vacation feasting and a recipe for potato salad

I’m currently on vacation at my parents’ house in Virginia, practicing the arts of doing nothing and eating a lot. Ed and I always plan our vacations around food and this week has been a spectacular ongoing feast. My dad kicked off the week with his juicy, smoky bbq pork shoulder. Topped with a vinegar-based sauce and creamy slaw, it was as good as anything we’d find on a dusty Carolina back road. Ed and I provided dessert, an over-the-top s’mores pie. Imagine a grahammy cookie crust filled with 7 Hershey’s bars and a whole container of marshmallow creme topped with more marshmallows and graham cookies. It was sweet and very, very s’mores-y. Will I make it again? Probably not, but it was fun.
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“not a recipe” dinner–white bean, kale and sausage bowl

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a recipe person. Especially the first time I’m making something, my preference is absolutely for a nice tidy list of ingredients and instructions that I can follow to the letter. I’m highly envious of folks, like my husband, who can just follow their instincts and create something delicious without a recipe. So I’ve been interested in the trend for “not a recipe” recipes I’ve seen floating around lately, like Bon Appétit’s Cooking Without Recipes series and Food52’s new (Not)Recipes app. I like reading them, and I like looking at them, and I like wondering if a more narrative less list-y approach *really*  makes something not a recipe…but nothing pulled me to deviate from my recipe love until I saw a Bon App post titled, “Got a Can of White Beans? You’re Halfway to Dinner Tonight.” 

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summer favorite: mexican green goddess dressing

I wrote at length a couple of years ago about my adventures with Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good cookbook. The book has remained a favorite for times when I’ve needed healthful dinner ideas, but there’s one recipe I’ve gone back to again and again just because it’s tasty: the Mexican Green Goddess Dressing. It’s pourable summer: bright, tangy, and a stunning shade of green. I love it as a dip for veggies and as a salad dressing. Oh, and it happens to be vegan.

mexican green goddess dressing and chopped salad

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thai chicken meatballs with peanut curry sauce

My husband’s hands down favorite make at home meal is classic Italian meatballs–spaghetti optional, as far as he’s concerned. It’s also a meal that I’ve never yet made him myself, and I may never make the attempt. He uses a sacred recipe of his dad’s adapted and improved on over several years, and I’m not about to try and compete with that. His meatball love extends to restaurant eating, and he orders them almost every time we see them on a menu…and consistently prefers his own recipe. Daunting, to say the least. So while I won’t yet make him his favorite veal-pork-beef meatballs with tomato sauce (side note: I will make the tomato sauce), I will happily make him another of his frequent requests: Thai style chicken meatballs, with peanut curry sauce.

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learning to grill: coconut curry chicken kebabs

Here’s a first for butter poached: a grilling recipe. Or is it a grill recipe? Grilled recipe? I’m such a grilling newbie that I don’t even know the conventions. What I do know is that these coconut curry chicken kebabs are more than worthy of being the first in this still new-to-me category of cooking.

coconut curry chicken kebabs

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bacon + bourbon clams

Probably my most frequent I feel like being fancy or celebratory but don’t want to actually go out meal is clams and chorizo. I often make it for me and Hal on Friday nights when we want to toast the end of the week but the week itself has been too busy to make leaving the house at all appealing, and it’s also one of my faves for low key hostessing–especially with the addition of bucatini, to stretch it into a pasta. I probably make it at least once a month, and I love it every time. It’s especially a favorite in the summer, when I serve it with a quick saute of halved cherry tomatoes and corn cut from the cob, with a handful of torn basil wilted in at the end. So when I found a recipe on the wonderful Food52 for a one pot clam dish that subbed in bacon for chorizo and bourbon for white wine, and went ahead and tossed the corn and tomatoes right in, I had to try it. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and if that spice tastes like bourbon and bacon then so much the better.
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bright and spicy orange chicken and herb salad

Two weeks ago was our first Memorial Day weekend with a grill and the first stretch of truly beautiful days. Naturally, we grilled and grilled and grilled: steaks, sausages, veggies, and hot dogs. We ate potato salad, ice cream cake, chips, and washed it all down with cold white wine and beer. It was a delicious few days, but it was also a very salty, greasy, bloated few days. By Tuesday we were craving something much lighter. For inspiration, I turned to Ottolenghi, the master of satisfying salads. I flipped through Jerusalem and found what looked like a seriously virtuous recipe that would surely make us feel good about what we were eating: the saffron chicken and herb salad.

orange chicken and herb salad

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