Dinner 3/31/21

Spicy Tune poké bowl

We’re a little late to the poké fad, mainly because there are not a ton of poké places to choose from around here. This bowl came from Big Fin Poké in the Northshore Mall in Peabody. It’s got tuna with spicy mayo, cucumber, edamame, avocado, and seaweed salad. It’s great as a summertime meal because it’s a cold dish, and a really satisfying one, too. As I recall, I could not finish the entire bowl.

Dinner 4/4/21

Chicken cacciatore

Chicken cacciatore is a favorite of mine, but I don’t make it very often because the wife and daughter do not eat it. My wife doesn’t like meat of any kind, and my daughter is fussy about anything with bones in it. So this was a rare opportunity for me to enjoy it. In addition to peppers and onions, I like to include mushrooms and sliced black olives, which are also ingredients that I am the only fan of in this household. *SIGH*

Dinner 4/2/22

Crispy pork belly tacos with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, chipotle crema, lettuce

Went to The Derby in downtown Salem for dinner on Saturday night. Neither of us was especially hungry, so we figured some pub grub type food would be about the right level, and we were correct.

Like a lot of places in Salem, The Derby is focused on the bar crowd, and boy, was there a crowd. The weather was nice on Saturday, which brought people out and also meant that the usual parade of tourists has begun for the season. The noise level was deafening, and we almost walked out, but we stuck it out and enjoyed the food pretty well. We did agree, though, that we’ll avoid going there on the weekend in the future and save it for a Tuesday night or some other time when the crowd is smaller and you don’t require hearing protection.

Bridget had some buffalo cauliflower, and I had these crispy pork belly tacos. They were very good – the pork belly slices were definitely crispy and not very fatty, which is key to any pork belly dish. These were Mexican-style, so Cotija cheese and chipotle crema, but I’d bet they’d be great with a soy-ginger glaze and some Asian-style ingredients, too. They were on the Appetizer menu, so just the right size for “not-too-hungry”, but still real food. I also had a small bowl of black bean chili that was good, but nothing special.

Lunch 3/30/22

Fried chicken sandwich with tater tots

Fried chicken sandwich places are popping up all over the North Shore. There’s a small local chain called “Flip The Bird” which has several locations, but this sandwich comes from a new place in Lynn called “YAS Chicken”. While our duaghter was home for spirng break a couple of weeks ago, she wanted to try YAS Chicken, and it was very good, so Bridget and I got lunch from them last week.

This is the “Yas O.G.” sandwich – fried chicken breast, pickles, lettuce, and house-made mayo, but they also have a couple of spicy versions, one topped with their excellent mac & cheese (which I think I will try next time), and even a chicken & waffles combo. The tots are great, too.

The night we went with our daughter, the place was slamming, and it’s only been open for a few weeks, so I think they’ll do quite well. At least until the fried chicken sandwich craze passes.

Dinner 4/3/22

Spaghetti alla carbonara with spinach

Just a quick Sunday night dinner. The pasta carbonara recipe I use originally came from Emeril Lagasse, and makes for a great meal with very little effort. I prefer to use fettucine, but we didn’t have any on hand. Plus, I had some leftover spinach in the fridge, so I sauteed it with the bacon and garlic. I keep meaning to get some guanciale from the cheese shop, but have yet to remember to do so when we’re actually there.

The skillet was still a little too warm when I added the eggs, so there were a few scrambled bits, but not too much. The spaghetti does not hold the sauce nearly as well as fettucine, so it was not quite as silky as one might like. But, since the alternative was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, this was fine for a low-key dinner.

Lunch 3/26/22

Grilled cheese sandwich

Our beloved local cheese shop does grilled cheese sandwiches to order on Saturdays, and we finally remembered to go and get them. This is Alpine Swiss, Vermont Cheddar, and balsamic onion jam on sourdough (freshly made by the bakery around the corner) slathered with butter. They make the sandwiches in a grill press, and you can order ahead or have them make it while you wait. it is worth the 10 minutes or so of waiting. Because, damn, it was gooooooood.

We each got a sandwich, but neither of us could finish a whole one in one sitting, so another time we’ll split one. I reheated mine in the convection toaster oven the next day, and it was *almost* as good as it was fresh.

Breakfast 3/29/15

Beef brisket hash with fried egg, toast

This picture popped up in my Facebook memories today. Considering the time frame, I’m guessing the brisket (and probably the veg, as well) was left over from St. Patrick’s Day. I only vaguely remember making this, and probably would not have were it not for Facebook.

When I was growing up, my mother occasionally made “New England Boiled Dinner”, which was a corned beef brisket that she cooked in a pressure cooker, along with potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. I always hated it. It was bland and smelled funny. Also, my mother usually used the point cut of the brisket, which is just fatty and gross.

I rediscovered brisket on my own many years later. I neveer make “boiled dinner”, though. I like to do a slow braise, and have several different recipes I use as the mood strikes. One of my favorites has orange peel, tomatoes, whie wine, and spring onions. But I also make one that’s really just beef stock and ketchup, and it’s almost as good.

Like all stews and braises, braised brisket is better the next day, and even about a week after the fact, this was really good as a leftover, cut up and pan fried into hash and served with a fried egg.

Jello Salad 3/28/22

“Health Salad”

My friends in my Facebook group and I have been undertaking a Jello Salad Cookoff consisting of making recipes from various Southern church cookbooks from the 1920s-1950s. This was my contribution, a recipe from 1923 called “Health Salad”. It is essentially a recipe for cole slaw (cabbage, carrots, celery and green pepper, with mayonnaise) held together with lemon Jello. I spent a chunk of my Sunday afternoon putting it together, let it chill overnight, and then my wife and I ate some for dinner last night.

In the realm of weird things that go into Jello salads, this one is very tame. The friend who provided the recipes has a number of these old community cookbooks that her mother and grandmother collected, and I’d say fewer than half are suited to modern tastes. My friend Tony’s recipe was a cucumber-cream cheese-lime Jello concoction that turned out in an alarming shade of green, but he reports it was also edible. Still waiting to see what others come up with.

To be honest, I was surprised this actually gelled up a well as it did, because as I was adding the shredded veggies to the gelatin, I was sure it would not. We shot a little video of the unmolding, but my WordPress plan doesn’t let me post videos. Cutting into it to serve, it lost all structural integrity and reverted back to being your aveage scoop of cole slaw on the plate. It tasted just fine, with only the slightest of lemon flavor in the background and a barely detectable textural note of gelatin. I’m not a big fan of cole slaw in the first place, but my wife loves it, and we agreed we would eat the rest of the salad.

Barcelona 3/11/20


Our last full day in Barcelona consisted of a food tour mainly around the Gracia neighborhood. Due to cancellations, Bridget and I were the only people on the tour, so the two of us and the guide had a splendid time walking around from place to place, sampling neighborhood speciality shops. This was the last stop, a little neihborhood bar called Bodega Ca’l Pep (there are several establishments in Barcelona with this name, so totally not confusing). They make their own vermouth, as a lot of local places do, and it was served to us with a bottle of club soda for us to mix as we liked. It has become one of our favorites, especially since we have found some good Spanish red vermouths available to us locally.

Candied fruits at La Llibertat Market

The food tour included a walk through the La Llibertat Market, which was actually one of two markets we visited while we were there. We skipped La Boqueria, which is the famous one that draws all the tourists, and went to Santa Caterina on our own (pictures from that visit forthcoming). We didn’t stop to eat in this market, just a walkthrough/photo op. The markets are utterly gorgeous , and you just want to eat everything. I think we did stop at one stall to buy some smoked paprika to bring home.