Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Another hot day in Yucatan and time for a cold dinner of salads. Previously I shared 10 Minute Canned Salmon Salad (May 31,2020) and also Chilled Asparagus Salad (last week). Here I am adding an easy Vietnamese Noodle Salad with garnishes of jicama, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and black olives. The “noodles” are actually rice vermicelli which is readily available in most grocery stores where pasta or Asian foods are displayed. It made a great looking salad bowl! (I took this photo before I added the tomatoes) LOL.

The “salads” can easily be made ahead and assembled as shown when lunch or dinner calls.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces thin Asian vermicelli noodles
  • 2 carrots shredded
  • 2 cucumbers seeded and shredded
  • 4 green onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts OPTIONAL
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro OPTIONAL
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Lime

1. Soften the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl by covering with boiling water and soaking for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Rinse under cold water, drain, and add to a large bowl. Add the shredded carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts and chopped cilantro to the noodles.

2. In a glass jar fitted with a lid or a bowl, mix together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and crushed red pepper. Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles and toss to coat. Add more dressing if desired. Sprinkle with more cilantro and green onion and a squeeze of lime if desired. Salad can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, however if making ahead, add the cilantro just before serving.

A Blast from the Past

So many of you have joined this blog since it was begun back since 10 years ago, that I thought you might enjoy a flashback from the past, more or less the recipe that started it all! Hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as myself and many others have turned to so many times… Thanks for hanging in there my friends! Originally posted March 19, 2011

Rose and Thistle Salad Dressing

Technically, this recipe was stolen from a little restaurant in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. The restaurant is/was The Rose and Thistle.  As a special request was made, I decided to post this one early…let me know how it turns out Bev…

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup salad oil (NOT Olive)
  • crushed garlic to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash Worcestershire
  • Dash pepper

Put into a blender for 1 to 2 minutes. I cheat and pout it in a shaker and shake hard.

Make it ahead as it keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. It is great on almost any salad, including spinach!

Romaine “Wedge” Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

You will have noted that I put the word “wedge” in brackets. Actually I dislike it when I see romain served in wedges. It’s difficult to eat without a fork AND knife. I much prefer to have the romaine torn into smaller parts before it is served. This is true of some restaurant Caesar salads as well. Without a doubt, the highlight of this salad is the ranch dressing, which you can use on almost any salad OR as a simple veggie dip. Of course, you can skip the blue cheese, but why would you? LOL

Romaine Wedge Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Homemade Ranch Dressing*
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 slices sourdough bread cut into ½-inch cube (I did some store-bought croutons in butter and garlic powder)
  • 4 slices thick bacon cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce quartered lengthwise into wedges
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • finely chopped chives optional

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sourdough cubes; cook and stir until cubes are lightly browned on all sides. Remove from skillet and reserve.

2. Add bacon to same skillet; cook and stir until bacon is crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel to drain.

3. Carefully rinse and dry romaine wedges, doing your best to keep them intact. OR tear them up

4. Arrange romaine wedges on a platter. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on salad and sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Serve.

*Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup chives finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
  • milk enough to reach your desired consistency (optional)

Instructions

Whisk together the sour cream, garlic, parsley and chives. Add milk to reach your desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy as a salad dressing or a vegetable dip.

Zucchini Noodle Pesto for Two

My spouse bought three medium sized zucchini at the grocery store with which I made this wonderful pesto dish. Meatless! Unlike most pesto dishes, this one I made with no pesto sauce, as you will see below. It was all his idea and turned out perfectly!

Zucchini Noodle ‘Pesto” for Two

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis (ends trimmed) unpeeled
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese+
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles(zoodles). I chose the thinner setting.
  2. Shred the basil leaves by rolling them together like a cigar and slicing across the roll. This is called chiffonading.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until slightly brown and remove from heat.
  4. Sauté the zucchini noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking olive oil in a wok or deep frying pan for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves to the noodles and stir to mix well.
  6. Add pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to preference.
  7. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the noodles and serve.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more basil leaves.

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Tired of the same old green salads? No lettuce in the house? Greek salad is the answer – minus lettuce, which is not even normally found in a true Greek salad.

Start with a freshmade dressing, refrigerated while you chop up the salad ingredientes. This is one of our new favorites, for sure! And it looks beautiful as well.

You won’t find a better Greek salad anywhere…

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Ingredients

  • 1 large clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Measure all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well-blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

(Alternatively, you may whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, process the ingredients in a mini food processor, or blend them together in a blender.) Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator; allow to come to room temperature and shake well before using.

Greek Salad

  • 1 Roma tomato diced
  • ¼ red onion diced
  • ½ English seedless cucumber large dice
  • ½ red pepper diced
  • ½ cup whole black olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with dressing and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Beef and Broccoli

I have always enjoyed this dish in an oriental restaurant, and having found myself with too much broccoli, I searched for how to easily use it up. The ingredients list seems long, but actually it does not take much time as there is no marinating the sliced beef! It gets the flavour from the sauce ingredients. You will obviously notice that there is NO rice. We are trying to cut back on rice these days…

Better-Than-Takeout Beef with Broccoli

  • 1 to 1.25 pounds flank steak, sliced into thin strips, no more than 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or nicely minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ginger, or to taste (fresh or dried is okay, use less dried than you would fresh)
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light may be substituted)
  • 4 to 6 cups broccoli florets (dependent on preference for broccoli)
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-long segments
  • red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
  • sesame seeds, optional for garnishing

To a large zip top bag, add the steak, cornstarch, seal, and toss to coat. Set aside while preparing the sauce.

1 To a medium saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and heat over medium-high for about 1 minute, or just until garlic is fragrant, taking care not to scorch it.

2 Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and allow it to boil for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened and reduced. While it simmers, sear the steak.

3 To a large skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and the steak. Cook over medium-high or high heat until steak is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping the pieces intermittently to ensure even cooking.

4 Add the broccoli.

5 Evenly drizzle in the soy sauce mixture, noting it will bubble up dramatically. Toss the beef and broccoli to coat evenly with the sauce. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes at medium-high, or until the broccoli is as crisp tender as desired.

6 Optional — If your sauce hasn’t thickened up as much as you’d like and your broccoli is done or nearly done, and you want a sauce that clings better and isn’t as thin, simply dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water (called a slurry), add it to the skillet, stir for about 1 minute, or until your sauce has thickened to your desired level. Since I used 6 cups broccoli, the natural water and juices that escaped from it thinned out my sauce, so I needed to use a slurry.

8 Turn off the heat, add the green onions, and stir to incorporate.

Optionally, evenly sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Seafood Stew (otherwise known as “Bouillabaisse)

In different parts of the world, this dish is simply called “seafood chowder”. In Belgium we ate a similar dish known as “waterzooi“. I decided that I had small amounts of fish, shrimp and scallops that were not enough to cook separately and once again I turned to Pinterest to see what were the possibilities. The resultant stew/chowder/bouillabaisse/waterzooi was great!

The photo below is from Pinterest, showing oysters, lobster, etc. accompanied the original recipe. Choose whatever seafood you can get at the store…

Feel free to choose whatever seafood you have on hand…

Seafood Bouillabaisse

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 6 small potatoes, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped* OPTIONAL
  • pinch saffron
  • 4 cups fish or vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-pound fresh cod or another fish of choice, diced
  • 8 raw shrimp, shells on
  • 8 littleneck clams* OPTIONAL
  • 8 mussels* OPTIONAL

Garnishes and accompaniments: Chopped fennel fronds, chopped parsley, slices of toasted baguette.

To make rouille, combine one minced garlic clove, a 1/4 cup of finely minced jarred roasted red pepper, and cayenne pepper with 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

1 Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, fennel and saffron until translucent. Add tomatoes and fish broth and bring to a boil. Cook stew until thickened, about 20 minutes. If you’re planning to serve the stew immediately, continue to step 2. If serving later, allow stew to cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, bring back to a simmer over medium heat before continuing to step 2.

2 Lower heat to simmer and add fish, adjusting heat to keep the liquid bubbling gently. Add cod or other diced fish first. Follow with clams about 5 minutes later. Finally, add the shrimp and mussels. Cover the pot and continue simmering until clams and mussels are open and shrimp is pink.

3 Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with toasted bread slices and rouille sauce.

Leftover Steak Stroganoff

As noted last week, here is the recipe for using up leftover steak of any kind. It was extremely great with the Coffee Rubbed Cowboy steak, but you could use any other steak.

Leftover Steak Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp each, salt & pepper (more to taste, if necessary)
  • 1 cup Baby Portabella Mushrooms (stemmed, sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard (coarse ground)
  • 1 cup leftover prime rib roast (sliced into 2-inch strips)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz egg noodles (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley (chopped, optional garnish)

1 Start with a large, deep frying pan or Dutch oven. Heat the olive oil to medium high heat, then add minced shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute (just enough to start sweating the shallot). Add butter and melt with the shallot and garlic.

2 Add the all-purpose flour, combine with shallot and garlic until all of the flour is absorbed. Add seasoning (tarragon, ground sage, thyme, salt & pepper) and mushrooms. Stir to combine, then add the beef broth, Worcestershire and Dijon.

3 Stir all of the gravy ingredients, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer (reducing heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer) for about 10 minutes. Gravy should thicken while simmering.

4 Once gravy has simmered and reduced, slightly thickening, add the sliced leftover prime rib roast meat and cook an additional 2-3 minutes to heat the meat through completely. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Serve immediately over cooked pasta, rice, or potatoes. Top with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Fast approaching the new year...FINALLY! With two holidays in such a short period of time there are bound to be leftovers. Am I right? Indeed we had leftovers from both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at this point. No turkey in this house this year, but we did have hamand roasted duck. I raced to Pinterest as usual and the results were both quick and easy – Classic Split Pea Soup and Duck, Duck Soup. Both were great for the cooler days this holiday season.

  1. Classic Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 to 1-1/2 cups diced ham

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 to 3 cups water

1 lb (about 2-1/4 cups) dried split peas (I used a jar of cooked white beans)

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, ham bone, diced ham, split peas, chicken broth, 2 cups of water and bay leaf to the pot.

Bring the soup mixture to a slow simmer and cover, leaving the lid slightly askew.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas have broken down completely and the soup has thickened, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf.

Stir the soup to blend thoroughly and if necessary, add more water until the thickness of the soup is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls for serving.

2. Rachel Ray’s Duck Duck SouP

Ingredients

Bones from cooked duck

1-quart chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 slices ginger

3/4-pound bok choy, sliced OR spinach

1 1/4 cups shredded duck meat

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 scallion, sliced

Preparation

In medium pot, simmer bones, broth, 1 cup water; garlic and ginger for 25 minutes; strain. Remove any residual meat from the bones. Return to pot with remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes.