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Archive for August, 2010

Chinese Noodle Salad

This is a super flavorful, easy recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that we recently made – she calls it Szechuan Noodles but I think it’s a little easier to call it Chinese Noodle Salad.  I’ve made the sauce a few times – it’s absolutely wonderfully delicious and can be used really in any stir-fry or as a dip or anything else you can think of.  But it’s especially good on these noodles!

I used whole wheat noodles to be a little healthier – since there’s so much flavor in this salad I promise you would never, ever know the difference!  You make the sauce with lots of flavorful fresh ingredients, whirled around in the food processor.  Then you chop up a bunch of veggies and finally toss the noodles, sauce and veggies together then serve.  It can be served warm or chilled, though I do think it’s best when it’s just warmed from the noodles.  This makes a LOT of salad and isn’t quite as good leftover (though still good!) so for just two people I’d definitely cut it in half.  I also added broccoli because I wanted a bit more vegetables in this.  In fact, I think the recipe could hold a lot more veggies or protein – next time I might saute some tofu and toss that in as well to add some protein!  The broccoli, which I quickly blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to cook it just a little, was a wonderful addition.  You could really add almost anything else to this, though – julienned carrots would also be delicious!

We have a new ‘toy’ at our house – a new camera for my husband, who is an awesome amateur photographer, to use for the baby.  As a side perk, it takes pretty fabulous pictures of food too!  I happened to be making this recipe the day the camera came in the mail, so below is a fun series of photos he took to try it out while I was cooking.  Enjoy!

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 I recently made this summery risotto for a dinner where we were eating lots of seafood and fresh veggies.  It’s a perfect balance, adding something a little rich but not too heavy to the meal.  The strong lemon flavor and the veggies keep it from getting too wintery feeling. 

Risotto is not as challenging as it has a reputation for being.  Granted, I am very lucky that my husband is an exceptional risotto stirrer…but you can always ask a guest or anyone else near the kitchen to help you out with the stirring, which is very repetitive, while you continue fixing the rest of the meal.  I prep all the ingredients and then once it’s time to start adding the stock one half-cup at a time, I put Michael on it.  The process takes a while, but the taste is totally worth it, and everyone always loves it!

The lemon risotto base can easily carry other combinations of ingredients if you want to sub out the asparagus and peas – for example basil and zucchini, as I used the last time I made this.  It can be a handy recipe to use up some of those summer vegetables you have sitting around.  Just make sure you put any veggies that need to cook or soften a bit in before you’re done adding all the stock (where they suggest adding the asparagus, above) to let them cook a little without overcooking your risotto.

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Peas

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer

  • 6 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 inch lengths
  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
  1. Bring stock to boil in a medium saucepan; turn off heat.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in another medium saucepan.  Add onion; cook, stirring constantly, until edges of grains are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.  Raise heat to medium-high.  Add wine; cook, stirring constantly until wine has completely evaporated.
  3. Add ½ cup of stock; cook, stirring constantly, until stock has been completely absorbed and a wooden spoon drawn through rice leaves a trail in its wake.  Continue adding about 4 more cups of stock, ½ cup at a time, waiting for each addition to be absorbed before adding the next.  (It should take about 13 minutes).
  4. Stir in the asparagus.  Add ½ cup to 1 cup more stock, in the same manner described above.  About 1 minute before risotto is done, stir in peas.  Risotto is done when mixture looks creamy and grains are cooked but still slightly firm in centers.  (The total cooking time will be 16 to 20 minutes).
  5. Remove from heat; stir in ½ cup stock (you may have stock left over).  Stir in zest, lemon juice, remaining 2 Tbs butter, parsley and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with more cheese.               

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Pizza Tip

Here’s a short and sweet tip I read about and tried with great success:

For reheating leftover pizza, use a pan on the stovetop on medium to medium-high heat.  This keeps the crust nice and crispy – it really works!  We don’t have a microwave but I don’t like them anyway for reheating pizza because they tend to make crust soggy.  I used to use the toaster oven which got everything nice and crispy.  But I think I prefer the pan method now!  I also like to flip mine over and let them get a little crispy on the top of the pizza, but I tend to like things well browned, so that might not be for everyone.

Anyway, try it next time and see what you think! 🙂

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