Hot dogs: the other red meat

Banh mi hot dogs

As B said, "Is there a hot dog in there somewhere?"

As B said, “Is there a hot dog in there somewhere?”

Before I tell you about this awesome hot dog, I need to tell you a disgusting but true story.  You know how Chinese restaurants usually sell items where you can swap out one protein for another?  So shrimp fried rice, chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, etc. etc.  Yes, I’m referring to American Chinese restaurants.  I don’t know what real Chinese restaurants serve.  Probably not egg rolls, so that’s a deal breaker right there.  Anyway, cultural insensitivity aside…you’re familiar with the choices of protein at your standard Chinese restaurant.  It’s usually beef, pork, shrimp, chicken, maybe tofu.  I once saw a flyer for a Chinese restaurant where one of the protein choices was…hot dog.  That’s right, hot dog.  You could order hot dog fried rice.  This struck me as absolutely hilarious because hot dog fried rice is the kind of poverty chow that everyone makes in a pinch (especially in college or right before grocery shopping), but no one would ever advertise in a thousand years.  It’s like a restaurant bragging that they offer American cheese microwaved on a bagel or Pop Tarts.  Also, I can hear your eyes rolling incredulously through the tubes, so I’ll just leave this here.  You’re welcome.

So you’d forgive me for being skeptical about a banh mi hot dog.  But this thing is delicious.  The carrot slaw is lovely.  The mayo and cucumber cools down the jalapeno slices.  The cilantro leaves bring their special bitter bite.  The hot dog brings the salt…  This is just a delicious and easy meal.  I’ve actually made it a few times before.  I wouldn’t feel embarrassed serving it to guests.  Unlike hot dog fried rice.  That’s just…  No.

 

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Surprising baby food

Spinach frittata with green salad

Yes, we are definitely in the "healthy issue."

Yes, we are definitely in the “healthy issue.”

Braised collards with tomatoes

It's a good thing, y'all!

It’s a good thing, y’all!

Black-bean and brown-rice cakes

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something....

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something….

No one needs to tell me how lucky I am that my son is a great eater.  It is a huge relief and a blessing.  He doesn’t always eat a ton of what’s put in front of him, and it sometimes takes him three tries to really get to like something, but he is a pretty adventurous eater for a toddler.  I’ve been told many times by doctors and other professional types that this will ratchet back and he will go through a picky stage where he’ll only want mac and cheese.  But I’m enjoying this adventurous baby while I’ve got him.  Which brings me to the point of this post, these were three recipes that I served my little guy and didn’t think he’d really like them.  Spinach, collard greens, and black bean burgers with cilantro sauce don’t typically show up on the kids’ menu.  D and I liked one of these recipes very much, one pretty much, and one we were super pumped that the baby could eat it for us.  🙂

The braised collards were out-G.D.-standing.  They take a legitimate three hours plus, but that’s mostly just time on the stove.  I was lucky enough to buy pre-washed and pre-chopped collard greens, so this was just a matter of cutting up an onion and smashing some garlic cloves for me.  And the taste is wonderful.  I’m not really one for soul food.  I’m just not.  I lived in Georgia for a year when I was a kid, but I never developed a taste for it.  I don’t cook southern style stuff (which D actually really likes…sorry sweetie) and my affinity for Everyday Food plays right into that.  With the exception of the occasional BBQ summertime menu, Everyday Food keeps well above the Mason-Dixon line.  D was actually very surprised to see this one.  I believe the exact quote was “This is Everyday Food?  Ham hock, black eyed peas, and collards?!”  Well, to quote the great Scarlett O’Hara, “Fiddle dee dee!”  This is a delicious meal.  The slow cooking melds the flavors together beautifully to make a mild dish.  This is wonderful comfort food.  I will definitely make this one again.

Now the one we pretty much all three agreed on: the frittata and green salad.  The green salad was what it said it was.  Let’s leave it at that.  The frittata was nice.  It uses more egg whites than egg yolks, which leaves you in the difficult position of either doing something with all of those extra egg yolks or just throwing them out.  B suggested I make mayonnaise or orange curd.  These were fine ideas.  ….  I threw the yolks out a week later.  If you can think of something to do with the yolks or if you don’t mind pitching them, this is a fine recipe.  Or you could be a little less health-conscious and just leave them in.  I won’t tell.

All three members of my little clan loved the frittata on the first day.  J ate it up with minimal ketchup.  D and I both enjoyed it.  We had an extra one for dinner for J the next day, and I was dismayed to hear that he didn’t like it until D told me that the texture got really rubbery when he reheated it.  Maybe that’s because it’s mostly egg whites?  I don’t usually have a problem reheating egg dishes like quiche.  I’ll blame the egg whites.  Yet another reason to sneak those suckers back in there…

Last and least (depending on who you ask), the recipe that J loved and the adults haaaaated: the black bean and brown rice burgers.  Wow.  It’s not that they’re bad.  They’re not.  They’re just so bland.  Yes, even with all that jalapeno and cumin and the yogurt-cilantro sauce.  They tasted like refried beans.  We put them on rolls, added a bunch of the sauce, more cilantro, some red onion.  It tasted like…refried beans on a roll with a bunch of sauce, cilantro, and red onion.  J could not disagree more with this.  He ate all of our leftovers.  I want to say he ate these something like three or four days in a row.  He even ate one of the ones with jalapenos in it (we made separate burgers for the grownups) when my mom mistakenly fed him one.  He liked that one, too.  More power to you, J.

Mexican food can be fussy, you know

Green chile posole with black beans

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky.  Good question.

D wants to know why hominy is always squeaky. Good question.

French food has a reputation for being very complicated, difficult, and time-consuming to cook.  But I’d like you, dear reader, to compare this recipe linked above to a recipe for Potage Parmentier.  Which one would you pick for a weekday?  This recipe has no fewer than 15 ingredients, not counting the salt and pepper and the cheese on top.  You have to chop a lot of them.  The “active time” of 10 minutes on this recipe is nonsense.  It’s more like 20-30 minutes of prep before it gets cooked for 45 minutes.  Looking back, the most complicated dish I’ve ever made was chicken mole.  So I think that Mexican food deserves a little bit of the fussy reputation that French food gets.  It’s not all beef tacos.

Ah, but how does the soup taste?  Delicious.  The parsley, cilantro, and spinach make for a green and fresh soup. We had this as an appetizer before our New Year’s Eve dinner.  It served as an appetizer/first course/salad.  I also think that the allspice made this one special.  It gave the soup a spicy earthiness.  It’s certainly spicy, but not too hot.  It’s like an excellent salsa verde, but deeper and richer.  If you’ve got the time to make something like this, I recommend it.