Saturday, August 30, 2008

Triple Layer Anniversary Carrot Cake!

Today's post is a very special one as hubby and I are celebrating our one year anniversary this weekend. Hmm, am I still allowed to call myself a New Wife?

{Photos courtesy of Alisha Clark Photography}

To be honest, I started this blog on a whim without much thought of the future or even if I would have a second blog post. The thought of choosing a title with longevity was beyond me. Perhaps I had enough lifelong commitments to deal with at the time. :)

Hubby and I have shared a wonderful and fun, yet crazy first year as husband and wife. In 12 months, we have managed to live in 4 cities, darting from the midwest to the west coast to the east coast and back again.

We've grown to know and love each other more than I could ever have imagined or even dreamed.

We've transitioned from the luxury of two incomes to a measly one while hubby attends grad school to become my favorite international economist.

We've lived on top of each other in a 500 sq ft DC studio....And managed to enjoy being so close to each other.

We've survived a condo disaster and our first trial as landlords.

We've eaten a lot.

{delicious mango shrimp from our wedding that I was too busy to enjoy}

From day one of our relationship, we've enjoyed good food, fine (and not so fine dining) and exploring new cuisines. Funny thing is that in those early stages of courtship, hubby was the cook. He'd invite me over for dinner and I thought he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

Me? I was too shy to cook for him. I'm not sure if it's the messy kitchen tornado I typically create or my very un-Martha Stewart-like habit of spilling, splashing and knocking over any ingredients in my 2-ft radius. Whatever the blocker may have been, it took me a good couple of months before I'd make my first dish for him. I suppose the rest is history; hubby probably hasn't cooked since we got engaged. I don't blame him, I have a food blog to run, folks.

In honor of the best day of my life, I'm baking us a Triple layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Our wedding cake so elegantly titled,
Light Carrot Cake Studded with Grand Marnier Soaked Currants, Layered with Cream Cheese Icing,
has to be one of the most divine, perfect, sinfully delicious things I've ever eaten. Tradition may call for a couple to eat their cake top, but ours is approximately 1,853 miles away in my parents' freezer. I was a tad afraid of freezer burn, anyway. So, I figured I should get in the kitchen and make us a "new" topper. Our glorious wedding cake:

Obviously, carrot cake has always been our favorite and since the caterers haven't offered me their famous recipe, I've stuck with Gigi's Carrot Cake recipe from Emeril for the past few years. It's certainly not for the faint of heart with a whopping 3 sticks of butter (5 with the icing), but if you're celebrating I say you should really celebrate. This cake has never let me down, though be sure to butter your pans very well and use parchment paper so that they do not stick. I also omit the pecans, though throw 'em in if you're nut crazy.

Here's my creation. Happy Anniversary, hubby. I love you.

{2 layers, one more to go...}

{Couldn't find the same orchids but figured these would do}

I can't wait to post a picture once we cut into the cake so you can see the triple layers.
I'm off to pick up hubby from the airport and we're going to see my favorite musician: Jack Johnson! Enjoy the long weekend!

Triple Layer Anniversary Carrot Cake
Courtesy of Emeril
3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (I omit)

Pecan Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (I omit)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside (I also line the pans with parchment paper and grease again). In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.

When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving. To serve, cut into wedges.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Lemony Blueberry Vegan Treat

When hubby and I embarked on our vegetarian experiment a few months ago, I was absolutely amazed by the number of quality vegetarian and vegan blogs, recipes, and guides available on the web. Oh, about 15 years ago I'll go out on a limb and say that at least 20% of the population thought Vegans were part of a freaky New Age religion led by PeeWee Herman.

These days, fabulous blogs like the Veggiegirl and Susan's Fatfree Vegan Kitchen have been convincing carnivores like hubby and omnivores like me :) that there is life beyond meat. During our veggie days, I found a lot of inspiration from both those blogs, amazed at the delicious creations I thought vegans only pined for.

Though that part of our lives is over, I've had Susan's Blueberry Oat Bar recipe bookmarked, just waiting for the appearance of juicy and plump blueberries to show up in the markets. Mostly, I have been eager to answer life's most important question: can baked goods truly be delicious without eggs, butter, white sugar...or even flour for that matter? Though I attempt to curb my consumption of the aforementioned ingredients, to me they're the heart and soul of baked goods. Take them away and what are you left with?

Blueberry goodness, I guess. For starters, this recipe uses Agave Nectar Syrup, an all-natural sweetner. No high fructose corn syrup or refined sugars here! Rolled oats are blended into a fine powder and moistened with unsweetened apple sauce along with some other goodies. Fresh blueberries cook in an agave sweetened syrup that makes the house smell absurdly good.

I tried to stay as true as possible to Susan's recipe, lest I make anything un-vegan. I added extra cinnamon, lemon zest, a bit more agave nectar, and a sprinkling of brown sugar over the topping. Well, I managed to do all this and then bastardized half of the bars by throwing a few (non-vegan) white chocolate chips I found in the pantry. Oops. It was only half. Forgive me.

These bars were exceptionally good. I will admit that they do lack the crumbly, rich goodness of a butter based crumb. However, if you eat these without expectation of what the bars should taste like, they are marvelously delicious on their own. I've been eating them cold out of the refrigerator, and cannot believe how many I've already gone through. Yum! Thanks for the great & healthy recipe, Susan!

Original recipe here from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Lemony Blueberry Oat Bars
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
1 pint fresh blueberries (I ended up adding about 1/4 cup more)
zest from one lemon
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with enough water or juice to form a smooth paste

3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) agave nectar
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

1. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, blueberries, agave nectar, and apple juice. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add vanilla and cornstarch mixture, stirring until mixture returns to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Put 1 1/2 cups of the oats into a blender or food processor and grind to a medium fine powder (I kept mine with a little texture). Pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the remaining oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the apple sauce, agave nectar, water, and vanilla, and mix well.

3. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing well to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon the blueberry filling over the batter, and spoon the remaining batter over the blueberries. Sprinkle with brown sugar and chocolate chips.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Omnivores Unite!

Do you consider yourself an adventurous eater? Want to give Anthony Bourdain a run for his money?

I was brought up with a father who eats anything from cow stomach (tripe- (KirkK, thanks for the clarification!) to pig ears . Gross, I know. As a child, I was mortified by my father's feasts, and secretly hoped he wasn't some kind of scary beast. Love ya Dad! Now I suppose I'm glad I grew up in such an environment. I am willing to try anything at least once, though I admit that I've regretted it a few times

(i.e. chicken feet = bad idea).

I saw this post on Cate's Sweetnicks, and thought it was a fun post for a Friday afternoon. The Omnivore's 100 is a list compiled by Very Good Taste and includes foods that Andrew thinks every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list of foods ranges from the mundane (PB&J sandwich) to the totally obscure (at least to me - Lapsang souchong).

Try it out and let me know how adventurous your taste buds are! See anything I must try? Have anything you'd like to add to this list?

Here's the simple rules:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I'll try anything once, remember!)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

If I counted correctly, I have 62/100!

Omnivore's 100
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (does Boone's count? :)
19. Steamed pork buns (a staple in our house growing up)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (I'd go back to SF just for this experience)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (I may have eaten rattlesnake, but not a big mac meal!)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores (sometimes a daily treat)
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky (ooh, I grew up with these as a snack! Hubby has never had them. Weirdo).
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (I'm no horse lover but this one kind of scares me!)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (rattlesnake sausage!!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Smoky Chipotle Pasta Salad

Today's post is going to be short and sweet, because after spending an enjoyable summer in D.C. I'm going home!! As you can tell, I'm quite excited.

Though I had initially been a bit reluctant (and a little bit of a brat) to give up my dreams of a sunny beach summer, I admit that leaving DC will be a smidge bittersweet. Returning to an urban area has reminded me of the joys of public transportation, eclectic & ethnic eateries, and of course, the ability to walk to a destination beyond my mailbox.

Beyond the perks of city living, life in the kitchen is sure to improve. I'm ecstatic to be reunited with my KitchenAid mixer, my pots & pans, and of course all of my baking tools. Having a little counter space never hurt either. I was getting burnt out on baking muffins week after week and using Tupperware, stock pots, or any other cylindrical object I could locate as my mixing bowls.

As I'm leaving for the airport in just a few short hours, I decided to do one last roundup of the kitchen and use the leftover ingredients lingering in the kitchen: 1/2 box of pasta, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from the quinoa chili, 1/4 cup of frozen mixed veggies, some stray lemons and wilted cilantro, 1 clove of garlic and 1 link of sweet Italian sausage...a motley crew to be sure.

I thought of making a hot pasta dish, but instead settled on a pasta salad combining all of the ingredients above. It's truly a clear the pantry type of recipe, so feel free to modify with what you have on hand. If I were to make this again, I would use fresh corn as opposed to the mixed veggies. I'd also use cilantro that didn't look like it was on its last leg! The pasta tastes best at room temperature so that it stays nice & creamy.

Once I get settled back into the house, I'm sure I'll begin cooking up a storm and have plenty of recipes to share.

Smoky Chipotle Pasta Salad
2 cups uncooked pasta
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 -2 sweet Italian sausages (I only had one but would use two next time)
1/2 of a chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables or corn
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil
handful of cilantro, chopped

1. Cook pasta per directions on box and drain
2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic clove for 1 minute
3. Add in frozen vegetables and the chopped chipotle pepepr and stir. If needed, add a little water to help the veggies cook.
4. Once cooked, remove vegetables from the pan and cook the sausage in the same pan. Slice the sausage once browned & cooked until no longer pink, about 7-9 minutes
5. In a medium bowl, combine mayonaise, lemon, adobo sauce, brown sugar and salt and pepper.
6. Add veggies, pasta and sausage to the bowl. Toss gently and sprinkle cilantro on top.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Turkey Adobo Quinoa Chili

Not to be confused with Summer Quinoa Black Bean Salad, today's chili has many of the same ingredients but is in chili form. Chili's perfect for these sweltering summer days, don't ya think? :)

Now that I've overcome my trepidation of cooking with quinoa, I wanted to try the protein powerhouse in something other than a salad or at a cold temperature. I browsed the web for awhile, and of course, remembered that Kevin of Closet Cooking had posted some tasty recipes using quinoa. If you haven't visited Closet Cooking yet, first you're a little crazy and second, you certainly should as Kevin posts tempting & creative recipes nearly everyday. Using his Black Bean and Quinoa Chili as an inspiration, I embarked on creating my first quinoa chili.

Trying to make Kevin's recipe by heart, I knew I would forget some essential ingredients, but I tend to like cooking soups/chili on the go. Well, I erroneously thought Kevin hadn't included water in his recipe. While mixing the ingredients, I couldn't get over how thick it was. Though he used 2 cups of water, I only used 3/4 cup so mine's pretty thick in comparison. I tend to like it a little thick so feel free to add water if you're more of a soup gal/guy. I also added in some extra ground turkey I had on hand and liked the heartiness it adds. If you omit the turkey, you have an easy vegetarian meal on your hands!

Hope you all have a great weekend! It's been a tough week for me in between work issues & condo flooding so I'm glad some rest is finally on the way!

Turkey Adobo Quinoa Chili
Adapted from Closet Cooking

1 cup quinoa (rinsed thoroughly) + 2 cups water for boiling
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cups water
2 19 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped with 1 tbsp of sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)

1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve until water runs clear. Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet for approximately 2 minutes. Combine quinoa and and 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large wok. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ground turkey. Continue to saute until turkey is no longer pink, but not cooked through completely.
3. Add cinnamon, chili powder, cumin and continue to saute an additional 4 minutes.
4. Add 3/4 cup water, tomatoes, black beans, peppers, zucchini, chipotle chili & sauce, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Add the quinoa and corn and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Athenian Shrimp & Orzo

As much as I love sweets, I try to be on average, a healthy grocery shopper. I usually select whole grain over white breads, and will pick reduced fat items when I know it won't compromise taste. In general, here's my thoughts: fat free salad dressing = quasi-edible; fat free cheese = gummy, scary mess; nonfat yogurt = yummy.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a tub of vanilla yogurt that blatantly advertised that it was "FAT FREE." After making his daily breakfast combo of yogurt, granola and fruit, hubby proclaimed that fat free yogurt was "gross. thin. unflavorful." mmm, kay. I tried to point out that his anti-fat free product aversion was most likely a creation of his head, but I was only met with a frown.

Fast forward to what's probably our 4th grocery shopping trip of the week (obviously not always the best of planners). We cruise by the dairy aisle and hubby mentions that Light 'n Fit has always been his favorite yogurt brand and tosses a few in the cart.

My response: "Really? I also love Light 'n Fit because it's fat free!"

He refused to believe me until this morning when he opened the refrigerator, groaned as he checked the yogurt label and saw with his own eyes a big fat zero next to grams of fat. He didn't say anything else 'bout it. It's all in your head, my love.

What does Athenian Shrimp and Orzo have to do with yogurt? Well, not much except that this dish is also healthy and low in fat. Though being low fat typically counts as a virtue, its sometimes best to keep those facts a secret from the ones you love. So, for all of you turned off by low fat meals, pretend I never told you.

Today's dish comes from Eating Well and is advertised as a heart healthy, high in calcium, high in potassium and low in fat meal. Because we still have no baking dishes, I skipped the baking, kept the house relatively cool and cooked everything on the stove. Low fat or not, we both loved this dish!

Check out Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by the fabulous Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

Athenian Orzo and Shrimp
Source: Eating Well
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 pound medium shrimp (30-40 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450°F Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or other 3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. (or skip the baking if your house is too hot already and cook entirely on the stove).
Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil.
2. Heat oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, capers, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper; cook for 5 minutes. Drop in shrimp and cook, stirring, until barely pink, about 2 1/2 minutes.
3. Cook orzo in the boiling water until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Toss with the tomato-shrimp sauce. Sprinkle with feta and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley. If not baking, simply toss in the orzo to the shrimp mixture. Add feta and parsley and serve.
4. Bake, uncovered, until the feta is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beat the Heat and the Deadline with Tuscan Fagioli con Tonno

Tuscana Tuna Bean Salad
Though I may be experiencing a sick case of writer's block, I love Grace's A Southern Grace so much that when she announced her roundup, I knew that even without much to say, I had to be there (or be square). Sorry, couldn't help it. I'm no longer nine years old, but I still find myself saying things like that all the time.

For much of the country, August rolls around and it's hot, sticky, sweaty, gross, and humid. You can obviously tell what I think of this month that's not quite summer, but not quite fall according to the clothing stores who begin selling sweaters in 90 degree heat. Well, to cheer up all of us cranky melting folk, Grace's Beat the Heat roundup calls for recipes that do not require any heat during the cooking process. I can't wait to see the roundup, and for those of you not in the know, you only have 2 more days to get yours in!
Though a never ending stream of no-heat recipes reside in my little imagination, time has gotten the best of me. When I've actually been cooking (not to be confused with cooking in my mind), I have repeatedly turned on the stove, oven and any other hot appliance I can find & cursed myself. I never learn.

Our time in DC is coming to a close, and with that I've been trying to clear the pantry and refrigerator. Browsing around for possible ingredients, I made this quick and tasty lunch combining cannellini beans and tuna for what I'm hereby naming Tuscan Fagioli con Tonno. I apologize if you're Italian and I've somehow butchered your language. I just thought it sounded cool :) It comes together quickly and easily and spares you from turning on those dreaded appliances. Best of all, its another protein packed dish. Testament to my absentmindedness of late, I diced up a Roma tomato from the Farmer's Market to throw in, but forgot it. It's good with or without so you can decide!

Tuscan Fagioli con Tonno (Tuscan Beans with Tuna)
1 can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Albacore tuna, drained and flaked
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil (use good quality)
juice from half of a lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
parsley (optional)
1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine beans, tuna, cucumber and tomato.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  3. Drizzle dressing over bean mixture and toss gently. Season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
  4. Serve salad over bed of baby spinach leaves

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Curry Orzo Shrimp, a leftover remake


I've been trying to compose a post for days now, and finally realized that I have developed quite the friendship with the blinking cursor. Despite the multitude of daily inspirations, my Blogger screen has remained blank, and for once in my life I'm at a loss for words! I'm hoping it's just a funk and I'll soon snap back into reality.

In the meantime, I've done a fair amount of cooking recently, though we've been eating out a lot with visitors and friends. As a result, our refrigerator is fully stocked with leftovers from DC's finest eating establishments. If anyone's interested in a city-wide restaurant taste test, just come a knockin at our door.

Last week, we enjoyed dinner at Satay Club, an Asian fusion restaurant highlighting Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Malaysian cuisine. I may be missing some, but those are the main countries I noticed on the expansive menu. The food bordered on excellent, with our favorite being the Curry Laksa, a mixture of rice and egg noodles in a coconut curry broth. We loved that tasty broth so much that even after we devoured the rest of the meal, we brought home just the broth for a little leftover re-do. Every gal deserves a cheatin' speedy dinner, don't ya think?

Using the rich coconut curry as a start, I sauteed red bell peppers, mushroom and garlic until softened, then added them to the simmering curry broth. I threw a little spinach in there for vitamins and good measure...A few peeled and deveined shrimp make everything tasty, also feeding my ever lasting shrimp addiction. Simmer until they are barely pink.

...and throw in cooked orzo (1 cup uncooked). Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes and voila! you've got yourself a hearty meal! I'm not sure if its common to combine orzo with curry, but we loved how the little pasta soaked up the sauce and turned these leftovers into a main dish. I'll certainly be using this combo in the future.

If you're an adventurer, try these recipes for laksa, found through the wonderful Food Blog Search.

Asian Satay Club
4654 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016 (202) 363-8888