A few weeks back, I had dinner at Rosa Mexicano for the first time. I ate everything from the crab empanadas to the pork belly tacos, but what stood out the most was their guacamole. Big buttery pieces of avocado tossed in onion, jalapeno and cilantro. As I downed the dip, I began to question why, when making guacamole at home, had I always smashed my avocados into oblivion? From that moment forward I swore I’d never made guacamole that way again. This Sunday, midst a Mexican food themed weekend, I finally had the opportunity to amend my guacamole making tendencies. I followed Rosa Mexicano’s signature recipe and added in lime and extra jalapeno for freshness and spice. The outcome was delicious, most certainly a vast improvement from my previous version of guacamole. Not to mention, this guacamole method makes a remarkably pretty dip, don’t you think?
Guacamole adapted from Rosa Mexicano Restaurants
3 ripe hass avocados
handful chopped cilantro
2 1/2 T very finely minced white onion
1 japaleno finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out whole halves (gently run a spoon around the rind). Chop avocados into medium size chunks. Toss gently with remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the avocado so it’s not exposed to the air. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.
I am by no means experienced in Asian cooking. It’s the one area in the kitchen I don’t feel too inclined to explore. I’d much rather eat out for Japanese, Chinese, or Thai food (etc) and call it a day. However, there is one dish I’ve taken to making at home- Sesame Noodles. Granted it’s probably one of the most Americanized dishes at a Chinese restaurant, but I love it anyway (largely due to the presence of peanut butter in the sauce). Plus, any sauce that just requires throwing items in a blender and hitting on is an ideal weeknight recipe in my book. We paired these noodles with baked tofu (Gasp! How un-Contessa like of me) as we’re trying to eat less meat, but sauteed shrimp or chicken would also work well. Toss the raw shrimp or chicken in a few tablespoons of the sauce, allow seafood/meat to marinate for at least 30 minutes, and then cook in a lightly oiled frying pan. Serve over tossed noodles.
Spicy Sesame Noodles adapted from Dana Treat
1 pound rice noodles
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
4 T soy sauce
½ cup water
1 T sesame oil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 large garlic clove
scallions and sesame seeds for topping
Set a large pot of water to boil. Cook rice noodles for five minutes (do not overcook or they will stick together!), drain, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Place in large bowl and toss with 2 T vegetable oil so noodles don’t stick together.
In a blender or Cuisinart, puree the remaining ingredients except for the sesame seeds and scallions to make the dressing.
Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles, and toss gently to coat. Add more dressing if noodles seem dry. Top individual bowls with sesame seeds and scallions if desired.
I am half Irish, thanks to my mother’s side of the family. Her last name begins with “O’, ” just to give you a sense of how Irish she is. Every year, growing up, we’d have Corned Beef and Cabbage around Saint Patrick’s Day. But since moving away from home, it’s become harder to keep up the tradition (Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t exactly a holiday you go home for).
When I made my travel plans to go home a few weeks back, my mom told me (enthusiastically) that she’d be making Corned Beef and Cabbage for our visit. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just looking forward to any form of my mother’s cooking. But this past Saturday, as we sat down to enjoy this timeless Irish meal, I was quickly reminded of how much I love this dish. Corned beef and cabbage is a prime reminder that in cooking, simplicity is often best. And when paired with nostalgic memories of your childhood, well, that’s even better.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
I make lots of lists. I make lists of people I need to call and email. I make lists for books I’ve read and books I’d like to read. I make lists to remind me to do things like buy draino and drop off my dry cleaning. And I make lists of things I want to cook. My “to cook” lists reminds that I want to make soft pretzels from scratch, that I have a leftover basil and I should make pesto with it, and that I should make particular dishes before a season ends. If my OCD side has not yet been revealed to you, then there you have it.
On my list for a few weeks now has been a cream of wild mushroom soup from Smitten Kitchen. I adore a decadent creamy soup, but am intrigued by any recipe that manages to make a soup rich without including a stick of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream. Deb seemed to be on the same page in her post, so I was set on making her version. Though the recipe calls for a cup of cream, with 6+ servings in one pot, I’d say that’s pretty lean.
With all the damp weather we had while I was home this weekend, this soup was the perfect antidote. We served it along side a roast chicken and simple salad. I always opt to serve soup as the main course with bread and cheese on the side, but the roast chicken just felt so right. Using the herbs the soup called for in the chicken too brought everything together. One thing to note though, this soup is approximately 10 times better the next day. If making, I highly recommend making a day in advance and storing covered in the fridge until ready to serve.