Batter Licker

April 29, 2010

couscous-stuffed dover sole atop summer squash

Filed under: fish,seafood,veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 12:02 am

When it comes to food, I’ve always preferred the stuffed over non-stuffed. Not that Dover sole served over lemon-caper-garlic couscous wouldn’t still be delicious. But Dover sole stuffed with couscous? Way more fun to make, serve, and eat. Bonus: it ensures a little couscous makes it into each lemony bite of flaky fish.

I first became aware of this rolled-and-stuffed preference as a kid during our seemingly (but probably not actually) once-weekendly dinners of grilled steak, potatoes, and vegetable something-or-another. Up until that point, I was just as militant about keeping different foods separated on my plate as I was about making sure that my tucked-in shirt (I was a kid; tucked-in was trendy back then, I swear) created absolutely no lumps or bumps in my pants.

One day, while my attention was focused elsewhere, steak wandered over to fraternize with the mashed potatoes.  And I wanted to cry probably shed at least a silent tear or two. But then I realized something: the mess on my place actually tasted good!

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Then some salad joined the duo, and soon I was stuffing a little bit of everything into a hollowed out dinner roll. How magnificent – a taste of each part of the meal in every bite! Quite a few years later, some lucky friends of mine can tell you how much more enticing old favorites (e.g., cupcakes and pizza) become once stuffed (stay tuned) or rolled up.

And now, fish rolls. (more…)

April 26, 2010

vietnamese rice noodle salad with shrimp and fresh veggies (bún tôm xào)

I was first introduced to bún at Nhu Y while having a meal with Jay’s parents, and I was hooked instantly. A Vietnamese salad composed of rice vermicelli, vegetables, herbs, and marinated meat, bún is a great way to incorporate a variety of fresh, raw vegetables into a meal.

Ever since then, I’ve been trying – to no avail – to find an equally fresh, well-marinated-and-made bún in the city because sometimes, I just don’t have the time to drive down to San Jose to satisfy my cravings for Nhu Y. But on those days, this fresh and easy recipe does the trick to hold me over until my next South Bay bún adventure.

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My version falls just a tad short of the incredible bún served at Nhu Y, where I have no doubt that they spend much more time marinating the meat and vegetables. But this version is still tasty enough that I choose not to halve the recipe because I look forward to having the leftovers around for lunch the next day or two.

The bright, spicy dressing clings to the veggies as carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts play hide-and-seek among the rice noodles and shrimp. (more…)

April 22, 2010

kale and jalapeño red lentil dal with cumin-red pepper tempering oil

Filed under: beans,indian,vegan — Tags: , , , , , , — Kristen @ 6:30 pm

I’m a big fan of warm, mushy-but-not-slimy comfort foods. Any mashed potatoes that I’ve ever come into contact with while having access to a spoon, a fork, or – in truly desperate situations – just a finger could affirm that much, but all traces of them would have disappeared by now. Same goes for refried bean-filled burritos. So when I happen upon a warm, mushy, comfort food that’s actually healthy, I get a little obsessed. Just ask lentils.

These babies have been my go-to food for those many cold, grey, and just plain sad- and grumpy-looking days in San Francisco from November through April. They’ve not only warmed my belly and my spirit along with it, but also have kept me eating healthily and feeling full (both of which kept me from digging into too many bowls of mashed potatoes and mac and cheese this winter).

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But enough of the healthy-and-filling yada-yada-ing … these lentils are also yummy! The kale basically melts into the lentils, while the jalapeño adds a little peppery bite. Mixed with the tempering oil, the lentils take on the smokey flavor of cumin and the spicy-sweet flavor of paprika. (more…)

April 19, 2010

quinoa-crusted chicken

Filed under: chicken/turkey — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 11:53 pm

Some of you out there have never tried quinoa before. Others have tried it but decided it just wasn’t for you. And still others of you have become somewhat enamored by the good-for-you grain-like little beads. If you fall into any of these categories, but especially the first two, then I dedicate this recipe to you …

… Because I bet you like breaded or fried or otherwise “crusted” chicken or fish. The irresistibly crunchy outside, followed by a juicy fillet that’s kept even moister by the crust. And here’s a way to make it a tad crunchier and a lot healthier – not to mention that it holds up at least twenty times better as cold leftovers straight out of the fridge. Using quinoa for breading your chicken (or fish!) doesn’t just add extra texture, but also is mild-flavored enough to accommodate whatever spices you wish to use and adds a nice dose of fiber and complete proteins to your meal.

So instead of a protein meal camouflaged in carb-alicious bread crumbs, you get a protein-on-protein dish that pairs well with hot sauce and your choice of veggies or a puffy, buttery popover. (more…)

April 18, 2010

s’mores makeover: grand marnier-roasted strawberries and bittersweet chocolate

Filed under: dessert,fruit,vegan — Tags: , , , , — Kristen @ 6:53 am

Has a basket of strawberries ever courted you so intensely – its deep red fruit promising to grant you several sweet, juicy bites of summery bliss – that you got suckered into buying it, only to return home and find that these berries weren’t quite as sweet or juicy as you had hoped? But you, being a reasonable person, gave them a few extra days to ripen and a second chance to please your palate – and even sacrificed a couple berries that ripened too soon and gave in too early to the inevitable fuzziness – only to realize that the remaining berries completely spurned you and that, even in their ripest hour, these berries apparently were just not capable of ever getting quite there.

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I’ve been in that situation countless times, and you probably have too. And I bet that you, being a compassionate and charitable consumer of strawberries, wished you could do something – anything! – to help them out. But mid-April just isn’t peak season for strawberries; so what’s a sick-of-winter, ready-to-jump-into-spring strawberry enthusiast to do? Drown in booze. (more…)

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