What's for Dinner #32 - the Spring Has Finally Sprung! Edition - April '18

We really had sunshine!! And warm weather! Like, summer overnight! Crazy.
Yesterday afternoon my friends with a fantastic terrace were texting everyone saying come over , I volunteered to bring a dip and veggies because I really just can’t probably ever deal with hummus and carrots again regardless of how creative the hummus flavor is… (homemade zahav hummus is a different story all together!)
Took a long bike ride downtown and picked up babaganoush and edamame dip, sugar snap peas, mini cucumbers, mini bell peppers and a jicama.
Most of the other apps either had dairy or some meaty/fishy thing so after plenty of wine and just veggies, crackers, more wine and some pita chips i needed legit food once home.
And apparently i decided that was a random miso ramen i found in the cupboard. Added in more tofu and a big handful of baby spinach. Hit the spot.

More bike riding today! Yay! I stopped for a dumpling snack on the edge of chinatown at one of those random bakeries to being home. Sweet very young girl at the counter assured me no meat in the filling, it was a tasty cabbage mushroomy mix with a chewy rice based dough. Added the tasty dumpling sauce after photo

Chopped up a will this be good? combo salad for dinner with lots of cucumber, some mandarin orange, sugar snap peas, lettuce under there somewhere, and dill. Added a dijon heavy vinegrette and some smoked tofu after the photo. Surprisingly tasty but a bit more dill that i should have used!


Thanks, this looks very good. Mr naf is crazy with mackerel, he bought them nearly every other week, I am running out of ideas of recipes!

I hope you both enjoy it. I tried using agave instead of honey but it was too mild. A robust honey works best to my taste.

What do you usually do with mackerel?

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My favourite recipe is mackerel with Dijon mustard. Mix in half cup of thick creme fraiche (double cream): 1 chopped onions, 3 tablespoons of parsley, 1 table spoon of butter, 1/2 lemon of juice, salt and pepper. Butter the baking dish, coat the 4 mackerels with the cream mixture, add some more butter, cook for around 15 - 18 minutes in the oven depending the size of your fish.

But the classic is garlic, thyme, shallot with white wine and olive oil and in the oven for 12-13 minutes.
Variations include ginger, shallot, sake (or lemon juice), soy sauce or Vietnamese fish sauce and sesame oil and off to oven.

I have not try this yet, I will like to cure them in oil or in vinegar with herbs or mustard grains just like the Scandinavian do to the herrings.


I love salt grilled mackerel, Japanese style. I’ve never cooked it, but order it regularly in bento box for lunch.

I found this recipe online, the skin gets very crisp and nice with this method, which I use for salmon. It’s even better if you have a charcoal grill.



Last night’s dinner was fish and chips. Now I haven’t had it for going on 3 years so I was looking forward to it. I was a little dismayed to discover the chip shop was mainly focusing on kebabs and fried chicken but I saw some fish in the warmer that looked pretty good. I didn’t want that though, I wanted freshly cooked so I followed the @Harters protocol# I knew the fish in the warmer was going to be cod so I ordered haddock ( cod is the most popular in London. I was told I had to wait to have it cooked fresh (fine by me.)

The fish was pretty good with a crisp batter, chips were the right thickness but a little under coloured ( some nice soggy ones at the bottom though), mushy peas were only ok.

Harters fish and chips protocol, very sage advice.
“If you find a place that fries to order, then you can be on a winner. A good way is to establish whether cod or haddock is the norm in that part of the of the world - and then order the other one. Pretty much guarantees a fresh cooked fillet.”


Last dinner in Austria and it’s a Tyrolean classic: dumplings.

Cheese dumplings in broth.

One type is filled with spinach and the other with grey cheese. I put them on top of the last of the rhubarb.

Spinach dumplings, surrounded by crisp-fried Speck and ramps.

A few photos from my short hike today (only 3 hours and it was an easy hike):

A box on the side of a farm house.

You put money in the small slot on left and take your egg carton. One has someone’s name on it so don’t be touching it. Rural Austria still uses a trust system. I saw 2 elderly women got a carton out of the box. One of them took the top carton out but her friend said “no, that one is for Renate.”.

My hiking snack: deer sausages. At first it looks like someone’s dog has left something behind.

It’s still not touristy yet and I didn’t come across many hikers in the woods. For now it’s nice and quiet. Sometimes I saw only 1 person the whole time. June through Sept is high season, and then you have skiing season. April, May and November are the 3 quietest months.

So many hiking paths everywhere. I love it.

Going home tomorrow. Only a little over 1 hour flying (direct!) and it’s a totally different world. I had planned to go to the Jura but changed my mind and am glad I did! (France is never a priority for me)


A quiet day. Three loads of laundry, reading, watching “The Greatest Showman” on Amazon Prime (which I REALLY liked!), and making dinner. Oh yeah - and watching some occasional snow fall during the day. On April 15th. :::Sigh:::

A roast chicken with a compound butter tucked under the skin. The butter was a blend of butter, salt, pepper, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and an herb blend of minced fresh thyme, rosemary and sage all mashed together. Roasted at 450° for 30 minutes, then 350° for the remaining 1-1/2 hours (it was a 6.75 lb. birdie). Let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Sides were mashed sour cream potatoes and buttered carrots and peas. And wine.

A Damn Fine Sunday Dinner, if I do say so myself.


Great looking chicken Linda. Damn. I was watching Julia Child today and she said I hate those small chickens
Get the big birds. Nicely done.

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So tired working in the rain, wanted to pull weeds and reseed with microclover, taking advantage of the rain for 2 days .
Dinner was simple
Stir fry boneless skinless chicken legs and some shrimp using black bean with chili and satay marinade
Caramelized onion, pre cooked garlic in EVOO ( I decide to use the whole bag of garlic when my son left 2 weeks ago, roasted in the oven, refrigerated so they won’t spoil since I am not into cooking nowadays with him away.
Vegetable was orange and red sweet pepper, snow peas and mushroom and oyster sauce added to the vegetable, pretoasted szechuan pepper and sesame oil when stir fry was done.
Then, I added Shao Zing wine and the stock from the shrimp to deglaze the

Served with precooked kokuho red rice, red wine and my hawthorne tea.
Excuse the toothbrush ( for the dogs) at the corner!
Too tired to take pictures First picture of the wok, mostly vegetable on top for a short while, ( chicken and shrimp under) so the vegetable wil be crunchy but there is eno ugh for 3 more meals and won’t be crunch tomorrow or the next day



The weird wonderful two summer days are long gone. Ugh.
I had picked up some veggie dumplings that are the frozen boil or pan fry kind (not a fan of the fried ones so much), and some veggies from the outside stall. Sugar snap peas i dipped in furikake as appetizer, side of daikon slices. Boiled the dumplings which seem to have a cabbage/mushroomy inside at added bean sprouts at the last minute. (I prefer the bean sprouts raw but can’t deny i watched him use the same gloved hand to scoop them as to take money…figured boiling water would kill anything better than a quick rinse)
Mixed up a soy sauce/black vinegar/sesame oil sauce and added a bunch of sesame seeds to it. Not the most photogenic thing but who doesn’t love dumplings??
Spicy ginger lemon cayanne kombucha a la carte


Thanks, this is especially good for outdoor grilling with charcoal in summer. But I will try to test it at home. Quite a delicate dish!

When we eat Japanese, we had more Mackerel raw, such as sushi or sashimi than had them cooked, The raw is very good but I need to train my knife skill!

I love my mom’s marinade for quick fry pork chop and so use the same recipe
soy sauce, cider vinegar, garlic, five spice, lime, pepper, dusted with sweet potato starch after marinading overnight , pan fried in peanut oil, served with tabasco


Sweet potato starch…nice…never thought of using it for dusting, I generally use some corn & potato starch…

I had some down time yesterday and decided to make Bolognese and fresh fettuccine. There are so many Bolognese recipes that it’s tough to choose. Last time I made one of Batali’s recipes, which was fine, but had seen enough praise for Anne Burrell’s that I decided to give it a try. It’s a bit unusual in that it calls for a large amount of tomato paste. I was worried that it would be too strong, but it worked well. It called for two cups of paste to three lbs. of ground beef, but I spaced and only added 1 1/2 cups. Anyway, it was flavorful and balanced and I’ll make it again. I cooked it under pressure in the Instantpot for thirty minutes and the bottom scorched a bit even though there was plenty of liquid, so next time I think I’d go with twenty minutes. There wasn’t really a noticeable burned flavor, though. The sauce reduced for an hour or so on low heat. The pasta was from Melissa Clark in the New York Times. A good comfort food dish for a raw weekend in the Boston area.


This. The absurdity drives me a little crazy.

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Haha, exactly… i’m certainly not overly cautious or paranoid- heck i eat grapes from the street carts before i get home to wash them and have lived to tell- but there was something a bit too obvious to deny about this failed homage towards sanitation!

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I’m home! My clothes still fit, must be all the hiking I did.

Made dinner with a few things I have. China meets Austria, or more precisely Sichuan meets Tirol.

Heaven-facing* atheist. (*Sichuan chillies called “facing heaven” I got in Chengdu years ago, still OK.)

Not only Sichuan chillies but also Sichuan bean paste and Lao Gan Ma (chilli flakes in oil).

I had been raining all night and I woke up to this. Forecast says light rain for the next couple of days in the area I was staying. Good that I left today.

Best seat on the plane…

Ultimate best seat on the plane.

Had to take everything out of my bag so they could see that my Speck and book weren’t explosive blocks. It happens every time with Speck in my hand baggage. Next time I pay extra for a checked bag. It’s so annoying to repack.


I know i know better. But the sticker said grown in Arizona, and it certainly does get very hot there all year. And the minis were on sale! $3 felt like it was worth the risk.
Ummmm… yeah, No.
it was nice and firm and crunchy and wet and tasted like…pink. What does pink taste like? Who knows! It’s not a flavor!!
Plan B.
Where apparently i added dill from the neverending package I bought, some everything seasoning, and underneath is some baby arugala with a light vinegrette. Side of sliced smoked tofu and crazy bubbly lemony kombucha.
I just put the rest of the watermelon through my juicer with a lemon and some cucumber, i’ll have it in the morning

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2