Dear J -
I hope you are doing ok and resting. I am taking the day to dig out of my many piles. One of which is to catch up here - this long forgotten evening of some store bought marinated flank steak, too crispy potatoes, and spaghetti squash.
And who won this game of Catan? or how poorly I did on Mama Mia! Fortunately, there will be more opportunities to make a better dinner, and chance to do better on whatever game we choose.
Yet another last-minute menu plan.
Earlier in the week, I asked a mutual friend if he had tried peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese. He had not. I thought I'd make some quickly -- I dusted them with some savory sage salt.
goat cheese peppadew
The previous week, I had planned a meal that the power company decided to interrupt. Thankfully you and G were flexible and instead we had a nice meal out.
From the interrupted menu, I decided I would make roasted delicata squash but I switched up the rest of the menu.
For some reason I wanted to make roast beef. Why? I have no idea. Loosely following this recipe, which had me cook the roast on a rack in the center of the oven, so that it could cook from all sides at once. It starts at a high heat to crust the outside, then the temperature is dropped and it finishes cooking.
N's mom makes a chopped salad that I love. I have tried to copy it many times to no avail. This weekend, N called her to ask for her recipe. The secret? She blends blue cheese with ranch dressing and avocados for the dressing. Aha! It looked like a lot of dressing but it was mostly avocados!
I had pulled out Agricola, but N wasn't feeling up for it so he dealt our new Uno deck. It was labelled Uno Mod, which I thought was just a reference to the new deck design. Oh no. There is actually a new CARD. This new card allows the player to play it and hand out cards of the color selected to all of the other players. I don't think we liked it much! Why mess with success?
After G beat us in Uno, we played a bit of Carcassonne.
It was a close game. I've been playing a lot of Carcassonne on my phone. Maybe it's helping -- the rest of you usually destroy me in Carcassonne.
See you next time!
Hi J - I think I've satisfied cravings for Indian food for a while. How about you? First, we had take out from India Gate, then the lack of power at your house put us at Spice Route the following week.
In between the two meals of yummy India food, we managed a game of Settlers of Catan.
Where we had a close game but you won!
Then, you share this link, about friendships and games. Here is to more sharing my game nights with you and N.
Good day, E!
A few weeks ago our next door neighbor went fishing and caught a bunch of salmon. He brought us a few to smoke. N smoked them with a lot of seasoning and a few of them are a bit over-seasoned. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just make a spread."
I flaked half of a filet of salmon and then added 6 ounces of cream cheese and 4 ounces of crème fraîche to it until it was a spreadable but light consistency. N suggested adding green onion to the spread directly. I decided against it in case the green onion would lose their crunch and I just served them on the side with some quick pickled red onion. It was pretty good on store-bought fresh-baked pumpernickel bread.
While we ate all of the salmon spread, N grilled chickens.
N brined two chickens overnight. He coated them in some hatch chile barbeque sauce I made* and then smoked them with a bit of mesquite. They took a bit longer to cook than usual for some reason.
I threw together a quick, super-tart cole slaw (oops). I shredded the carrots and added them and they turned the entire batch a pale orange color. Not appealing! I did want it to be a bit tart to counter the slightly-sweet bbq sauce, but not THAT tart.
After an afternoon excursion to Cabela's resulted in the truck being hit and our trip taking a bit longer than expected, I supplemented with some store-bought scalloped potatoes. Since the cole slaw was horrible and G doesn't like chicken, I'm glad I added the potatoes!
After dinner, G suggested we play Settlers of Catan again. I fear he will suggest it every week until he wins a game!
not more settlers of catan!
We played two rounds -- you won the first one, N won the second. I guess that means more Settlers of Catan next week? Oh no. I might have to banish our copy with the Uno deck.
* Hatch Chile BBQ Sauce
6 fresh Hatch chile peppers
2 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup Guinness
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
Roast chile peppers over flame to blister and char all sides. Once charred, place peppers in paper bag to sweat for 10 minutes. Remove the charred skin along with the stem and seeds then rinse the peppers under cold running water.
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender. Add the chiles along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let set for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Place sauce in food processor or blender and puree.
Hi J - Wow. TIme flies when we are busy with canine appointments. It has been two weeks since this dinner and weather has definitely turned to early fall.
At a little after 4pm on that Saturday, after noticing G had set up the charcoal already...
me: what time are you starting the grill?
me: I thought you said the cooking time is 2 hours+
me: doesn't the charcoal take half an hour, and then resting time.
G: there is that.
And there you have it. Never mind that was an exact repeat of an earlier conversation in the morning.
I present to you food backup plan A - radish with cheese. I found some radish in the drawer that needed a little love. I stw and selected the first recipe. I made a quick cheese, drizzled with olive oil infused with lemon zest and garlic, and ground peppers.
Plan B - beef tongue. Marinated thin sliced beef tongue with the usual suspect of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and gochujang. The special ingredient was yuzu wikipedia. I added some to the marinate and sprinkled more just before serving. I like the sweet tangy taste of the citrus.
I did neglect to take a picture of my plate. I only have a photo of the [store bought] marinated tri-top roast. Served with [store bought] au gratin potatoes and simple romaine salad. Oh wait, I think it was scallop potatoes. Someone with more potato knowledge should explain the difference between au gratin and scallop, or read this chowhound discussion threat.
After dinner, who had the bright idea of Settlers of Catan, again? G, who also switched up the colors, which caused all kinds of issues.
I think N won this one. I've blocked out this six bijillionth Catan game. Hope you enjoyed the evening. See you next time.
It feels like laziness when I plan a redux menu. A couple of weeks ago we were laughing at the memory of you eating thousands of mussels at dinner a few years ago. I decided we'd see if my favorite eastside fishmonger had mussels for this week.
They did! Nice, fresh Penn Cove mussels. They also had a few different sizes of oysters and N picked out a few of them as well before supplementing with some very large oysters from Whole Foods.
For appetizer, N did Oysters Nick, his version of Oysters Rockefeller. He tops the oysters with hot sauce (Pain is Good Batch 37 Garlic Style) and garlic butter, then tops with a bit of shredded romano and grills it. The cheese is mostly there to hold everything else together.
These oysters were enormous!
Saturday morning I knit and flipped through a couple of cookbooks looking for a salad that would go along with mussels. In Jasper White's The Summer Shack Cookbook I found a green bean, red onion, and blue cheese salad.
I blanched trimmed green beans, tossed them with shredded romaine and quick-pickled red onion and a simple dijon vinaigrette I added a bit of blue cheese to. I topped the salad with more crumbled blue cheese and chopped Kalamata olives. I think it worked out with the main event...
Just as he did a few years ago, N made two types of mussels: garlic butter wine mussels and Thai green curry mussels.
Lots of cilantro, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime zest (we had trouble finding kaffir lime leaves-- I should just buy some the next time I see them and stash them in the freezer), shallot, garlic, coconut milk, and green curry paste for the Thai green curry mussels. This recipe looks fairly close to what N made.
After dinner, you treated us to mooncakes from Regent Bakery & Cafe. You mentioned an NPR piece about refrigeration of mooncakes -- it is both interesting and funny. Refrigerate moon cakes now, after hundreds of years of storing without refrigeration? Never.
I think my favorite mooncakes were the egg custard ones, followed by the winter melon.
The autumn harvest coincides with football -- the first weekend of real college football season led to the boys watching the end of the UW game while we made coffee and shared mooncakes.
Once the football game was over, we didn't have much time left in the evening so we just played a round of Uno. I tried to convince us to play something else with no luck.
Funny how your "lack of strategy" led to you winning Uno, isn't it? Until next time...
Pork, that's what's for dinner.
We started with a quick snack of some salumi, with some peppers and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Quick, simple, and tasty.
For dinner, we had thick cut pork chops from Fischers. But what to do when face with don't-want-another-usual-brine for pork chops? add beer. I modified the brine recipe by mixing beer with chicken broth, instead of water, and added some rosemary. Let me pause and say it was very nice to get the pork chops, via Amazon Fresh on Friday night. I did not have to hassle G to go to the store on Friday evening, or get up early on Saturday.
I had intentions of getting some greens, but couldn't find any, so default to a boxed herb salad, dressed with mustard vinaigrette. And we should have more pork. I sauteed some bacon, with apples and a celery root with some red onions. I couldn't taste the difference between the apples and the celery root. But eating the leftover at room temperature a couple of days later, the celery taste was more visible. I will probably not use the celery root again, it added no value.
What is not pictured are the potatoes G made. When I gave him the menu, he decided we needed another item. I vetoed corn (which we had last time together), then he suggested potatoes. "N likes potato". I do, a little too. My less-carb plan was foiled. I mentally blocked out the item until the very last minute, when I remember we do not have fixings. The horror. Thank you for bringing sour cream and chives.
After dinner, we tried a new to us games - Family Business BGG. Because of the family and death theme, it reminds me both of Gloom BGG and Guillotine BGG. The object is to be the last one standing. Lots of [killing] contracts, double cross, family influence, etc. Mob members are lined up when a player puts a contract, they may be counter or rescue. Once there are six mob members lined up, mob war starts, and does not end until they are all dead, or peace (card). When there are six mob members left, Mob War is trigger, and the last one standing wins.
There was a bit of stare-off-in-space where someone plays a counter card, and it becomes that player's turn. It is like Uno, where Reverse and Skip can be a snoozer, for the other players.
For a filler game, I generally like it. I am formulating a .. ahem.. strategy ... if it can be called that ... to be the last one standing. After all the killing, we default to Settlers of Catan, where I had yet another bad placement and lost, spectacularly. Good thing there were Loacker Quadratini Lemon Wafers, the cookies made losing yet another game of Settlers of Catan bearable.
That's a wrap. I hope you enjoyed the evening. See you next time.
Good evening, E!
When N told me he IMed G about what to make for dinner, I laughed. G suggested we try grilled pizza again or cioppino. So N decided on fajitas and margaritas. Makes total sense!
N marinated flank steak for a few hours and then quickly grilled it with a bit of mesquite wood smoke. I like mesquite in small doses.
N used to make this fresh pepper salsa -- all sorts of fresh peppers, a few tomatoes, onions, diced, lime juice. I really wanted a fresh corn salsa, so I prepped corn and asked N to make a less-hot version of his pepper salsa and add the corn to it. It turned out well!
We also had guacamole... that I forgot to add garlic to. That's how you know I was truly exhausted.
While pulling one of the steaks out of the freezer, N discovered a frozen pecan pie. It defrosted in time for a dessert snack. Chester was really happy he got crust treats!
Uno was all I could manage after a day of yardwork. I couldn't even make it upstairs to get my real camera. Uno!
After Uno we discussed the age of various games. Here's what we learned:
Chess: 6th century AD (India)
Backgammon: 3000 BC (Persia)
Go: 400 BC (China)
Playing cards: 9th century (China)
That was a bit of a surprise! Backgammon is a favorite of mine and a game I was taught how to play at a very young age (I never liked chess, so I guess I got backgammon instead - my brother got chess).
Maybe we can try Agricola (BGG) or Dominion (BGG) next time? I fear the boys will find Agricola too Farmville for their tastes but I want to try it out. I've been looking for a couple of deck combinations for Dominion that are more contentious and interactive for us to try out. I love Dominion but I think everyone else wants a game that involves more infighting!
See you next week!
Dear J - Nevermind the forecast says cool over the weekend and we got our first sprinkle of rain in over a month. "We will have sangria!"
I wanted a peach sangria, to use up some (home) canned peaches that needs to be use. And this one look particular good with blackberries. I used a Rioja, the only one available at the corner Safeway. Crossed my finger that it will be good. I was puzzling at the green fruit in the recipe picture, then funny thing, in the recipe video, there was lime, but not in the recipe. The flavor was ok, I don't think it will make it into the rotation. Me thinks dinner people prefer cocktail style beverage.
And through out the week, I couldn't stop thinking about the pork bun at Facing East. I even convinced a coworker to go to lunch there. Knowing pork belly won't do for us, so when G suggested ribs, I encouraged him to try country ribs. Safer choice to avoid burnt food. I also hope it would make a good substitute for belly. Then I consulted some Taiwanese coworkers for tips and tricks on the condiments.
I marinated half of the country ribs using this braised pork belly recipe, and reduced another batch for the drizzle sauce. The other half of the country ribs were brined simply. G indirected grill and smoke the country ribs. I think the pork turned out good.
The bun was overwhelming for burger was overwhelming, I didn't find the smaller ones I need, but more pork and fixings later, they turned out ok. The flavor was close.
And thank you for reminding me the kale salad was in the fridge when we sat down to eat. I copycated this salad from the Safeway deli. They call their version SuperFood - kale, dried cranberries, blueberries, carrots, and some little seed or nuts. My version skipped the dried cranberries and I added some goat cheese that was randomly in the fridge. I dressed it with a basic balsamic mustard vinaigrette.
After dinner, and rubber finger dropping a large beer on the floor, G suggested The Train Game - Ticket to Ride. I made the same mistake and kept a route card without enough trains to make the route. Then the second game, G blocked both of us. Gurr. However, my lucky draw of routes put me over the top.
Hope you enjoyed the evening. I am going to sip some leftover sangria. See you.
Hi! Phew! Little chicks are a lot of work! This is why we had a leisurely dinner about a month ago and also why I haven't written about it yet!
For dinner, I threw together a couple of salads.
The old summer standby: tomatoes, balsamic, basil, mozzarella.
A new trial: Mark Bittman's Roasted Sweet Potato salad from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Minus the raisins, plus celery (swapping an E-hated item for a E-slightly-less-hated item?).
sweet potato salad
I wanted to like this salad more than I did. It was just ok.
N picked up pre-formed burgers at Golden Steer in Bellevue and grilled them.
On the social networks Saturday morning, Alton Brown posted about his favorite summer drink, Cucumber Lemonade Gin Punch. It sounded great so I added it to the menu. I'd drink it again. I kept the gin separate so that anyone who wanted just the cucumber-lemonade could have it solo.
gin cucumber lemonade
After dinner, we finally played Risk Legacy (BGG). Talk about contentious!
Wargames and dice-rolling are probably your two least favorite game categories! But you soldiered on and tried to beat G's troops back. Unfortunately he was still able to win.
I found that I started playing the game the same way I used to play Risk, despite not having played Risk in over 20 years. This was not that great of a strategy.
I was sort of sad that we didn't get to open any packets but I was really excited when we got to do the end of game modifications. I really like the concept of a game that changes over time depending on who plays it and how the games are won.
It's just too bad it's a dice-rolling wargame!
See you next time!