Homemade Noodles and Porcupines

Everyone in my family has their own birthday meal. And for as long as I remember, come my mom’s birthday, spaghetti and noodles are on the table. She could eat only pasta for the rest of her life and never complain. My love for the dish isn’t quite that deep, but I can appreciate a delicious noodle, smothered in tomato sauce.Noodles & PorcupinesThis, admittedly, is not my mom’s birthday meal. It’s a little more involved than she gets with her dinner. But I had time to waste and was craving some pasta. And, surprise surprise, my brothers actually liked it. We’ll have to remember that for future meals. Continue reading

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Maidrite

There is a ritual in my house that happened quite on accident and requires someone—me—to initiate it. Like clockwork, every other week I’ll go to the frige and realize that it needs some cleaning out. That rice from four days ago? The left over taco from lunch at your favorite restaurant? The six half-empty jars of dill pickle spears? Does anyone else in the house notice these things? So I yell for some help and inevitably end up clearing out a good portion of the shelves. Ready to be filled with ever more leftovers. Which I find ironic because most things in our house don’t get eaten once they enter the leftover phase. Things like sandwiches, spaghetti sauce, and anything grilled will sit, dejected, on the top shelf. However, there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them.

Whenever we make maidrites, there is more than enough to go around. Normally a good third ends up in glass containers, waiting to be reheated. But the miraculous thing is, it actually gets eaten! This is one of those rare dishes that we can get the brothers to eat, which is actually too bad because I would be fine not sharing.

This recipe is as easy to make as it is difficult to eat. I suggest a spoon to clean the plate of filling that will unavoidably fall out the back of the sandwich. Continue reading

Lasagna

There are certain times that I like to have the kitchen to myself, such as when I’m trying to go quickly, or if I’m grilling something. However, there are other times when I yell through the house for a sous chef or two. Today was one of those days.

The kitchen was dirty from days of entertaining family, and the refrigerator was empty after all of the leftovers were reheated, packed for drives home, or wrapped inside a brown paper bag and ready for lunch. And now the family was gone. We were left with cold rainy weather and nothing to do. I reasoned it was as good a time as any for some comfort food.
I know that I’m cheating. I said these would be strictly family recipes. And it half is. But I have to admit, I tinkered a little. But in my defense, I was throwing this together. Also in my defense, I believe that chicken broth can make anything just a little better. Continue reading

Beef Wellington

My favorite job during my under-grad years was my brief stint as a cook at the local restaurant. The place claimed to be Mediterranean, but judging by the amount of steak I prepared, it catered more to the tastes of the locals. There are a few vital lessons I learned in that kitchen:
First, hold the knife correctly. If you’re not using a knife that has been sharpened recently, or if you are cutting against yourself, you will get loudly cussed out. I learned this my very first day while dicing shallots.

Second, the only time food will taste perfect is when it is in season and grown by your neighbors. My college was in a fairly rural environment, so it was normal to find yourself preparing food for the farmers who grew it—nearly all produce we served was locally grown. No matter how popular our carrots were, we never had them in the spring or summer.

Third lesson… everything tastes good in puff pastry. One night when we couldn’t come up with a special, we decided to do a blue cheese burger in puff pastry. We sold out in just over an hour.
I’ve graduated now and moved out of town. The restaurant changed names and menus. Thank goodness puff pastry will always be there. Continue reading