Monday, June 30, 2008

Skillet yummies

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled Italian sausages
  • okra & corn with bacon & onions
  • sliced tomatoes
Gah. CSA pickup was on Wednesday, but since then we've been eating out more often than not (which is unusual for us) and I'm starting to FREAK OUT that all these delicious veggies will go bad before I can use them. I have CSA STRESS, y'all.

First let's talk about the sausages, which were pretty much the usual deal. Mild, fresh Italian sausages simmered in water for 10-15 minutes, then browned off on the grill. Super easy.

I've been drooling over the idea of okra with bacon ever since a recent post about it by my fabulous foodie pal Jaye. I had a couple of cobs of already-cooked corn left over from a recent dinner (Friday night fajitas) and corn usually plays nicely with okra so I decided to kill two birds, as it were. All I did was chop up a few slices of good bacon (Pederson's apple-smoked, in this case) along with about 1/4 of a sweet yellow onion. Then I sliced up a bunch of fresh okra from the CSA and sliced my already-cooked corn off the cob. I tossed the bacon into a skillet and once it had gone about half-crisp, I added the onions. Stir, stir, stir until the onions start to go translucent, then add the okra. Stir, stir, stir until the okra gets tender, then add in the corn and just toss around a bit to warm it through (and let it pick up a bit of color, if you like). Then just season with salt and pepper and Bob's your uncle!

EVERYONE loved this. The boy scarfed his down, and the girl actually TRIED it and thought it was pretty darn good. Holy crap, y'all, my kids ate okra!

Tomatoes were from the CSA. I have GOT to use these up; they are almost over-ripe after a few days on the windowsill.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An old favorite

Tonight's Menu

  • shrimp & spaghetti squash with Moroccan spices
  • green salad "bar"
The boy child was very excited to see that we got a nice, big spaghetti squash in our CSA box this week and he immediately asked if I would make it his favorite way. Um, what? My 12 year old has a favorite spaghetti squash recipe? WHO KNEW?

With a bit of discussion I figured out that he was talking about this recipe from Epicurious, which I'd made several times in the past and had completely forgotten about. One of my favorite meals way-back-when was to make this recipe as directed except that I would prepare the spiced butter in a heavy skillet instead of a saucepan. Then, after dumping the butter mixture onto the squash, I'd use that same skillet to saute some tilapia fillets. This time I did it with peeled, de-veined shrimp and it was every bit as delicious! Guess I'll have to put this recipe back into rotation!

The salad was the same as usual. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Tonight's Menu

  • farfalle with roasted tomatoes
  • peasant bread
  • green salad "bar"
We eat pasta at least once a week around here but I don't usually post about it because, well, it's boring. But tonight's pasta was anything but!

It was CSA pickup day again and we got loads of tomatoes. Up to now some of the tomatoes in the CSA boxes have been not quite ripe, which allowed us to put them on the windowsills and then forget about them for a few days while they ripened up. However, all of today's tomatoes were perfectly ripe, which means I need to use them FAST since I'm not into canning or preserving or any of that stuff (might have to GET into it though, if this keeps up).

Sooo, all I did was follow this recipe for roasting them with garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar, then I served the resulting delicious melange over farfalle (aka bow-tie pasta). It was SO yummy, y'all. This time I refrained from tarting it up with any eggplant or zucchini (though we got bunches of both in today's box).

The bread was from the book. I SWEAR I will post a review of this soon. A few people have emailed me with questions and I will try to get those answers out this week, I promise!

The salad was the exact same one we've been eating for the past week, but with fresh ingredients. I'm getting a little bored with salad, frankly, but the kids are always happy to eat it so it's a painless way to get veggies into them. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garlicky pork

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled garlicky pork tenderloin
  • grilled zucchini
  • green salad "bar"
Okay, this was really easy.

For the pork, I got out my giant mortar and pestle and bashed up three garlic cloves, a couple of teaspoons of kosher salt (might have been closer to a tablespoon; I wasn't measuring), a tiny bunch of fresh oregano from the herb garden, the juice of one lemon, and a couple of tablespoons of EVOO (equal to the amount of lemon juice, more or less) until it formed a slurry. Then I stuck a pork tenderloin in a plastic zipper bag, poured the garlic slurry on top, smooshed it around to coat the pork, and stuck it in the fridge for about 5 hours. Then I grilled it over medium-high heat for a total of 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so to get all the sides in contact with the grill. Tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes or so, cut into half-inch slices on the diagonal, and enjoy!

This was the last of the CSA zucchini -- just in time to pick up another box tomorrow! Heh. I will probably be begging you all for zucchini recipes before long. Anyhoo, this was a HUGE zucchini that I sliced lengthwise into quarter-inch slices, brushed both sides with EVOO and seasoned with salt and pepper, then slapped on the grill (while the pork was resting) for a minute or two per side. Delish!

The salad bar ingredients were identical to last night's.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My new go-to meal

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled chicken drumsticks & thighs
  • rosemary-onion focaccia
  • leftover zucchini with bacon & onions
  • green salad "bar"
This is becoming my new go-to meal this summer. Tonight's dinner was basically a repeat of our dinner from June 4 of this year, except that we had the leftover zucchini from Saturday, and tonight's salad bar featured purchased mixed lettuce, sliced carrots from the CSA, sliced cucumbers from the CSA, sliced banana peppers from the CSA, and mixed cherry tomatoes from my dad's garden. Yum!

Make your own damn lunch!

I was so busy this morning that I sort of forgot to eat lunch until about 1:30 or so, at which point I was STARVING. Unfortunately I was feeling totally uninspired by the contents of my fridge and pantry. The only thing that looked like it MIGHT have possibilities was a can of butter beans. I know, right? So here's what I did.

First I peeled three cloves of garlic and stuck them in the food processor, whizzing away with the chopper blade until they were nicely minced. Then I dumped in the can of rinsed, drained butter beans, along with a bunch of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano and a bit of mint from my herb garden), some salt and pepper, the juice of half a lemon, a good glug of EVOO (I dunno, couple of tablespoons, maybe?) and pulsed it a few times just to mix everything together. I wasn't going for a smooth puree, but you could certainly do it that way if you don't want it chunky.

Voila! Bean dip! I scooped it into a bowl, drizzled on just a wee bit more EVOO for good measure, and shoveled great gobs of it into my mouth via some torn-up hunks of whole-grain tortilla. (Pita, ciabatta or focaccia would work great, too!) It was delicious! The leftovers are in the fridge awaiting a midnight snack attack.

The only drawback? Whoa -- MAJOR garlic breath. But I don't care.

(Incidentally, if you're just tuning in today, I've posted several backdated entries below this one. Sorry it took so long to get them up, but if you read them, you'll see why I've sort of had my hands full. Poor little-big boy child!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Tonight's Menu

  • barbecued pork on buns
  • marinated cucumber salad
  • sliced tomatoes
Finally, the boy was feeling good enough to eat "normal" food tonight! So I went whole hog (hee! see what I did there?) and made some barbecued pork sandwiches for dinner.

I have to admit, this pork was sort of an experiment. What I did was take a shoulder roast, rub it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika, and stick it on a rack in a roasting pan. Then I added some water to the bottom of the pan and dropped in two large-ish whole sprigs of rosemary. The idea was to get the rosemary to barely scent/flavor the meat. I covered the pan tightly with heavy-duty foil and stuck it in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 5 hours.

When I pulled it out of the oven I stuck an instant-read thermometer in the roast just to be sure it was fully cooked, which it was, so then I removed it from the pan and set up the grill for indirect heat (two burners on medium, one burner unlit). I put the roast on the unlit burner and started basting it with a Carolina-style barbecue sauce (I buy this already made; it's a mustard-based sauce that goes great with pork).

After maybe 15 minutes total, flipping it from one side to another halfway through, the sauce had kind of baked on to the meat. There still wasn't any browning, though, so I flipped the roast over to one of the lit burners for just a couple of minutes per side to get some nice grill mark action going. Much better, aesthetically speaking! After resting it for a few minutes, I shredded it and served it on buns with thinly sliced sweet onions and more barbecue sauce on the side. Delicious! And not as much trouble as it sounds, honest.

This cucumber salad is one of my favorite things. DH and I first discovered it at a Hungarian restaurant near here and we absolutely fell in love with the way this refreshing, cool salad contrasted with the rather rich main dishes (I admit it, I'm a chicken paprikas addict). A couple of years ago I was poking around in an antique store when I found a little pamphlet of Hungarian recipes. Lo and behold, there was our favorite cucumber salad!

Here's how you make it: take two good-sized cucumbers, wash and peel them, then cut cross-wise into thin slices. Put them in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt, then set aside for one hour. After an hour, start squeezing the cucumber slices in your hand, discarding the liquid. Put the squeezed cucumbers into a non-reactive bowl, then mix together the following:

3 Tbs white vinegar
3 Tbs water
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp minced garlic (I grated it with my microplane)

Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, toss to coat, then sprinkle another 1/4 tsp or so of paprika over top. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. We like to serve it the way they do in the restaurant, with a tiny dollop of sour cream on top.

So yummy, and the crunchy, vinegary cucumbers were a nice foil to the rich barbecued pork!

Oh and P.S.: the cucumbers and tomatoes were from the CSA, natch.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More soft-ish things

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled ham steak
  • cornbread
  • sauteed zucchini with bacon and onion
This was Day Two of Get Some Real Food Into The Boy After His Tooth Extractions. Hmm, I should come up with an acronym for that, maybe. It's a little long as-is. Anyway, tonight I made food that was slightly LESS soft than last night, but still easy on the gums. And still easy, period!

The ham was just a packaged cross-cut ham steak, slapped on the grill over high heat for maybe 4-5 minutes per side (you'll want to adjust that based on the thickness of your steak). Yummy, easy and super fast!

I've given you the cornbread recipe before. It's easy, too. Honest!

And I KNOW I am making zucchini with bacon and onions practically every single night, but tonight it was different because the zucchini was cut into a different shape. Yep. (Picture me nodding earnestly at you here.) Usually I slice it into coins and/or half-moons, but tonight some of it was shredded (leftover from a couple of days ago when I made these cupcakes, which were FABULOUS) and some was cut into batons. TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

Why are you looking at me like that?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Soft things

Tonight's Menu

  • sauteed tilapia fillets
  • buttered egg noodles
  • steamed broccoli
The boy child had four primary molars pulled Wednesday in anticipation of braces, and he's been eating nothing but pudding, applesauce, Jello and the occasional bowl of overcooked pasta ever since, poor kid! I wanted to cook a dinner he could actually EAT that contained a bit of protein and veggie. This worked out great and he was happy to get some real food in his tummy. Who knew a 12 year old could get tired of pudding and ice cream?!

This was also a super easy dinner to make. I just seasoned some tilapia fillets with salt and pepper and sauteed them in a skillet with EVOO -- done! The egg noodles were from a package, just boiled until done and then drained and tossed with some butter. Broccoli was steamed in the microwave. I cooked everything a little longer than usual to yield a softer texture for the boy, but nothing was mushy. Hooray for easy, nutritious, AND soft on the gums!

Monday, June 16, 2008

My favorite summer salad

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled sweet Italian sausages
  • corn on the cob
  • potato-tomato-artichoke salad
The sausages were grilled the same way as always, working around my sausage-grilling handicap: simmered in water for about 15 minutes, then crisped up on the grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. Delicious!

I love grilled corn on the cob but NO ONE ELSE in this family will eat it. I know! So I cook it in the microwave. I remove the leaves and silk, give it a rinse, wrap each ear toffee-style in some wax paper with the edges twisted shut, then nuke them on high power for 10 minutes (for four ears). They come out just fine and all, but BORING.

It's finally time for my favorite summer salad! I've told you about this one before, but here it is again: just take some red-skinned potatoes, cut them into bite-sized chunks, simmer them in water until tender, then let them cool. Once they've cooled, whomp them into a bowl with some fresh mozzarella (you can buy the teeny balls, or get the larger ones and cut them up), some halved cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes cut in wedges/chunks, and a chiffonade of fresh basil (that just means rolling up the leaves and slicing them into thin ribbons). Then take a small jar of marinated artichokes, drain and reserve the marinade, and mix the artichokes in with the potatoes and whatnot. Drizzle on enough of the reserved marinade to moisten everything up nicely, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss to coat, and chill it for about an hour.

This is SO GOOD! This time around, the potatoes and some of the tomatoes were from the CSA box, the other tomatoes were from my dad's garden, and the basil was from my own herb garden. And if I haven't yet tempted you to make this salad, here's a photo of tonight's version to tempt you further!

Yeah, you know you want it.

More cooking from the CSA box: slow-roasted veggies? Oven-poached veggies? Veggie confit?

Yeah, I am not sure what to call this one, y'all. Here's what I did; maybe YOU can figure it out!

I wanted to slow-roast some of the CSA tomatoes in a bunch of olive oil based on this recipe by my lovely pal Kim. So I cut a bunch of tomatoes into wedges and tossed them in a baking pan along with some unpeeled garlic cloves, and then I thought, "Hey! I bet those little ichiban eggplants from the CSA would work a treat in here, too!" So I tossed those in as well (some of them were whole because they were just finger-sized, and others were cut into chunks).

I could have left it there but you all know me; I can never leave well enough alone. So I chopped up a medium-sized zucchini and popped that in the pan as well. Then I tore in some fresh basil (from the CSA), drizzled over quite a lot of extra-virgin olive oil (REALLY a lot -- I didn't cover the veggies entirely or anything but I definitely covered the bottom of the pan), shook on a few glugs of balsamic vinegar, sprinkled the lot with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and popped it into the oven, uncovered, at 300 degrees F. The total cooking time was about 90 minutes, and I gave it a stir every half-hour or so.

Oh DUDES. This is one of the most delicious things I've ever made, I'm not kidding. After it came out of the oven I took a spoon and squished the garlic cloves so the smooshy garlic goodness squooshed out of the paper (which I threw away). I let it cool a bit and then spooned some into a bowl, scooping up great gobs of it with thick slices of peasant bread (from that bread book I can't stop talking about). HEAVEN, people. Absolute heaven.

This is going to be my lunch every single day until I've eaten it all. And possibly my breakfast, as well. It's THAT good.

But I still don't know what to call it!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day dinner

Tonight's Menu

  • seafood-sausage gumbo
  • rice
Yes! It was gumbo for Father's Day over here. I made it pretty much the same way as last time, including chickening out on the roux before it was really dark enough. Oh well. It was still very tasty, and the onions, garlic, okra (fresh this time -- add it with the other veggies at the beginning) and green peppers were from the CSA. And the bay leaves were from my little bay tree! Can't get much more local than your own back patio, eh?

The rice was just plain white long-grain, cooked on my microwave's "smart" setting. You put it in the bowl and pour the gumbo over top. Yum!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A peek inside the CSA box

Now that our CSA shares are featuring oodles of veggies and not so many greens, I'm starting to go a little nuts, but in a GOOD way. Opening the box every week (well, every two weeks in our case) is like opening a big surprise package, and I find myself oohing and aahing over each item and fantasizing about what I'll make with it!

Yes, it's true. I'm a food nerd.

Here's a little peek inside this week's box, and the fantasy recipes I've been concocting:

Early Girl Tomatoes - oodles of 'em! We usually just eat these sliced on sandwiches or wedged in salads, but I have a secret desire to roast them a la my fabulous foodie pal, Kim. Maybe I'll set a few aside for salads/sandwiches and roast the rest!

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes - I KNOW what I'm doing with these -- they are going in a big bowl with the red cherry, red pear, yellow pear, chocolate cherry and snow white cherry tomatoes that I've picked this week from my garden and my dad's. Then I'll shred in some basil (see below), maybe sprinkle on some very thinly sliced red onions (ditto) and dress them very simply with some good EVOO and balsamic vinegar. Voila, tomato salad!

Onions - several little bulbs of white, red and yellow onions. We've been loving the red ones on focaccia lately and they're great in salads and sandwiches as well. The yellow and white ones I'll use in everything. I go through a LOT of onions when I cook, y'all!

Sweet Basil - we got big hunks of this in our box and I am SO EXCITED, because my own basil is doing horribly this year. We'll eat this in EVERYTHING -- salads, casseroles, in sandwiches in place of lettuce, you name it!

Zucchini - two HUGE ones and two medium-sized ones. I'm using some to make these chocolate cupcakes (can't WAIT to try them!) and will probably grill the rest or fry them up in a skillet with bacon and onions.

Pattypan Squash - OMG, we got two of these and they are as big as pumpkins! I really like the pattypan squash casserole I made last night, but I'm wondering how these would be if I peeled them, chunked them up, then stuck them in the oven with some orange juice & zest, honey and cinnamon? I know that works with acorn and butternut squash, but what about pattypan? I don't know. It sounds good, but it could be gross.

Okra - quite a few pods of this! I love okra just breaded and fried, but I'll bet money DH wants me to make gumbo with it. And I just might! He's been really hungry for it lately and I haven't made it in forever. Ooo -- possible Father's Day dinner idea? Here's hoping he doesn't read this beforehand and ruin the surprise!

Cucumbers - two skinny ones and two big fat ones. The skinny ones will go into our almost-nightly salads, but I'm going to make a marinated cucumber salad with the big fat ones. It's a dish DH and I love from a local Hungarian/Romanian restaurant and I finally found a recipe for it in an old Hungarian cooking pamphlet at the antique store. I'll share the recipe when I make it!

Peppers - both sweet banana peppers, which I love sliced in salads, and green bell peppers, which I'll throw into side dishes or grill with fajitas.

Red Potatoes - we use a lot of these! I can make my chuffed potatoes with them, or my favorite summer salad (which also features tomatoes and basil), or potato-onion packets on the grill. Yum!

Ichiban Eggplant - we received several of these teensy, adorable eggplants and this is where I started getting a little weird. I want to roast some garlic and mix it, along with some shredded basil, into some ricotta cheese (obviously it would be seasoned with salt and pepper and whatnot as well). Then I want to grill the eggplant the way I do zucchini and wrap the grilled strips around spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture. And then just pork them down like chips. Is that nuts? Would it work? I'm going to have to try it!

We also got some lovely zinnias, but I have no plans to eat them. Hee!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Tonight's Menu

  • grilled garlicky flank steak
  • rosemary-onion focaccia
  • squash and sausage casserole
  • steamed broccoli
DH arrived home tonight from several days out of town attending to family business, so I went to a bit more trouble than usual for dinner. We are so glad to have him home!

This flank steak is one of our favorites. It's the one I talked about all last summer -- so flavorful WITHOUT a marinade! All you do is mash up a few garlic cloves, some kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, the juice of one lemon and some EVOO. I use my mortar and pestle but you do whatever, as long as the garlic gets mashed up and the whole thing becomes a sort of slurry. Then make diamond cuts on your flank steak (cutting diagonally across the grain) on both sides and rub the slurry into all the cuts and crevices. Then pop it on the grill for 4-5 minutes per side over a fairly high heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so, then cut into thin slices across the grain. This is SO yummy and it only takes minutes! As long as the steak isn't frozen, you don't even have to plan ahead with this one!

I made the focaccia the same way as last time, but I used the European Peasant Bread dough that was in the fridge (instead of the "master" recipe dough that I used last time). I know I owe you all a full review of this new bread book and it's coming, I promise! I just want to try a few more base recipes first (we've only done two so far). Everyone LOVES this focaccia, and it's such a nice change from plain old bread (or potatoes, or pasta).

The casserole was kind of an experiment, but I think it turned out really tasty! We had some pattypan squash from the CSA box that I really wanted to use up. So what I did was take about a third of a one-pound chub of bulk breakfast sausage (I used Pederson's because it's local and yummy, but feel free to use whatever you like) and brown it off in a skillet with some chopped onions (red ones, from the CSA). I set that mixture aside while I pulsed a couple of slices of bread, some fresh parsley, sage and thyme, and some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in the food processor until it turned into fragrant, fluffy crumbs. Then I cut two really big pattypan squash into chunks and tossed them in a 9" x 13" pan with the sausage mixture and the bread crumbs. I drizzled on some EVOO, stirred it through, then stuck it all in the oven at 450 degrees F, uncovered, for I think about 30 minutes (I wasn't really keeping track -- just keep an eye on it and stick a fork into the squash now and then to see if it's tender). It came out really yummy, moist and flavorful. Great way to use up some squash!

The broccoli was just steamed in the microwave. So easy!

I'm totally eating the rest of that squash casserole for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, June 09, 2008

More bread!

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled boneless pork chops
  • European-style peasant bread
  • grilled zucchini
Easy dinner tonight, y'all.

The chops were just sprinkled on both sides with Jane's Krazy Salt and garlic pepper, then grilled for about 4-5 minutes per side. Easy!

The bread was another recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (that's NOT an affiliate link, by the way -- just trying to make it easy to find stuff). This one has a mix of flours -- rye, whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose -- for a slightly more rustic taste and appearance, and I actually prefer it to the master recipe (which only has unbleached all-purpose flour). Will probably try focaccia with it sometime soon, since my family has turned out to be a bunch of focaccia freaks -- who knew?!

Grilling is my new favorite way to cook zucchini. It's a good thing I love it so much, because our CSA shares have been overflowing with zukes! All I do is cut the ends off a large-ish zucchini (you could do it with a small one, too, but the ones we're getting lately aren't small!) and then slice it LENGTHWISE, end to end. I do the slices anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Brush them on both sides with EVOO (last night I smashed up a garlic clove in the oil for a little added flavor), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill them for just a minute or two per side. They're SUPER fast to make -- if you're grilling meat, just slice up the zucchini while the meat is grilling and then slap the zukes on the grill right after you take the meat off. That gives the meat a chance to rest while you're grilling the zucchini, and everything's ready to eat at the same time.

The leftover grilled zucchini, assuming you have any, is even good cold in salads or sandwiches. Or stick it in some lasagna or on a pizza! Mix it into some pasta, rice or quinoa! You could make a meal off these things, I swear! And you vegetarians say I NEVER HAVE ANYTHING FOR YOU. Go grill some zucchini, fer cryin' out loud!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Grilled chicken

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled chicken drumsticks & thighs
  • rosemary-onion focaccia
  • summer squash with bacon & onion
  • green salad "bar"
This is how I make my grilled chicken. I'm not saying this is how YOU should do it, but this is what works for me with my grill setup. All I do is take some bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumsticks, give them a rinse, dry them with paper towels and then sprinkle them with Jane's Krazy Salt and garlic pepper. Then I set up my three-burner gas grill for slightly indirect grilling, turning two burners up to medium-high and leaving the other one off. I put the chicken skin-side-down over the two lit burners for about five minutes or until the skins have picked up some color (sometimes the color they pick up is BLACK, but that's okay). Then I turn them over and move them to the unlit burner, leaving them to cook for about 30 minutes or until done. I have to babysit them quite a bit because I'm still getting used to this new grill, but so far I've managed not to dry them out or undercook them with this method. Feel free to use an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure they're done (around 170 degrees F or so).

I am so excited about this focaccia, because it came from a recent cookbook purchase, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I can't reproduce the recipe here because of copyright issues, but they also have a blog that, if you scroll down far enough, lists the master recipe (for boule bread). That's the dough I used, for those who have the book. I just whomped off a canteloupe-sized hunk of dough as instructed, stretched it into a focaccia shape on a silpat-covered baking sheet, layered on some red onions (from the CSA) sliced paper-thin along with some snipped fresh rosemary (from my herb garden), kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of EVOO. Then I baked it at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until it turned golden. (In the book, you bake most of the breads over a broiler pan into which you pour some hot tap water, so the bread steams. I TOTALLY forgot that step until the bread had been in the oven for a full 20 minutes. It still came out great, just took a little longer to cook!)

Everyone LOVED this focaccia! So far we give this particular bread cookbook a HUGE thumbs up. I made a loaf of plain boule from it the other day and that was awesome, too. I plan to post a full review of this book pretty soon, so check back for that!

ANYWAY, again with the squash, bacon and onions, I KNOW! I can't help it. I love it like that. This time I made it with crookneck bi-color summer squash from the CSA, a red onion that was NOT from the CSA but from a local farmstand (and did not include the green tops, more's the pity) and some random applewood-smoked bacon I had in the freezer. And I didn't bother with any herbs, just salt and pepper. YUM!

Tonight's salad bar was just there for the people who don't like squash (read: everyone but me) and included purchased mixed lettuce, sliced cukes from the CSA, and chopped baby carrots. BORING. But whatever.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pilaf for everyone!

Tonight's Menu

  • spicy grilled pork tenderloin
  • quinoa pilaf
  • green salad "bar"
Remember when I made grilled tenderloin the other night? Well, I actually made two and froze one, so that's what we had tonight (reheated very gently in the microwave).

The quinoa pilaf was an attempt to use up some CSA goodies. First I cooked the quinoa the same way I always do (one cup quinoa to two cups water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes).

Then I diced up a small zucchini and a small red onion (including the green tops), and minced a couple of cloves of garlic -- all from the CSA. I sauteed this lot in a fairly generous amount of EVOO until everything was tender, tossing in some kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and snipped herbs (parsley and basil from my garden) at the very end. Then I just dumped about half the cooked quinoa in with the veggie mixture (the girl likes her quinoa plain, so I set some aside for her) and voila! Pilaf!

The boy child decided to try some of the pilaf because it smelled so good. He cautiously took a bite and said, "Hey, this is pretty good!" Then he took another bite. "Actually, this is REALLY good!" He basically inhaled two generous helpings. What can I say? The boy does me proud!

(Those of you familiar with how this whole Make Your Own Damn Dinner thing got started may recall that my kids are never required to eat what I cook, but they ARE required to eat a protein and a veggie or fruit at dinner. Since quinoa is a complete protein all on its own and the pilaf had all those yummy veggies in it, the boy was THRILLED to learn that his requirements were fulfilled in that single dish!)

The salad bar tonight was just purchased mixed lettuce, chopped baby carrots, sliced banana peppers (from the CSA), sliced cucumbers (ditto), and a few little pear tomatoes from my garden.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ribs on the grill

Tonight's Menu

  • sweet & spicy grilled pork spareribs
  • grilled potato-onion packets
  • coleslaw
I've never figured out how to make ribs 100% on the grill without drying them out or undercooking them. So while these ribs were FINISHED on the grill, they were STARTED in the oven.

What I did was mix up some brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, sea salt and my secret ingredient -- garam masala. This is a blend of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander and other spices that's used frequently in Indian food, and it gives a nice, sweet-spicy kick to dry rubs and marinades. I rubbed this spice mixture on both sides of a rack of pork spareribs, then put them in a rack in a roasting pan. After adding a bit of water to the bottom of the pan, I covered it tightly with foil and stuck it in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 1.5 to 2 hours.

Then I mixed up a wet sauce -- ketchup, honey, cayenne, sea salt and more garam masala, along with the juice and grated zest of half an orange. I put the meat on the grill over LOW heat for about 10 minutes per side, basting liberally with this mixture. The ribs came out sticky, tender and delicious! And fortunately, they didn't dry out on the grill. I think they would have over a higher heat, though.

The potato packet was my usual -- red potatoes sliced thin, along with a thinly sliced sweet yellow onion, then alternating layers on a sheet of heavy foil with some kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and blobs of butter. Fold it all into a packet, folding the ends in, and place it on the upper rack of your grill (if you have one, otherwise put it over an unlit burner or a pan of water) for about 30 minutes. They come out SO sweet and yummy! This time the potato (one GIANT one) was from our CSA share.

The coleslaw was made with savoy cabbage this time around, just for something different. I still made the dressing from mayo, vinegar and sugar with a bit of celery seed.

It is almost too hot to grill here already, y'all! I can't stand to sit out there and babysit the meat anymore. The back of our house, where the grill is, faces north and gets NO shade in the evenings this time of year. Oh no! What am I going to do?! It's to hot to use the oven much, either. I forsee a lot of salads in our future!