Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whole Foods Copy Kale Salad and Petite Lasagnas

The kale salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods is delicious. My fiancé introduced it to me and a few friends and it is amazing! The dressing is sweet and a little citrusy and perfectly compliments the fresh, slightly bitter taste of kale. It's one of those dishes you don't feel guilty about when you eat a giant portion of it. But it, like everything at WH, can be pricey if you're hooked on it. I tried to look up a copy cat recipe online but wasn't very satisfied with the results. So, I did some investigating (IE reading the ingredients label at the salad bar) and came up with something pretty close.

Whole Foods Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, washed, de-stemmed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. sliced blanched almonds
(the Whole Foods version also has dried apples, but the chewy texture kind of throws me off so I keep it out of mine)

1/3 c orange juice
3 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 thinly sliced shallot

Mix together dressing ingredients.
Toss with kale, cranberries, and sliced almonds (+/- dried apples)

I made this salad to accompany petite lasagnas. I didn't want to blatantly plagiarize, so the recipe can be found at this blog:
The novelty of the cute lasagnas, or meat pies as my fiancé called them, outweighs the tastiness of it (not as yummy as the sage Italian sausage lasagna recipe I use from Epicurious). Maybe next time I'll use my Epicurious recipe in the petite lasagna format.

Pesto and Portobella Orzo

Years ago, my mother made up this recipe.  I had totally forgotten about it until one of my friends, Tina, was talking about how she loved it so much and wanted to make it now that she'd become vegetarian.  It is a really simple dish and very tasty.  The measurements might be weird.  I usually make the pesto by taste/feel so I'm kinda guestimating the amounts now.

Pesto and Portobello Orzo
Pesto and Portobello Orzo
2 cups orzo
1 bunch basil
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 to 1/4 c. pine nuts (I put about a handful in)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 carton sliced Baby Bella mushrooms

  1. Boil orzo according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine basil, parmesan, and pine nuts in a food processor.  Mix while drizzling olive in until you get the consistency you want.  I like a thicker consistency for mine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Saute the mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil over medium high heat until soft. About 5 minutes.
  4. Combine orzo, mushroom, and pesto and warm through.  Serve with parmesan on top.
I sliced up some grilled portobello caps, covered with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper on the lean mean grilling machine to go with this.  Yummy vegetarian dinner!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue is a vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup.  Kind of like Pho's spicy cousin.  It originates from the central region of Vietnam, where my dad's side of the family is from.  This recipe is my aunt, Co Be's, recipe and it is deeeeeelicious!  My sister really wanted to preserve this recipe so she had my aunt film a tutorial on how to make it.  See below! Hope you enjoy.

20 lemongrass stalks (3 bunches), depending on the size
1 package pork baby back ribs (3 lbs). Co Be only buys pork and beef at the American groceries.
3 packages beef shanks (3 lbs each)
6 beef tendons (bought at the VN store)
2 sweet onions, peeled
1.5 cup of canola oil
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoons black pepper and about 3 tablespoons of salt, to taste
30 cloves garlic, finely minced
About 6 tablespoons nước mắm (fish sauce), to taste.
8 tablespoons red chili powder (buy these at the American grocery store), to taste. Cayenne pepper is fine, but then you should decrease the amount as cayenne pepper is spicier.
4 (8-ounce) packages rice noodles, boiled
8 cubes beef bouillon, to taste
10 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
chả lụa Huế, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
6 limes, cut into wedges
1 bunch of rau kinh doi, rinsed and chopped
2 bunches of rau răm, rinsed and chopped
1 bunch of cilantro rinsed and chopped
2 bunches of green onions, rinsed and chopped
1 jar mắm ruốc (shrimp paste): not optional! If you want Bun Bo to taste like Bun Bo, this has got to be the main ingredient.
1 bag of bean sprouts, optional

For the lemongrass: Wash the lemongrass stalks. Remove all the white powder from the leaves. Bruise the younger part using a mallet and tie into bunches of 3-4 stalks.
Making bún bò Huế broth:  Rinse the pork ribs and beef shanks, place them in a pot and cover with water. Add garlic powder, salt, black pepper and 1 onion. Bring to a boil, remove cloudy film on top, then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Simmer for 1 hour and constantly remove cloudy film on top.
Fish out the beef shanks and pork ribs using a slotted spoon; transfer to a cutting board. Allow to cool and slice the meat (don’t slice them too thin). Make sure the beef shanks are sliced against the grain to ensure optimum tenderness. Cook the tendons for about ½ hour to 1 hour more to desired tenderness, then sliced.
For the rocket fuel:  In another stockpot, heat the canola oil. Add 1 ½ chopped onions and garlic. Cook over high heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onions and garlic from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Turn off heat and add red chili powder.
To the broth, add fish sauce, 4 tablespoons mắm ruốc or however much to taste, beef bouillon, few tablespoons of sugar, few tablespoons of “rocket fuel”, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. Add sliced meat and tendons back in and cook for another 30-45 minutes under low heat until desired tenderness.
Serving time:  Fill each bowl with rice noodles, sliced red onion, beef bones and the sweet spicy broth. Serve immediately. Garnish with chả lụa pieces, lime wedges, bean sprouts, and the Asian herbs on top.