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!
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.
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.
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.
MEATBALL SUBS WITH FRIED ONIONS; SALAD; ICE CREAM
Saturday was one of those “I’m glued to the steering wheel” days, so I threw the Fannie 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
one large onion
six cloves of garlic
two small cans of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup wine
eight cups of beef broth
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.