Thai-Vietnamese? salad


I’m not exactly sure why this salad is Thai-Vietnamese….the peanut sauce and basil seems a little Thai inspired but I’m not sure about the Vietnamese part…doesn’t it have to have fish sauce to be be Vietnamese?

Here is the assembly list if anyone has some insight for me, although there are a few Chicago winter substitutions/omissions.

lettuce (green leaf and romaine)
snow pea shoots
shredded carrots
green onions
red onion
fresh mint
fresh basil
toasted sesame seeds
toasted almonds

soy sauce
canola oil
salt and pepper

tuna steak (Yes, it is cooked through. Sacrilege! This was day two leftovers and I reheated it)
canola oil
lime juice

white vinegar
white grape juice
peanut butter
grated fresh ginger
cayenne pepper
canola oil

A Jar of Tamarind Concentrate

tamarindchickenThere is a Thai restaurant in Tyson’s Corner Virginia and they have a spicy tamarind sauce. I now live in Chicago and I miss it. I have found Thai restaurants that I really like but none of them seem to have that tamarind sauce, the one that satisfies that craving. So I have purchased a jar of tamarind concentrate. I’m starting slow, a very simple chicken marinade and a simple Indian spiced chutney…it is a good sized jar so I can dawdle…but soon, soon I will have the confidence to start experimenting. Perhaps I can find just the right combination of lime juice and fish sauce and red pepper flakes.

As for the chicken pictured above, well, I should have fired up the grill….but it was cold outside and I was feeling wimpy. So I used my crappy apartment stove broiler again, it skyrocketed into nuclear, and before I noticed the skin was pretty much charcoal. (sigh)

John Ash’s Marinade
2/3 cup brown sugar (he calls for light but I only have dark)
2/3 cup of red wine vinegar
1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 can drained)
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds (mine were black)
1/2 tsp seeded and minced Serrano chile (about 1/2 a chile)
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (or pulp)
Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, cool, and puree. I put mine in a ziplock with my chicken halves and put it in the refrigerator on one evening and cooked it the next.

greasy dijon

Well, I have to say that this was sauce was ridiculously greasy…ewww.  It was way better day 2 when I took it out of the fridge and scraped off the fat layer before I reheated it.  recipe is on Food52

I had selected it on a day when I was making recipes that included both Cognac and cream. You can make savory sauces, such as this was… and sweet desserts and of course drinks.  The possibilities are endless!  I have not tried a drink yet but I was thinking of the Alhambra Royale: hot chocolate, Cognac (preferably flaming), and whipped cream.

muffin stuffin

Can we discuss this idea of Rachael Ray’s to use muffins to make stuffing? Because muffins are just way too sweet to make stuffing out of!  A little sweet would be good but muffins are too much. Of course I made the muffins so I guess I could have put less sugar in them. hindsight. I even was short one leek and so I used some shallot which should have helped! Thank goodness for the lemony gravy to balance it a little bit.

This meal does have an old school comfort food vibe about it…kind of makes me want to turn on Lawrence Welk and drink some Ernest & Julio Gallo Chablis. If only I had some canned peas and potato buds too. (okay not really. yuch)

simply-est is always best

How often do we over-complicate our lives just to impress others…or lie, I guess some people just lie.

Well, I am making myself a new promise, every time I think I might not be measuring up to someone’s unrealistic expectations, that I am somehow just way too boring; Then I will remember this simple grilled chicken salad and how very perfect and satisfying it was even without…..2 kids, 3 pets, 4 hobbies, 6 outdoor sports obsessions, a passport full of stamps, 12 hot friends who like to go clubbing every weekend, 3 charities you volunteer for on a regular basis, and owning and running a small business!! ugh!

okay. stop. breath.

(quiet)……grilled chicken. beans. arugula. lemon and basil. a glass of cheap red wine. the soothing sounds of cicadas and traffic on a summer night. (sigh) better.


1)  Whisk together:

  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

2) Pour 1/3 of this on the chicken:

  • 4 chicken breasts

3) Grill the chicken

4) Combine the beans and the arugula, add dressing, top with slices of the grilled chicken

  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • some baby arugula (also called rocket)

5) Make sure you have a glass of cheap red wine to go with it.


So I’m not sure that this is the best use of rhubarb if you have limited amounts but I enjoyed it so if you have a lot and want to try something savory this time then…

Basically you just cook down the rhubarb and mix in with your favorite bottled barbeque sauce. Now I don’t have a favorite bottled sauce so I bought Local Folks Foods Hab-a-que sauce made with habenero peppers (because I like their ketchup).   I thought the hot and the rhubarb would be a good combo. I think I may have been wrong. I liked it, but the heat took away from the rhubarb flavor a bit and I think the tart with a sweeter fruit based sauce would work well.

Anyway…the recipe was for roasting the chicken, but it is summer and I grill everything so I cut it into pieces and grilled it. The recipe also had you put some of the sauce in the orzo (with green onions and shredded carrots) This is not a good call. Orzo and veggies should not have rhu-hab-a-que sauce on them.  I would have preferred just a little little olive oil and lemon juice.

for you CSA people out there…

Back in the day when I lived in VA, my roommate and I signed up for a CSA and they kept sending us collard greens, spring and fall, week after week after week. Perhaps you are having a similar experience. Neither of us had the slightest idea what to do with them and after an experiment or two with a big pot and a ham-hock we started giving up and many delicious bundles lived in the produce drawer for awhile and then were trashed…If only we had this Virginia Willis recipe then!!

First, please make this just so you have an excuse to buy the smoked salt! Not only is it delicious but you can get that smoked flavor without using meat. Genius! Second, I suggest that you take the time to make the hot pepper vinegar. I’m totally loving mine.  Both are going to get a lot of use in my kitchen this summer.

And yes.. that is another broiled chicken, this time Alton Brown’s recipe. Perhaps I have a need for juicy meat steeped in melted chicken fat and then how the skin gets crispy as the fat melts out of it into the meat and gets all brown. They are just so darn easy AND then I have so many options for making great things with the leftovers the rest of the week. This week: chicken tacos and arugula salads. Greatness…