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mizducky

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  1. Oh! I almost forgot my basset hound naming suggestion! Somehow, when thinking of a vaguely British/European-sounding two-syllable name, my brain keeps popping up with that Monty Python routine about Doug and Dinsdale Piranha, in which the hallucinatory giant hedgehog Spiny Norman goes stalking through the streets of London calling out the crazier brother by name: "DINSDALE! DINSDALE!" ... Erm. It's the name "Dinsdale" I'm suggesting for your new basset. Though "Spiny Norman" could be fun if you ever adopted one of those cute little pygmy hedgehogs.
  2. Catching up ... ready for the fabulousness to begin. Having just turned 51 this past December, I've been trying to decide whether I agree with the "50 is the new 40" bit ... or the more timeless sentiment that "hey, this is what 50 looks like." Any chance you might sneak across the Tappan Zee to my old hometown of Nyack?
  3. So, three of my recipes are now posted over in RecipeGullet: The tom yum goong The pork belly The dan dan noodles I used this recipe for the peanut dipping sauce for the summer rolls ... more or less. The garlic threatened to burn and the ground peanuts never gave up any noticeable oil when I sauteed them as the recipe indicates, so I just sauteed them until they seemed right, trying to avoid scorching anything. Regardless, the flavor and texture was, as the recipe author notes, far superior to any sauce based on prepared peanut butter that I've tasted. The fish is basically the recipe for steamed fish with ginger and coconut milk from Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery. Standard steamed-fish protocol--make several slits in either side of the fish; rub with garlic cloves, sugar (she specifies dark brown, I used palm sugar), and fresh-ground black pepper; top with sliced mushrooms, scallions, minced ginger, and a mixture of coconut milk and oyster sauce, and then steam as usual. (There's supposed to be a typical Vietnamese garnish of deep-fried garlic and onion slivers and crushed peanuts, but in the rush of things it got forgotten.) I served it with a platter of lettuce, herbs, and cuke slices for wraps, and nuoc mam cham for dipping. For the kong namul I did this recipe as posted on my blog. The sigumchi-namul simply substitutes spinach for the bean sprouts. The black sticky rice pudding recipe can be found here. I did this one pretty much as written, except I kept working as much coconut sauce into the hot rice as it would absorb without getting soggy, which was a lot! I omitted the optional garnish--a lot of garnishes got left on the kitchen counter during this production.
  4. Thank you! My diners were generally good sports about the foods that were more challenging to their American sensibilities--namely, the head-on fish and the fatty pork belly. With the pork, there was a certain amount of joking about heart conditions and the like, but especially when I explained that this was not meant to be an everyday indulgence or eaten in huge portions, most people gave it a try, The fish, I wound up portioning out and serving just because it was less awkward that way. I explained that the head is considered a delicacy, but nobody quite had the nerve to give it a go. I did have one brave soul dare to eat one of the fish's eyes, though! I do think the freshly-shredded papaya had a snappier texture. I didn't notice that much difference in flavor. I think no matter what one does, green papaya is just destined to be a blank canvas, flavor-wise, on which to have fun with fish sauce and chiles. Thank you! Actually, my hosts were in charge of the table setting--they do have some gorgeous table linens and tableware, don't they? Fortunately, I'm in a lot better physical shape than I used to be, with a lot better endurance level. Plus I've acquired various totes and wheeled handcarts and other implements for shlepping gear and groceries around ... plus I brought a big two-liter bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper with me the day I cooked and served the meal--a.k.a. "the cook's personal rocket fuel"--which kept me pretty hydrated as well as juiced up for all the work. Still, I was definitely punchy by the end of the evening--but my hosts graciously helped me get things washed up and packed away so I wasn't fumbling around all night.
  5. Dan dan noodles (cold noodles in a spicy sesame dressing) Serves 8 as Side. This recipe's starting point was the recipe for "cold sesame noodles with chicken and vegetables" from Madhur Jaffrey's Far East Cookery, only minus the chicken (turning it back from "bon bon chicken" to "dan dan noodles"). I then juiced up the seasoning here and there as inspired by various recipes for dan dan noodles out there on the web. 1 lb fresh Chinese lo mein style egg noodles 1 carrot 1 stalk celery 1 pickling cucumber 2 scallions 1/2 c sesame paste (tahini will do fine) 1/4 c dark sesame oil 2 tsp chili oil, or to taste 1/4 c Chinese light soy sauce 2 T rice wine vinegar 2 tsp sugar 1 thumb-sized chunk fresh ginger root, peeled and minced 2 big cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1. Boil a large quantity of water. Add the noodles, bring back up to a boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally to keep noodles separated, until they are just barely done. Drain and shock with cold water to halt furter cooking; drain thoroughly. If you're not going to dress the noodles immediately, toss with a tablespoon of sesame oil to keep them from sticking to each other. 2. Julienne the celery, carrot, cucumber, and scallion. Blanch each briefly in boiling water to just barely soften and to brighten the colors. Shock and drain as with the noodles. Add to the noodles and toss well. 3. Combine the remaining ingredients to make the dressing. Note that the measurements for the dressing ingredients are all approximations--adjust all quantities to your personal taste preference. In particular, feel free to juice up the heat with your preferred chile weapons of choice. Ground sichuan peppercorns are also a fine addition. 4. Add enough dressing to coat the noodles well; toss thoroughly. Chill, covered, for at least a few hours to let the flavors combine. Toss again and correct seasonings as desired before serving. Keywords: Pasta, Side, Chinese, Easy ( RG2092 )
  6. The pie fight scene in "The Great Race." For a movie not about food as such, "Gosford Park" has a whole lot of scenes that turn on food, its preparation, serving, and consumption, especially the class nuances involved--including a hunting party.
  7. Red-cooked pork belly with greens Serves 8 as Main Dish. This recipe is a blend of a number of recipes for red-cooked and other braised pork belly dishes, including several from Kenneth Lo's Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking, plus Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for "Aromatic Pork Belly Hot Pot." In Asian groceries with a full-service meat counter, you'll find a couple of different grades and cuts of pork belly. You want the type with the rind on, and with several layers of meat and fat--this is typically the cut with some rib bones in, usually priced slightly higher per pound than the thinner grade with fewer layers. I break this recipe into two day's worth of work, mainly because I find it easier to slice the meat and defat the braising liquid when both are well-chilled. You could do this all in one day--just be very careful when slicing the super-tender warm meat, because it will want to fall apart on you; and defat the braising liquid as best you can. 3 lb chunk pork belly with rind 3 star anise 1 dried red chiles 1/4 c Chinese dark soy sauce 1/4 c Chinese light soy sauce 1/4 c Shaoxing wine 2 T rice wine vinegar 1 small handful Chinese yellow rock candy chicken broth or water to cover 1 bunch scallions 4 bunches baby bok choy 1. The day before you intend to serve the dish, cut the pork belly crosswise into two or three more manageable-sized chunks, that will fit together in a single layer in the pot in which you will be braising the meat. Place in your braising pot, and pour over the meat enough boiling water to cover. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn it back down to a simmer; simmer gently about five minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Drain the meat, discarding the parcooking liquid, and giving the meat a brief rinse to knock off any remaining albumim scum. 2. Wipe out the pot, put the meat back in, place back on the stove, and this time pour over it enough boiling chicken broth to cover (if you don't have broth, use boiling water again). Halve the scallions crosswise, split the white parts lengthwise, and add to the pot, along with the soy sauces, wine, vinegar, star anise, chiles, and sugar. Bring back up to an active simmer, then cover and turn to low. Simmer as gently as possible for a good couple of hours, turning the meat in the cooking liquid occasionally, until it is extremely tender and the rind is very soft. 3. Drain the meat, reserving the cooking liquid. Return the cooking liquid to the pot and reduce drastically--but stop before the liquid gets too salty. Cool the reduced broth, then chill overnight in the fridge and remove the solidified fat the next day. Also cool down the meat, and pull out any rib bones that come out easily without making the meat fall to pieces. Then carefully (so as not to damage the skin or fat layer) store skin-side up in a single layer in a lidded container, placed in the coldest part of your fridge. 4. The next day, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In the bottom of an oven-to-table casserole, place halved bunches of baby bok choy in a single layer. Slice the meat thickly, removing any remaining rib bones with a small sharp knife, and arrange the slices attractively over the bok choy. Pour the reduced cooking liquid (loosened up as needed with a brief nuke in the microwave) over the contents of the casserole, cover tightly, and bake until the meat has fully come up to temperature and the skin is unctuously soft again. 5. Serve out of the casserole, over plenty of steamed white rice to absorb all the juices. Keywords: Main Dish, Easy, Chinese, Pork ( RG2091 )
  8. Tom Yum Goong (Thai hot and sour shrimp soup) Serves 8 as Soup. There are two ingredients that really "make" this soup: the head-on shell-on shrimp and the nam prik pao. If you can't get the former, substitute the best-flavored seafood, chicken, or vegetable broth you can get, and promise yourself to get the shrimp with heads next time. Shrimp that have a bright orange spot showing through their translucent heads are especially choice for this, as the orangey stuff brings a lot of color and flavor to the broth. The trick with the nam prik pao is for non-Thai readers to identify it in the store, because the English labeling will call it something innocuous like "roasted chilli paste". Pantainorasingh is one common and popular brand of the stuff--the label has a long dragon boat on it and describe the stuff as "chili paste with soya bean oil." Despite the verbiage, the Pantainorasingh brand actually has only a mild chile kick--mostly it's super-savory, and a bit sweet. (Incidentally, a web search will turn up a variety of English transliterations of "nam prik pao"--I especially like the ones that aptly spell the last syllable "pow.") 1-1/2 lb large shrimp with heads and shells 2 stalks lemongrass 3 cloves garlic 1 chunk ginger or galangal root 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves 4 limes Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, to taste palm sugar, to taste fresh Thai red chiles, to taste nam prik pao, to taste 1 handful cilantro leaves, to taste 2 15 oz. cans straw mushrooms Extra chicken, fish, or vegetable broth as needed 1. Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and reserve, along with any juices from the heads. Devein the shrimp as needed while you're at it. (The heads should pull right off. Use scissors to shell the raw shrimp easily: insert one blade of the scissors right at the point where the vein peeks out from the body and snip right through the shrimp's back, shell and all; then the shell will pull right off and the vein is exposed for easy removal.) 2. Put the heads and shells in a stockpot with water to cover. Add one stalk of lemongrass, sliced; 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed; and a chunk of fresh ginger or galangal root the size of your thumb, sliced. Bring to a boil, back down to a low simmer, cover and simmer for a good hour or so, stirring occasionally. Strain the broth through a fine sieve, smooshing the shells and heads a bit to get at least some of the remaining liquid out. Discard the shells and other detritus. (If you're not making soup immediately, cool the broth and freeze until needed.) From this point onward, the recipe directions get unrepentantly seat-of-the-pants-ish ... 3. Return the broth to the pot. Add an extra cup or three of your backup broth as needed to bring the volume of broth up to the amount you'll need for your number of diners. Drain the straw mushrooms; the liquid will probably be too tinny-tasting to use. Halve the shrooms if they're big, and add to the soup. Also add 4 to 8 kaffir lime leaves, depending on size, and the second stalk of lemongrass, sliced up. Bring up to simmering temperature, cover, and let cook together for awhile till the lemongrass and lime leaves have had a chance to let their flavor develop. 4. You're now going to do a balancing act with the fish sauce, limes, palm sugar, nam prik pao, and chiles, adding and tasting till you like the combo of flavors and level of heat. My suggestion would be to start with a big spoonful of the nam prik pao--make sure it's well dissolved into the simmering soup--and maybe one or two chiles, sliced and deseeded. (Wear gloves when cutting up the chiles--and if you're a chile-head, by all means add more than one or two to start!) Then a couple tablespoons of the fish sauce. Then alternate lime juice and sugar till you can taste both sweet and sour--you probably will only need a little sugar, if any, because the nam prik pao has sugar in it already. Then readjust the savory and hot seasonings as needed. Repeat till you're happy with the result. (Many recipes say to wait to add the nam prik pao until the soup is served, putting a spoonful in the bottom of the bowl and ladling the soup on top to dissolve it. I found it easier to get the other seasonings balanced if I did the nam prik pao at the same time. You can always offer the nam prik pao, and other condiments, at table for anyone who wants to adjust their soup further.) 5. Maybe ten minutes before serving the soup, bring it just up to a boil and drop in the shrimp. Bring it back up to a lively simmer, and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through--don't overcook! Pour into a tureen, drop in the handful of cilantro leaves, and serve. (Make sure your guests know that the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass are not meant to be eaten!) Keywords: Thai, Shrimp, Soup, Seafood, Intermediate, Hot and Spicy ( RG2090 )
  9. Thanks, everybody, for your kind words! My guests were, frankly, blown away. I got lots of heartwarming compliments--including everyone making a significant dent in the food, even dishes that might have been a little beyond their familiarity level. At the end of the meal one of them even jumped up and hugged me! I found a copy of that wacky Kom Kom Miracle Knife in one of the local Vietnamese grocery stores. Worked pretty well once I got the rhythm down, but man--that took forever, and made my hands hurt by the end from clutching that awkward little tool. Next time, buying pre-shredded for sure. Yeah, he was a monster--I assume they just let him and his siblings at the market swim around in the farm pond till they all got good and huge. I have a covered enameled speckleware roaster that would have been perfect to steam this guy, except I had no pan that fit inside it properly for actually holding the fish. Next time I need to go shopping with a tape measure and buy a rimmed dish that will fit inside just perfetly.
  10. Oh, I almost forgot--the peanut sauce I made for the salad rolls really made the dish. A little fiddly to make but a vast improvement over the gluelike overly sweet substance often served with salad rolls in restaurants. Oops, missed getting a picture of that one... I'll be posting recipes presently ... This was a lot of work, but it was such fun work. There's some weird organization-geek part of me that gets off on planning and executing things like this, and I feel really good about how my organization for this dinner came off. Everything got rammed into an Excel spreadsheet. I had checklists and packing slips. I got on-site with only one ingredient forgotten (shy an extra bunch of scallions). Maybe this should be a whole other topic, how one gets oneself organized for dining productions of this sort. I imagine there's all kinds of pro systems for this kind of planning, but I'm just kind of making things up on my own as I need them for my admittedly amateur efforts.
  11. I am very happy with how my dinner came out last night! Not that there weren't ample numbers of "learning moments" throughout the process--there's definitely a lot of stuff I'll do differently next time. But the end product was on the whole really pleasing even despite the occasional forgotten ingredient or abandoned last-minute garnish. Hard to go wrong, really, when there's a bunch of ginger, garlic, and coconut milk happening. I am grateful to my hosts for the use of their roomy and well-equipped kitchen: As often happens with cook/photographers, a couple of dishes got partly consumed before I remembered to get my camera into play. For instance, the salad rolls had already been passed around before I got on the stick, so here's a shot of my roll: The tureenful of tom yum goong: This is one of the dishes I was especially happy with--the broth made with the heads and shells of the shrimp turned a beautiful bright orange from the yummy fatty stuff inside the shrimps' heads. I also have this dorky foodgeek pride in having finally masterd how to shell and devein shrimp fast: scissors. Snip right through the back, shells, vein channel, and everything; the shell then pulls right off, even from a raw shrimp. Oh yeah--it also helps to buy big shrimp so you're not there all day peeling and peeling and peeling. Here's a closeup of my portion of the tom yum: The papaya salad was another that got away from me before I could get my camera into play: The pork belly--to reheat it, I sliced it, placed the slices in a casserole on a bed of halved baby bok choy, poured the (reduced, defatted) cooking juices over all, and baked it covered in a 350 deg. F oven. Also pictured: the kong namul, white rice, and noodles (in the background): The fish--I got this monster 4-pound tilapia, which was great because it turned out to be a nice juicy sweet-flavored fish, but challenging because it was just a tad to big for the wok I was using as my steaming utensil. And of course I couldn't bear to cut it--having the fish whole is kinda the point, after all. So it got to the table a little after the other entrees, but went over really well. The rice pudding--this set up so well I could just slide it out of its bowl onto a plate, and serve it like a big chocolatey-looking cake. I loved this thing--chewy nutty grains of rice enrobed in a gentle coconuty sweetness. Each serving got topped with a spoonful of the coconut milk sauce in the little gravy boat alongside. Also served a fresh pineapple, and one of those New Years' candy assortments from the local 99 Ranch market. I offered a choice of oolong, green tea, and jasmine tea; the host provided a nice Riesling and Tsingtao.
  12. Thanks for getting back to me about the tea--I'll see if I can spot any when I stop for the tilapia. I decided to go with teabags for ease of service--so far, I've got oolong, jasmine, and green tea in bags. This will allow the guests to make the tea of their choice by the cup, and to compare and contrast different types of tea (and also get around the problem of tea sitting around and getting aged in a teapot).. Update on my progress: got the sticky rice pudding done, as well as the dipping sauces, and spent a messy hour shredding that papaya. I'm sure there are much more graceful ways to do it, but I couldn't get a good shredding motion while resting the papaya in a work bowl (kept running into the sides of the bowl!) and so wound up just laying it on my cutting board and shredding away and letting the shreds fall where they may. Now I know why they sell the stuff pre-shredded. But I can already tell that my hand-shredded stuff will be much fressher than the dodgy-looking pre-shredded stuff I saw yesterday at the market. Last thing before I went to sleep last night, I made a list of all remaining things to be done, and I'm actually in very good shape: --Salad rolls -- to be made; sauce done --Soup--only needs heating and assembling --Papaya salad--to be made --Tilapia--to be made; sauce done --Pork belly--just reheat w/sauce --Dan dan noodles--to be made --The banchan: done --White rice--just steam and go --Rice pudding: done --Fruit: I've got a pineapple that needs carving I also put together a master list of everything that needs to come with me to my host's house. Since I made a huge master list of everything in Excel at the very beginning of planning, assembling the packing list was simply a matter of cutting and pasting. (Yes, the packing list includes camera and batteries. )
  13. Okay, at this point, on the evening before the dinner, I've got the pork belly basically done, the banchan (spinach and bean sprout) done; the shrimp stock for the tom yum goong done, the shrimp for that soup and for the salad rolls all peeled and prepped (so that I could use their heads and shells for the stock) but still raw, and properly iced down; and the black sticky rice is almost finished soaking and ready to start being made into pudding. I want to also, at the least, knock out the Vietnamese dipping sauces (nuoc leo and nuoc mam cham), and perhaps some of the remaining mise en place. The only thing I still have to purchase is the tilapia, which I'll pick up on my way over to my host's house a little before noon. That'll give me the whole rest of the afternoon to finsh stuff. Some insanity provoked me to buy a whole green papaya rather than the pre-shredded stuff--no, not insanity, just looking at the pre-shredded papayan and going "echhh, this doesn't look so hot." I'll try shredding some of it tonight--I bought a couple different varieties of those wacky little shredder gadgets--but if it turns into too much of a pain in the butt, I'll buy the preshredded tomorrow when I pick up the tilapia. I think this is actually under control--as long as no phone calls or inquisitive housemate questions distract me from my train of thought! (No pictures yet, because shrimpy hands and distracted brains don't work well with cameras. )
  14. What an operation! Best of luck, Dejah!
  15. Y'know, when I started researching dan dan noodles, I stumbled across a major amount of variations on this dish--some variants have a peanut-based sauce, some have a sesame-based sauce, and there are apparently even a few styles that have neither peanuts nor sesame seeds. This page summarizes the confused terrain I fell into. I confess that, right at this point, I'm tempted to go more with the sesame-based version, if for no other reason than I've planned to do that peanut-based Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc leo (sp?)) with the summer rolls. But who knows? I've got both peanut and sesame ingredients in the house, so I might put a little of both in the noodles, see how that tastes. As for heat level--this is an issue throughout the meal, because as you may have noticed I've got several dishes on the menu that normally pack a lot of spice heat. I've got some dinner guests who are a bit cautious about spiciness, but I don't want to totally wimp out, so what I'm going to do is put a modest amount of heat in the traditionally hot dishes, and provide appropriate condiments for anybody who wants to up the voltage in their servings (sliced fresh chiles, dried chile flakes, chile oil, sriracha, ground sichuan peppercorns, etc.) With the dan dan noodles especially, I think this customize-your-serving method will work out well.
  16. Thank you! I saw the pictures of your feast go by--excellent looking food. I'm an eggplant fiend also, and I liked the look of that eggplant dish. And your salad rolls are gorgeous. I'm hoping to get as much of my mise en place as possible done the night before--I'll keep the veg bagged and iced down in the fridge so that it'll hopefully stay in good shape overnight. Then I'll haul everything over to my host's house the next day for all the remaining chopping and cooking. And my host has been warned that I'll be playing Candid Camera in the kitchen.
  17. Thanks for your comments, folks! Catching up on some replies: Thanks for the salad roll holding technique hint. And jasmine tea sounds like a great idea. Oh, I'm totally happy to get suggestions ... I may not be able to implement all of them, at least not at this meal, but any I don't use will go in the memory bank for future reference. Re serving the soup along with the rest of the meal: as I'm serving on an American-style table (long rectangle without lazy-susan), I'm not sure it'll be practical to have a tureen of sloshy soup in with all the rest of the dishes. I'll play that one by ear. The Thai snacks you suggest sound lovely, but I think I want to keep the pre-meal snacks relatively light--these are fairly light eaters and I don't want them to fill up too fast! But I do want to try those snacks at some future time. I love Gewürztraminer; I'll suggest it to my host. And yeah, bagging the kimchee sounds good to me. (I've got pickled greens happening with the pork belly anyway.) You can definitely make these several hours ahead - put them on a platter that has been lined with wax paper, then use wax paper in between the layers (this way, you can stack them several rolls high if necessary). Put another piece of wax paper over the top, then lay a damp towel over that, and then wrap up the whole thing - platter and all - with plastic wrap. Store in your fridge or cooler until ready to serve. The damp towel will supply enough moisture to keep the rice paper hydrated. The wax paper will prevent the absorbtion of too much water, and will also keep the rolls from sticking to each other. Your menu sounds delicious!!! ← Ah--more salad roll preservation technique! Thanks for that, and the vote of confidence on the menu! Hmm ... I saw a tea tonight at the 99 Ranch labeled gen-matcha -- is that the one you mean?
  18. Will do! I think I'm going to serve family style--more authentic, plus less work. I'm thinking the salad rolls, soup, and papaya salad will come out sequentially, but then all the remaining dishes will hit the table as soon as they're ready ... with the exception of the desserts, which I'll bring out after clearing the table and giving people a little while to digest. I've got my rice paper technique sufficiently under control at this point that I'm feeling pretty confident about whipping out the salad rolls okay. I may wrap them up a bit before serving and hold them under a damp tea towel--I'll see how my flow goes. I do have a question to throw out to people regarding what tea(s) to serve. I'm figuring on something relatively mild and basic, like an oolong or a green tea. Any more specific suggestions are welcome! (I am leaving it to my hosts to supply alcoholic beverages as desired--I suggested that they look for a crisp, not-too-dry white wine and/or a light crisp lager in the style of Tsingtao.)
  19. Thanks for your kind words, Ellen. They mean a lot to me. Ah yes, Crescent Dragonwagon (the last name kills me). My parents gave me another of her books, The Dairy Hollow Bread and Soup Cookbook many, many years ago. That book isn't vegetarian, though. But I liked it and when I'd heard good things about her vegetarian book, I ran to the store for it. I cook from this a lot, but I probably read it for the fun of it more. This may be the book where she writes so eloquently about her partner's death -- it breaks my heart every time. The headnotes for the recipes are written in such a way that you Must. Right. Now. Run to the kitchen and cook. This was the cookbook that turned me on to seitan and seaweeds, and where I learned the trick of putting some kombu in a pot of beans to make them less "tooty." I have Dede Emmon's vegetarian cookbook, but I much prefer Dragonwagons as every recipe I've tried from Crescent's book works, and I've had many disasters with Emmon's book. I've heard good things about Jack Bishop's vegetable book, so this is next on my list. ← Whoa, I missed (or could not quite make out on my screen) that her last name is Dragonwagon! That is a riot. And if she's into seaweeds, I'm there. I first learned to cook with and love the stuff many moons ago during an abortive foray into macrobiotics, but it would be cool to pick up more fun things to do with the sea veg. I completely forgot this other nostalgia-trip point in my previous post, prompted by your athletic endeavors: also when I was in college, one of the Resident Tutors, at the time a second-year law student, was massively into marathon running, and his training diet was a constant source of amazement and amusement to us undergrads who were his friends and charges. He was a smallish guy, but when he was carbo-loading I swear he put away enough food for two or three linebackers. Again, I realize you train and fuel differently because you're training for fast-burst-of-speed triathlons, but it still strikes me to this day as a dramatic demonstration of how the bod's fueling needs vary drastically according to activity level. I feel for you, living in a "mixed household" food preference-wise. I am grateful at least that Mr. E likes garlic and coffee, but his aversion to spices (even a little too much black pepper can put him off) has definitely challenged my creativity to come up with work-arounds that keep my taste-buds content without blowing his out of the water. Oh yeah--Wilson Farms! Man, I haven't even thought about that place in like forever!
  20. Howdy all ... as I mentioned briefly in the three-way foodblog I participated in last week, I am in the midst of planning a dinner for eight, to be catered in an associate's house in a week's time, which for lack of better terminology I've been calling a "pan-Asian" dinner. I guess it could more accurately be called a cross-cultural Asian dinner, because each individual dish is going to be fairly faithful to a specific cuisine, but I'm going to have a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean dishes in the same meal--hopefully all harmonizing with each other okay! But the full truth, as I said on the blog, is that this dinner is mainly an excuse to cook a bunch of my favorite dishes, for a bunch of people willing to trust me with their taste buds. After weeks of fiddling and tweaking, here's the menu I've worked out: Cocktail snacks: rice crackers, wasabi peas Appetizer: salad rolls w/shrimp Soup: Tom yum goong Salad: Som tam Entrees: Vietnamese-style steamed whole tilapia w/lettuce wraps Red-cooked pork belly w preserved greens Dan-dan noodles Sides: kimchee Sigeumchi-namul Kong-namul Steamed white rice Dessert: Thai sticky black rice pudding; Platter of assorted Asian sweets and fresh fruit This is admittedly a pretty ambitious menu--but a bunch of items can be made a day or two ahead (the pork belly, the rice pudding, the sigeumch-namul and kong-namul, the components for the noodles and the broth for the soup). Only a few dishes involve substantial fiddling at the last minute (the fish, the som tam, the salad rolls). And a couple of items I'm obviously just buying outright (rice crackers, kimchee, whatever assorted sweets call to me at the last minute--I was considering some of the New Years confections showing up in all the Chinese and Vietnamese stores now). Still, I've got both the day before and the day of the dinner completely blocked out for nothing except prepping and cooking. It'll be a lot of work--but fun work, I think. I've made a master shopping list, and now that my foodblog duties are over, I've started to acquire ingredients I didn't already have in stock, or was low on: My favorite new-to-play-around-with ingredient is the nam prik pow: Tasted a little bit of this--oh. my. god. It's like the umami crack of the universe. I am going to have to be extremely firm with myself not to inhale spoonfuls of this stuff straight out of the jar. Obviously, I'm going to have to make a test batch of tom yum with this stuff--strictly for scientific purposes, of course...
  21. Catching up after a busy week--lots of cool stuff! Some random reflections: I got a wicked nostalgia attack when you dined at Craigie Street Bistrot, because long before that restaurant existed I was living in a Radcliffe Quad dorm mere blocks from that spot ... and dining on fodder that, compared to your dinner at Craigie Street, barely deserves to be thought of as "food." I got a lot of my early education in ethnic cuisines eating around Boston in my college years and after. In hindsight, most of the places I frequented were not particularly stellar ... but they did decent grub at student-friendly prices and at least gave me some rudimentary exposure to the rest of the culinary globe. I had my first Ethiopian meal in Boston, and first forays into Asian cuisines other than Cantonese, including my first sushi long before it became fashionable, let alone dumbed down in every supermarket deli case. Heh. Maybe I'm being nostalgic about those joints too... Your son is a riot! Yep, those expressions of deep concentration are totally adorable. About the cookbooks: do please tell about The Passionate Vegetarian. Anybody named Cresent who poses on the spine of her book as Carmen Miranda has got something going on.
  22. For some reason my brain interpreted the question as applying only to cookbooks I alone had a hand in beating up. If you're also talking cookbooks that already had a lot of mileage on them before they arrived in my bookcase, my prize is my mom's copy of one "Jewish Cookery," © 1949, 4th printing 1951. Its cheap cloth binding has got that brittleness and patina an book only gets from time; the pages are all golden-yellowed and exude that wonderful aging-paper odor. But it's amazingly free of food stains; I think my mom didn't actually consult it very often. Back to books I personally mauled--now that I look closer, my copies of the original Moosewood and Vegetarian Epicure are pretty disreputable-looking too. Relics of my granola-head youth.
  23. I can see my 1975 hardcover Joy from where I am sitting. Its cover is filty, and there's a two-inch tear in the seam between spine and back cover. The cover of my paperback copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking is deceptively clean-looking, due to the thin plastic laminate on the cover stock ... but that laminate is peeling back like cellophane all along the cover's edges. And a few hunks of pages have come completely unanchored from the spine. Those two are the most battered cookbooks in my collection, by far and away.
  24. Wait--she makes the salad on Saturday to sell for the whole rest of the week? Or only for sale on Saturday? I guess this is another way of asking how far in advance of serving one can make this salad and still have it be palatable and presentable. I've got a dinner coming up for which it would be a great boon to be able to get away with making the green papaya salad the day before as opposed to the day of. Thanks!
  25. Oh yeah ... I have to carefully meter my indulgence in those things, so these days I never buy them, because it's too much temptation to have a whole box in the house. But I happily accept one when offered. Back in my "bad" old days (food indulgence-wise) I had a real thing for TJ's dark chocolate-covered jelly sticks--both the raspberry and orange-flavored ones. Now buying a tub of those is definitely a temptation torpedo!
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