Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers make Yeasted and Filled Merginged Coffee Cake


For those of you who who personally know my husband and I, you know that this month, particularly the past two weeks, have been a bit of a challenge. For those of you who don't know us, let me explain a bit. My husband is in med school, his last year to be exact, and is excited to graduate this May. And while we are ready to celebrate the passing of a ridiculous four year medical school carreer that, I am proud to say, my husband has worked really hard and done really well at, something far bigger looms in the future. Residency.

Whether or not you know how the Residency Match program works, I will spare you the gorey details. I'll just let it be said that it was a ridiculous, stressful, emotional, and crazy process that I never ever want to go through again. By some crazy twists of fate, drama, and some ridiculousness that I won't get into here, we didn't get our first choice. We didn't get our second choice. Hell, we didn't even get our third choice. But we did get a spot! I am thankful that we matched a program, and my husband will be starting his residency this summer. However, this comes at a price, and this particular pricetag has a cost of about 700 miles. In June we will be packing up all of our belongings, waving goodbye to our friends and family and making a long 13 hour road trip to our new home in West Virginia.

I am trying really hard to be excited about this move, this grand adventure that my family will be undertaking. We are moving to a town with about 35,000 people in it, so it is definitely a smaller, more close-nit place than Kansas City, and it is surrounded by beautiful countryside and tons of parks. We have done lots of "reserach" on Google and Wikipedia, and it doesn't seem like a bad little town.
But honestly, I'm having a really hard time being excited about this. Unlike my husband's side of the family who likes moving across the far reaches of the globe, my adventerous side stops at vacationing and sight seeing and random short lived adventures. At the end of the day, I like knowing that my friends and family are close by. I like knowing that if my car breaks down, all I have to do is call and one of fifty plus people will be able come get me. Or swing by at 5am and let my dogs outside on their way to work. I can take that plunge into adventure, as long as I know that my rope is securely tied to my carefully laid foundation. Even when I moved three hours from home, I moved into the welcoming arms of family and friends that were already here waiting for me!

Whatever I do to try to psych myself up and get excited, the town just seems to beat me back down. There are no jobs out there for someone with a biology/chemistry degree. I have no idea what I am going to do there. Work at Walmart? I'm still weighing all my options and seeing what is out there. Hopefully a good option will present itself. And apparently the whole town hates dogs. Several people hung up the phone when I asked if their rental house would accept dogs. One guy went so far as to tell me I could offer him $10,000 and he would still say no. Then he had the audacity to tell me I was "shit out of luck if I thought I was going to find a place that would accept maybe not not two" and that I might as well just get rid of them right now. You don't even have to know me to know that is NOT an option.

I know that once we get out there, I will adjust and learn to like it. I am sure I will make some great new friends, that we will find a nice, safe, clean house to live in, that I will find a job (or stay at home...?), a daycare, and that we will be ok. Everything WILL work out! This isn't the armegeddon, and in the grand scheme of things, I'm sure all this stress and worry and dragging of my feet will be for nothing. And I keep telling myself that it is only three years, if we totally hate it, we can always move back home. :) So I don't want you to think I'm depressed and unhappy, because I'm not. I'm just pouty.

So, if any of my blogging buddies live along the Ohio/West Virginia border - wanna hang? Anyway, on to this month's challenge!!!!! (And as a side note, I am SOO excited the weather is finally nice enough to take photos outside again! Yay for good lighting!!)

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

When I saw the title of "Coffee Cake", this was not what I expected. I expected a, well, cake! I would liken this more to a cinnamon roll type bread...thing. But whatever it's name or classification, its good!!  I really liked the meringue filling, and the chocolate, nuts and cinnamon-sugar worked beautifully in this! I am really glad that I followed this recipe as is instead of changing it up a bit, because I am pretty sure that this coffee "cake" is perfect!!

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter but the recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash:
1 beaten egg

Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using.
Chop your nuts and chocolate.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half.
On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side.
Pinch the seam closed to seal.
Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dijon Roasted Potatoes


Ok, by now you guys should know I have a tough time with side dishes. There is a definite lack of side dish recipes on here. I can do main dishes, I can do desserts, but I suck at sides. I know why, its just that I give too much attention to the star of the plate and I forget about sides until the last minute. So I usually do a salad, cook up some frozen veggies or throw some rice in a pan for a few minutes.

But these roasted potatoes steal the spotlight. I actually don't even remember what we ate with these, I can only think of these. I know we had a salad with them, but only because I see a sneak of a leaf peaking out in the a picture...So without a doubt, I think you should make room in this weeks menu for these!

Dijon Roasted Potatoes (weight watchers)
1.5 pounds new potatoes, washed and quartered
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Transfer potatoes to the baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
Stir potatoes and roast an additional 15-20 minutes.

Yields about 1.25 cups per serving. (4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hawaiian meatballs


Do you ever have the experience when a simple idea suddenly gets morphed, and before you know it, things are completely out of control? This is what happened on this meal. It started as a simple recipe that I found in a magazine -meatballs with peppers. But then when I went to the grocery store, they had pineapple on sale. Succulent, juicy, perfect pineapple. And it was only $2 for a whole pineapple. And taking into the fact that I had to spend ten minutes de-icing my car before leaving for the grocery store, i bought it.

The problem came when I got home. After google-ing "Hawaiian Meatballs", the only recpes I got were for toothpick wearing appetizers with grape jelly and ketchup. Not exactly the entree I wanted. So I went out on a branch and made my own. I baked the meatballs so they wuld be a bit healthier, roasted the peppers, onions and pineapple, and then went to work on the sauce. I kind of winged it here, and it took a lot more playing than I thought it would. I played with it and tinkered with it, and eventually gave in - it wasn't perfect until I added a tiny bit of grape jelly and chili sauce. Dang it if those appetizers don't know what they are talking about.

Hawaiian Meatballs
For the meatballs -
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup quick oats or crushed crackers
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1 garlic clove, super finely minced

Mix all ingredients, form into balls with about 1.5 tbsp mixture, bake for 20-25 min in a 375 degree oven.

For the veggies-
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
1 onion
1.5 cups pineapple, chunked

Thinly slice the peppers and onion.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven while the meatballs are baking (15-20 min at 375).
Roast the Pineapple on a separate pan for 10-15 min, or you can grill it on a grill pan.

For the sauce-
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup beef broth
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp grape jelly
2 tbsp chili sauce (or ketchup)
1 tsp cornstarch

Mix together and simmer until thickened.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fiber-ific Chicken Strips


A while back, many many months ago, before I became a pack mule carting a baby and all her belongings with me wherever I went, I used to go to the library and just...peruse.... I would wander aimlesly between the aisles, meandering between biographies and sci-fi, gardening and mysteries. I love leaving with a giant stack of books in as many different genres as I can, returning what I end up not liking and renewing a select few as many times as I can get away with.

I've always loved the library. I could, honestly, spend days there. I used to think being a librarian would be a perfect job for me, until I realized I would probably get fired, quickly. Instead of actually re-shelving books, my superiors would consistently find me sitting in some back corner, surrounded by a pile of books, reading.

So, one day, while I was blissfully looking through stacks and stacks of cookbooks, I found a series of books by someone nicknamed "Hungry Girl". Her series of cookbooks are for the women who want to eat WELL while also eating WELL. Meaning, just because I'm trying to loose weight doesn't mean I want to eat salad and a frozen entree. Every. Single. Day. What I like about her cookbooks is that everything is really easy to prepare, only a few ingredients are needed, and nutritional information is listed for every recipe. What I love about her cookbooks is that everyting I have tried so far as been good. I really liked it! It tasted good! AND I got the guys to eat it, too! Now that is saying something!

This ended up being a great recipe for chicken fingers. The flavor of the breading was great! It was slightly crunchy, not overly gooey like some breadings can be. The chicken ended up being nice and moist, and I didn't feel that they even needed any dipping sauce. I will definitely have to add these to my repitoire and make them again!

Fiber-ific Chicken Strips (Hungry Girl    <-- Important! This recipe is for ONE serving!
6 ounces chicken breasts
1/2 cup Fiber One Bran Cereal (Original flavor)
1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

Grind cereal to a breadcrumb like consistency. Do this either in a food processor or with a ziplock bag and a rolling pin.
Place crumbs in a small bowl, add spices, and mix.

Cut the chicken breasts into 8 strips.
Place the egg whites in a bowl.
Coat the chicken strips first in the egg whites and then in the crumb mixture.
Place on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Turn strips over, mist the tops with cooking spray and bake an additional 7-10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked through.

277 Carlories, 3g Fat, 696mg Sodium, 26g Carbs, 14g Fiber, 0g Sugars, 47g Protein, 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points. Not bad, huh?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hands Down, the BEST Cinnamon Rolls in the whole world!


I know what you are thinking. You are thinking there is no possible way that these could ever beat your favorite cinnamon roll recipe. I used to think that, too. Until this past weekend, when I threw caution and Weight Watchers to the wind and devoured.

I don't know what is in these things to make them so amazingly addictive. I should, because I made them... but somehow this amazing combination of yeast, sugar, cinnamon, butter and flour has molecularly changed in some crazy cis-trans configuration to be exactly like meth. Yeah, that's right, we went straight through all the soft core drugs, and direclty into the hard ball player's field.

Truly a Perfect Pair!
But I tell you, it is true. One bite doesn't satisfy. I tried. I tried to be good and only eat one... But I ended up spending the rest of the day ravinously pining for just one more.... Luckily this recipe makes a ton of cinnamon rolls ( 7 aluminum pans worth!!) otherwise my family would have been fighting over these like feral dogs.

See! I told you, SEVEN pans!! And I really need to clean off my table...
If you haven't tried the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls before, I strongly urge you to do so now. In her blog post about this, she jokes about how she could hole herself up in her pantry and eat every last one of these. When I read this I laughed and thought "she's so funny" and brushed it off because everyone always tries to say "my recipe is awesome, make it now!"

But Ree wasn't joking. I'm lucky I promised a pan to everyone other wise I would probably have eaten all 49 of these myself. Trust me, you need to make these, but promise 6 of your closest friends and family to give them a pan BEFORE you make them. And make sure they know where to hunt you down if you fail to deliver. You'll thank me.

Cinnamon Rolls (Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman)
  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • 3 sticks of melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon (better have one of those big containers ready, just to be safe!)
  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Flavoring
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ¼ cups Melted Butter
  • ¼ cups Brewed Coffee
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan.

Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point).
Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute.
Add 8 cups of all-purpose flour.
Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).
When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour.
Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle.
Roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape.
Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Be warned that some of the melted butter may in fact escape the confines of the dough and run off onto the table. Make sure tax documents are NOT in the way...Maybe you should just clean off the table, first...

Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you.
Keep the roll relatively tight as you go.
Pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in each of your seven inch round foil cake or pie pan.

Cut the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.
Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don’t skimp on the frosting, and make sure to get around the outside edges.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ridicuously Awesome Faux-Fried Onion Rings


I love onion rings.

A lot.

Especially those thin shoestring ones. Oh man, I could eat a whole basket myself!!! While squealing in happiness and licking grease from my fingers. And I would be in total heaven.

Unfortuntely, breading and frying slices of onion aren't so good for you. Or your heart.

Fortunately, I found a great recipe that is the best "diet" version of onion rings I have ever found, or would happily eat again. And don't think you're going to get skimped here. No, no my friends, I would never do that to you! For a grand total of 153 calories and 1 gram of fat (yeah, you read that right!) you get the whole onion. That's a lot of rings! Especially if you slice them thin!!!!

Make them. Devour them. Love them.

Per Serving:
1 large onion
1/2 cup Fiber One Bran Cereal (Original Flavor)
1/4 cup egg whites
dash of salt
Optional: add a dash of peppers, oregano, garlic powder, onion, powder, etc. if you want!

Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.
Cut the ends off the onion, remove the outer layer, and cut onion into 1/2 inch wide slices.
Seperate rings.
Crush the cereal into breadcrumb like consistency (use a food processor, or smash the heck out of it in a ziplock bag).
Pour the crumbs into a small dish and add any seasoning you choose.
Pour the egg whites into a second bowl.
Dip the onion slices into the egg whites, then the crumbs, shake off any cling-ons, and then place onto a baking sheet. Don't crowd them!
Make for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

153 Calories, 1g fat, 379mg Sodium, 41g carbs, 16g fiber, 7g sugars, 9g protein, 4 Weight Watchers Plus Points

Recipe from Hungry Girl, page 104

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin


The first Monday of the month holds a special place in my heart. It is an evening filled with laughter, friends, good times, and most importantly - amazing food. It's book club night. Now, for most people, book clubs include thought provoking questions and literary classics. Not mine! While my girlfriends and I really enjoy reading good books, we more enjoy being in each other's company, laughing until we cry, and of course, gorging ourselves on food. And this is where we excel, for every single gal in my book club is awesome in the kitchen.

This month I decided to bring Au Gratin Potatoes to the table. Having never actually made Au Gratin Potatoes before, I turned to the one true Southern-Gal-Who-Knows-Her-Cooking - Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman Herself!

At first I was slightly...questionable about this recipe. There is only one cup of cheese! Isn't Au Gratin Potatoes supposed to thin slices of potatoes swimming in gooey cheese sauce? But, I'm a trusting sort of person, and so I kept the recipe as is. The only change I made was slicing the potatoes instead of cubing them. I got a mandolin for my birthday (Thanks Mom and Dad!) and hadn't had the opportunity to use it yet, and, well, it needed to be done.

These, um, were amazing! They were unlike any potatoes au gratin I have ever had before. They were creamy, the perfect amount of cheese (I didn't even miss the cheese sauce!), and had fantastic flavor and texture. Make these! Now! :)

Au Gratin Potatoes (The Pioneer Woman)

4 whole Russet Potatoes
2 tbsp Butter, softened
1.5 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Whole Milk
2 tbsp Flour
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Smear softened butter over all the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish.
Slice potatoes, then cut into fourths.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.
Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.
Repeat this two more times, ending in the cream mixture.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for 20 more minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbly.
Add the grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3-5 minute more, until cheese is melty and bubbly.
Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Daring Cooks make Cold Soba Salad and Tempura

Wowza, I am soo late.

I don't really know what happened. One day it was the 17th, I was excitedly printing out my newest Daring Cooks Challenge, and it seemed like I blinked, it was the 12th of February and I realized that not only was I not ready to do my post, but that I hadn't even made the challenge yet! Yikes! I did a scramble to the grocery store, but of course they had none of hte crazy ingredients from the recipe we were given (it didn't help that they were all in Japanese, either...)

Ok, so I was going to be a little late this month, I could accept that. What I didn't know what HOW late I was going to be! Geesh!

I blame it all on this little face, though.

One second she was innocently sitting on her blanket, shaking her rattle and making cute little "Babababa" noises, and the next she was on her belly, army crawling for dear life, throwing handfuls of dog food from bowls, ripping hidden dust bunny villages from under the couch, trying to eat whatever she can get into her mouth before I dive-bomb her from across the room and pull it out of her sweet little chubby hand...

Whew, no wonder I didn't get this challenge done on time! :) Once I did complete it, though, I was glad that I did! I was a little nervous about a cold noodle salad (I like my noodles hot and covered in thick sauce!), but all the flavors here were very good! Unique, for sure, but really enjoyable! I liked the tempura, too, it almost makes eating fried foods not so bad if you think of it as eating green beans, sweet potatoes and zucchini! :)

Cold Soba Salad - I have no idea where I got this recipe, it just turned up in my in-box. :)

·         1 pound soba noodles
1/4  cup  rice vinegar
·         tablespoons  soy sauce
·         tablespoons  sesame oil
·         2 tsp honey or agave nectar
·         tablespoon  powdered wasabi
·         1/2  cup  minced green onions
·         1/4  cup  dried bonito flakes (optional)
·         Toasted Sesame Seeds
toppings: Shredded carrots, diced cucumber, scrambled egg, sliced cabbage, mushrooms, green onions,  ham,
In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender to bite, 3 to 6 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse gently under cold running water until cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and wasabi.
Pour about half the dressing into a small bowl and reserve.
Add noodles to the large bowl; mix to coat.
Cover and chill until cold, about 1 hour, or up to 4 hours.
Just before serving, add reserved dressing to noodles and mix to coat.
Sprinkle salad with green onions and bonito flakes, if using.
Top with any toppings you wish.
Sliced Ham, Cucumber, Red Pepper, and Scrambled Eggs!

Tempura - Alton Brown

5 ounces unbleached cake flour
5 ounces white rice flour
1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water
1/2 cup vodka
Kosher salt
Whisk the cake flour and rice flour together in a medium glass bowl. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.
Once the temperature reaches 365 degrees F, whisk the egg, seltzer water and vodka, in a medium mixing bowl.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and whisk to combine, about 10 to 15 seconds. Some lumps may remain.
Set the glass bowl in a larger bowl lined with ice.
Dip the veggies into the batter using tongs, drain for 2 to 3 seconds over the bowl, and then add to the hot oil.
Adjust the heat to maintain between 375 and 400 degrees F.
Fry 6 to 8 pieces, at a time, until puffy and very light golden, about 1 to 2 minutes
Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels set over a half sheet pan.
Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
Repeat the same dipping and frying procedure with the remaining vegetables.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
In a blender blend ¼ c peanut butter, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 minced garlic, ¼ tsp red hot pepper flakes, ¼ tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup hot water until the sauce is smooth.


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