Sunday, August 23, 2009

Little Green Frog

No recipe post today, just a photo.

One of the green frogs in our pond, this little guy was hanging out on a water lily leaf and didn't slip underwater when I walked up to it (unlike most of the other frogs that I usually only hear, never see...).

I love summer :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spicy, Chilly Summer Garden Soup

Some days, it’s just too darn hot to do anything. Anything. Including just sitting in front of a fan.

I suppose that I should be grateful that these hot summer days didn’t appear until August, and that up until last night it wasn’t terribly hot in the bedroom at night, and that I have an excuse for sitting in one spot, drinking lemonade, and clearing up a stack of paperwork. But it’s soooooo HOT. :) Complain, complain…

I received an e-mail from Vegetarian Times which included a soup recipe, Farmers’ Market Chilled Salsa Soup. It sounded good, perfect for this kind of a day, and I thought that I would create my own version of this soup. A version containing zucchini, of which I have a huge quantity in the refrigerator and more ready to be picked every day.

My garden is also bursting with peppers-- bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, long green-yellow banana peppers. These needed to be used, too. But the only obstacle was my dear husband. To Jack, soup is not a proper meal. If it is thick and contains chicken or turkey and is served on a frigid winter day, then he will not complain too much about eating it for lunch. I once tried a chilled soup on a hot summer day, about 5 years ago, and that was such a spectacular dud that I never tried again.

Until today.

I could not imagine doing anything near heat today (including using the outdoor grill), and Jack was working outside in the 90+ degree temperatures so I figured that he would feel the same way. Using the VT recipe as a guide, and with the goal of decreasing the amount of vegetables in the refrigerator before more were harvested in the garden, I made what I am calling Spicy, Chilly Summer Garden Soup. I gave it a southwestern flair by adding cumin, lime, and chili peppers. Cool sour cream and spicy salsa spooned on each bowlful made the flavors come together and just sing. But don’t take my word for it.

I set the bowls on the table, Jack looked at me. Cold soup! Horrors!!! But he, too, was quite warm after his outside labors and he took a cooling mouthful. And another. And another! In fact, he raved about this soup so much that I thought he was being sarcastic, and it wasn’t until he asked for a second serving that I realized—he likes it! Wow.

I served this soup with steamed corn tortillas (heated in the microwave to soften, fortunately they didn’t give off too much heat!).

A note: peppers vary widely in spiciness even within the variety. Even within the row in the garden! The one 5” long banana pepper which I used was enough to make the soup very spicy, and Jack added chipotle because he is... crazy.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Spicy, Chilly Summer Garden Soup

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 3

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

----------- ---------- -------------------------------------

7 ounces cucumber -- peeled, roughly chopped

3 ounces green bell pepper -- roughly chopped

2 ounces banana pepper -- roughly chopped

4 ounces anaheim chili pepper -- roughly chopped

1 pound zucchini -- roughly chopped

3 medium garlic cloves -- chopped

4 large green onions -- white and tender green parts chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- optional

1/4 cup light sour cream

2 tablespoons skim milk

6 tablespoons salsa

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro -- optional

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers through cumin. Place about half of this mixture into an 8-cup blender, along with all of the water, and blend until almost smooth. Add the remaining vegetable mixture, in batches, blending all until smooth. Taste and add chipotle, if desired.

Return to the large bowl and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Mix the sour cream and milk until smooth. Divide the soup between bowls, drizzle with a generous portion of sour cream and dollop of salsa. Sprinkle with salsa. Serve.


"6 cups"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 179 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (45% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 2mg Cholesterol; 639mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 3 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

*Note- the vegetables were weighed after removing the stem end (s) and coring.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake; Romaine, Grilled Avocado, and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle-Caesar Dressing; Chickpea Flour Pizza w/ Tomatoes and Parm

And a final installment to Cooking at the Lake House with Nancy, Jenni, and Vicci will combine Sunday breakfast and lunch.

Unfortunately, Nancy needed to leave late Saturday afternoon to go to a wedding so Jenni and I were on our own. We went to a Middle Eastern restaurant for dinner where we had to-die-for hummus and were served shish kebabs (on skewers the size of swords!) balanced on large platters of rice. We both took at least half of our meal home (although we did eat our desserts to the point of almost licking the plate—whoever devised the recipe for Choclava, baklava layered with bittersweet chocolate served warm and drizzled with more chocolate, was an absolute GENIUS).

For Sunday breakfast, Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake and yet more fruit salad. :)

I made this coffee cake the previous weekend and wanted to “tweak” it a little before posting. And, it is a perfect “guest breakfast” because the dry ingredients can be put together even days before, then the liquid ingredients are mixed, the peaches sliced, and then it is put together and baked.

This is adapted from recipe found in an old Eating Well magazine (1993!), I used half white whole wheat flour and pureed pears in place of half of the canola oil, and I cut the sugar in the cake a little since the topping was sweet. The original recipe used nectarines, but I had peaches which were riper so I used them. I also added almond extract and, since I love the taste of peaches with almonds, I subbed pecans in the original recipe with chopped toasted almonds. The topping was a surprising mixture of Grape Nuts cereal, brown sugar, and nuts which added texture and flavor without a lot of fat (as some buttery streusel toppings do). In the following recipe I increased the amount of raspberries because there didn’t seem to be enough of them.

It was very good. Very.

I did not have a 9” springform pan which the original recipe called for, so I used a 10” cast iron skillet for both versions of this coffee cake and it worked great (with some measurement alterations). The crust was crispy, it looked pretty, but I did have to play around with the baking time and oven heat.

Here is the peach, raspberry, and almond version:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Peach-Raspberry Coffee Cake

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 10

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1/3 cup Grape-Nuts® -- cereal

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons toasted almonds -- chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

1 cup lowfat buttermilk

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons pureed pears

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 medium peaches -- sliced 1/8" thick

2/3 cup fresh raspberries -- (can used frozen if fresh are not available)

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F. Spray nonstick cooking spray into a 10" diameter cast iron skillet and set aside.

Mix topping ingredients, Grape Nuts through cinnamon, in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flours through salt and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites through almond extract. Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Stir gently until just blended. Pour into the prepared skillet.

Arrange fruit, overlapping somewhat, in a layer on top of the batter, then arrange the raspberries on top. Sprinkle evenly with the topping.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then cut and serve.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 258 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat (1g Saturated); (18% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 46g Carbohydrate; 20mg Cholesterol; 449mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Okay, now on to lunch.

Jenni had suggested a salad which sounded very intriguing, Romaine, Grilled Avocado and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle Caesar Dressing, from Gourmet. Because I love the spicy smokiness of chipotles, I jumped on the idea. And I was not disappointed. Corn on the cob and avocado were grilled and, after the corn was sliced off the cob, mixed with chopped romaine then tossed with a wonderfully complex dressing of Parmesan, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and chipotles.

Romaine, Grilled Avocado, and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle-Caesar Dressing

Serves 4 (main course) or 6 (side dish)

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:40 min

June 2009

Grilled avocado is one of those things that sound faintly ridiculous until you try it—then you wonder why you never had it before.

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 firm-ripe 6- to 8-oz avocados, halved and pitted but not peeled
  • 1 head romaine (1 lb), tough outer leaves discarded and head quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
  • Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (high heat for gas)
  • Put parmesan in a medium bowl and add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in lime juice, garlic, chipotles, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper.
  • Rub vegetable oil on corn and cut sides of avocados, then season with 1/8 tsp each of salt and pepper. Grill avocados, cut sides down, and corn, covered only if using a gas grill, turning corn occasionally, until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Peel avocados and thinly slice. Cut corn kernels from cobs.
  • Toss romaine with dressing and serve topped with avocado and corn.

Cooks’ note:

  • Corn and avocados can be grilled, in batches if necessary, in a lightly oiled hot grill pan over medium-high heat.

It was a perfect, light lunch.

We also made Madhur Jaffrey’s “Chickpea Flour Pizza with Tomatoes and Parmesan” which was featured in Food & Wine. Now this was interesting.

I pressed my 10” cast iron skillet into use once more to cook this. It is quite simple, the chickpea flour is mixed with salt and water and allowed to rest for a half hour, then some rosemary is stirred in. Olive oil is heated in the skillet and the batter poured in. Now, it looks very odd, as it is a thin batter and you don’t expect it to firm up at all, but after a couple of minutes it does.

You then sprinkle tomato, Parmesan, and ground black pepper over the top and broil until crisp.

It was delicious, but Jack (who joined us for lunch) said that it was not nearly enough in quantity, that he could have eaten a whole one by himself. Next time… ;)


  1. 2/3 cup chickpea flour (see Notes)
  2. 1/3 teaspoon salt
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  5. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  8. 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  9. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat the broiler. Sift the chickpea flour with the salt into a medium bowl. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the water, whisking constantly to form a paste. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of water and let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the rosemary.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. Stir the batter once, pour it into the skillet and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Cook the pizza over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife.
  3. Sprinkle the tomato, onion, Parmesan and pepper over the top, then place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pizza is golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pizza onto a work surface, cut into wedges and serve hot.


Chickpea flour is available at Indian and Middle Eastern markets, at health-food stores and by mail.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and so it was with our cooking weekend with my friends. But I can count on, sometime in late February or early March, receiving an e-mail from Jenni which will begin “Hey, I just saw a recipe that would be great for our lake house weekend!”


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greek Omelets, Purple Basil Parmesan Biscuits, Chicken and Roquefort Sandwiches

Yet another installment in my cooking extravaganza over the last weekend of July with my friends Jenni and Nancy.

For breakfast on Saturday, Jenni prepared Greek omelets (next to eating melted bittersweet chocolate out of a bowl with a spoon, this is my idea of heaven on earth). She used feta, kalamata olives, fresh oregano (also tomatoes? Jenni??? I can’t remember!). To accompany this eggy delight, she made purple basil-parmesan biscuits from Cooking Light. Jenni used Italian basil (not purple) from her garden, and subbed asiago for parmesan. She decided to cut the biscuits into squares instead of cutting out the traditional rounds, then re-rolling and re-cutting the dough scraps. Very smart, she is! These definitely did not taste like “light” biscuits, but they were. Tender and flaky, redolent with the aroma of asiago and basil, and delicious.

Purple Basil Parmesan Biscuits

Chopped purple basil flecks these biscuits with color. Standard sweet Italian basil would do, as well. For tender biscuits, stop cutting the butter into the dough when the mixture has pea-size nuggets.

9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup chopped fresh purple basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2/3 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in basil and cheese. Combine milk and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

Yield: 12 biscuits (serving size: 1 biscuit)

CALORIES 145 ; FAT 5.4g (sat 3.2g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.3g); CHOLESTEROL 31mg; CALCIUM 156mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19.5g; SODIUM 448mg; PROTEIN 4.6g; FIBER 0.7g; IRON 1.3mg

Cooking Light, JULY 2009

Okay, this is my plate. I chose a smaller biscuit because I was trying to “be good” but, alas, I returned for a second one…

The meal was rounded out with a mixed fruit salad courtesy of Nancy’s arm-numbing Chopping Detail.

I had never eaten fresh apricots before, and I’m hooked! Also included were honeydew, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, and blueberries. What summer is all about, right?!?!

Next up, lunch!

As her contribution to our cooking weekend, mentioned in previous posts, Nancy planned a picnic-on-the-boat with ­­­­­­­­­­­Chicken & Roquefort Sandwiches from the August issue of Cooking Light.

Holy cow, that sandwich was incredibly delicious! Again, not at all “light” tasting but flavorful enough that I finally stopped eating when I realized that I was in a swim suit and the material might not stretch enough if I had kept on going… ;)

The sandwiches were assembled in advance (grilled chicken, cheese mixture, arugula) and the tomatoes taken along to add just before serving. We ate more of that wonderful mixed fruit salad from breakfast, drank Jenni’s wine contribution to the weekend (a wonderfully chilly moscato), and well, with one thing or another (drinking rum, floating in the river on inflatable chairs, etc.), I neglected to take a single photo. The Cooking Light recipe (and their photograph) follows. And I must mention that the vegetarian in our group, neighbor Karla who kindly took us on her boat that day because I’m afraid to use our boat (don't ask, I'm a weenie..), loved the sandwiches sans chicken as well.

Chicken and Roquefort Sandwiches

One serving of this entrée contains about one-fourth of your daily sodium allotment. We extend salty Roquefort cheese by mixing it with cream cheese as a spread. A 2-ounce portion size for bread also helps control sodium counts.

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) tub whipped cream cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) baguette
2 small heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup baby arugula leaves

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl.

2. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick strips. Sprinkle evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

3. Cut baguette in half lengthwise. Spread cheese mixture over cut sides of baguette. Arrange chicken, tomato slices, and arugula evenly over bottom half of baguette; cover with top half. Cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

CALORIES 392 ; FAT 15.8g (sat 7g,mono 5.2g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 84mg; CALCIUM 100mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.1g; SODIUM 640mg; PROTEIN 27.9g; FIBER 2.2g; IRON 3.1mg

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Turkey and Green Bean Stir Fry with Peanuts

Finally, the green beans in my garden are producing. Not as prolifically as in years past, but now I don’t have to be jealous when my Dad tells me how many green beans he just picked (they live over 2 hours’ away and hadn’t yet picked up on my hints about FedEx overnight service…).

I dug up one of my favorite recipes using green beans, a stir-fry using ground turkey which was featured in Food & Wine a few years ago.

Because my peppers have been growing like crazy, too, I thought I’d add some color by adding some red banana peppers, and I added a half of a large sweet onion, in chunks, as well. These peppers are quite hot and, even with the above-stove fan running at full blast, I still was forced to go outside quite a few times during cooking to take a deep, non-coughing, breath of fresh air. The final dish was spicy, but not nearly what I expected when considering searing effect which cooking them had on my poor lungs.

Note: I used cream (sweet) sherry in place of mirin, and although I used 8 ounces of ground turkey for both Jack and me, I upped the green beans to 12 ounces. Yum. Big time.

Turkey and Green Bean Stir Fry with Peanuts

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Strawberry-Coconut Daiquiris, Thai Chicken Skewer Wraps, Tropical Strawberry Ice Cream Pie

In a previous post, I mentioned a “cooking weekend” which I hosted at our lake house with my friends Nancy and Jenni, and I posted the recipe for the delectable Thai Summer Stew which we made for a dinner.

This time, I would like to post the accoutrements of that meal.

First, from Eating Well magazine, a recipe for Strawberry-Coconut Daiquiris. Usually when you see a coconut daiquiri recipe it included the very high fat cream of coconut, but this one used coconut rum. I subbed unflavored rum and coconut liquer, and it turned out to be a repeater. What more can I say—strawberries, coconut, and rum! As for an accompanying photo… I didn’t really think of taking one!

Strawberry-Coconut Daiquiri

Recipe from Eating Well

Makes 6 servings, about 3/4 cup each


2 ½ cups chopped fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries (about 12 ounces)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups ice cubes
¾ cup coconut-flavored rum, such as Malibu

eating wellStrawberry-Coconut Daiquiri Ingredients Cont.

Strawberry-Coconut Daiquiri Instructions

Combine strawberries, sugar and lime juice together in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and rum and blend until frothy. Transfer mixture to a pitcher and serve.

eating wellStrawberry-Coconut Daiquiri Instructions Cont.

Nutrition Information

Per serving: 112 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 3 mg sodium; 113 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value).
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 fruit, 1/2 carbohydrate (other)

As an appetizer, I prepared Thai Chicken Skewers from Cuisine at Home .

Chicken breast is marinated, then threaded on skewers, broiled (I grilled), and served in bibb lettuce leaves with cucumber and red bell pepper, drizzled with a heavenly sauce of brown sugar, lime juice, red curry paste, peanut butter, shallots, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Delicious!!! We commented that we could be very satisfied having only these for dinner, but then that wonderful stew changed our minds… Anyway, no photo for this one, either. I should have, but we were just too busy eating.

Thai Chicken Skewer Wraps
Makes 16 skewers, about 2 cups sauce

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, packed
6 T. brown sugar, divided
6 T. fresh lime juice, divided
2 T. Thai red curry paste, divided
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1/4” thick strips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T. fresh ginger, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
16 Boston or bibb lettuce leaves
16 strips each red bell pepper and cucumber
Lime wedges

Blend cilantro, 4 T. brown sugar, 2 T. lime juice, 1 T. curry paste, pepper flakes, and salt in a food processor till smooth.

Pour over chicken, toss to coat, and marinate 10 min. Preheat broiler to high with rack 6” from element; coat a broiler pan with nonstick spray.

Process 2 T. brown sugar, 4 T. lime juice and 1 T. curry paste with peanut butter, water, shallots, soy sauce, ginger and garlic in the processor (no need to wash the bowl) until smooth. Transfer to a serving dish.

Thread chicken onto 32 skewers. Arrange 8 skewers on prepared pan; cover ends of skewers with foil to prevent burning. Broil chicken in batches till browned and cooked though, 6 min.

To serve wrap a lettuce leaf around 2 strips of chicken, remove skewers, then add bell pepper and cucumber. Drizzle with sauce and lime juice.

And, finally, dessert.

The previous weekend, for a larger weekend-long party, I had prepared two strawberry ice cream pies which I had planned to serve with a strawberry-black pepper sauce. However, a friend added a couple of extra courses and by the time dinner ended, everyone could barely see, much less eat dessert. Which, actually, was a good thing since I had royally screwed up the sauce earlier that evening (I need to work on my caramel-making skills).

The pie itself was a simple recipe—softened strawberry ice cream mixed with a dash of cinnamon and some chopped fresh strawberries, spooned into a graham cracker crust and refrozen.

I hoped that my friends would not mind being “re-desserted”.

This time, I went with a tropical-style sauce for the strawberry pie. It was simple as well. I reduced a can of guava nectar by almost half, added about a half teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with a teaspoon of water) to thicken it a bit further, stirred in a squeeze of lime juice and some finely chopped fresh pineapple. This was cooled to room temperature then served over each slice of ice cream pie, and sprinkled with toasted coconut. It was a hit, with both my friends and with Jack, who had a piece a couple of days later.

Note, take the pie out of the freezer for 5 minutes prior to serving.

And, in a complete turnaround from the above two menu items, no recipe, but I do have a photo! :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Spring Roll Salad

I love fresh spring rolls, but I have yet to master the process of rolling those wonderful ingredients into the rice paper wrapper tightly enough to please me. So for dinner tonight, since we are experiencing the first over-90-degree day of the summer (in August, yet!), I decided to make a salad using the spring roll ingredients.

For some reason, I seem to have run out of the very thin rice noodles and had to make due with the wide version.

No problem, though, and I decided to chop the cooked noodles a bit in order to make the eating process easier.

Instead of adding Thai chilies to the dressing, as is in the dipping sauce served with spring rolls, I used wasabi powder. Although it was quite good, I think that adding some Thai chili paste, or chopped chilies, to the dressing would have been better (for Jack, it was not spicy enough).

All of my favorite spring roll flavors and textures mingled pleasantly in this salad. Crunchy vegetables, soft rice noodles, and a delicious sauce (dressing). Jack said that it was so good, he won’t even consider it to be a salad. High praise, indeed, coming from a confirmed “salad-avoider”!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Spring Roll Salad

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 ounces rice noodles

2 teaspoons sesame oil

10 ounces shrimp -- large; shelled and deveined

1 teaspoon grated gingerroot

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 large carrot -- shredded

1/2 large English cucumber -- thinly sliced into matchsticks

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder -- optional

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil -- Italian basil can also be used

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Cook rice noodles, per package instructions. Drain, toss with sesame oil. Dump onto a large cutting board, chop through the noodles a few times with a large knife, transfer back to a large bowl and set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, mix ginger, garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil into covered plastic container. Add the shrimp and toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare the grill.

Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, cucumber, and green onion to the noodles. In a jar, combine the soy sauce through brown sugar. Shake well, then add wasabi powder (if used) and shake again.

Skewer, then grill the shrimp (coat with cooking spray before placing on grill) for about 3 minutes per side, or until done.

Pour about 3/4 of the dressing into the noodle and vegetable bowl and toss well. Divide into 2 bowls. Arrange the shrimp on top, drizzle the remaining dressing over. Sprinkle with peanuts, Thai basil, and mint.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 599 Calories (kcal); 22g Total Fat (3g Saturated); (33% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 65g Carbohydrate; 216mg Cholesterol; 850mg Sodium

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thai Summer Bean Stew with Chicken

I am in the passenger seat of our car as Jack drives us to yet another destination. I haven’t been writing on my blog much because there is always something of a higher priority which demands my attention. Having the opportunity to just sit and write has not been on my schedule lately, and when I realized that I would have a couple of hours “downtime” (without having to plan menus, go over shopping or “to do” lists, etc.), I knew what I wanted to do.

There are a huge amount of recipes which I have made in the past 2 months that I want to post and review, but I need to start with one of the most recent.

Last weekend, my good friends Jenni and Nancy joined me at the lake house for a couple of days of cooking and talking and laughing and just having fun. At Jenni’s wise suggestion, I assigned each of them a meal to be responsible for, rather than assembling the menus myself, and a great idea it turned out to be. The first evening I made a Thai stew which was served over jasmine rice. Jenni made breakfast the next morning, Greek omelets and basil-asiago biscuits. Nancy decided on a lunch of chicken-Roquefort sandwiches and fruit salad. And so on. The meals were nicely planned and, with three cooks in the kitchen (never too many cooks!), preparation was fun and easy.

I really would like to have my vary own sous chef, all of the time… :)

My first post after this lengthy absence will be for the Thai stew.

Last month we bought bedroom furniture which necessitated our moving the contents of a few rooms around. One room which had to disappear was the library (made into another guest room with the extra bedroom set). Bookcases and credenzas were moved into the basement to hold Jack’s office publications and paperwork, since he is planning to relocate from a separate building into our house. I found that I had to deal with stacks of old magazines, mostly cooking-related (surprise, surprise), and I did this by leafing through them all and tearing out the most interesting recipes and articles. I really did try to control myself, and I ended up with “just” a couple of hundred more recipes to slide into plastic sleeves and file in my binder system. Good heavens, when will I try them all?!?!?

One recipe, in particular, called to me from the moment I saw it. Taken from an old issue of Food and Wine, from back when I had barely discovered Thai food, it sounded intriguing enough to make for my cooking buddies. Plus, the day was forecast as rainy and I didn’t want to plan anything grilled since getting to the grill at the lake house necessitates a trip down to the lower patio. I’ve used the grill in the rain before, and it is not a fun experience.

The F & W description of this recipe is as follows:

This is a quintessential summer dish, with coins of corn, tender beans, and chicken in a tangy basil-and-cilantro-laced coconut curry sauce.

This. Was. INCREDIBLE. If you love Thai food like we do, do not wait to make this. This stew was so delicious that my mouth waters just thinking about it!

The recipe called for fresh fava beans and, after a few phone calls, I realized that this was simply not going to happen. Fortunately the recipe instructions also mentioned using shelled edamame as a substitute and I have plenty of those in the freezer.

I used green string beans (the store did not have the yellow wax beans which I was also counting on) so I used only those and the frozen edamame. I sprinkled a good amount of Thai basil on serving, and with the beans added a small red bell pepper, chopped, for additional color and flavor but otherwise it was prepared as directed. The chicken breasts were a bit on the thick side, and we were afraid that they may not have been cooked thoroughly all of the way through, so we added them to the stew for a final few minutes of cooking instead of assembling the dish in the way the recipe instructs.

And don’t forget the lime wedges to squeeze on the individual portions, that simple addition makes all of the difference.