America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan and as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland.
True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought their cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.
Cultivated since prehistoric times in China and India, black-eyed peas are related to the mung bean. The ancient Greeks and Romans preferred them to chickpeas. Black-eyed peas are believed to have been first domesticated near Africa’s Lake Chad in what is now northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. They were brought to the West Indies by enslaved West Africans, as early as 1674.
Most black-eyed pea cultivation occurred in the Southern United States. The crop would eventually prove popular in Texas. Throughout the South, the black-eyed pea is still a widely used ingredient in soul food and southern cuisine. The planting of black-eyed peas was promoted by George Washington Carver because it provided exceptional nutrition. As a legume, it adds nitrogen to the soil and contains calcium (41 mg), folate (356 μg), protein (13.22 g), fiber (11.1 g) and vitamin A (26 IU), along with other nutrients per serving.
Black-eyed peas are in season in the South during July and August but they are popular dried for use in Hopping John, a New Year’s dish believed to bring luck for the year to come. Though black-eyed peas (also known as cowpeas) have no folkloric connection in West Africa to money (some people believe the peas symbolize coins), they have long been associated with good luck for several reasons. One belief was that the “black eyes” of the pea would protect one from the dreaded “evil eye”—a negative spell cast by one’s enemies. Others ate black-eyed peas on auspicious occasions. For example, on Good Friday, a cowpea-and-coconut-custard combination called frejon is a traditional meal in parts of West Africa. Additionally, a dish called ewa-Ibeji (which translates as “Beans for Twins”) was originally cooked with oil and only for ailing twin children, but now it is ceremonially prepared for healthy twins. In some traditional West African religions, black-eyed peas were prepared to worship a deity — if it was believed to be their favorite food — on ceremonial days.
My CSA share of black-eyed peas was generous this year and I decided to cook them in an untraditional way. They did make for delicious BBQ beans. Here is my recipe.
BBQ Black-Eyed Peas
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large sweet onion diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups ketchup
1 cup of water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry yellow mustard powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh black-eyed peas, washed
Place the peas in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 60-90 minutes. Drain the peas in a colander.
In the same pot, brown the bacon, onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients except the black-eyed peas and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the peas. Partially cover the pan and cook until the peas are very soft and the liquid thickens about 2-3 hours.
Flank steaks are usually quite large. When I purchase one, I cut it in half and freeze one half for another meal.
1/2 pound or half of a large flank steak
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste
1 red bell pepper
2 medium Poblano peppers (dark green)
1 small onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 chipotle pepper in adobo + 1 tablespoon sauce, chopped
4 small flour tortillas or 2 large tortillas
At least two hours before dinner, coat the steak with salt to taste, the ground black pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Let sit in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Cut the peppers into thick strips, discarding the ribs and seeds. Next, cut the onion into thick slices.
Place oil, peppers, and onions in a medium skillet and cook turning frequently until they are tender. Stir in the chipotle pepper and sauce. Keep warm.
Prepare an outdoor grill or heat a stovetop grill pan.
Place the steak on the grill and cook until the steak reaches an internal temperature of 125-130 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
Remove steak from the grill and cut diagonally into thin slices and add to the pepper mixture in the skillet.
Warm the tortillas on the edge of the grill, keeping them away from direct heat, so they are warm and soften but don’t dry out or turn crisp. Or wrap in paper towels and warm in the microwave.
Place a portion of the steak mixture into each tortilla, fold and serve.
I like to make coleslaw in small batches because I don’t think it tastes very good after several days. I also like to serve coleslaw with Mexican entrees.
¼ of a large cabbage, shredded or sliced thin
1 carrot, shredded
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon honey or another sweetener
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
In a medium serving bowl with a cover, combine the dressing ingredients using a whisk.
Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, and scallions and stir gently to mix.
Refrigerate covered for several hours before serving.
Roasting a turkey breast is a very economical dinner choice. There is little waste and a 5 lb roast will give you several meals later in the week. I was able to use the meat from this roast to make Turkey Tetrazzini, Pot Pie, Turkey Salad and sandwiches. I also made turkey broth from the breast bones.
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
1 bone-in turkey breast (4½ to 5 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly all over the skin of the turkey breast. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest and meatiest area of the breast. If the skin is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
When the turkey is done, remove the pan from the oven and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve warm with the pan juices.
Fresh corn is ideal but frozen and canned works well in this recipe.
1 ½ cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing the griddle
3 cups freshly shucked corn kernels, from about 4 ears
1 small jalapeño chile, finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely diced scallions
Stir together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or whisk to obtain a thick batter. Add corn kernels, jalapeño, and scallions and stir to combine.
Place a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. When the griddle is hot, grease lightly with butter, using a folded paper towel or pastry brush. Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle. Adjust heat as necessary to keep griddle cakes from browning too quickly. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes.
Serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven until all the batter is used.
To serve with the roasted turkey, put 2 griddle cakes on an individual plate, top with sliced turkey and pan juices.
Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole
2 tablespoons butter
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour ( I use Wondra)
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 head fresh broccoli cut into small pieces
Steam or boil the broccoli for 3 minutes and set aside in a colander to drain.
Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat until bubbling.
Place sliced mushrooms in the pan with the salt and white pepper. Saute until browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and stir until dissolved. Slowly add milk and cook until thickened.
Stir in drained broccoli and heat for a few minutes.
Pour into a serving dish.
Sweet mini peppers are a hybrid sweet pepper, small in size and sold in assorted tri-color packs. They were originally developed in the late 1990s and range from 1.5 inches up to 4.0 inches. Each color is grown separately and consists of three separate varieties of seeds that have very similar characteristics in size, flavor, shape, and use. Their flavor and texture are similar to bell peppers but sweeter and with very few seeds.
Stuffed Mini Peppers
These little peppers are often used for appetizers but they also make for a delicious, easy dinner. Just add a side of coleslaw or salad and you have dinner.
8-10 oz. mini bell peppers
2 Mexican chorizo links, casing removed
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro paste
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 minced chipotle pepper with½ tablespoon chipotle sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz. shredded Colby Jack cheese
Salsa for serving
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
.Cook the chorizo and red onion over medium-low heat for 10 minutes in a small skillet. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Split the bell peppers lengthwise and remove the core.
Mix together the cream cheese, cooled chorizo mixture, spices and oil in a small bowl. Fill the bell peppers with the mixture and place them on a greased foil-lined baking pan.
Press shredded cheese on top of each pepper.
The tortilla strips and the garnishes are best prepared on the day of serving. The rest of the soup can easily be prepared ahead by several days.
I make my own chipotles en adobo, so I included the recipe at the end of the post. Canned chipotles can also be used.
Makes about 9 cups, serving 6
8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (total about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 medium onions (total about 1 pound), peeled, 1 cut in half and the other onion finely diced
2 cups corn kernels
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, 2 cut in half and the other two minced
2 sprigs fresh epazote or 2 teaspoons dried ( or 8 to 10 sprigs fresh cilantro plus 1 sprig fresh oregano if you don’t have epazote)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 medium jalapeño chile, chopped
1 chipotle chile en adobo with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 Hass avocado diced fine
8 ounces shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Mexican crema or sour cream
Note on Epazote
Epazote is a Mexican herb with an acidic lemony flavor.
I use the dried version since fresh is not easy to find in my area.
FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until the strips are deep golden brown and crisp, about 14 minutes, rotating pan and shaking strips (to redistribute) halfway through the baking time. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to plate lined with several layers paper towels. Set aside.
FOR THE SOUP: Bring the chicken breasts, broth, 1 onion halved, 2 garlic cloves cut in half, epazote, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling over medium-high heat in large saucepan; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a large plate. With a spider or slotted spoon remove the onion and garlic halves and discard them. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard bones.
To the broth add the tomatoes, the chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, jalapeño, corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chipotle chile, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Add shredded chicken and simmer until heated through about 5 minutes. To serve, place portions of tortilla strips in the bottom of individual bowls and ladle soup into bowls; pass garnishes separately.
Loaded Nacho Platter
I save leftover steak in the freezer for making dishes like nachos.
1/2 pound leftover steak or lean ground beef, cooked
1 cup chopped bell peppers
3 cups tortilla chips
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup sliced jarred pickled jalapenos
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
Shred the cooked steak.
Preheat your oven to 375 F, or you can use your broiler.
Spread the 3 cups of chips over the bottom an ovenproof platter so that you can’t see the bottom of the plate.
Sprinkle1 cup cheese over the top of the chips. Evenly distribute the toppings so that every chip has some toppings.
Top with the remaining cheese. Place the platter into the oven or under the broiler.
When the cheese is melted, remove the platter from the oven and use a metal spatula to put nachos onto individual serving plates.
Homemade Chipotle Chiles en Adobo
12-14 dried Chipotle Chiles
3 cups of water
1/2 medium onion finely diced
6 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Simmer all the ingredients in a covered pan for one hour, stirring occasionally or until the liquid reduces to about a cup.
I store the chilies in snack bags in the freezer for when I need them-1 pepper and 1 tablespoon sauce in each snack bag. They defrost very quickly. when you need them.
Serves 4 to 6
Chipotle Steak Marinade (Make this one day ahead)
Makes 11/2 cups
14-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 canned chipotle chile en adobo, diced
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 flank steak (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
Taco Herb Topping
½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium scallions, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Marinated flank steak in the sauce
1 tablespoon oil
Taco Herb Topping, recipe above
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, soft or crispy, warmed
Grated cheddar cheese
For the Marinade
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until cold.
With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the steak into 1 inch by 2-inch pieces.
Pour the sauce into a plastic ziplock bag and add the steak pieces. Seal the bag and refrigerate for several hours before cooking.
For the topping
Combine all the ingredients together in a medium serving bowl and set aside.
For the steak
Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steak and marinade in the skillet and cook the meat for about 2 minutes. Turn the steak pieces and cook the second side for 2 minutes.
For the tacos
I like to place the tortillas in a holder. They are easy to warm in the oven and then fill. Spoon a small amount of sliced steak into the center of each warm tortilla and add a teaspoon of the prepared herb topping. Add additional topping ingredients as desired.
This style of chili does not contain beans.
2 pounds beef chuck roast or stew meat
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 fresh green jalapeños or 2 poblano peppers, diced
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 whole dried large Mexican chiles
Chopped fresh cilantro
Cut beef into 1/2-inch cubes and sprinkle with salt.
In a large, heavy pot over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, brown the meat cubes, turning occasionally. Adjust heat to prevent scorching. As it is cooked, remove the meat to a bowl. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Remove to the bowl with the beef cubes. Add more oil as needed for browning and do not clean out the pot when finished browning.
To the empty pot, add the onion, bell peppers, garlic, jalapeños or poblanos, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5 to 10 minutes. Add browned meat, beer, tomatoes, whole dried chiles, and 1-quart water. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer about 3-4 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and the liquid has reduced. Remove the dried chiles. Taste and add salt if necessary. Stir in cilantro to taste.
Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate. The chili tastes best one or two days after it is made.
To serve, sprinkle with chopped onion and shredded cheddar cheese.
Feel free to substitute fresh buttermilk if you have it.
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups water
5 tablespoons buttermilk powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg
Melt butter in a baking dish (use 7×11 or an 8-inch square glass dish) in the microwave for 60 seconds.
Pour into a mixing bowl to cool. Spread residual butter around the edge of the baking dish to coat.
Add water and egg; stir. Add sugar, buttermilk powder, cornmeal, flour, and baking soda. Stir just until combined.
Pour into the prepared baking dish and even out. Bake 375 for 20 minutes.
Vietnamese Americans are the fourth-largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans, and have developed distinctive characteristics in the United States.
South Vietnamese immigration to the United States began after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Early immigrants were refugee boat people, fleeing persecution or seeking economic opportunities. More than half of Vietnamese Americans reside in the states of California and Texas. Other states with concentrations of Vietnamese Americans were Washington, Florida (four percent each) and Virginia (three percent). According.to the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), 76 percent of foreign-born Vietnamese are naturalized U.S. citizens.
The April 30, 1975 fall of Saigon, which ended the Vietnam War, prompted the first large-scale wave of immigration; many with close ties to America or the South Vietnam government feared communist reprisals. Most of the first-wave immigrants were well-educated, financially comfortable, and proficient in English. Although Vietnamese immigration has continued at a fairly steady pace since the 1980s, the pathway to immigration for Vietnamese today has shifted entirely. As opposed to the earlier history of Vietnamese migration that stemmed predominantly from refugees, an overwhelming majority of Vietnamese are now granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) on the basis of family-sponsored preferences or by way of relatives who are U.S. citizens, at 53% and 44% respectively.
Many Vietnamese Americans are small business owners. According to a 2002 Census Bureau survey of Vietnamese-owned firms, more than 50 percent of the businesses are personal services or repair and maintenance. The period from 1997 to 2002 saw substantial growth in the number of Vietnamese-owned business. Throughout the country, many Vietnamese (especially first or second-generation immigrants) have opened supermarkets, restaurants, bánh mì bakeries, beauty salons, barbershops, and auto-repair businesses. Restaurants owned by Vietnamese Americans tend to serve Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamized Chinese cuisine or both and have popularized phở and chả giò in the U.S.
While adapting to a new country, Vietnamese Americans have tried to preserve their traditional culture by teaching their children the Vietnamese language, wearing traditional dress (áo dài) for special occasions and showcasing their cuisine in restaurants throughout the country. Family loyalty is the most important Vietnamese cultural characteristic, and more than two generations traditionally lived under one roof. The Vietnamese view family as including maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. In adapting to American culture, most Vietnamese American families have adopted the nuclear pattern while trying to maintain close ties with their extended families.
Erica J. Peters, director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California and author of “Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century,” says, “The immigrant story is that you miss the foods from your home country when they’re not available and you talk to each other a lot about, ‘Well, how can we make do? How can we recreate some of the flavors of what we had there?’
So, Houston, Orange County, CA and New Orleans became huge hubs for Vietnamese families. The matriarchs were all great cooks and their children had high standards when it came to Vietnamese food. So when they went out to eat in a restaurant, they wanted to have that similar taste or better; otherwise, they wouldn’t eat there.
Common ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine include fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, bean sauce, rice, fresh herbs, fruit, and vegetables. French cuisine has also had a major influence due to the French colonization of Vietnam. Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of dairy and oil, complementary textures, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines worldwide
So what dishes did Vietnamese restaurant owners bring to the U.S. with them?
To mention just a few classics:
Pho is a simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef.
Banh xeo is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
Cao lau is a pork noodle dish from Hoi An that is a bit like the various cultures that visited the trading port at its prime. The thicker noodles are similar to Japanese udon, the crispy won-ton crackers and pork are a Chinese touch, while the broth and herbs are clearly Vietnamese.
Nem ran/cha gio
Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention. The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.
Most Vietnamese dishes are actually really easy to make at home.
Nem ran/cha gio are crunchy spring rolls with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce.
Bun bo nam bo is a bowl of noodles without broth, tender slices of beef mingle, crunchy peanuts, bean sprouts that are flavored with fresh herbs, crisp dried shallots, a splash of fish sauce and fiery chili pepper.
Xoi is a bowl of savory sticky rice. Rice is less of an accompaniment to meals in Vietnam and more of a meal itself. The dish comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), and always with a scattering of dried shallots on top.
Banh mi Sandwich. The French may have brought with them the baguette, but Vietnam takes it to a different level by adding a combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro, and chili sauce.
Bbánh flan – a coconut and galangal crème caramel flan
Make this Vietnamese Dinner at home.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
1 cup shredded cooked pork
1/2 cup dried Asian mushrooms (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes or until softened then finely mince)
1/2 cup cellophane rice noodles rehydrated in water for 30 minutes or until softened then into 2-inch lengths)
1 green onion (trim off ends and slice thinly)
1/2 small white/yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
6 Spring Roll Rice Wrappers
Warm water to rehydrate the wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham), recipe below
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the pork, mushrooms, cellophane noodles, green onions, white/yellow onion, sugar, black pepper, salt and oyster sauce. Set aside.
The dried rice paper wrapper needs to be softened before wrapping. To do this, fill a shallow bowl with warm tap water Take one rice paper wrapper and immerse it completely in the water. Make sure that the wrapper is completely wet. Wait about 30 seconds for the wrapper to soften. It will turn malleable and start to feel sticky and that’s ok.
Put the wet wrapper on a kitchen towel or large empty plate or cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the edge of the wrapper, on the side closest to you. Press the filling together.
First, fold the edge of the wrapper closest to you so that it covers the filling. Make sure that this first fold completely covers the filling, and pull the edge of the fold slightly under the filling making a taut, small parcel.
Using both your hands, fold the right side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is. Do the same with the other side–fold the left side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is.
Continue folding the wrapper by grabbing the enclosed filling and turning it over until it reaches the end of the wrapper. Check all sides to make sure there are no loose ends on the wrapper. This ensures the filling won’t escape when frying.
If you’re not going to fry the spring rolls right away, line them all up on a plate and cover with plastic wrap so that they do not dry up. Make sure that the spring rolls do not touch each other, as they can be a bit sticky and may tear if you need to pull them apart. If not frying right away cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Alternatively, you may freeze the wrapped spring rolls to be cooked at another time.
To bake the rolls
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Make the spring rolls: Pierce each roll with a skewer in a few places to prevent bursting.
Place a rack in a baking dish and brush with vegetable oil. Mix 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; lightly brush on rolls. Place the rolls on the rack; bake until golden on top, about 15 minutes. Turn the rolls; bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 more minutes.
Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.
Nuoc Cham Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Nuoc Cham is a must at every Vietnamese table, no matter what is served. You can use this condiment for dipping meat, seafood and vegetables, and for drizzling on rice. Although it will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, Nuoc Cham is best when freshly made.
3 Thai bird chiles, or 1 serrano chile
1 garlic clove, sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons fish sauce, such as Red Boat
2 tablespoons finely shredded carrots for garnish
Cut the chiles into thin rings and cut each in half. Place all the ingredients except the carrots in a small serving bowl. Stir well and set aside for at least10 minutes before using. Sprinkle carrots on top before serving.
Yield 1 cup.
Lemongrass Beef And Shrimp Skewers
1 pound top sirloin, strip or ribeye steak
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails intact
Skewers – metal or wooden soaked in warm water
1/3 cup minced fresh lemongrass, white part only
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 red chili pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped scallions
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
Rice Noodles with herbs, recipe below
Directions for the skewers
Slice the steak into small thin pieces approximately 3/4″ square and 1/4″ thick.
Combine all the ingredients for the Marinade. Add the marinade to the meat and mix well. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Insert the meat through the skewers.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and add to the Marinade with the beef cubes. Stir to combine well and marinate for 15 minutes. Thread shrimp onto the skewers.
Heat a stovetop grill. Grill the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until desired tenderness. Grill the shrimp on both sides until they are charred and cooked through.
Place the skewers on a lettuce-lined serving platter. Place the noodle mixture in the center, the skewers on the one side of the plate and spring rolls on the other side.. Garnish the Skewers with bits of scallion and serve with the dipping sauce.
Rice Noodles With Fresh Herbs
3 oz dried rice noodles
3//4 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cucumber, cut in matchstick strips
1/3 cup mint leaves, cut into thirds
1/3 cup Asian basil leaves, cut into thirds
Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. and stir gently to loosen. Set aside for 30 minutes.. Drain and let noodles sit until dry and sticky about 30 minutes
Gently toss together the bean sprouts, cucumbers, mint, and basil leaves in a mixing bowl. Add the sticky noodles and toss. Add a little salt and pepper.
Place the noodles in the center of the lettuce-lined serving platter and serve with the skewers and spring rolls. Serve the dipping sauce on the side.
Tip: Did you know you can freeze whole lemons and limes? They are perfect for cooking. Leave the frozen fruit on the counter for an hour. The zest is easy to remove, and the fruit slices and juices easily also. Next time you see lemons and limes on sale, buy a bag and freeze them for future cooking.
Southern Italian Style Lemon Chicken
Cooking a whole chicken is very economical because you get several meals from one chicken.
3 large lemons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4-pound whole chicken
Remove the zest from the three lemons and set aside. Cut the lemons into thin slices and set aside.
Cut the chicken along the backbone on one side with kitchen shears. Do not remove the bone. Turn the chicken over and flatten it. (The reason I did not remove the backbone is that I want to use the entire chicken carcass for soup.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the baking sheet. Lay the lemon slices in the olive oil down the middle of the tray as a “rack” for the chicken. Sprinkle one-third of the lemon rub on the underside of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining lemon mixture over and under the skin of the whole chicken. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on the bed of lemons and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Roast, basting every 15 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thigh about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Using a fork, mash the lemon pulp into the juices on the baking sheet, discarding the rind. Mix the pulp into the drippings and use this mixture to spoon over the chicken just before serving.
Serve some of the chicken for dinner. I was able to remove about 4 cups meat. I left some meat clinging to the leg, wing and breast bones for soup. Shred 1 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Use the carcass and some of the cooked chicken for chicken noodle soup. You may even have enough leftover for some chicken salad.
Baked Chicken Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)
The entire recipe makes 20 taquitos. I cut the recipe in half and made 10 for my family. I like tortillas made from cassava flour for this recipe because they are grain-free, light and easy to roll.
For the Taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
20 corn tortillas
For the Toppings:
Chopped Green Onion
Crumbled Queso Fresco
Pico de Gallo
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lime juice. Stir until chicken is well coated with the seasonings. Stir in the shredded cheese.
Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a plate. Microwave for 1 minute or until the tortillas are warm and pliable.
Layout the tortillas on a flat surface and divide the chicken and cheese mixture among the 20 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place the taquito, seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Continue rolling taquitos until the tortillas and filling are gone.
Spray the taquitos generously with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the taquitos are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve warm with desired toppings.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Leave some meat on the bones, especially the legs, wings, and breast bone
Chicken bones leftover from the roasted chicken recipe above
1 whole onion, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon peppercorns
8 quarts water
Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Let drain completely. Pick out any meat in the cheesecloth and set aside. Discard the cooking vegetables and bones and return the broth to the stockpot.
Reserved chicken meat
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 scallions, diced
6 oz fettuccine or noodles
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the strained broth, carrots, celery, and scallions in the stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Return toa boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt (I added 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste. Stir in reserved chicken meat, dill, and parsley.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Baked Zucchini
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
1/2 of a small shallot, finely minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded chili
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices thinly sliced prosciutto, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 400°F. Score the cut side of the zucchini halves 1/8 inch deep in a diamond pattern. Toss shallot, olive oil, chili, garlic, 1 salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Rub the mixture on the cut sides of the zucchini halves. Wrap each zucchini piece with 2 prosciutto pieces, and arrange, cut side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until zucchini is crisp-tender, 20 minutes.
Transfer zucchini to a serving plate. Sprinkle with parsley.
4 boneless, skinless turkey cutlets
1/2 cup flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Season the flour with salt and pepper, and lightly pound the turkey breast into thin cutlets. Dredge the cutlets in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy frying pan, and add the cutlets to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side over medium heat, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove the cutlets to a plate and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
Add the wine to the pan and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Add the lemon juice and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the capers and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Return all of the cooked cutlets to the frying pan, and heat in the sauce. Serve hot.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
1 pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
Coldwater, for cooking, enough to cover by 1-inch
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Scrub potatoes well and peel them. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water, then stir in the 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil on high, then reduce the heat to maintain a low boil until potatoes are tender and a knife moves easily through the center, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes.
In a small pan, gently melt the butter and cream and mix together, keep warm.
Return the drained potatoes to the cooking pot, turn the heat to medium and let the excess water cook off for a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally. Mash the potatoes until smooth. With a spatula, slowly turn the cream-butter mixture into the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve immediately.
Note: the potatoes can be prepared earlier and reheated in a casserole dish in the oven with the roasting zucchini.