whatever todd's cooking

You Win Some, You Lose Some (feat. Charred Broccoli Farro Soup)

Well I spent the weekend worshipping the devil and trying to fucking raise the goddamn dead in the studio with my band and didn’t do any cooking at all, leaving the taking care of the kids to my lovely wife. On Sunday night I opened the freezer and thought I had gotten so goddamn high I had time warped back to 2001 living in Boston and not caring about cooking and having a freezer full of Trader Joe’s food. (Although I will say that the fact we couldn’t get 2 Buck Chuck in Mass due to their dumb ass liquor laws was likely a blessing and not a curse.) (Also I found a bag of penne pasta with sauce, frozen. It takes seven fucking minutes to heat up in the microwave, and requires refrigeration! You could buy a box of pasta and a jar of sauce and it’ll take maybe 11-12 minutes to cook and be shelf stable! But I will admit the microwave is easier. Only I had to show them how to set the power level on it…)

(And yes, get the fuck off my fucking lawn.)

(Apparently I’m in a real parenthetical mood today as well.)

After I got home I realized that I needed to probably make a menu for the week so I could go to the supermarket as well, and given the crap I had consumed over the weekend (nachos, pizza, burritos) I should probably make something that reeks of health and good choices to balance myself out. And nothing says “healthy” like feta motherfucking cheese right?

A shallow bowl containing feta cheese with lemon peel, capers, garlic, cumin, coriander, red chili flake and olive oil on top

This is really one of those things that I have no clue how to photograph well. Wait. That's all the things.

The best part about the feta is that my kids see this and go “oh dad it’s a fancy dinner tonight” and try to talk with high-class British accents and dab at the corners of their mouths with napkins and say “ooh lovely.” Minus the picky eating I feel like we’re doing something right here.

Actual footage of us eating pizza

But in all honesty I originally decided to make Ali Slagle’s Broccoli and Farro with Capers and Parsley because, well, it was green, and, well, green things mean healthy things. (See: kale, peas, ecto-cooler, boogers). It was only when I realized that it was missing something a little bit, well, not-so-fucking-healthy that I decided to make the cheese thing. The best part about this is that it looks fancy but like I did almost nothing: thinly slice more garlic than you’d think you want to consume in one sitting (like most of a bulb), and put it in some olive oil along with some whole spices (cumin, fennel, coriander, mustard, black pepper), some citrus peel (I used these lemons I got at a party the other day) and then like leave it alone until it smells up to high heaven and the garlic is toasted. This took, what, like 20 minutes? Then pour it, while hot, over the feta and then sprinkle with fancy salt. Then, get out the carpet steamer because your beard is gonna capture probably 1/3 of it and if you don’t get the seeds out birds are gonna be pecking at your face all day long. THERE’S NO FUCKING WORMS IN THERE YOU AVIAN FUCKING ASSHOLES.

A bowl of broccoli farro soup

It even looks like the photo from the recipe!

After I finished making the feta, I made the recipe (pretty much solidly following the instructions, only I had semi-pearled farro so I let it cook until it was toothsome before I added the broccoli) and then made a box of mini pizzas for the kids from the aforementioned Trader Joe’s stash. This should surprise no one. What should surprise you is the “oh I’m not really that hungry” answer I got from Julie after noticing her bowl still mostly full, but like having consumed a bunch of bread and cheese.

"Oh I'm not really that hungry."
"You cheeky bastards"

Short Ribs with Polenta & Sauteed Greens


TODD sits at his desk composing an email to the woman he has been seeing for a few weeks now.


Hey it was fun seeing The Departed with you the other night. You must have been really tired since you fell asleep about 20 minutes in. Why don’t we have a quieter night and you can come over and I’ll cook dinner? Is there anything in particular you don’t like?

TODD hits send on the email and almost immediately a reply comes in


Oh yeah that sounds really nice! I was just gonna hunker down in my apartment and watch Grays Anatomy! I like pretty much everything!


JULIE is knocking on the door and being let in



TODD takes JUILE’s coat and goes back to the counter to finish slicing beets.


OMG it smells so good in here! What for dinner?


I’ve got a chicken roasting in the oven and some potatoes boiling that I’m gonna mash, and I’m just wrapping up this roast beet, goat cheese and watercress salad. Do you want anything to drink?

JULIE (looking slightly nervous)

Yum! That sounds so good!

They sit down to eat. TODD serves JUILE a piece of bone-in chicken, some mashed potatoes and beet salad. JUILE pushes most of the food around on her plate and demolishes the potatoes.


How do you like it?


It’s great! I had a late lunch so I’m just not super hungry!

Several weeks later…


A WAITER is standing next to a table where JULIE and TODD are seated.


Tonight’s special is a borscht with homemade dumplings. Do you have any questions about the menu or are you ready to order?


OMG that borscht sounds AMAZING! I’ll have that and a grilled cheese!


I’ll have the Deluxe Vegetarian Plate please, and a cup of the Mushroom Barley soup.

The couple talks idly while waiting for the food to come. The soups come and they start to eat. TODD finishes his bowl and JULIE hasn’t really touched hers. The WAITER returns.


Oh, miss, did you not like your soup?


It was great! I just didn’t realize there would be so many beets in it?

The WAITER and TODD sit in stunned silence for a second.

(trying to hold back laughter)

Borscht is beet soup.

(also trying to hold back laughter)

I made you a beet salad the other night too? OMG wait, you don’t like beets do you?


Nor do I like anything that comes on a bone. I was so hungry after only eating mashed potatoes.


Let me tell you something about that story.

“I like pretty much anything!” turns out to have been the very opposite of true. “I figure it was harder to tell you all the foods I don’t like and I could just eat around the stuff that I didn’t like.”

Nearly eighteen years later our kids have followed well in her fuckery.

a pot of polenta on the stove top

Well that doesn't look fucking appetizing! I'll tell you what the black specks are later, after you eat it. I totally promise.

(Also apparently I don’t swear in my memories which sounds really fucking out of line for me? I definitely know I swore MORE then before we had children! SEE WE CAN ALL FUCKING CHANGE!)

BUT! I recount this story to you not to bury her in shame (OK, just maybe, MAYBE a little), but rather to demonstrate that you too can over come adversity in being a fucking picky eater! She’ll now definitely eat beets! Such progress! So wow! But wait, I’ve fucking lost the thead here already. I asked her what I should cook when we have our friends over for dinner later that week and she, I shit you fucking not, said the phrase I’ve been trying to get to to agree too since we had kids:


(I know, I know, I’m fucking wet with excitement too. Do you know how long I’ve been fucking waiting for her to say that? SINCE WE HAD CHILDREN!)

Short ribs? They come on the goddamn bone?! Then I realized a few seconds later that she knows that if you braise them, its better to braise them the day before so they can rest, you can remove the nubbly bits, defat the cooking liquid, and reheat them off the bone. However, by george, she was on to something. I hadn’t braised short ribs in probably a decade and nothing sounded more delicious at that minute.

a bottle of bbq sauce called, I fucking kid you not, bone sucking sauce

Picture: not related. (I had to turn on safe search and kick the kids out of the house to goddamn search for this image so you'd better fucking appreciate it!)

So on Thursday afternoon I set the oven to a gentle 300º and then seasoned a few short ribs and browned thenm in neutral oil in my dutch oven. I then added a head of garlic with the ends lopped off to brown the cut sides, and a whole onion, peeled of the outer skin but otherwise left in tact. WHen these had gotten some color, I added a half tube of tomato paste and let that brown for a few seconds and immediately deglazed the pot with a non-offensive bottle of Italian red wine. (I used a cheap Chianti Classico!) I added the ribs back, along with some bay leaves, two whole carrots, three celery stalks and a bundle of fresh thyme and rosemary. It was then topped off with 2 cups of chicken stock and water to cover. When this started to boil, I put it in the oven and then went out to run errands. When I arrived home several hours later I was welcomed to the wonderful smell of braising beef. I took the ribs out and strained the braising liquid, and let them cool and packaged them separately.

The next day I took out the braising liquid and took the solid cap of fat off, and added to a pan to reduce by 2/3, checking occasionally to ensure it wasn’t getting too salty. At the end I adjusted the flavor with just a little soy sauce, and then mounted it with 4 tbsp of butter, whisked in over high heat, a small cube at time until it was emulsified. I then added the sliced up rib meat, put the lid on, and turned the heat down to the gentlest simmer.

short ribs re-heating in reduced braising liquid


While that I was cooking I softened a thinly sliced shallot and more garlic that would be prudent in some of the beef fat from the braise and then added two and a half quarts of liquid: a combination of chicken stock, whole milk and water. When this came to a boil I added 2 cups of coarse cornmeal along with 1/8 of a tsp of baking soda while vigorously whisking to prevent lumps. Also do you know what happens when you add milk AND baking soda to boiling liquid? Its like the end of Ghostbusters when they blow up the Stay Puft Marshalmallow man. Only it’s way harder to clean it off the stove. So use a big pot and turn down the goddamn heat. I added the rind from a block of Parmesan that I found in the freezer and have no fucking clue how old it was. This cooked for a good hour, stirring more than occasionally, less than frequently. (What quantifier is that?) When it was nearly done I added a half stick of butter (yes, readers, that is an ENTIRE stick of butter in the meal so far), and a metric shit load of grated parm and stirred it in.

Also, the other day I was wondering around Costco and saw they had truffles packed in olive oil and it wasn’t like stupidly expensive (mostly because you can farm some types of truffles, but they have not a lot of flavor, but you can add synthetic truffle flavoring to oil REAL easy, so like, ooooooooooooooooooooh FUCKING TRUFFLES.) Obviously I bought these and added a bunch of the truffles to the polenta.

And because this all seemed like it was really unhealthy I sauteed some chard in some garlic oil I made. (I confited? confeed? confiteed? what the fuck French a bunch of garlic for a good hour at like 200º until it was crispy and golden.) I also took the chard stems and pickled them becuase we needed something vinegary to cut through all the fat.

(We sent the kids downstairs with a pizza and had a lovely meal with our friends!)

a bowl with all the food in it

Sometimes I can get real fucking fancy. Don't worry I took my goddamn socks off secretly while sitting at the table.

Sloppy Joes

I bet y’all where like “OH NO THIS MOTHERFUCKER SAID HE WAS GONNA START BLOGGING AGAIN AND THEN HE FORGOT!” Well slow the fuck down brochachos, I’m letting this content slowly drip out so I don’t overwhelm you with my cooking prowess and proclivity for swearing.

Plus, y’all are like Dre and you best not fucking forget about him.

Y'all. He's just trying to feed his family.

But wait. Time for two truths and a lie:

  1. I have had 25 different jobs in the last 28 years.
  2. I’ve hugged Snoop Dog
  3. I’m hotter than a Mercedes-Benz with the windows up when the temp goes up to the mid-80s.

The first person to figure it out gets the privilege of letting me write a profanity on their forehead in a sharpie. Dial 1-800-LASERFACE to enter.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me burp (you’d have to have your audio on for that), you came to witness me attempt to make food my kids will eat.

Well, my son had a sleep over at a friends house the other night and the kids mom made sloppy joes. She’s telling me this and I’m fully expecting to be told that my son wouldn’t eat anything and feel guilty about raising such picky little shits and at the same time I’m like “bold move lady this kid has been in your house before”. Anyway I’m about half-way through apologizing to her for my son’s extremely limited food choices and she’s all “nah the little shitbag ate two helpings.”

(It’s cool. Take your time. This was like four weeks ago so its definitely taken me some time to learn how to speak again from the shock I received.)

Anyway, since you know I’m a glutton for punishment (amongst other things), I figure “hey, I’ll see if lightening strikes twice and make this kid some sloppy joes.” Of course the mom then says “Oh yeah this other picky kid was at our house and loved them but then their mom made them not from the packet, and he wouldn’t touch them.”

So, reader, what do you think I did? Went out an bought that motherfucking packet right?


I looked it up online, read the ingredients and said “Oh I bet I can do that at home.” After doing a bit more research (e.g. reading blogs while my loving partner took care of everything else) I raided the pantry and figured I’d wing it. So one night when it was just he and I together I browned off some ground beef in a real hot pan, putting it in a strainer after to drain the excess fat off, while I sauteed a chopped onion and garlic in a tbsp of said fat. When the veggies were soft I added a spice mixture of clove, allspice, coriander and smoked paprika along with a half a tube of tomato paste. After letting the tomato paste brown I deglazed with a cup of chicken stock, and then added some brown sugar, ketchup, yellow mustard, sriracha, Worcester sauce, and soy sauce. And a Harvard comma. I can’t tell you how much of any of those I put in there, but I just kept tasting it until it tasted “right.”. Then I added the ground beef back in, along with some of the strained fat and juices and cooked it until you could leave a track in the pan by scraping it with a spoon.

I toasted up some buns and put the sloppy joe filling on top of it and called him to dinner.

You know what.


Sloppy joes

I was so shook by his requests for seconds it affected my photography skills obviously

I’ll also have you note I made it through this ENTIRE POST without making a single goddamn Billy Madison reference.


Herby Roasted Pork Loin

Things that I love: pork.

Things that I really love: porchetta.

Things that Julie does not love: pork.

Things that Julie really does not love: porchetta.

However I am the cook so like, what I makes, is whats on the table. (Please note: I did not say “what I makes is what we eats” because as even the most casual observer of this blog will note that everyone in the house, including the fucking cat, is a picky little shit.) You’d think that I would learn by now to “stick in my lane”, but, like oh my fucking god that is so boring, so it’s like walking that fine line between spending forever making a dinner that no one will eat and making tacos every night. (Although that would be fine with me since tacos are a fantastic food, but when I say tacos I mean ground-beef American-style tacos. Every. Night.)

So. All that being said, guess what this post isn’t about?


a pork loin rolled up around a green paste of sage and garlic and lemon

My photography might have gotten fucking worse

lol gotem.

It’s a butterflied, tied, rolled roast hunk of pork slathered with some very aromatic shit, thrown in the oven and roasted, so I guess like, idk, if we can call it au jus instead of just jus, we can call this a porchetta. Feel free to disagree. But I kind of don’t give a shit.

So I took a whole boneless pork loin and essentially cut it open so it would roll out flat. This way I could keep the fat cap on top. After I rolled it open I cut some shallow cross-hatches into it, aggressively seasoned it with salt and pepper (I mean AGGRESSIVELY like I fucking aSALTed that piece of meat). Then made a thick pesto-ish (yeah I know I’m fucking digging that hole even deeper) out of sage, parsley, thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, toasted fennel seed and olive oil. The trick here was to throw everything but the olive oil into the food processor and then using the little feed tube, fill that with olive oil so it drizzles in slowly and forms a proper emultion.

After slathering that shit all over the pork, I then rolled back into a cylinder and tied that fucker closed. You don’t want to pull the strings too tight or you’ll squeeze the filling right out, but tight enough so that it stays together. I then rubbed it down with the remaining filling, and seasoned the outside with salt and pepper. Put that in a 225º oven to roast on a rack set in a sheet pan with some water in the bottom to prevent the drippings from burning and smoking us all out until it was 135º in the center. Then took it out, cranked the oven to 500º convection, and browned the outside.

Let me tell you the smell of this thing cooking was fucking amazing. Like angels shitting on a fire.

that same pork loin, cooked

Little Debbie ain't got shit on me

The best part is when my son walked in and asked what I was cooking and then got really excited. And then he asked what we were having along side of it (roasted cauliflower and twice-baked potatoes) and asked since he doesn’t like those could I also make him rice.






a lady with a surprised look on her face with the caption “the” same lady, very zoomed in, with the caption “what”

I swear to fucking god.

(Oh and my daughter? She had toast and yogurt. I mean, why not right?)


That was a hell of a vacation, but I made some Pizza

I guess in my last post I ended it with a very prescient “I need a fucking vacation.” And here we are in the year of our lard twenty-goddamn-twenty-three, a full six hundred and five days later (and yes, I know that the Associated Press and various other style guides are all “numbers under 10 or something you should use the numbers rather than spelling them out” but like whatever. I didn’t get a degree in journalism because I wanted to listen to someone tell me how I could fucking write. Oh. Shit. Well. Anyway.) and I’m finally back from my “vacation”.

Lets see where does nearly 2 years (take that AP) get us? My kids? They’re still picky as shit. My cat is still a chubby little orange lump. No one really appreciates my humor still, and my mom thinks I swear too much. So, really, we haven’t moved step one. Not only that but I’m blogging about motherfucking pizza again. ITS LIKE NO TIME HAS PASSED AT ALL.

But you didn’t come here to listen to my cringe story about being super fucking depressed or going to Hawai’i or eating my weight in bagels and pizza in NYC last year. Hopefully you didn’t come here for my award-avoiding photography, because, fuck you, my dad took these photos. You came here to listen to me complain about my children and how to make pizza dough.

So as you might be able to tell by looking at a calender or going outside or, I dunno, not being a total basement dweller that it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which happens to be where I live. Also winter here in Seattle means a dumb amount of rain. (Maybe.) This makes it super difficult to use that nice outdoor super hot pizza oven during these times so I have to resort to more, well, basic methods of making pizza. This means that you need to make different style of pizzas since without an oven that goes to 800º you’re not gonna get the char you’re looking for on a Neopolitan pizza. Hell even with a pizza stone you’re not gonna really get the thermal mass like you would on a deck oven in a standard pizza joint if you want to cook more than a single pizza well.

This really gives you two decent options for making more than one pizza are relegated in my mind to pan pizza and Sicilian or grandma-style pies.

A rectangular cheese pizza, Sicilian or “grandma” style

I think I’ve covered the pan pizza here before (I really can’t even be fucked to search my own blog, so I guess my attitude hasn’t changed much either), so I’m gonna talk about grandma style pies. Conveniently they’re also the kind of pies I made a week ago when my dad was out here visiting.

Oh god. I know what you’re fucking thinking right. Your smooth fucking brain is looking at that picture up there of that pizza. And it’s saying “that’s not round, how could it be a pie?”


A rectangular pepperoni and jalapeño pizza

You might be asking what a grandma style pizza is? Basically it’s a pizza that is rectangular in shape cooked on a sheet pan. You might see it called Sicilian as well. (Technically the grandma pie should have the cheese under the sauce like some sort of fucking bastard half-child of a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, but holy fuck are you fucking kidding me Chicago?) The dough itself is foccacia-esque, so that means it’s very high hydration.

This dough was 82% water (so that means 82% of the weight of the flour in water) and then 5% salt and yeast each, 3% sugar and 8% olive oil. I think each pizza used about 300g of dough? IDK I’m not a fucking mathematician I’m a computer programmer.

ANYWAY you want to let it rise in bulk until it’s twice the size and then you want to divide it onto the sheetpans (I used quarter sheet pans so I could make more variety) and really grease the ever living fuck out of them. I mean pretend like you’re doing John Revolta’s hair in that musical he was in with the girl from Australia? What was the name of that? Oil? Lard? I dunno. You like add some oil. And when you’re done add some more. Then add twice as much and when you think you’ve added enough add some more. NO NOT THAT MUCH YOU’LL FUCKING RUIN IT. WHAT ARE YOU AN OLIVE FARMER? HOW COULD YOU USE THAT MUCH FUCKING OIL. Then roll the dough in it the oil and cover loosely. It won’t rise inasmuch as it will spread out. It’ll also be REAL fucking sticky so like you might want to oil your hands or something. I dunno do you have enough oil?

A meatball and broccoli rabe pizza

An hour before you want to cook, get your oven to a reasonable 475º and let it heat for an hour. Top those fuckers and put them in for like 20 minutes, rotating and moving them as necessary to make sure they cook evenly. Let them cook for a few minutes and then slide the pizza off the pan. This will work if you used enough oil. If you didn’t they’ll stick like that fucking swear of jam your daughter left on the table and didn’t tell anyone and like four days later you’re resting your elbow on the table and then you go to move and it rips your flesh off as its permanently bonded to the goddamn jam and the table. Next time use more oil. Or like some parchment paper. I’m not your fucking boss.


Sweet Potato Tacos & Salsa

Today is one of those days where I woke up at 5:30 AM filled with the kind of existential dread that only millenials feel like they know (it’s OK millenials, Generation X is used to being forgotten) and now it’s nearly 8 PM and I worked all day, cooked for two hours, haven’t even showered, but here I am, trying to figure out a way to talk about sweet potato tacos.

Don’t worry — I took a nap earlier. Unless you’re my boss, then I definitely fucking wrote all that code I was supposed to write. But if you’re not, I took a drool-on-the-pillow, wake-up-with-a-start nap this afternoon and it was everything I dreamed it could be.

Sweet potato tacos on a plate

A better composition in a photo has never been seen

See I wasn’t planning on spending two hours in the kitchen. I was just gonna pop up there and whack some fucking sweet potatoes in the oven (while yelling to my kids “Yo dogs, these potatoes are fukkin’ sweet brah!”), and then bang ’em in some tortillas, but I guess I needed to spend some quality time cutting the shit out of things?

If I had to figure out a specific point at which this entire fucking enterprise went South I’d say it was probably a few weeks ago when I went out to dinner with my wife and her friend after we were all fully vaccinated and got some Mexican food. (First meal inside with more than just my partner in over a goddamn shitty fucking year!) We got chips and salsa and guacamole and one of the salsas was a salsa macha, and it was fucking great. The problem is that since then I’ve had the idea of salsa macha in the back of head for a bit of time.

Fully dressed sweet potato tacos

And then today! Today I was getting out the bread to make the kids sandwiches for lunch and I saw a bag of roasted peanuts I had bought for some reason I can’t really remember. (Isn’t it fun that after 15 months my kids still don’t really go to school full time? Let me tell you IT’S A FUCKING NON STOP GODDAMN LAFF RIOT.) Anyway the site of these orphaned peanuts haunted me for the rest of the afternoon until I went upstairs after I was done working and said fuck it, I’m making salsa macha.

Salsa macha is sort of like an Asian hot chili oil that you put in the blender — a bunch of whole dried chilis, seeded and torn up, a handful of peanuts and a bit of sesame seeds, some garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. I put everything except the vinegar in a sauce pot and then added just enough oil to cover it all, and placed it over a medium flame until it started to sizzle, then I had to back up off of it and sit my cup down, Tanquery and chronic, yeah I’m fucked up… oh wait, this isn’t gin and juice. But yeah, I turned the heat down and let it go until the chilies got a little puffy and dark, and the nuts and seeds were well roasted. If you notice the garlic starting to brown too much you should pull it out because burned garlic is fucking nasty as shit. Once it was cool I put it in the blender and added some apple cidar vinegar and let it go until it was smooth, adding water until it was the right consistency. I know, I know, a lot of people want you to use a food processor since it’s not supposed to be pureeed, but like, you know what? I don’t go down to where they work and tell them they’re doing it wrong, so like, whatever. You’re not my fucking manager.

The idea here was also inspired by the sweet potato/peanut soup they make in Ethiopia. I said it before, and I’ll say it again — I’m fucking international yo.

So yeah, that took some time. Then I had to make chili powder. Well. I didn’t have to make it, but like the shit you buy in the store always has too much salt in it or like who the fuck knows how long it’s been sitting around and like why does it sometimes smell like dirty shoes when you cook with it? And then I had to cut the sweet potatoes up and toss them in the chili powder that I just made with some olive oil and salt and put them in the oven.

a table full of salsas and shit

Limes, Scallions, Pickled Onions, Feta, Chips, Salsa, Salsa Macha, Guacamole. The respect I get at home: not pictured

Before that though I had to fucking pickle some onions. I guess I didn’t have to pickle them, but who the fuck wants to eat a sweet potato taco with some spicy ass peanut salsa with nothing to distract from the richness of the potato and the salsa? Not this fucking chump.

Then I made guacamole since I had some avocados and they were perfectly ripe and did you know I once ate a ripe avocado like it was juice box? Like bit the top off, rolled it around and sucked out the meat of the avocado? You can pay for college in a lot of different ways my friends.

Well then it’s six fucking thirty and I’ve got a table full of food and like lets eat right?




I wish I was kidding. I need a vacation.


Pizza Night

When I say pizza, you say time!


[tries to mumble through a mouth full of pizza] TIME!


[choking on pizza, turning blue] TIME!




Well that didn’t go as planned. But the pizza did.

So last spring during the first of these many, many shutdowns we’ve endured, I really wanted some pizza. However, most pizza delivery here in Seattle is, well, sub par at best. Not that I’m some sort of fucking snooty New Yorker, but, fuck it, I guess I am. It’s not that the pizza is bad per se, but it doesn’t really hit the “I want pizza” craving spot. First there’s only place that will deliver to us without using one of those capitalist dog, employee fucking, shitworks like über eats or door dash. I’m also very much not of the “doesn’t matter, had pizza” camp, like there are some times when it’s just not fucking worth it.

Pizza in an oven


Also, attention everyone: a whole pizza is a pie. When you’re talking about multiple pizzas you call them “pies”. You order a pie with pepperoni on it. Don’t question this, just accept it. Plus, it means you get to eat pie for dinner.

So yeah, anyway, I wanted pizza, but like the place I wanted to get pizza from was closed indefinitely so I impulse purchased a backyard pizza oven, not much unlike the time I lived in Brooklyn and was fucking high as a kite and wanted some ice cream so I ordered and ice cream making, apparently too fucking stoned to a) remember that I had ordered it b) realize that ordering it online wasn’t going to get me ice cream right then and there. A few weeks later though my pizza oven arrived, and since I wasn’t fucking high when I ordered it, I wasn’t surprised when it arrived!

The downside, if there is one, and I’m not saying there is, to having a backyard pizza oven in Seattle is that it fucking rains a lot. (Yeah, yeah Seattle readers, I know “it’s not rain is really more of a mist” and “did you know it actually rains more in NYC than it does in Seattle”. Go cry over your fucking Dominos delivery. Also, like, what the fuck was up with January, are you goddamn kidding me?) I can make pizza in 50º weather, but I can’t make it when it’s just fucking wet. Although, to be quite honest, I’d really like it to be in the mid-60s if I’m going to be cooking outside.

Pineapple on a pizza

I guess I evicted Spongebob for this, better be good

Also, let us address the elephant in the room.


That is motherfucking pineapple on that motherfucking pizza.


I am fine with that.

While I might be picky about the combinations of dough, sauce and cheese I spent my calories on, I’m not a fucking aesthetic purist here. A lot of shit tastes good on top of a well-made pizza, and the best part about pizza is that you can just wait for the next one if you don’t like what’s on this one. One day I’ll get my kids to enjoy anchovies, I fucking swear. Speaking of dough this is Kenji’s Neopolitian dough, and the “sauce” was just a can of Italian san marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, with a good pinch of salt added.

Cheese pizza

Being my kids though, what did they get? A cheese pizza. None of this fresh mozzarella shit for them. If I had a goddamn sprig of basil within 50’ of the pizza when I made it they’d send it back. No, this is straight up shredded low moisture mozzarella. But I did get them in the end since that’s just crushed tomatoes and not a cooked tomato sauce underneath. Suckers. On the upside the pizza was good enough that it made them both quiet for the ten minutes they spend shoving it into their face holes.

The other two pizzas were my wife’s favorite that is unashamedly stolen from Pizza Loves Emily in our old neighborhood in Brooklyn: Pepperoni, hot peppers and honey. I had pineapple though in the fridge from the fish tacos earlier in the week, so that got added too. Did you know she once ate so much pineapple she got an acid burn in her mouth? That’s a lot of pineapple. Also, I’m probably sleeping on the couch for the next several years, so cheers friends, it’s been real! The other pizza was a white pie with thinly shaved fennel, peas and ricotta. There is something magic about the flavor of fennel when it’s been singed on the outsides and how it combines with the flavor of the peas. I would have usually made some sort of white sauce to go down as the base on the pie rather than just more mozzarella, but fuck it, I’ve been on call this week and the pager was blowing up as I was trying to prepare for it, so you got mozzarella. It’s still pretty fucking good though.

white pie


Pork Chops, Cabbage & Asparagus

Well my fucking mom wrote me and told me that I shouldn’t swear as goddamn much (or at all) in my blog.

We all know what I say to that!

Fuck that shit!

Not that I have a Pabst with me, but like I dunno, my fucking neighbor definitely does so I should just roll down the street.

I guess it’s pretty amazing that with all this goddamn swearing I still find time to cook for my family!

The weather has just been so lovely here recently that I’ve been trying to do as much cooking as possible outside, and with the wife and the youngest gone to sporting practice, I could make something that I know my eldest would actually eat that the other two wouldn’t. (See mom! I didn’t fucking swear in that paragraph. Fuck.)

Pork chops and cabbage on a grill

Still not pictured: my other grill

Yes. I know. I married AND had kids with someone who won’t eat a pork chop. Perhaps it was the time that I kept telling her that apparently pigs taste like humans when I would cook it early on grossed her out? Shit. I guess this one is my fault. Sorry friends!

I originally wasn’t going to cook the cabbage because I thought it would be “sus” (as the kids like to say these days) for the kid, but, fuck, I had a half a head of cabbage left over, and what do we do with cabbages?


And not because the can harbor spiders (I’m really not helping you all find this meal delicious am I?), but because a burned cabbage is a delicious cabbage, and they hold up super well to other strong flavors. Since I was lighting the charcoal grill which is the hottest heat I can get in my backyard to cook over, I figured, fuck it, onto the grill it goes.

Cabbage and asparagus on a grill

The pork was nothing special — I seasoned it and let it sit out for like 45 minutes while the grill got hot, and I took care of prepping the vegetables. When the grill was hot, I put it over the hottest part and rotated 90º after 2 minutes, flipped it after another 2, and then rotated it after another 2 for a total of 8 minutes on the grill (no, I didn’t need a calculator to do that, but the thought did cross my mind since I only wrote down three twos.) And then I tented it with foil and let it rest while I cooked the asparagus.

While the chops were on the grill though I also put the cabbages down that I had quartered and brushed with oil. I wanted to char them throughout the entire section, so I let them sit, moving them occasionally until the outer leaves were charred, and then fanned them open and got some char on the inner leaves.

At this point the pork chops had hid a nice medium (140ºish?) and so I sliced them and put them on the plate with the rest of the vege.

The cabbage got a special treatment too — I had cooked down some mustard, cumin, coriander, caraway and sesame seeds along with a crumbled up hot chili in some olive oil over low heat until the seeds started to pop. I spooned this over the cabbage and then put on a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cabbage on a plate

I never thought I'd take my kid to such a seedy establishment, but, here we are.

While the pork chop was great, and the cabbage turned out way better than it should have being that I was pulling all of that shit straight out from my ass (which, quite honestly, is where 99% of the fucking words that come out of my mouth originate), the asparagus was the best part. No, it wasn’t like “hyper” local (although it was from Washington state), and not, it’s not because my kid ate what was on their plate, then asked for seconds AND thirds.


It was the best part because we both apparently have the gene that CAUSES and CAN DETECT the odor of asparagus in our, er, fluid leavings. Which means for the next 12 hours we could both go to the bathroom and go, “EWWW WHO THE FUCK ATE ASPARAGUS.”

(Yes! Apparently some people can smell it but not make it, some people can make it but not smell it, and some people can’t do either. I guess we’re just fucking hashtag #blessed.)

everything on the plate

Sorry I took a bit of asparagus first because I really wanted to pee
Only they don't swear. They're good fucking kids, apparently not like me!

Fish Tacos

Tacobouta great dinner!

I had about a half a mind to leave the post there and go on with my night, but I’m not that much of a tease. After taking the entire week off for my birthday last week (from work and from cooking) I realized I missed making dinner so here I am again, slaving over a grill, forgetting to take pictures and ragging on the fact my kids are picky eaters. It’s a fucking miraculous return to normalcy!

Given that yesterday turned out to be much nicer than I expected it to be I had to change the meal I was going to make (that feta and tomato pasta thing). After querying my coworkers as to what I should grill I realized that I hadn’t been to the store yet for my weekly trip so thankfully I hadn’t bought the food that I wasn’t now going to make. The consensus from my single coworker after getting into a deep discussion about plantains was to make fish tacos.

hands holding hands holding tacos

oh come on get your fucking hands out of my picture

I settled on halibut at the store since it wasn’t a million dollars, was not frozen and was wild caught, which are essentially the only things that I check for when I’m buying fish. Previously frozen is fine, but I’d rather buy it frozen and thaw it myself. Farmed fish can be OK, but only if it’s like trout or catfish or tilapia. Even before I moved to the Pacific Northwest I knew to never buy fucking farmed Salmon. Shit is just goddamn unnatural. Did you know most of it is dyed pink because the feed they get isn’t what they eat in the wild. (Which is what makes them pink just like motherfucking flamingos, only fish weren’t once dinosaurs evaluationally speaking.)

I’m gonna take a break right here though to complain about how fucking shitty the fish counter is at almost EVERY goddamn supermarket here in the Seattle area. We’re in the midst of a part of the world that is knee fucking deep in fish, near some of the most productive fisheries in the fucking US, and I can’t get anything but salmon and occasionally some fucking cod? Shrimp? Only frozen and farmed. Squid? LOL. A whole fish? MAYBE you can get a trout.


(I’d have said fish mongers but like what the fuck is this 18th century England? SHOE SHINE GUV’NAH?)

Amazingly enough probably the best place to buy fish is at the horribly tourist-trappy Pike Place Market, but like parking down there goddamn sucks and thanks to the fucking NIMBY assholes that lived here in the late 90s and early 2000s there’s no good public transportation from my neighborhood. Also, I guess we’re still in a fucking pandemic. Although it’s probably empty down there. Let me know in the comments if there’s a better place.


(I guess those NIBMY assholes still live here now, but like at least there’s a train coming. IN 2038.)

tacos on a plate

not pictured: the fish under the slaw.

Wow. Apparently I’m more angry about fish than I thought. (And don’t even get this Vermonter started on Phish.)

When I got home I made a marinade with the stems of the cilantro that I picked the leaves from for the (spoiler alert) slaw, guacamole and salsa, some jalapeños, olive oil, garlic, lime juice and salt and let it sit. But only for like 45 minutes — I didn’t want the acid in the lime juice to “cook” the fish (like a ceviche).

But that was I lie. That isn’t the first thing I did.

When I got home I unpacked the groceries. Then I shredded a half-head of cabbage on my mandolin (shredded? mandolin? LUTE SOLO!) and salted it and put it in a colander to start breaking it down. Then I made some salsa out of some mango, pineapple, jalapeño, red onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice, along with some guacamole which I’ve mentioned enough on this blog that I probably could have omitted it. When the cabbage was soft, I tossed it with some thinly sliced red onion and jalapeño and then dressed with a dressing made out of crema, mayo, lime juice, salt, pepper and canola oil.

pineapple mango salsa

look I'm just like an Outback Steakhouse

I grilled the fish and the tortillas and then had everyone make their own tacos. Well, I mean, except my youngest. Who I had to grate some cheese for and make a “quesadilla” but cold. Which was wonderful since the cheese wasn’t melted they picked it up and half of the cheese fell on the floor and then we had to sweep it up after dinner along with the rest of the detritus. The other kid DID eat two fish tacos though, so I guess I can’t really fucking be upset?

Other things I’ll make this week now that I’m back on my shit:

  • Grilled pork chops with asparagus & burnt cabbage
  • Cumin Beef
  • Pizza
  • Roasted Cauliflower & Swiss Chard Toasts

Gonna be a fancy fucking week, eh?


Steak & Salad with Buttermilk Ranch

I took the fucking week off because it was my birthday on one of them, so the last thing I cooked (other than some of the best grilled cheeses you’ll ever eat), was like a week ago? I dunno, time is a fucking construct.

Also my partner was supposed to guest blog on Wednesday because she made dinner but like she doesn’t like to swear or something. I know! Re-godddamn-diculous if you ask me. “Ooooh look at me I don’t swear so people think I’m well-educated and not a rat-fucker from the gutter.”

(Only like she’d never say that since there was a obviously a swear in there and she’s a really wonderful and decent person and even if she did think I was that, lol joke’s on her she married me.)

Yeah, so the last thing I made was steaks. I thought about not blogging about them all but I figure you’d never learn from missed-steaks.

I’m sorry, please, ignore me.

Steak, salad and toast on a plate

This is the only photo I took so whatever. You didn't come here for photography.

The steaks were nothing really to blog about – there’s really only one way to cook a steak properly in my mind which is to reverse sear it — you put it in a low oven (like 225º) until it reaches about 5-10º shy of your target temperature (which for me is about 130º), and then take them out and let them rest. After this you have a choice — if you have a charcoal grill, light that fucker and get it hot enough to make you sweat when you go near it and then after the steaks have sat for 30 minutes, give them a very quick char on both sides quickly. If you don’t turn your oven to the hottest it’ll go when you take the steaks out. Then when you’re about to ready to serve, flip on the broiler and broil the steaks. They won’t be as charred as on the grill, but if you give them around 2 minutes a side you should get a nice crust.

Oh? Sous vide you say? Eh. It’s too wet – without a more intense heat source like a grill you won’t get a good sear since all the heat will go to evaporating the water on the outside of the steaks.

But enough beating around about my meat.


Lets talk about that salad, yo.

First. I might not really be an American because I fucking hate ranch. Like not even kidding. Commercial ranch is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had the displeasure of ever putting even near my mouth. I once dated a woman when I lived in Boston who would put ranch on her fucking pizza. No fucking joke.


And since we’re talking about Boston you know the pizza was also goddamn sin against nature. (And, sure, there’s great pizza in Boston now. But in 2001? It was few and far between at best. And it certainly didn’t fucking deliver to Somerville.)

Well, it turns out that I’m a real fucking aesthetic and it’s not that I don’t like ranch, it’s that I don’t like shitty ranch. They’re fucking lucky that valley is so hidden.

Not risen bread

This bread is fucking offensive

Second. My partner grew the lettuce. Which like given how bullshit this weather has been this Spring is pretty fucking cool.

My version of ranch is made up of dill, cilantro, parsley and chives all finely minced, with one or two cloves of garlic grated on a microplane, mixed into a base of lemon juice, buttermilk and olive oil. I added a decent splat of mayonnaise to thicken it a bit and then let it sit for about 20 minutes.

The rest of the salad was thinly shaved radishes and carrots.

I also made some ricotta-pea toasts. That is not homemade bread though. See, I fucked up my homemade bread so that’s a store-bought loaf, toasted and rubbed with garlic, and then topped with ricotta, peas that were blanched and dressed with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette and a few radish sprouts because I’m goddamn fancy.


Chicken Lo Mein

One of my kids got a magic kit at the toy store today while they were getting a present for their friend’s birthday and I’m really sad to say it doesn’t have any tricks about eating all your goddamn food in it. Does anyone know if someone makes a kit like that? If so, please, for the love of god send it to me.

I was perusing the usual cooking periodicals at the supermarket the other day and saw a “chicken and noodles” dish in the latest copy of Bon Appetit that looked good. Usually my oldest kid will eat any thing that is “chinese” and has chicken and celery in it (mostly American style Kung Pao Chicken), so I said to myself “sure fire fucking winner — goddamn noodle chicken dinner!” It’s a far way from when they were younger and ate only chicken nuggets, bagels, wood-fired pizza (so help me fucking god, WOOD FIRED FUCKING PIZZA), banana bread and applesauce from a green packet. And may the devil have room for you in hell if you fucking squeezed it out of that packet or it didn’t even originate in a packet.

But wait, I was talking about chinese food and not raising a picky Brooklyn hipster baby.

I’ll mostly also use any excuse to take out my wok and turn that middle burner on my stove up to max and my hood fan up to max vac. (Free band name there: max vac. You’d certainly have to suck!) I started off by reading the recipe and making sure I had the vegetables it called for. And since my partner already ate the one chicken thigh I can get her to eat a month last night (I didn’t feel like blogging about that meal because it was even too non-photogenic for me) I ditched the thighs and used chicken breast. However, since that shit will dry out faster than my humor, I velveted it, which is to say I made a marinade of egg white, cornstarch, soy sauce, shaoxing wine and black vinegar and let the cubed chicken hang out in it. (Side note: you really should have black vinegar and shaoxing wine in your house. They’re surprisingly easy to find, especially on this world-wide-fucking-web.)

mise en place

That mis is in motherfucking place

While that was hanging out I stirred together a little sauce made up of the same ingredients, minus the cornstarch and egg whites, but I added some toasted sesame oil to it and a touch of sugar and then went to town on cutting up some vegetables: napa cabbage, carrots, celery, scallions, a few fresno chilis, garlic and ginger. I separated out the scallion whites from the greens, and set the greens aside. After that I put the lo mein noodles I got from the store in some hot water to soften, and started getting the wok hot.

Once all that was done it was WOKING TIME!

chicken in a wok

The real trick to a wok is to ensure you got everything ready to go before you start because once you get that thing hot, you’re in the zone and there’s no stopping. You gotta go to the bathroom? Fuck you, hold it. The one way valve between your bladder and your urethra gonna get stuck closed because it only opens in towards your bladder? Maybe you should have fucking thought about that before you drank all the water in California. (One day I’ll tell you why I know that fun fact!)

Of course this is all a bit of hyperbole — your home range ain’t getting that hot so calm your fucking wild ass right down. You don’t really want to stop once you’re going, but there’s gonna be a lot of “put in this food and then take it out and then put in another” so you’ve got time to pause. And since the wok is so thin it’s gonna heat right back up if you need it to.

Generally when I’m using my wok I follow this order:

  1. Meat
  2. Hard vege
  3. Aromatics
  4. Sauce

I’ll add a bit of vegetable oil, get it up to where it’s starting to smoke and add the meat and let it sit for a minute until it gets a good bit of color, then stir it gently, and let it sit again. Go a few times until its mostly cooked, and then take it out and put it in a clean bowl. Wipe down the wok (if you need to), add a little bit more oil, and then the vege. Again, let it sit for a minute between tosses. See the problem with our pathetic stoves is that they just don’t get as hot as a commercial wok burner would, so you don’t need to stir it like crazy. Just give it some gentle love. Once the vege are done, take ’em out again, put in a little more oil, and in with the aromatics (ginger, garlic, scallion whites, etc) for a few minutes, and then everything goes back in. Take the sauce and pour it around the outside and toss everything to combine.

lo mein in a bowl

When it’s all done scatter the scallions and sesame seeds over the top and chow down. Unless you’re one of my kids. Then one of you will eat the chicken like “WOW DAD THIS IS THE BEST CHICKEN” and ignore the noodles and vegetables (which is richly ironic given they’ll eat pasta any day, any time, even if they’re full). If you’re the other one you’ll nibble on the edge of a piece of chicken and then ask if they can have toast instead.

Sometimes you gotta ask why you even bother?

At least tomorrow night is pizza delivery.


Shepherd's Pie with Carrots

Before I even start, will all the pedantic assholes please raise your hands? Now, everyone who has a hand up, get fucked. I say this with all the love in my heart because I have learned that apparently you can’t call it Shepherd’s Pie unless it contains ground lamb. And guess what? There ain’t no fucking lamb in this motherfucker but I’m calling it shepherd’s pie. Just wait until you find out what else I put in it.

The rest of you, grab some table bubs, because where we’re going we don’t need any lamb. (And yes I can mash up quotes from two separate 80s movies in my blog. Come at me.)

So I made my shepherd’s pie with ground beef. If this displeases the fucking Queen of England, it’s cool. I’m pretty sure we fought some war in Vietnam or Iraq to be free of her bullshit anyway. Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! (Look! It’s not an 80’s movie reference!)

I started off by sweating some onions in some butter and olive oil mixed together, and then added some finely diced mushrooms, celery and garlic, cooking it all until it was soft. This was followed by a pound or so of lean ground sirloin (since there was a decent amount of fat in the pan already so I could make a roux, I didn’t want it to be too greasy.)

I then added a few tablespoons of flour and stirred it in so it wouldn’t clump when I added the liquid, which was about two cups of chicken stock (it came from Costco because I’m really lazy and don’t have the freezer space to make my own chicken stock).

Pop quiz: what is the best way to use the other half of the chicken stock carton when you only need to two cups of it?

Answer: you fucking spill the first two cups you poured out all over the counter top so that you have to move every single goddamn appliance off the counter top and soak it all up and then clean the counters and the bottoms of all the appliances including your fucking heavy as shit stand mixer. Isn’t it so plainly obvious? I can’t believe you’d even have to ask this question in the first place!

a shepherd’s pie

Not a single Shepherd was hurt making this meal

I also added a good glug or two of soy sauce and few squirts (god that sounds gross) of Worerchesterershire sauce to give it that fermented funk. (Plus the soy sauce and the mushrooms have things in them that when you pair the two of them together amplify each other to give you savory meat-y flavors.) When this started reducing and thickening I threw in most of a bag of frozen peas.



That’s what my intention was.

But my brain wasn’t braining like a brain should brain when I went to the store and got all the ingredients for this dish so I neglected to buy the frozen peas. Thankfully past-self Todd had a half-bag of frozen lima beans in the freezer so I used those instead. BRAINS.

While all this meat magic was happening, I was also boiling a few yukon gold potatoes until soft. I drained them and then mashed them with some milk, butter, salt and pepper, and then tempered in a beaten egg. I know, I know, “tempering” sounds so fucking French but like if you don’t do this you’re gonna get scrambled eggs in your mashed potatoes, which like, that’s a different meal. I took a small amount of hot potatoes and vigorously beat it into the beaten egg, allowing the temperature of the eggs to rise without creating curds. When the mixture was decently hot (like the bottom of the metal dish I was using to temper it was a little too hot to comfortably hold), I dumped the mixture in and gave it a good stir or two in order to incorporate it. This is sort of like a pancake batter though — you don’t want to overmix it or you’ll get stretchy starchy library paste-like potatoes and that’s also not for this meal (but for others!)

Once the taters and the meat were all cooked, I let the meat cool off a bit and put the potatoes in a zip-top back and snipped off a corner to make it so I could pipe the potatoes out over the meat mixture, and then smoothed it out so it was a solid covering. I baked this in a 400º oven until it was crusty on top, and then sprinkled it with a little Parmesan cheese and threw it under the broiler to get nice and brown.

The carrots are pretty straight forward and something that my partner would probably want me to make every night - thankfully they’re pretty straighforward. It’s a bit of butter and olive oil, and some crushed but not minced garlic. Let that get slowly brown over very low heat and when it starts to turn golden add a little bit of caraway and a little bit more of both cumin seed and aleppo chili powder. Let those toast a minute or two until they smell fabulous, and then add a bunch of carrots cut into equal size pieces along with a 1/4 of water and like a good squirt (there I go again) of honey. Bring this to a boil and let it reduce, stirring frequently, until the water and honey have reduced and become a glaze. Then when you get them out of the pot, you’d better rinse that glaze off the pot or like you’re gonna have the worst fucking time ever chipping the crusted dried sugar off the sides of it, cursing yourself until your hands are all wrinkled. But like, I’ve never done that obviously.

carrots in a bowl

You might have noticed that I’ve been conspicuously quiet about the state of my children so far in this post? Well, thats because while I was making all of this I was also boiling a pot of water so that I could make them pasta. If you’ve been reading my older posts you’ll notice that I occasionally make reference to the fact that my children will throw up at the table right?


Unfortunately this isn’t hyperbole nor bragging. You see, every single time I make one of my kids try a bit of mashed potatoes they immediately let it sit right in the back of their mouths right on their gag reflexes and start to choke on it and end up vomiting on the table, totally ruining Thanksgiving and making sure that we won’t ever have those guests over again. (Well, to be fair, that was COVID’s fault this year.) So if you think I’m letting either my kids even look at mashed potatoes you’ve got another fucking thing coming. I might be a moron but I’m no idiot.


Smoked Tomatillo Chili

“Follow the smoke to the riff filled land”

You know I tried to smoke tomatillos yesterday, but I couldn’t like the joint because they were so wet? I’ll never figure out how someone can even light a brisket.

Oh god is this post just going to be filled with lame attempts at weed jokes?

Don’t you fucking know it!

I think my favorite part about cooking food, as you all might have observed, is how excited my kids are when I present them with something that they haven’t really tried before. They’re so adventurous it’s awesome to watch them try their first oyster or that time they ate stinky tofu.

Wait. Sorry. I’m high AF right now.

veggies on a grill

the smell of these burning green things...

I put this chili on the table and my youngest sits down and makes a face that I can only describe as horrifying, like I had cooked our cat and served it’s head atop their plate. Dinner went downhill from there where they only wanted to really suck on a lime. Yes. A lime. I spend several hours in the kitchen making a huge pot of chili and this fucking kid is all “OH THIS LIME IS GREAT DAD THANKS. I PUT SOME LIME ON MY CHEESE AND NOW I DON’T WANT MY CHEESE BUT I WANT TO SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF THIS LIME.”


NOT EVEN LIKE A RIPE LIME BECAUSE I LIVE IN SEATTLE WHERE LIMES DO NOT GROW (despite the fact we had a tiny lime tree that fruited but then died).


A blender full of green liquid

six days late here bud

It didn’t start this way though. I had the luck of a stretch of sun so I fired up the charcoal grill with a half-chimney of charcoal, roasted a few poblanos and then threw on a tray of tomatillos and onions to be smoked with some apple wood chips. Since I wasn’t going for anything long or slow I didn’t worry about the heat in the grill, and I didn’t soak the wood (but you shouldn’t ever soak wood for smoking), and just let them go with a handful of chips for about 40 minutes. I’m making smoke-y chili here, not trying to give these onions emphysema.

After I rubbed the charred skin off the poblanos (don’t do this under running water — you’ll wash away a lot of the flavor of the pepper), I threw them, the tomatillos, the onion, a fistful (who says I don’t give you measurements here!) of cilantro (stems included), and a pint of Mixtape Romeo from the local brewery and gave it a buzz in the blender until it was fully mixed.

While all the smoking was happening, I trimmed up a decently sized pork shoulder roast, removing some excess fat and breaking it down into more manageable chunks. (In this case, that was four. Four chunks. Four chunks o’ pork.) I salted it and let it rest while I handled the peppers. Once the sauce was ready I rendered some of the fat I had trimmed off the roast and seared all four chunks until they were golden and crusty, and then added the sauce, pork and a cup or so of water and brought it to a boil. Then into a 300º oven for four or five hours, covered, stirring occasionally.

a bowl of chili

not pictured: the first bowl of chili i ate

When the pork was fall-apart tender, I took it out, let it rest until I could touch it, shredded it and stirred it back in along with a metric fuck-ton (sorry for you imperial units people that’s a fortnight of drams) of pinto beans I had cooked last month and frozen.

I gotta say I almost never talk about how good things are on this blog since like, I dunno, I cooked it so I’m a pretty partial judge here, but fuck this was delicious.


Grilled Sausages, Broccoli Rabe & Potatoes

I’ve been trying to come up with a funny hook all week to write about this meal and either it was way too obvious and full of boring sexual innuendo (sausage party is so over used too) or it was some inanely long and boring drivel, which like, I get it, that’s the whole point of this blog, but even I was bored listening to myself talk. So, like, I dunno. Here’s some sausages!

A charcoal grill

Not pictured: my other grill

I also really need to start making my own sausage. The market was out of the good ones and only had the in-store ones, which, frankly, are not salty enough nor are they well emulsified which is pretty disappointing for a sausage. (Aside: did you know that sausage and salt come from the same root word in Latin? And that salary also comes from there? Latin! It’s not just a dead language! Oh. Wait. It’s deader than the animals in these sausages.) Anyway, the problem with these sausages is that when you cook them the fat pools under the skin and then bursts through leaving the sausages themselves a little dry and mealy no matter what you do with them. But like, my partner wanted sausages, so sausages is what we had. To try to minimize the amount of moisture loss I poached them first until they were partially done so I would just have to get some color on them. Alas, this plan was only partially successfully as they all burst holes squirting liquid fat all over the grill and igniting large flames which required me to constantly move the sausages on and off the grill. But they did have that certain je ne sais quoi of singed food, or to steal a phrase from the Burger King: FLAME-GRILLED.

I’m going to ignore that I just used French and Latin in that previous paragraph and move on…

…on to flavor country that is! (And no, flavor country is not France, and I’d have said Flavortown™ but I hear if you say that three times in the mirror Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar show up in your kitchen and start making jokes worse than mine. OK. As bad as mine? FINE. THEY’RE BETTER JOKES THAN MINE.)

broccoli rabe on a plate

I also grilled some broccoli rabe and small potatoes. I really like grilling broccoli, but I should have cooked it a little bit longer to get it more charred. As a rule cabbages taste really good when they’re charred and look burnt. Yes, broccoli (and it’s friend broccoli rabe) are cabbages. No I didn’t make the rules. Other cabbages you might have heard of include cauliflower, turnips, small rocks, witches and mustard seeds. I blanched it first and I hadn’t given it enough time to dry off so most of the time it was on the grill it was steaming rather than charring and I didn’t want to overcook it. I did dress it with some fruity olive oil, smoked sea salt, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. The acid and salt help offset some of the inherent bitterness in the broccoli. Of course, you’d think my children were eating my bitter feelings toward their eating habits when they tried to choke down a single bite. I guess no one threw up at the table this time, so I’m gonna take this as a small victory.

sausages and potatoes on a grill

Oooh that moment before the casings split and squirted hot liquid fat all over the place!

The potatoes were also par-boiled, but they dried off better than the broccoli. I put a bunch of garlic, rosemary and vinegar in the water. The garlic and rosemary were for flavor and I think I’ve mentioned before that the vinegar helps keeps the pectins together so they don’t fall apart. I also confitted (confit’ed? cooked in the manner of a confit? slow-fried?) some garlic and rosemary in olive oil, which I then brushed over the potatoes and the broccoli as they cooked. And given the fact that neither of kids vomitted at the table do you think they ate any of the potatoes? LOL. No. They did, however, eat the ever living hell out of the bun the sausages were served in though.


Chicken Fajitas

We have had a spate of fantastic weather recently here in Seattle which means it’s been clobbering grilling time because as I intoned earlier, I would much rather be sweating outside over something hot than sweating inside over something hot. And lets face it, I’m always going to be sweating so might as well choose the venue, right? And if you’re going to be grilling, you can’t really go wrong with making fajitas. Ok, I suppose you could. You could make like liver or brain fajitas? Those two things are some of the only foods I won’t eat ever again. So if you made fajitas out of them, I’d think they’d have gone wrong. But like whatever floats your boat. You want to eat brain fajitas, feel free. I’ll just be over here watching you. Judging you. Silently saying “you’re a smart motherfucker, that’s right”.


Lets try this again. First I got side-tracked by The Thing, and then with the brains and I haven’t even really fucking swore yet.

grilled chicken for fajitas

I probably should win an award for my plating

So yeah, I made some chicken fajitas! And much to my wife’s chagrin I used chicken thighs! THE FUCKING HORROR. (And don’t tell me they’re supposed to be made with steak. I’m making them. Like I said before you want to make them with brains be my guest, but I used chicken.) Thighs are perfect for this since you can get them skinless and boneless (because, hey, what can I say, I’m sweaty AND fucking lazy), and they don’t dry out like white meat chicken does. I made a quick marinade for them with some canned chipotle peppers, cilantro stems, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, olive oil, salt, and jalapeños whizzed up in the blender and let them chill for a few hours while I made guacamole (again) and some blender salsa since the blender was already out and like fuck it, cutting tiny tomatoes is really goddamn boring. (The salsa and the marinate were almost identical in ingredients, I just added some tomatoes to the other half of the ingredients for the marinade.)


I see we went with only directly-above aerial views tonight. I'll be sure to speak with the photographer about this.

(And I still didn’t even put a goddamn pea in my guacamole.)

But, if you really had to ask, what did I make chicken fajitas?

Because. Well. Are you ready?

You might need to take a seat.

Are you sitting?











To be honest I’m surprised I don’t make them more often.


Seriously even I'm embarrassed with these photos

Lets quickly talk about the part of the meal that I didn’t photograph: the peppers and onions. (I mean, besides the sour cream. If you need a picture of sour cream to visualize dinner you’ve got some deeper fucking problems than this blog can help you with.) The problem with most peppers and onions you get with fajitas is either they’re limp, greasy and/or under seasoned. The solution to this is to start cooking them before you put the meat on, and to cook them in a dumb hot cast iron skillet. I put mine on my grill when I start the grill so that the pan is like fuck you hot when I go to add the peppers. Also season the fuck out of them. Like add about one and a half times as much salt as you think you’re going to need. And then LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE. Let them get brown — this means you can’t poke at them and stir them every two seconds, you gotta just let them be. And don’t be giving me any of those fucking under ripe green-ass bell fucking peppers. You’re paying almost as much as the red ones, but you’re like totally getting ripped off with a less-ripe, grassy-ass product.


Dinners for the Week of April 19

This was a busy weekend in blog-land but ideally you won’t notice a single difference! I re-wrote the software that I use to generate this blog and finally got it back to working in this new language. (If you’re at all curious, the software and the raw data for the blog are linked at the bottom of every page.) So I guess if any of you four readers of this blog if you see something funky, let me know?

The kids are also back in school and I’m not lying prostrate on the couch watching endless Marvel movies, so I’m back on my menu planning and food shopping bullshit again. Which is good since we were mostly running out of food.

This week I hope to cook:

  • Grilled Sausage & Broccoli Rabe with Rosemary Potatoes
  • One of my kids is making Spaghetti and Meatballs as an apology for the Asparagus Incident last week (rather than punishing them I told them they had to come up with something that would help them understand why I was so upset)
  • Shepard’s Pie & Glazed Carrots (the good weather as of late will not last sadly)
  • Green Chili with Pork
  • Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions with Chicken & Spinach

I also made chicken fajitas last night to round off a week of only cooking two meals (which is a pretty suboptimal week to be honest with you), but I’ll have to blog about those later.


Eggplant, Cauliflower & Asparagus

I promise every time I don’t write something for a bit I’m not going to start it off with some trite been a long time since I rapped at ya bullshit, but fuck. I got my second Pfizer vaccine on Monday AM and by Monday night I was in bed, fever, chills and totally laid up for a good 36 hours, so this week has been entirely dedicated to make-up from missing a day and a half of it.

Still, totally fucking worth it. 100% effective against severe cases of Coronavirus? Sign. Me. The. Fuck. Up. (Oh wait I did, SO SHOULD YOU.)

Ok, enough of this preaching from the bully pulpit of this low-rent “cooking” blog.


With the amazingly nice weather we’ve had over the past few days we had some friends over to our backyard for dinner. They’re mostly vegetarian which is what I used to say when I was vegetarian but going over to a friends house and wanted to be polite so I just made an almost entirely vegan meal. Jokes on them right? (Don’t worry I drank a cup of gravy this morning to offset the two vegan meals.)

Although, to be quite honest, there are few things I like more than grilled eggplant (or, really, eggplant in general), especially when paired with lemon juice, garlic and tahini. I wanted something chunkier than babaganoush (mostly because I can’t ever really sell my wife on babaganoush no matter how many times I try though.)

I ended up quartering three small eggplants (the smaller and firmer the eggplant, the less seeds it has, and the less seeds it has the less bitter is) and brushing them with olive oil and salt and putting them on a very hot grill, rotating them to get those “oh you grilled this?” hash marks, but generally letting the eggplant cook until it was real well done — a bit burnt on the edges. I then cut it into medium sized chunks and tossed it in a “dressing” of tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper, chopped parsley (remember: curly parsley is a tool of the 1% designed to keep us in servitude, so use flat-leaf) and some torn mint. And before someone is all “WELL AHCKSHULLY TORN MINT TASTES DIFFERENT” no it doesn’t. I tore it because I was lazy and forgot the mint until I had already cleaned the cutting board and knife and put it away.

babaganoush type eggplant salad

this tasted better than it looked

Fun fact, burnt eggplant is delicious. In fact, there’s a wide range of vegetables that taste really much better when they’ve gotten some char: eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, scallions, onions, carrots, radishes just off the top of my head. (I mean something has to be there to replace all the hair that’s fallen out, right? Something something about how matter is never created or destroyed?)

I also made a riff on the cauliflower salad I made a few weeks ago. Instead of roasting the cauliflower in the oven, I quartered it and grilled it (grill was on and I wasn’t gonna be inside sweating over the stove for this meal except for the bit where I made all the kids grilled cheeses because I’m either a horrible or fantastic host and father but then totally was inside making four goddamn grilled cheese sandwiches. Four of them? Well I was making them for my kids because as you might have read my kids are horrible, loveable monsters who hate everything I do for them, and I didn’t want to make the other kids who came over with their parents jealous that my kids got grilled cheeses on challah so I made them grilled cheeses too, but like one of those kids ALSO had some asparagus, so like, they’re all right by me. Also like american cheese and sharp cheddar melted between grilled challah? I kind of wanted one too.)

Fuck. Wait.

So I grilled the cauliflower, and then life handed me lemons (actually it was one of my kids who I made go food shopping with me to see if I could pique their curiosity about food and ask to try something new but fucking fat chance there) so I made a lemon vinaigrette with some olive oil, and chopped up some celery (if you can get celery leaves on them, the leaves are really my favorite part), roasted chopped hazelnuts and golden raisins. I grilled the cauliflower over high heat for a good thirty minutes probably which made the outside bits super charred and nutty and the inside bits a little soft and steamy. (Side note: you really can’t over good cauliflower like you can broccoli or other green vegetables. It’ll get soft but then it’s like even better?)

cauliflower salad

The last thing I made was asparagus. Well, I attempted to make asparagus. I guess I made some of the asparagus. I made the paragus, because I certainly didn’t make the ass.

See what happened was I had prepped the asparagus (for anything other than long stalks I just cut off the last inch – if you do that snapping thing you’ll lose a ton of very edible asparagus; for large stalks, I still cut the ends off, but then I use peeler to take off the outer woody layers) and had gotten then covered in oil and salt and pepper and on a quarter sheet-pan and put them next to the grill, and then not more than 30 seconds later the were on the deck having been knocked over a kid with a huge inflatable burrito.

Despite the number of times said child was told to not go near the grill with the burrito.

Despite it having been said to them not a minute earlier.


(Also as a parent you learn that there are questions you really want to ask but you’ll never get a satisfying answer from so you have to not ask them because the answer is so not what you wanted to hear that it can make the situation even more annoying. “What were you thinking” is really the top of the list, because the actual answer is “I wasn’t”, but there’s really no answer that fits that question that makes the situation better.)


these were the only salvageable bits

So I cooked what was salvageable. Which was like maybe 1/3 of what I had prepped, and put it on the plate I had prepared with a layer of labneh cheese, and then sprinkled with smoked sea salt, lemon zest, olive oil and some zataar.

Next week should prove to be interesting. Said kid is making dinner for all us to make up for it. I can’t wait to see the look on their face when I take the tray of meatballs and throw it on the ground, giggling with sheer glee. (No, really, I would never do that. Mistakes happen. It sucks, but mistakes happen, and they’re still my lovable little kids.)


Ain't No Party Like A Taco Party

Because a taco party doesn’t something, something, something.

What’s the biggest problem a vegan crossfit person has when they meet someone new?

Trying to decide to tell them they’re vegan or they do crossfit first!

Wait. I can do better.

How can you tell someone is vegan?

Don’t worry — THEY’LL TELL YOU!

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Last night’s secret word was vegan because our vegan friend (everyone has one, don’t fucking lie) came over for backyard drinks and because it was their birthday. (Yes, even vegans have birthdays. And yes, I expect you to click on those goddamn links. I’m not doing this entirely for my own edification. Well. Ok. Maybe. But, unlike my kids, just humor me.)

a table full of taco stuff

Ah yes, the necessary blanket pile looms in the background

Warning: you might want to get a cup of coffee or like go get comfortable because it’s gonna a long entry. I’m also mildly hung over and my kids really want some attention this morning and I really can’t be fucking bothered so I’m hiding in front the laptop.

No. That’s mean. They’re good kids.

I had noticed a recipe for vegan cheez sauce from America’s Test Kitchen the other day and it looked pretty interesting considering that it was made out of stuff a lot of people might have in their kitchens, as opposed to much vegan cheez which is either downright fucking disgusting or plastic yet unmelting, and usually full of modified starches, extracts and other you’re-not-really-gonna-do-it-at-home ingredients. I didn’t have any powdered mustard so I skipped it, and then I mixed in a can of mild diced green chilis, and you know what? It was pretty fucking good. I mean it was obviously not-cheese, but it was actually better than a bowl of Velveeta or whatever sodium-citrate filled nastiness they’ve filled it with. To be honest the most impressive part was that I thought to put the queso in a bowl of boiling water to keep it hot because it was dumb cold out last night.

guacamole with no fucking peas

What do you need if you’ve got queso? Guacamole. And I swear to fucking god (I don’t care which one, you pick if it matters) if anyone so much as thinks about peas or has peas in the kitchen or even goes to the bathroom to take a leak I WILL FUCKING LOSE IT ON YOU.











That’s some straight up goddamn fucking bullshit “SEND IN THE ARMY” editorial page extreme-right-wing-masquerading-as-centrist-thought New York Times horseshit. I mean. You can put peas in your guacamole if you want. But you’re probably the kind of person who thinks the PT Cruiser is a good looking car, so your opinions are obviously wrong.

And once you’ve got guacamole, you’re probably gonna need some salsa. And then once you’ve got all of those you’re gonna need some chips.

tortilla chips

Alright, quick question: what brand of supermarket tortilla chips can withstand heavy dips without breaking?

The answer to that is the same as the answer to how many people like Nickelback. ZERO. (I mean… who fucking throws fucking rocks at a band they fucking paid to see? The Portuguese are alright man.)

So what is a person to do? Well, they fry their own goddamn chips. I already had the oil hot in the wok for the potatoes (more on that later), so might as well just take a pile of store bought corn tortillas, slice them up and throw them in the fat too. They’re about 100x thicker and 100000x better tasting even starting with store bought tortillas, and it literally couldn’t be easier. Like. Cut them. Put them in hot oil. Drain them. Salt them. If only the rest of the food was this easy to make.


oh yeah gimme that sexy soft ass focus

Speaking of, I also made two taco fillings: vegan rajas y papas and roasted king oyster mushrooms, as well as guacamolito sauce and some pickled red onions. The mushrooms and “guacamolito” (avocado cream) were from Flavor which is a pretty awesome book if you’re looking to eat less meat (and, to be honest, we all should be.) The book wants you to use oyster mushrooms, but like we’re celebrating a fucking birthday here so I’m all about the king ones. They also tend to be a little “meatier”, plus you can use them to make some pretty good vegan fakin’ bacon.

potatoes and peppers

it tasted much better than it looked

The rajas y papas were deep fried diced potatoes (as mentioned above), along with poblano peppers I roasted on the stove, skinned & seeded and then sliced into strips. The cream sauce was soaked cashews, water, a little bit of coconut cream, nutritional yeast, white miso, salt and champagne vinegar blitzed until smooth in my blender. Once all the pieces were done, I combined them on the stove top over low heat.

It’s a good thing I spent all this time cooking for the family because the kids devoured what was on their plates. Like not a single goddamn scrap left. Who thought they liked vegan food?


They didn’t. They got a quesadilla and a chicken & rice burrito. You know, since I already was using flour tortillas (I wasn’t), and shredding cheese (I wasn’t), and cooking rice (I wasn’t) and re-heating the left over shredded chicken from the other night (I wasn’t). But it felt like a thematic win last night. This morning? I’m just more tired even thinking about having to do all that extra work. I mean, I guess they ate some of the chips that I made and didn’t say “they’re almost as good as store bought?”


Phở Gà

We’re going fucking ✨ IN ✨ TER ✨ NA ✨ TION ✨ AL ✨ tonight so strap the fuck in and hold on to your goddamn cloth masks you sons of bitches.

Bowls of chicken, onions and scallions waiting for noodles and broth

You're gonna need a bigger bowl

Nah, I just made some goddamn soup. Sure, its got a fancy name with all those diacritical marks (what a colonial legacy of Portuguese and French oppression; I guess it’s better than making them all speak French with a Portuguese lexicography), but the cool part is that, in the end, you’ve got some killer fucking chicken soup.

(And, no, I’m not going to make some lame, probably offensive to multiple cultures joke about the pronunciation of phở. You’re going to have to get your juvenile rocks off somewhere else friends.)

This recipe was originally shared to me by a friend back in like 2012 if Google Docs is to be trusted, but I saw a version of this in this month’s Cooks Illustrated, and since it was supposed to be a cold and rainy day yesterday I figured I’d make it.

A pile of bean sprouts, basil, cilantro and limes along with hosin and sriracha

Only I made it tonight. Thursday.

See, what happened is that I was working yesterday and who gives a flying fuck? TL;DR: it was like four pm and I was on a call and realized that I needed a good two hours to make this, so instead we went to our quarantine buddy’s house and ate pizza and chicken wings and drank beer and I woke up this morning and set aside some time this morning to make the stock and so here we are.


Maybe instead of learning how to take better photos I should just get an editor or stop making these ridiculous run on sentence. If my kids ever read this blog they’d drag me hard. Jokes on them, they can’t even read thanks to the pandemic.

The Cooks Illustrated version and the version shared to me are super simple which means they’re both probably decent versions of something you could find in Vietnam, but like, I’m a fat white dude in Seattle so I’m not claiming any concept of authenticity; I just want some goddamn soup.

I’m planning on roasting some chicken later this week so I actually bought two whole chickens when I finally went to the store, knowing that I would raid the second one for parts so I could create a sticky, glossy, chicken-y broth. I used all four thighs, legs and wings, one whole breast, both backbones and the various nubbins and nibbens left over from cutting the chicken up. I put it in a pot, covered it with cold water, added an onion and a slab o’ ginger, salt & a tiny bit of sugar and set ‘er to the boil. After skimming some of the foam off, (who the fuck complains their fucking soup is cloudy? Is that goddamn chowder fucker Gordon Ramsey coming to dinner? Fuck that shit.) I added some coriander seeds, star anise, a cinnamon stick and black peppercorns and waited until the chicken parts came up to temp. Plus I live in Seattle. I’m allowed to be cloudy AF. Y’all go suck eggs who care.

chicken stock

I then took out the parts where I could pull off the meat, let it cool enough so I didn’t burn my fingerprints off, and then shredded it from the bone and skin and set it aside. I added the bones and skin and other parts left over back to the pot though, and set it over real low heat and went back to work.

Several hours later I strained the remaining bones, vege and spices out, stirred in a few tablespoons of fish sauce and put the broth back on the pot to wait while I soaked the rice noodles in cold water, and prepped bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, thinly sliced onions, lime and chilis. I briefly boiled the noodles until they were done (Cooks Illustrated says this takes only a minute, but they’re a bunch of goddamn liars, so like whatever, cook them until they’re edible), and then put them in the bowls atop the chicken, onions and scallions (oh shit I also sliced up some scallions but I’m too lazy to go back and edit that part so surprise!) and poured on the broth.

A partially eaten bowl of pho

I told you that you need a bigger bowl dick-for-teeth

So, we’ve got chicken soup here, right? With some warming spices added. What is a kid not to love? Especially since this winter I took one of the kids to get phở bò (that’s the beefy kind) and they were all THIS THE FUCKING SHIT DAD CAN WE GET IT AGAIN! Well, guess fucking what? One of them had toast and yogurt and the other had a peanut butter and jelly and tried to talk me into making them a breakfast sandwich on Saturday morning with eggs, bacon, cheese, peanut butter and jelly. (Oh, yeah, by the way, I’m totally fucking making that and no they can’t fucking have any.)


Challah & Scalloped Potatoes

It’s already goddamn Wednesday morning and I just got did the shopping for the week which means a) we’ve had take out or leftovers since Sunday (I might be part ham at this point) and b) work has been kicking my ass and I’m off my fucking game. This week’s menu will probably include:

  • Phở Gà
  • Roasted cauliflower & sweet potatoes with tahini & a marinated chickpea salad
  • Roast chicken with potatoes & carrots

Yeah that’s only three meals. It’s fine. Sometimes stressful weeks mean I want to be in the kitchen to blow off steam, and sometimes I want to do nothing than stare into space when I’m done working and think about nothing until two whiskeys later.

But! You came here for bread. Or potatoes. I dunno. I’m not your fucking supervisor.

There are a few things I desperately miss about New York — adequate public transportation (yeah, the MTA is fucked, but it’s better than light rail that won’t even come to my neighborhood until 2038, and, even then, not within 2 miles of where I live), pizza-by-the-slice, bodegas (and breakfast sandwiches) and bread.

Oh sure. You can get bread here. Which kind of hard, steam-injected, crusty loaf do you want? That’s all well and good, but like where are the other kinds of bread? I guess sometimes you can spot a lavish buttery Brioche, what of the ryes and challahs and easy availability of real bagels? (And yes, bagels are the new hot shit here, but certainly not in my neighborhood and who the fuck orders bagels in advance? They’re for picking up on your way to the subway to eat at your desk and fling the fallen sesame seeds into the keyboards of your enemies.)

A braided, circular loaf of challah

Anyway, for some reason Easter to me screams for challah bread (even though Easter and Passover are the same this year, this bread is chametz, and come the fuck on, I made a goddamn ham) which is sort of like a brioche, but you can’t use butter in it or it wouldn’t be parve and you’d have to relegate it to the milk plates, so it ends up being a little less rich. I used King Arthur’s classic challah recipe to make this. It’s pretty straight-forward, only the flour was not very thirsty so I had to add about 10-15g more flour to the mixer to get it into a (very wet) dough shape rather than a batter. I actually used the “proof” mode on my new oven to do all the rising for this loaf and I have to say I was pretty impressed. It took only an hour for each rise to get the dough real nice and puffy.

Scalloped potatoes

Even though every time I try to get my oldest to eat anything potato related that isn’t a French fry (and French fries are only acceptable since THIS FUCKING MARCH) he will literally vomit it at the table like he’s trying to feed a family of baby birds. The first few times this happened you’re all “oh it must be a texture thing” and you get worried and nervous I mean your son is gagging and vomiting at the table. (Although you only try to catch it with your hand once. Once.) Then you remember children are fucking agents of chaos.

I would say I’m successful with scalloped potatoes about 1/3 of the time I make them — the bake time is always like WAY longer than I expect it to be so the potatoes tend to be a shade under cooked, and the sauce never thickens enough. This time though I used our good friend science to help me out. I sliced the potatoes on the mandolin and let them sit in a bowl of water for a bit to wash off excess starches. Then I lifted the slices out of the water (if you dump them out, you’ll just throw all that starch back on top.) and put them in a pot with new water, salt and vinegar and slowly brought them up to a simmer. When they were par-cooked (not totally tender), I drained them and let them cool.

While they were cooling I made a béchamel sauce mornay (IIRC it’s called Freedom Sauce in the capital cafeteria) with some 3 cups of dairy (about a 1/2c of left over heavy cream, the rest whole milk), 1.5 oz of flour and butter (by weight) and about 3oz of comte cheese.


You know how to make a white sauce right? One of the French mother sauces? (BTW I can’t see that phrase without hearing Samuel L Jackson saying “French Motherfucker Sauce”). The technique is real straight forward: equal parts by weight of butter and flour (1/2 of each to 1c of dairy), melt the butter, whisk in the flour until it’s all incorporated into the butter, and then start adding dairy, very slowly while whisking. (If you go too fast you’ll get lumps and she’s just in my head.) When all the dairy has been added, bring the sauce up to a low simmer slowly. The flour will thicken around the boiling point, but be pretty loose at first. This is when you add things like shredded cheese to make it a sauce mornay. Or sweat onions when you melt the butter and you’ve got a Soubise! Or some cognac and peppercorns and you’ve got a peppercorn sauce for those steaks! Those wacky French!

But back to the mission at hand. When the sauce was ready, I buttered a glass baking dish, put the potatoes in it (as you can see from the photo I’m not precious about this. You just want them fucking flat. Shingle ‘em if you want, but I’m vaccinated against that shit) and pour the sauce on. I then put a bit more shredded comte on top of it and put it in a 425º until it was golden and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes? It was so fucking good my father-in-law got seconds.