Chicken Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Chicken Caesar SaladI inherited this recipe from my sister-n-law a couple of years ago and it is a salad that I come back to during the course of the year. It is a chicken caesar salad with a twist, because it contains bow tie noodles. The noodles add a nice texture to the salad that keeps you coming back for more. This is another really simple recipe that takes you about as long as it takes to cook the noodles to put together.

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • Half a head of Romain lettuce, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 box of bow tie noodles, cooked al dente
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, more if you prefer
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Homemade Croutons (see below)
  • 2 chicken breasts, marinated in olive oil and garlic, grilled and sliced
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • Caesar salad dressing, or you could provide ranch or another creamy blend

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, and begin cooking the noodles. During this time, you can practice your multitasking skills by cooking chicken on the grill, as well as washing and chopping your vegetables. Once the noodles are done, drain and rinse with cold water. You want the noodles to be cooled, not warm when you add them to the rest of the ingredients, this goes the same with the chicken.  Remove the cooked chicken from the grill, and set aside to cool, roughly 10 minutes, then thinly slice. Now, to a large bowl, add all of the ingredients with the exception of the salad dressing. Toss all of your ingredients and mix well. Serve in a large salad bowl and top with your favorite creamy dressing. Enjoy!

Homemade Croutons:

  • 1 loaf of 3 day old french bread
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 6 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 tbs of dried basil
  • 1 tbs garlic salt
  • 3 tbs parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Homemade CroutonsStart by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. With a bread knife, remove all of the outer crusts. Cut the bread into sections and into cubes, to whatever size you prefer. I like them larger. Melt the butter, then add the olive oil and herbs to the butter. With a pastry brush, begin by coating all bread cubes with the herbed butter mixture. Place these on a baking sheet and cooked for roughly 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Place in a bowl and toss with the parmesan cheese.

Vietnamese Summer Salad

Vietnamese Summer SaladI have been to a few Vietnamese restaurants in my time, and there is a dish that they have, I know it as B14 from the menu (as one of my colleagues ordered this dish a couple of years ago) that is really delicious. I took a stab at making, what I call the Vietnamese summer salad, last week. This cold salad is really easy to put together, is healthy in ingredients, and packs a punch in flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Rice Noodles (I used Bihon)
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Thinly slicked cucumbers
  • Thinly sliced green onions
  • Chopped Lettuce, I used Romaine
  • Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Sauce (see below)
  • Thinly sliced bbq pork (optional)

For the bbq pork, I used boneless pork chops and marinaded them in soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh garlic, black pepper, and sherry cooking wine. Let the pork chops marinade for three to six hours before grilling and slicing.

To cook the noodles, I simply bring a large pot of water close to a boil, placing the noodles in the hot water until tender, careful not to overcook. Drain, rinse the noodles with cold water and set aside.

As your water is boiling, this is the time to prepare all of your vegetables, keeping in mind to thinly slice everything.

For the sauce, bring the following to a boil, then let simmer until thickened.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 tbs white vinegar
  • 4 tbs of water
  • 4 tbs of white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2 Thai peppers, more if you want a spicier flavor

To prepare the salad, add an amount of noodles to the bottom of your serving bowl, add some sauce to the noodles, then add your vegetables and pork. Add more sauce to the top, then dig in. This salad packs freshness and taste and is perfect for the summer. Enjoy.

Pancit Bihon

Another simple dish that is easy to make is Pancit Bihon. This is another recipe my wife shared with me, and I have tweaked to make it my own.

Pancit Bihon Recipe

Pancit is very thin rice noodles. You can make them with meat and vegetables. My recipe includes the following:

  • 1 bag of Pancit Bihon
  • Olive or canola oil
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery, chopped the same size as carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped the same
  • Cooked chicken, shredded, chopped
  • Shrimp, shell or no shell (optional)
  • Salt, Black pepper

Soak the noodles in warm/hot water for nearly 30 minutes. This process softens the noodles. Be mindful that over heating these noodles will kill the dish.

Chop your vegetables and get them ready as this is a pretty fast process. Lightly oil a large wok or cooking dish. Add your vegetables and sauté for 8-10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chicken and shrimp (optional) and mix. Salt and pepper the mixture. Drain your noodles, however reserve a half cup of the water. Add the noodles to the mix and with a couple of large spoons, toss and turn to mix everything together. Add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and keep mixing. Add more pepper to your liking.

Taste and add more soy sauce, salt or pepper, if needed. Serve immediately. This dish is really good as a leftover as well.

Som Tam Recipe – Thai Papaya Salad

After spending a lovely day with my wife, I decided to invite my in-laws over for a Mother’s Day dinner. Seeing that my father-in-law is Filipino, I decided to make his yummy barbecue recipe, my egg rolls, a thai papaya salad that will rock your socks off, pancit with chicken and shrimp, and curry mussels. Sounds like a lot. It was.
Som Tam Recipe
I started off the family with a dozen or so egg rolls that I wrapped a few weeks back. My father-n-law said these were better than the Filipino ones, so I took that as a serious compliment. I kept the sauce for the egg rolls really simple. White vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground pepper.

Anyway, I am not posting about egg rolls, as I posted that on Seis de Mayo. Because I was making pork barbecue, I wanted to introduce something spicy, sweet, and tangy. Bring on the papaya salad. This has some intense flavors and smells so prepare yourself.

Ingredients include:

  • 1 young papaya (larger in length, green) commonly found in asian markets.
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (beware of the smell, but move on)
  • 3 TB of nam pla (I use the 3 crab brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 red thai peppers (spicy, so adjust to 1, 2, 3, or more)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Asian Green beans (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

First peel the papaya. Once peeled, shred the papaya until thin strips. Once you have enough for your salad, add garlic, shrimp paste, tomatoes, beans, and thai peppers to a mortar and pound with a wooden pestle (I purchased both mortar and pestle at an asian market for six dollars). Do not pound too hard as you really just want to bring out the juices of the bean and tomatoes.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, peanuts, and sugar into the mortar and begin to use your pestle and a large spoon and begin to toss and mix. Transfer to serving plate and eat with rice, sticky rice, or fork and chopsticks. This dish brings great flavors, maybe not meant for everyone (most people at the table could not handle the intensity of the thai peppers, so adjust to your liking), however is great with barbecue.