Traditional Pad Thai

So, I hate to disappoint you, but the orange gooey mass of noodles that we call Pad Thai here in the U.S. is not true Pad Thai. Shocking, right? We sampled Pad Thai in almost every Thai city we visited (for about $1 on the street and seriously some of the best food you’ve ever had) and found it to be pretty consistent across the country. It is much milder in flavor than what we get here...mostly due to the fact that they don’t really use as much Tamarind in it, which is what makes ours orange.



The recipe is adapted from the one we received at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Som Tam – Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad

This is a super spicy dish...very deceiving too because it’s a cold salad and looks so refreshing, it makes you think that it’s purpose is to cool down your palate from all of the other spicy dishes your eating. Not so...this is one of the spiciest of them all! Of course, you can dial back on the chilis to make it less spicy, but then it wouldn’t be authentic ;)   The recipe is adapted from the one we received at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Lentil Country Supper

Oh, this is one of our all-time favorites. I got it out of a magazine years ago but I've been making it so long I can't remember which magazine exactly...but I've adapted it a bit over the years I think.  You’ll see it on my menus at least once every couple of months...so simple but so very soul satisfying, healthy and good.  It’s one of those dishes that really allows simple clean flavors to shine and makes you remember that sometimes, less really is more! To make this a quick weeknight meal, plan it when your roasting butternut squash earlier in the week for a different meal and just roast up a second one ahead of time.  You can also cook the lentils the night before while your cooking a different meal and then this meal turns into just simple assembly.  Even if you do it all the night of, it’s very easy the squash and lentils just take ~40 minutes to cook...but you can be off doing something else while they’re cooking!
Root Vegetable Tagine with Spice Roasted Chickpeas

This was a new recipe for us (from Bon Appétit’s Oct, 2010 issue), but it sounded like a delicious and hearty vegetarian Sunday supper so we gave it a try.  I say it’s a Sunday supper, simply because it is labor intensive...about 2 hours from start to finish (including 35-40 minutes simmering time).  It’s the type of recipe that scares off a novice cook just based on the long list of ingredients and multiple steps, but in reality it is all very easy...just takes a bit of time to do all of the chopping and seasoning steps. Stay organized and prep everything (like your own little mise en place) before you start actually cooking and it will go just fine!

One shortcut is to use pre-ground spices...but for the ones it recommends toasting, feel free to still do that with the powder (just really keep an eye on it since it will burn super quickly) to really enhance the flavors.  Also, the spiced chickpeas are a must...do not skip those!  I found that they could use a bit more seasoning though so feel free to go heavy handed.  A dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt on top of this dish would be a nice addition as well. 
DIY Tofu & Veggie Stir-Fry

It’s funny, we used to make stir fry all the time when we were younger and had less money but they seem to have fallen out of our regular cooking rotation these days, which is crazy because they’re simple, healthy and delicious. So tonight’s dish has inspired me to bring them back into the rotation a bit more often!

Since this is a DIY night, no precise recipe, but my approach is below in case your curious:
Barley Pilaf Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a new recipe for us from one of our favorite cookbooks, Almost Meatless.  The nice thing about it is that it can be a great vegetarian dinner or you can add a bit of crumbled sausage to it if you’re feeding people who can’t fathom why you would ever have a meal without a bit of animal protein (I, admittedly, used to be a card-carrying member of this group!).  But really, doesn’t sausage make everything better?  I digress! If you plan ahead and cook the squash, the rest of this meal is pretty easy and straightforward.  And for a cold, foggy fall or winter night it’s the perfect comfort food...actually a little reminiscent of Thanksgiving (which lovely flavors I personally think shouldn’t be relegated to just once a year!)  Pair it with a full-bodied Chardonnay (we chose Frog’s Leap 2009) and a week night meal turns into an intimate occasion worth savoring!
Curried Red Lentil & Swiss Chard Stew

The swiss chard was looking absolutely beautiful at the Marina Farmer’s Market this past weekend so I got a little carried away and stocked up.  Hence the need to Google myself a new Swiss Chard recipe to use it up (have you seen Google’s new Recipe Finder tab on the left...it’s quite fun and helpful!) before it wilted away.  I found this recipe on epicurious.com, and it’s a keeper!
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter & Bittersweet Chocolate

The one big, perfect ravioli!

This is one of our favorite pasta recipes...we’ve been making it since 2005 when I think I first saw it on Michael Chiarello’s then Food Network Show.  Over the past years though it has become even better because we’ve started making homemade pasta (with my fancy Kitchen Aid attachment...makes homemade pasta so easy!  We honestly never buy any flat noodled dry pasta anymore). But don’t fear, you certainly don’t have to go that far to make this dish a winner, feel free to buy pasta sheets.  The filling is sweet, rich and complex while the sage butter sauce is rich and savory (put lots more sage than it calls for if you like sage...it’s so yummy in this dish).  And then finishing it off with shavings of bittersweet chocolate is pure genius!