There’s a time and a place for Applebee’s, and that’s when your dead. Kidding, but seriously, the salads at all these chain restaurants (I’m talking to you too, Chilis and TGIFridays) are a waste of money. I’m sure that the dressings are prepackaged with all kinds of preservatives, and heaven knows when the produce last left the garden. It’s a waste of cash as well. The only thing that they’re doing right is illustrating the point that salads don’t have to be boring.
This particular recipe reminds me of all of my favorite things about a salad – exceedingly crisp, ultra light, and super refreshing. Matchsticks of carrot, daikon and red bell pepper give an addictive crunch, and the crisp noodles help to soak up the yummy peanut lime dressing. Cilantro and mint add spice and sweetness, and the dressing gets a kick from a bit of chili and garlic. It’s all around goodness. Continue reading Thai Chopped Salad with Crisp Noodles and Herbs
Hot Fun in the Summertime
Called goi cuon in Vietnamese, these fresh rolls offer a light and refreshing alternative to their oil-laden spring roll cousins. Although these are traditionally made with steamed shrimp and slivers of roasted pork, I like mine vegan with lots of crunchy veggies and no meat or seafood. I even spike them with a few shitake mushrooms sauteed in a bit of oil and then cooled – this addition makes the rolls even more filling as a main dish. Complete the non-meat meal with a tasty dip in some peanut sauce (find a version with no fish sauce) or hoisin sauce. Welcome to the ultimate in coolness.
You’ll note that there are no amounts in this recipe – fill the rolls to your liking with the veggies of your choosing and dunk away. It’s your show and you get to cast the characters. That means you’re cut, bean sprouts! Continue reading Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)
Let’s Get Smashed
Apparently, NYC feels a need to charge a premium for fresh guacamole goodness. They buy a mocajete (stone mortar) and a pestle, have some dude wheel a cart of fresh ingredients to your table, and for the tableside prep, charge you a hefty $12 – 15 depending on how fancy the restaurant. You can make this guacamole for around $5 at home. All that’s left is to buy some top shelf añejo and make some fresh lime margaritas to seal the deal.
I add a couple of extra ingredients for both taste and presentation – the shallots and tomato add lovely color. And I use a shallot because it’s small and I can use it all with no leftovers, but you can certainly use a red onion if you have one on hand. For this recipe, you are the controller of spice – the version below is mild/medium in heat, but you can amp up the spice quotient by using the jalapeno seeds and dicing it as finely as possible. The cayenne doesn’t add much heat so much as offer a fuller pepper flavor. This recipe works doubled and tripled, so if you are having a large group over, make plenty. Continue reading Fresh Guacamole (and Bean Tostadas)
It’s SO Easy Being Green
My family hails from Brazil, a country that prizes meat consumption in all its glory. And yet, my sister has been a vegetarian (and a vegan when her multiple sclerosis doesn’t give her grief about it) since she was in fourth grade. Always loving to cook for friends and family (regardless of dietary restrictions), I quickly altered my repertoire to include non-meat alternatives for all of my tried and true recipes. As time went by, I came across more and more good friends looking for some sweet, non-meat dining (Drew and Briana, especially). I never felt put out making “two dinners” – it just meant more time in the kitchen.
Two little tips to keep in mind – the green food coloring, aside from aesthetic purposes, is an awesome way to quickly separate between the veggie and meat dumplings on a platter. No meat eaten by mistake. I use green food coloring for the dye action, but if you are using frozen spinach at any time, you can save the water from it to dye your dumpling skins. The other tip is that although I list a slew of veggies for these guys, do experiment and use whatever you’d like. Try spinach instead of the cress, water chestnuts instead of the bamboo shoots – be creative and use what’s fresh and available.Vegetarian, vegan or no, give these dumplings a whirl. If you make them at the same time as the chicken or pork versions, not only will you have a veritable dim sum spread in front of you, you’ll be winning the favor of your non-meat eating friends. And friends are a good thing, I hear 😉 Continue reading Vegan Potstickers