Thursday, October 28, 2010

behind the scenes pix for a shabbat dinner for 30

It was a shabbat dinner for 30. Menu: gefilte fish, fresh horseradish, tenderloin roasts, marinated chicken skewers 2 ways, racks of lamb, cucumber tomato salad, roasted butternut squash, mushrooms and bokchoy. Here, some behind the scenes of the kitchen before the guests arrived and after-shots of some leftovers :) ...
The carnage that remains!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cucumber Tomato Salad

I started making this a couple years ago after having a very similar 'House Salad,' of chopped tomato, cucumber and onion, from Reef's Kitchen. I love everything about this salad! The fresh crisp cucumber, sweet juicy tomato and nutty crunchy sesame seeds make it a fabulous Mediterranean and Asian salad at the same time. It's super easy to make, keeps wonderfully for days in the fridge and goes delightfully with just about anything.
Cucumber Tomato Salad

Serves 2-3 as a side dish.
2 ½ cup Cucumber, sliced ¼ inch thick, takes about 3 mini cucumbers
1 ¼ cup Ripe Tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoon Garlic, finely minced (more or less depending on your love of fresh spicy garlic!)
1 teaspoon White Vinegar, I use distilled, but even better Rice Vinegar
Pinch of Pepper (or about 5 rotations from pepper mill)
Pinch of Salt (or about 2 rotations from salt mill)
¼ teaspoon Sugar
½ teaspoon Black Sesame Seeds
½ teaspoon Toasted White Sesame Seeds
1 scallion, chopped

Do it:
Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and toss evenly. Garnish with extra scallion and sesame seeds. Serve immediately or chilled. 
Fresh Garlic.  This one of the rare occasions where I actually mince the garlic, versus keeping them whole and just smashing them. If you are sensitive to raw garlic, use less or none. This is a pretty generous garlicky amount. Mince super fine.
Mini Cucumbers.  I love the crunch and size of mini cucumbers. The skin is thin and bumpy. No peeling required AND they are 'seedless' so you don't get excessive burping either! :)  Cut them into half circles, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Ripe Tomatoes.  Any type of tomato will do, just as long as they are plump, juicy and RIPE. Cut them into eighths for a clean bite-size uniform appearance.
In mixing bowl, toss everything evenly: cucumber, tomato, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, sesame seeds. Toss, mix!
Sesame Seeds.  Yes, they are teeny tiny, but a dash of black and white sesame seeds add a subtle but distinct flavor, dramatic texture and beautiful glittery appearance at plating.
The flavors settle in after a few hours and get pretty intense after a few days. For an extra kick, add crushed red peppers (aka pizza shaker peppers) or slices of fresh birds eye chili. Enjoy!
Listening now to soundtrack to 'Walk the Line'....Joaquin Phoenix's voice to Johnny Cash songs is incredibly irresistible.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a few of my favorite things...

I've been cooking, drawing and trimming a million laminated place cards for the school art program and thought about my favorite things this month...(and in perfect Julie Andrews melody), "These are a few of my FAV-orite things..."

(1) "Naughty" nailpolish by Orly.  A perfect fall-winter color that is not absolute black. In the light it is a deep blackish red and the shade it is vampy Linkin Park by OPI. I guess this is representative of my inner goth.
(2) Vietnamese Ice Coffee.  Completely dependent on this energy potion, I am loyal to Longevity Brand condensed milk, unmarked bags of "special grounds French coffee" from Kim Long Market and a little drip filter.

(3) Skullcandy FMJ gold ear buds.  These little headphones have become a sort of baby blankie. The gold pops out like 24K, the sound is fantastic and they seem to be, so far, indestructible. 
(4) Teeny tiny iPod Shuffle.  This tiny little music stub has a built-in clip that conveniently latches on to everything. It is so light and nearly invisible. No screen means surprise shuffle.
Listening to to fantastic soundtrack to Spike Jonze's 'Adaptation'... (Fatboy Slim, etc.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pho Green Papaya in West Valley

Right on 3500 South near 215 is Pho Green Papaya, a Vietnamese-owned restaurant serving what I would call "Americanized Vietnamese" and fusion food. It is right in West Valley near the 215, next to all the fabulous Asian markets like Hong Phat, Tay-do, and Kim Long Market. For a quick lunch we had....

Tofu Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Peanut Sauce, $3.50.  Light and fresh... I've had better but these were still good since hubby was looking for something Asian and super light. This order came with 4 total pieces (2 spring rolls cut in half). Click here for my Shrimp Spring Rolls recipe.
Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles, starter Lunch Bento Box.  Super small delicious portion leaves you starving for more. It took me 2 big chopstick slurps to finish the entire bowl. Total teaser!
Fried Quail with Chili Sauce, Lime, Sat and Pepper, $4.50.  One of my favorites, done perfectly, not too dry, tasty skin.
Garlic String Beans, $6.95.  Saucy, garlicky and al dente. A perfect comfort food over jasmine rice. A little pricey for what it is.
Bento Box Lunch Special: Vegetarian Eggrolls and Chili Dipping Sauce, Rice, Sprout Salad and Korean Short Ribs, $8.95.  The standard box comes with shrimp-pork, but we requested vegetarian.
Bean Sprout Salad.  Refreshing, colorful, tangy, delicious, crunchy. There's a little of everything: red grapes, mint, cabbage, carrot, red onion, fried shallot, crushed peanuts...
Korean BBQ Short Ribs.  Marinated in a sweet and tangy sauce, cut thin, bone-in and grilled...SO GOOD! Caramelized edges, chewy...yummy.
Food is always delicious, plentiful, dependably consistent here. The prices are sort of reasonable, perhaps even a bit steep for this neck of the woods. Lunch (and sometimes dinner) is always crowded and the service is great! Located right off the Redwood Rd Exit off 215, it is a convenient stop heading to the airport or leaving the airport. Hubby and I actually choose between either Takashi (downtown SLC) or Pho Green Papaya (West Valley) whenever there is a SLC airport stop involved.

Green Papaya Restaurant
(801) 886-1548
Located on 3500 South just East/North of I-215.
2000 West 3500 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84119

Pho Green Papaya on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 22, 2010

Takashi in Salt Lake City

For Laurie's last Utah meal (this time around), we hit Takashi for lunch before her flight back home. It was yet another satisfying feast filled with epiphanic "Takashi Revelations" over brilliant girltalk as we sipped tea and savored each delectable bite.

Wok'd Asparagus, $9.  I remembered to insist on "extra-light sauce" this time, so it was amazing! Seared asparagus in a tasty oyster-like sauce, shitake mushrooms, sesame seeds, glass noodles.
Gyoza, $8.50.  The ultimate comfort food at best. Pork dumplings in a tangy, kicky, spicy sauce. So yummy.
Summit Roll, $11.50.  A tropical paradise of colors. Beautiful! Out of habit, I asked for peach as a substitute for the crab. Tuna, tobiko, peach, avocado, cucumber sheets, ginger sauce, birds-eye chili. The flavors. The textures. 
Gun Negi Toro, $14.  Chopped fatty tuna, rice, seaweed, quail eggyolk. Silky, rich, smooth, magical. Incredible textures. 
Live Scallop, $15.  Presentation rocks. Scallop shell held open by cucumber stick. Dip is citrus, tangy, kicky. 
Bonito Nigiri, $5.50.  Marinated seared tuna, rice, garlic, scallion. Fabulous, fresh.
Sablefish Nigiri, $5.95.  Torched cod, rice, garlic, scallion. Silky, smooth, intensely flavorful. Absolute favorite, hands down.
Each time we come here, we agree that Takashi is the best sushi around (yes, even better than Nobu!)...

Takashi on Urbanspoon