Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s hardest to cook for those you love most? It’s true in my case. John, the man that warms my heart and curls my toes, is a very, VERY picky eater. His favorite foods are those involving cheese, beef or bread - preferably all 3 together. Don’t even think about trying to give him eggs or tomatoes, or anything squishy, multi-textured or slimy.
I have to say that in the eight years we’ve been together, John’s palate has grown by leaps and bounds. And I like to think that I had something to do with that. He’s much more open to trying things, and has much more appreciation for food as more than just fuel. Go me!
When John is home, we eat out a lot. Since our time is short, we tend to look at his week home as one long date. (A sort of wonderful way to have a relationship, by the way!) It’s also easier to let a picky eater just choose off a menu then to try to cook up something that might not fly. We’d go for a few wonderful meals out, maybe order in, and I’d cook him one or two meals myself. But when you’re trying to be more conscious of the money you’re spending, that much eating out isn’t your best option. So this time, I tried something different. I planned a week’s worth of dinner menus for us, building in 2 nights that I wouldn’t be cooking. I made it fun by printing out actual little menus, which I presented to John before each meal. To the best of our ability, we stuck to the menu and had 5 nights of very enjoyable dinners. So for my next several posts, I’ll let you know what I made and how it went over with my picky audience. Shall we?
Stromboli and Roasted Broccoli
Last Wednesday, John arrived at the airport at 11:30PM. Between leaving work at 4:30 and picking him up late that night, I was a busy little bee, shopping for as many groceries as would keep, and preparing for the first meal, which we gobbled down somewhere around midnight…. while watching DVR’d episodes of 30 Rock, of course. (Did you notice that his first meal had the big 3 all in one?)
Stromboli is a type of turnover filled with various cheeses, Italian meats or vegetables. This is the type of food that, depending on whose hands it’s in can be really simple or really special. For our midnight meal, I went the simple route.
2 Raw Pizza Doughs (I got mine at Seven Stars Bakery – the best dough)
½ Lb Genoa Salami
½ Lb Pepperoni
½ Lb Hot Capacola
½ Lb Sharp Provalone
Your favorite marinara for dipping
Grated parm, red pepper flakes and oregano for dusting
• Cover the dough with a dish towel and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
• Divide the dough into portions for individual Stromboli. 2 bags of dough made 8 Stromboli.
• Working with one portion at a time, knead the dough and then roll and stretch into a large, flat oval.
• Lay slices of cold cuts and cheese on top of the dough and roll up. Use a little bit of water on your fingertips to seal the dough and pinch the ends together.
• Place the Stromboli on a baking sheet, sprinkled with corn meal.
• Brush olive oil on the top of the dough, and sprinkle the mixture of parmigian, red pepper flakes and oregano on top.
• Bake at 425 degrees until the dough is slightly browned and crisp – about 20 minutes. If you need to use 2 baking sheets, rotate them in the oven half way through cook time.
• Serve with warmed marinara for dipping
I got this one from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, but my god, that woman is afraid of flavor! This is my slightly kicked-up version. I love this and John did too.
Garlic (probably 6 or 7 cloves, cut in half… or thirds if they’re very big)
Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Olive Oil (about 2 tablespoons)
• Cut a head of broccoli into small pieces. Spread on a baking sheet with garlic pieces.
• Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and Parm.
• Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing midway through cook time.
Note: If you want to cook both items simultaneously, the Stromboli can handle the 450 degrees. Just put them in a little later than the broccoli and watch them closely. Or, you can make the Stromboli in advance, and just rewarm them during the last few minutes of the broccoli’s cook time.
In the next post: A lovely night out.