Friday, August 22, 2008

July's SAS party, and crackers matter

When building the cheese plate for my birthday potluck, Hun didn't hesitate to choose Triscuits for the cracker part, and he was pretty gleeful when he saw the market had cracked pepper. "They really do taste like cracked pepper!" Seeing him made me giddy. He usually doesn't care about brands, and sometimes, he sorta balks about flavor options. I was glad for the cracked pepper Triscuits, though--they were like midnight crack for this late-night snacker for a full week after my party. But the cracker I don't want to forget came to life after the party, with a bowl full of Mark Bittman's leftover edamame salad (perfect for picnics), the memory of the kitchn's dip, which they'd made from Bittman's salad, and a package of Sesmark's brown rice crackers.

edamame dip and cous cous salad


By the time this month's SAS party rolled around, I was craving the stuff. In the true style of Mark Bittman, it's so easy, I didn't even bother to look up the recipe: boiled edamame, some asiago, olive oil, salt, and fresh mint all ground up in a food processor and served with crackers. Once my friends got over how bright and neon green it was, they seemed to enjoy it, too.

SAS August 2008

As always, it was fun picking new salad recipes for this month, and the recipes I made were quick and easy, so lunch was actually on time this month. Of course, my friends, by now accustomed to late lunches, all arrived at least 30 minutes after I was done. ;)
SAS August 2008

I usually have at least one or two vegetarian friends over, and they, along with the growing number of reports and news items I've been reading about how detrimental meat products are to our environment, inspired me to try out some Quorn (faux chicken style). I remembered how one of my favorite Top Chefs--Harold--once offered up a chicken and grape sandwich for one of the show's challenges, and I always thought chicken and fruit made good friends. Here, I combined Quorn and seedless red grapes with some curry powder dressing, then served them in endives for a little green crunch that only crisp leafy greens can give. This was one of the day's favorites.
SAS August 2008

The marinated potato salad was just a riff off the potato salad in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Since a friend asked for the recipe, I actually wrote it down with quantities.Potato salad (a.k.a., German Potato Salad of sorts, a.k.a., Marinated Potato Salad)


Ingredients:

4 red potatoes

4 tablespoons of sushi vinegar (though really, ANY vinegar would work)

4 tablespoons of olive oil (though really, something like vegetable or canola oil would work)

2 teaspoons tablespoon of lemon juice

¼ teaspoon mustard powder

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

A pinch of paprika

Procedure:
1. Put the potatoes in a pot and add enough water to cover them.

2. Bring the water to a boil, add a tablespoon or two of salt, and boil the potatoes for 25 minutes, until you can slip a knife into the potatoes without them screaming in pain (they should be soft, I mean).

3. Drain the potatoes, and while they cool enough for you to handle them …

4. … put the other ingredients in a little container, jar, or something and shake it up. Taste it and see if you want to add anything else, like salt or pepper.

5. Slice up your potatoes into bite-sized pieces. They shouldn’t have cooled completely; hot potatoes will absorb the flavors of your dressing better.

6. Toss the potatoes with your dressing.

7. Let the potato salad come to room temperature and then refrigerate for an hour or so. Just don’t put the hot potato salad in the fridge (it might become a breeding ground for bacteria). Chilling it will let the flavors to meld together.

8. Eat the potato salad cold or not so cold (room temperature).
SAS August 2008

This month's SAS gave me an opportunity to play with the Israeli couscous I picked up at the local Safeway. I love the smell, texture, and the hint of toasty flavor. I usually use regular small-size couscous in couscous curry salad, but this time, I went minimalist and just grilled some zukes and dressed the salad with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, tossed with some salt, pepper, paprika, and some chopped fresh parsley and basil.
SAS August 2008

Dessert, which, as always, included this month's Daring Bakers (to be posted later this month), consisted of all the ice creams I've been making in my new little Cuisinart: the blueberry brie tart, roasted peaches with hazelnut praline ripple, two kinds of peanut butter and chocolate, and honey vanilla frozen yogurt. The frozen yogurt was the simplest recipe--just some whole milk plain frozen yogurt, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and about 1/4 cup of honey--enough to make a nice sweet tang.
honey vanilla frozen yogurt

It turns out, the frozen yogurt has made a good compliment to both the blueberry brie tart ice cream and some ube (purple yam) ice cream I made.

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