Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Nope. More powerful than a locomotive? Sometimes. Proficient at getting a healthy, fast dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time? Now you’re talking! How about you? What’s your superpower?
Here’s my latest Moms@Work post.
My middle son and I have continued our monthly new recipe explorations, despite my not being more consistent about sharing our exploits with you all. Last month we stepped away from Bon Appetit because everything was so damn holiday-centric and attempted Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, a recipe we found in Cucina Italiana. Of course, in my typical half-assed fashion, there were some modifications…apparently pappardelle is not available in Price Chopper, so I substituted fettucine. There was also a snafu with the wild boar, or cianghiale, as I like to call it, and we had to go with ground pork in its place – whatever. I’m cooking for teenagers and a grade-schooler. Picky and well-traveled they may be, incredibly discerning? Not so much. I didn’t take any photos of that meal, although it was tasty, because it wasn’t very visually appealing, in my opinion. I would make it again, but would be tempted to add some color with maybe a bit of tomato or carrot or something.
Last night’s dinner was this keeper from Bon Appetit. Again, I’d be inclined to add more vegetables, although the leeks were splendid. Maybe asparagus or sweet baby peas? Generally, though, this was an easy recipe, rich and creamy with the lovely sweetness of essentially carmelized leeks. And bacon – don’t forget the bacon! Skip the calorie count and console yourself with the knowledge that it’s damn cold out and winter is the time for a bit of pasta indulgence. Winner!
Butter, olive oil and bacon…a close second holy trinity.
Leeks releasing flavor and fragrance.
The finished item – yum!
Although we didn’t get to it until the very last possible weekend of the month, October’s Bon Appetit recipe of the month did finally get prepared, with modification. Griffin selected this recipe and naturally, I shopped and prepared the dish, omitting the gremolata and skipping the polenta in favor of the more mundane, but crowd pleasing, mashed potatoes. I’ve done a gremolata before (with a beef roast) and I really like the way the brightness of the citrus and herbs contrasts with the earthiness of meat, but, honestly, it would have been lost on the boys.
We went with 4 lamb shanks which gave us plenty of lamb-y goodness, as well as leftovers for a bit of lamb stew. I ordered the shanks from Falvo’s ($6.50 lb) and they were great – meaty, nicely trimmed and tasty. The recipe calls for a rub of crushed fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper and G’s contribution to the meal was harvesting the rosemary from the still kicking herb garden. Wow – couldn’t have done it without him!
The lamb shanks were rather large and I had to divide them up into 2 pans. I always knew that buying that second Le Creuset was a sound investment! I roasted these bad boys until the lamb was literally falling from the bones, which was pretty close to two hours. I think I would have preferred the tomato based sauce to be thicker and would definitely consider adding additional vegetables beyond the onions and garlic called for in the recipe – maybe some carrots or other root vegetables. This is a wonderful dish for entertaining and guarantees a home filled with fragrant deliciousness. Winner.
What do you do with all of those heels and the last couple of slices of bread? I’ve been throwing them into the freezer recently and yesterday I pulled them out and did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – I made “fresh” bread crumbs. It took about 90 seconds, all totaled, and I can’t wait to use them. Maybe I’ll add some dried herbs before I coat those extra thin chicken breasts I’m planning to lightly fry in olive oil.
Directions? Rip bread into large pieces. Place in food processor. Pulse. Done. Satisfying to my cheapskate self and hopefully to the taste buds as well. What are your thrifty kitchen tips? Got some to share?
While I wouldn’t consider myself to be overly impressed by beefcake, I do enjoy a good piece of meat. Last night I treated the Lilly
boys/princes to a beautiful roast beef dinner. Or roast beast, as I said to Quinn.
I prepared the beef simply, with salt and pepper, and placed the roast on a meat rack in my magic roasting pan. Below the beef in the pan was a combination of red wine, beef stock and sliced onions adding some steamy richness to the oven. Confession: I don’t know what I do wrong, but I struggle to slice roast beef as thinly as I would like. Yes, my knife is sharp. Any hints?
|After spending the day in the crockpot
Dinner was tasty and there were unsliced leftovers of the 2.5 lb roast despite Griffin’s best efforts. I only had to threaten Quinn with discipline twice, both times related to the mashed yellow and sweet orange potatoes. As if beef and mashed potatoes aren’t the ultimate pairing!
This morning I placed the beef, the au jus/onion liquid and a couple of canned chipotles in adobo, into the crock pot and let things simmer all day. Tonight, I removed the meat and shredded/sliced it, adding my leftover mashed potatoes from the previous night to the juices in the pot. This step worked to both thicken things up a bit and to take the edge off my enthusiasm with the chilis. Delicious. Like a spicy beef stew that would only have been more wonderful with some sliced avocado and a cheese quesadilla. Maybe tomorrow.
I’m not a vegetarian, but every once in a while I have a dish that tells me I could be
without missing meat at all. Like this fabulous mushroom dish prepared by Jason Baker, the chef at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark
– where I am lucky enough to work a couple of nights a week. Damn, that was tasty!
|King Oyster Mushroom small plate – by Jason Baker
Thanks to another guy, Jonathan
, at the bistro, I experienced my first savory bread pudding recently. It isn’t often that I request a recipe
from someone, but this bread pudding was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten – earthy, cheesy, and a touch squashy sweet – delicious comfort food perfect for a potluck, brunch or Super Bowl party. I made mine with a molasses sweetened multi-grain bread, which I think added a nice dark richness to the finished product. Next time I make it (and there most certainly will be a next time), I will be a bit less enthusiastic about the amount of bread I use. It was a tad
drier than I would have liked. Nonetheless, the kale released a bit of juice which prevented things from being too
dry and the 5th period lunch crew really seemed to enjoy my Monday offering.
|Bubbly, hot veggies, cheese and bread – oh, my!
There were some leftovers to contend with and, in my opinion, this dish screamed for a fried egg or two to take it to a whole ‘nother time of the day – breakfast. I’m a big fan of getting some fruit and/or veggies servings in early in the day and this recipe does the trick. Don’t be shy – add some ham or smoked salmon, maybe mix things up with spinach or a variety of squashes. Remember – it’s your meal! Or meals, as the case may be.
|The breakfast version. You know I like me a fried egg. Or two.