sesame sauce 2x

There’s a sauce I’ve been digging, and it goes like this: whisk together equal parts tahini (sesame paste), maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar / season with salt and pepper to taste / toss with your favorite noodles or use as a dip for your favorite prepared veggies. This combo is simple, perky, nutty, and just sweet enough (I think I wouldn’t mind being described that way – ha).

Lately I have enjoyed the sauce on sweet potato/buckwheat noodles with toasted sesame seeds and over brown rice noodles and steamed broccoli (the latter I enjoy most as a cold noodle dish; it’s toothy and all the more flavorful after fridging overnight). If you are using this sauce with noodles, be sure to first anoint the noodles with a little olive oil before mixing in the sauce. An 8 oz. package of noodles needs about 2 tablespoons of each sauce ingredient.

mango chile soba

After finding a ripe mango at the store the other night, I made a stripped down version of an Ottolenghi recipe. I have been salivating over the photos in his latest cookbook entitled Plenty since I got it a few weeks back. The dish I ended up with reminds me of the dried chile lime mango snacks I like so much, and the next time I make it I will use a hotter pepper. Maybe even add the thai/anise basil to mix it up a bit.

Tropical, hearty, zesty, hot/cold noodle bowl!
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe with aubergines

On the stove top, warm together 1/2 C rice vinegar, 3 T sugar, and 1/2 t salt until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat and add fresh red chile, chopped. Once cool, add the juice of 1-2 limes.

Cook 8 oz. soba noodles in salted boiling water about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Dry on a dish towel.

Slice up a fresh mango and toss everything together. Good to eat right then and also cold out of the fridge.

“The refreshing nature of the cold buckwheat noodles, the sweet sharpness of the dressing and the muskiness of the mango that make it so pleasing…”

tortellini tapas and tangerines

My Porter relatives gave me some Trader Joe’s mini ravioli and pesto tortellini for my birthday, so I took the opportunity to try out a tapas dish I read about in a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook. The tortellini is cooked, then soaked in a mixture of eggs and ranch dressing, coated in bread crumbs, and cooked in hot oil. What a crispy, tender, flavorful, hot bite to dip and munch! The little fried belly button pastas reminded me of being in Italy during La Befana 10 years ago, when the simplest things seemed full of magic. One evening for dessert we were presented with gifts of already peeled, sparkly, ripe tangerines.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook’s “Tortellini Tapas with Spicy Ranch Dip” –or, as I call them, Fried Belly Buttons with Sauce.

Cook, drain, and cool about 9 oz. tortellini (pesto or cheese-filled is good).

Whisk together 2 eggs & 1 C. ranch dressing (I used chipotle ranch dressing for an added kick).

Drown the tortellini in the eggy ranch and soak for about 10 minutes.

Roll the pasta around in about 2 C. dry bread crumbs until covered.  Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs are my favorite, since they are so light.

Chill the pan of coated tortellini in the fridge for at least an hour.

Fry in bubbled vegetable oil on medium heat for a few minutes on each side until golden and transfer to towel to drain extra grease.

For the dipping sauce: Mix together salsa (I like it hot) and ranch (chipotle) dressing.  I used a ratio of ¼ C. dressing to ¾ C. tomato salsa, but you may adjust to your liking.

Top with fresh cilantro.

Dip, snack, and if you have one around, pop open a bottle of something bubbly to wash it down!

pasta & pancakes over the campfire

It’s probably not a surprise that one of my favorite parts of camping is eating food made over the fire. Pinot Basil Pasta and Pecan Pancakes with Fruit Compote were two such meals enjoyed this weekend at Van Buren State Park with a dear old friend of mine. We chopped goodness from her garden and began cooking the thickest and hardest veggies first in a bit of olive oil.  Afterwhile we added the softer veggies to the skillet along with some basil and Pinot Grigio. Once the wine reduces, everything is ready to mix in with the pasta and be consumed!  The pancake combo was another winner from Backpacker Magazine. These pancakes did not miss usual syrup.  The woodsy cinnamon and smoky dark cherry was my favorite flavor combination, but since I cannot resist a toasted marshmallow at any given opportunity, I topped off my pancakes with one goldened from the embers.  Corn syrup made it on the pancakes after all.

you are one nutty noodle

I have always appreciated the heartiness and speedy cooktime of the soba noodle and have been enjoying them in a new way (to me) since discovering this recipe.  I most like this dish chilled, with extra avocado and jalapeño.  The dressing is a simple reduction, easy to save and also works with ginger paste.  Now that the days are longer, it sure has been nice to come home and eat dinner in the daylight.