Thai Chicken and Rice Noodle Salad

thai salad 

I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of flowery talk about how good this salad is—there are plenty of people already doing that kind of writing. This delicious and healthy salad keeps in the fridge for about two days tops, but you’ll probably eat it up by then. This recipe makes a bunch—6 big servings, I’d say. Don’t dress the salad until you are about to serve it, as its delicate ingredients will get soggy.

 

Dressing:

  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 6 T lime juice (the juice of 2 limes)
  • 6 T vegetable oil (sub toasted sesame oil if you like)
  • Sriracha to taste

Salad:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 ounces dry, medium-width rice noodles
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 6 full leaves of green cabbage or about 1” sliced thin off of the head
  • one large handful of each — cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and green onions
  • salted peanuts

 

Prepare the dressing by blending the fist five ingredients in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add sriracha to taste. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the chicken breasts, turn heat to low, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken cook for 17 minutes – while it’s cooking, you can prep the other ingredients. Remove from water, let cool slightly, and shred by hand.

Soak the rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Drop in boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes, until cooked. You are looking for a tender firmness just like egg pasta. It’s very easy to overcook rice noodles and end up with mush, so keep tasting until they are just right. Cut through the noodles with a kitchen scissors if you want them to be shorter and easier to eat. Drain and rinse, and separate by hand if noodles stick together.

Peel the carrots and shred in a food processor. Shred the cabbage. Mince the cilantro, mint, and green onions.

Toss the chicken, noodles, vegetables, and remaining dressing (to taste) together. Garnish with peanuts. Serve immediately.

 

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Hawaiian-style Crock Pot Meatballs

I was going to a potluck where the fare is typically old-school and wanted to do  meatballs, but found the vast majority to be “1 jar grape jelly/1 bottle chili sauce.” Not wanting to  do the same old thing, I stumbled across a recipe for “Hawaiian Meatballs.” I used this as the basis of my  recipe.

3-4 lb. premade meatballs (whatever fits in your Crock Pot)

1-18 oz. jar orange marmalade or apricot jam

1 cup hoisin sauce

1- 20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained

1- 8 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 t grated ginger

1 t minced garlic

1/2 t cayenne

1 sweet onion, sliced vertically and then in half

2 green peppers sliced the same way

sesame seeds for garnish

Combine jam, hoisin, pineapple, ginger, garlic, and  cayenne in Crock Pot, mixing well. Cook on high  for at least a half hour. Brown meatballs (which can still be frozen, doesn’t matter)in a skillet, and add them and the vegetables to the Crock Pot. switching to low  heat. Cook for at least another hour. Garnish with sesame  seeds.

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Asian Chicken Taco

This one falls into the “easy as it gets” category. The chili sauce takes just a few minutes to throw together. Inspired by the Chili Chicken Burritos recipe in “The New Cook,” by Donna Hay.

asianchicken

Serves 2

2-4 flour tortillas

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (the precooked type out of the hot case is fine, leave skin on in this case)

salad greens, preferably mixed, or spinach greens

3 medium-hot red chilies, seeded and chopped fine

1/4 cup sugar

1 T water

1 T lime juice

1/2 t cumin seeds

1 tomato, chopped fine

sour cream and flake sea salt for finishing

Place chilies, sugar, water, lime juice, and cumin in small saucepan and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add tomatoes and cook a few more minutes until mixture has thickened.

Optional step: lightly dress the greens with a simple vinaigrette.

Heat tortillas in a pan, or better yet, directly on the gas flame on your stove until slightly blackened and puffy. To assemble, smear tortilla with sour cream, then add chicken, chili sauce, and lettuce. Finish with flaky sea salt or Kosher salt.

 

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Meyer Lemon Bars

lemonbar

My mom’s friend Judy Conway brought some Meyer lemons to me the other day from her yard in the south Bay Area. Two, actually.  They were thin-skinned, very fragrant, and heavy for their size. I had to refrigerate them immediately, they were so ripe. In other words, screaming to be made into something that acknowledged their almost-over-the-edge awesomeness.  I Googled “lemon bars” and Ina Garten’s classic take popped up. I started with the amount of juice and zest my plump Meyers delivered, and worked backwards from there. In downsizing her recipe to the amount of lemon juice I had, I ended up using an odd-sized pan (7 x 10”)  which further throws off the proportions, yielding a thicker crust and curd. I took it another step by slightly overcooking both steps, allowing  these gorgeous Meyers (and Mexican sugar, see below) to slightly caramelize. Savor the rare qualities of this classic sweet.

Ingredients

For the crust:
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar (I prefer pure cane Mexican sugars for their glorious, unrefined chunkiness)
1 cup  flour
fat shake of kosher salt

For the filling:
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (preferably Mexican) sugar
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon zest  (depending on size and skin, 2-5)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (depending on size, 2-5)
1/2 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until completely mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a standard hand mixer, but beware this small batch might gum up the beaters. Gently scrape down, and add the flour. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until completely mixed.  Using floured hands, gather the dough into a ball inside the bowl. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into an approximately 7×10” glass or metal baking container, building up a small rim around the edges. Chill for 20 minutes.

Bake the crust for 20 to 25  minutes, until the surface is a light caramel brown. Set aside on a wire cooling rack, leaving oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust, then bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set and the top is slightly browned. Let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, set pan in sink, or over wax paper, and sift/sieve powdered sugar over the top. Wipe rim of baking dish.


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Joy of Cooking Senegalese Soup

I finally got a new copy of Joy of Cooking. My original copy was old when I got it in 1985, when someone conveniently left in a Dumpster for me to find. The other day, I pulled out my new copy of Joy, and much to my dismay, found that one of my favorite recipes was no longer in the book. I found it online, and am posting it to my blog to help ensure both that the recipe is not lost, and that I now know where to find it.

You can use more curry powder than is called for, it’s a judgment call. Smoked paprika works instead of regular if you’re feeling naughty.

(I remember the first time I had this soup, it was at Two Bells Tavern in Belltown. I begged the owner, the late Patricia Ryan, for the recipe, but she wouldn’t give it to me. Imagine my delight when I discovered the recipe she used was right out of Joy of Cooking.)

Yield: 4 cups, easily doubled 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 3 -4 tablespoons chutney
  • chopped salted peanuts
  • chopped green apple

Directions: Melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour and curry powder and stir until blended. Whisk in chicken broth, heat and whisk until it comes to a boil, add paprika. Beat together egg yolks and cream. Reduce heat until soup is not boiling. Stir in egg yolk mixture, and continue to cook and stir until soup thickens. DO NOT BOIL. Add chicken meat and warm through Garnish with chutney, peanuts, and apple. Absolutely delicious!!

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Chuck Roast: What to do with it?

chuck

It appears in your freezer, or your shopping cart, at the bottom, in  the back,  (maybe) shamefully sitting among the legitimate food that belongs there because it’s DELICIOUS, ALWAYS IN SEASON, and EASY AS FUCK TO PREPARE. It’s about as cheap as meat comes and super-tasty. Never eat this in a restaurant or as a guest or host. This is strictly Home Food.

Preheat oven to 275F

Ingredients:

chuck roast, of any size

salt and pepper, and any other herbs/seasonings you like with beef, mixed with flour

oil

red wine

beef stock

1 onion, quartered, and some celery if you have it

any roasting vegetables, peeled as needed, cut into bite-sized pieces (the primary ones are carrots and potatoes, but rutabagas, parsnips, celery root, sweet potatoes, yams, mushrooms, and turnips are all good too)

Wondra Sauce Flour (or regular flour, see instructions)

Heat up some oil in an enamel-coated Dutch Oven, or something similar. Rinse and pat dry the chuck roast. Dredge in flour mixture.  Time to brown the meat. Don’t skip this step, because it creates a thing called the Maillard Reaction, where the browning seals the meat and slightly caramelizes. Then add some beef stock or wine, a cup or two, and deglaze the pan, being careful to not knock the crust off of the meat. You should have about an inch of liquid. Drop in the quartered onion, and celery if you have it.  Cover tightly, and place in the oven. Bake for several hours (let’s say 5, but it could be 4 or 6), adding liquid (wine or stock—you can use all stock, but don’t use all wine) if it’s nearly all gone. Once that chuck is falling-apart tender, take it out of the braising liquid (that’s what you were doing) put on a plate, and wrap tightly with foil. Put your roasting vegetables in the pan, adding more liquid if there’s less than an inch left. Roast the vegetables until the toughest one is fork-tender. Remove vegetables from pot with a slotted spoon. Discard celery and remains of the onion, if any exist. Add Wondra flour. If you don’t have any, put regular flour in a small jar and add very cold water. Beat it with a fork, and then shakeitshakeitshakeitshakeit until it’s a lump-free slurry. In either case, keep beating that gravy with a balloon whip. Do not wander off! Continue to add flour until the gravy is the right thickness (with each addition, give the flour a couple of minutes to absorb) and then check seasonings. Add fresh ground pepper and salt until it tastes like gravy. If you have any demiglace (or lazy chef demiglace, Kitchen Bouquet), whisk in a little. Serve the chuck, vegetables, and gravy family-style.

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Garlic Salt, Fennel Salt, whatever…..

We all buy these. Sometimes, at great expense (see Truffle Salt.) This is all easy as fuck to make at home. Got some salt? A flavor you want to mix with salt? A way to dry it all out? Ok, you are in business. Do this:

Take your (peeled) garlic, your (greenest parts) celery or fennel or super-fine chopped herb like rosemary or dill and pulverize it into nothingness in your food processor. Then mix in a bowl with kosher salt, blending with your hands or a spoon until it looks like it is about half salt and about half herbs. It’ll be chunky-wet and unmistakeably green.

Spread out 1/4″ thick onto trays in your dehydrator or cookie sheets on the lowest heat (160F) in the oven until dry, 4-8 hours. Break up with hands every 2 hours. Grind again in food processor after dry if chunks are too big. You are welcome.

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