Archive for June, 2012

(See Part 1 for the early part of the week, from Korean kalbi to Greek salad)

 Thursday: Vietnamese bun ca nuong, i.e. grilled fish over noodles and herb salad.

This meal was courtesy of Next Doors. Mrs. Next Doors has a post about it, complete with photos, here. Do hop over and take a gander. She provides an easy to follow recipe. (Of course for me the recipe is super easy: go next doors with a tray and return with fabulous meal.) This is such a perfect one-bowl dish: fresh and crunchy and tangy and grilled and fishy and noodly and minty all at once.

Friday: Spicy Chicken Thighs with a Rhubarb Cucumber Salsa, multi-color quinoa, salad.

I recently found this recipe on Epicurious, and the chicken came out moist, flavorful, and a hit with all ages. The preparation is very easy: five ingredients in a food processor, baste onto chicken thighs (with skin—this is essential) in a baking dish, and roast for 25 minutes. The rhubarb and cucumber salsa takes 10 minutes to make, and is refreshingly crunchy and zingy, a good counter to the aforementioned chicken skin. Accompanying this was a packet of multi-colored quinoa from Trader Joe’s (cooked in chicken broth, not water, and tossed with olive oil, fleur de sel and some sauteed shallots) and a salad.

Saturday: Herb-roasted cod on potatoes, and sauteed asparagus.

Chop up a couple of tablespoons of whatever fresh herbs you can lay your hands on. Oregano, thyme, rosemary, chives, etc. Peel and slice (1/4 inch thick at most) some red bliss or Yukon gold potatoes. Toss the potatoes in half the herb mixture, along with some kosher salt and olive oil. Roast potato slices in a single layer (or slightly overlapping double layer) in an oiled roasting pan at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Place fresh cod fillets on top of potatoes, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining herbs mixed with minced garlic. Roast until fish is cooked through, about 12 minutes. We served this accompanied by asparagus sauteed until crisp-tender with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Sunday: Memorial Day BBQ. Featured guest: North Carolina Pulled Pork. And lots of other things. Oh, and some people, too. We did need some help eating all this.

A couple of years ago we moved and acquired a bit of a yard. This, of course, was certainly not the point of the move, but having a corner of outdoor space has enabled many positive things, including an opportunity for parents to say to whining children “Why don’t you go play outside?” and some fantastic grilled and smoked meals. Within a couple of weeks of our reconfiguring the mud heap that was behind the house into a semblance of a usable yard, a big, green egg landed on the little square landing pad that J had lovingly planned for it. Yes, a Big Green Egg. It sits, mysterious and alluring, amid the greenery, and under J’s unrelenting attention (which includes night-time wakings reminiscent of the baby years) disgorges delectable eats.

Big Green Egg

The day’s full menu:

North Carolina Pulled Pork, with slaw and dip and potato rolls. While the exact recipes for the first three items now reside in J’s head, the inspiration for them came from a combination of Holy Smoke: the Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, along with some lessons run by Lester’s BBQ.

Marinated steak tips.

Hot dogs for the non-believers, otherwise known as children.

Mac n Cheese (also from the Holy Smoke book)

Corn bread (purchased from Blue Ribbon BBQ)

Radishes with anchovy butter (pulled from the “sides” section of Serious Barbecue by Adam Perry Lang)

Chopped salad (inspired by Serious Barbecue, but modified for whatever we had in the fridge at the time)

Mini pecan tarts (brought by a lovely guest)

Brownies (recipe from the back of the Ghiradelli sweetened cocoa powder can, surprisingly moist and pleasingly rich, and helpfully made by Next Doors)

Ice cream from the unbeatable Christina’s

Bread pudding with rum sauce

Watermelon slices

Oof, what a week!

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One of the blogs I follow religiously is Jane Friedman’s. Writer, professor and social media goddess, she posts every day, and invariably addresses a question that I asked myself in the previous 48 hours. It’s uncanny. A couple of days ago, her post addressed a Top Ten list of Blog Traffic Killers. First on the list? Not posting enough. Gulp. Of this, I am guilty. Many of us are. With a lot of pots on the stove at once (including a couple of young children whom I try to steer clear of the stove), I often find my head spinning, and I apologize (to you, to myself) for not carving out more chunks of time to follow up on what I started here.  However, my family and I do eat. No matter what is going on, we manage, in combination with our semi-commune, to pull together some fine meals. A friend recently asked for more food posts, so herewith is a recent week’s menus, with an extra meal courtesy of The Soup Lady.

Monday: Korean kalbi, rice, scallion pancakes, miscellaneous banchan (Korean side dishes), green tea ice cream

A few months ago, J and I got hooked on a 13 episode PBS series on Korean food, called the Kimchi Chronicles. This show must have been such a fun project. What a way to combine travel, food, family, creativity and work. Marja Vongerichten, of Korean heritage, and her French chef husband Jean-Georges traveled throughout Korea tasting and exploring the specialties of different cities and regions, and then reproduced the recipes at home and adapted them to the American kitchen. The result was a mouth-watering show featuring gorgeously filmed Korean landscapes and markets, and of course a cookbook, which we purchased. We are fortunate to live within 15 minutes of the Korean market that sponsored the show, and thus have access to all the ingredients. On Monday, we feasted on the leftovers of the weekend’s experiments: Kalbi (very thinly sliced barbecued short ribs, for which we implemented a short-cut by purchasing a pre-made Chungjungwon brand kalbi marinade) and seafood and scallion pancakes. The Soup Lady threw some jasmine rice in the rice cooker and whipped up some parboiled spinach with sesame oil, garlic and red peppers, we put out some purchased banchan (cucumber kimchi, blanched bean sprouts with sesame oil, seaweed salad) and yum! Added bonus: The children devoured the meat (although Little One also stole all the shrimp from my pancakes).

(Note: I know, this all deserves some photos. Next time.)

Tuesday: Fusilli, sweet Italian pork sausage and broccoli rabe, with a salad

Work day, school day. This is a good meal that can be pulled together quickly, with only slight modifications for children who have issues with everything mixed up in one dish. (The rule I am trying to enforce is that modifications are acceptable for children if they use the same ingredients as the grown-up meal, and don’t involve more work. Exceptions are made under certain circumstances, although I’m trying to reduce their occurrence. Little One turned two this week, which is the point at which I’d told myself I would stop altering things specifically for her. Let’s see how well I stick to that.) The pasta works for everyone. While it is cooking, remove the casings from some sweet Italian sausages (about one per person) and saute the crumbled sausage meat. In another pan, sauté a bunch of chopped broccoli rabe in olive oil with some minced garlic and hot pepper flakes. When it is crisp-tender, combine with the sausage, and toss the whole lot into the drained pasta. Serve with some grated pecorino romano for sprinkling, and a salad. (The kids got the pasta, the crumbled sausage, and some steamed broccoli.)

Wednesday: garlicky shrimp, baguette, Greek salad

Summery weather has arrived, and as soon as this happens, I find myself craving a good Greek salad. Here’s my favorite combination, which provides a delectable crunchiness, with the perfect combination of the acidity of the lemon juice, the saltiness of the olives, and the tangy smoothness of the sheepsmilk feta:

Cucumber, cubed (I like those little Persian ones, skin on)
Green pepper, cubed
Red onion, sliced (the key is to make the pieces thin and small enough that they do no overpower the mouthful)
Pitted kalamata olives, cut in half (not jarred)
Greek feta (I prefer the kind sold in a bloc in liquid, not the crumbled, dry kind)
Romaine lettuce, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
Simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil and chopped fresh oregano.

Accompanying the salad was a clay potful of shrimp sauteed in a generous amount of olive oil, butter and garlic. (This can also, of course, be done in a regular skillet.) If you have some Vermouth or a bottle of white wine handy, then I recommend adding a few tablespoonfuls into the pan once you remove the shrimp, and letting the winey, garlicky, buttery goodness simmer an additional minute before pouring it back onto the shrimp.

And essential to this meal is a good, crusty bread for dipping. Serve with a chilled Vouvray or Sauvignon Blanc.

Stay tuned for Part 2, from Vietnamese bun ca nuong to North Carolina pulled pork.

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