Eager to try some of the new recipes from all those cookbooks I had purchased I was looking forward to cooking for the first in 2014. Well, cooking for people not just roasting a chicken. My dear friend Marc, who I met in Vientiane, Lao PDR years ago when I used to have an importing business, came over with his significant other Keju and their lovely dog Lyng Chao (so adorable!) Our good friend Michael also joined us, he had just gotten some bad news and I managed to coax him over in hopes of making his really bad day a little better.
The spicy, sweet nuts and pretzels is a David Lebovitz recipe which I liked because, well, because I like pretzels and I thought it was a brilliant idea to add them to the tried and true sugary spicy roasted nuts recipe (he calls them Pretzel and Nut Mix…you know me always tinkering ). The thing is that everyone ate the nuts and no one touched the pretzels…so next time I think I’ll just revert back to all nuts all the time. It’s a great recipe my little twist on it was to add several handfuls of chopped fresh Rosemary into the dish just before serving.
The Beet Salad was from Suzane Goin’s book A.O.C it was time fairly time-consuming for a salad, the presentation is very colorful (like an Indian wedding after too many drinks, all orange, pink, red and green!) none of which matters because it tastes amazing, probably one of my favorite beet salads ever.
The main course is a dish from a hole in the wall take out place called Spicy Village which I have written about before and used to like to go to before the Times wrote them up and now it’s permanently swarmed with foodies and hipster’s instagraming their meals.
So I decided if I can’t go out for it I would try and make their famous signature dish: Big Tray of Chicken (catchy name, right?) at home. In more descriptive terms this is a spicy chicken dish with lots of cumin, fennel, black, red and Sichuan pepper in an oily broth that also oddly includes beer? It’s all served over a big pile of home-made hand pulled noodles.
After some searching online I found that Mark Bittman and Danny Bowien both have recipes for this dish….I mostly used Bittmans, but leaned towards a more aggressive spice use like Bowien.
The biggest fun of making this dish are the noodles which are very straight forward to make ( 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and about 3/4 cup of cold water for full instruction click here) the real fun is stretching them out! Below is a cheesy video of Andrew Zimmerman from the Food Network going to one of my favorite places for noodles Xian Famous Food (the location he goes to no longer exists – check their site for locations), I’m posting it because it gives a good demonstration of how to make the noodles and it also makes the point that these rustic noodles benefit from a simple, oil based sauce, something that will stick to the noodle…I’m going to post more extensively on my version of the recipe after I’ve tried it a few more times, watch this space.
Oh and the dessert also from A.O.C really pissed me off , but tasted good even if it did deflate like a balloon in a room filled with candles.