Here in the Northwest, this week has a “heat wave” forecasted, by which I mean highs in the low 80s and somewhat sunny. Possibly laughable in the rest of the U.S., yes, but still a great excuse to try Smitten Kitchen’s Frozen Coconut Limeade. Did I mention I’ve been in a coconut obsessed phase? Anything coconut sounds delicious to try to me. Plus, watching all those soccer players sweat it out in humid Manaus makes me thirsty. The only thing I added was mint for garnish.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.
Mmm, so refreshing on a warm day, and has a more zippy bite to it than the usual smoothies from my house (made of frozen berries + almond milk). Likelihood of Repeat: 65% Lesson Learned: A little tart citrus adds even more pep. Note for next time: maybe try some almond flavors to add, and maybe try an alcoholic version too..
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Never cooked squash blossoms before..neato! Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
This was a great way to make use of something that would probably have otherwise wasted away. It allowed me to avoid deep frying, delivered a crunchy yet cheesy-smooth confection, but didn’t sit too heavy in the stomach afterward. Lesson Learned: baked and breaded goat cheese delivery device, delicious! Post-script update: if you have a tiny espresso spoon, that works better than a standard sized spoon to help stuff the goat cheese in.
1/2 a jicama, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/6 red onion, sliced in thin strips
~1 Tbs orange juice
~1/4 tsp lime rind
~2 tsp lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
a dash of salt to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)
substituted: 2 sprigs mint, stems removed and leaves cut in ribbons
Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and toss gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in the mint just before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Today’s Recipe #1 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Never made this before, and it has quite a strong sweet flavor even without sugar. You really get to taste the jicama, which was a novelty to me. I only started buying (and identifying) jicama last year. Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
I think I have a strong bias for salads that don’t involve any leafy greens, bonus points for the use of multiple citrus items. I think I would like to re-try this with some orange slices thrown in too. Lesson Learned: 1/6 of a red onion may still be too much onion to rejoin humanity after eating this.
(2) Summer Rolls & Peanut Sauce
based on an altered recipe based on one from Chow.com
For the peanut sauce:
3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste –okay, I cheated with pre-chopped garlic from the jar, fresh garlic is too spicy sometimes..
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the summer rolls: 24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined fried or firm tofu, sliced
1 hank dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
5 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
1/8 cup mung bean sprouts**
4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
32 fresh basil
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-1/2-inch sticks
3 medium scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only) -used chives because i had some
8 butter lettuce leaves cut in half
jicama, julienned (same portion as cukes)
a dash of rice vinegar
For the peanut sauce:
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
For the summer rolls:
1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, try rinsing, then tossing with rice vinegar and salt; then separate in clumps for each roll lest the noodles get all stuck together during assembly.
2. Place all of the ingredients in separate piles and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, tofu, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
3. Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface, or lay out a damp wooden cutting board. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with warm tap water. Working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel/board.
4. Working quickly, lay down ingredients sparsely atop rice wrapper (see picture), adding lettuce last, and mint and chive leaves near end of roll for aesthetics.
5. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
6. Turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of tofu faces up. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave 3/4 inch between each summer roll on the sheet so they don’t stick together, and replace the water in the pan or dish with hot tap water as needed.
**If not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours, OR wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in tightly-covered tupperware to keep overnight (see below for photo). Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping. If you are worried about it drying out, another precaution is to barely coat the outside of the rolls with sesame or olive oil, then wrap. The oil helps hold in the moisture.
Tip 1: Even when I scale down the amounts for the rolls, it’s been good to do the full or at least half portion of the sauce, since that is really the flavor that adds depth to the light crisp summer roll. Tip 2: I keep my coconut flakes in an empty spice container for easy sprinkling over this, yogurts, and desserts. Tip 3: I find my wrapping is more successful when I stretch the wrapper a smidge more than I think it will take. Definitely err on the side of less ingredients when you are first practicing the rolling.
Note: I first tried making these in the height of the Seattle summer (when I didn’t want to cook anything and add heat in a brief “80-degree heat wave”), and I am still using the same bag of rice wrappers, so yes, you will have more leftover, and you can stuff it with whatever leftovers you think will go well.
Today’s Recipe #2 Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
I’ve made it before. I think it’s tasty, but definitely getting a little stale to eat in the winter when I crave potatoes and meat dishes. ..but it tastes so…healthy..
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
As I mentioned before, I am still using the same packet of rice wrappers from the summer, and plan on continuing to put random ingredients together for a slapdash lunch. You will note the significant difference in length of steps between the two recipes above. That alone may indicate that #1 is going to win out in repeats.. Lesson Learned: I will always, always have leftover filling after I run out of those tasty rice noodles. This, in fact, was the original reason for recipe #1, as jicama only comes in certain sizes, so you’d have to make tons of summer rolls to actually use it up.
**Stay tuned for a future blog post on sprouting mung beans! I’ll do it so you don’t have to try it.
I had leftover cucumber from that tzatziki (and leftover tzatziki too, but that’s a different puzzle), so I figured I’d make some delicious but simple cucumber salad, Japanese style. The recipe I’ve been using since 2007 is from this website with cucumber recipe files.
I halved it for my purposes tonight, but this is the full portion for ingredients below:
1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
salt (haven’t found I feel there is much added value with salting it)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Thankfully, the 30-day reduced sugar challenge I was doing with co-workers in October is over, so I am adding sugar to my heart’s (small) desire! I am either in denial, or I didn’t have that bad a sugar addiction as the books say most people have. I actually did quite badly last month, gaming the rules I was following, and the limit of 1 sugar item (like dessert) each weekend day actually turned into a quota, which I don’t think I was previously following. But enough of a tangent, back to the task:
1. Mix all the ingredients except cucumber together.
2. Add cucumber, toss to cover, and chill in fridge.
3. Eat (cold) in an hour, or tomorrow.
Hmmm, apparently I forgot all about the website’s recommendation to eat it with sesame seeds. I’ll have to try that too.
This week’s trial recipe ratings:
Novelty: 0, I’ve done this before. Likelihood of repeat: 100%, since 2007.
This recipe has proven itself a tasty snack, side, and picnic item. It keeps pretty well if you need something that’s made in advance, and doesn’t need to be warmed up to taste good.