Two Happy Meals

Two Happy Meals

Crap. Now I want McDonald's. Wonder if McDonald's will come after me for using that title? Google seems to think stuff like that is appropriate. A couple of happy home meals this week that deem a mention, if only to stay on top of the 'keeping of the records.'

Sausage, grapes and tomatoes with an arugula salad is about as versatile as it gets. Quick and easy weeknight meal? Yes. Jazzed-up fancier feel? Sure. Grab yourself a juicy, young and fruity wine and go to town for both versions.

And then there are times when you're poor, have a bunch of stuff in the house and need to get rid of said stuff. So you google all that stuff and take the first recipe that looks reasonably un-sucky. Sometimes, that works wonders. This one did.

Meal #1: Sausage, grapes and tomatoes with arugula salad, served with 2010 Centonze Frappato Sicilia IGT ($16 - Binny's)

You can keep it simple, like here, or you can pierogi and rapini it up like we did last May. Both have their happy place.

Here's the recipe, from Orangette, linked from Saveur, modified from Gourmet. It really is just that. Sausages. Grapes. Tomatoes. With a grape pan sauce to bring it all together. Use whatever sausages we want. Trader Joe's sweet sausages used for this one. Wiesswürst is good. It's a ostensibly sweet meal that's tempered and balanced by the acidity of the tomatoes and grapes and beefed up here with some Pugliese bread to sop up the juice.

Deliciously simple stuff that tastes like a café meal done right. Bring a juicy, fresh and grapey wine with some guts to the table. It's what's good. Tastes vacation-y.

While the 2010 Centonze didn't reach the delicious heights of the Tamì Frappato from a younger vintage, it was nonetheless a useful juicy number with this food. Smelled like old roses, tasted like raspberries, tons of licorice and a wee hint of stems, buried in the background. Stainless steel fermentation that made me think a few whole clusters wandered in there. Though that turned out not to be a bad thing with the food, offering a bit of savory, burly relief and foil to the sweet leanings here. Liked it. Didn't love it. More of a broadening of our burgeoning frappato world - something we both think should be on wine lists all over the place -  but some nuggets of joy. Arianna Occhipinti's Tamì, for the same price, still rules the roost for me. The 2010-ness might have hurt this one. Frappato is a very young drinker.


Meal #2: Spice-rubbed chicken with kumquat-lemongrass dressing and celery root and red pepper salad with blood orange sangria

Got a bunch of stuff in the refrigerator that has to be eaten? Kumquats? Lemongrass? Chicken thighs? Google those things and take the first one that looks like it won't suck. Like this recipe from Epicurious paired with a celery root and red pepper salad from this NYT recipe, mostly using it as a guide, adding cilantro, green onions and rice vinegar. Take the sugar down on the chicken marinade, amp up the chile component to the tune of two serrano peppers and six Thai chiles (instead of one Thai chile - pfft!) and you got a SPICY and happy Asian-inspired dinner. Spicy but cooled down by the celery root bringing a respite from the fire. It's Garbage Asian Delight!

We went from "well...that will be food" when looking at the recipe to "this is delicious! How 'about that?" One recommendation. Buy rice noodles on Broadway instead of Trader Joe's. Twice the noodles for half the price.


But what to drink when you don't want to drink the riesling in the house that would feel too spendy for a meal that might blow? Make a garbage sangria with crap you have in the house. Blood oranges, lemons, mint, sugar, ginger liqueur, cheap Cava, bottle of rose lemonade. Just dump it all in. Muddle the hell out of the first four ingredients to skip the time-that-we-didn't-have "stew" step, dump the ginger liqueur on it, throw it in the fridge for a bit, dump in the Cava and rose lemonade, stir and serve. Spritely from the Cava, floral from the rose lemonade, juicy and cooling from everything else and delicious all around.

While this was a SPICY meal and with certain bites, the sangria didn't have a chance, a ton of expansion in flavors and filling in the gaps happened with the majority of bites. For a garbage meal that served to make room in our tiny kitchen, big, fat winner dinner here.

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