Have I mentioned I’m not working? I’m not working! It’s very exciting, and leaves me with lots of time to cook shit in between strenuous Netflixing and gym-going. (One of those activities is actually strenuous. One is not. SEE IF YOU CAN FIND THE IMPOSTER.) I even volunteered to make dinner recently, like a model child. For such a momentous occasion I decided to attempt this sausage dinner from Dinner: A Love Story, largely because we had a large package of sausage in the freezer and I was sick of it falling down every time I went looking for butter.
But first, can we talk about ovens for a second? I don’t know if literally everyone works with smaller pieces of meat than I do, or if my oven runs cold, or if it’s in fucking Celsius, but not once have I made a dish that required meat to be oven-roasted and had my roasting time wind up anywhere near that required by the recipe. This dish instructs you to roast the onions and potatoes at 425 for 20 minutes, add sausages and apples, and roast for another 30 minutes at 400. After about 80 minutes of baking total, the sausages (which had baked for an hour) were not even close to done, and would have taken quite a while longer if my dad hadn’t valiantly stepped up to the plate and split them in half longways (allowing them to be done with only 10 additional minutes of cooking). Also, the potatoes were cooked through but still somewhat hard. I have no idea what was up with this given that they roasted for an hour and a half at 400 chopped up into small chunks. Whatevs, yo. More on this dish in Notes & Verdicts.
I’ve been intrigued for awhile by rhubarb, particularly due to all the beautiful recipes I see online, but I’d never had it until about a month ago when, upon learning that, a friend immediately produced from her fridge a Tupperware of recently prepared rhubarb that she just happened to have on hand. (WASPs are the best for such things.) I tried a bite and, once my eyes had stopped rolling back in my head, immediately had about ten more bites. Then I put the container away before I ate the entire thing and licked out the inside.
Turns out rhubarb can be something of a pain in the ass to acquire, but I found it at a farmers’ market last Sunday and immediately set about looking for an appropriate recipe with which to honor it. (Pro tip: if your rhubarb is less than crisp, you can rehydrate it in a pan of water just like celery (credit to my dad for this deduction)! Don’t leave it too long, though, or else it’ll get too crisp to handle itself and start splitting longways. It’s kinda freaky.) After the recent peach bar debacle, I didn’t want to risk making something that would leave the rhubarb flavor in the background. I wanted something that, as a friend put it, tasted like “RHUBARB COVERED IN MORE RHUBARB, NOW WITH EXTRA RHUBARB.” So I ultimately selected this no-nonsense rhubarb cobbler from Catherine of Ben & Birdy. It delivered like whoa.
Finally, I made this cake from Joy the Baker, which I’ve been greedily eyeing for quite some time but had been too lazy to acquire the necessary sour cream for. The idea of non-pineapple upside-down cakes is something I’ve been seeing around more, and the combination of fruit and cardamom is one I can’t resist. Plus, gotta be honest, I’m a little sick of the same damn fruity cakes I make all the time. Gotta branch out. So I made cake with fruit on top instead of inside. See? Branching out!
Notes & Verdicts
Baked Sausages with Apples and Potatoes by Dinner: A Love Story
Notes: I doubled the recipe – which might, on reflection, be why the cooking times got so jacked up – and used regular-size onions (very roughly chopped) and regular-size potatoes (chunked). I’m not sure how many potatoes I used, honestly. In situations like this I tend to use “enough to fill the dish.” I used two onions, something like 5 or 6 apples, and eight sausages. This made a completely fucking insane amount of food that we are still eating off about two weeks later. Beware.
There are definitely things about the way I prepared this that I’d change. For instance, while I initially thought it wise to toss the sausages in among the veggies, upon reflection they work better if left on top to get crisp. It’s not like a lot of juice is going to penetrate sausage casing anyway. If I made this again I might even roast the sausage and vegetables separately, just to make sure everything gets fucking done. I would definitely parboil the potatoes, because that was some nonsense. Finally, I urge you to add the vinegar, even if you are suspicious. I was, but it turned out to be a valuable addition to the taste profile of the meal.
Verdict: Very mixed among the family. I thought it was pretty good, but preferred this combination of ingredients in its pan sauce iteration. My dad thought it was okay. My mom loved it and has been eating it for many meals. So if you average the ratings I’d say it gets a B+.
Rhubarb Crumble by Catherine of Ben and Birdy, courtesy of Oprah.com
Notes: Where sugar is concerned I don’t trust anyone but Deb, so before beginning I cross-checked to see how much sugar she uses to sweeten her rhubarb (which is naturally quite tart) and reduced the sugar in this recipe to a scant 1 cup. I threw in a very small quantity of sliced strawberries as well, mostly to use them up. They didn’t really make any impact on the final flavor but it was nice to know they were there. As far as preparation goes, I do have one specific tip: add the vanilla extract to the chopped rhubarb first and toss well. Only once you’ve mixed it should you add the flour and the sugar. (I also recommend doing that in a bowl and transferring to a baking dish after mixing. It’s just easier than trying to combine a bunch of unwieldy ingredients in a 9 x 13 baking dish with a rubber spatula. Trust me, I know things.)
Verdict: Shit son, this was some good cobbler. Eat it with or without vanilla ice cream and be glad. A+
Strawberry Upside-Down Cake With Cardamom by Joy the Baker
Notes: So, one tip: the upside-down topping is made from a combination of butter, brown sugar and strawberries. So when the recipe starts with “place butter in cake pan” it does not mean “spray with baking spray.” Just trust me. I know things. Also, for whatever reason, this batter didn’t come together as well as one might hope. Didn’t matter for the final product. Just letting you know.
Verdict: This was insanely delicious. The cake has a light but moist crumb. However, it doesn’t keep brilliantly due to that light and moist crumb, getting progressively denser and less happy as the days tick by. You should probably eat this when you make it. A