What's For Dinner #74 - The Long "Fall Into Darkness, Warmth & Comfort" Edition - October 2021

Prettiest plate I have put together in awhile. Fresh salsa from CSA/neighbors tomatoes, crab cakes with crema, rice with tomato and saffron, plus avocado and radish salad.

Years ago we used to go to a restaurant called Zapotec on Martha’s Vineyard. They served a crab cake entree that inspired me.

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Honest confession. The pastry was a “piece of cake”, but when husband asked there was anything he could do, I jumped! He cubed all of the veg, which to me is the biggest bore. The rest is idiot’s play. Make a circle, plop filling off center, close up, bake. I never knew he had such knife skills! :wink:

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Had a wonderful six day week because we are so short staffed. Between that, my second job teaching, and the museum I volunteer at, I didn’t have nearly a moment to myself. But I’m off tomorrow and didn’t have to cook tonight.

Mom made her annual Oktoberfest contribution with this dinner of Chicken Schnitzel, mushroom gravy, and German potato salad with bacon. I look forward to this every year and it never disappoints. An old recipe and many years of enjoyment.

To drink: Jack Daniel’s on the rocks. Several. I had looked through my rather large collection for something German to pair with it. But it was to no avail. There was the USA, Scotland, Ireland, France, Greece, Russia, Poland, Italy, and England, but no Germany. Guess my days of frozen Jager shots are over. :no_mouth:

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Chicken stir fry, thin strip of blsl chicken breast, carrots, red peppers, snap peas, onion and garlic. A splash of chicken broth and tamari, a squeeze of hoisin and gochujang. A sprinkle of black sesame seeds and green onion. Fried cauli rice. Red cabbage, radish kimchi and shishito pepper slaw, Asian vinaigrette, sesame seeds.
Apéritif was an Americano.

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I had a feeling it was. I still get the paper every day to do the crossword puzzle and so have on-line access. I pretty much followed the recipe but will likely make some changes next time - I’m thinking feta of mozzarella or maybe adding some good Italian sausage.

Crispy Gnocchi with Burst Tomatoes and Mozzarella

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 (12- to 18-ounce) packages shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 pints small tomatoes, such as cherry, grape or Sungold
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves (optional), plus more for serving
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut or torn into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
  2. In a large (12-inch) skillet on the stovetop, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon) over medium-high. Add half the gnocchi to the pan, breaking up any that are stuck together. Cover with a lid or baking sheet and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi and olive oil.
  3. Add the butter to the skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until golden-brown and toasty, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper, reducing the heat slightly if necessary to avoid scorching. Add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Smash the tomatoes as they burst to help them along.
  4. Add the seared gnocchi and 1/4 cup basil (if using), stir to coat, then shake into an even layer. Top with the mozzarella and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Top with more basil, red-pepper flakes and black pepper as desired.
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Mrs. P enjoyed an excellent birthday celebration at James on Main in Hackettstown, NJ. We enjoyed croustade of smoked salmon with herbed creme fraiche, osetra caviar and edible flowers; burrata with local beets, empress plum compote, salted mixed nuts, and aged balsamic vinegar; duckleg confit with homemade sausage, flageolet, watercress and green garlic puree; golden tilefish with pumpkin seed crumble, sweet corn velvet, foraged black trumpet mushrooms, pickled beet butter, and red sorrel; brisket with wood fired corn succotash, white polenta, and braising jus. We had chocolate mousse with lemon curd and hazelnut toffee crunch. It all went great with an excellent Shiraz and Chateauneuf Du Pape.





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Happy birthday Mrs. P!

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Thanks Gregg! I’ll convey the message to Mrs. P.

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Happy Birthday Mrs. Paryzer.

What an exceptional dinner and wines. Love the birthday message on the plate !!!

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Thank you! I’ll convey the message to Mrs. P.

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Guests for dinner! We haven’t had indoor guests (except 2 family members) since 3/20! For some reason, maybe Delta had us paranoid, we didn’t do much entertaining at all over the summer when the weather was nice. We started to entertain a bit when school started, but tonight it was dark stormy, windy rainy, and it wasn’t conducive to the original hope which was to eat on the deck and have a fire going.

So I gulped and had them all inside. 2 other families, 12 people in all. Everyone vaxxed or it would have been a no go. And just right for the weather was chili. Beef and bean, a vegetarian version with carrot and corn to round it out, and a topping bar. Much enjoyment was had as we felt like a return to normal for a few hours.



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Wow, thanks for the seared gnocchi recipe and possible modifications! I can see this prep being adaptable for hearty meals as the weather gets cooler.

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Save me a bowl of that chili, please. :wink:

Your vegetarian chili reminds me that black bean and butternut squash chili needs to return to our rotation before long. It’s a useful combo because I can serve it vegan style or decide to add in meat like cooked and shredded brisket.

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Try them “scorched” in a cast iron pan with a tad of olive oil. Coarse salt. Really loud shout for the sprout!

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Thanks for the link. Gonna try it.

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That looks fun! I’m with you in the awkwardness of entertaining as the weather cools. At this point it’s very much a risk calculation. Luckily all our close friends are fully vaxxed - but their/our kids can’t be yet.

A wonderful meal all around! Many happy wishes to Mrs. P.

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I invited my closest Asheville friends for an outdoor birthday celebration. We did a high/low wine tasting party with each person bringing either a <$15 or >$20 bottle to blind taste. This turned out to be a great way to introduce my friends to each other (I even heard some making plans together!) and see almost everyone whose company I most enjoy.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage any photos of either our front porch lounge setup or the food, as a couple arrived early. But here’s what was served:

Rosé sparkling wine
Cornichons
Castelvetrano olives
Dolmades
Artichoke spread
Sweet and spicy pecans
Pistachios in their shells
Buttered popcorn
Cocktail meatballs in smoky sweet roasted red pepper and tomato sauce
Dark russet potato chips
Spinach dip, crudites, and pita crackers
Italian prosciutto
Cheese board - Vermont extra sharp white cheddar, Saint Andre, and Spanish cheese sampler with cracker assortment and homemade jam
Giant fried “Inca” corn
Ranch oyster cracker snack mix with pretzels, Goldfish, and peanuts

Plus all the wines. This one was the priciest and probably the favorite:

DH made me a red velvet layer cake. Funny story - he made it twice because he forgot eggs the first go-round.

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I’m extremely grateful that my kids (youngest is almost 16), and the mostly above 12 aged kids of my friends, are old enough and everyone is a believer in science and public welfare. It makes things a lot easier! I feel for you and everyone with littles. First, how hard it must’ve been when the schools were shut down, now with them reopen and no vax yet available. You guys got the short end of the stick for sure.

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The carrots were roasted first. I really like that flavor and texture, and I thought it would be more “meaty” than to just boil them like in a soup.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo