asian salad trio + homemade ice cream sandwiches

photo by Whitney Loibner

photo by Whitney Loibner

photo by Whitney Loibner

photo by Whitney Loibner

I feel like I am finally back in my cooking groove and I have sooo been wanting to share with you the delicioso bites coming from the Chino House kitchen, but I have been sadly lacking photos to go with my recipes, which has long kept me from posting them at all. And so I called my sweet belle soeur yesterday and said, please please pleeeeease come and take pictures of all this food I just made. Because who doesn’t want to see a picture of the food you are thinking about making for those special people coming to your house tonight?  I have special people at my house every night, but on Wednesdays, we have extra special people who come over and eat before they spend the evening hanging out with adolescents.  Taido and I find that it is easier to get them to re-up their commitment to our teenagers every year if we bribe them with food.  Which, of course, it is my pleasure to do.

So this week the menu was…drumroll please, as it’s been a long time since I posted a menu

Pan-fried onion dip with Kettle chips

Chinese Chicken Salad

Szechwan Noodle Salad

Curried Couscous Salad

and…

photo by Whitney Loibner

photo by Whitney Loibner

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

photo by Whitney Loibner

photo by Whitney Loibner

You can just call me Ina because all of my recipes this week are coming from The Barefoot Contessa, because I LOVE her.  LOVE LOVE LOVE her.  I have four of her cookbooks (actually, some of them are my mama’s, but you could say we share…if by share you mean, I have all of them hidden under my bed and if she asks nicely, I might read a recipe to her over the phone. Whatever that she bought them all.  She just wasn’t using them to their full potential.  These cookbooks deserve to poured over, I tell you.  And in the last week, I have spent a good amount of quality time with them piled in my lap and all over my couch, deciding which recipes I intend to make next.  Next up, birthday desserts.  Taido is turning 37 this week and I figure if the desserts make his head spin, he won’t focus on how old he’s getting, right?  I mean 37 is NOT old, but men are funny about these things.

Recipes below.  Enjoy!

Pan-fried Onion Dip from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions) Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes, until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well.

Taste for seasonings.
Serve at room temperature.

Chinese Chicken Salad from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

For the salad

8 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, ends removed,
cut into thirds diagonally
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing

1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large, bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Szechuan Noodles by The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

The sauce can actually be made a week ahead and then added to the hot cooked pasta just before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/.4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.

Add splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with three-quarters of the sauce. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

Don’t combine the sauce with the pasta until the last minute; the soy sauce tends to break down the noodles and make them mushy.

*I also added a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.  I thought it needed a little more tang.

Curried Couscous from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots (I grated mine)
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (I used cranberries)
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Directions

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Cookies–makes 3 dozen

1 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 large eggs

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons milk

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined.  Make balls onto cookie sheets and bake for 14 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let cool.

Spread your favorite variety of ice cream between cookies.  Wrap and freeze.

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