Home Cooking 4/2-4/9/23

Chicken curry with apples, dried apricots and raisins

Shrimp stir-fry with broccoli, red bell pepper, baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, and lo mein noodles

Pulled pork macaroni and cheese, steamed asparagus

I’ve been trying to do a little more cooking at home over the last couple of weeks. Also trying to be a good boy and eat up all the leftovers.

The chicken curry is something I have been making for 30 years or more. I think the recipe originally came from Gourmet magazine back in the day. The combination of the chicken, the assorted fruit, and the spicy curry is excellent, and the dish is not at all like the creamy curries you typically find in Indian restaurants. I thicken it a little with some cornstarch, but that wasn’t part of the original recipe. I like to have this dish with papadums (spicy fried lentil crisps) if we can find them in the supermarket.

The stir fry was an effort to use up some frozen shrimp we had in the freezer and a package of lo mein noodles I had bought. I used a recipe for a stir fry sauce I found online instead of my usual stir fry sauce, but it was underwhelming. My basic stir fry sauce is two tablespoons soy sauce, two tablespoons Chinese rice wine, a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and a half-teaspoon of sambal oelek. This one did not have the hoisin or the sambal and used oyster sauce. It was okay, but we missed the kick that the sambal gives especially.

Our most recent meat share arrived at the beginning of the month, and one of the items was a small boneless pork shoulder, so I intended to make pulled pork with it. As I was thinking about what to have with it, I thought about making a side of mac and cheese, and then light dawned on Marblehead, as they say, and I put them together. I did the pulled pork in the Instant Pot, which produces a perfectly fall-apart meat in about 90 minutes. The rub is brown sugar, salt and pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne. The cooking liquid is chicken stock with some Worcestershire and liquid smoke. I didn’t have any liquid smoke on hand, so did without. For the mac and cheese, I used a mixture of Velveeta and Gruyere in the sauce, with shredded cheddar and butter-toasted panko on top. Before topping the macaroni, I mixed a little Stubbs’ bourbon barbecue sauce into the meat. There was plenty of pulled pork and M&C left over, too.

Dinner 3/4/23

Patty melt, steak fries, baby carrots

I got a hankering for a patty melt the other day, so I bought some rye bread and made my own. Did the patty smash burger-style. Managed to slightly burn the onions because I stopped paying attention to them while cooking the patty, but they were salvageable. I like steak fries because they’re more potato-y than skinny fries, and our air fryer does a great job with frozen fries. Baby carrots because you gotta have some veg. Bridget opted for a tuna melt as an alternative.

I got three hamburger patties out of the package of ground beef, and I still have the rye bread, so I am planning to make another one for lunch tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t burn the onions this time.

Dinner 3/1/23

Pasta e fagioli

Bridget made some pasta e fagioli (aka “pasta fazool”) one night last week. The recipe came out of a 5-ingredient-recipe cookbook, so it was exceedingly simple: a can of cannelini beans, a can of tomato sauce, some ditalini pasta, garlic and onion. Probably not super authentic, but great for a weeknight meal. It’s a little less soupy than traditional pasta e fagioli, more like the American “pasta fazool”.style. We liked it a lot, but agreed that it could stand to be doctored up or made with a slightly less simple recipe. And it definitely needed more cannelini beans. It also held over pretty well as a leftover for lunch a couple of times, since it made more than we could eat in one sitting.

Dinner 2/26/23

Beef and Guinness Irish Stew

Recently, we were at a Whole Foods that sells beer and wine, and I bought a 4-pack of Guinness on a whim. I had a chuck steak in the freezer, so I decided to make some beef and Guinness Irish stew (and, of course, enjoy a glass as well). It’s about as easy as beef stew gets, and it makes a lovely winter meal. I made mashed potatoes to go along with it instead of putting the potatoes in the stew, but I kind of wished I had put them in, because the starch from the cooking potatoes would have helped to thicken up the liquid a bit.

Back in 2007, I went to Ireland for the first time with my two brothers. You can’t avoid this dish in an Irish restaurant or pub, and in a couple of pubs we stopped in it was the only thing you could get to eat. I like this stew, but not every day. The food highlight of that trip turned out to be a Chinese restaurant in the town of Lahinch, just because it was the only non-Irish place we found all week. Best Chinese meal I ever ate.

Dinner 2/12/23

Biscuit-topped chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is such a winter comfort food. We haven’t had much in the way of winter weather this year, but that doesn’t mean I hadn’t been craving this. I had half of a roasted chicken left over from the previous Sunday night that I orifinally thought I would make into soup, but then realized that this was the way to go. To amp up the cozy, I went with a biscuit-dough top instead of puff pastry. In addition to the chicken, I used dicd potatoes, carrots, and celery, frozen peas, and onion. I was afraid I hadn’t made enough gravy, but in fact there was actually a bit too much and the top of the biscuit crust didn’t brown up as much as I wanted as a result, but it sure was delicious.

Dinner 2/3/23

Cottage pie

We muddled through the brief but intense cold snap that hit last weekend by staying home and cooking. Friday night dinner was cottage pie (you know, shepherd’s pie, but with ground beef instead of ground lamb). Warm, filling, and comforting. I had it leftover for lunch on Saturday.

My wife will tell you that she makes better shepherd’s pie than I do, but I use the same recipe she does (from Joy of Cooking).

I like to put some HP Sauce on shepherd’s pie, but A1 steak sauce will do in a pinch if I am out of HP Sauce.

Dinner 1/29/23

French onion soup pasta

Last week, I read an article about the latest TikTok viral recipe for “French Onion Soup Pasta”. I don’t use TikTok, so I wasn’t aware that this was A Thing, but we loved the tomatoes-and-feta pasta recipe that came from TikTok last year, so I was intrigued. Then a friend of mine mae it and posted about it on Facebook, so I realized I needed to get on board ASAP.

The recipe seems to come from this woman’s food blog, but it’s pretty simple so someone else probably figured it out a long time ago and she is just getting the credit. Essentially, you just caramelize a slized onion in some butter, add rigatoni (or your pasta of choice) to the skillet, pour in some beef broth, cook, then finish with a little cream and ggrated Parmesan cheese. You can add a little white wine to deglaze the pan, you can ad fresh thyme, you can sub cream cheese for the cream, or whatever other variations suit your fancy. It takes about an hour all told, most of which is the time spent cookling down the onions, but super easy and a good weeknight choice.

The recipe calls for 3 cups of beef broth, and my pasta came out a little undercooked, so next time I wsill up the amount of liquid and copok it just a little longer to get to the right degree of doneness. It is very tasty, though, and I’m glad I heard about it.

Dinner 1/11/23

Honey-Chipotle Ribs, jalapeño cornbread, cole slaw

This week’s theme is MEAT. Our daughter just went back to college to conclude her Christmas break yesterday, but while she was home, my meat consumption increased exponentially.

I have posted the recipe for these honey-chipotle ribs before, in case you want to make them yourself. These are pork spareribs, which I do not think turn out as well as baby back ribs. They are much, much fattier and gristly. The honey-chipotle barbecue sauce, though, makes up for it, and they are delicious.

My wife made the cornbread per the daughter’s request. It had corn niblets and cheese in it as well as the chile pepper. I thought it was still too sweet, but the texture was good.

I made cole slaw from scratch but discovered that the food processor blade that shreds the cabbage only slices the carrots. Made the final product a little weird.

So, all in all, not the most sucessful dinner we evere produced, but good enough to eat anyway, and not evereything has to be amazing, otherwise nothing is amazing.

Lunch 1/4/23

Beef stew

So the first thing I ACTUALLY cooked for 2023 was a pot of beef stew on New Year’s Day. One year I made the traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens for New Year’s Day, and nobody ate it except me, so I haven’t bothered again. The cold snap we had over Christmas had me hankering for all sorts of hot comfort food, even though the weather here for NYD was quite mild.

Stew is always better a day or two later, and this was no exception. I warmed some up for my lunch a couple of days later, and it was delicious. I noticed that The Kitchn did a comparison of beef stews last week, too, and they chose Ina Garten’s recipe as the best one. The recipe I use is very basic, but the next time maybe I will give hers a shot.

Dinner 1/2/23

Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, peas, and lingonberry jam

We took a ride to IKEA for New Year’s Day to buy some assorted Scandianvian home goods, among which, of course, was a bag of frozen meatballs, a packet of sauce mix, and a jar of lingonberry jam.

Swedish meatballs are not particularly hard to make from scratch, but heating up some meatballs in the air fryer and making sauce from a packet is even easier. Plus, the end result is identical to what you get when you eat in the IKEA cafeteria. And, you can have as many meatballs as you want without paying extra!!

I did boil up some little red bliss potatoes and toss them with butter, salt, and pepper, so it’s not like I didn’t do ANYTHING. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.