I am a big fan of Google Reader, which is a very nice RSS reader, which, in turn, is a very nice tool that’s let you look at all the blogs you like to read in one convenient place. It makes your procrastinating much more efficient.
It also has a lot of handy little features, including the ability to “star” a blog post so you can find it easily later. This is very handy for those of us who troll blogs looking for things to cook. I’d been starring things for a while without really sifting through them, until one day recently when I was entirely devoid of ideas for dinner. Flipping through the 25 or 30 posts that I had marked over the previous couple months, I was surprised to realize that over 75% were from just one of the dozen or so food blogs I read regularly: smitten kitchen.
While there are a lot of food blogs out there that I like, and I think each (including this one!) has something good and unique to offer, smitten kitchen is the level to which I (and I think Claire as well) aspire. The photography is stunning and the recipes are extremely well-chosen, a nice mix of things to whip together on a Tuesday night and more elaborate dishes fit for a Saturday dinner party.
These cold peanut sesame noodles fall into the former category and are a great springtime supper: quick to prepare, good cold, and providing a reasonably high dose of vegetables.
So, to help make my point, check out my photo above and this close up:
I’m definitely still learning, but I think these two photos are not half bad.
Now have a look at how gorgeous smitten kitchen’s Deb can make food look. I’m sure she has a better camera than I do (most people with a camera at all have a better camera than I do), and I live in a high-ceilinged extra-shadowy apartment. But hot damn, she makes food look good. So Deb, if you need an apprentice, please give me a call.
So after culling thorough my own little best of smitten kitchen list, I decided on these easy to prepare, leftover-friendly noodles. With Deb’s endorsement, I skipped the toasted sesame seeds, and I didn’t miss them a bit. I also increased the amount of hot sauce and used, you guessed it, sriracha.
And actually, linking to that post makes me feel better about someday taking pictures and putting together posts as well as Deb from smitten kitchen. The early days of my posts on the Junta were filled with blurry, dark, or washed-out photos, and a lot of pics from Google images.
I’ve still got a ways to go, but the progress is encouraging. And it always helps to have a role model.
Peanut Sesame Noodles
Take (untouched) from smitten kitchen, who in turn adapted it from Gourmet, June 2002
Servings: Makes 6 side-dish or 4 vegetarian main-course servings.
For peanut dressing
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of the hot sauce or chili paste of your choice
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (dried linguine fini or spaghetti will work in a pinch)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips
Half a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Puree dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.
Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, cucumber and tofu to dressing, tossing to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.