Strawberry Icebox Cake

This was good, but I think has the potential to be amazing. Tips for next time:

1. I made this by substituting bourbon for vanilla extract and substituting two of the graham cracker layers with ginger snaps. Delicious, but next time more bourbon in the whipped cream. Couldn’t taste the bourbon in the cake, but I could in the whipped cream by itself.

2. The recipe as written isn’t really meant to span a 9 x 13 pan, which isn’t very clear in the recipe. It’s supposed to be 6 graham crackers wide and long. I made it slightly bigger and thus should have made a little bit more whipped cream. It can also be built and stand by itself on a tray, you just have to be more careful when building it.


Vietnamese “Green Papaya” Salad

So much to say!

Holy shit, this was incredibly delicious. It had everything I’ve ever wanted in a salad and more. And it is plenty for a meal. It was time consuming, and I think I have some ways to cut down on time plus a few other tips for next time.

1. I didn’t actually use green papaya, hence the quotes. I used about half a head of green cabbage and one medium-large shredded zucchini instead of green papaya. It’s hard to find and often very expensive.

2. Flavored fish sauce: there was a little too much sugar here. I’d try cutting it to 1/4 cup next time and see how that goes.

3. Pickles – I love these on their own (I used smitten kitchen’s recipe, but it’s pretty much the same as the one recommended in the salad recipe), but I didn’t think they added a ton to the salad. It’s an extra step that requires little active time but it means you have to plan ahead to let the veggies marinate in the brine.

4. Tofu – This added more to the salad than the pickles, but it’s also time consuming too, so in a pinch I’d omit it. But it is delicious and surprisingly keeps pretty well. The tofu gets softens and turns into that sort of spongy tofu that is often served at hot pot.

5. Do make the fried shallots and shallot oil. I think it adds a lot.

Step by step:

1. Prepare flavored fish sauce to give sugar time to dissolve. Reduce sugar to 1/4 cup.
1a. Chop tofu and let dry on paper towels to prepare for frying.
2. Shred zucchini, chop cabbage, slice cucumber, chop cilantro and mint, chop 1 shallot. Add veggies (minus shallot) to a big bowl.
3. Shallot oil and fried shallots – heat 1/2-2/3 cup oil in heavy bottomed pan until a shallot piece instantly bubbles when thrown in. REDUCE the heat to medium, then add the rest of the shallot. Watch carefully so you don’t burn the shallot, it can get really gross that way. Then, when shallot is deep golden brown, strain oil into a jar and let fried shallot buts cool on paper towels.
3a. Fry tofu if you want.
4. Add flavored fish sauce and oil to veggies, toss.
5. Crush peanuts.
6. Add tofu, peanuts, and fried shallots only in the amount you’re going to eat to reduce sogginess factor if you’re going to have leftovers.

Canteloupe Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

This was really delicious and versatile. You could use feta instead of mozzarella, or better yet, burrata. You could use a different kind of melon, or even ripe papaya and mango would be good here. I used mint instead of basil because I like it so much better. I also used green onions instead of red, since that’s what I had on hand. I think it would be better with red onions, but the green onions were still pretty good.

And yes, serve with crusty bread and it can be a light meal.

Also, unsurprisingly doesn’t keep very well. Definitely eat within 24 hours. Might hold up a little better with red onion and feta, but the mint will still wilt.

Napa Cabbage and Kale Coleslaw with Creamy Miso-Ginger Dressing

Yum! So much flavor in this. Would definitely make again.

1. A little too salty. Trying cutting down on the salt in the dressing, because the cabbage sits in salt for an hour and that already adds quite a bit of flavor to the dish.

2. I used baby kale because I’m way too lazy to cut up regular kale myself.

3. Seems pretty versatile, could add shredded zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, etc. The dressing is delicious. I’ll add all of the english peas I bought (had to buy a whole pack of shelled fresh peas at TJ’s because I couldn’t find fresh unshelled peas). Just make sure to steam them for real next time, crowding them all in the microwave didn’t work out so well:)

4. You end up with a lot of extra soft tofu (I used sift instead of silken and it turned out fine…still not sure if they’re actually that different..). Here’s a few recipes to try and use it up.

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