family

Father’s Day

“All I want for Father’s Day, Nina, is steak and eggs for breakfast.” said my husband (and father of my children). So that’s what we had, plus cheese biscuits.

The eggs were from Drew & Cathy’s own, happy, western Mass, free-range, table-scrap & weed-fed chickens. They were particularly beautiful and extremely delicious.

Cheese biscuits are really my sister’s gig, but she wasn’t here so I took a stab at them. They came out good. The recipe is below. Here’s to all the good dads out there. Or as my mom likes to call them: the motherf#*kers.

Cheese Biscuits •
Adapted from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads
Makes 20-24

4 cups flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar
2 cups whole milk at room temperature

Heat oven to 450. Line two baking trays with foil and grease them. 

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. Stir in grated cheese. Add milk and mix until just combined.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten into an approx. 8″ x 8″ square, fold square in half and flatten again. Do this two more times lightly dusting work surface as needed to keep dough from sticking. 

Flatten dough to 1/2″ thick and cut buiscuits with a glass. Gather remaining dough, flatten again and cut until there’s no more dough. 

Place biscuits about an inch apart on prepared baking trays and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with butter.

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.

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!

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.

 

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.

Roast chicken with garbanzo beans, tomatoes & paprika

This week’s dinner-winner was Roast Chicken Breast with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes & Paprika. This is one of those bung-it-all-in-one-pan dishes. While it bakes you throw together some sides (broccoli & rice are quick and work well).

Here’s why we loved it:
1. It’s a new (to us) recipe.
2. It works four ways.
3. It takes only 30-ish minutes start to finish.
4. Smoked paprika!

And here’s how it works four ways:
1. If you’re a not-too-picky vegetarian, ignore the chicken and eat the beans and tomatoes with the smoked paprika yogurt sauce over rice with a side of broccoli.
2. If you’re Shane, eat everything.
3. If you’re a not-too-picky 9 year old, opt for chicken with just a hint of tomatoes & beans, broccoli and rice.
4. If you’re a picky vegetarian preschooler, please your parents by eating at least one bite each of broccoli & rice.

• Roast Chicken Breast with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes & Paprika •
from epicurious – serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
4 chicken breast halves with bones
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Place in oven and make your sides.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

 

 

 

Brie quesadillas

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This week we accidentally stumbled upon brie quesadillas (top left) when we ran out of cheddar. Shane and I devoured them and wondered why brie quesadillas are not a thing. The kids were happy with cheddar, and for once we didn’t suggest they try something new because that would have meant fewer for us.

If you take one thing away from this week’s post, it’s brie quesadillas. They add a little pizzaz to a quick last minute meal (that may or may not have been given any forethought). Go ahead and make some while you still can—before a certain someone bans brie and tortillas for being un-American.

In other dinner news (clockwise from top right) 1. Linguine with Arugula, Pecorino and Pepper is something that kids are often uncharacteristically willing to eat despite all the green. 2. More brie for me on the night I fed them chicken. 3. Arugula salad with chili-lime roasted sweet potatoes, balsamic dressing and feta. And not to be left out, probably our all-time favorite dinner: Shane’s pizza (below).

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This week’s takeaways

Jan 1-7 takeawayI’ve realized that posting nightly is just not doable at this stage in my life, family and work-wise. So this month, we’re testing a weekly takeaway-style format.

Without further ado, this week we learned that (clockwise from top left):
1. Navy Bean & Escarole Soup with Olives and Feta is excellent – even if you don’t have olives or escarole, and can only manage beans from a can.
2. This guy isn’t as mean as he looks, but he still makes the meanest pizza pie around, even while recovering from pneumonia.
3. When all else fails, feed the toddler ramen noodles – it’s got more nutrition than air…
4. Make extra pizza. Shane’s pie is one of the few leftovers my family (me excluded) is willing to take for lunch and/or re-heat for dinner.

New Year’s Eve

For one reason and another, it’s been a good long while since we had a proper New Year’s Eve celebration with lots of friends and family.

We almost didn’t make it to this one. It’s been a not-so-awesome week off with illness, daylight deprivation, and some disappointing news on the new home construction front. I just barely persuaded Shane—who has bronchitis at the least, and more likely pneumonia—to make a brief appearance with some of his Gratin Dauphinois.

Shane’s poor health excepted, it was a perfect evening. Warm, cozy and relaxed, with favorite people and excellent food… and only one significant temper tantrum from Sid.

On the menu: prime rib roast from Adams FarmGratin Dauphinois (aka potato gratin), roasted carrots and beets from an organic farm in western Mass, Jenya’s mom Carole’s popovers, my grandma Lillian’s Company Carrots, delicious green salad, and New Year’s Eve Cake (aka Baked Alaska) for dessert.

Highlights included Chris’ idea to fill his popover with potato gratin (an idea akin in it’s brilliance to the cake ‘n cone). The baked Alaska wasn’t as good as usual, maybe due to hectic circumstances at home, or maybe because we forgot the penguins, but if you follow this recipe, it usually works every time.

I can’t imagine a nicer way to end 2016 and since I’m a post-apocalyptic fiction junkie, I’m completely prepared for 2017.

Happy New Year!