Bun Cha, Fig Newtons, Bad Corn Dogs for a Bad Day

We’ve been watching too much TV. We go swimming a lot, but it’s so much work to get the kids in all their suit-pieces, covered in sunscreen, and encased in float-y things that I’m feeling tired of it. So TV it is. Andy and I are no better- I watched the last four episodes of Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix last night instead of writing this post (that show is fun and really stupid! it’s only eight episodes so you can burn through it), so now I’m writing while the kids watch more Jake and the Neverland Pirates and hit each other. S’gonna be a good day! Here’s what we ate this week.


Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad (Bun Cha). I stole this from Last Night’s Dinner’s pinterest board, which is full of lovely dinner ideas. I was immediately smitten with the idea of putting Vietnamese flavors into a meat ball and serving them with bright fresh herbs and noodles. In execution, the meatballs were delicious, and great with the herbs and noodles, but the ratios in the sauce are totally wrong. The vinegar/sugar/fish sauce are watered down so much that you really can’t discern them on the noodles. Next time I’ll triple the amounts of every sauce ingredient and then add water a 1/2 cup at a time until the sauce tastes right.


Fried Provolone and Tomato Sandwich, Charoset Tabbouleh. It’s a Last Night’s Dinner love fest this week- this is her sandwich and damn it’s good. You fry the provolone in a little olive oil and then drain it on paper towels before sliding it onto your sandwich. The first time, I tried to flip the provolone too soon, and it slopped everywhere. But by just letting it go a little longer, it got crustier and was much easier to flip.  I thought it would stick to the paper towels when you drain it, but it didn’t at all. And the combination of cheese, tomatoes, and mayo on good bread is delightful. It will be a summer staple for years to come, I think. The charoset tabbouleh is my first entry into a food52 contest in a good long time. I made it for the first time after passover, because I was going to make tabbouleh and didn’t have tomatoes, and looked in the fridge and thought leftover charoset (honeyed dates and apples and nuts from the Seder) would be good instead. It was! I love grain salads with a huge variety of flavors- fruits and nuts and greens and a tart lemony dressing.


Orange Cardamom Fig Newtons. I prepared the woe-begotten figs from last week in three different ways- these newtons, the fig and blue cheese tart below, and halved and dried in a low oven for 24 hours- I’ll use them later in these scones, or rehydrated in mulled wine or something like that for a devils on horseback variant. But these newtons are great! They are made with a pound of fresh figs (that gives you two sheet pans-full of cookies). The outside cookie is soft and cake-y, as it should be, and the inside is beautifully flavored with cardamom and citrus (I used lemon because I didn’t have an orange). We gave half to our neighbors as a thank you for the figs and ate the other half while singing the old fig newton jingle, as taught to me by Homer’s mom, Mona Simpson, low those many years ago.


Fig and Blue Cheese Tart, Pea Shoots with Bacon and Lemony Vinaigrette. This dinner was not well-received by the kids. I set down a plate in front of Henry and he said “are there more and different foods?” :/ I didn’t love the tart either- The puff pastry under the figs never really puffed which made the tart soggy and hard to eat. It’s drizzled with thick balsamic and honey before baking, which definitely added to the sogginess. The flavor combination is great though. If I were to do it again, I think I’d try baking the puff pastry by itself first, then adding the figs and blue cheese halfway through, then drizzling with the honey and vinegar after it came out of the oven? Meh.


Avocado Sushi, Roasted Eggplant with Caramelized Miso, and a Combination of Both. I missed my regular farmers’ market this week because we were having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Friday, and then out to breakfast at Casa Alde the next morning (NB: if you love breakfast tacos and haven’t been here, you should drop everything and go. They are the ultimate in tex-mex breakfast tacos, all served on handmade flour tortillas that will change your life. Try their exceptional migas, served with a pour of queso inside (genius), or the fatty, which has every breakfast food in one convenient taco). Casa Alde is across the street from the Saturday Morning farmers’ market in Buda, so we stopped there. It’s a little heavy on the prepared foods and light on fresh vegetables, but I did pick up these adorable baby eggplants, the tiny tomatoes from the fried provolone sandwich above, and red potatoes. I’m not very creative when it comes to eggplant, and followed my normal method of roasting them with miso. Since they were so wee, I rolled some of them into avocado sushi rolls and drizzled some of the watered-down miso sauce on top for an extra sweet and salty touch. We loved them.


Potato, Poblano, Cotija Tacos. I’m a sucker for a potato taco. For these, I made a big batch of those crispy smashed red potatoes and then tossed 4 of them with roasted poblano chiles and sliced onions and cotija, and let all those things get crispy in the pan too. We ate them with avocado and salsa verde. The jalapenos were in my picture-taking spot because I’m going to be fermenting them this week, and not because I’m trying to tango with the big-name ingredient-scattering bloggers. (For the diligent link-followers- don’t those corn cakes sound good? They’re on my list). We’re in the middle of the Hatch fest at Central Market (hooray!) so you can save a step and pick up some pre-roasted New Mexico chiles and use them in place of the poblanos.


Corn Dogs and Hush Puppies. This was one of those days where I couldn’t do anything right- these corn dogs were no exception. A few weeks ago we drove out to Lockhart for barbecue and I was seduced by a package of “smoked wieners” at the checkout. My sister and brother-in-law both call hot dogs ‘wieners’, which offends my ears, but for some reason I felt pulled to that label on this occasion. They’re scrawny little things and I thought they’d make great corn dogs. When I went to fry them it turned out that they were raw, so I had to delay dinner by first roasting them in the oven. Then I didn’t have any bamboo skewers, and chopsticks were too thick for these spindly wieners, so I used little metal picks. Then the batter wouldn’t stick to the hot wieners, then I burned the shit out of my fingers by carelessly picking up the metal pick moments after I’d pulled it out of the fryer. To top it off, the meat absolutely sucked. It was really oddly textured, and it felt to me like the sausages had been made with floor sweepings from the meat-grinding room. You’d bite into it and get a gritty-crunchy bit in almost every bite. Gahhhhh. I did scoop spoonfuls of the corn dog batter into the oil, which puffed up into fantastic little hush puppy-like things that we ate with butter, and those were really good, so that’s something at least. The hush puppy on top of a really bad day.


Gluten Free Blueberry and Peach Buttermilk Cupcakes. These were for my niece Phinnie’s first birthday party! My sister made her a spectacular seven-layer beehive shaped yellow cake with lemony cream cheese frosting, but wanted something for the gluten free folks in Phinnie’s life and asked me to cover it since I always have a bag of Cup 4 Cup in the freezer. These cupcakes are made following the directions of the linked recipe, but replacing AP flour with an equal amount of C4C. I doubled the recipe to make this many cupcakes. If you make them be sure not to fill the cupcake tins more than about half way full- the batter rises spectacularly in the oven. I was so happy with how these turned out.

So much love to you, Phinnie, on your first birthday! You are equal parts contemplative and exuberant, passionate, patient, and more cuddly than any baby in the whole history of the world. I love you!



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