Category Archives: Sunday Supper

Sunday Supper: Baked Beans and Barbecue

The date: Sunday, June 12, 2011

The menu: Grilled chicken with homemade barbecue sauce, homemade baked beans, cabbage slaw with cilantro dressing, and English muffin bread.

The inspiration: My grandma

Apparently, my grandma loves barbecue sauce. I just learned this. So, did my dad, actually. He’s the one who told me. She puts it on everything, he said. Don’t get me wrong though, my grandma doesn’t eat much. She’s petite as can be and turns out, she likes barbecue sauce. It was her birthday this week, so when I found out she was going to be in town and would be able to come over for dinner, I knew exactly what to do.

If you’ve ever made barbecue sauce before you know it consists primarily of ketchup. So the morning began with my ketchup project. I freaking love homemade ketchup. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the artificially smooth and processed ketchup that everybody’s used to so eating homemade ketchup works for me. It’s not for everyone, but I love it. I find it flavorful and bright tasting. Have I mentioned how much I love the cookbook that provides me with all my DIY recipes like ketchup, Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it? I do. I love that book.

For a vegetable, I harvested another head of savoy cabbage and cut it into slivers. I cut up some radishes that I harvested too into super thin slices. I tossed the cabbage and radishes in some of that creamy cilantro dressing and left it on the counter for a half hour or so. I tossed it again before I served it and it was amazing! Best “coleslaw” I’ve had in a long time! The brightness of the cilantro dressing was a great contrast with the strong flavor of cabbage.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was looking up recipes for baked beans. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to find a recipe for baked beans from scratch that didn’t include throwing in a couple cans of Pork and Beans. That was not the kind of make-it-from-scratch I was looking for. So, finally, with a little help from a recipe I found at Food.com, I made my own baked beans. They were a huge hit and went really well with my homemade barbecue sauce. And my grandma approved, which is all that really matters anyway.

Baked Beans
Adapted from food.com

2 cups dried pinto beans
1 large yellow onion, diced
about 8 slices of thick-cut peppered bacon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans overnight in salt water. The next day, cook the beans until tender.

Cook the bacon, then pat dry and cut into small pieces. Set aside. Saute the onion in the pans (I had to use two skillets to cook all the bacon) with the bacon grease until it just begins to soften, about 5 minutes or so.

In a crock pot, put the beans, onion, the remaining ingredients, and 1 cup of hot water and mix well. The original recipe says to cook on the low setting for 10 to 12 hours, but I didn’t have that long. So, I cooked it on high for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, and then set it on low to keep warm about an hour or so before we were going to eat. Super delicious and so worth it! Enjoy!

Recipe Reorganization

There was a time when I had an ever growing stack of magazines by the side of my bed. I’d dog-ear pages that had recipes I wanted to try and when it came time to cook, I’d never remember them.

It wasn’t until I was cleaning one day, when I decided I had to do something with that stack of magazines. When I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor, the broom leaning against the wall, and the magazines sitting open in my lap thinking to myself, oh yeah, I wanted to make that!
It was clear – I needed a system. So, I started a binder and over the years it’s become one of the most trusty kitchen tools I’ve got!

I used tab dividers to create broad categories in an attempt to sort all my recipes.

Later those broad categories were sorted by ingredient sub-categories. The more I grew rhubarb, the more rhubarb recipes I wanted.

The more I ate winter squash, the more experiments I wanted to do with it.

The more I grew zucchini, the more zucchini recipes I collected. And there’s no better thing in the summer when you have a counter-full of summer squash to be able to open your binder to a ton of delicious zucchini recipes.

When I see a recipe I love or want to try, I tear it out of the magazine, put it in a plastic sleeve, and file it in my binder. Then when it comes time for Sunday dinner, time to try a new recipe out, I look to my binder for inspiration.

The plastic sleeves make great little pockets for holding the food tutorials and recipe cards you get in your CSA or from the farmers’ market vendors.

They’re also great for storing old, but cherished hand-written and typed family recipe cards. Yes, I actually typed that recipe on a typewriter for my mom when I was young.

Or for protecting beloved recipes like this one, which was handwritten by my mom. No food splattering can muck up this one.

Of course, I’ve had to purge the binder a few times throughout the years to let go of old recipes that I just, for some reason, seem to avoid. But inevitably that space is quickly filled up with new ones. It’s a super simple organizational solution to manage the constant culinary inspiration that comes my way.

Sunday Supper…on Saturday

The date: Saturday, June 4, 2011

Since I’ll be at a little one’s second birthday party on Sunday, I enjoyed my Sunday Supper experiment one day early!

The menu: Roasted Copper River Salmon and grilled pizza with grilled asparagus, chevre and oregano oil.

The inspiration: A two year old article from Sunset Magazine

That’s right. I’ve been wanting to learn how to grill pizzas for at least two years now. I’ve been making pizza since I started making bread, but grilling them? Now that was just plain intriguing. It even made it on to my dream list. My sister and I have been making dream lists since I was in college – I think it was something she saw on Oprah. I guess nowadays they’re called bucket lists. For me, it’s simply a list of things I’d like to do or own that will contribute to my personal growth (i.e. my ever-growing list of projects). I update them every couple of years in order to put new items on the list as my tastes grow and change and I highlight the items I’ve accomplished as I go. It’s a way of making those things you say you’d love to do, a reality. And today, I got to cross one off. I tucked this how-to article into my recipe binder two years ago and tonight, I finally put it to use.

When I was at the farmers’ market last week, I was talking to this good-looking farm vendor about which asparagus to choose, the super skinny ones or big fat stalks. He said, “That depends. How are you going to cook it? Are you going to grill it?” I gave him sort of a bashful look and said, “I don’t know how to grill.” He raised his eyebrows quizzically and gave me a look that said, “Really? I don’t buy it.” The whole charcoal hassle and monitoring heat was just overwhelming, a job I left to my dad a few sunny afternoons during the summer. But, oh what a difference a gas grill can make because friends, I’ve learned to grill! It’s right outside my kitchen door under an awing so now I can grill year round.

Even Lucy and Penny wanted to get in on the grilled pizza action.

I’m not going to go through the whole process that’s involved in grilling pizza – Sunset already did that. Follow the steps in this how-to article and you’ll be set. I am going to encourage you to check it out though and try it yourself. The best thing I learned from this dinner experiment is the potential it has for a fantastic dinner party. The idea is that you grill the little personal size pizzas (and they are filling, by the way) on one side. Then, you take the pizzas off the grill and let people dress the grilled side of the pizza with a buffet of toppings that you provide. When you’re ready, you put the pizzas back on the grill to finish them – grilling the bottom, heating the toppings, and melting the cheese.  So fun! And delicious! Since this was my first time grilling pizzas, my crusts were a little, um, rustic. But this is a work in progress and I think I have many friends who would enjoy being my grilled pizza guinea pigs.

Oregano Oil

Adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

In the original recipe, Deborah uses sage leaves to make sage oil, which is especially lovely in the fall and winter when roasting winter squash and root vegetables. I wanted something reminiscent of tomato sauce since tomatoes are not quite in season so I made the oil with fresh oregano. I used this herb infused oil to rub on the asparagus before putting it on the grill and used it to brush on my seasonal pizza biancas (white pizzas). The possibilities are endless!  The crispy leaves that you end up with can be used as a garnish.

4 Tablespoons salted butter
3 medium cuttings of fresh oregano (~30 leaves)
1/3 cup olive oil

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it turns pale gold. Add the oregano leaves and let them sizzle for a minute or so. Pour in the oil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer and reserve the leaves. Enjoy!

Makes ~ 1/2 cup.

Salad for Supper: Dressing

When you eat salad as much as I do, you need to get creative with salad dressing. My go-to is usually just a super simple blend of olive oil and vinegar, but lately I’ve had a hankering for a little something more. Luckily, I saved a page out of the March issue of Sunset magazine, which had a variety of dressing recipes. The one for a creamy fresh herb dressing caught my eye. I made it the other night with mostly cilantro since I’ve got cilantro aplenty in my garden right now and it is delicious! I found myself craving salad this weekend and even contemplated eating a salad as a midday snack, which I never do. It’s that good. The recipe says it will keep for two weeks, chilled, but it was so tasty, mine only lasted a couple of days.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Adapted from Sunset

This recipe incorporates coriander, which is actually cilantro seeds. So, I love that little botanical connection, not to mention the flavor. When you’re done making the coriander oil, don’t wash the pan. Set it aside and make honey coriander walnuts (recipe below).

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, large stems removed
~1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (I used what I have – purple-colored, chocolate mint)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 kosher salt

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander; sizzle for a few seconds. Remove from heat and let cool. Roughly chop the herbs and put them in a blender with the yogurt, vinegar, salt, and coriander oil. Blend until smooth.

Want to make some delicious toasted nuts to go with your delicious cilantro dressed salad? Put the pan that you used to make the coriander oil back on the stove over medium heat. Add about a cup of shelled walnut halves and pieces. Drizzle with some honey, not much, just enough to give the nuts a little sweetness. Now, mix the nuts around until they are more or less evenly coated with the remaining coriander and warming honey. Move the walnuts around frequently until they are toasty, about five minutes. Make sure to move them around – they’ll burn faster than you think. Let cool before tossing on your salad. If you have no self control like me, put them out of sight until you’re ready to use them or you might gobble up the whole pan before they make it to your lettuce.

Here are some other salad dressings I’d like to try:
Ashley’s recipe for creme fraiche vinaigrette
Diana’s Mint Vinaigrette

What other dressings should I try?