13 July, 2012

Tastey Tuesday:Cool Eating on a Hot Night

This weekend is going to be another scorcher, with rain to boot, so grilling is out.  Why not treat yourself to the perfect hot night salad.  It serves 4 and takes almost no time if you use pre-cooked shrimp.

Frankly, the dressing and peanuts are the key.  After that, add, delete, substitute  at will: crab, chicken, cilantro, additional peppers (bird chile?) if you like it hot, radishes, leftover corn

Vietnamese Glass-Noodle & Shrimp Salad
1/4 cup sugar  
2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce  
1 1/2 Tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar  
1 Tbsp cider vinegar  
1/4 cup fresh lime juice  
1/2 tsp minced Jalapeno chili, seeded
1 small garlic clove, grated  
3-4 oz uncooked bean threads (cellophane noodles)  
1 lb. cooked, peeled, shrimp, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb, fresh asparagus, boiled for 5 minutes, then shocked in ice water and drained. Chop into 1" lengths. 
2 cups torn romaine lettuce or sliced Belgian endive 
1 cup chopped tomato  
4-5 scallions, thinly sliced  
1/2 cut thinly sliced celery  
2 Tbs chopped, dry-roasted peanuts  
Prepare the dressing first. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Cool; stir in the lime juice, chile, and garlic.
While the dressing sits and cools, prepare the salad, Cook noodles in unsalted boiling water 1 1/2 minutes; drain. Rinse under cold water. Drain. Coarsely chop noodles or cut with scissors. Combine noodles, shrimp, and next 5 ingredients (shrimp through celery) in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts. 

10 July, 2012

Summer Replacement Joy

PBS has rescued my summer by adding a new series, Pie in the Sky, a series which manages to combine my two favourite things: mystery and cooking.

Police detective Henry Crabbe (played by Richard Griffiths, Uncle Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter films) wants to retire from the police force so he can open a restaurant.  Unfortunately for him, his last case, just days before his retirement, casts a cloud of suspicion over his involvement in a money fraud  scheme, providing his weaselly, lazy, unscrupulous superior officer with the ammunition he needs to blackmail Crabbe into remaining "on call" even after the restaurant opens.

Pie in the Sky doesn't have the dramatic flair of Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Morse, but it skillfully balances suspense and humor, with some mouthwatering meals thrown in.  Crabbe's accountant wife, who eats only out of necessity, prefers a chocolate bar to her husbands steak-and-kidney pie,and seems to lack a single drop of aesthetic blood, is the perfect foil to her husband's exuberance.  But who wouldn't love a man who buys a ridiculously expensive hen house for the back yard just so he can have fresh eggs for the restaurant?

I'm disappointed that this is not available in book form, but the full five series of the BBC production are available on DVD.  Hint, hint - Christmas isn't that far away.

Check your local PBS listings.  It's worth giving a try.