I’ve loved Thai cuisine since my first bite…longer ago than I care to admit. When I finally had an opportunity to visit Thailand, I vowed to try something new at every noodle cart, street vendor, and restaurant. Just when I think I’ve found my favorite — the dish that will make me give up all others — I discover another new love. In the summer, I crave the salads filled with vegetables, protein, and most importantly, flavor; they are satisfying without being heavy.
Trying to replicate Thai dishes at home scared the heck out of me, until I learned how crazy easy (and fast) they are. If you’re a fan of the chicken lettuce wraps served in Chinese restaurants, you should really try the bright flavors of Larb Gai, for a change your taste buds (and waistline) will thank you for. BTW, larb means “good fortune” in Thai, so what more excuse do you need for trying this?
Remember when pretty much the only take-out you could get was pizza and Chinese? If you can’t have gluten (or egg or dairy), the delivery guy probably didn’t visit your house much. G-Free Chinese food is hard to find, and I hate not being able to eat what my friends are having.
Next time you’re craving take-out, reach for your cutting board instead. In the time it takes to order and wait for your food to be delivered, you can make a healthier version, like this Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, at home.
When it comes to food names, I’m torn. I mean, “weeping tiger” salad sounds so much more exotic (and, therefore, more tasty, right?) than spicy beef salad. But, when the name doesn’t give you a clue to the ingredients, how adventurous are you willing to be? Then you have names that practically list every ingredient, which could almost make you rule out trying the dish just because one of the ingredients didn’t make you swoon.
Comfort food is like your favorite pair of worn-in jeans and the quilt that’s been passed down for a couple of generations and seen better days; it makes you feel good even if its not much to look at. It doesn’t need a fancy name, thank you very much. In Italy, pastas dishes are usually named based on their contents, hence penne rigate con salsiccia, funghi, piselli, e panna. If you want to call it “cena pigro della nonna (Grandma’s Lazy Dinner),” that’s between you and her.
One of my favorite things to make for a dinner party is paella. Traditional paella is gluten, dairy, and egg free, without having to be adapted. The leftovers taste phenomenal. Oh, and I also like the drama of unveiling the pan at the table, although I’ve only managed to keep my guests out of the kitchen while I was preparing it only once.
This week’s dinner presented a unique challenge, as two of my guests were vegan, one follows a kosher diet, and the rest were meat lovers. My heart was set on paella, though, so I thought I’d adapt my paella valencia recipe and see what happened. (I also made a traditional paella for the meat lovers.) The result – even the meat eaters enjoyed the paella vegetariana but no leftovers. 😦
Here’s a sangria to go with it, even though you’ll only find tourists drinking it with dinner in Spain.
Or, perhaps more accurately, a “get happy” tart. Because, how can you be anything but gleeful when you finish your meal (Or if you’re feeling particularly naughty, to start it?) with a light but decadent, dark chocolate tart. Having tried the chocolate filling as I was making it, I’ll admit it was hard to focus on the main course when I knew this was the prize at the end of dinner…sinful, indeed!
My grandfather never liked to admit that he was a cook in the Army during WWII. He was too short to serve in infantry (or any fighting job for that matter), and he was ashamed of that. After he left the Army, he refused to cook with one exception – pork chops. They were his favorite food (aside from my grandmother’s chocolate cake), and he savored them right down to the strip of fat he refused to trim off. Though I probably couldn’t convince Grandpa that my leaner Crunchy Breaded Pork Medallions are better than his buttered and grilled chops, I sure wish he was still around for me to try.
Trying to come up with breakfast ideas for my weekend visitors, I ran through a list of pastry staples I could whip up quickly. Without much debate, we settled on scones but then began the battle over what flavor to add. I wanted cranberry orange or blueberry lemon. My young guests scorned my fruit-inspired offerings, while I resisted their pleas for chocolate. Finally, my Starbucks-inspired little foodies convinced me Cinnamon Scones were the way to go. At least they at the apples on the side of the plate…
As soon as the weather starts to get warm, I get a craving for salad. But I don’t want just any salad; I want a Thai beef salad called Yum Neua Yang Nam Tok. I confess, I’ve based my rating of more than one Thai restaurant solely on how well they balance the flavors in this salad.
Nam tok translates as waterfall, and I’ve heard the name refers to the beads of moisture that rises to the surface of the grilled beef as nears the perfect cooking temperature. Unfortunately, I always remember the story after I’m done grilling the meat. I guess I’m just too eager to eat it!
Better known as the Key Lime, the Mexican Dwarf Lime has a flavor that is brighter and tarter than it’s larger Persian cousin… or maybe it’s just that all that lime-y flavor is crammed into a tinier package. The taste screams, “it’s summer, and I’m here to party!”
Authentic Key Lime Pie is made from just a few simple ingredients — sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and key lime juice — though purists fight over crust (graham cracker vs. pastry) and toppings (meringue vs. soft whipped cream). Take out the gluten, dairy, and egg, and the only thing left is our little green friend. Sounds like a good place to start! And, since we don’t have to constrain ourselves by the conventions of authenticity, why not pack all that tangy, mouth-puckering flavor into a pie will make the other guys want to crash our party?
Key Lime Cream Pie