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Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tipsy Times

My son Christian is here for a couple of days and thankfully, is whipping me into shape...technologically and otherwise! He is a whiz with this computer and has helped me gather all (well, most all) of my thoughts and dreams to date under one site...this blog. Feel the love, big love...this is not an easy task! I have a mind that can spin in many directions and formatting it into one spot can be quite like herding wild cats. And so, to balance the order and structure that technology demands, we are cutting loose in the kitchen.

Horses are a favorite animal of mine...they are precious and sweet, like big dogs. (Gosh, I should do a post on my pony Topper! Oh, we had such great times! see how challenging trying to stay focused is? Ok, getting the GPS in my mind back on track...) The Kentucky Derby ran this weekend and while not a fan of horse racing per se, I have to watch the Derby and marvel at those magnificent animals and pray for a safe race. Mint Juleps are the perfect go-with and after several years of different recipes, I think we mashed up a winner of our own. In fact, they were so good on Derby day, we had one last night, too! What the heck. Our mint is quite robust this year and if you need some, give me a shout. It is growing everywhere!!!

Mint Julep

6-8 mint leaves
1 Tablespoon sugar
crushed ice
2 1/2 ounces bourbon
simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water and boiled 5-7 minutes)
sprigs of mint

Put mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a cup or heavy glass. Crush and mash well. Fill cup with crushed ice, pour in bourbon and top off with a splash of simple syrup. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Yum. Serves 1

Now, Christian is also a confirmed vegetarian and conservationist and I have learned so much about food and helping the environment from him. Both he, his wife Reshma and sister Melissa (all veggies) are whizzes in the kitchen and have been cooking since they were knee high (hmmm...I sense another the post on those early cooking days!) When Christian was in college, there was a favorite restaurant in Boston called Brown Sugar that served Drunken Noodles, fiery and luscious, and although the name suggests otherwise, made without a drop of alcohol. And so, with Mint Juleps in hand, here is the homemade version we cooked up.

Drunken Noodles

1-14-ounce packages 1/4-inch-wide flat rice noodles* (we used 1 14 ounce package Tinkyada brand Brown Rice Pasta "Fettuccine/Pad Thai" size)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (we used combo of coconut and olive oil)
12 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Thai chilies* (we used 1 Anaheim, 1 Hungarian and 1 jalapeno)
1 16 ounce package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)* (we used 1/4 cup mirin)
1/4 cup black soy sauce* (we used organic shoyu soy sauce)
1/4 cup Golden Mountain sauce* or light soy sauce (organic shoyu)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 large plum tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
4 Anaheim chilies or Italian frying peppers, or 2 green bell peppers (about 12 ounces total), cut into strips
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves* or regular basil leaves
We also decided it needed some onions and a few shitaki mushrooms for "chew".

The ingredients with an * could be available in specialty groceries or markets, but we couldn't find them here and our substitutions worked well. If not a veggie, you can use 1 1/2 pounds of chicken instead of the tofu.

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and Thai chilies; sauté 30 seconds. (we did this a little longer) Add tofu and next 4 ingredients and sauté until tofu is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add noodles, tomatoes, and Anaheim chilies; toss to coat. Transfer to large platter, sprinkle with basil leaves, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

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