Vietnamese!

Something has inspired us to break out of our usual surf, turf, pasta & salad Cape dinner routine. What could it be? Perhaps the miserable weather. We’re compensating for the lack of sun with food.

Last night, Jenya was babyless for the evening. Naturally, she chose to occupy her free time by preparing a Vietnamese dinner for twelve. To put it in Jenya’s words “This meal is super-easy, except for the prep.” There really is a whole lot of chopping and julienning involved, but it was totally worth the effort. And it helps to have so many hands in the kitchen.

Drew made miso soup to have alongside Jenya’s dish. The whole meal was so yummy and refreshing, I can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch today.

• Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Shrimp •
serves 4

For the sauce:
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

For assembly:
(vegetable quantities are approximate, use as little or as much as you want)
16 large shrimp
sesame oil
sriracha sauce
4 carrots, julienned
1 regular or 4 mini cucumbers, julienned
2 cups sugar snap peas, julienned
a big handful of fresh mint, chopped
a big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons salted peanuts, chopped
1 (8oz) package Mai Fun noodles
4 lime slices for garnishing

Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients, set aside.

Prep all of your vegetables and herbs and set aside. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Toss shrimp with sesame oil and sriracha, to taste, and cook them by your preferred method, broiling or grilling both work well. Set cooked shrimp aside.

Cook Mai Fun noodles in boiling water (per package instructions) and drain. Divide evenly between 4 bowls and top with sauce. Divide vegetables and herbs between bowls and top with chopped peanuts, shrimp and a lime slice. Enjoy!

 

Mexican!

When my mom told my sister we were having Mexican tonight she said “But it’s not my birthday.” My sister makes a good point, we usually only have Mexican on her birthday, which is near Labor Day. This is totally silly of us because we all love it so very much.

On the menu was Drew’s* grilled steak, salmon and shrimp. A variety of tortillas (corn is my personal fave). Ronni’s guacamole, and Wayne’s salsa made with 4 kinds of peppers. (Both were so delicious you could eat them on their own.) My mom made coleslaw using Chinese cabbage, mayo, lime juice & cilantro — yum! I made beans, the version I usually make when we have Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadillas. The recipe is below.

On the drink front, Jenya made frozen margaritas (oh to be not-pregnant in summer). And the table was strewn with bottles of Dos Equis.

For dessert the kids (a slew of them including Drew & Cathy’s girls), made the tiniest little animal-shaped crepes filled with chocolate sauce. They were utterly precious.

Dinner was followed by the coloring of my mom’s hair with various shades of blue hair chalk, and a brief but impressive fireworks display.

*Learn more about who all these people are on the Family page.

• Favorite Black Beans •
vegetable oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned well and finely chopped OR 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin (more if desired)
salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup water (more if needed)
salt to taste

Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, leek or onion, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans and mash them with a large fork or potato masher. Add water and cook, stirring until most of water is absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes. You can add more water if the beans seem too dry. Remove from heat and serve, or keep covered, over very low heat, stirring occasionally until ready to serve.

Car sandwiches

We got sandwiches from Italian Farms for the ride to Cape Cod tonight*. The decision to skip Frank Pepe’s was not easily made, but it seemed like we were leaving late and we assumed there would be tons of traffic.

To placate Shane, who thinks a sandwich is a terribly inadequate dinner, I got him the Godfather hero. The Godfather is made with 6 different types of Italian deli meat. I had them add some provolone as well. It seemed to do the trick.

*I did take photos but they are terrible.

Pasta & salad

Pasta&Salad_IMG_8006Dinner planning started with a CSA box and the vague notion of making one of the two salad dressings I’d pinned from Saveur’s article on favorite American salad dressings. I knew that both involved sour cream and mayonnaise, and made a point to have those on hand.

Upon arriving home from CSA pickup at 7pm, I realized I was missing several ingredients for both the Green Goddess and the Ranch dressings, I’d bookmarked. I did however, have a head of Boston lettuce and some lovely carrots, and so I came up with the dressing below, loosely based on Green Goddess.

Rose and I both found the dressing delicious. Shane’s taste buds are all weird due, presumably, to copious quantities of pain medication. We chose to disregard his neutral review.

The pasta was supposed to be Penne alla Vodka, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for that either. Instead we had a creamy, cheesy, tomatoey dish that I will never be able to recreate.

• Decadent Pale Green Dressing •
adapted from Saveur’s Green Goddess dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2-4 anchovy fillets (depending on how you feel about anchovies – we liked it with 4)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup fresh, flat leaf parsley leaves

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized, deep bowl or a food processor. Blend (with hand blender if not using food processor) until smooth. Serve over Boston lettuce with shredded carrots and cannellini beans.

Keeping cool

Cool_IMG_8004Dinner without cooking was my goal on this first too-hot-to-use-the-stove night of 2013.

We had shrimp salad with capers and lemon, white bean spread & bread, charcuterie, and a cucumber salad. Hardly one to write home about, but at least we didn’t have to feel any hotter than we already were.

Happy summer!

Friends in meaty places

MeatyPlaces_IMG_7996Shane received another meat-based recovery food gift today. A selection of salamis from Olympic Provisions, sent by dear friends in San Francisco. It’s good to have friends in meaty places.

With our salami selection, we had prosciutto, ciabatta, and two salads. I made the yummy Beets & Beet Greens with Gorgonzola (below), that I’d been looking forward to since we received beets in our CSA box last Thursday. It’s a great way to use up the whole beet bushel.

We also had an on-the-fly white bean salad. Cannellini beans, the leftover olive and tomato salsa that my sister made, a lot of slivered lemon peel, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. It was darn good.

On the medical front, Shane reduced his pain meds today, which means he’s feeling ever so slightly less pained. He’s still quite disabled, but I think things are starting look up for him.

• Beet & Beet Green Salad with Gorgonzola •
1 bunch beets & their greens
1 red or sweet onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola (or however much you like)

Heat oven to 350. Wash and trim the beet roots, wrap each beet in tin foil with a dribble of olive oil and salt, roast until soft when poked with a knife (time will depend on size of beets). When the beets are cooked, remove them from the oven to cool. Once cool, peel the beets and chop them into cubes, approximately 1″ square, set aside. Chop the onion and saute in 2 tablespoons olive oil, over low to medium heat until soft and translucent. Wash & remove the stems from the beet greens and chop into 1 or 2″ strips. Add greens to the onions and cook until greens are nicely wilted. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Add beet root to beet greens and onions. Stir to combine and serve topped with gorgonzola cheese.

The kindness of neighbors

Meatloaf_IMG_7993Shortly before my parents left today a friend came over to collect Rose. She returned her a couple of hours later with not one, but two meatloaves. One beef and one chicken. They were all prepped and ready to be cooked at our convenience. How totally rad is that?

We had the beef tonight. Rose exclaimed “I love meatloaf! Raise your hand if you love meatloaf!” and Shane was about as enthusiastic as someone on a whole bunch of pain meds can be.

With it we had mashed potatoes, which seemed like the quintessential potato side for meatloaf. And kohlrabi slaw with lime, cilantro and corn (CSA, baby).

Meatloaf_IMG_7991

Ravioli & family

Ravioli_IMG_7989My family kept us afloat again today. All day.

We ate dinner while Shane slept, or tried to. Two kinds of ravioli. Eggplant with sage butter and spinach & cheese with arugula pesto.

My mom made a green salad and escarole, which she cooks for a long time. It’s always amazing and I can’t seem to recreate it. My sister made a tomato and olive salsa which was great with the ravioli.

Yay for family.

Surgery night

TJ_Sushi_IMG_7943It seemed like a good idea to get takeout while we waited for the surgeon to call and tell us that Shane was out and ready to go home. We ordered Sushi from TJ Asian Bistro, which quickly became our new favorite. Many thanks to our neighbors for recommending it to us.

Donuts_IMG_7960My sister brought a big box of donuts from the Donut Pub in Chelsea. It’s Shane’s favorite donut shop.

WelcomeBack_IMG_7979Rose stayed up until after midnight waiting for us to bring Shane home. He was a mess, but the surgery went well and we hope he’ll be better soon. My family has been unbelievably helpful, we could not have handled this without them.