Matthew: After the great beef stew, it was time to try something a little different. Erika recommended this recipe for Inner Warmth Peanut Stew, from Matt Moyer, executive chef at The Great Dane. The list of ingredients might seem a little strange–butternut squash, tomatoes, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger–but the combination really tastes good. I was a little hesitant to add 1/2 cup of ginger, but I went for it. I really enjoyed this stew. It made quite a bit and I ended up freezing half of it, but after I finished the first half I thawed the other half to eat right away. I highly recommend this recipe if you are tired of the more traditional winter soups and stews, but still want something warm and filling. Two small changes I made were to use chunky peanut butter and to add some cinnamon.
Matthew: Last week, I checked out the new Middleton farmer’s market that is held on Tuesdays just a few blocks from my apartment. It’s still early for produce, but I did see a lot of rhubarb for sale. I bought some and wanted to try a different sort of rhubarb dessert. I made this recipe called Rhubarb and Ginger Fool from the NYTimes. It was really easy to make and was rather good. You make a rhubarb sauce with orange juice and ginger and then mix it with whipped cream and yogurt. I brought some to work and I think my friends liked it too. I did set aside one stalk for a vodka infusion. You just leave the rhubarb in for 1/2 a day or so and it is done. I haven’t tried mine yet, but I think it will need to be mixed with a sugar syrup to make it sweet enough.
Katie: While we had summer-like weather here last weekend, it has now cooled down to more typical spring weather. So while I had been considering making a recipe for Tequila Lime Shrimp, my thoughts on cooking shifted along with the temperature. Instead, I decided to try some fresh spring rolls. I’m not sure if I’d ever eaten them before, let alone made them, but I was inspired by the descriptions and pictures here and here.
I found rice paper at an Asian grocery store, along with some other interesting and inexpensive ingredients. I made small portions of three different sauces to accompany the spring rolls: an Asian peanut butter sauce, a soy sauce mixture, and a mango sauce. I prepared julliened carrots and sweets potatoes with fresh ginger, but left the rest of the vegetables raw. The process of making the spring rolls was kind of like a science experiment. The rice paper turns soft shortly after contacting water, so we could make them pretty quickly.
These turned out well and were fun to make! Spring rolls are usually described as an appetizer, but they can easily be served as a main course, depending on how many you make. This was a meal that I think would be fun to make with guests too. And since hardly any cooking is involved, they would be good for hot summer days too.
Fresh Spring Rolls (adapted from My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories)
- rice paper (I found 1 pound for 1.50 Euros at an Asian food store)
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 2 small sweet potatoes, julienned
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 squeeze of fresh lemon
- an assortment of fresh vegetables of your choice, diced or julienned (I used a red bell pepper, a red cabbage, bean sprouts, a cucumber, and green onions)
- shrimp (optional; I used some small river crabs)
- sauces of your choice (I substituted peanut butter in this recipe for Almond Butter Dipping Sauce; combined soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds for a second sauce; and used my mango dressing for a third sauce)
- Prepare sauces and set aside.
- Put the olive oil, agave syrup, and ginger in a skillet over medium heat and cook just slightly. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix with sesame seeds and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Fill a shallow dish a little larger than the rice paper with warm water. (I used the my frying pan lid.)
- Place one wrap in the water until it becomes soft and pliable (about 3o seconds).
- Remove the wrap carefully and transfer to a clean working surface.
- Fill with vegetables. Fold top, then sides, then bottom to close.
- Top with sauce and enjoy!
Posted in Appetizers, Dinner, Lunch
Tagged Asian, bean sprouts, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, ginger, rice paper, soy sauce, sweet potatoes
Katie: Since resolving to overcome my trepidation of preparing fish, I’ve tried a few more recipes. While they may not be as visually appealing as the Maple-Glazed Salmon, I would still highly recommend them.
The first one I tried was Oven-Roasted Salmon with Pomegranate-Ginger Sauce. I had been saving a bottle of the trendy POM Wonderful pomegranate juice for something special. I found this salmon recipe on the McCormick website and followed it as written. I brushed the fish with olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt and thyme before placing it in the oven. The sauce was made by boiling pomegranate juice with cider vinegar, sugar, and ground ginger to reduce it to a thicker glaze. If I made it again, I would probably sprinkle the fish with freshly ground black pepper in addition to the other seasonings and reduce the sauce to make it a bit thicker. I served the fish with roasted mashed parsnips (flavored with nutmeg) and bulgur pilaf. It was a delicious, healthy meal!
The second salmon dish I tried was a recipe for Bourbon-Glazed Salmon from Cooking Light. First, I marinated the salmon in a mixture of brown sugar, bourbon, soy sauce, fresh ginger, fresh lime juice, garlic, and black pepper. Then, I cooked it in a grill pan and sprinkled it with toasted sesame seeds. It tasted really delicious. I served it with millet pilaf and Soy-Glazed Sweet Potatoes. It was also a really good meal!
Matthew: I think I first learned of tagine back in high school French class when we had a vocabulary unit on Morocco. The textbook had an illustration of an outdoor market in which there was a funny looking ceramic dish and a plate of couscous with raisins. The funny looking dish, called a tagine, helps to trap moisture inside (which is useful in the desert), by having water condense on the sloped sides. I haven’t purchased a tagine yet, so I thought I would try making this recipe from the Stay at Stove Dad blog in a slow cooker. For the recipe, I purchased some organic, grass-fed beef stew meat from the co-op. It was expensive, but really good quality beef. The tagine spices (cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, and ginger) didn’t overwhelm the dish, but instead created a subtle, exotic flavor which paired nicely with the green olives. I hope to make this again and perhaps experiment with other tagine recipes in the future.
Katie: I read an article in Cooking Light awhile ago about cooking with fresh figs. Unfortunately, I never was able to find them at the grocery store. They seem to be only available here for a short period of time in late summer, so I jumped at the chance when I spotted them this week. I also wanted to make something special for dinner to celebrate the (7th!) anniversary of our first date. I found this recipe for Ginger-Garlic Chicken with Fresh Fig Pan Sauce and served it with rice and Sesame Green Beans. Everything was really flavorful, and I enjoyed trying fresh figs for the first time. If I made the chicken recipe again, I would try to make more sauce, since the rice was kind of dry. I ate my leftovers over lamb’s lettuce, which was a good combination.