Dinner 1/5/22


Grilled cheese sandwich

After feasting on so many luze things over the New Year’s weekend, I needed a little simple comfort food, so I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and a nice hot bowl of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (not shown). You’ll excuse the bite in the sandwich, but it was calling my name and I had to try it before I remembered to pull out my phone and snap a photo.

I always use milk in my Campbell’s Tomato Soup, since that’s how my mother always made it for me when I was growing up. In fact, I don’t thinl I ever had it made with water until long after I was an adult, and, I’m sorry, that’s just not the way it should be. I also love a pat of butter melting on the top, and lots of freshly ground black pepper in the soup. I’ve made my own creamy tomato soup a few times, but I don’t know if I like it any better than the Campbell’s.

American cheese is usually what I use in a homemade grilled cheese, but I like ’em with other cheeses as well. I like to watch Binging With Babish on YouTube, and he made some particularly interesting grilled cheese sandwiches that I have on my must-try list. For comfort food, though, it’s Kraft American Singles all the way. Also, real butter on the bread. I like to melt about a tablespooj of butter in the microwave and pour the melted butter on the bread slices before grilling. That lets the butter really soak into the bread a bit. Don’t even talk to me about using mayo on the outside of the bread.

Together, the creamy soup and the melty cheese toastie were a plain-and-wholesome antidote to the posh noshes I’d been eating all weekend. It snowed at the end of last week, and in retrospect I kind of wish I’d saved them until the snow day, but maybe there will be another opportunity for that trifecta before winter is over.

Dinner 9/12/21

Singapore curry noodles

This recipe probably came from TheKitchn.com, since I get a lot of good recipes there, or possibly from SimplyRecipes.com, I really don’t recall now.

The recipe called for shrimp and char-siu pork. I subbed tofu for the pork because I could not find ready-made char siu at the Asian supermarket. Tofu is a good choice anyway, because it absorbs the flavor so well. The only other specialty ingredient is Shaoxing cooking wine. It calls for rice stick noodles, but really any noodles will be fine, even spaghetti.

It was quick and easy, which is about as far as I am willing to go with cooking lately. Like any stir-fry, the time-consuming part is the prep, but the vegetables are one red bell pepper, one onion, a carrot, and some snow peas.

This photo reminded me how much we enjoyed this meal, and has inspired me to want to make it again, probably this weekend.

Dinner 12/29/19

Shrimp and sausage jambalaya

I will not for an instant claim that my jambalaya is great, or authentic, or anything of the sort, but it does come out tasty, even when I mess it up. On this particular batch, my screw-up was mistaking orzo pasta for white rice. My excuse is that they were both in unmarked mason jars in the cupboard and look amazingly similar when dried. It was not a huge mistake. Even when cooked, orzo is pretty rice-like in texture, and nobody complained.

Also, I miss those Jacques Pepin chicken bowls.

Dinner 8/28/21

Cabbage in chili sauce

Another one of my favorite dishes from Sichuan Gourmet is this dish of Chinese cabbage in chili sauce. Though they have a “spicy” icon next to it on the menu, it is actually not all that spicy compared to things like the Ma Po Tofu I posted the other day. It is incredibly well-balanced; a little sweet, a little savory, a little spicy. It’s a great thing to have alongside dishes that are a lot hotter, or dishes that are mild. My wife prefers to get dishes without meat, so we ordered this one time as a compromise and we both like it so much that we order it every time now.

Dinner 12/23/21

Potato gnocchi with butter, sage and garlic

Another impromptu dinner for one. Some store-bought potato gnocchi tossed in butter with some chopped sage, chopped garlic, and a little grated Parmesan on top. I managed to forget to save a little pasta water when I drained the gnocchi, because I wasn’t paying attention, and I think it would have made things a little saucier, but it was still plenty tasty. My wife grew a planter of fresh herbs this summer, and though we are late into December, there was still some sage growing. so I used some of that.

I’ve only ever made gnocchi from scratch once, when I was in cooking school. We even used the little ridged board so they would come out with the traditional shape. But that’s optional, and it’s perfectly acceptable to just make little pillow-shaped ones with a knife, I’ve just never gotten around to it. These were perfectly acceptable as is, and it seems like other than bragging rights, there’s no compelling reason to make them from scratch.

Dinner 12/13/21

Bucatini with Tuna Sauce and Capers

I have really scaled back my cooking over the last 6-8 months because my evening commute sometimes doesn’t get me home until 6:30, and because once I did get home, I was often too tired to be bothered. Moreover, withour daughter away at college, cooking for two, when one of those people is a fussy eater, felt like a chore. Nevertheless, I do cook dinner one or two nights a week, as time, energy level and interest permit.

This was an improvised meal I made just for myself, because my wife wasn’t hungry. There was a little bucatini in the cupboard from another easy meal we like (the famous TikTok Feta and Tomato Pasta), and several cans of tuna. I made a basic white sauce and added a can of tuna (drained) to that, then combined it with the pasta and about 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. I threw in some capers to add a little acidity, then some grated Parmesan on top.

I learned the pasta water trick from watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows. It works for just about any kind of sauce you have, helping it coat the pasta better and enriching the mouthfeel of the sauce.

Bucatini is a fun pasta, and great with a creamy sauce like this, but I think this would work with shells, orichiette, or even elbow macaroni. The bucatini made it feel a little more elevated and a little less like tuna noodle casserole.