Saturday night felt like a Sunday night. We were tired from a day of soccer and birthday parties. Jay was coming down hard with a cold. We were *this* close to throwing in the towel and having frozen waffles for dinner (or something like that) when I remembered the package of bacon in our refrigerator, left over from a breakfast gathering the week before.
I’ve never really understood the BLT. Lettuce and tomato are filler vegetables, and bacon’s a side dish. The BLT has always struck me as a pseudo-sandwich, and definitely not a meal. But Caroline conjured up the image of a diner, a plate of fries, a chocolate milkshake, and soon I was out the door to buy airy wheat bread and mayonnaise (because even as a BLT doubter, I knew that mayonnaise pulls the whole thing together).
Caroline and I ate the sandwiches and a feeling approaching giddiness came over us. For minimal effort, we’d made a delicious dinner and recreated the far-off experience of easing into the vinyl booth of an Upper West Side diner. The BLTs were a slit in the fabric of a gloomy Saturday evening, a passage to someplace a little sunnier. We’ll be making them again soon.
Dinner I: BLTs with french fries and peas. Caroline used the Martha Stewart method (mayonnaise on one slice of bread, butter on the other).
Dinner II: Beef empanadas. These were very fun to make. The dough recipe has you work two sticks of butter into 4.5 cups of flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Whenever I combine cold butter and flour, I love how one moment it looks clumpy and the next you have in front of you something that looks indisputably coarse. The transformation seems to happen slowly and then all at once.
Jay and Wally helped us cut the dough into 6-inch rounds, apply the filling, and pinch the empanadas shut. It was a good family activity, with the usual undercurrent of stress. Wally kept applying unnecessary indentations to the finished empanadas and threatening to eat the dough, which contained raw egg. At one point he actually did eat the dough, and was temporarily banished from the kitchen. Jay, true to form, was diligent throughout. He’d be a real asset to a family of Buenos Aires street vendors.
One cooking note: We left the dough too thick, which made it hard to get in enough filling, and as a result, the dough overwhelmed the taste of the meat. Thinner, next time.
Dinner III: Pasta with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. Cook the pasta, drain. Combine hot pasta with 4 oz. of goat cheese and stir until the goat cheese coats the noodles. Add tomatoes and arugula. Done. We’ll have this Wednesday before soccer practice.
Dinner IV: Ramen with roasted chicken and mushrooms. The temperatures in Columbia have finally dipped into the (upper) 70s. So what if this is what summer in Maine feels like? I’m ready to pretend it’s Fall and I’ve been wanting to make ramen for awhile. This recipe is scheduled for Friday. That feels like a long, long time from now. I’ll post pictures if it turns out well.