August 2009


I came across this recipe at the Mail Online’s website while I was looking for a definition of old-school Marie Rose sauce, and while I found a plethora of family-by-family variations — apparently this sauce is a staple of English cuisine! — this recipe had the fewest ingredients, all of which I have around the kitchen every day. Plus, Jamie Oliver conveniently gave me another recipe, for prawns, with which to eat the Marie Rose sauce.

Prawns with an Old-School Marie Rose Sauce
Serves 2 

For the prawns
plain flour
220g/8 oz king prawns, peeled and ready to eat*
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 heaped tsp paprika
extra virgin olive oil

For the Marie Rose sauce
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. whisky**
1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper***

*I can’t seem to get prawns in southeastern Massachusetts; jumbo shrimp works just fine.
**At this time, I used Jameson’s.
***I also added a dash of paprika. 
 

Put a handful or two of flour into a bowl. Drop your prawns into the bowl of flour and toss until they’re completely coated.

To make your sauce, put your mayonnaise into a bowl with the ketchup, a small splash of Worcestershire sauce and the booze. Halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice from one of the halves. Cut the remaining half into wedges for serving. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Give it a taste and add a touch more salt, pepper and lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Get yourself a large pan and place it on a high heat. When the pan is hot, pour in 2 good lugs of olive oil. Bash and break up your garlic cloves with your hand and add these to the pan, immediately followed by your flour-dusted prawns. Toss them well to coat them in the hot oil. Count to ten, then add a pinch of salt and pepper, and the paprika for flavour and colour. Keep tossing your prawns, trying to keep them in a single layer in the pan, so they cook evenly, for about 3-4 minutes, until crisp and golden.

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photo by Rachel

I didn’t make the avocado salad Jamie recommends, I just got some mixed spring greens and drizzled over the last drops of balsamic vinaigrette. I paired the dish with an Australian chardonnay and enjoyed my night in!

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Deli Bob’s
Thames Street
Newport, RI

Cheese pizza
Turkey Cuban sandwich
ham, turkey, Cuban dressing, chopped dill pickle 

 

I am pretty sure the cheese pizza was made to order, either that or they had to go hunt the turkey for my Turkey Cuban, because it sure took a while for our food at this slightly-off-the-main-path Newport deli to be ready. The counter staff (two teenaged or early twenty-something girls) even had to ask him if he’d gotten his food yet. While he was inside waiting for our orders, I was outside staking a table on the deli’s breezy front porch and watching the foot traffic. One thing I learned about Newporters is that they aren’t too terribly charitable. Every single person who went past seemed to be in a foul mood.

The food, once it came, was surprisingly to die for. My small Cuban was just enough protein and bread for a filling lunch before a walk on the cliffs, but not so filling that I felt weighted down. The cheese pizza was piping hot, thin-crusted, with a bubbly cheese mixture. The thin crust was not overcooked, so the thin edges didn’t burn but were still soft on the inside with a little bit of crunch on the crust. This is another indicator that makes me think the pizza was freshly cooked, it hadn’t had time to become overcooked.

If you’re in Newport and need a small, inexpensive place to eat with a good selection of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and ice cream, Deli Bob’s is not a bad place to drop in; just watch out for the locals.

TGIFriday’s
Braintree, MA

Pick Three appetizer
boneless Buffalo wings, crispy green bean fries, and breaded mozzarella sticks
BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad
Chicken Parmesan Sliders
Two breaded chicken sliders on Ciabatta bread topped with Provolone cheese and marinara sauce. 
Jack Championship BBQ Chicken & Shrimp Combo
Classic Sirloin

We decided to do the Pick Three appetizer, because I wanted Crispy Green Bean Fries and this makes me a weirdo in my family. The men split the boneless Buffalo wings (a tiny bite I sampled was WAY TOO hot for me), while I kept to the CGBF and Mum kept to the mozzarella sticks, which were hot and gooey without being too hot or too gooey.

I didn’t get a crack at Jim’s shrimp, which apparently were wrapped in bacon and slathered with JD BBQ sauce. I’m not sure how I feel about shrimp wrapped in bacon, I sort of feel like that is the purview of the scallop. But the chicken, half of which came home as a leftover, was good, if it somehow gave off the impression that it was industrialized. Maybe it was the perfectly cross-hatched grill marks that gave it away. But the light coating of JD BBQ sauce was sweet, not too strong. And the cheese mashed potatoes were delightfully cheesy.

Mum’s Chicken Parm Sliders looked good, with a little bit of salad in a side dish. I might give a thought to ordering that next time. Chicken parm always sounds good to me, until I get to the restaurant and start reading the menu and I find something more tantalizing. I ordered the same BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad I ordered on an early trip to TGIFriday’s, in Stoughton, and it was just as good if lighter on the extras, like the now-famous jicama. It had just the right amount of dressing and BBQ sauce, which goes a long way toward making a good dinner salad. Too much is overpowers the flavors of the greens and the protein and makes a soggy salad, too little can’t bring the salad together in to a whole and the greens and protein are too dry.

Dad’s steak must have been good, as he did not remark over it and he didn’t bring any home as a leftover.

Tim Horton’s
Augusta, ME

Canadian Maple donut
Coffee, hot
Coffee, iced

I feel that over two days, the team at Tim Horton’s never figured out what “and sugar” meant. “Medium hot coffee with cream and sugar,” I’d say. And the cup of coffee they gave me had cream, but seemed to contain no sugar. It was annoying, and I was able to live with it, but Jim couldn’t. He even asked for “extra cream, extra sugar” just like he does at the Dunkins here at home. He had to go sugar up his iced coffee in order to not offend his palate.

The donuts were small-ish, which I think was good, because they did pack taste and had they been larger, they might have been “too much.” Sometimes I just get in a headspace where I WANT MAPLE, so the Canadian Maple donut spoke to me behind the glass case and I had to give it a try. I was nibbling along Saturday morning when I got halfway through and realized that not only does it have a buttery European-pastry texture, it has yellow custard in the middle like a traditional Boston Creme donut. Maple frosting plus buttery texture plus custard interior is like nothing could be better on this earth.

Tim Horton’s lost points on the coffee but gets big points for a surprising donut with great texture and flavor. So nice I had the same breakfast two days in a row.

I doubled this recipe for the family reunion this weekend. I needed a side dish that would keep 24 hours in a cooler packed in ice while we drove north to Maine. For some reason I didn’t want to make the potato salad I make for Jim’s family reunion. I was watching FoodNetwork earlier in the week and saw Sunny Anderson’s show, and this side dish seemed easy, pretty, and tasty.

1/2 pound of green beans
1/4 cup sliced Spanish olives*
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup cubed provolone cheese
2 cups cubed salume
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper

*No olives in my salad. I substituted halved grape tomatoes. Marinated mushrooms would also be a good inclusion.

Fill a large bowl with a handful of ice and water. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the beans and cook until tender but still crunchy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to cool. Drain beans on paper towels, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

In a large serving bowl toss together beans, olives, red pepper, onion, cheese, and salami. In a separate bowl whisk in order, the red wine vinegar, sugar, oil and black pepper, to taste. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

This was my first adventure with blanching green beans, and I was worried I’d overdo them, but surprisingly I didn’t. I made this dish up on Friday afternoon and it wasn’t served until Saturday afternoon, and even after a day marinating in the oil and vinegar dressing, they were still crunchy. On the other side of the spectrum, a day marinating in the oil and vinegar tempered the flavors of the smoky provolone and the salume. Jim does not like raw tomatoes, but he actually liked the halved grape tomatoes that had soaked up the dressing. The highest praise any side dish could have garnered came from my uncle, who said “I like it…even if it does have green beans.” Well, that won him the privilege to keep all the leftovers.

Easily doubled. Kept like a gem in ice in our cooler almost 24 hours. (Side note: Want to know how awesome our cooler is? It kept a half gallon of milk icy fresh from Friday night to Sunday morning. I. Was. Amazed.)

This recipe is in the “Children” section of the book, but I have found that they are as much if not more popular among the adults at a party than the kids.

Recipe text from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, page 223.

“If you’ve ever eaten Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you’ll recognize these homespun versions of them. And if you discount melting the chocolate (which in any case the microwave can do) there is no cooking involved. You may think that seeing how the dough is made — just peanut butter, butter, and sugar — might put you off eating them. Sadly not.

For the base:
scant 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
scant 1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

For the topping:
7 ounces milk chocolate
4 ounces dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

1 9-inch square pan, greased

 “Stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth. I use the paddle attachment to my mixer which my children love operating, but a bowl and a wooden spoon will do the job just as well. You will find, either way, that some of the dark brown sugar stays in rubbly, though very small, lumps, but don’t worry about that. Press the sandy mixture into the brownie pan and make the surface as even as possible.*

“To make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together (in a microwave for ease, for a minute or two on medium) and spread on the base. Put the pan in the refrigerator to set. When the chocolate has hardened, cut into small squares** — because, more-ish as it undeniably is, it is also very rich.”

 Makes approximately 48.***

 

*I use my hands and a pair of rubber gloves for this, because the mixture is sticky and between the peanut butter and the greased pan, very oily at room temperature.
**Here’s the trick I learned after the first disastrous batch. Put the pan in the refrigerator to set. Once it has set, take it out and let it sit in a cool place on the kitchen counter, then once it has come close enough to room temperature to be cut smoothly with a sharp knife, cut in to your squares. Then return the pan to the fridge to allow the chocolate to re-set, this time cut in to squares. When the chocolate has hardened again, the individual squares should pop right out. We use a silicon 9×9 pan, so it is even easier to pop them out. If you cut the squares while the chocolate is hard, the chocolate will break unevenly and separate from the peanut butter base. If you let it warm a little first, it will cut like a dream.
***I make 36. It’s easier to partition out the pan that way, in quarters, then each quarter again in to ninths.

Pacific Pork Kebabs with Pineapple Rice

For the kebabs:
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut in to cubes
2 medium-sized red bell peppers, cut in to large-ish pieces
Glaze 

For the glaze:
1/3 c. honey
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1 c. cooked rice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved, pineapple coarsely chopped (use the reserved juice in the glaze)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

 

I did as much in advance as I could, slicing the scallions and breaking down the red peppers the night before and putting them in airtight containers in the fridge; draining the pineapple and mixing the glaze in mid-afternoon; all I had to do at dinner time was cut up the pork, thread the kabobs, and grill.

My experience with pork is that it is a fickle meat, difficult to cook thoroughly but remain tender. Usually I put it in the slow-cooker with a whole bottle of barbecue sauce and let it slow cook all day. Jim usually buries it in sauerkraut in a glass casserole and bakes it until it is cooked through and the whole house smells of sauerkraut. This recipe sounded so simple, sweet, and sticky, and looked so golden, and it’s Martha Stewart-approved, so it must be a Good Thing.

I think that if we had a real grill, not a grill pan on the stovetop, this would have cooked more quickly and evenly, and would have been less messy toward the end, when the pork juices and the glaze combined in the pan to form a smoky, sticky mess. Despite those obstacles, the meat turned out golden, not overly too sweet (even though we drizzled glaze every time we turned the kebabs), and incredibly moist and tender. I took off most of the fat when I was prepping the meat, so the meat really shone and there was no tough pieces.

As far as the rice, I think I needed to add some pineapple juice or honey, or a bit of both, to sweeten it; the scallions gave a bitter oniony bite with no counter. The rice needed the peppery-sweet pork to balance it, so to stand on its own it needs a sweet flavor to balance the onion, the chopped pineapple just didn’t cut it. I’d also be happy to serve the kebabs with plain ol’ rice. I’m simple. And we’re looking forward to making this recipe again when we have a house, not an apartment, and a real grill in the backyard.