Summer Shrimp Spring Rolls

Each time I make these, whether I use avocado or switch it up and add fresh mango instead, I can’t believe how good they are. So deliciously fresh with the bright flavors of the herbs. I tell myself that I am going to put it on menu rotation. Then I don’t, because life… But that really isn’t a reason, so I will do better.

I found that prepping all the ingredients and assembling the rolls earlier in the day is the way to go. Cover with a damp towel, put them in the fridge and then dinner is literally waiting for you.

Chrissy suggests serving these with a Thai sweet chili sauce and a hoisin sauce. BUT, the key to these rolls is Mrs. Teigen’s peanut sauce. You see, this peanut sauce is one of the best I have ever had, and it’s super easy to make. You shouldn’t have these rolls without the peanut sauce, but you can have the peanut sauce without the rolls, you can have the sauce with anything. I find fingers pair well, cold noodles pair well and spoons definitely pair well.

Ingredients for Summer Rolls
4 to 6 red leaf lettuce leaves
8 medium shrimp, peeled (fresh or frozen (thawed))
salt
1 ounce Asian vermicelli or rice noodles
8 large or 16 small basil leaves
8 large or 16 small mint leaves
1 medium carrot, cut into 3-inch long julienne strips
1 avocado thinly sliced
8 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers (you can find in most supermarkets with the Asian food)

Ingredients for Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 packed light brown sugar

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon of Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

If you are going to have the peanut sauce with the summer rolls, then start there. Add all of the sauce ingredients into your handy dandy blender or I like to use the magic bullet blender. After blending and tasting for seasoning, put it in the fridge until serving time. When that time comes, use warm water to thin the sauce to your liking.

For the Rolls:

Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat dry. Remove and discard the center ribs then slice in half so you end up with 16, about 3 inch long pieces. 

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and salt the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low, take the shrimp out of the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water, pat dry. Cut off the tails and slice lengthwise.

Place the rice noodles in the pot of still hot water to soften. Cook until soft. Remove and rinse in a colander under cold water. 

Create a workspace lined up with lettuce, herbs, carrots, avocado, shrimp and rice noodles. Fill a clean skillet or shallow bowl with warm water to soak the rice papers. Arrange a damp towel on your workspace. One at a time, dunk the rice papers into the warm water to soften. Remove from the water and run under cool water. They easily stick together, so the cool water is a good time to unstick them from themselves. Lay flat on the damp towel.

To assemble: place 2-3 shrimp halves pink side down about 1/3 from the bottom, layer over mint and basil, then avocado, then carrots, rice noodles, then lettuce leaves. Roll up like a burrito by pulling up the bottom, tucking in the sides, then rolling till the end. The rice paper will stick together sealing it shut. Repeat with remaining rice papers. 

If you aren’t serving these immediately, place them on a damp towel, and cover with a damp towel. They are fine hanging out in the fridge until you are ready. Serve with peanut sauce and Thai chili sauce.

Chrissy’s Newest

In another life we are best friends with Chrissy Teigen (and fam) and Stu Holden (and fam) and it’s amazing. Days full of laughter, kids, cooking and soccer, that is, as the kids say “my jam”.

But since this isn’t another life, I settle with making Chrissy’s recipes and live vicariously through their IG stories, sigh.

I recently tried two recipes from her newest cookbook and per usual, they are delicious.

Thai Beef Jerky and Pink Pasta. The Unicorn milkshakes in her book were requested so that might have to happen soon.

However, the Thai beef jerky was finger lickin. Sticky, sweet and a tad spicy, we ate it with a salad and called it dinner.

*note that her recipe calls for MSG and you can get that at any Asian market or even Vons probably, but I didn’t have any, so I didn’t use it. Still good.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)

3/4 teaspoon MSG

2 lbs. boneless skirt steak

vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and MSG.

Cut the skirt steak, against the grain into 1-inch wide strips.

Toss the steak and marinade and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. * I marinated the meat for a few hours in the fridge and then pulled it out and left at room temp for 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Arrange a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Lay the beef in a single layer. Discard any leftover marinade.

Bake until the meat has shrunk some, about 1-1/2 hours.

Line a large cutting board with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large 4 quart pot. Heat the oil until it reached 350 degrees. Working in batches, fry the meat, stirring it as it cooks, until it darkens and crisps, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain on the paper towel lined cutting board, and let cook at least 10 minutes before eating.

Chrissy’s Chicken Satay

I made this recipe on a whim. It was a what can I make that doesn’t require the grocery store recipe. Turns out I did have to run to the store for the pepper sauce ingredients, sigh…but this dish was totally worth dragging three children to the store. I definitely suggest you make all three recipes because all together it’s phenomenal. It has the makings of a really good salad. We have to talk about the peanut sauce real quick. I have made hundreds of different versions from using coconut milk, to heating all the ingredients. This one is the best I have ever made, and it’s so easy.

This paired well with a rosé and a soccer match. Kids optional

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Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

1 pound chicken boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into good size pieces

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

14 oz. canned coconut milk

Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

3 tablespoons Soy sauce

1½ tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

 

Ingredient for the Sweet Hot Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

1 Shallot finely chopped

1 Fresh Thai Chile, minced

Kosher Salt to taste

Directions:

Marinade the chicken: In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar, salt, turmeric, and ginger in a bowl. Add the chicken and cover, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. *Soak wood skewers for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Make the peanut sauce: In a bowl (or I used my bullet blender so I didn’t have to mince garlic) combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup water, thinning with additional water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Make the sweet hot pepper sauce: In a bowl, combine the sugar, 1⁄2 cup water, the vinegar, cucumber, shallot, and chile. Season to taste with salt.

Heat grill to medium high heat.

Thread chicken onto the skewers and grill until cooked through. About 5-6 minutes for side.

Serve with the peanut sauce and hot pepper sauce. Make sure you eat all three together and then  be prepared swoon. SO GOOD!

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Roasted Whole Fish

I have always loved dining on a whole roasted fish, faces don’t scare me. I mean I sucked the brains out of a chicken head in China! But cooking a whole fish was intimidating because one….how do you know it’s really a fresh fish, aside from the eyeball test…and two….. where do I get a whole fish from? Well, luckily we found a local wholesale fish market that serves all the finest local restaurants here. Catalina Offshore is where all the chefs go to get their seafood, so now when I eat at a restaurant and I order an amazing Branzino or Salmon, I know where they got it. Priceless in my opinion. Not only because you know exactly what you are putting into your body and where it came from but NOW, I know that I can also make that same dish, just as good, for a lot less chaaaa-ching!

We all know I have talked Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook to death, but in all seriousness, I think she and I share palates. I could cook through the book and probably not be disappointed in anything. When I decided on cooking a whole fish for the second time in my life, I wanted to do what she did, clearly can’t go wrong!

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Team Players

1 (2 lb.) whole fish, white striped bass or branzino

Kosher salt and pepper

15 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lemon, sliced

3-4 springs of herbs, thyme, rosemary, sage

1 lbs heirloom tomatoes, slices or cut into wedges

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. ( just do this with anything you roast)

Place fish on the foil lined sheet and season like its your job all over with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes and then rub it all over and inside the fish.  Place the lemon rounds inside the cavity along with the herbs.

Arrange the tomatoes underneath and around the fish, then drizzle the whole party with olive oil.

Roast until fish is flaky, 20 minutes should be perfect.

Serve right away.

AND don’t forget the fish cheeks, the best bite of the entire fish!

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Cooking Cravings- Butter Lettuce + Blue Cheese + Cayenne Candied Walnuts

I wanted to love this salad, with that….I make a whole hell of a lot of salads like this, I pick a lettuce, add a fruit, a cheese and a candied nut. Sometimes I throw spices on the nuts but I never make them spicy spicy.

It lost me with the lettuce. Butter lettuce is just too delicate, especially paired with crispy apple and nuts. Maybe grapes would be a better choice? Or just stick with a spring mix blend of lettuce and herbs. The other thing that didn’t work for me was the vinaigrette. It was a tad bitter, it need a bit of sweetness so next time I will add some honey.

All said and done, this is a good salad but for me who makes them daily, not good enough. Although the walnuts can be eaten every damn day, so good!

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Dressing Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salad

1 large head of butter or Boston lettuce, separated into leaves, larger leaves torn
Apple, halved and cut into thin slices- I used Fuji
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup cayenne-candied walnuts

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, blue cheese, shallot, salt, and pepper.

In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce, apple, and onion. Drizzle in the dressing to taste, toss lightly, and top with the cayenne-candied walnuts.

 

Cooking Cravings-Sweet Chili and Mustard Glazed Salmon

Sunday I took three recipes out of Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings to try this week. Usually  during the week I don’t actually “make” dinner. I figure out something easy for me and the picky girls. But this week, with Shane working from home I decided to meal plan. I thought it would be the perfect time to knock out a few of Chrissy’s healthier recipes. She has some really good looking dishes in there but those need to be saved for “special occasions” or otherwise known as Saturday’s.

Monday night I made the sweet chili and mustard glazed salmon. This is a really simple dish and cooks in no time. It was good, good enough to make again but not good enough to “put on rotation”.

Ingredients

4 skin on salmon fillets

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2/3 Thai sweet chili sauce

2 TBS Sambal oelek

2 TBS large grain mustard

Position oven rack 4-6 inches from heating element and preheat the broiler.

Season the salmon all over with s and p. In a small bowl, stir together the sweet chili sauce, sambal and mustard.

Pour the mixture into a large cast iron skillet or oven proof pan. Set the skillet over med-high heat and heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Lay the salmon, skin side up, in that sauce. Cook until the salmon starts to turn pale pink on the outside, about 2 minutes, then move the skillet to the oven and broil until the skin crisps and the salmon is med-rare, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the oven and transfer the salmon to a plate. Return the skillet to the stove, add 1/4 cup water and cook over high heat, stirring and scraping, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

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I served the fish with pesto zucchini noodles and tomatoes. I made the pesto and spiralized the zucchini earlier in the day. Then when time came, I blistered some cherry tomatoes over high heat, added the pesto just to heat it through and tossed in the noodles. Very easy and delicious.