The Happy Tummy

for the love of food

Category: lunch

Cooking on the Weekend

On free weekends I like to cook and cook and cook.

The end of summer is yes for butternut squash sage ravioli. I was a bit burnt out on scratch-making pasta, so I substituted wonton skins. Not bad, and less time consuming. Semolina flour helps dry them out a bit so they don’t stick to one another.


Warm beet salad also says end of summer to me – relatively light but still hearty. It’s like its got one foot in summer and one foot in fall. Straddling.

Grilled pork tenderloin, butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage sauce, and caramelized beet salad with almonds, goat cheese, raw red onion and balsamic vinaigrette.


I charred some eggplant and red bell pepper while the pork tenderloin was going, removed the peels and blended them with some sauteed yellow onion and garlic clove. With a dollop of Greek yogurt in the middle, it made for an excellent dip with pita chips. It would also be a great sandwich spread, maybe with some cucumber, sprouts, avocado and hummus. I’ll have to try that later.

And because one can never have enough dips, heirloom tomato salsa with white onion, garlic, jalepeno and lime juice.

As summer winds down my bf’s parents find themselves with a bounty of yard-grown vegetables, particularly tomatoes. A classic caprese salad is one of my favorite ways to eat them. Try it with burrata instead of mozzarella (mozz was used here) for something super luscious. The basil comes from the herb garden.

Squash and zucchini are also in abundance in the back yard, and succotash is becoming one of my new favorites. The trick (well, a trick) is to add a teaspoon or two of finely chopped marjoram. It’s a flavor that makes people go, WTF is that? but in a good way.

Goes well with dill mashed potatoes and spice-rubbed pork tenderloin.

Three-Day Weekend

It’s always fun to have visitors at our out-of-the-way home, especially on a relaxed three-day weekend.


Frozen grapes are a fine way to cool wine without watering it down.

I don’t typically think to eat a hot dish for summer’s lunch, but this tortellini soup was surprisingly light and satisfying with an herby ricotta filling and scratch-made broth. The dough was scratch-made too.

The barbecue sauce on the babyback ribs had pasilla chiles and dried cranberries – smoky, sweet and tangy. I’m typically too lazy to make my own sauce, but this may become a trend.

Cheesy, chivey twice-baked potatoes are great friends with just about any barbecue dish.

This Pizza > That Pizza

My hermano and I recently dined at our local Patxi’s (don’t try, not worth the mouth-pain) Pizza. He gets his panties all in an uproar about deep-dish pizza; I do not. It looks pretty good here, though.

I continue to maintain that the world’s best pizza is Roundtable – it is,  literally, the last honest pizza. Countless friends and peers agree (approx. 4), and it’s become my go-to dining establishment whenever I touch down on American soil after an extended absence. It.Is.So.Fucking.Good. Even better when slathered in ranch.

I don’t understand New York-style pizza. It’s very floppy.

Stuffed French Toast

French toast, brie and ham. It’s fat fat fatty fat. But, as I like to think to myself, everything in moderation including moderation.

I was inspired by our recent trip to Home of Chicken and Waffles to soak it in syrup (the cheap stuff, not the “good” kind, Ina, you elitist).

That’s the remaining ham and brie from the time I made pretentious PB&Js.

PB&J Panini

Pear, brie and jambon.

That little  joke is courtesy of the gay dads on Modern Family.

I actually wasn’t that impressed with the final result. I think this is one instance in which it would have been better not to panini. The pear just got sort of unpleasantly warm and grainy, you know?

I mean, obviously I ate it all the way, but just saying for next time.

Simple Grilled Cheese

When we don’t have a lot of food in the house, I can usually at least count on us to have bread and cheese. And when you heat those two things up on a pan they taste wonderful.

I spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the pan-sides of the bread which brown it nicely, and since mayo has a higher burning point than butter (I assume), it’s a more reliable method.

That’s a cheese cutter, by the way. Up above, next to the butter knife. I highly recommend getting one. Perfect slices, every time.

It’s a blend of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and it’s even better with a few drops of hot sauce. And/or dunked in some tomato soup.

Post Script: The Melt just opened up in my work-borhood in the Financial District (known to really really cool people as FiDi). I don’t really mind paying $10 for a hot sandwich, soup and chips on a chilly day in San Francisco. Indeed, I shall go there today.

Quesadilla with Avocado Cream

Quesadillas have always been a go-to lunch in my family since we tend to have tortillas and cheese in the house at all times. And we have some leftover steak, so.

I’m trying something a little bit different today, due to wanting to use up ingredients that are about to expire. Two avocados, four roasted jalepenos, a scoop of Greek yogurt and the juice of two limes makes a sexy little dip.

Stay tuned to see what happens with the dip later tonight. It’s gonna get raunchy.

Update: Ok, it wasn’t that raunchy, and the salmon kind of took over.

A Good Sandwich

I made this for my BF the other day, as he is incapable of making food for himself unless it is Top Ramen. I had a bite; it was good.

Bread is the paper of the food industry. You write your sandwich on it*. So it’s important to make a sandwich on good bread or else the whole thing is just kind of ruined, isn’t it?

Normally I would use dijon mustard, but I foolishly bought an off-brand dijon out of cheapness, and it has this terrible side-taste that you can taste while you taste the good dijon taste but it makes the overall taste too awkward. So now I just use the bad dijon in sauces where it plays second fiddle to other, better things.

There’s a life lesson there. Don’t be cheap with your mustard.

*Attributed to Dwight Schrute, paper salesman (Rainn Wilson of The Office)

Peasant Food

Whenever we had leftover pork tenderloin my mom used to make something called bixemad, which is Danish, and is basically what English speakers would know as hash. Meat, potatoes, onion, fried egg and a healthy dose of ketchup and hot sauce.

Most peasant food is super comforting, easy to make and totally delicious. But maybe peasants didn’t actually have eggs sometimes. Have you ever read Angela’s Ashes? Those people hardly ever had anything, ever. And yet somehow it was still so funny. Not the parts where everyone dies, of course, but other parts.

If you think this is peasanty, just wait until you see my Angela’s Ashes Thanksgiving.

Gott’s in Napa

Another stop on our culinary tour of northern California this past weekend. Gott’s Roadside is California-style sandwiches, burgers and salads.  We found a great spot outside on the deck and ate.

This is a fried green tomato BLT. It’s got a fried green tomato!

Herbed garlic fries. They were light, crispy and super fresh.

That’s my cobb salad, which doesn’t look like much in this photo, but was delicious and had generous portions of bacon, avocado, blue cheese and hard-boiled egg. Some people don’t like hard boiled eggs and think they are disgusting, but I love them. That’s an Arnold Palmer in the background – half lemonade and half iced tea.

And finally, six tiny corn dogs on a bed of regular fries.