Nana Banana Cake
On Saturday is our daughter’s birthday. Last week I bought a couple of bananas hoping that they will ripen enough for me to make one of the few desserts that I know how to make – Nana banana cake. John’s mother, also known as the Dragon Lady, was a terrible cook but she did make a great banana cake. When John first told me his mother was totally inept in the kitchen (except for the banana cake) I thought he was kidding. But over the years the kids and I experienced first hand how horrific her cooking was. She would cook her masterpieces all at once but never serve them at the moment. Then she would serve them all at once a few days later. So a meal might consist of a rewarmed steak, a bowl of tuna salad, a few green beans, some applesauce, and whatever else was left mouldering in the refrigerator.
By the time our kids were 8 and 11 they knew to fear dinner at Nana’s. We have a rule in our house never to eat at any restaurant with the words, Cap’n, Mom’s, Kitchen, as well as Mr or Mrs., and the distinction of being “homemade” especially if spelled “homade.” In what has become a meme in our household, an eleven year-old Jonathan proclaimed at the table that eating at Nana’s was like dining at Cap’n Mom’s Kitchen obviously for the best homade food.
But I digress. The bananas are ripe and even though it is a few days early I make banana cake, daughter blows out a candle, and we dig in with a fond remembrance of John’s mother.
I make this as a vegetarian dish by adding some dairy toppings. For a vegan dish omit the garnishes.
We start our dinner tonight with a Greek salad embellished with leftover tabbouleh and thinly sliced cucumber. The cheese on top is cotija, a salty Mexican cheese. It is standing in for feta. We have a hunk of it left from chicken enchiladas last week.
Greek salad with tabbouleh, cucumbers, and cotija cheese
Our main course is red lentils cooked in the Afghani style. I love how red lentils come out of their package as a pale salmon-y color and turn a vibrant yellow when you cook them. Afghani style lentils are cooked in a soupy mixture of vegetable broth, onions, garlic, ginger, and spices. It only takes about 15 minutes to cook. I serve it with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, a sprinkling of sumac, and pita.
Afghani red lentils with sumac, sour cream, and pita.
Chili with chicken, cannellini beans, and poblano chiles
This is a quick chili that you can make with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. It features white beans, poblano and jalapeño peppers, and plenty of lime. At our house we manage to eat the whole pot although that was not my original intention but John eats a couple of bowls and our daughter decides to have some too. There are no complaints. Follow the “chili” link above for the recipe.
John sous vides the steak at 128F and then hits on the grill on both sides briefly. I cut a baking potato in half and microwave it. Then I rub it with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. John also grills the potato. The asparagus steams briefly. I make a sauce of mint, garlic, and onion in some butter to drizzle over everything.
Grilled ribeye steak cap, grilled baking potato, and asparagus with a mint, garlic, and onion butter sauce
Our daughter suggested I should carry on our silly themes by making an Ides of March Caesar salad and stick a knife in it. Pretty literal, I would say. I should have thought of these obscure not-quite-holidays when I was planning out everything last Sunday. But I have ingredients in the house and I must get back to the menu so I won’t be “killing” a Caesar salad. Et tu, Brute.
Tonight’s dinner of hummus, pita, and Lebanese tabbouleh is pretty easy although making the tabbouleh does involve soaking the bulgur wheat and using the food processor. I really like this parsley forward recipe for the tabbouleh. Unfortunately it is from the NYT Cooking site which is behind a pay wall. The hummus is Sahara brand. I add a little good olive oil and some sumac to it.
Hummus with pita and Lebanese tabbouleh
On Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day I am planning on chicken chili. I’ll put some green serrano and poblano chiles in it for some Irish flair!
Since I did not happen to think about it when I was planning out the menu, I am taking a minor deviation from the plan to present our silliness on Pi Day.
Pepperoni pizza for Pi Day
This is a very difficult dinner (NOT)! Buy some pepperoni, call your local pizza place and order a cheese pizza for delivery, warm up the pepperoni, and put it on the pizza in the shape of pi. Important next step-before eating spread the pepperoni out so that everyone gets two to three pieces on their slice!