Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Crab and Avocado California Buns

"These crab and avocado rolls are like a California roll without the rice. Not necessarily better, but certainly as good!"


Sushi is such a polarizing food. It seems you either love it or hate it. I happen to be in the first category, though I prefer it for summer eating and not winter. Not to say I don't eat it in winter, but it's just not the same as on a hot summer's day. I've never had the inclination to roll my own sushi and given the hard time I have rolling summer rolls, (which I've never posted because they always look like crap) I'm sure I'll never attempt making sushi. Besides it is SO much better at a great sushi restaurant  and I'll never become a master at perfecting  rice. Let's just say I'll never become a sushi master. And well...I've never aspired to be!


I have become a master of these buns, though. Craving a California roll, but not wanting to venture out, I decided to use the same flavors on a great brioche bun. No, it's not gluten free, but it is good. I love lobster rolls, but this just may be the next big thing-and for all I know it probably is a thing somewhere; I just haven't discovered it yet. This is a quick picnic lunch or a simple dinner and it had me wondering why I hadn't made these sooner.


Use really good crab when making these. I prefer backfin over claw meat. Make them as spicy as you want with wasabi paste. I took the medium road! I threw in a bit of rice vinegar which is what is used when making sushi rice. And instead of seaweed I used a rice topping called wasabi furikake. This is great sprinkled on top of a lot of things including popcorn! I loved it on these crab rolls. It added a bit of crunch some saltiness and spice. Find some good buns but one could even eat this on a bed of cucumbers and keep it healthy.

I'm off to an unplanned trip to Chicagoland for the weekend. Didn't know I was going until Sunday, and I can't wait! So today I'm short on time, but I guarantee, this bun is big on flavor!

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A Few More to Eat and Devour:
          Teriyaki Shrimp                            Blueberry Nut Bread               Egg Foo Yung Sandwich

               

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Yield: 2 Servings  

Crab and Avocado California Bun

These crab and avocado rolls are like a California roll without the rice. Not necessarily better, but certainly as good!
prep time: 10 MINScook time: total time: 10 mins

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 1/2 c crab meat (preferably back fin)
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 T soy
  • 1 1/2 t wasabi paste
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 4 slices of cucumber
  • 1/2 of a small avocado, sliced
  • 2 Brioche Buns
  • Wasabi Furikake for sprinkling or just sesame seeds or crumbled dried seaweed

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, wasabi paste and rice vinegar. Fold the crabmeat in gently.
  2. Spoon mixture into buns. Garnish with avocado and cucumber slices. Sprinkle with Furikake.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

S'mores with Nuts

There are many ways to eat s'mores. Lacking a campfire, this one is pretty good. Sticking to the traditional components of Hershey bars, graham crackers and marshmallows-this one will please anyone. Especially if you love nuts!


 I was a Brownie once. I even have a picture with the beanie cap on my head. I  remember just two things about that experience. The first was that my mom didn't like to volunteer. The second was that I went to summer camp for a week and discovered not the great outdoors, but s'mores. I came home feeling like my parents had held out on me. Where had s'mores been all of my seven years? Well, they certainly weren't at my house. From that point on I had a romantic notion of nature and it always included s'mores. Going on a picnic? Must have s'mores. I've even resorted to using a firelighter to try to turn my marshmallows golden. It doesn't work so well, nor does the microwave.

When my kids were growing up, I had all the s'mores ingredients on hand. We had the graham crackers, and the Hershey bars, and of course the jet puffed marshmallows. We took the Weber kettle from the Weber grill and set it up on the cement pad in our back yard and made fires in it. This was before there were fire pits everywhere. We got long sticks and when their little friends  were over we made s'mores. Even when they were in high school, we made s'mores. I prefer my marshmallows a touch burnt, thank you. And that is the only way I eat marshmallows.

 My kids grew up in the outdoors with s'mores. They knew the smell of nature and it smelled like a touch of pine and burning sugar. (If only someone could bottle that. I think it would make a great room spray.) Their burnt fingers knew dripping liquid chocolate and crunchy honey grahams. No sirree. Unlike my folks I made sure my kids knew the great outdoors. Lucky for us we  have a great backyard with towering spruce trees. One can hear the wind sliding through. One can hear the owls hooting and the fire snapping and one can almost hear kid's voices-but nope one can't. When eating s'mores around a campfire or a Weber kettle, it is almost irreverent to talk. One must watch the red tendrils of the glowing fire catch the sugar of the marshmallows and one must be quick to pull out the glowing stick before the white marshmallow turns suddenly black. This takes concentration, my friends. Ane one must not forget that mom is always there to wash your smoke filled clothes.


I hadn't planned on giving you a s'mores recipe today, (I mean two desserts in a row...) but then I found out that it's National S'mores Day. Who knew? I happened to make these Tuesday night to bring over to the little girl who lived across the street. Well, she's not a little girl anymore and she doesn't live across the street anymore either. But she is a brand new mommy and I feel old. Hopefully these s'mores will remind her of all those good times and I'll be reminded that I know there will be many more. And life goes on...

Our weather is starting to get cool. School starts next week. I remember with sadness when summer ended and school started. It was bittersweet. It always ended with two birthdays, two cakes and maybe friends and s'mores. Enjoy them while you can.
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This is a s'mores recipe with the three standards. Graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars. It doesn't require a campfire though. Made quickly,and with nuts, these are a bit richer than the campfire version. I've made brownie s'mores and also graham cracker crumb s'mores with marshmallow creme, when Alex came home. He loved those but I thought for s'mores day I'd rather stay closer to tradition. Enjoy with a friend; and a campfire perhaps.


A Few More to Try:

     Tomato Burrata Toast                      Almost Crack Granola                Roasted Carrot Dip

           

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Yield: 1 13 x 9 pan

S'mores Bars with Nuts

Sticking to the traditional components of Hershey bars, graham crackers and marshmallows-this s'mores recipe will please anyone. Especially if you love nuts!
prep time: 15 MINScook time: 17 MINStotal time: 32 mins

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 1/2 sleeves of Honey Graham Crackers (You may not need them all, but some break! Or get eaten!)
  • 14 ozs of Hershey's with Almond bars (the individual size)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c pecans (I didn't chop them.)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 of a bag of marshmallows (I was lucky to find flat marshmallows. Who knew? If yours are puffy, just slice in half.)

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Preheat oven to 350.Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan. (I use the butter wrappers.) Place graham crackers in a single layer on the bottom of pan. You will have to break some of them to fit.
  2. Add butter to a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until melted. Add brown sugar and pecans and bring the mixture to a boil. Use a whisk and make sure that butter and sugar are combined well together. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over graham crackers and spread into an even layer.
  3. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are bubbling. While this is baking, remove Hershey bars from wrappers. Remove bars from oven. Place flat marshmallows on top. Top with Hershey bars. Evenly distribute it all. Maybe eat a Hershey bar, if you'd like. Now place foil over the entire pan and allow the chocolate and marshmallows to melt. After about 10 minutes, remove foil and spread the chocolate.
  4. Chill in fridge until cooled. About 30-60 minutes should do it. Remove from pan and slice into squares. Once they are at room temperature they become more buttery and the chocolate melts just enough to remind you of a real campfire cooked s'mores.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Strawberry Crumble Bars (New Neighbor Bars)

"These luscious strawberry crumble bars with a buttery crust, are filled with fresh strawberries and jam, topped with a nutty crumble, and then glazed. Oh my!"


I'm not sure if anyone still brings new neighbors cookies, but I like to start things off right. Or at least try. A few years ago I dropped off cookies to our new neighbors next door and after a few months of no acknowledgment I ran into the mom while getting the mail. She thanked me and apologized for not thanking me sooner and basically that was the last I saw of her. We were quite disappointed because we got along well with our old neighbors of 25 years, and looked forward to continuing the tradition with someone new. Nope. Not this family. They proceeded to erect a tall fence and their kids never could even say hello to us. Now they are gone and we aren't sure who is coming in-but it can only get better from here!


Contrast that to the neighbors that just moved in, one street over. I dropped off these luscious strawberry bars and Harry, the husband, explained that Cookie, (his wife) was at the grocery. He asked if I wanted to come in. We chatted a few moments and then I was off to the grocery, too. Later that night Cookie called and proceeded to tell me they ate every one and how thoughtful it was to think of them. I wasn't even sure Harry remembered my name but somehow they tracked me down and made the call. I can tell we are going to get along well with these folks-and after all with names like Harry and Cookie-how can we not?


 Perchance I brought the wrong cookie a few years ago? Maybe these strawberry bars have more appeal? No, I don't really think that was it! However these strawberry crumble bars have a lot going for them. With a buttery, crisp crust, a delectable fresh fruit filling, and a crumble of nut filled dough, these red ruby bars are truly phenomenal. Oh, I didn't mention the simple glaze that one drizzles over the top. Yum. Total Yum. Manservant told me to wrap them up  and get them out of the house. Not much better compliment, than that, huh?


More to try:

             

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Yield: 1 13 x 9 pan

Strawberry Crumble Bars

These luscious strawberry crumble bars with a buttery crust are filled with fresh strawberries and jam, topped with a nutty crumble and then glazed. Oh my!
prep time: 40 MINScook time: 45 MINStotal time: 85 mins

INGREDIENTS:


  • 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 4 c unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 2/3 c chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 t cinnamon
Strawberry Filling
  • 1 1/2 lbs washed and hulled strawberries, sliced
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 T of strawberry or raspberry jam
Glaze
  • 6 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • about 1/4 c milk or until glaze reaches drizzling consistency
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • Dehydrated dried, unsweetened strawberries (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the edges of the pan. (This is so dough won't stick but also allows you to remove the bars from the pan after baking to slice them easier.)
  2. For the crust: Place butter, sugars, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Beat with paddle attachment for about 3-5 minutes or until light colored and fluffy. Stop mixer. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add flour and salt and mix on low until combined.
  3. Press 2/3 of the dough on to the bottom of the pan and a 1/2" up the sides. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Stir chopped nuts and cinnamon into the rest of the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
  6. After crust has chilled, bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Prepare the filling by mixing filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
  8. After removing crust from oven, spread the jam lightly over the baked crust. Top with the filling. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator and form into balls and scatter over the top. Bake 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
  9. While bars are baking prepare the glaze. Melt butter and stir in powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla and stir with a small whisk until a glaze of drizzling consistency is formed.
  10. After bars have cooled, drizzle with glaze. I also crumbled some dried strawberries over the top and into the glaze to give a little pink hue and a touch of strawberry flavor to the glaze, though this is totally optional!
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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga)

"Vietnamese Chicken Salad or "Goi Ga" is an easily prepared cabbage salad, made with rotisserie chicken and lots of herbs, topped with peanuts and fried shallots, and dressed with a sweet and tart spicy dressing. I've been addicted to this for about 30 years!"


There is hardly a better summer salad than Goi Ga, better known as Vietnamese chicken salad. For as long as I've been devouring Vietnamese food, I've been craving this chicken salad. I order it winter or summer, but I always order it. Unless of course I make my own. This is a super simple salad to make and can even be made with store bought rotisserie chicken, which is what I used last night. Ordinarily poached chicken breasts are used, but not heating up the kitchen has its own rewards; especially when one has a home with just a swamp cooler and no ac. Not complaining, because in general it works very well. And wouldn't you know today's weather in Denver may as well be fall. Baby, it's chilly outside!

Vietnamese chicken salad is filled with the flavor of herbs. Mint, basil and cilantro to be exact. No lettuce greens in this, but crunchy cabbage that I also buy at the grocery in bags labeled angel hair cabbage. I said this salad was easy and I wasn't joking! Throw in some shredded carrots which I guess I could have bought too, but didn't. I actually shredded them myself! Using my easy mandoline I sliced some red onion, chopped some peanuts and took a bag of fried shallots out of the freezer. I buy these for a few bucks at an Asian market and they thaw almost immediately. They give great flavor and crunch to this salad. If you don't have them feel free to substitute the fried onion rings in a can-just make sure they are in tiny pieces!


Now let's look at the dressing. Nuoc Cham is what's used here, which is a very common dipping sauce in Vietnam. It is used for dipping egg rolls, dipping soft shell crab or anything fried, or as a dressing for this salad and many others. You will love it. Tasting tart and sweet and full of garlic and a touch of chili, I think it was this sauce that made me fall in love with Vietnamese food. If I were to choose my favorite ethnic food Vietnamese would be it, without a doubt.

I love to serve this salad with shrimp chips, just like they do in the restaurant we visit. For some reason I had a hard time finding them in the Asian market. Alex decided to pick me up 5 boxes in Vietnam and brought them home with him. He came home with cuttlefish and shrimp and fish-you name it! To be honest, I hate frying so I thought I would try them in the microwave. I did this with popadums once and it worked! I took 5 wafers out of the box, brushed both sides with oil, placed them on a paper plate, microwaved on high for one minute and they came out as cute little cups. Perfect to place a few bites of chicken salad in! I did try weighting them to see if they would come out flat, but they still formed a cute little cup. What fun! If you can find them, try them. They are crunchy and these were also a bit peppery. Not much flavor of shrimp, in case you were wondering. Kind of like a Vietnamese tortilla chip!


If you've never tried Vietnamese food, what's stopping you? I must admit to not being a lover of pho which seems to be competing with ramen lately. I so love a chicken pho, but the beef escapes me. Love the noodles though! And if pho is all you know, you are off to a good start. But then again there are banh mi's, which are starting to appear everywhere. These Vietnamese sandwiches on French baguettes filled with pickled veggies, jalapenos and cilantro can be found stuffed with everything from pate to grilled pork and chicken. We find them for about $4 and feel like we are robbing someone! However check out a good Vietnamese restaurant. You won't be disappointed!


And now it's time to make this salad... so I can go eat my leftovers!

More To Try:
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup    Vietnamese Soft Shell Crab   Vietnamese Meatball Noodle Bowl

          

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Yield: 2-3 Servings

Vietnamese Chicken Salad (Goi Ga)

Vietnamese Chicken Salad or "Goi Ga" is an easily prepared cabbage salad, made with rotisserie chicken and lots of herbs, topped with peanuts and fried shallots, and dressed with a sweet and tart spicy dressing.
prep time: 25 MINScook time: total time: 25 mins

INGREDIENTS:


  • 1 bag Angel Hair Cole Slaw or about 3-4 c shredded cabbage
  • 2 carrots-shredded
  • 1/2 of a Bermuda onion sliced very thin
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 c small mint leaves
  • 1/4 c fresh basil leaves (If you have Thai basil, so much the better!)
  • Rotisserie Chicken (I used both breasts and tore them into shreds. No chopping!)
  • 4 T coarsely chopped peanuts
  • 3 T fried shallots
Nuoc Cham
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 T fish sauce (I use Three Crabs. There is a huge taste difference from one brand to another.)
  • 4 T water
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1/4 t red chili flakes
  • 1 T sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy)

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Make the Nuoc Cham. Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, onion, and half of the cilantro, mint and basil. Top with torn chicken and sprinkle with the rest of the herbs, peanuts and shallots.
  3. I serve the nuoc cham separately so that each diner can dress the salad the way they prefer. I also serve this with fried shrimp chips as they do in the restaurant we visit. Pile a big bite of salad on each shrimp chip, add a spoonful of nuoc cham and eat! (See above)
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