One of the best pizzas I have had in quite a while. This was at American Flatbread in downtown Salem. They recently took over the Salem location (along with several others in Massachusetts) from the semi-related Flatbread Company chain. Other than the name change, I don’t think there’s much different, but we hadn’t been to this place under either regime, so stopped by for dinner one night last week. To be honest, I had fairly low expectations, and was completely surprised at how good this pizza was. We ordered a large pie and ate almost all of it at the table (Bridget brought home the last two slices and polished them off for lunch a few days later). I am not usually a fan of peppers and onions on pizza, but this combo worked great. Super thin crust, but not cracker-y, good cheese blend. Nobody seems to have great pepperoni anymore, but this was good. Overall, a damn fine pizza.
This particular location has its own small bowling alley as a feature of the restaurant. This came about when the Flatbread Company opened a location in Davis Square in Somerville inside an old bowling alley. They kept the lanes, and it quickly became a very popular place to go for pizza, beer, and some fun. We went to the Somerville Flatbread location a few times and loved it. Because it was so popular in Somerville, they tried to replicate it in some of their other spots. American Flatbread has kept the bowling in Salem, though it’s only a couple of lanes, not an entire “Bowl-A-Drome” style alley. We did not avail ourselves of the opportunity, but since we will definitely be going back for another pizza, maybe we’ll do it up the next time.
During the first summer of the pandemic we did a local CSA vegetable share. I like the idea of a CSA share better than the actual shares themselves, because too often the veggies die before you can eat them all, or they’re something you don’t like, or the umpteenth time they included the same squash. So I probably won’t ever bother with them again and just go to the assorted farmers’ markets where they usually have the same growers offering the same produce, but you can pick and choose what you get.
Having said that, once in a while they would throw in something that was new to us or just surprisingly good. These garlic scapes were a novelty AND they were utterly delicious in this application. They were lightly tossed with olive oil and some small red potatoes, salt and pepper, and then roasted in a foil packet on the grill. A great side dish with steaks when you want to do your cooking outside.
Greek phyllo pizza with spinach, tomatoes, and Kalamata olives
This Greek phyllo pizza comes from the classic Molly Katzen cookbook “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest”. It’s one of our favorite recipes from that cookbook, and I’ve made it many, many times over the years. Like most of the recipes in that book, it’s a little time-consuming but not really complicated, and very much worth the effort.
You start by layering sheets of phyllo pastry dough, painting each one with a little bit of olive oil as you layer them. Once you’ve got the base put together, you sautee some fresh spinach with onions, garlic, and some lemon juice (I have also done it with frozen spinach, but it’s better with fresh), and spread that mixture on the base, along with shredded mozzarella. Then you top that with fresh sliced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta. Bake until the edges of the phyllo are cirspy and golden and the cheese is melty.
I’ve got a couple of containered tomato plants in the back yard, and once they start producing fruit, I will be making this again sometime this summer. I’ll be sure to post a photo of that when it happens.
Waffles with vanilla roasted strawberries and bacon
Fathers’ Day breakfast 2020. The real star here is the vanilla roasted strwaberries. They make a fantastic topping for pancakes and waffles, and we have even used them as a topping for Dutch Baby. Oh, and ice cream. Amazing on ice cream. I found the recipe at SimplyRecipes.com. You should try them now, while fresh strawberries are available.
Pan-fried noodles with seafood; Pork belly and tofu in 5-spice sauce
A little dinner with my friend Tony at Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown befor going to a concert. Tony had never had soup dumplings (xiao long bao), which are Dumpling Cafe’s speciality, and the restuarant is just around the corner from the Wang Theatre where we were going, so it seemed like a perfect choice.
I, of course, forgot to take a photo of the dumplings, but I have posted them here previously. These are the other dishes we ordered. The pork belly and tofu dish was outstanding. The five-spice sauce was savory and not too overpowering, and the contrast of the crispy pieces of pork belly and silky soft tofu was amazing. They do the pan-fried noodles witha few different proteins, but this one featured seafood (mainly scallops and squid) and the sauce was deeply flavored by the seafood bits. We probably should have ordered one of their spicier dishes, but I’m not really sad that we didn’t because I didn’t bring a towel to wipe down my sweaty head.
The XLBs were, as ever, fantastic. We ordered both varieties (one that is just pork, one is pork and crab). Tony enjoyed them enormously.
The roast beef sandwich is a true Massachusetts culinary experience. The meat is sliced very thin and piled extremely high. Toppings run the gamut, but the quintessential version is the “3-Way” with barbecue sauce (generally a fairly spicy one), horseradish sauce or horseradish mayo, and American cheese. There are some variations on that depending on where you get your sandwich, but just as you can walk into any Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts and ask for a “regular” coffee and get one with milk and 3 sugars, you can walk into any Massachusetts roast beef place and order a 3-Way and get something very much like this one.
This style of roast beef sandwich originated at Kelly’s on Revere Beach in the 1950s. They are now a chain with 4 locations around the North Shore, including the original one still right on the beach. They spawned a ton of imitators, some of which became institutions of their own, such as Bill And Bob’s. These days, it’s fairly common to find most pizza/sub shops also serving roast beef. and the sandwich has spread beyond the North Shore. I bought this one from a sub shop near my office, in Lowell. This is actually their medium-sized version (called a Large Beef), and the Super Beef is simply enormous.
This was dinner at Howling Wolf Taqueria in Salem. Very popular spot. We’ve done takeout from them a couple of times and have eaten there a couple of times. Our daughter was leaving to go to her summer cmap job up in Maine the next day, and this was her request.
I like to keep tacos fairly simple, and these were just that – the meat, some pico de gallo, and a sprinkle of cheese. I wasn’t especially hungry, so I only got two tacos. One had shredded chicken (cooked in a sauce that is not described on the menu, but seemed like achiote-based) and shredded beef (deshebrada de res). I liked the beef better than the chicken, and another time would order two of them instead.
Their menu features a lot of other stuff. There are some fancier tacos, plus quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, and the like. They also have a bar (every restaurant in Salem is essentially a bar that also serves food) and make some tasty margaritas. My daughter, who just turned 21, was tickled to order her very first strawberry margarita.
I love a good nectarine. Unfortunately, the ones that come from the supermarket are very rarely any good. They start showing up around this time of year, and I usually buy 2-3 of them a week until they trail off. But it’s such a crapshoot as to what you’ll actually get when you bite into them. I like them once they get to the stage where they are soft, but not mushy or mealy, and full of juice. I can live with a little mush, but the mealy texture is so unappealing. If they’re too firm and tart, they’re not all that great either, but at least I will eat one that way.
I ate the one on the left right after taking ths photo. It was hard and tart, and I managed to bite the pit as well, and chipped a front tooth a little. The one on the right is sitting in a brown paper bag on my desk, and I am hoping it will be the right level of ripeness when I eat it tomorrow. wish me luck.
While our daughter has been for the few weeks in between the end of the semester and the start of her summer camp job, we’ve been cooking a little more than we had been. She’s off to Maine tomorrow, so I’m sure we’ll revert back to avoiding it as much as possible, but I did make these chipotle honey garlic spareribs for dinner on Wednesday.
The sauce is a cup of ketchup, 2/3 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 4 tablespoons each of soy sauce and adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo), 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, a couple of the canned chipotles chopped up, and 10(!!) cloves of garlic minced. You bake the ribs in the sauce, covered for about 90 minutes, then uncovered for another 30 minutes. (This amount of sauce is for 2-3 pounds of ribs)
To be honest, I do not put in all the adobo sauce it asks for. I find 2 tablespoons makes it hot and smoky enough for me. The very first time I made these years ago, I did the whole amount, and I almost could not eat them. Gauge according to your own tolerance for chipotle .
I did pork spare ribs this time, but I think I like this better with beef baby backs.
These pictues from our Barcelona trip popped up in my feed today. The top photo are some astonishing cupcakes we saw in a pastry shop. We didn’t buy them, but they just looked sooo incredible.
The hot choclate and cake I had at the Museum of Chocolate. It’s that super-thick, just-melted European hot chocolate that you might do better to eat with a spoon than try to drink. I probably did not need to have the cake as well, but, hey, you only live once.