Sunday, April 7, 2013

Xan: Easter! and a Tammy Egg Hunt!

We had a nice Easter feast with a few friends:

On the menu was:
  • Ham
  • Rack of lamb
  • Yam
  • Sacrificial Ram (return of the big corn sheep)
  • 500 gram broccoli salad on the lam
  • apricot jam bars (not pictured, sorry)
  • bread-am
I don't know what bread-am is but everything else rhymes with ham so what can I do.

Beautiful spirals of meat!

I love Costco.  But as a consequence I am still working on pounds of ham leftovers.  Here are all the things I have put ham in: 
  • sandwiches
  • broccoli salad
  • pasta
  • soup
  • beans
  • ham
I swear it keeps getting better and better though.  I don't remember liking ham this much before.

Also, because I was deep frying sweet potato fries anyway, I went ahead and deep fried the rack of lamb before bringing it up to 128 F in the oven.  The oil wasn't deep enough to submerge everything, but I could still get better coverage than by searing without an inch of oil.  No, this does not make it greasy or unhealthy.  Meat doesn't really absorb oil.  It just gives it a delicious browned crust, evenly and quickly.  You mostly can't see it in the picture above, but look at the rib lying on its side at the back.  They all look like that underneath. And because the browning only takes a few minutes, they are nice and medium rare from edge to edge inside.  And because there was ham too, I didn't feel guilty not catering to the preferences of Catherine-types who like their meat cooked past medium rare.

Here is the bread-am, which I already posted in the pan pizza post:

What is it with circular arrangements today?
And here is broccoli salad, the sacrificial ram (a beheaded big corn sheep), and yam aka sweet potato fries:

Now, on to the Tammy Egg Hunt!

What is special about a Tammy Egg Hunt, you ask?  I will tell you.  Tammy did the hiding---which meant I never had to look up---but more importantly she also chose what to put inside the Easter eggs.  There are some problems with this.

The first problem is that, culturally speaking, Tammy is from Pluto, which is not even a planet.  The second problem is that she does not see this as a problem.  She persistently trusts her bizarre intuitions even though, time and again, they are scientifically proven to make no sense.

Of course, know Tammy is a clueless Plutonian.  So I tried, I really tried, to preempt the inevitable Tammyisms by telling her what to buy for the Easter eggs.  Said I, "Get jelly beans, Cadbury mini-eggs, other candy."

At this point you will not be surprised to hear that this advice went completely unheeded.  Our Easter Egg Hunt got totally, woefully Plutoed into a Tammy Egg Hunt.  I mean, I expected something weird to happen. But even if she only saw my directive as a loose suggestion, she couldn't possibly have violated it more seriously than she did.

Without further ado, here's what we found in our eggs:

Popcorn, cough drops, and tea bags: everything you need for your very own Tammy Egg Hunt!
Gosh, I don't even have a picture of the popcorn because we already ate it.  There were like 10 pieces.

People were like, "Umm...I think some of these eggs are empty..."  But no.  Tea bags just don't make a sound when you shake them.  Also, popcorn is mostly air, which is why it's normally served in large buckets instead of tiny plastic eggs.

Worst. Easter Eggs. Ever. 

Incidentally, these were also the Funniest Easter Eggs Ever, just for the pure comedic value of finding such outlandishly out-of-place "goodies" inside, earnestly placed there by a well-meaning but utterly clueless alien.  Man, even normal aliens do better than this!  E.T. would have filled these eggs with Reese's Pieces!!!  But just think, somewhere out there in the vastness of outer space orbits a space rock that wishes it was a real planet like Earth.  And on this tiny, cold non-planet lives a race of tiny, cold Plutonians who desperately wish they could fit in with Earthlings. At least one Plutonian somehow made the physical journey here, but the culture gap is just too vast to bridge.  Pro-tip: Easter is a time for candy, not medicine. Earth is large and warm.  Thus Earthlings are tall and healthy and they do not have colds like the tiny people on cold Pluto.

The real tragedy of this affair was that Catherine had been forgoing chocolate for Lent, and Tammy completely failed to deliver. Luckily for Vongsafooders, a chocolate fix is never more than 90 seconds away!  I refer (of course) to brownie in a mug, which we had later that night after everyone left.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Xan: Pan Pizza Montage!

I made so many of these since my previous post, and though I didn't take pictures of most of them, we're gonna need a montage!  I tend to take pics when food is noticeably different from something I've cooked before, so these are more or less representative of the variations so far.  (Minus the one depicted in my previous post.  Actually, that is my favorite and the one I make most often).

Pepperoni.  Caramelized onions.  Olives.  Panko bread crumbs.

Thinly sliced potatoes, onions, bread crumbs.

Melted butter and cinnamon sugar.

This is just Catherine posing happily with her new pizza cutter from Disney World.  Sigh...

Olive oil, salt, and rosemary

Hawaiian with bread crumbs!

 And here is an overhead shot of the Hawaiian pizza:
An emblem of our relationship.
On the left, cheeseless Hawaiian with crushed pineapple and leftover ham from Easter.  On the right, Catherine's version of Hawaiian, namely regular pepperoni pizza. (with bread crumbs. are you noticing a trend yet?)

And here is a closeup of her slice since we don't have one of those yet:

This would also be an excellent opportunity to showcase our new cast iron skillet, which is visible in the Olive Oil, Salt, and Rosemary bread above.  We had a 10" cast iron skillet (which was used to make most of these) and Anne gave us a 12" as an engagement gift.  (Thank you!  We're putting it to good use!)

I wanted a 12" in part because the 10" pan pizzas are dissatisfyingly small for the two of us.  I didn't want to go above 12" though, as I have learned from experience that even 12" pans are much larger than 10" pans. Their area is proportional to the square of the diameter, of course, so the 12" pan is almost 50% larger than the 10".  But even knowing this, it still always surprises me on a gut level, just how quickly pans get big as the diameter increases. I mean, look!

On the right is the 12" pan, on the left the 10".  It comes pre-seasoned from Lodge, but it ain't the same, as you can see. So I seasoned it myself. (You can see it is black in the Olive Oil, Salt, and Rosemary Bread shot).  Anyway, the 12" pan is just right for our pizzas.  And for Easter I used it to brown a rack of lamb that wouldn't fit in the 10"!

But listen.  You can make these pizzas in whatever size pan you want.  The important thing is to make them, for they are easy and delicious.  Again, here is the basic recipe.  But to that, I would add that I no longer bother making pizza sauce, which makes it even easier.  (You could also buy pizza sauce...).  I just use crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, throw some salt on, and sometimes make up the difference with other toppings.  If you go this route, the dough is easy, the sauce is easy, the toppings are easy.  That adds up to easy pizza!