All grilled up and ready to go.
Summer at my house is a very different beast this year. A big part of it, of course, is Lark + Lily and the related demands of owning a business. But, there’s more. My two teenaged sons, perhaps in an attempt to make up for lost time, are each working two jobs. With our combined three schedules, family time has become increasingly rare and I’m trying to adjust to catching mere glimpses of my boys as they fulfill their responsibilities. It’s definitely different.
Yesterday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I asked my oldest son to text his brother to let him know that family dinner was at 5:00 and that he would be disinherited if he failed to join us. In response, middle son asked what was on the menu.* Upon being apprised of my dinner plan (pasta with grilled vegetables and sausage), he decided that he would prefer to eat with his friends at Bombers. I jokingly told him to change his name now that he was no longer in our family. Not one to miss a trick, he introduced himself as Griffin Bomber. Congratulations, Matt! It’s a boy!
Ingredients: 1 medium summer squash, 1 medium zucchini, 10-12 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, 8-10 Italian sausages (hot, sweet or combination), fresh basil or spinach, Pellegrino Italian seasoning, 8oz cooked al dente pasta – reserve 1/2-3/4 c pasta cooking water.
Slice squash and zucchini lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. Season with salt, olive oil and Pellegrino seasoning. Slice onion into 1/4″ rounds. Grill vegetables (other than mushrooms and spinach) along with sausages over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil until soft. When sausage are at a temperature to be handled, slice into 1″ rounds. Place sausage and all vegetables, including any remaining liquid from the mushroom pan, in a large bowl with pasta, spinach and/or basil, and reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated cheese. Super delicious, seasonal and way easier than parenting.
*This is the kind of bs one faces when they expose their children to the world of restaurants from a young age.
My house would be cleaner. Right now a twice weekly vacuuming, paired with a weekly bathroom cleaning and a more sporadic schedule of dusting, is the best I can do.
I would bake my own bread – sans high fructose corn syrup and other bogus ingredients.
The thank you cards and other correspondence I would like to, and intend to, write would make it out of my head and onto paper.
I’d get to more yoga classes.
I might consider getting to the Co-op more often, especially for granola and spices.
Hell, I’d make my own granola!
I would foam roll and lift weights more frequently.
I imagine I’d be further along in Breaking Bad than I am presently.
There would be time for more conversations with the people I love.
I’d probably fill those hours up with events, tasks, chores and activities. It seems to be what I do.
Things have been so busy lately that I’ve fallen a bit behind in my Bon Appetits. I finally took a few minutes this weekend to catch up on the most recent issues, and the timing couldn’t have been better – there was a simple pasta recipe and, other than the pancetta, I had everything on hand. A quick trip to the grocery store and I was all set.
This recipe is easy – a handful of ingredients and very little hands on prep until the very end. I could definitely imagine swapping out the squash for cauliflower or some other roastable vegetable (sweet onions?) according to season.
Bon Appetit has really been killing it lately. The recipes, articles and illustrations have been wonderfully inspiring while remaining approachable, unlike, in my opinion, Gourmet. If you’re looking for a simple and quick meal that is perfect for family, or someone you may be interested in impressing, this just might be the one. Two thumbs up.
My youngest son goes to a magnet elementary school in our neighborhood. The latter fact is more the reason he attends that particular school than the arts and humanities centered curriculum, but we do enjoy many of the activities based upon the school’s theme.
This week the school community’s marked their Third Annual Multicultural Celebration. My son came home very excitedly to share that his class would be representing France. After a visit from a French college student, he was obsessed by the thought of making crepes as our contribution to the event. The sound of his voice repeatedly saying “crepe” in an attempted French accent, convinced me that this was an idee fixe that deserved to be indulged.
tedious remarkable number of suggestions from my 9 y/o with regards to how to make crepes (the batter must be made the night before cooking, beer is a necessary ingredient…), I located a reasonably simple recipe on Epicurious. Late Wednesday night, after closing the Wine Bar, I stirred up a triple batch of the recipe and went to sleep with a clear plan – and conscience.
After school, I hit up the store for a medium sized jar of Nutella and, upon arriving home, immediately got busy heating up two nonstick sauté pans. I brushed the hot pans with melted butter and got into the rhythm of working two pans, while also peeling and chopping a few apples to cook with brown sugar and cinnamon for an alternate filling.
The process was satisfyingly quick. In barely an hour, I had approximately 40 filled crepes, divided into two dishes with about twice as many Nutella ones than apple. I dusted the crepes with powdered sugar and we were on our way.
The event (and the crepes) was fantastic. The number of nations represented on the incredibly laden tables was mirrored by the audience in the multifunction room. The smells and flavors were rich in a way completely unrelated to any world currency. It was positively heady. I am so lucky to live in a city where my children have the opportunity to attend school with such a culturally diverse population. C’est magnifique!
Have you ever participated with a CSA? I did one year and found myself more than a little overwhelmed by the array of obscure greens and heritage vegetables. While I enjoyed the challenge of trying to create meals from previously unknown ingredients, I have never been tempted to commit again to the responsibility of having to retrieve my bag of goods from a remote location. Field Goods and their convenient delivery to my school has proven to be the ideal solution for getting fresh, and sometimes frozen, produce into my kitchen and my tummy.
This week’s bag included some beautiful Portobello mushrooms and the timing of this exchange on Twitter could not have been more perfect:
Ding, ding – dinner has been determined!
I started by wiping the mushroom and removing the stems, trimming the ends a bit. Using a combination of olive oil and butter, I sautéed the chopped stems, adding minced shallots* and chopped onion* and basically softening everything up. I had about 2/3 of a cup of leftover couscous and tossed that in as well. Rummaging through the fridge, I also found a few sprigs of (kind of) fresh thyme and minced that up to add to the pan along with about a ½ cup of bread crumbs. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and turned the oven on to 350.
I placed the intact caps in a shallow baking dish and drizzled them with a little olive oil and put them in the oven to soften up a bit. After about 10 minutes, I filled the caps, generously piling the stuffing on. I had some kind of crappy parmesan cheese in the cheese drawer and grated it over the mushrooms and covered the baking dish with foil. I heated everything through (maybe 7 or 8 minutes) and then uncovered my tasty meatless dinner.
Delicious and satisfying! I will definitely make these again. Maybe, once Lent is finally over, I’ll add a little sausage or ground turkey…
* the shallots and onions were both from previous weeks’ deliveries.
Ever have one of those days when you’ve taken something out of the freezer to cook for dinner with an idea that becomes less appealing as the day goes on? Yeah, me, too. Earlier this week I took a pound of 16-20 shrimp and some thinly sliced chicken breasts out to thaw with a plan to make some sort of garlicky scampi with pasta. It sounded like just what I wanted at 6:00 a.m., but as the day progressed I reconsidered. I wanted something with more vegetables and some spice…
I did a quick search on epicurious using shrimp and chicken as my search terms and came up with a super simple recipe for paella that I knew would work, both in terms of ingredients on hand and Lilly boy preferences. In less than 30 minutes, dinner was ready to go in the oven and I was ready for a quick run. Not a bad Tuesday at all.
I started with a chopped onion and a bag of frozen chopped peppers from my Field Goods service. Talk about easy – cut open the bag and toss it into the pan! When the veggies were softened, I removed them from the pan and sautéed the chicken, which I had cut into 1.5-2″ chunks, in the same deep pan. When the chicken was almost cooked through, using a slotted spoon, I removed it and put it aside.
Next, I placed about 3.5 cups of chicken broth (a combination of homemade and boxed) in the same pan and turned the heat up to high. When the broth was almost boiling, I threw in 1.5 cups of arborio rice along with about 1.5 t of smoked paprika. I turned the heat down to medium and stirred the rice every few minutes (while I changed into my running clothes) until it was al dente.
The final step was reincorporating the vegetables and chicken and adding the uncooked shrimp. I removed the pan from the heat, covered it and took off for my five mile loop. After returning home, I placed the covered pan in the oven at 300 degrees to warm through for about 10 minutes. Boom! A fast, tasty dinner which everyone enjoyed. If I had some saffron, I certainly would have used it, but I instead seasoned simply with salt and pepper to taste and spiced up my own portion with a delicious pepper jelly I had picked up in New Orleans.
This “recipe” is incredibly versatile – chorizo, leftover ham or chicken thighs could easily be swapped in for the protein choices I made. The flavor profile could be varied by adding beans and/or some hearty greens or trade the paprika for some fresh thyme or flat leaf parsley. Go crazy – it’s just dinner.
As a wedding gift, nearly a couple of decades ago, I received a subscription to Gourmet magazine. I very much admired the glossy photos and exotic locations featured in the magazine, but found myself discouraged by the recipes. It seemed to me that each one had a minimum of 12 ingredients and involved at least 3 different and necessary purveyors. I didn’t have time that.
I don’t remember how I came to subscribe to Bon Appetit, but suspect there was a niece and a school fundraiser involved. How it started doesn’t really matter, I suppose. The important fact is that I have continued to renew this subscription, even when I get totally annoyed because they repeatedly send me renewal notices for months and months prior to my present subscription expiring.
The latest issue caught me at a perfect time – a midwinter’s week at home with the boys. As I leafed through the magazine the other morning before heading to the grocery store, two recipes caught my eye, the Fauxtisserie Chicken and the Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder. As is generally the case in Bon Appetit, the ingredient list was reasonable and easily obtained. The only item which provided some challenge was the fresh marjoram, a new herb in my repertoire, but one I was willing to invest in since it was present in both recipes.
My chicken after about 2 hours of low roasting.
Friday’s chicken was as tenderly falling apart as promised, yet moist with a surprising spicy kick. The potatoes which had been roasted alongside the bird were tasty, yet a little more firm than I expected. There was a lack of basting juices so I added a few ladles of water about an hour into the three-hour roasting time. Next time, I’ll add a little more.
My 7lb Boston Butt prepped for a looonnng slow roast.
Saturday’s slow roasting pork roast was a seven hour promise of what was to come. My entire house was filled with the fragrance of Dijon mustard, sage, garlic and marjoram – intense and mouth watering. After removing the roast from the oven, I deglazed the pan with a bit of red wine and tossed Friday’s remaining potatoes into pan juices for a quick reheat. The pork was fork shreddable with a delectable skin crowning a layer of fatty deliciousness. It was truly outstanding.
I never claimed to be a Gourmet, but I am all about Bon Appetit.