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Recipes by Type

Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

Carrying on a salad themed stretch I made this Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad for a perfect summer starter. After all it has been hot here in Baltimore, and when it is hot and humid I like to spend as little time in the kitchen for dinner preparation as possible. Yesterday it hit 92° and with high humidity felt like 110°! There is no relief in sight with more of the same or hotter today and tomorrow.
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However, this seems to be fine with my tomato crop as long as I remember to water it. We have gotten away with a milder summer so far and I’m very thankful for that. For you lucky folks in Texas you know about heat, and have been getting your share this summer. With this kind of heat I try and do what some people call “planned overs”, not leftovers. This method of food planning call for cooking some extra of whatever is called for the day before and using the next day to shorten prep time. In this case I cooked three extra ears of corn to use in this salad.
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I had some surprise “volunteer” cilantro to use in this salad as well as plenty of my home grown tomatoes from my garden. I also picked a cayenne pepper for the heat component and bought the avocados from my local Costco. I was all set to put together one of my favorite types of salad, a spicy one with corn.
stir gently

stir gently

I was introduced to Kastania Greek olive oil, a high end extra virgin blend from the southern province of Laconia, at a tasting on Friday in Kennett Square, PA. I liked it right away but the more I use it the better it tastes to me. It has a smooth, almost buttery taste that is perfect for this salad.  Using local Maryland Silver Queen corn this sweet and spicy salad is delicious.
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Next time you cook up a batch of corn-on-the-cob be sure to cook three extra and try this recipe out. I’m sure it will please even the most discriminating eaters. To make it a bit more special I’m giving away a bottle of Kastania extra virgin olive oil to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on this post to be entered. If you comment on my Facebook page you will get an extra entry. Just go to www.Facebook.com/FastAndFuriousCook and leave a comment. I hope you all like this one as much as I do.

Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

3 cups cooked corn

1 cup diced tomato

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley

1 firm avocado cut into bite sized pieces, see note

2-3 tablespoons chopped chives or onion

juice of one lime, about 1-2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 jalapeño minced, optional

salt to taste

In a 4 quart mixing bowl mix all ingredients except avocado.

Gently mix in avocado.

Add salt to taste and serve right away or chill for an hour or two.

Serves four to six.

Note:

If your avocado is too soft it breaks down a bit much but you can still use it if you stir it in very gently.

Spicy Asian Slaw

I love traveling for so many reasons. One of the big ones is learning about new foods and recipes. On our recent trip to South Passage Outfitters in Alaska I picked up some ideas for new recipes to test and post. We ate well and fished hard at the camp for the six days we spent there. I even got to cook the shrimp one night as a small guest chef appearance. Other than that I was just one of the happy customers at the communal table stuffing my face each meal with excellent food.I already posted the bean dip that I was inspired to create from that trip and now I have made up a tasty cabbage slaw.
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I have had Japanese rice vinegar in my pantry for a few years now ever since my mother-in-law brought it for a recipe she made. I have used it for soba noodle salads and some salad dressings but never with mayonnaise. This vinegar is not as harsh as most we Americans use and can be sweet rice or there is a lite version with less sugar and salt.
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Up in Alaska our hostess/cook, (Peggy) made a delicious cabbage slaw with the Marukan gourmet rice vinegar, and all of us loved it. She told me that particular vinegar is one of her favorite ingredients. The salad she made is simple, healthy, inexpensive and delicious. The next day we were just about to polish off the leftovers when we found out the float plane was coming early to pick us up and the mad scramble ensued. We had to get our gear down to the boat dock and our frozen fish boxed up quickly and missed out on the cabbage slaw.  I knew I had to re-create it when I got home since I was cheated out of a second helping.
pour and mix

pour and mix

I wanted to make my own version though. Hot peppers had to be part of the recipe and since I had beautiful fresh carrots from my garden they had to join the salad party too. For the hot stuff I added my Caribbean Red Habanero hot sauce and the results were great! Here was a fast and easy salad using one of my favorite vegetables, (cabbage) for hot summertime eating. With the heat of summer upon us I eat a salad of some sort or another most every day. Whether it is a main dish or a side dish, summer salads are a hit. I hope you give this one a try, with or without the hot sauce and see if you agree it’s one of the best out there. As always please help me out with your comments and share with friends and family.
All that's missing is a cold glass of sake.

All that’s missing is a cold glass of sake.

Spicy Asian Slaw

1 pound green cabbage

3/4 cup shredded carrot

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3-4 tablespoons rice vinegar, depending on how thin you want the dressing

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin,optional

1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce, like Sri Racha etc.

Chop or shred the cabbage and blend with carrot in a 2 quart mixing bowl.

To make dressing blend mayonnaise with vinegar, cumin and hot sauce in a small bowl.

Pour dressing over cabbage and carrot and mix well until cabbage and carrot is well coated.

Serve right away or chill for an hour or two.

Serves 6-8

Pico de Gallo

1 cup whole Sun Gold tomatoes

1 cup whole Sweet Million tomatoes

1 cup whole Juliet tomatoes, or roma tomatoes

1/2-3/4 cup yellow onion diced small

1 cup fresh cilantro

2 jalapeños chopped, or green bell pepper if you don’t want it spicy

1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

Cut Sun Golds and Sweet Million tomatoes in quarters, then cut in half. *

Dice Juliets or romas.

Chop cilantro.

Add everything together in a 2-3 quart mixing bowl tossing until distributed equally. Toss fairly gentle so you don’t break down the tomatoes too much.

As a salsa it serves about 6-8. For a taco topping this will tap about 30 tacos.

Note:

I like to cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters then lay them skin side down in a row of four pieces and cut in half.

An Alaska Fishing Tale

 

Almost every year since moving out of Alaska I have returned for a week or two in the summer to visit with friends and go fishing. This year was one of the few years when my crew of three, (wife, brother and sister) went somewhere other than the Kenai Peninsula. We decided a change in scenery would be good and the fishing better.

 

the home dock

the home dock at South Passage Outfitters

Fishing the Kenai River we have it good and easy. We stay at the same cabins or next door on most of our trips there in the last twelve years. It’s an easy walk to the river that takes one minute and the town of Soldotna is just five minute’s drive from the cabins when we need groceries or fishing gear. The fishing is usually good but in the last four years the once mighty runs of king salmon have diminished in a big way. Without the kings to fish for it has been easier to divert from our usual location.

a nice halibut

a nice halibut

 

This year we went way off the grid and picked a lodge in the Inside Passage area of Alaska. With the nearest town a thirty minute boat ride from the lodge we got away from it all. That is except for the numerous Humpback Whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions and seabirds too numerous to count. Fish Alaska magazine had spotlighted the area we were heading to in their May issue saying that it is hard to go fishless in the Gustavus area. While we were not in Gustavus our lodge was a mere hour away by boat and many of the fishing spots mentioned in the article were near our lodge. We figured on this being one of the best fishing trips ever.

 

The family that fishes together stays together.

The family that fishes together stays together.

On our first day we arrived around 11:30 in the morning and were eager to get started. As soon  our briefing was concluded we were shown the boat that would be ours for six days. I was to be our guide on this self-guided adventure in this new and exciting wilderness hotspot. Now all I had to do was find  fish in an area where there were no other fishing boats to lead us. Off we went in search of halibut that can get up to 900 pounds!

 

Waiting for a bite.

Waiting for a bite.

On our first try we were hampered by big tides that kept our anchor slipping and our bait floating up from the bottom a hundred yards off the back of the boat. Not a way to catch halibut. Digging into my memory of fishing in Seward I tried jigging in deeper water for the hidden halibut by Lemesuier Island two miles from our lodge. There I at least managed to get a bite that proved to be the one and only bite of the day. Going fishless the first day was not what I expected but I was undaunted as we headed back to the lodge for more information, dinner and some much needed rest. Our plane leaving Baltimore for an overnight stopover in Seattle was delayed five hours which left us with two hours rest in our hotel.  We  had hoped to get seven hours of sleep before the flight to Alaska the next morning. It’s tough being sharp after a four hour time change and two hours of sleep when running a boat in tricky Alaska waters.

 

Sea lion haul out spot.

Sea lion haul out spot.

The first full day dawned blue and sunny as my wife and I headed out just after dawn to catch halibut. I had seen a spot from the flight from our floatplane that I figured would yield halibut. We motored out for fifteen minutes on calm blue-green seas to this promising spot. All the way seeing Humpback Whales, and many otters for our wilderness entertainment. After anchoring up we didn’t have to wait but about fifteen minutes when my wife said, “I’m getting a bite”. I had just enough time to look at her rod tip before it went down hard. I quickly reeled up mine and grabbed her rod to fight this express train heading south and knew we had a big fish.

Me happily running a boat in Alaskan waters again.

Me happily running a boat in Alaskan waters again.

 

When I got it up to the boat we were both thrilled to see it was a nice eighty pounder and knew we were going home with plenty of fish on this trip. We caught four more, throwing two of the little ones back before heading to the lodge to get my sleepy siblings for the next fishing session. Over the next four days we caught over four hundred pounds of halibut, but released the biggest, a 170 pound monster, before finishing the week. We all came back with about forty-five pounds of halibut filets each.

 

a nice eighty pounder

a nice eighty pounder

The best parts of the trip other than the fishing were meeting and having meals with the other few guests at this lodge that takes on no more than eight guests per week. Seeing a big part of Alaska where we never had another boat closer than two miles from us except once was great too. The wildlife was fantastic! We got charmed by the calls of the baby sea otters squealing what sounded like a three year old human saying, “Mom”! over and over again as they begged for food and attention. Seeing and hearing the mighty Humpback Whales was exciting too, and we saw them every day. Curious seals would approach our boat while we were anchored up fishing halibut looking at us with their big brown eyes and comical whiskered faces from as little as twenty feet away.

 

Catching the Coonstriped shrimp.

My brother and I catching the Coonstriped shrimp.

The food was very good and while not fancy was delicious and plentiful. We ate king salmon, Coonstriped shrimp, and halibut all caught nearby. Peggy, one of the owners made several dishes I wanted to re-create when I got home including a cabbage slaw with Japanese rice wine vinegar, mayonnaise, and ground cumin that was excellent.  She also made a fresh pie made from blueberries picked in and around our cabins. There  was a hot bean dip with tortilla chips served just after we returned from hours of fishing one day that was delicious. I figured it was just canned refried beans with a little something added, but wanted to make my own creation when I got home, similar but better.

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Since it’s hot in our area with the peak of summer upon us I love cooking in a slow cooker. My bean dip recipe is so easy it just takes five minutes to get it going and when done cooking just a few more minutes to mash the beans and top with cheese for a side dish or a dip. Using the mild Oaxaca dried chilies I bought from Melissa’s Produce the flavor is amazing. It has a rich smoky aroma that pairs wells with shredded Asiago cheese or medium sharp cheddar on top. To get these great dried Oaxaca chilies most of us need to order online, but it’s well worth it. Try this bean dip with a cool glass of sangria for a nice pairing.

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In the near future I plan on cooking up some halibut tacos and serve these mashed beans on the side. With a freezer full of halibut I’ll post a new recipe or two in the coming weeks, I hope you give the beans a try and please share this tasty and healthy dish with family and friends.

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Slow Cooker Bean Dip

2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans

6 cups water

3/4 cups diced yellow or white onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 dried Oaxaca chili peppers, or 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 t salt

Cook all ingredients in a slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

Strain liquid and reserve.

Mash beans with a potato masher, adding back some of the liquid until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with grated cheese on top.

Serves 8-12

Mash them up.

Mash them up.

Note:

This stores well in the fridge for up to a week. Just reheat in oven, stove top, or microwave adding a little water if needed.

You can mash all or half of the beans and use the remaining whole beans in chili or serve as a side dish.

To order Melissa’s Oaxaca peppers click on this link:

http://www.melissas.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=oaxaca&Submit=

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

Summer is almost here and that means it is time to eat more salads. Last year I read a book on nutrition and dieting that pointed out it is widely agreed eating raw vegetables is a good step towards optimum health. That can be tough for many of us to do but I hope to make it a bit easier with this broccoli and cauliflower salad recipe. If you buy the broccoli and cauliflower already cut into florets and have a good Italian or Asian salad dressing in your fridge this won’t take more than ten minutes to make.
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Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables and I go through a pound per week at the least. In the summer I try to incorporate it in fresh salads more often. This time of year I’ll serve this salad on top of my home-grown salad greens for extra garden goodness. My greens are almost done for the summer with the exception of kale which is just now getting mature enough to pick. I’d suggest putting this broccoli salad on top of mixed baby greens, kale or a lettuce and herb blend.
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Next week I go to Alaska with my brother, sister and my wife for our annual fish gathering vacation. I know when we are up there it is almost impossible to get good fresh salad fixings, but we will make up for it by eating fresh caught salmon and halibut. I’ll try and get in another blog post before I leave but if I don’t then the next post will be about our Alaska trip. Until then, I wish good eating for you and good fishing for me.

 

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

2 cups fresh cauliflower cut in bite size florets

2 cups fresh broccoli cut in bite size florets*

1 carrot peeled and sliced julienne stye diagonally into 1/4 inch slices

1 small red,yellow or green bell pepper diced

1/2 cup prepared Italian salad dressing

In a large bowl mix the vegetables then add dressing and mix all ingredients well and refrigerate for 20 minutes or more.

Can be served immediately, but will have a better flavor if allowed some extra time to chill.

If giving it more than 30 minutes chill time it helps to stir it one more time to distribute the dressing that gravitates to the bottom.

Serves four.

 

Note: I like a jalapeño or some other hot pepper to spice this up.

I usually add some of the broccoli stems, but chop them first.

Asparagus Rice Pilaf

In celebration of asparagus season I decided to develop an asparagus rice pilaf recipe for you asparagus lovers out there. I have been eating asparagus almost every day for over two weeks and still am not tired of it. I usually only buy locally grown so I expect the season around here is going to be over in about two weeks and I’ll be done with fresh asparagus until next year. I admit to buying the South American asparagus occasionally when I just have to have it, but I never said I was 100% locavore!

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Asparagus is so versatile you can put it in salads in its raw, grilled, or blanched form. To grill asparagus on over charcoal with a bit of olive oil, herbs and spices is true summer bliss. It goes great with Asian foods like a chicken and asparagus stir fry or even a hot sour soup with asparagus. In soups it really shines whether hot or cold.  I love the recipe I developed two years ago for a chilled asparagus soup using almond milk. You can find it here:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/category/soups/page/2/ The problem with most hot asparagus soups when dining out it the amount of heavy cream restaurants like to use.

a little help from Tucker

a little help from Tucker

What I had in mind was a rice dish using asparagus that would pair well with fresh Alaska salmon that is just showing up in local grocery stores and Costco. I served a nice salmon burger, and a side of stir fried bokchoy and Thai basil with the asparagus rice pilaf last night with great results. This rice dish would go well with grilled chicken, pork chops or shrimp. It’s fast, easy and healthy like almost every recipe I develop and hope you will give it a try and leave a comment on how it turned out. And by all means pair it with a hunk of grilled Alaska salmon and a chilled Pinot Gris, or Pinot Noir for a winning combination.

add the asparagus and cook a few minutes more

add the asparagus and cook a few minutes more

 

Asparagus Rice Pilaf

2 cups Uncle Ben’s Converted rice, or other similar rice

4 cups water

1 1/2- 2 cups asparagus*

1/2 cup minced yellow or white onion

1/2 cup fresh celery chopped

1/3 cup diced fresh carrots

1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon chicken base

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

1/2 t turmeric, optional

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, optional

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In a 2 1/2 quart pot on high heat bring water, onion, celery, butter and chicken base to a boil.

Add carrots and rice and return to a boil.

Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook covered for 8 minutes.

Add asparagus and stir in well.

Lower heat a bit and cook 5 to 10 more minutes or until most water is absorbed.

Let sit for 5 minutes covered or serve right a way.

Serves 4-6

 

Note

*About a half pound of asparagus yields 1 1/2 cups of one inch pieces after trimming away the tough 2-3 inches from the bottom of the stalks.

Alaska Salmon Recipe

Alaska has been a big part of my life ever since 1974 when I first set foot on Kodiak Island. I wasn’t sold at the beginning but that first step planted the seed. What really did it was moving to the Kenai Peninsula in 1984, and learning how to catch salmon.

a nice catch of red salmon from 2014

a nice catch of red salmon from 2014

Back then the Kenai Peninsula was a wonderland of all things wild. There were moose in our yard all year long nibbling on just about anything green. Wolves followed their ancient ways in the nearby mountains and hills. Salmon crowded the Kenai River in numbers that blew my mind, and the Cook Inlet waters yielded monster sized halibut and tasty cod for my freezer. I no longer call the Great Land my home but I manage to get back at every opportunity. Since 1995, when I moved to Colorado, I have hardly missed a fishing trip to that magical place.

 

If I had $5,000 – $10,000 to spare, I’d just go to one of the fishing lodges where they do everything for you except hook and reel in the fish, but the lottery did not smile on me this year so that trip will have to wait. For six days this summer my family and I will head up to Alaska for a week at a DIY fishing camp. We will pursue the mighty King Salmon, halibut, rockfish, and lingcod to bring back for a year’s worth of the best seafood you can imagine.

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I am so lucky to be able to afford and tolerate the rigors of a fishing vacation in Alaska year after year. It’s a lot of physical work to captain an 18 foot skiff in the open ocean or rivers in Alaska, and I’m not quite as strong as I used to be. Strength is important when fighting a 50 pound salmon or a halibut weighing over 200 pounds!

 

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I hope we are spared the six foot seas on this trip, tough. If you have never been in an 18 foot skiff in rough Alaskan seas, you are missing some serious adrenaline! My brother and I barely made it around Danger Point near Angoon, Alaska on our last self-guided fishing adventure back in 2002.

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This year, I expect to shoot hundreds of pictures and have my brother video parts of the trip. Watch for postings about this wilderness paradise of the Inside Passage, either on this blog or in travel media.

While I wait for the first fresh Alaskan Salmon to hit the local stores, canned salmon is a good thing to have in the pantry.  Pure Alaska Salmon Company is as good as anything I have tried and it’s ultra-convenient to pop open a can for salmon cakes of salmon salad sandwiches. Pure Alaska’s salmon is processed just hours after being caught, and provides a lot of flavor and nutrition. It tastes as good as the last of my catch from last year, now frozen for ten months. athttp://www.purealaskasalmon.com/our-story-pure-alaska-salmon-company.

If you try their salmon, please let me know if you agree this is the best canned salmon out there, and please share this salmon salad recipe with friends and family. If you have not left a comment to enter last week’s post on Aztec Turkey you can still get in as the drawing is tonight for the box of hot pepper goodies from Melissa’s Produce!

mix it up, then chill if you have the time

mix it up, then chill if you have the time

Canned Salmon Salad

1 7.5 oz. can of red salmon, or 8 oz. fresh cooked salmon

1/4 cup chopped celery

2-3 tablespoon diced dill pickles

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon Spike seasoning salt

1 minced jalapeño, optional

In a 2 quart mixing bowl break up salmon into flakes, and remove bones if desired -I leave them in when using canned salmon.

In a small bowl mix mayonnaise, Spike, and jalapeño.

Pour over salmon.

Add celery and dill pickles.

Mix well and chill for an hour if you have the time to do so.

Serve over salad greens, on bread with some lettuce, or wrapped in a tortilla with salad greens.

Serves two but is easily doubled.

 

Even though Pure Alaska Salmon Company gifted me some of their canned salmon my opinions are my own.

Aztec Slow Cooker Turkey

I have been reading award winning Precious Cargo by Dave DeWitt about how foods brought back from the New World by the Spanish and other explorers changed the way Europeans ate. I already knew how popular turkey is in the United States, but was amazed to read how much is consumed in modern Europe. The top five turkey consuming countries are: U.S.A., Canada, European Union, Brazil, and Mexico.

 

Before reading Precious Cargo, I didn’t think the French liked turkey at all. DeWitt writes of French recipes for truffle-stuffed turkey, and if you know how expensive truffles are you know this is one pricey dish! The English bought about ten million turkeys for their Christmas feasts in 2008, according to Precious Cargo. Italy is the fifth largest producer of turkey meat in the world with France and Germany coming in second and third. Who knew?

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Precious Cargo has totally changed my perspective on the versatile turkey. I have started testing recipes using ingredients found by European explorers in Mexico. The experiments are going very well and I love the taste of slow cooked turkey with tomatoes and dried chilies. But, just so you know, there are so many varieties of chilies it will take a long time to test and compile all the recipes!

 

Melissa's Great Pepper cookbook for one lucky winner

Melissa’s Great Pepper cookbook for one lucky winner

Since I’m all about fast, healthful and easy cooking, what could be easier that putting a turkey thigh or drumsticks in a slow cooker with tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, onions, garlic and herbs? It is wonderful to come home and open the door to this exotic fragrance wafting from the kitchen and enveloping you. With a few tortillas on the side you have a delicious meal ready to eat that took no more than ten minutes to toss in the slow cooker.

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If you don’t like the heat from dried peppers there are a few not as hot varieties available like: Anaheim (California), anchos, guajillo, mulatto, or Oaxaca. If you can’t find these in your local grocery store, they are available online. My favorite online place to find dried peppers is Melissa’s www.Melissa’s.com. Once you taste turkey with dried peppers and tomatoes, you will be hooked. Melissa’s has a hard to find mild dried pepper – the Oaxaca, full of rich smoky flavor that makes the turkey taste like it was cooked in a smoker or on a BBQ grill. To support your chili explorations, Melissa’s is providing a box of goodies including “The Great Pepper Cookbook”, and an assortment of their pepper products to one lucky reader. If you don’t like the hot ones, don’t worry – they can send you hot or not-so-hot products. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. For an extra chance at winning, leave a comment on my Facebook fan page about this post or peppers https://www.facebook.com/FastAndFuriousCook .

 

a bit of chopping for the onion and bell pepper

a bit of chopping for the onion and bell pepper

Get started with this turkey treat and see for yourself that it can be enjoyed year round and in ways you never thought of. Please let me know what you think of this recipe by leaving your comments, and please share with family and friends.

 

cut potatoes into wedges

cut potatoes into wedges

Aztec Slow Cooker Turkey

1 turkey thigh or leg about 1 1/2 pounds*

1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 clove fresh garlic, minced, about 1 teaspoon

1 cup turkey or chicken stock

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 oz. dried Oaxaca chili peppers, broken into one inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon Hatch™ chili powder, or regular chili powder

1 pound potatoes cut into one inch cubes*

1 cup frozen corn, optional

 

a thin layer of  tomato mix first

a thin layer of tomato mix first

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except turkey and potatoes.

Put about 1/4 of the mixture on the bottom of the Crockpot™.

Add turkey

Add potatoes

Pour the rest of the ingredients over the potatoes.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Serves 4 to 6

 

torkey and potatoes added next

turkey and potatoes added next

Note:

•I don’t skin or bone the turkey before cooking, but do remove skin and bone before serving. I also skim the grease off the top just before serving as the skin does leave a fair amount of fat.

•I keep the skin on organic potatoes, but peel them if they are non-organic.

Even though Melissa’s Produce gifted me some of their products to try my opinions are my own.

 

all in and ready  to cook

all in and ready to cook

Asian Noodle Bowl

Back in the 1990s, there was a great little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant in Boulder, Colorado that served one of my favorite dishes. For $3.95, they served a lunch special simply called Grilled Chicken. They would marinate, then grill boneless chicken, getting just the right amount of flame to brown it perfectly. The chicken was served it on top of rice noodles with bean sprouts and gobs of cilantro, making it hard to beat. They went out of business after a three year run, but I have never forgotten how much I liked that combination.

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That taste memory came back when I was in Orlando recently, and had a tofu noodle bowl at the hotel café. When I got back home, I worked up a great noodle bowl idea for a fast and healthy lunch or dinner.

the healthy ingredients

the healthy ingredients

You can make it less work if you are firing up the grill the night before – just add a couple of boneless chicken thighs or breasts to the grill, then refrigerate overnight. The next day all you have to do is boil some rice noodles for two minutes and chill them with cold running water. After the noodles are drained put them in the bottom of a bowl and top with shredded cabbage (green or Napa), shredded carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro. Cut up the cooked chicken and put it on top of the noodles, and veggies. Then top this with an Asian salad dressing (Annie’s Shiitake Vinaigrette is a good choice), and you have a winner.

chop and slice

chop and slice

This recipe of noodles and vegetables is versatile and works well with grilled shrimp, beef, pork, duck, chicken or tofu. For the final touch the noodle bowl can be topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds or dried bonito flakes (katsobushi). If you like it hot, try kicking it up with Sriracha hot sauce or jalapeno slices.

Noodles first

Noodles first

With the heat of summer not far off, this will shorten your time in the kitchen without sacrificing flavor or healthfulness. It is a low-fat, gluten-free dish that makes a good packed lunch or sit down meal for a hot summer’s day. As always please leave comments and forward this on to friends and family.

Asian Noodle Bowl

4 oz dry rice noodles, the thin type

2 cups fresh cabbage shredded

1 cup carrots, shredded or in long threads

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin longways

2 stalks celery sliced at an angle 1/4 inch thin

2 cups tofu, or cooked chicken*

carrots and celery join the party

carrots and celery join the party

Cook rice noodles per package instructions, about 2 minutes then rinse with cold water and drain well.

Place half of the noodles in each bowl, or plate.

Top with half the shredded cabbage.

Top with carrots and celery.

Arrange cilantro on one side and red bell peppers on the other leaving a space in the middle for the meat.

Add tofu or chicken.

Serve with your favorite Asian style salad dressing.*

Serves two as an entree or four as a starter salad.

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Note

*Grilled chicken, beef or pork hot off the grill goes well on top of this dish. Even though the veggies and noodles are cold or at room temperature the hot meat doesn’t adversely affect its quality.

If you want a cold or room temperature dish use chilled tofu or chilled chicken.

*For this recipe I like Annies Shitake Vinaigrette salad dressing or try my Asian dressing recipe at:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/spring-greens-great-salad-dressing-recipe/

Lentil Vegetable Salad

In late March, I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) meeting in Washington DC. While the theme was “Happy Birthday” to founding member Chef Jaques Pepin, the DC host team assembled a great list of local sponsors, tours, and three days of panels, seminars and workshops. Attendees went home with bags and minds full of goodies, information, and ideas.

Part of the eighty cake display.

Part of the eighty cake display.

 

The National Geographic presentation, derived from the National Geographic’s Food 2014 issue, gave me much food for thought. The image that sticks in my mind is an illustration of the amount of food an American family of four wastes each year. The piles of veggies behind the family and the meats in front forming a parade of waste is truly shocking, and disturbing. The article states that on average a typical American family of four tosses out 1,160 pounds of vegetables, dairy products, and meats in just a year!

Robert and Chef Tom at the  Melissa's table.

Robert and Chef Tom at the Melissa’s table.

 

This has to stop.

 

 

Modern American refrigerators are large, and some of the food we buy gets lost and goes bad by the time we rediscover it deep in the bins and shelves. A quick twice a week survey of every bin and shelf in our fridges could cut out plenty of waste. Making a grocery list and sticking to it helps cut out overbuying, and waste as well.

 

 

Using leftovers efficiently and creatively helps eliminate waste. A common restaurant term is “cream of walk-in soup” – a soup made from scavenging the walk-in cooler for vegetables and other foods that need to be used before they go bad.

 

A website like recipekey.com can help the home cook use what they have on hand. You enter what you have and the site shows recipes using those ingredients by percentage. With tools like these you can use instead of lose foods to spoilage in your fridge and pantry.

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As an example, the other day I had a few spears of asparagus, a nice bit of fresh cilantro, lemons, broccoli stems, celery, and some Melissa’s fire roasted red bell peppers in my fridge. There were some lentils in the pantry from Melissa’s Produce, so I decided a lentil vegetable salad was in the works. After a bit of chopping and mixing I had a great looking healthful salad for lunch. Without the lemon, and adding vegetable stock it could have been made as a soup. As for the amount of each ingredient you can vary the amount of broccoli, asparagus, bell pepper and celery significantly and still come up with a great tasting salad. This is a use-your-leftovers type of salad so feel free to experiment, and substitute ingredients as needed.

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Lentil Asparagus Salad

 

1 1/2 to 2 Cups cooked lentils*

2-4 broccoli stems, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch pieces

1 Cup chopped fresh cilantro*

1-2 stalks of celery, about ½ cup sliced thin

1/2 to 1 Cup chopped fresh red bell pepper, or fire roasted

½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths

1/4 Cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons chopped green onions, optional

1 jalapeño chopped, optional

salt to taste

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In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except lemon and oil.

In a small bowl whisk oil and lemon juice together for ten-seconds or so, and pour over the salad.

Mix salad with spoon or toss with hands to incorporate the dressing. Ready to serve right away or refrigerate for 2-8 hours.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

*Red beans may be substituted for lentils

*Parsley may be substituted for cilantro.

 

Even though Melissa’s Produce gifted me some of their products to try my opinions are my own.

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