Ribs (and the absurdity of cooking mass quantities with less than massive cooking equipment)

I think I’ll start this post off with this photo, just for the hilarity of it all:

Rib Overflow

Yeah, well, I thought they’d fit at first. Ha.

Last week, I had quite a lot on the list to cook. Mashed potato pies, for instance — those got done on time and looked rather nice.

Mashed Potato Pies

Then the split pea soup… and here is where things got a little hectic. Firstly, it boiled down a little more than I’d like, although that may have been a consequence of making a soup that took three hours to cook in a pot the size I used (which is, also, the largest one I have) — if I’d had a slightly larger pot, I probably could have added more water. (I also would not have had as silly a picture as the first one I posted in this blog entry.) Still, I ought to be able to thin it out when I reheat it to serve. Of course, I also forgot to take a picture of it until *after* I transferred it to the container it would be frozen in (although at least I remembered to take a picture before it froze, so I suppose that’s something).

Split Pea Soup

And then… well, one way or another it turned into Friday and I still had to make all three types of ribs, the deli roll surprise, and the broccoli-salami mini-quiches. And cook for the Sabbath (although a wonderful friend took pity on me, probably when she saw the panic on my face, and invited us for lunch, so that was a little less to handle). But somehow, I managed to crank everything out.

First, the easy ribs — just seasoned with salt and pepper:

Salt and Pepper Ribs

Then the ones in a “Way Down South” sauce — these were meant to be braised in a pot (hence the silly picture)… which turned into filling up three pans full of spare ribs and sauce:

Way Down South Ribs

I used two full bottles of wine to make all the sauce for just over two dozen of these spare ribs. Here’s a closeup, because it’s worth drooling over:

Way Down South Ribs Closeup

Then there were the honey mustard ribs, whose cooking time got so close to the Sabbath that I could only take a picture a day later, after some refrigeration time. They don’t look as great in the photo, but rest assured, they were lovely coming out of the oven:

Honey Mustard Ribs Closeup

And yes, I made three full pans (just over 2 dozen):

Honey Mustard Ribs

Finally, the deli roll surprise. Inside each one of these lovelies is a whole bunch of pepper steak strips, along with the implied deli meat.

Deli Roll Surprise

Now I still had the mini quiches to prepare… but I also had two whole fresh salmon fillets in the refrigerator that I’d purchased less than a day before, which I didn’t want to have to freeze (freezer space is getting tight now, defrosting’s a pain, and I’d rather use fresh than frozen). And making the salmon takes a lot less time than the quiches. So I went with the fish.

There was salmon in a lemon-pepper garlic sauce (store-bought):

Lemon Pepper Garlic Salmon

And salmon in a honey teriyaki sauce (teriyaki is store-bought):

Honey Teriyaki Salmon

And that’s when it got to be sundown on Friday night, and my time was up. But I got the jump on this week afterwards. On Saturday night, I made the fire popper chicken that was on this week’s cooking list:

Fire Popper Chicken

And then today (Sunday) I made the broccoli-salami mini-quiches.

Broccoli-Salami Mini Quiches

Which basically puts me not only back on track, but even a little ahead. This week’s cooking list includes potato-chicken croquettes in a citrus and green curry sauce, stuffed cabbage, apple kugels, and the fire popper chicken and salmon; the latter two are already done, so that gets me ahead just a little — which is a good thing, as I’m already gearing up from going on my vacation from this endeavor so that I can — wait for it — cook for Rosh HaShanah. That’s right, it never ends. But after this week, I’m done packing things into the freezer (or more accurately, telling my husband to pack things into the freezer). And then we get to play my favorite game — how many foods can I pack into the refrigerator and still have room to defrost everything else?

Stick around and feel free to place your bets….

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Menu #6: Shabbat Lunch

Appetizer Chicken and steak sushi
Salad 1 Avocado, orange, and pomegranate salad
Salad 2 Israeli salad
Entree 1 Chulent
Entree 2 Deli roll surprise
Entree 3 Kishka-stuffed chicken
Side 1 Sweet potato pie
Side 2 Noodle kugel
Side 3 Mushroom barley dish
Side 4 Broccoli with shallots and walnuts

Chulent is, for those who are not familiar, a beef stew, with beans, potatoes, barley, onions, and various spices, slow-cooked for about 24 hours. It’s prepared on the day before the Sabbath (one is permitted to cook on the holiday for the Sabbath) and is extremely yummy. The surprise in the deli roll is pepper steak — we stick it in the middle and the dish is a big favorite. And yes, there’s the Israeli salad again. But what really makes this meal stand out in my mind is the appetizer.

Last year’s appetizer at this meal was gefilte fish. Granted, it was the nice kind of gefilte fish — the loaf kind, cooked in a tomato-basil sauce. But a couple of months ago my husband and I went to a really nice steak and sushi place in Lakewood, NJ, where I had a duck sushi appetizer, which to date is still one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And it sparked an idea of trying to do something similar. Raw fish won’t work for a number of members of my family, but there’s no rule that says I have to serve fish, right? So in keeping with my husband’s carnivorous reputation, we’re going with two kinds of sushi — chicken and steak. (No duck, though… I’m not that ambitious — yet.) I’m thinking of making the chicken one with avocado, but I’m not sure what else yet. The steak will likely be pepper steak with roasted peppers. I’ll be cooking the ingredients in advance, but assembling everything right before the meal (with the sushi kit I have yet to order… mental note: DO THAT). So this, along with the Turducken, are the two major innovations for this year’s Sukkahpaloozah… and that concludes the menu planning portion of this blog.

As of next week, I’ll be cooking and freezing for three weeks, then taking a week off to cook for and celebrate Rosh HaShanah, and then comes the big push — one and a half weeks of cooking and packing my refrigerator full of everything that can’t be frozen. I will be posting as many pictures of the finished components as I can manage, but there will be some things that won’t make the blog, unless I remember to take pictures of the leftovers, since a significant number of dishes will be made or at least finally assembled over the holiday, when I will not be using my camera (salads, for instance, as well as the chulent for this meal and the previous nights vegetable soup come to mind immediately). I hope you’ll all stick around… the fun (and utter madness) hasn’t even begun!