Archive for the ‘Sunday Dinner’ Category

Sunday Dinner: Eye of Round Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

Sunday Dinner is back! I can see that, slowly, slowly, I am coming into a little more discretionary time. It’s a product of a few things. The first is that, for better and worse, the boys occupy themselves and one another with more independence all the time. I am still the moon to them, but maybe not so much the stars. Mostly I’m so grateful that, for the time being, they are excellent friends to one another. Not only does this leave me to myself more often now, but it has a halo effect in that I’m not entirely exhausted all of the time.

So, my plants are happier. My closet is (a little) tidier. I exercise occasionally. I am catching up with television and movies (although I am still years behind). And I am back amidst my pots and pans. I acknowledge that this could all unwind in an instant, which is my bloggy version of knocking on wood.

Lack of time never stops me from thinking of, from missing, my Dad. His birthday was last month. It felt good to bring out his recipe folder. I’ll bet he made most of those things either once or never, but he saved them because they appealed to him. And so they appeal to me. In picking, I wanted something that seemed kind of simple and essential, and a roast seemed like my Dad’s definition of those things.


I’ve never heard of eye of round roast. Or round roast. But the butcher had, so we were a go. The recipe is obviously simple, but I still managed to overcook it. I did not consider that my roast was very much on the small side and I should have adjusting the cooking time down to accommodate that. It’s fine. It’s edible. It’s just a boring roast to me. Damon loves it and Elliot says, “More beefs, please.” Alden won’t touch it, reminding me that, “I’m not really a fan of meat.” I had a bite, toasted my Dad with my glass of milk (a shared favorite) and will just be grateful to be back at work on the folder.

Sunday Dinner: Green Beans with Warm Bacon Dressing

I posted this on Instagram just a few days ago.

Stop with the Bacon

I’m so tired of bacon as shorthand for “I’m a sexy food hedonist.” I’m also tired of faux taxidermy and Zooey Deschanel.

It only seems right that one day later I was in a grocery store, standing at the deli counter asking where I can find the bacon.

My Mom had us over dinner for the 4th of July. I was missing my Dad, and wanted to be with him too. My choices on that are obviously narrow, and so I ended my recipe hiatus and found something simple to complement the dinner Mom was planning.

The green beans in bacon dressing recipe was perfect, because Dad would have been particularly entertained to watch me try to buy the bacon, try to cook the bacon. Both parts worked out, but I needed someone to tell me where in the grocery store I could find it and also how to cook it in the frying pan. You don’t need any fat to fry it, by the way. Amazing! It makes its own frying fat! I will grant that asparagus doesn’t do that.

I don’t know where this recipe came from. It’s on a little white index card in feminine hand. Maybe my Aunt? We’ll assume for the sake of my digestion that it wasn’t from my long-gone stepmother.

It was good. As I crumbled the bacon over the green beans I would see my Dad’s hands transposed over my own. I loved his broad, manicured nails.

He died just over two years ago.

I have his food and I will (try to) feed it to my kids and keep the transmission clear down through my family.

Green Beans with Warm Bacon Dressing

(2 servings)

1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, cut into 2″ lengths

2 bacon slices

1 Tbsp chopped shallot

2 tsp white wine vinegar

Cook beans in large pot of boiling water about 8 mins.

Fry bacon crisp, remove & crumble

Add shallots to skilled & saute about 30 secs. Remove from heat, cool slightly, add vinegar to shallot mixture

Season warm dressing to taste with salt and pepper

Pour dressing over beans & crumble bacon on top

Sunday Dinner: Asparagus Vinaigrette

Things got crazy in the run up to the holidays. I cranked through a few more recipes, but didn’t get to writing about them. Then Alden got sick on the first of January. I don’t think I’ve cooked a meal since.

My life list languishes, cobwebby and neglected. I don’t want that to happen to this recipe project.

Today something simple, hand-written on an unlined index card.

Asparagus Vinaigrette (serves 4)

1lb asparagus

3T olive oil

1T wine vinegar

1/2-1tsp Dijon mustard (I use a heaping half)

Heat a little water in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add asparagus & cover. Simmer 5-8 min til “crisp” tender. remove, rinse in cold water. Drain & pat dry. Set on platter & drizzle dressing over.

Dressing: Combine vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper. Gradually whisk in oil.

Serve hot, room


It’s not my dad’s handwriting. Possibly it came from his sister, my Aunt Pat. It’s the kind of thing I saw regularly on the table. Dad loved asparagus.

Sunday Dinner: Salmon Salad

Things I’ll make from scratch:

— bread

— pasta sauce

— cake

Not that I do #s 1 and 3 regularly, but I can make a good argument. It’s cheaper and the end result is both customized to your tastes and more delicious than what you buy.

Things that make no sense to make from scratch:

— pasta

— granola

— cheese and yogurt

You can do those things to enjoy the process, but I’m hard pressed to see any practical benefit. I know there’s the whole cult of unpasteurized dairy lovers out there, but I’ve never tried it so I live on in ignorance.

Today I added roasted peppers to the second list.

I will grant that they are better than what I buy in a jar. A little bit. They would have to be damn near miraculous to justify all the charring and bagging and peeling and nonsense. Roasted peppers from a jar are delish, and I can eat the whole jar faster than I can peel one pepper. Does this have something to do with my skill level? Certainly. But that’s what I have to work with.

What all this has to do with the recipe of the day is that it’s the “salad” portion of the salmon salad, which is not at all what I was expecting. The salmon part was just a very basic rub — cayenne and cumin — on a piece of grilled fish. I guess the peppers got thrown in to make this an actual recipe.

This is another one of those funky little cards chucked into the recipe folder. Do I think my Dad ever made this? No. But if I start trying to categorize the recipes by their likeliness I will never come back out of that wormhole. So if it’s in the folder, it’s on the agenda.

Note that the card tells us about ancient Chinook rituals surrounding their salmon catch. Very interesting and more edifying than the actual recipe.

Recipe #16: Salmon Salad

Also this week

Recipe #17: Simple Mushroom Saute and Rustic Pasta from Boulder Locavore

Sunday Dinner: Mustard Mashed Potatoes

This is one of those non-recipe recipes. I mean, couldn’t you make it just from the title of this post? I guess if you had never made mashed potatoes, had never seen someone make mashed potatoes, you might not know to add milk and butter…

I prefer a bit of bite with the creaminess of mashed potatoes, which makes mustard a common addition at our table. I also leave the skin on for a little more texture, although I know most recipes tell you to take it off. You’re also hanging on to more vitamins by eating the skin. If, you know, nutrition is a consideration when cooking comfort foods.

The biggest challenge of this Sunday Dinner is the part where Damon mis-read my “1.5 pounds” for “15 pounds” when grocery shopping. We found a lot of ways to bake potatoes in the following days.

By the way, Damon decided he’s in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m consulting, and have been assigned the mashed potatoes as my contribution. He’s handed out stuffing, wine, desserts and appetizers to other family members. The rest — main and three or four more sides — is all him. He’s going to be great.

Recipe 15: Mustard Mashed Potatoes from Gourmet via Epicurious.

Sunday Dinner: Whole Roasted Chicken on the Cocorico

“on the Cocorico” took some thought. I didn’t know if it was a serving style, a la “on the rocks.” Or what.

Turns out a Cocorico is a roaster that looks like the novelty sombrero frat boys use for nachos.

My Dad would absolutely buy something like this. I will not. Dedicated as I am to this project, I can’t spend $70+ on an item I will never, ever use again.

I never saw the Cocorico in my Dad’s kitchen. I’ve never seen a chicken purported to be roasted that way. The mystery will stand.

If you’re up for it: Whole Roasted Chicken on the Cocorico from NapaStyle (which just happens to sell that Cocorico. Imagine.)

Sunday Dinner: Pulled Pork Barbecue

I set the plate down in front of Damon and said, maybe a little defensively, “I followed the recipe exactly.”

It wasn’t so bad. The recipe called for a vinegar-based sauce. I love vinegar, but this was VINEGAR. I grew up with the tomato-based variety of barbecue sauce, which I love like I love little kittens. I’m not even going to start the regional debate. I’m sure my friends at The Communal Skillet would be happy to get into it with you. For me, though, this sauce was more eye-watering than mouth. And after the leftovers concentrated in the fridge — whoa.

So I got this 5-pound pork roast — Boston butt. Research tells me that this is actually the shoulder, but whatever. I was relieved to see there was no bone. I’m learning to face down a hunk of raw meat, but I’m nowhere near sanguine (get it?) about it. Alden was not at all put off. And he did know what he was looking at. He helped me coat the whole thing with a spice rub, testing each one individually as we mixed it up. His verdict… brown sugar is awesome and paprika causes him to make a sound like a fog horn.

Here’s where I learned that all-day recipes crush my puny scheduling abilities. Friday afternoon, when I started this, I noted that the rub needed to sit on the roast anywhere from an hour to overnight. That extra hour killed my hopes of getting it on the table before kid bedtime, so overnight it was. Shift pulled pork dinner to Saturday night.

Alden’s birthday party was Saturday morning, but somehow we didn’t come home until 3. This had something to do with Alden, his friend M, and M’s mom being lost on nature center grounds for an hour+. But it also had something to do with me totally forgetting about the pork roast because I was having fun running around in the woods. Shift pulled pork dinner to Sunday.

I don’t know how Sunday got away from me. I put the pork in the oven for its 6-hour roast at around 3:30. So, sandwiches for dinner! I put Alden to bed that night and, as I often do, I dozed myself. Laying there in a dreamy haze I realized that my little experiment was still in the oven. Damn! Damn! I do not want to get up and fool with this at nigh-on-10-o’clock. What else was I going to do, though? So at 9:45 I was completely tired and staring at this meat that I was supposed to “pull” using two forks. Fork that, man. I lasted about 10 minutes and then started shredding it with my (washed! washed!) hands, burning my fingers and cursing as I went.

I don’t know. There are big pockets of fat(?) in the middle of the roast. Fat makes meat delicious, I realize. But big globs of it that bring their own gross texture? That can’t be right. I kept throwing big hunks of questionable bits into the garbage. The more impatient and frustrated I got, the bigger the hunks. I tried hacking some off with a knife. Some of the meat texture seemed strange. I threw that away too. I would say my 5 pounds of meat ultimately yielded about five sandwiches worth of barbecue.

Damon liked it enough to eat it all up in the course of a few days. I’d wondered, considering my past love of barbecue sauce, if this would be the dish that would catapult me back into full-time carnivore. It was not.

Oh, and the cole slaw. I’d already tasted the barbecue sauce so I adapted the recipe a little bit to help chill things out. I left out the red pepper and Dijon, and I also halved the onions. It was a good impulse. That I will eat right down to the bottom of the bowl.

Recipe #13: Pulled Pork Barbecue from