Tag Archives: basil

Food Matters Project #43: Tomato & Romaine Salad with Smoked Mozzarella

I apologize for the silence on the blog, don’t worry we didn’t leave you!  Truthfully, there have been some small changes to our schedule due to a new job, and therefore small adjustments.  But we have been cooking- so don’t worry, there recipes will be coming!

Today is another great Monday for the Food Matters Project.  Our host today is Laura, of Chef Laura at Home.  She chose Mark Bittman’s Tomato Carpaccio with Mozzarella.  Check out the original recipe in The Food Matters Cookbook, or look what other FMP participants did here.

My version is not very similar to the original recipe.  Today was my first day at a new job, with different hours than I’m used to.  In addition, we’ll be out of town this weekend- so we’re trying to use up everything that’s hiding in the fridge and freezer.  Tonight’s meal was very simple, back to the basics.  There are always days where we come home from work, and don’t want to cook or prepare anything.  I resist the urge to dial the local Chinese takeout to order our dinner.

Instead, I make a plan for something healthier for us:

1) In our freezer we had 2 Polish sausages (from the Amish Market)- I defrosted them this morning.
2) We had a lot of lettuce and tomatoes left over- it was easy to chop those up and throw them together.
3) Sam stopped at the store to pick up a ball of cheese, and chose one of his favorites: Smoked Mozzarella.

This was one of those Monday meals: fast, light and filling!  And it did make a little more room in the fridge.

Tomato & Romaine Salad with Smoked MozzarellaTomato & Romaine Salad with Smoked Mozzarella
Fifth Floor Kitchen Original

This recipe does not have ingredient amounts, it’s meant to be a “clean out your fridge”.  Feel free to swap out lettuce varieties (spinach, arugula), vegetables (cucumbers, zucchini, corn), herbs (cilantro, parsley), or cheeses (cheddar, blue)

greens, chopped
tomatoes, sliced
smoked mozzarella cheese, chopped
basil, finely chopped
olive oil

Add all of the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large bowl, then toss all of them together.  Divide the salad between plates, and lightly drizzle olive oil over the salad.

Enjoy this salad as a side with grilled meat or vegetables; or make it larger as a meal.

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Honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand Pt 1

As I mentioned, Sam and I recently got married…and then we went on the best honeymoon ever!

Having traveled extensively for work, I had a gazillion miles on my United account, which led to us purchasing tickets to Phuket, Thailand– paradise!

Since this is a food blog, I’ll start with the food aspect of the trip, I hope you all enjoy! (and get a chance to visit one day)

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Our first layover (I know, sounds crazy!) was in Narita Airport in Japan- since it was a bit of a wait, we opted for a mid-night snack of some veggie sushi.

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Our second layover was in Bangkok, Thailand.  We landed at 11:30pm there, and it was a 12 hour difference from DC.  So this delicious Spicy Beef Noodle Soup was either an early lunch, or an amazing midnight snack!  After that we got to spend a fun 4 hours on very hard benches- the joys of international travel?

Thailand 1

Part of our flight itinerary was on Thai Airways– which we loved!  This was breakfast- small and delicious (food even on a 1 hour flight- crazy!).  On the return flights we got to experience lunch and dinner, and we were given real silverware, so I guess not all airlines use plastic!

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Of course the first night we got to our hotel, I had to have Thai Curry.  It is my absolute favorite dish in any Thai restaurant- so I had to have the authentic version.  It was delicious!  The dish was light, but had all the flavors of curry, coconut and seared vegetables.

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One day we visited the city of Phuket, and wanted some lunch- we found this diner, and loved the food!  I ordered some curry tofu, fried spinach, rice and a fried egg.  It was simple, but light and tasty.

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Sam ordered Beef and Lettuce.  We thought it’d be more like lettuce wraps, but it was chopped lettuce, cabbage and carrots- with the beef on top.  Cilantro garnished this dish.

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This was actually the appetizer, but it got there at the end- veggie spring rolls!

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As we meandered the streets of Phuket, we came across a bar (this is a story in itself), and also tried a new beer which we had never seen sold in the US.  Thai beers are typically lagers- the oldest and most known is Singha, and recently Chang has become more well known.  A local beer was Phuket– it had a slight sweet honey flavor.

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There was a breakfast buffet in our hotel which we indulged in every morning.  One of our favorite ways to finish breakfast was with passion fruit.  We had first tried it on a trip to Dominican Republic about 2 years ago- there it was tart, the Thai version was slightly sweet.

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Walking distance from our hotel, there were some smaller huts which sold food.  Towards the end of our trip we wanted to remember the real Thai cooking: Spicy Vegetable and Shrimp (red Thai peppers, onion, green onions, shrimp, bok choy).

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I had to have one last curry dish (they were so great!).  This was a Yellow Curry with onions, green peppers and basil.

Thailand 8    We spent one day biking in the villages of Thailand, but when we stopped for lunch we had this amazing Shrimp Laksa.  Our bike tour guide told us how this is definitely a favorite with the locals, especially when it’s extra spicy!

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And this is us- happy married, flying back to the U.S. via Bangkok.  Although at this point we only made it 6 out of the 24 hours of travel time, we had an amazing stay in Phuket!

I’d love to tell you all more about our trip, what would you like to hear?  I will have a post about the Thai Market we visited, and our scuba diving adventures!  Anything else?

Book Club: Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Today we have another birthday celebration!  Sam’s turning another year older!

Happy Birthday Sam!!!

Sometimes our book club turns into a wine club.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine, and it’s fun to taste-test and find one that each of us enjoys!  But within the next year, our book club will be getting two new members- 2 babies!  Since all of us need a fun drink, I decided to make something tasty and non-alcoholic for the mamas-to-be!

This is also great if you mix it with a little champagne, prosecco or white wine.  It can be a great drink with dinner, or something you can enjoy for an outdoor lunch!

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca
Adapted from: Bon Appetit (June 2012)

2 cantaloupes
3/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups of water
1/2 cup basil leaves

Peel and chop the cantaloupes, removing the seeds.  Then purée them in a food processor or a blender.  Strain the purée into a bowl through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve.  Then add in the lemon juice, water and basil; stir well.

Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate before serving.

Rice Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

How come some weekends are mellow, where you have nothing planned?  That was more or less last weekend- we sat on the roof and enjoyed fresh bruschetta and fresh bread.  This weekend is crazy busy: birthdays, going away parties, celebrations, races and dinners with friends!

When those hectic (but fun) weekends creep up, it’s great to have some food prepared and ready for you in the fridge.  This way, if you need something to eat or snack on, you don’t need to worry about the preparation.

 

This noodle dish I is perfect for those kids of hectic weekends or weekdays.  It can be prepared ahead, and it’s best served cold (which makes it even better for this warmer weather)!

Rice Noodles with Eggplant & Mango
Adapted from: Vegetarian Times (April/May 2012)

Although I had found this recipe originally in Vegetarian Times, it’s actually an excerpt from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I couldn’t get my hands on soba noodles, so we made it with rice noodles- equally delicious, and probably a little lighter.  This had fantastic flavors, and looked beautiful on a plate, perfect for a dinner party! 

1 1/2 large eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz rice noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 red chili peppers, chopped
1 inch cube ginger, grated
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 ripe mango, peeled, cut into thick strips
1 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 cup chopped basil

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Spread the eggplant cubes onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Using your hands, spread the olive oil and spices onto all eggplant pieces.  Roast eggplant at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  With salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Once baked, allow to cool and set aside in a large bowl.

Cook the rice noodles according to package.  Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water.  Drain, and set aside in the large bowl with the eggplant.

In a saucepan, heat the sesame oil.  Then add garlic, red chili peppers, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce.

In a saucepan heat sesame oil.  Then add: garlic, red chili peppers, ginger, sugar, rice vinegary, soy sauce.  Cook on low until the mixture thickens.  Add into the large bowl with the noodles and eggplant.

Lastly, add in the mango, cilantro and bail.  Toss all ingredients together.  Allow to chill in the fridge before serving.

Shrimp Curry Noodle Soup

I met my friend Lisa during my freshman year in college at Iowa (go Hawkeyes!).  Upon graduation, she was going back home to Japan.  During her last weekend in the U.S. she had a going away party, where she made some delicious Japanese-inspired dishes.

One of the dishes was curry, and yes, that was the first time I have ever tasted it.  After trying it, I wanted to know how she made it.  Her technique was very simple, yet delicious.  It comes in a box, and you just add vegetables (and/or meat).  Since then I’ve always kept a box around in the cupboard, you never know when you can make a quick meal out of it.

Fast forward to 2011, where I’m in love with Indian dishes and I still keep the Golden Curry box around, just in case!  So when I was making a curry soup, I felt that it would give it the perfect flavor.

I wanted to show how the dish looked prior to adding the soup, the variety of colors makes the dish look so pretty.

What is perfect about this soup is that it can be delicious in about a thousand different ways.  No need to use soba noodles if you have others on hand (for example: cellophane, egg noodles, rice noodles, rice sticks, wheat flour noodles, etc).  I love cilantro, so any excuse to add it to a dish- I’m definitely excited.  But if you’re not a fan, you can use parsley.  There are so many variations: sprinkle some peanuts, add tofu, add chicken, or put it rice and not noodles.  Get creative and let me know how it tasted!

Shrimp Curry Noodle Soup
Inspired by: EatMore DrinkMore
Serves: 4-6 portions

2 cans (15 oz) light coconut milk
1 package of Golden Curry paste
2 cups of water
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
soba noodles (amount depends on how noodly you want the soup)
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
5-10 basil leaves, chopped
12 oz bean sprouts
3-4 green onions, chopped
1-2 Thai chili peppers, chopped (optional)

Combine and heat up the cans of the coconut milk and the curry paste in a larger pot.  Once the curry has dissolved, add the water.  Finally, stir in crushed red pepper (if using) and soy sauce.

At this point cook the noodles per package instructions.  Use as many (or as little) noodles as you like (based on your preference).

Drop the shrimp into the soup for 3-5 minutes.  Cook the soup until the shrimp turn pink.

Divide the noodles into each of your serving bowls.  Top each bowl with: cilantro, basil, bean sprouts, green onions and Thai chili peppers (optional).  Finally, ladle the soup into each bowl.