Category Archives: Cooking

Peanut-lime chicken salad.

One of my favorite things about living in Hong Kong is learning local-ish cuisine. And ironically one of my favorite Asian-inspired dishes comes by way of an NYC half-galley kitchen: Smitten Kitchen’s cold rice noodles with peanut-lime chicken.

Honestly, this dish is a crowd pleaser. It’s a one-pot-meal and you will be shocked and awed by its depth of flavor. And it’s really quite healthy. Also, I will take a quick minute right now to just state for the record: I’m so over chicken breast… thighs are much more flavorful and less prone to being dry and brittle. And while we’re on the subject of over-popularized cuts of meat, I’m short tenderloin and long rib-eye.

Dipping sauce
6 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
6 tablespoons brown sugar
12 tablespoons lime juice
2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
Small Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced, to taste

Peanut dressing
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
9 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced
6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Pinch of cayenne

Chicken and noodle salad
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
8 ounces dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles
2 small cucumbers, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
2 medium carrots, cut in thin julienne
Additional vegetables, as suggested above
Small handful basil or mint or cilantro sprigs, or your favorite of the three (torn or roughly chopped)
4 or more scallions, slivered
1/4 cup crushed or chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges (to serve)

Make the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.

Make the peanut dressing: In a blender or small food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.

Marinate the chicken: Stir together 1/2 the dipping sauce and 1/3 the peanut dressing (you can eyeball this) in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.

Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well.

Cook the chicken: Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.

To serve: At this point, you can place everything on a large serving platter, with piles or small bowls for noodles, vegetables, chicken, the dressing and marinade and toppings (peanuts, herbs) and let your family and friends put it together in their own bowls as they wish. Or, you can assemble it for everyone as suggested:

Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 to 6 bowls. Top each bowl equally with vegetable mixture and chopped chicken. Toss each bowl with 2 teaspoons of each the dipping sauce and dressing, or more to taste (we wanted more). Add the herbs, peanuts and scallions to each bowl and serve with additional dressing and dipping sauce on the side.

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Five-minute pizza dough.

I’ve always loved the tradition of families who have pizza on Fridays.

But to be honest I’ve had a bit of a hang-up about actually making any type of dough, despite a tutorial from my mother-in-law, who ascribes to the pizza Friday tradition… until I saw StephModo’s brilliant five-minute recipe.

Homemade Pizza Dough in 5

  • 1 teaspoon fine corn meal, divided
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle each lined cookie sheet with 1/2 teaspoon of cornmeal. Set aside.

Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Pour the very warm water on top and allow to sit on the counter for 5 minutes. In another (larger) bowl, place 2 cups of flour. Sprinkle the flour with sea salt and then drizzle the olive oil on top. Mix.

Once the yeast/sugar/water mixture is full and foamy, pour it on the flour mixture and mix until the dry mixture is fully incorporated. This will take only a minute. Cover with a damp, warm dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour on top of the dough. Using a spatula, move the flour around the dough, before dropping it on a lightly-floured surface. Roll the dough out to desired shape with a rolling pin (or “throw” it like a pro if that suits you better!). Place shaped dough on the cookie sheets and top with your favorite sauce, vegetables, meats and cheese. Slide into the oven for 15 minutes to bake.

My favorite toppings so far are feta, italian seasoning and sliced bell peppers and tomatoes. So yum!! And it’s quick /easy enough for a new mom to make!

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Upper House: Passionfruit soufflées.

As you may have read, I’m obsessed with passionfruit. And the Mr. was kind enough to take me to Upper House’s Café Grey for my birthday where they are currently serving passionfruit soufflées where the actual skin of the passionfruit serves as the ramekin.

It was as light and delicious as it was cool looking. They had scraped the fruit out of the skin and then made it into the soufflée base, which was then folded into the egg whites, and dolloped on top of the skins–I believe after it was cooked. How they transferred it over I have no idea!

Also, I have to add that in my personal opinion, Cafe Grey really is the best fine dining in Hongkers. The setting is uber-sophisticated, the service impeccable and I’ve never had anything there I didn’t think was divine. Oh, and talk about having me at hello and good-bye: that bread spread and the chocolate pieces… ahhh!

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One of my pregnancy cravings that has continued after birth is anything sweet and sour, like passionfruit.

Before moving to Asia, I’d only had the fruit in jams or candied, never fresh.

But I’ve been enjoying it all summer long over yogurt with a little honey. Passionfruit is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Northern Argentina.

It’s also yummy with honey and ice in a little smoothie. I first got into the fruit back in May on a visit to Thailand where the resort we were staying at served passionfruit ice cream and I took some passionfruit jam home for a souvenir.

I am thinking it would be fun trying to make the jam myself. The fruit is high in fiber and Vitamin C. The name of the flower is so called from the Passion of Christ. The three stigmas reflect the three nails in Jesus’s hands and feet and the threads of the flower resemble the crown of thorns.

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Purple and yellow send-off dinner and bulk flowers.

Before our good friends Monique and Jay went back to the States to both marry and relocate to their mutual hometown area of Chicago, we hosted a little send-off dinner for them.

The bride-to-be’s favorite color is purple, so I wanted to highlight that, but also mixed in some yellow to make things a little more summery.

Although, I’m a huge fan of professional florists, they’re not always in the budget… and so I often turn to bulk flowers.

In Hong Kong, I’ve had excellent luck with HingFatFlora: I know my sister-in-law Rosie is a big fan of BloomsByTheBox in the US.

In this ridiculous heat, the first thing I did was get those steaming flowers right into ice water and stuck them all right under the AC!

And then the pruning begins. I am far from a brilliant floral arranger, but one thing I do know is you have to get rid of a LOT of those leaves… you really don’t want any leaves below the water, or really the vase, line.

The one ESSENTIAL tool for DIY-flowering is Japanese (yes, they make the best ones) floral shears. They are super precise and last forever. If yours get a little rusty as mine have from time to time–although I do try to wipe them down after using them–a little WD40 will do the trick.

I really like these Ohkubu shears from Korin. Floral shears also make lovely shower or birthday gifts by the way… even if you’re not DIYing your flowers, you should always trim any flowers you receive on a bias for a longer life!

I don’t have seating for 15 so I ended up renting tables and chairs from Relish Kitchen. I used some purple cloth napkins underneath my arrangements so they would really pop off the long table.

The one thing that is helpful with flowers by bulk is to know the names of flowers you like so you can order appropriately, but it’s easily remedied… sometimes I start with a simple ‘purple flower google’ and lots of pretty things pop up.

The guests of honor are both vegetarians, I served a chilled gazpacho and coordinated another vegetarian salad bar–see one from May here!–and had several guests brings salads to round out the menu. Even with 15 guests, I think everyone still managed to get very full even without meat.

Oh and then there was the cake! I made Sweetapolita’s lavender and lemon cake.

I was really happy with how it turned out. You basically soak lavender in milk for the cake and then you also make a frosting with lavender infused milk. In between layers goes fresh lemon curd.

Personally, I can find lavender in food to be a bit too cloying and soap-like, but  the acidity of the lemon balanced that out perfectly.

I think everyone had a nice time and enjoyed getting to spend some real quality team with the departing guests of honor.

I especially loved when we were all sitting around the table toasting and roasting them!

Meeting fascinating new friends is the best part of living abroad. Saying good-bye to them is the worst!

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