Note: if you don't care about watching files on your computer (or if you have an S video out cable and can hook your 'puter to your HD tv) VLC Media player continues to be the best freeware/do everything program out there. No issues with the Matroska file types at my end.
Now for the food!
Long Beans With Dried Shrimp
(dried shrimp and shrimp paste don't have to be used. The first time I made this, I didn't have them on hand, and the second time I did. It's like two different recipes, but each are delish)
- 1 bundle long green beans OR 2-4 cups regular green beans
- 3 Tbsp. very small dried shrimp (available at Asian Markets, either by weight or in packets), OR add 1 extra tsp. shrimp paste to the stir-fry sauce
- 1/4 cup hot water (only if using dried shrimp)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb-size galangal OR ginger, sliced
- 2 shallots OR 2 slices cooking onion
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1-2 red chilies, OR 1-2 tsp. red chilli sauce (to taste)
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
First, measure out 3 Tbsp. dried shrimp. Place it in a cup or small bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of hot water over the shrimp. Allow to soak (soften) while you prepare the other ingredients (do not drain, as you will use the water for cooking). Place all stir-fry sauce ingredients in a food processor or chopper. Process well to form a "paste" (thick sauce). Or simply mince and stir everything together by hand. Set aside. (Note: I didn't have two shallots the first time, so I used a large chunk of onion, as suggested. I should have used a SMALL amount, as it diluted the flavor and made a LOT of sauce. Like, cut a ring the size for frying onion rings, and that would be the right amount.)
Rinse the beans. If using long beans, arrange them so that all the "tails" are parallel - then simply cut them off with a single chop of your knife. (Note: why not use long beans? They're cheaper, more fibrous, and the kids liked how it looked, this massive coil of veggies.) Keeping the long beans aligned together, chop them into 2-3 inch segments. (If using regular green beans, simply cut into bite-size lengths.) Pour a little oil (2-3 Tbsp) into a wok or large frying pan (Note: I used half that amount and it worked out fine)and place over medium to high heat. Add the stir-fry sauce plus the beans. Stir-fry 6-8 minutes, or until beans have softened. Note: Long beans take much longer to cook than regular beans. If using regular beans, only stir-fry for 3-5 minutes. Cooking Tip: Add a little water to the wok/frying pan when it becomes too dry (1-2 Tbsp. at a time - just enough to keep the beans frying nicely).
Add the dried shrimp (if using) plus the soaking water, and continue stir-frying another 2-3 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated. At this point the beans should be fairly soft but still chewy. Remove the wok or frying pan from the heat. Do a taste test: Note: This dish is spicy and quite salty. (I find that it is a little addictive because of this lively combination!) If not salty enough, add 1-2 Tbsp. more fish sauce. If too salty for your taste, add a squeeze of lime juice.
(My kids didn't think this was too spicy, but then, we eat a lot of spicy foods here. Plus, the first time we had it there was too much onion which diluted the chiles and fish sauce flavor.) This is a regular at our house now, it's SO GOOD.
I have LOADS of soba noodles in the pantry I'm trying to use up, and found these next two recipes to work nicely. Plus, they're cool and yummy on a hot day.
Lazy Day Peanut Noodle Salad Recipe
I used asparagus in this version, but you can use any of your favorite in-season vegetables. This time of year peas, asparagus, and carrots all make great additions to the noodles and peanut sauce.
1 8 ounce package soba noodles
1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed then cut into 1/2-inch segments
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup (brown) rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
drizzle of toasted sesame oil
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 cup hot water
1 small bunch of spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup peanuts
12 ounces extra-firm (organic) tofu, cut into small cubes (feel free to heat the tofu in a skillet if you like, but cold is good too)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the soba noodles per package instructions. In the last minute or so of cooking toss in the asparagus. Drain noodles and asparagus, run under cold water for about a minute to stop cooking, and set aside.
Make the peanut dressing by combining the peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and a big pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Thin with hot water - the amount you'll need depends on the original consistency of your peanut butter. I like it the consistency of a thin (non-Greek) yogurt. Taste and season with a bit more salt if needed.
Gently toss the noodles, asparagus, spring onions, peanuts, and tofu with a big splash of the dressing. I reserve a bit of each ingredient to sprinkle on top of the serving platter to make it look nice. Add more dressing a bit at a time, until the salad is dressed to your liking, reserving any extra for another use. Taste, sprinkle with more salt if needed.
Even lazier Asian Peanut Noodles, Haha
In a blender/processor, mix 1/3 C chunky peanut butter, 1/2 C soy/tamari sauce, 2 TBSP chile oil, 1/2 C unseasoned rice wine vinegar and 1/4 C packed brown sugar. (This alone is awesome on grilled chicken or shrimp.)
10 oz. soba noodles (I use buckwheat)
2/3 C of the peanut sauce above (it keeps for a week and change in the fridge)
4 green onions, sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
1/4 C diced red bell pepper
toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
Cook noodles following package directions, drain and rinse (not too much if using buckwheat sobas, as you'll lose a lot of the nutrients.) In large serving bowl, toss noodles with sauce, peppers, and onions, garnish with sesame seeds. (I like to toss in some grilled chicken or shrimp for more protein - next time we have it I'll try some stir-fried tofu and see how that tastes. My guess? Awesome.)
No-Bake Cookies (or as my family calls them: Poop Cookies. I never said we were high-brow)
In a saucepan combine one stick of butter (I know, I know), 1/2 C milk (fat content doesn't matter, see: butter, one stick) 1 3/4 C sugar (I've reduced the sugar amount from 2 C) and one TBSP of good quality cocoa. Bring to a boil and boil for ONE MINUTE only. Remove from heat.
Stir in: 1/2 C creamy peanut butter (I add 3/4 because I like thicker cookies and more peanutty goodness) 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 1/2 C good quality oats. (I like Irish oats - the steel cut kind? Super chewy and good for you.) Drop spoonfuls onto waxed/parchment paper and allow to set, about 30 minutes.
Dude. These are so good, even though they are tres unattractive. Note: if you use the original amounts listed (2 C sugar, 1/2 C peanut butter) they're the consistency of pralines. Which, that's yummy, but not as healthy, imo. Um, do not make the same mistake as my MiL, who used OVALTINE in place of cocoa. Gleh. Then again, that woman makes "carrot dimes" which may be the most horrid side dish known to man. I digress.
Another way I've used soba noodles: cook them as directed, drain. In a sauce pan simmer: a can of coconut milk, 1 tsp. red or green curry, toss in veggies like red bell peppers and roughly chopped yellow onion. Take off heat and add fresh basil leaves, mung beans, tofu (or chicken or shrimp or pork) and a squirt of chile sauce. Stir the noodles into this and serve. *bites fist* YUM. Me <3 Curry + coconut milk. (I get the Vietnamese style as my local shop that has 4 g fat per serving, instead of the 22 g of fat. The flavor is the same, even if the consistency is thinner. I don't mind that.)
I'm working on fish balls this week, if I can get a recipe that works, I'll post for those interested. (I'm trying to use up my 20 lb. bag of sticky rice.) The idea is to make a variety, freeze them, and have insta-dinner/meal ready to go that's good for us. I'm using dried shrimps and other fishes + veggies. We'll see...
Oooh! Last thing: drizzle Ponzu sauce on either salmon or tilapia, wrap in foil and grill or bake for 15 minutes. Limey-fresh and delicious fish. No butter or oil is needed, so it's a healthy and yummy alternative to pan frying or braising in sauce. SO. GOOD. If you have any lemon grass, toss that in, too, and it's a flavor party in your mouth.
Last but not least, this is on the menu tomorrow. I cannot IMAGINE it not being delicious.
Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust
This recipe will make one 9 or 10-inch tart OR five 4 1/2-inch tarts.
6 perfect, colorful, medium-sized heirloom tomatoes - washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick
1 t. fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes
4-ounce chunk of good fresh Parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosely packed grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven.
2 T. ice cold water
2T. best quality extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered basil
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Prep the tomatoes:
To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.
Make the tart crust(s):
Place both flours, butter, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the tart crust:
Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.
Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.
I MEAN ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? How delicious does that sound??? My tomatoes are starting to come in (I have 444s - a hybrid designed for Texas summers and Amish Pastes - meaty, thick, and little water so they are all flavor *drools*) and I'm so looking forward to this. I've got to get more olive oil and real parmesan at the store today. I'll report back on the fantasticness of this. :D
I need more food icons...