Entries Tagged as 'Pork and Beef'
This is how a conversation went with my new friend Sarah, the first time I met her a few months ago:
Sarah: I really love your blog, it gives me hope.
Me: Hey, thanks. I’m so glad.
Sarah: But I don’t cook from it.
Me: Oh…you don’t?
Sarah: No, I don’t cook. I can’t do anything in the kitchen.
Me: Yes you can.
Sarah: No I can’t. I. Really. Can’t.
That week, I had just read a profile of Stacy London and it crossed my mind that Sarah felt the way about cooking the way I felt reading that story — the way I felt trying to figure out what I was going to wear to a fancy holiday party later that month: Intimidated. A little lost.
Me: It’s not hard. You just need a little confidence and one or two solid recipes in your rotation.
Sarah: Well, what are those recipes? I have no idea where to start.
Me: I have almost 500 recipes on my blog, start there!
Sarah: That doesn’t help.
She was totally right! Someone might as well have told me “How do you not have something to wear to that party? There are 500 stores in New York City that sell perfect party dresses.”
On this blog, sometimes we get so bogged down in the (admittedly plentiful) minutae of family dinner — from the benefits of cooking for your kids to how to stay on top of Meatless Mondays to what freaking books to discuss at the dinner table — that we can forget to dial back and address the most elemental of issues: Where Do I Begin? It’s why I recently introduced the “First Time Here” button up there on the right. And it’s also why Andy and I wrote a feature for Bon Appetit this month called A Family Dinner Primer. Besides telling you what to make for family dinner (including this rockin’ steakhouse steak salad pictured above), we hope it goes back to the basics and tells you how to make family dinner.
As for what to wear to family dinner? I’m open to suggestions.
Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
If you want to do this on a weeknight, I highly recommend making the dressing and the pickled onions ahead of time. They are minor tasks, but just the kind of thing you’ll be glad you don’t have to do after a day wearing heels that were supposed to be more comfortable.
For the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk the following. Can be made in advance and stored for up to a week:
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1-pound rib-eye, flank, or skirt steak
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
12 ounces fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
6 radishes, cut into thin wedges
2 cups greens (such as arugula or torn Bibb lettuce leaves)
Pickled Red Onions
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until cooked to desired doneness, 5-8 minutes per side for medium-rare rib eye, about 4 minutes per side for flank steak, or 3 minutes per side for skirt steak. Transfer meat to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.
While steak rests, wipe out skillet and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, season with salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 8-10 minutes.
Slice steak and serve with horseradish dressing, potatoes, cucumber, radishes, greens, and Pickled Onions.
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Tags:Deconstructed Dinner·providers bon appetit·steak recipes for kids·steak salad
It’s been so long since it snowed in our neck of the woods — and by “snowed” I don’t mean the one-inch dusting that disappears as soon as the sun rises, or the icy kind of snow that lands in October on trees with autumn leaves still clinging to them. (What was that?) The snow I’ve missed so much these past few weird winters is snowman snow, snowball fight snow, sledding snow, snow so bright, you see blue when you walk inside after being outside for too long. Snow that gets everyone talking about the snow. Snow that gets everyone talking about what kind of dinner they’re going home to after a day in the snow. My friend Tom swore by his 2-ingredient slow-cooker pork (“a bottle of root beer and a pork loin, and that’s it!”); my friend Bonnie had a big ole pot of minestrone simmering on the stovetop. There was chatter about a stromboli and at least a bolognese or two. Me? I had only one vision: short ribs and creamy polenta — which should go down with Cake and Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Bagel and Cream Cheese as one of the great romances in culinary history. Unless you are 9 or 10 years old, in which case, just the beef, no polenta please. But when it came to warming up snow-chapped faces, the shredded melty beef on its own still seemed to do the job just fine.
P.S. Valentine’s Day giveaway on my facebook page today.
Beer-braised Short Ribs with Harissa
Adam, the editor of Bon Appetit, was the first to give me the idea for serving short ribs with freshly grated horseradish. Just a light dusting cuts the richness a bit and gives the dish a subtle kick. It’s purely optional though. Especially if you are the type who wouldn’t know what to do with a leftover knob of fresh horseradish.
3 lbs short ribs, salted and peppered (we used boneless for this recipe, and they were great, but we both agreed that bone-in tastes better)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chunked
1 pint dark beer
2 heaping tablespoons harissa
half of a 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (about 3/4 cup), reserve the remaining tomatoes in case you need to add to the pot later
5 sprigs fresh thyme
freshly grated horseradish (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large Dutch oven, brown short ribs in olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove once brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic, onions and carrots. Cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Whisk in beer, harissa, and tomatoes to the pot, then add back ribs and thyme. Bring to a boil, then cover and place in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. Toss every hour or so. (And add more tomatoes if liquid has boiled down too much and it looks dry.) After 4 hours, ribs should be falling apart.
Serve over Creamy Polenta with a sprinkling of freshly grated horseradish.
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Tags:snow day recipes·winter dinner
I lied to Andy last Thursday. I called him from the car at about 5:00, which was two hours into a four-hour pick-up and drop-off marathon, and said I hadn’t had a second to think about dinner. I had thought about dinner. I had thought about it several dozen seconds that day — in the morning before I left for work, in the afternoon when I had returned from work with just enough time to wolf down a late lunch while standing in front of the fridge (thank God for string cheese) and then a few more times in between activities. “We have nothing to eat for dinner,” I told him via Bluetooth. That part wasn’t a lie. But since he’d be home from work before we’d be home from tennis/doctor/soccer, I figured he could deal with the slim pickins situation.
A few hours later we were sitting down to a frittata. (The girls, egg-haters both, had chili that had been thawed from the freezer.) I figured it would be a bare-bones, clean-the-fridge kind of frittata, but as soon as I had a bite, I tasted it. Bentons! How could I have forgotten? The country ham that I gave Andy for Christmas. The country ham that, when you have it around, means you are never far from a really tasty dinner. The country ham from Tennessee that David Chang and Sean Brock use in their (internationally-acclaimed) restaurant kitchens and that our friend Sean (different Sean) first shipped to us a few years ago as a thank-you gift. The ham that we keep in our freezer and deploy in the smallest amounts whenever we need a hit of smoke or depth — in pea soup, white bean soup, pasta with peas. The stuff is good. The stuff means we’re in for a treat. The stuff would make a great Valentine’s Day gift for someone you love a whole lot.*
*The waiting list can sometimes be long, your Valentine may have to be willing to accept a late gift. Also, no one’s going to stop you from ordering their bacon either.
P.S. Speaking of Valentine’s Day, just one-clicked two of these.
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Tags:bentons bacon·bentons country ham
“I’m tired of pretending.”
These were the words I heard from my husband while we sat by the edge of an closed-for-the-season swimming pool in South Carolina over the holiday break. The kids were getting dressed in the locker room after an hour on the tennis court. It was the last week of December and the sun was white in the lonely winter sky.
“Really?” I say. “So that’s it? Fifteen years of marriage and I find this out now?”
“Well, this is important — it’s our first vacation dinner and I don’t want to ruin it by pretending that I like what’s on the table.”
I had just told him I was thinking of making some kind of pork and sweet potato stew with hominy — a riff on a recipe Victoria Granof had developed for Time for Dinner.
“You could’ve told me before now,” I said, at this point more confused than angry. “All those sweet potato fries? All those Thanksgiving mashes with oranges?” The room narrowed and widened simultaneously. The many sweet potato moments in our lives together started pulsing before me like a scene from Run Lola Run. “Your father’s birthday party in our first apartment!” I said, louder than I had intended to. It was one of the first times we had ever entertained, rotating our scrappy desk sideways against the wall to create a makeshift dining room table. “We made Emeril’s Three Potato Lasagna that night — and you ate every bite!”
His eyes were fixed a heron gliding across a lagoon. He said nothing.
“You’re telling me all this time you never liked sweet potatoes?”
“Nope. Not really. Cloying. Overpowering. Too sweet. Like dessert, only bad.” Pause. “Figured I’d tell you before we go shopping. I’m tired of acting like sweet potatoes are good.”
The heron landed on a small upturned log in the lagoon. His eyes scanned the water, like he was looking for some lunch.
“And what about hominy?” I asked. “Should I even bother?” The girls were coming out of the locker room, their hair smooth and brushed in the front, but gnarly and knotted in the back where they couldn’t reach. I looked at him.
“Why don’t you just let me go shopping,” he said. (more…)
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Tags:pork in adobo
I realize I’m not going to win any awards from the American Heart Association with this statement, but you pretty much can’t go wrong when you make a pizza from a leftover charcuterie plate. You know — the cured meat and cheese platter you put together for your holiday party that you kept buying more for because you were positive you hadn’t ordered enough? That’s me every year for every party and last time it happened I kept picking at the leftovers whenever I opened the refrigerator (willpower in the face of charcuterie: not my strong suit), which left me feeling like the glutton of the century. This time, I wised up and made use of the treasure in one fell swoop: I chopped all my meat and cheese, dumped it on a pizza crust and served it for dinner with massive tangle of greens, which, naturally, canceled out any residual guilt.
What to do with Other Holiday-ish Leftovers:
Making a Ham for Christmas? Turn leftovers into World’s Best Pea Soup.
Making Andy’s World Famous Pork Ragu? If there’s any meat leftover, make 10-Minute Tortellini. (Could also do this with Short Ribs.)
Making a spaghetti dinner ? Be sure to make extra pasta, leave it unsauced, then go for the Spaghetti Omelet.
Leftover chicken of any kind? Shred it and add to Creamy Lemony Avgolemeno. OhBoyOhBoyOhBoy.
Leftover filet of beef? (Yeah right.) Steak Sandwiches with Gruyere, Caramelized Onions and Pickles.
There are surely some combinations of cheese and meat that work better than others, but chances are if the cheese is firm and you have some bocconcini (little mozzarella balls) in the mix, you’ll be good to go.
Olive oil, for greasing
1 16-ounce ball homemade pizza dough (or your favorite storebought) I replaced a cup of all-purpose flour with whole wheat for the one you see above.
1 1/2 cups homemade pizza sauce (or your favorite storebought)
Leftover cured meats, such as salami or prosciutto, chopped
Leftover firm cheese such as Manchego, Parmesan (grated) and or Bocconcini balls (halved)
Preheat oven to 500°F. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, grease a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with the oil. Drop your pizza dough into the center of the baking sheet, and using your fingers, press out and flatten the dough so it spreads as close as possible to all four corners. This might seem difficult, but persist — the thin crust will be worth it.
Add the sauce to dough, spreading with a spoon. Sprinkle meat on top and cover with cheese. Sprinkle meat only on one half if you want to keep part of it vegetarian-friendly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. If the crust is browning faster than the toppings are cooking, cover with foil and continue to bake.
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Five days after Hurricane Sandy pillaged the Eastern Seaboard, I was on the phone with my Dad. Neither of us had our power or heat back yet, so we were both trying to wrap up the conversation quickly to conserve our cellphone batteries. The sun was going down and I was running down a mental list of which friend’s house we should invite ourselves to for dinner next. My father was doing the same, then added “All I want is a slice of meatloaf.”
When it comes to food, my dad has always been an enthusiast (see: dessert), but I can’t ever remember him talking about meatloaf with such reverence. I never have, either. I mean I’m never going to turn it down, but it’s not something I wake up craving either. Needless to say, as soon as we hung up, meatloaf was all I could think about. Specifically my mother-in-law’s meatloaf, the one that’s baked smeared with ketchup and two strips of bacon laid across the top. I mentioned this to the girls, who were underneath seventeen blankets in front of the fire. “Mmmm,” said Phoebe with a dreamy look in her eyes, “That sounds really good. Can we have it with mashed potatoes and butter?”
When we got our power back two nights later, we knew exactly what we’d eat to celebrate.
See: “A Recipe Starter Kit” Page 20, Dinner: A Love Story. (I went with all ground turkey.)
It would be wise to make enough to ensure for meatloaf sandwiches later in the week. Freeze whatever is leftover, but make sure you slice it before doing so. Then reheat in a baking dish covered with foil at 350°F for about 20 minutes. Or if you transfer the slices to the fridge on the morning of the night you’d like to eat them, Andy would like you to know that they’ll taste just fine cold, on good bread, slathered with ketchup and mayo.
Classic Mashed Potatoes
4 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into thirds or quarters
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup cream, half & half, or milk
salt and pepper
In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until a knife can slip through the biggest one with no resistance. It usually takes about 15 minutes. Drain and return pot to stove.
Add butter and about 1/2 cup of milk (or cream) and heat until warm and butter has melted. Heat remaining milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
Add potatoes back to pot, and using a hand mixer, whip until smooth, adding more liquid until you reach desired consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve each dollop with another pat of butter so it creates the necessary little pool of melted fat on top.
To help support victims of Hurricane Sandy, please consider donating to the Mayor’s Fund of NYC. One hundred percent of your contribution will go towards immediate relief efforts and organizations.
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I’d like to introduce you to a new word: DALSian. It is defined as follows:
[DAHLS'-ee-uhn] adj – used to describe a recipe displaying hallmarks of blog Dinner: A Love Story; simple, fresh, un-intimidating, frequently strategy-driven and generally requiring key ingredients found in non-fetishy food person’s pantry.
Naturally, I’d like to think every recipe on DALS is DALSian, but there are many that seem to deserve the title more obviously than most. (And a few who deserve it less: we ‘d get bored superfast if it weren’t for edible flowers on pizza, Maya Kaimal’s chicken curry, and Bugiali’s high-maintenance, high-happiness Minestrone every now and then.)
A few DALSian champs that come to my mind immediately: Pretzel Chicken, Pomegranate-Juice-Braised Pork with Cabbage, Tony’s Steak, Salmon Salad. Some of these, like the pork, I discover by accident; others, like the salmon salad, are tweaked over years and years through tantrums and tantrums. But often, like the Pretzel Chicken, the recipes are sent to me by readers.
Which brings me to the latest dish to be crowned with the title: Korean Short Ribs.
Can you please take a look at the photo up there? That’s pretty much all I needed to make a big pot of them for a showstopping potluck centerpiece this past weekend. The recipe came from reader Anna with the following note:
i just read the tumultuous tuesdays post and felt compelled to email you my top ten crockpot meals. i send it to all our family and friends when they have a baby. if they live in town, i print it off and include it with some freezer meals for their family. if they don’t and i know they don’t own a crockpot, i email the file and send a crockpot from target. it’s getting the be the season where we all think about using the crockpot. so, enjoy!
Now, first of all, how jealous are you of her friends? And of me — who gets delicious dinner ideas regularly sent to my inbox from nice people in Nebraska! Anna is not just a reader, of course. Besides being the woman behind Clementines Produce & Provisions, she won the Weeknight Recipe Contest a few year’s back — her Kale, White Bean, and Sausage Stew was so DALSian, it made it into my book. I don’t own a crockpot, but I opened up the file and immediately lasered in on the third recipe listed, those aforementioned ribs. You wanna talk DALSian? This recipe listed five ingredients — one of which was water — and one line of instruction. I decided then and there to translate it to my Dutch Oven to see what would happen. This is what happened:
This photo was taken while daylight was still good – the ribs would cook down another hour or so until the beef was rich and melty and the salty-sweet sauce dark and thick. The only problem was that I had somehow neglected to realize that the younger diners attending the potluck might be inclined to eat it too. In my head, like a dummy, I had earmarked it for the adults only (how have I not learned this lesson?) and watched as kid after kid decimated their portion, leaving a scant single rib for each adult diner.
But I guess of all the criteria that define a DALSian dinner, “kid-friendly” should probably be right at the top of the list.
Korean Short Ribs (the no-slow-cooker version)
The only change I made to Anna’s was replacing jalapenos with Sriracha (I didn’t have jalapenos; and yes I realize that Sriracha is Thai) and next time I might add a few slices of fresh ginger in the braising liquid because…well, why not? As Andy would say, it’s not like it’s going to be bad.
1 T. canola or vegetable oil
3-4 pounds beef short ribs, salted and peppered (I used a combination of bone-in and boneless — don’t ask — but I prefer all boneless)
1 c. of brown sugar
1 c. soy sauce, low sodium
½ c. water
2 teaspoons Sriracha
scallions for garnish
Heat oven to 325°F. In a Dutch Oven set over medium-high heat, add oil, then brown short ribs in batches. Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to the pot with all the beef. (The meat should be almost fully immersed when you begin, and then cook down as you go. But keep an eye on liquid — it should be at least a third of the way up the pot. If it’s not, add a mix of 1 part water to 1 part soy, a little at a time.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar, and place inside oven. Cook 3 to 4 hours, flipping ribs every 30 minutes or so, until liquid has thickened and meat is falling off the bone. Serve topped with chopped scallions.
PS: How’s this for awesome? Anna has posted not only the slow-cooker version of this for you crockpot owners, but her entire Top Ten Slow-Cooker File. Head over to her site to download. You rock, Anna!
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Tags:fall entertaining·korean short ribs·one pot meal·slow-cooker recipes
I’m just going to ask you point blank: Do you know about marinating? Do you know how marinating has the power to change your dinnertime? (Which is to say, of course, your life?) Do you know that marinating can be a working parent’s best friend?…That I, Jenny Rosenstrach, take thee marinating to be my lawful wedded….
Yes, I’m sure there’s a science to it, and yes if I were a real food writer I would give you exact measurements for each of the following three-minute marinades that you can assemble in the morning in order to be that much more ahead of the game when you walk in the door at night. But to get all scientific is to lose the beauty of it. Marinating is like braising — it’s very very difficult to screw it up and even someone with the tiniest bit of culinary courage could wind up having fun with different combinations of flavors. Just remember that you need to whisk some acid in there (lemon, lime, vinegar, buttermilk — to help with the tenderizing) and getting creative with a fresh torn herb or two is never going to be a bad idea, but otherwise, it’s up to you.
Marinade: A few shots soy sauce + 1/2 cup bourbon + spoonful brown sugar
Add: A pork tenderloin for Pork with Apples (shown; page 71 Dinner: A Love Story just replace the peaches with apples that hold their shape when cooked, like Cortlands or Jonagolds)
Marinade: Cup or so of buttermilk + dollop of mustard + heavy drizzle olive oil + salt & pepper
Add: Chicken drumsticks for Oven-fried Chicken
Marinade: Mostly yogurt + juice from one lime + chopped peeled ginger + olive oil + torn cilantro
Add: Chicken thighs or breasts for Yogurt-marinated Chicken
Marinade: Maple syrup + soy sauce + rice vinegar + oil (I’d go same amounts for all but syrup which you only need a heavy drizzle of…)
Add: Pork chops for Rory’s Maple Candy Pork Chops
Marinade: White miso + sake + mirin + sugar
Add: Cod for Nobu’s Famous Miso-glazed Black Cod (OK, fine that one takes three days, but you’ll have to eat on Friday, too, right?)
There. Doesn’t it sorta seem like there’s a little sous chef at home thinking about dinner so you don’t have to? How good does that feel?
Feel free to share your favorite combos as well.
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From the mailbox:
About a month ago we were having chili for dinner. Our son hates chili. All types. Tomato, white bean chicken, we have battled over it all. I have pushed, he has pursed (his lips tightly). I have threatened (which I know is not the way to promote healthy attitudes toward food), he has cried (I’m not proud of this). Anyway, he asked what we were having for dinner this night and I said, “Chili.” But instantly I recalled these words which I had read only hours before, “It’s all about marketing.” and so I quickly changed the title. “Actually, I mean, it’s soup. Two bean, ground beef, tomato soup…on a potato.” “Oh. It really looks like chilli.” he replied. “I know, crazy huh?” He then proceed to eat the. whole. bowl, asked for more and did not complain about it once. Yes, it really is all about marketing.
So, in closing, I’m so glad Amazon recommended your book and I’m so glad to have been introduced to your blog through it (aaaand books we love??! Oh man your blog was really made for me!) I love it.
Sincerely a very happy reader,
Thanks Katie! PS: Here’s the “two-bean, ground beef, tomato soup” that works in our house. And, incidentally fits right into my More Freezer Dinner School Year Resolution Plan. PPS: The photo above is from my book, which has a whole chapter devoted to my personal experience with my very own (recovered) picky eater. Do you have a marketing plan?
PLUS: Help for Lunch-Packing Dreaders! (To my knowledge, that includes all parents of all school-age children?) A back-to-school interview I did with Epicurious.
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I should probably be stripped of my food blogging rights for telling you to do anything with summer corn besides eat it on the cob with a little salt and butter, but you know I can’t resist the urge to share the discovery of a new deconstructible dinner. Last week was not the first time we’ve eaten this corn, chicken and sausage stew — not by a longshot, we ate a version of it almost every August weekend one summer in the 90s. But since then, we’ve had to think a bit more strategically about dinner, which, of course, is another way of saying, we’ve become parents. I was happy to discover last week, that the family classic joins the ranks of the tortilla soup, the salmon salad, and the other dinners on page 158-163 of my book that can be broken down into their individual components so that they can be more palatable to the kids, and less headache-inducing for the cook. It’s a goodie.
Summer Stew with Chicken, Corn, and Sausage
Adapted from Gourmet
3 links chorizo sausage (I used chicken), sliced into coins
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 or 7 boneless chicken thighs, salted and peppered
1/2 medium onion, chopped
red pepper flakes (optional)
2 to 3 cups corn, cut off the cob
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown sausage in olive oil over medium heat until crispy. Remove. Raise heat to medium-high and brown chicken (in batches if necessary) on both sides until mostly cooked through. Remove. Turn down heat to medium-low, add onion, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, and a little more oil if necessary. Stir until slightly wilted. Add corn and tomatoes and stir until vegetables release their juices.
Nestle chicken and sausage back in the vegetables, cover and simmer another 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve with basil and crusty bread in bowls, or separate into individual components for the kid who doesn’t like things “mixed” and serve on a plate.
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Tags:corn recipes·Deconstructed Dinner·easy summer dinner·one pot meal
I remember this vividly. When I was six years old, I was in the basement of our house on Aldenham Lane, playing with my dad. Our basement was the kind of basement I feel bad that my kids don’t have today – a concrete floor, an old wooden workbench, high metal shelves sagging with caulk and stains and Maxwell House cans filled with screws, a queen-sized foam mattress, a pool table (with ivory inlays and broken slate), and a paint-splattered station where my older brother would lose entire afternoons building these intricate models of Spitfires and Messerschmitts. The kind of basement, in other words, where you could dismember GI Joe dolls in relative peace.
Anyway, we were sitting on the floor, building something with my Erector Set.
“Dad?” I said.
“Is Santa Claus real?”
(A parent now, I know what he was thinking.)
He looked at me.
“Nope,” he said.
Cue sound of bowling ball crashing through giant pane of glass. The bracing, ammoniac sting of honesty like that! Wow. Damn! I still, to this day, give him grief for this. (Me: I can’t believe you just came out and said it. Dad: Well, what was I gonna do, lie?) This could be the adult in me talking, but I feel like I remember the room going all wobbly, like the staircase shot in Vertigo. Clearly, my dad did not believe in secrets.
Except when it came to his cooking. And by cooking, I mean the one meal he was responsible for making all by himself, from start to finish. His lone specialty was known around the house as The Dadoo Special, a name which, it’s true, does have a certain grandeur to it, but which – no offense, Dad — also sounds a lot like something a dude with zero chops in the kitchen would name the one dish he figured out how to make on his own. I loved the Dadoo Special. Partly because I loved my dad, but also because it did, in fact, feel special. It tasted really good, and appeared only in the warm summer months, when school was out and the Weber was up and running and the grown-ups enjoyed their grown-up drinks outside, in the woodchipped area out back, behind the azeleas, where my dad had set up – this was the seventies, after all, the era of lawn sports, mandals, and non-ironic mustaches – a freakin’ horseshoe pit. Looking back, the Dadoo Special was nothing more than a souped-up burger – a little sweet, a little spicy – that, amazingly, required no ketchup at all. I would tell you exactly how my dad made it…if he had ever let me watch him make it. The Dadoo Special, you see, was always prepared in private, behind closed doors, on a need-to-know basis only. And I, apparently, did not need to know.
“What’s in it?” I would ask.
“That’s a secret.”
“Get out of the kitchen,” he’d say, and to stay and risk not having Dadoo Specials for dinner always seemed a risk not worth taking.
I still don’t know exactly what was in the things, and – since my dad probably hasn’t made one in thirty years – I doubt he does, either. But I do remember the taste, and the slight crunch of the onion, and feel fairly confident that I can recreate it – heck, maybe even improve upon it — here. We’ll be making these on Father’s Day, in honor of my dad, and in the spirit of openness. No more secrets, not in this house. – Andy
P.S. Re the photo above: Yeah, that’s a puka shell necklace I’m wearing. And yeah, that’s zinc oxide on my nose. And yeah, I’m wearing plaid JAMS. The thing on my dad’s upper lip? That would be a mustache. Viva los 70s!
The Dadoo Special
Okay, so the Dadoo is basically meatloaf on a bun. Pretty sure my dad used Heinz barbecue sauce, but the homemade stuff is better. (See our recipe for that on page 238 of Jenny’s book.) In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 1/3 cup barbecue sauce, ½ cup of finely chopped Vidalia onion, a couple dashes of Worcestershire, and lots of salt and freshly ground pepper. Combine gently, as you want to preserve some of that loose texture of the meat. Grill over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side.
Reminder: Tell me your favorite part of the book (not on the comment field of this post, but through the official contest survey) and be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes. You have until July 9 to enter so get reading!
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I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t call up about a line that Lisa Belkin wrote in the New York Times two or three years ago. In an article about overparenting and the self-esteem generation used to getting praise at every turn, she asked Are we raising kids who are prepared for college, but not for life? I think about it when my 8-year-old refuses to tie her cleats by herself because she likes the way her parents tie them tighter. I think about it when I read about Ramona walking to kindergarten by herself (or maybe with Henry) while we have a really hard time letting our 10-year-old walk home from a friend’s house around the corner. I think about it when I’m reading about 11-year-old Laura Ingalls helping Pa turn straw bundles into kindling in sub-zero blizzard conditions during The Long Winter. I think about it when I see my daughters’ ballerina classmates twisting up their own buns (complete with hair net and bobby pins), when I am picking up their rooms, and hanging their wet towels, and reminding them to pack their homework, and on “Steakhouse Night” when I’m cutting their filets into teeny tiny pieces because if left to their own devices they’d probably shove Buick-sized chunks into their mouths. Or at least that’s what I think they’d do. Since I’ve never trusted them to cut their own steak, I don’t really know what they’d do. And even though I wish I was a different kind of parent, the way things are going, I don’t think I’m going to find out any time soon.
“Steakhouse Night” includes about 2 pounds of filet, Andy’s no-cream creamed spinach, and pretty much always takes place on a Saturday night. The only variable is the potato dish. This past weekend we did a rosti (or, as Abby calls it “the hugest potato pancake ever”) but nothing should stop you from switching it up with twice-baked potatoes or oven fries.
Generously salt and pepper four steak filets. Grill over medium-high heat about 5-6 minutes a side (depending on thickness) until meat is firm but not rock hard. Cut into microscopic pieces if serving to a child under 21.
Potato Rosti (or “Hugest Potato Pancake Ever” as Abby calls it)
This is the kind of thing you don’t really need a recipe for. If you have two or three baking potatoes you can make a thicker rosti; if you only have one, it will work fine, too. Just be sure to add the potatoes to the pan as quickly as possible after shredding to prevent the potatoes from turning brown. But if it does turn brown, fear not, they’ll still taste as good. They just won’t look as golden.
1 to 2 baking potatoes, peeled
1/4 to a 1/3 small onion
salt and pepper
vegetable oil and butter
Using a grater or the shredding attachment on a food processor, shred your potatoes and onion into a large bowl. If you have time, take a paper towel or dishtowel and pat the potatoes to soak up as much moisture as you can. Add salt and pepper and toss. (You can also get creative with add-ins here — herbs, shredded cheese, etc.)
In a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add potatoes to the pan, spreading and pressing flat so it looks like a large pancake. Let sit for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges look golden and crispy.
Place a large plate on top of the skillet and, working carefully, invert pan so cake flips onto plate. Add a little more butter and oil to skillet and slide the cake back into pan, uncooked side down. Cook another 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Cut into wedges and serve.
Thaw a box or a bag of frozen spinach by placing it in a colander and running warm water over it for a few minutes. Press down on the spinach to squeeze out all the liquid. In a small frying pan over medium heat, add olive oil and a half a large onion (chopped), salt, pepper, a few red pepper flakes (optional, as always). After about 5 minutes, add spinach and toss with onions until spinach is heated through. Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of flour (this will prevent curdling of milk in next step) and stir. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk (lowfat, 1%, whole…any kind but chocolate!) depending on how creamy you like your creamed spinach, and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. Stir until heated through and serve.
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Tags:creamed spinach·easy side dishes for kids·potato rosti·self-sufficiency·steakhouse side dishes·teaching kids self-sufficiency
God knows, it’s not that I don’t love the kid. I have pledged my undying devotion to her here — she’s our firstborn, is kind to animals, has the soul of a poet, and is generally an all-around solid performer at the table. But Phoebe does not eat pasta. Phoebe, in fact, actively dislikes pasta. She hasn’t touched the stuff in five years. She wrinkles up her nose at the sight of it, says it’s slimy, boring, without flavor. I don’t know where she comes from, when she says things like this. The girl has not one but two Italian grandmothers and she doesn’t like pasta? As they say in the Old Country, WHAT THE? To each her own and te gustibus and etc. — we all have our food bugaboos, and there’s no accounting for them – but the upshot of Phoebe’s pasta aversion is that Jenny and I, two lifelong pasta lovers, have basically given it up in the interest of family dinner harmony. (Hence the minimal pasta entries on the ol’ DALS recipe index. Apologies!) But then, last Saturday morning, Phoebe woke up with some kind of virus. “Churny,” is how she described the feeling in her stomach. She didn’t have a bite of food all day, and spent much of the afternoon in bed. You know it’s for real when Phoebe says dinner doesn’t appeal to her.
Again: I love her dearly and I evinced real sympathy for her plight, but I also chose to see this as a rare opportunity. Jenny was out with friends, so it was just Abby, me, and a bag of good linguine. Phoebe, nursing her mild fever, was fully laid out — a sad-eyed Lady with the vapors — on the kitchen counter, a couch cushion under her head, watching us as we cooked. As Jenny has noted here before, the recipe we settled on (below) looks so much more daunting, when you write it all out, than it actually was to pull off. This was a pure and simple pantry meal: we did no pre-planning, and no shopping. Everything we needed was already in the house — and most of it was frozen. When it came time to eat, Phoebe couldn’t bear to sit with us at the table: the sight of food, she said, would put her over the edge. So she sat in the TV room, reading Garfield under a blanket, as Abby and I tucked in. “How good is pasta?” I said to her, but she didn’t answer back. Her mouth was full. – Andy
Pasta with Vegetables and Pecorino
We used frozen corn and peas here, but you can use anything, really: broccoli would be good, as would spinach. You can also skip the pork at the beginning, but adding bacon in our house is like baiting a hook, and Abby can’t resist. So we went with the pork. Which doesn’t seem to gratuitous, as the chicken broth base makes this feel somewhat light, and a little bit healthy.
1 pound linguine
1/4 cup bacon, pancetta, or good country ham, chopped
1 shake red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon salted butter
Pecorino Romano, grated, in great quantities
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, over medium-low heat, cook bacon in olive oil with red pepper flakes, about 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and turn heat to medium. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping any brown bits on bottom of pan as it cooks. Dump in peas, corn, scallions, salt and pepper. Stir and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon and butter, and stir until it’s silky and emulsified. Dump cooked pasta into skillet and toss with tongs. Serve topped with plenty of Pecorino Romano.
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Like a lot of people I know, I returned from my first trip to Italy in 1993 determined to teach myself how to cook. The eating in Florence, where Andy was “studying” art for the summer, was so revelatory that I didn’t waste a whole lot of time once the wheels touched down Stateside. On the way home from the airport, I stopped by our local bookstore and found my friend Matt behind the counter. I asked if he could recommend a good Italian cookbook that might offer even just a hint of what I had just experienced across the Atlantic. As far as I know, Matt never cooked a thing in his life, but he will forever hold a special place in my heart because he handed me The Classic Italian Cookbook, by Marcella Hazan, and, with the understatement of the decade, told me, “People seem to really like her.”
The name was familiar — Andy’s Aunt Patty had already introduced us to Marcella’s milk-braised pork loin — so I plunked down my five bucks for the mass market-y looking paperback, started flipping through it, and for almost twenty years have not stopped. That’s probably why the book, held together by masking tape, now looks like this:
It’s sort of like looking at Luca Bear, my daughter’s dingy teddy-bear lovey with the frayed bowtie that she has been sleeping with since she was 13 months. One look at him and you know that thing has been on the receiving end of some serious love.
The summer I first bought CIC, I tried out a few of the recognizable recipes — Tomato Sauce 1, Tomato Cream Sauce, Blender Pesto — making some real knucklehead comments in the margin as I went along. “Too garlicky” I wrote after adding three cloves of garlic to a tomato sauce that didn’t call for any garlic at all. Improvising with a Marcella recipe, I’ve since learned, is not something one does, unless one does not want to learn how to cook. You make the dish exactly the way she tells you to. In a nod to her shortcut-obsessed American audience, her headnotes are studded with phrases like “if you insist” and “if you are so inclined” (Fettucine with Gorgonzola Sauce: “You can try substituting domestic gorgonzola or other blue cheeses, if you are so inclined, but you will never achieve the perfectly balanced texture and flavor of this sauce with any cheese but choice Italian gorgonzola”), but the effect is the opposite of liberating. It makes you desperate to not disappoint her. (There are also many less passive instructions such as this one, under Mayonnaise: “I can’t imagine anyone with a serious interest in food using anything but homemade mayonnaise.”) The ingredients she uses in her recipes are all basic staples of any kitchen — butter, ground beef, salt, onions — which means that in order to yield the kinds of dishes that have earned her exalted status in the food world, it is absolutely imperative that you do not deviate from what’s written. For Hazan, who was trained as a biologist and went on to teach cooking classes in her New York apartment, it’s all about technique. When I do what I am told (literally leveling off two tablespoons of chopped onions), not only do I find myself with insanely delicious dinners I’d be proud to serve to Grandmas Turano and Catrino, but I find myself a little smarter in the kitchen. Her bolognese, which you are looking at above, was the first Hazan recipe that we fell in love with for this reason. “It must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added,” she wrote. “This keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.” And then: “It must cook at the merest simmer for a long, long time. The minimum is 3 1/2 hours; 5 is better.” We, of course, always do five. (more…)
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Tags:basic bolognese·entertaining families·marcella hazan·marcella hazan bolognese
It’s almost irresponsible of me to tell you about the way I served this meal to my kids — because it’s exactly the way that, if practiced often enough, will drive you to swear off family dinner forever. I love fried rice. Before Andy and I had kids we’d make it with shrimp and pork and chicken all the time. Or at least we’d always make it when we had leftover rice from sushi or Chinese takeout, which was surprisingly often. Nowadays, though, with Trader Joe’s frozen cooked rice (which I highly recommend) we can, in theory make fried rice meals as the main event instead of the spinoff. But we don’t. That’s because, as most of you know by now, we have two miniature egg-o-thropes in the house. And one rice-hater to boot. I’ve spent more hours that I should probably admit, thinking about how to deconstruct this old favorite so that we can all enjoy it in one form or another as a family meal. But as I found out yesterday, some things are just not meant to be. Even quick and easy and cheap and deLISHous meals like this one. Abby ended up having her version as you see below — with pork, rice, and peas that were tossed with soy sauce tableside. Phoebe ended up having…a barbecue pork sandwich on a biscuit and a butter lettuce salad with tomatoes and onions on the side. What was supposed to be quick and easy and delicious became drawn-out and complicated and…delicious. In spite of the drama, I’m giving you the recipe anyway — it’s pretty clear I won’t make it again until the girls are college-bound, but it’s too good a recipe to not share with families who might have better children luck. Who says I don’t do anything nice for you? (more…)
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Tags:easy fried rice recipe·fried rice recipes·pork fried rice·quick family dinners·skillet meals
I was at a dinner party with two other couples last year when the host approached me discreetly in the living room. “Can you come here?” she whispered, motioning towards the kitchen. She led me to the oven, pulled out a roasting pan filled with eight split chicken breasts whose skin were all a nice caramel-ly brown. “They’re ready, right?” she asked. I always get nervous with thick chicken breasts, too, so I asked her how long they’d been in. “About an hour,” she told me. I had a feeling they weren’t done yet. “Can I touch one?” I asked. I poked one of them in the thickest part. It felt too soft. The rule for doneness with chicken, I told her, is that it should feel firm to the touch but not rock hard. “It needs more time.” Andy walked in and I pulled him over for his opinion. Along with his tight spiral and his general kindness towards humanity, gauging meat doneness is one of his greatest qualities. He poked the chicken once, and with a conviction I envied, declared, “Five more minutes.”
Five minutes later we were sitting down to a delicious, well-cooked herby chicken with market-fresh greens.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the same situation as my chicken-roasting host. Or I should say, how many times I used to be in that situation. It’s not that I’ve become so confident when face-to-face with, say, a lamb shoulder, or a $20/pound Christmas filet mignon or a bacon-spinach-stuffed ribeye, but I don’t stress about cooking meat to proper doneness nearly as much as I used to. Part of the reason for this — OK most of the reason for this — is that Andy is so preternaturally gifted with meat that it just makes sense to cede the floor to him when a Porterhouse or a flank steak is on the menu. But the other reason is that I’ve discovered a whole bunch of ways to prepare meaty main dishes that involve absolutely no stressing about doneness at all. These are the strategies I tend to fall back on when I’m having people over for dinner and there’s a 100% chance that I would be filling a sippy cup at the exact moment a meat thermometer would hit the point of no return.
1. Put Away the Meat Thermometer and Braise. Large hunks of meat become much more friendly when you braise them. This basically means you are cooking a loin or a shoulder in liquid in the oven or on the stovetop for a few hours at a low temperature. Beyond the fact that this technique makes it impossible to overcook or undercook, it magically transforms cheap cuts of meat into melty tenderness and is almost always just the thing for a warm-your-bones winter meal. See: Marcella’s Milk-braised Pork Loin; Braised Short Ribs; Pork Ragu; Baked Chicken with Mascarpone. (That last one is less braising than submerging, but it’s equally effective and takes much less time.)
2. Think Small. It’s much easier to gauge the doneness of small pieces of meat and fish than it is to make the call on larger pieces. Just think — if you’re not sure, you can break open a small piece of chicken in a stir-fry to check for the telltale shiny pink and the dish won’t be any worse for the wear. You can’t really do this with a whole roast chicken without releasing the trapped juices that make a perfectly roasted chicken so tasty. See: Chicken with Broccoli; Pan-seared Scallops; Beef with Broccoli.
3. Hack! One of the reasons I fell in love with salmon salad was because after a fillet was roasted or grilled you had to shred it into pieces and toss it with the vegetables and vinaigrette. This meant that if you weren’t sure the salmon was cooked to proper doneness you could definitely take a peak in the middle with a knife or a fork or a pick axe — and if it wasn’t ready, just send it back for another few. Who cares what the thing looked like if you were going to eventually hack it all up, right? See: Salmon Salad.
4. Make Clams. Every time I prepare Andy’s clams — which, as you can gather by the name, is not that often — I am amazed at how easy they are. This meal is a bonanza for people who fret about whether something has cooked through or not. Think about how beautifully unequivocal it is that clams, when cooked properly, will open up their shells to tell you that they are done. It’s like they have little mouths. I’m done! Take me out! Eat me! To me this is as much of a miracle of nature as the Blue Footed Booby. See: Spaghetti and Clams; Steamed Little Necks (more…)
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Tags:cooking meat properly·how to cook meat·how to tell when meat is cooked
I don’t want to be mean about it or anything, but if you don’t make this soup the day after you make a holiday ham, something is wrong with you.
P.S. Tonight’s dinner of atonement: my favorite latkes topped with sour cream and smoked salmon. And for dessert: gelt!
Split Pea Soup with Leftover Ham
In a large stockpot, over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add one onion (chopped), 2 stalks celery (chopped), 3-4 carrots (chopped, about 1 cup). Cook about 8 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Add leftover ham hock (with or without meat still on it), 1 3/4 cup split peas, and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour 10 minutes.
Remove ham hock. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the stock pot until it’s mostly smooth. Add a little more water if it seems too thick. If there was meat on the hock, pull it off the bone and add back to the soup. Serve with croutons or baguette toasts.
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Tags:easy split pea soup·split pea soup with ham·what to do with leftover ham
Do you have certain meals that you make rarely, on special occasions, and then, as soon as you’re done eating them, you say to yourself, Damn, that was good. Why don’t we eat this once a week? I do. Roast turkey with stuffing and gravy is one of those meals — so deeply satisfying, and come on, would it be any less satisfying on a Sunday night in January? Pasta with fresh clams and basil is one of those meals: why do we only make it in the summer, when we love it so much? Our New Year’s lobster is one of those meals and so, I’m not afraid to admit, is the twice-a-year kid birthday staple, Hebrew National pigs-in-blankets, with which I shall never ever dream of arguing. But the biggest heartbreaker for me is our beloved yet marginalized friend, the glazed ham. Why is it that we only eat glazed ham in mid-to-late December, at holiday-themed dinner parties? Who made up that rule? No disrespect to our entertaining stand-bys — short ribs, ragu, pork loin braised in milk — but is there really anything tastier or more dramatic looking or, honestly, easier to pull off than a crispy, sweet, salty, diamond-scored, slightly caramelized, fat-marbled, relatively inexpensive, even-better-the-next-day ham sliced up tableside (more…)
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Tags:cocktail party menu ideas·glazed ham·holiday entertaining·holiday menu ideas