Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer Sides

Ribs again tonight for dinner, which I really enjoy with a nice, homemade potato salad. Something about the hot, crispy, spicy sauce contrasting with the cool, creamy, starchy potatoes...

I used to buy the "homestyle" potato salad at the grocery, because it seemed so much easier. Then I tried to make my own one Sunday afternoon, and I was hooked. As usual, homemade is so much better, and worth the effort. Here is one flavorway that goes well with ribs.

Potato Salad Variation #3

3 lbs. red-skinned new potatoes
3 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon curry
dash Tabasco

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender (you should be able to stick a knife in them and remove it with little "give"). Drain the potatoes and let them sit in a colander for a few minutes to cool. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Combile the mayonnaise, mustand, sugar, curry, and Tabasco in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside. Place the chopped celery, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, and eggs in a large bowl. Chop the cooked potatoes into 1/2 inch dice (including the skins) and add to the bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss gently to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

What I Had for Dinner Last Night

Buttered popcorn, sixty-four ounces of Coke, and an electric blue "berry" Icee. "X-Men III: The Last Stand" wasn't much better than dinner.

Garbage Frittata

It's Sunday morning and you have some leftover cheese and a few tomatoes that are getting soft. Time for a breakfast frittata. For best results, cook it on the stovetop until the eggs are just set, and then finish it in the oven or, better yet, under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

Last week, Nick and I were talking books. "Why did Roald Dahl write 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'? he asked me. Huh? "He should have made it 'Charlie and the Cheese Factory'--there are lots of different kinds of cheese that are good to eat...." Yup.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


It's summertime, and time to start smoking the ribs. We tried a (slightly) new method tonight: rub 'em with spice, mop 'em with beer and vinegar, and sauce 'em just at the bitter end. Yum. With potato salad and corn on the side, a feast fit to launch the barbeque season.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What I learned in Mexico

Last November, I took a short vacation to San Miguel de Allende to celebrate my mother's 70th birthday. We stayed in a wonderful house, with a full staff. Tomasa, the housekeeper prepared simple meals (and cocktails) for us. My favorite was her huevos rancheros, which I asked for at breakfast nearly every day. Crispy tortilla, cool, spicy salsa, and warm, rich egg, all in one delicious bite. Plus, they are quick and inexpensive to make, especially with store-bought salsa. Here is my take on Tomasa's dish, which has become a favorite quick dinner at my house.

Huevos Rancheros

8 corn tortillas
1 container fresh tomato salsa (the kind kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery)
8 eggs
ranchero cheese, shredded
1 lime
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the tortillas with vegetable oil and place them on a baking sheet. Toast the tortillas in the oven, turning them every 5 minutes or so, until they begin to crisp. Set aside. Brown the chorizo in a frying pan. Drain the fat and set aside. In another pan, poach the eggs. While they are poaching, set two tortillas on each of four plates. Top each tortilla with a tablespoon of salsa. Top the salsa with the eggs. Sprinkle with cooked chorizo, a little cheese, and some chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and Mexican rice.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

The family surprised me with crab legs and pasta for dinner. It was worth the mess just to watch the children relish their shellfish. Crab legs, mussels, lobster--all wonderful kid-friendly foods. Diner involvement, big mess, dipping (in butter, no less!), what's not to like?