fridge and was on the verge of giving up and starting the long and painful conversation that is ordering takeout, when I realized we had everything for Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Anchovies & Garlic. Plus salad, and grape juice in a mason jar for the hipness factor.

30 minutes later, dinner was on the table. Killed it!

 

 

 

Simple meal, major feat

Ravioli & avocado saladOn Tuesday I made cheese ravioli with the simplest of sauce and an avocado & tomato salad. Easy as it was, this was by far the biggest dinner achievement of the week because the kitchen floor looked like this:kitchen floorIt was a what’s-in-the-fridge kind of meal, cheese ravioli is a freezer staple for us. The sauce was just the juice from a can of plum tomatoes simmered with half a stick of butter. That’s right.

The ravioli and, um, butter, paired surprisingly well with a salad of diced avocado, halved grape tomatoes and finely chopped arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.

Another ad-hoc success this week was tortilla soup. You can read all about it here, or just look at the picture below. Wishing you a less-snowy week ahead, unless you like that kind of thing. xoxotortilla soup

Dinner disruptors

 

DinnerDisruptorsWhat I learned this week is that if you want to have a food blog, you should really try to get good shots of the food.

This poses a challenge when there’s all kinds of craziness going on at dinnertime, and your tiny, dark, basement apartment has horrible lighting and only fits a small table. Usually, I manage to shove the juice boxes, homework and washable markers aside and get a salvageable shot of something we ate, but not this week.

So I leave you with this slice-of-life shot. And the assurance that the Chicken Piccata was very well received (and quick!) and the Fennel Baked in Cream was as over-the-top decadent and delicious as ever.