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Chowing with the Hounds Picnic Recipe Requests and Discussion

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This is the place to request recipes for your favorite dishes at the Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, post recipes, and discuss the cooking of anything there. Post away!

My personal recipe requests are for David Boyk's carrot pudding with walnut sauce and Ruth Lafler's mushroom pate.

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  1. I too would be interested in recipes for the carrot pudding and mushroom pate. The pudding had that wonderful elusiveness that stumped my ability to recreate w/o seeing a recipe. Also would be a good addition to a Thanksgiving table...

    Don't know who made them, but would love to see recipes for the squid salad (what's in the dressing? how were the squid cooked to perfect tenderness?) and tangy, earthy eggplant soup. Lots of other good dishes too...

    PS. I always love hearing the context around a recipe, so feel free to throw in a quick background about how it came to be, how it fits in family tradition, challenges about prepping it for the picnic, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      Carb Lover:
      I am sorry that I didn't get the chance to meet you. Nathan said he had the torture of riding in the car with your wonderful chicken aroma! The chicken was just perfect-- moist and tasty. What's your secret?

      1. re: dimsumgirl

        Am sorry we didn't get a chance to talk too. Glad you enjoyed the chicken (photo below). I'm not a fried chicken expert in the least, but love the idea of fried chicken for picnics and figured it would be easy to transport and keeping hot/cold wouldn't be an issue. The downside is that it's not a dish like a salad or lasagna where people can take small portions since everything is already portioned. Regret not making more...I was going to just make a regular Southern fried chicken, but decided to add my Asian twist by using coconut milk, madras curry powder, and some panko. Thanks to rudeboy and yimster for giving me some inspiration there. I still like my Southern version w/ a buttermilk soak and some cornmeal in the coating, but this twist was a nice change from the standard.

        I'm not going to post a step-by-step recipe, but highlight a few "secrets" that I believe make a difference for my version of fried chicken:

        1. Dry brining 1-2 days before cooking. I basically salt and pepper chicken pieces all over, place in single layer on tray w/o overcrowding, loosely cover in fridge w/ plastic wrap. I use about 3/4 tsp. kosher salt per lb. of chicken and go easy on the black pepper. Note: I tried wet brining during a trial and found the meat to be watery and mushy.

        2. Pre-soak brined pieces in regular coconut milk for 2-8 hours. Longer might even be ok.

        3. Coating for one 4 lb. bird (cut into 10 pieces) consists of 1 c. AP flour, 1 c. panko crumbs, 1.5 tsp. kosher salt, 2 tsp. madras curry powder, 2/3 tsp. cayenne. Let rest in fridge uncovered (preferably on rack) for 1-2 hrs. before frying so coating can set and dry out a bit.

        4. Frying is the tricky part and takes practice to perfect, so I won't spell out all the nuances here. Must give credit to husband here who is great at frying chicken! We don't use a thermometer at all and go on visuals alone. Found that it works best to get the oil (I used TJ's canola) pretty hot, place chicken in, and turn down a bit. Cover w/ the lid slightly ajar for first 5 min. and then uncover to finish. Must be watchful and turn up and down heat as necessary. Total frying time is 12 to 14 min. depending on type of flesh and size. Best to fry white and dark meat in different batches.

        Note: I always have seen a cast iron skillet called for; however, for efficiency, I used both a Lodge cast iron and an All-Clad stainless steel saute pan. Interestingly, the AC kept the temp. more stable and kept the coating from darkening too quickly. I may switch over to the AC for good when making fried chicken.

        Image: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

        1. re: Carb Lover

          Carb Lover:
          I tried making this and it turned out great!!! This will definitely become a staple at my house. Thanks for sharing your technique! I hope to meet you next year or at a chowdown!

          1. re: dimsumgirl

            Glad it worked out for you...thanks for reporting back. The recipe is very tweakable. For a southern-style chicken, I soak in buttermilk and use a 4:1 ratio of flour to cornmeal. Too much cornmeal will make the coating hard and brittle. I'll use about 1/2-3/4 tsp. of cayenne per cup of coating, no curry powder.

            For a naughty treat the next day after frying, I have discovered that frying my own corn tortilla chips in the leftover oil is quite tasty...

        2. re: dimsumgirl

          The real torture was when after an hour and a half of smelling fried chicken I got stuck behind a mob of hungry hounds and watched the chicken quickly disappear. Luckily I rudely jammed my hand between the crowd risking injury from stabbing forks and managed to secure the second to last piece!

          1. re: dimsumgirl

            That chicken was amazing! I ended up with half a piece that my son couldn't finish and I was sooo glad to have it. Otherwise I would have missed out, that would've been a crime. Truly one of the highlights for me. Blue ribbon for that chicken!

        3. I want David's carrot pudding recipe, too! I already have a spot reserved for it on my Thanksgiving table.

          The mushroom almond pate is an old Sunset recipe -- if you google "mushroom almond pate" you find links to the identical recipe on many sites. But since I altered it a little, I'll post it here as well.

          As for family stories around a dish, this dish is famous in my family for being the only way I'll eat mushrooms, which I loathe in almost every other form.

          3/4 pound mushrooms
          1 cup slivered almonds
          1 clove garlic
          1 small yellow onion
          1/4 cup butter
          3/4 teaspoon salt
          1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
          1/8 teaspoon white pepper
          2 tablespoons olive oil (you want something mild for this, not a peppery one)
          2 tsp truffle oil (or to taste) -- optional

          Toast almonds in a wide frying pan until browned (I was thrilled to see that Trader Joe's now sells dry toasted slivered almonds, which saved time and meant I didn't have to pick out the small pieces that inevitably burn when I toast them myself). Cool. Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade process garlic, onion and mushrooms with on and off bursts until finely chopped. Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally until almost all the liquid has evaporated (this takes quite a while -- the drier you can get it, the firmer your pate will be -- I cooked it until the mixture was wet but no liquid drained out when I stirred it). Process almonds until coarsely chopped. Remove 2 tablespoons almonds and set aside. Process remaining nuts to form a paste. With the processor running, pour olive oil down feed tube and process until creamy. Add mushroom mixture and process until pate is smooth. Add remaining almonds and blend with 2 bursts. At this point I decided to add some white truffle oil -- I used about 2 tsp., which didn't give it a pronounced truffle flavor but did give it more depth and complexity. If I were feeling more daring (rather than wanting to be sure I didn't ruin my picnic dish) I'd add maybe twice as much. Spoon into bowl for serving, cover and chill -- it's better made 24 hours in advance so the flavors have time to blend together and it firms up a little. Makes 2 cups.

          Someone asked if it was vegan -- you could probably make it vegan by substituting a mild olive oil for the butter. If I were doing that I'd increase the almonds slightly, since the fact that butter is solid at room temperature helps give the pate some body.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            What kind of mushrooms did you use/have you used in the past?

            1. re: nooodles

              I've always used just standard white mushrooms. This time I used mushrooms labled crimini, but not being a mushroom maven I don't know how much difference -- if any -- there is.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Criminis are baby portabellos. They have a bit of a "funky" smell to my nose, but I prefer their more earthy and full flavor compared to standard white buttons. I always buy mine from Trader Joe's. Thanks for the recipe, Ruth!

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              Question from an outsider:
              I'm guessing this is served with bread slices...

              1. re: Funwithfood

                Yeah, you can put it on anything you'd put pate on -- brought some whole grain levain, which was particularly tasty, but any thinly sliced firm-textured bread or even crackers will do.

                And Carb Lover -- I bought the mushrooms at TJ's, too. (vbg)

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                Thanks for the recipe, I really enjoyed your dish!

              3. I would like to put in a bid for Fred's corn recipe: it looks simple enough but I have the feeling that the right ingredients are key: and it seems to be the perfect side dish to bring to my scuba club's campground abalone feeds and potluck (since I don't dive for the abs)...or for any camping trip or cook-out!

                I'd also like the eggplant rolled around cheese appetizer recipe: it looks like it might be easy enough for me to master, and it is certainly delicious!

                OTOH, I am not going to bother to ask Al for his squid salad recipe: I know that he peeled all those squid himself (could using only very fresh squid be part of the secret to its tenderness?)...and I just am not sure I am up for that task. Al, can you bring it again next year? :-)

                6 Replies
                1. re: susancinsf

                  It was super easy!

                  My mother-in-law has a copy of "Forever Summer" by Nigella Lawson and while I was visiting her last month I jotted down really a lot of ideas from it. It's full of real punchy flavors, I just could summarize the concepts and main ingredients without obsessing over measurements or proportions.

                  So, in that spirit, here's Nigella's eggplant recipe:

                  Slice your eggplant about 1/8" thick, spray or brush the slices with olive oil, and grill them for 2-3 minutes on each side until they're well-cooked but limp, not crisp. For the filling, for each more-or-less half-pound of crumbled/mashed Greek feta cheese I added the juice and rind of one lemon, one minced hot red pepper, a few grindings of black pepper, and about a cup of chopped mint leaves. (God bless Berkeley where you can make a run to Andronico's at 11:30 at night and have two kinds of Greek feta to choose from.) Then roll it and pat it and mark it with a B, and you're done. Just as good if you make them the night before, which I did. For the 80 or so that ended up going to the picnic and the ten or so that I sampled while making them, I used 10 quite small globe eggplants, which allowed for a bunch of the slices being too thick or thin or small or at the ends (we'll grill those up tomorrow--pasta alla Norma hooray!).

                  What a fun picnic.

                  I am brave enough to take on Al's squid recipe. Rachel says she wants to help make it because she thought it was really good but too spicy. Al?

                  1. re: heidipie

                    Thanks, Heidipie! I will be making this for a potluck soon! (and I had at least four of your rolls, after making sure everyone else got theirs, of course :-))

                    the funny thing is, I am not a big fan of feta unless it is really high quality...but it sounds like you made the right choice at Andronicos....

                    did you grill them over charcoal?

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      by them, I meant the eggplants of course, not the entire finished product...

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        No, gas.

                        I'm picky about feta myself. The greek feta at the Pasta Shop is terrific, and I used it for about 3/4 of the rolls. I had them wrap it dry rather than in the brine, and that improved the flavor too, I think.

                    2. re: heidipie

                      Thank you for sharing your recipe for your delicious and beautifully presented appetizer! It was a pleasure to get to know you!

                      1. re: heidipie
                        Jennie Sheeks

                        My husband is pretty adventurous but not much of an eggplant eater, so we were both pretty surprised when he commented on how good your eggplant rolls were.
                        Now I can make it for him again. Thank you!

                    3. j
                      Jennie Sheeks


                      So, truth be told, I brought a big bowl of this Chicken Liver Mousse with some toasts to the Chowhound Picnic two years ago, and on the way home, had the epiphany that it would go really well with a fig paste or conserve or jam or something. Epiphany was very most definitely influenced by the fact that the Napa Valley vineyard where I work has this wonderful fig tree and let’s just say that figs are part of my benefits package.

                      1 Baguette
                      Olive Oil

                      Slice baguette & arrange slices on baking sheet. Set those ends aside for sampling the warm, runny mousse. Brush top side of slices with olive oil. Bake at 200, then decide that’s too cool so increase oven temperature to 400 but don’t forget about them. They’re done when barely golden around the edges.

                      CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE – From Barbara Kafka’s Party Food, which is a fabulous, inspiring cookbook if you love nibbles and appetizers and fantasize about throwing parties. Full recipe makes about 3 ½ cups, which Babs hilariously declares, serves 12. More like 120. Really, this is just butter flavored with chicken livers, brandy and spices. I made a half a recipe for the Picnic and it’s about enough for one baguette’s worth of croutons. It’s easier to make it a day ahead. You'll need a microwave and a food processor to make this.

                      12 oz. chicken liver, rinsed, fat & connective tissue pulled off
                      1 cup milk
                      2 cups butter unsalted
                      2 tablespoons cognac, and please, non of that cheap crap with caramel coloring added. I’m partial to Germaine Robin Fine Alambic Brandy.
                      1 small garlic clove, smashed & peeled
                      2 teaspoons sea salt
                      ¾ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
                      Pinch cayenne
                      Pinch nutmeg
                      Pinch ground allspice

                      Cover livers with milk and let ‘em sit at room temp for 2 hours. Then go finish doing laundry and making dinner. Remember the livers on the counter. Drain & rinse.
                      Place ¾ of the butter in a 9 X 13 X 3 inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish. Cook for 3 minutes at full power in a high-wattage microwave oven.

                      Remove dish from microwave, add livers in a single layer, cover tightly with microwavable plastic wrap and cook for 2 minutes.

                      Uncover, stir, try not to think about dog food, then re-cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully remove plastic wrap as it will be very steamy.
                      So while the livers are cooking in the microwave, pull out your food processor & the metal blade. Toss in the garlic, sea salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and allspice.

                      Now, we play with fire. You’ll want a really long handled ladle or a very small metal saucepan and a match or two at the ready. Maybe a reliable friend nearby who’s not afraid of fire. Put the brandy in your ladle or pan, heat it for a minute over low heat. Take a deep breath and use that match to light the brandy on fire for about a minute. Blow it out and pour it in the food processor bowl.

                      Now dump those livers and melty butter into the food processor and process till smooth. Cut up the remaining butter into small bits and process that in till it’s all mixed in. Scrounge around for those baguette ends and dunk them into the warm, gooey buttery livery goodness. Pour that stuff into a nice dish, cover with plastic wrap and let it firm up for about 3 hours.

                      Then tell your teenaged stepson that the dish you’re bringing to this Picnic you happen to be dragging him to is chicken liver based. Watch his expression. Try not to laugh.

                      ZINFANDEL FIG CONSERVE
                      1-1 ½ handfuls of figs, ripe, a bit squishy to the touch and slightly shriveled
                      1 cup red zinfandel wine, nothing wimpy
                      1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

                      Slice figs in half, arrange on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees till shriveled and foaming. Meanwhile, pour zinfandel into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat to reduce and thicken the wine a bit. Add the brown sugar. Check on the figs, wonder if that smell actually is the skins burning. Take the figs out of the oven, add to saucepan of wine and cook for a few minutes. Spoon a bit of the wine from the saucepan into the fig roasting pan, place the roasting pan over low heat and scrape up the sticky dried bits of fig from the pan. Then pour the wine & sticky fig bits back into the saucepan of figs and wine. Transfer whole mixture into blender, picking off blackened bits of fig and wonder if maybe rubbing a bit of oil on the figs before roasting mightn’t have been a good idea after all. Blend till still a bit chunky. Makes just enough for a tiny smear on one baguette’s-worth of slices.

                      So, I was afraid that if I assembled this at home in Napa that the croutons might be soggy by the time we got to the Picnic. Plus, I was afraid the herd of croutons might fly off the platter in transport. So, I did it on-site and having a pack of handy-wipes kept my hands clean. So, to assemble on site you’ll want the following tools:
                      1 large platter
                      1 table knife for mousse spreading
                      2 tablespoons or teaspoons for the fig conserve or another table knife
                      Something to wipe your hands on or with

                      Top crouton with a generous smear of mousse, then place a dab of fig conserve on top. (I didn’t have enough fig conserve for this, but it might be even better with a thin smear of conserve on the crouton topped with a generous smear of mousse.)

                      Link: http://www.titusvineyards.com/

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jennie Sheeks

                        Wow, no wonder it was so good! Now I'm glad I could only snag one piece.

                        I don't think I got to speak with you at the picnic, Jennie, but thanks for preparing and sharing this delicious appetizer.

                        1. re: Jennie Sheeks

                          This dish was wonderful and it was a pleasure to meet you as well! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will have to try this.

                        2. NOTE: The squid salad I made for the picnic was a version of one I learned from Bruce Cost, a wonderful chef who has done so much to expand American interest in Asian food. He had yet to start his Berkeley restaurant Ginger Island and was teaching a class in Thai cooking. For his waiving the tuition, I helped prep and got to sit in on Bruce's class.

                          About squid: First, I did not peel all the squid as Susan thought. (I should have let her keep on thinking it, I know.) I got some very nice squid supposedly cleaned, but they did need to be checked for quills and beaks and the tubes still required some rinising. These were a bit thicker than I usuallly get and did not curl as prettily as the thinner tubes do, but had a more toothsome bite in exhcange. You have to make a compromise either way.

                          Most important: squid is very often overcooked, especially when fried. This is why it gets that rubberband quality that makes it often not worth the chewing effort. For the smaller thinner bodied squids, I boil them at most 30 seconds. For these thicker ones, I made it 45 seconds. For tender squid, you cannot cook them longer! Less may work.

                          Clean & rinse one pound squid (use the tentacles too, ok?), slice open the tubes and lay them flat. Score very shallowly, on a diagonal with a sharp knife, then cut into 1x2 inch strips and boil briefly in a large quantity of rapidly boiling water. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking and drain.

                          2 T Thai fish sauce
                          2 T fresh lime juice
                          1 t sugar
                          1 t sa-te oil
                          2 t fine peanut oil
                          3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
                          NOTE: fine peanut oil is available at some Asian markets; it is a more expensive kind than that usually used for frying, and is not intended to be cooked. It is worth looking for to use in any cold dish that calls for peanut oil. At the picnic, Yimster identified what I wanted as Panther brand, which comes in a red can. I could only find Lion and Globe brand which is good for frying, but for this sauce I mixed it with olive oil to dilute the strong taste of peanut which the salad does not want. Improvise with oils of choice, if you can't get this stuff. Also, vary amounts of lime juice, sa-te oil, fish sauce, to your own taste. I used a lot more lime juice than is indicated here, because it seemed right at the time.

                          Vegetables and Herbs:
                          1 celery stalk, sliced on the diagonal and parboiled for a minute.
                          1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, salted for an hour then rinsed, sliced.
                          10 mint leaves, chopped finely
                          2 T chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
                          1 red jalapeno, diced finely or Thai bird chiles if you want it hotter.

                          Mix squid and sauce, add mint, cilantro, jalapeno, celery, mix again.

                          Lay cucumber slices on platter, spread squid/sauce/vegetable-herb mix over.


                          7 Replies
                          1. re: al@Fairfax

                            hey Al, you were the one who led me to believe you were going to have to do all that cleaning and peeling.. :-)

                            This almost sounds doable, even for me. What is your current squid source?

                            1. re: al@Fairfax

                              Thanks for this great recipe, Al! I really, really enjoyed the balance of flavors and textural contrasts of this dish (loved the tentacles!). I have never boiled squid before and think I've often overcooked when sauteing (although I follow recipes that say to cook longer than one minute). I wish I had taken a photo of it, but I know that Liz did.

                              I need some clarification from you or others:

                              1. What do you mean by cut it into 1x2" strips? I just can't imagine how that works w/ small squid.

                              2. Do you boil the tentacles for the same amount of time?

                              3. What is sa-te oil and is it easy to find?

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                So glad you liked it. People have usually responded well to lightly boiled squid in this salad. If overcooked forget it. I love fried squid too, but even in very good restaurants--Italian, Chinese, American--they can be overcooked just enough to turn them to consistency of erasers. One of my favorite tests of restaurants is fried calamari; when given a fast zap in very hot oil, they have the required crispy crust and meltingly soft interior. The heavy batter that some use almost guarantees the squid will be chewy by the time the batter is crisp. Since I eat 'em anyway, it is a good test.

                                Yes, tentacles get the same boil.

                                About the cutting: if you have to completely clean the squid (cut off tentacles and remove beak, pull guts and quill from tube) you might as well slice open the tube, eh? If you get them cleaned already, cut open the tube and you will have a flat piece of squid. (Cleaned Thai squid I used still needed rinsing after this step.) Then you lightly score the flat piece of squid (looks like a thinner calamari steak), then cut into the 1x2 inch rectangles.

                                Sate, pronounced Sa-Tay, oil is simply chili pepper peanut oil and can be found in most Asian markets in small bottles. It is reddish in color. It goes rancid but is easy to make at home--just cook chopped hot peppers in same amount of oil: 1 cup chopped chilis in 1 cup oil. Heat very slowly and check often when chilis start to foam up. When they show first signs of burning, remove from heat. Let sit for 6 hours, then strain and store in dark place. Use those tiny Thai bird chili peppers for a good blast of heat. Use a few drops or spoonsful depending on effect you want. (Full disclosure: I bought my oil for the picnic.)

                                Glad you liked it. IF you try it, let us know how it was. I have enjoyed your posts and if I spoke to you at the picnic I did not know who you were. If I did not, my loss.

                                1. re: al@Fairfax

                                  Thanks for the elaboration; it's crystal clear now. Am going to make this soon for sure since I love squid salad. Don't know about getting the Thai kind, but have a few sources for squid in Santa Cruz. I will report back w/ a photo when I try it.

                                  No, we didn't formally meet or talk, unfortunately. I happened to be the short Asian girl shivering in a denim jacket and flip-flops (note to self: wear sweater, socks, and sneakers next year).

                              2. re: al@Fairfax

                                Are you using local squid or the imported Thai squid? The Thai squid is much larger and easier to work with. Being a Thai salad I think that the large squid will work. Thanks for the recipe.

                                1. re: yimster

                                  It was indeed the imported Thai squid. Since the salad turned out well, I guess I am now converted to these larger ones over the small ones I was looking for.

                                2. re: al@Fairfax

                                  Made it tonight--sort of. Had to stretttttch last night's shrimp-and-squid pasta leftovers into tonight's dinner. I picked the seafood out of the pasta, and tossed it with lime juice, fish sauce and garlic, and then with cukes, celery and the kernels from Friday night's leftover corn. The tomatoes and basil still clinging to the squid and shrimp blended nicely with the other flavors. The noodles became a pasta frittata. It was as amusing as it was tasty--what we can get away with in the kitchen!

                                  Thanks again, Al. (Rachel calls you Owl, because that's what your name sounds like to her.)

                                3. Someone over on the SF board asked for the recipe. It's not exactly a recipe as I tend to cook by intuition, but here's what I have (keep in mind this made a gigantic batch, I'd suggest halving it for sanity):

                                  3/4C olive oil
                                  1 large white onion, chopped
                                  6-7 cloves of garlic, chopped
                                  a little salt

                                  sautee until onions are transluscent, then add:

                                  3 pounds bulk Italian sausage, mild (I used the stuff from Whole Foods)

                                  brown sausage, then add everything else (assume all vegetables are chopped):

                                  6-7 carrots
                                  2 celery roots
                                  3 yukon gold potatoes
                                  1 small green cabbage
                                  1 bunch kale
                                  1 bottle inexpensive Chianti
                                  3 cans soy beans
                                  3 cans lentils
                                  handfull chopped fresh sage leaves
                                  ~1t cumin seeds
                                  1 cinnamon stick
                                  3 bay leaves
                                  more salt

                                  stir well, and taste for salt. then add the juice from 3-4 fresh lemons, enough so that it is just slightly too lemony (will cook down with vegetables).

                                  Boil for a little while, simmer for a long time. I left this on the stove on low overnight.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Autumn

                                    I loved the stew -- it was particularly warming given the weather we experienced.

                                    Is there a particular size for the canned soy beans and lentils?

                                    1. re: Peter Yee

                                      I used regular sized cans, nothing unusual. Glad you liked it.

                                      1. re: Peter Yee

                                        I used regular sized cans, nothing unusual. Glad you liked it.

                                    2. I wonder if Kim Cooper would be willing to share her recipe for the Thai Shrimp Salad. One of my favorite dishes at the picnic!

                                      1. I've posted my recipe on these boards before, but I'll go ahead and repeat it here. One thing that I learned from this picnic is that the outer rim of crust is very important to the dish. I had two tarts that I needed to cut into about 50 pieces each, so most of them ended up as bite-side squares from the center of the tart. Those pieces were not nearly as enjoyable as those with a big piece of crust along the outer edge. So I suggest only cutting this into wedges so everyone gets crust.

                                        Leek and Goat Cheese Tart
                                        Adapted from Wine Spectator, October 31, 1999

                                        10-inch tart shell*
                                        2 medium-sized leeks, white part only, cleaned
                                        3 tbsp butter
                                        12 oz fresh goat cheese**
                                        3 eggs plus one additional egg yolk
                                        1 1/4 cup half-and-half
                                        3/4 tsp salt
                                        few grinds of fresh black pepper
                                        pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

                                        1. Preheat oven to 375F. Blind bake tart shell: line with foil, weight down with dry beans or pie weights, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights and allow to cook for another minute or two. Remove from oven and let cool.
                                        2. Slice leeks into coins about 2-3 millimeters thick. If you'd prefer a finer texture to the finished tart, chop the leeks into small pieces instead. Sweat in butter over low heat until very soft but not brown. Let cool.
                                        3. Whisk together goat cheese, eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. Stir in cooled leeks. Pour mixture into tart shell.
                                        4. Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes, until the top is just barely browned and springs back when pressed in the center. Let cool about a half hour before serving. Best served at or just above room temperature with a glass of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

                                        *You can just buy a premade shell, or make your own. The recipe below is one of my favorite pie/tart shell recipes.
                                        **Although not required, I like to use a blend of cheeses. I'll usually use about half plain (but still good) goat cheese like a Bucheron or Laura Chenel. With the other half I'll go with something more potent like Humbolt Fog. Just be sure to remove any bloom, rind, or ash. At the picnic, I actually used 100% Bucheron, but added a small bit of grated pecorino.

                                        Tart Pastry
                                        Inspired by Alton Brown

                                        1 1/3 cup all purpose flour, chilled
                                        2 tbsp corn meal, chilled
                                        1/2 tsp salt, chilled
                                        8 tbsp (one stick) butter, diced into 1/2" pieces, chilled.
                                        1/4 cup ice water (and perhaps more, see below)

                                        1. Put flour, corn meal, and salt into a chilled food processor bowl. Add one-third of the butter and pulse until it becomes a coarse meal. Add another third and repeat. Add the final third and pulse until butter becomes pea-sized chunks.
                                        2. Drizzle (or better yet, spray with a spray bottle) the water and pulse only very briefly once or twice. Pick up a small handful and squeeze it together. The pastry should hold together in a ball when you let go, but break easily when shaken or poked. If it is too dry (crumbles as you open your hand), put just a few more teaspoons of water, briefly pulse, and try again. Try to avoid pulsing too much.
                                        3. Squeeze pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
                                        4. Roll into a disk and lay into a tart or pie shell.

                                        This will make 1 10" tart shell or 1 9" pie shell.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. I'm looking for the corn cooked in the wok recipe. It looked quite simple, but man was the taste extraordinary. I saw cracked pepper, minced garlic, olive oil, and coarse red salt(?). Didn't see all the herbs that went in, however.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Peter Yee

                                            It was awesome. We noticed that he used both white and yellow corn on the cob so Michael got the yellow, I got the white so we could taste both. We vastely preferred the yellow.

                                            I, too, saw cracked pepper, minced garlic, olive oil, and red salt (when I asked, it was identified as Hawaiian). The only herb I remember was thyme.

                                            1. re: Pssst

                                              Here's the "Throw down Corn"

                                              In order of appearance

                                              olive oil
                                              butter (it melted in the bag):-(
                                              minced garlic
                                              fresh Thyme
                                              Coarse fresh ground pepper
                                              Coarse salt like the size for pretzels

                                              How to:

                                              However many ears you want to eat.
                                              Bring water to a boil add salt and throw the corn in.
                                              let it come back to a boil and shut off the heat and leave covered until ready to cook.
                                              Cut corn into quarters, fifths, sixths you decide.

                                              Heat your wok. The higher the heat the faster you work a leisurely pace is best to caramelize the "stuff to the corn"

                                              add virgin olive oil and unsalted butter 2/3 oil 1/3 butter or 3/4 to 1/4
                                              Then in order of appearance
                                              Salt, sprinkle and toss in before serving so it doesn't melt.
                                              Then you be Throwin Down!

                                              1. re: Freddy

                                                Thank you Freddy! Looks like a lot of us will be "throwin down" now :)

                                                1. re: Freddy

                                                  Yay! Thanks, Fred. I'm definitely going to be throwin' down while corn remains in season.

                                                  1. re: Freddy
                                                    Melanie Wong

                                                    One of the enduring memories of the 2005 picnic will be the infinite patience that Fred demonstrated in trying to get his grill lit in the cold and wind. I think it took him more than an hour to get that baby going. The end results were all the more sweet for it.

                                                    Link: http://chowingwiththehounds.com/picni...

                                                    Image: http://chowingwiththehounds.com/picni...

                                              2. I would love the tuna empanada recipe! Anyone stepping forward on that one?

                                                1. Nathan: Would you be willing to share your recipe for that outrageous lasagne?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                    Glad you enjoyed it. The recipe started out as a Batali recipe- I am a Mario addict. I did make a few modifications though.

                                                    On the pasta I added an extra egg yolk for richness. I was going to pick up some duck eggs at the farmers market for this but forgot :( I had some hydration issues as well as the pasta dough was too wet so I had to run it a bit thicker than I wanted to keep it from tearing.

                                                    On the Ragu (and I like the linked version much more than the tomato paste version that is also available at foodtv) I made a number of changes.

                                                    For the meat I used 2 lbs of ground skirt steak and just under 2 lbs of ground pork shoulder. (the skirt steak was based upon Paul Bertolli's enthusiasm for this cuts use in bolognese in his fantastic Cooking by Hand. Since I don't like any of my local pancetta I used around .4 lb of prosciutto chopped finely. (I have a butcher who sells his prosciutto ends for $2/lb) The meat was custom ground a bit more course by my butcher, sort of a sausage grind, and then I game the final ragu a quick pulse in the food processor to give it a finer texture.

                                                    I also increased the milk quantity by around 2X and cut the tomato quantity. I had almost 4lb of meat to Mario's 2.5 lb but still used 1 can of tomatoes. For wine I used a vernaccia and for brodo I used homemade roasted chicken stock.

                                                    I really like the base recipe though and don't think the added work of custom meat grinding made a huge difference. Good ingredients like homemade stock, good milk, DOP San Marzanos, lot of parmesan, fresh ground nutmeg all add up.

                                                    Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                                    1. re: Nathan P.

                                                      Bravo. You could really taste the care you took with the details, especially the ragu.

                                                  2. Roasted Eggplant Soup with Lemon and Tahini

                                                    If you’re vegan—this is equally as good without any dairy product in it at all. The recipe is also good with the addition of smoked sea salt in place of regular salt.

                                                    Serves 6

                                                    2 medium eggplant, peeled and quartered
                                                    salt to “sweat” the eggplant
                                                    1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                                    2 teaspoons paprika
                                                    1/4 cup olive oil
                                                    pan spray

                                                    3 tablespoons olive oil
                                                    1-1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
                                                    1 cup yellow onion, diced
                                                    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
                                                    1 teaspoon ground cumin
                                                    8 cups vegetable or chicken broth (canned or homemade)
                                                    1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
                                                    3 tablespoons lemon juice
                                                    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
                                                    1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish

                                                    Liberally sprinkle salt on eggplant quarters and place in a colander for 10 minutes; then shake off excess liquid. Drizzle eggplant with 1/4 cup of olive oil, sprinkle with measured salt, pepper, and paprika. Place on a foil-lined pan, sprayed with pan spray. Roast eggplant in a 450° F oven for 25 minutes. Using a spatula, turn eggplant and continue roasting for another 15 minutes until browned. Don’t be alarmed-- some of the eggplant will be blackened once it has been roasted. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until garlic begins to turn tan in color. Add spices, stock, and eggplant; simmer for 25 minutes. Add tahini and puree with a hand blender until smooth. Add lemon juice and chopped parsley just before serving. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

                                                    Let me know if you have any questions
                                                    Recipe by Susan Beach
                                                    aka: isimmer

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: isimmer

                                                      What did you use for broth and did you strain the soup? I only had a small taste late at the picnic but was impressed by the balanced flavors. I liked the texture as well and assumed that it had been strained.

                                                      1. re: Nathan P.

                                                        I used canned veg. broth. The eggplant purees up into a smooth satiny texture when you use a hand blender. I didn't strain it. I've made the recipe a lot and simplified it. If you ever end up with a too much grilled eggplant on hand--it blends up into a killer soup just use the same recipe.

                                                    2. Thank you to all who posted the recipes! There were some here I didn't get to try (like Carb's chicken), and now I'll have the chance to duplicate them here at home.

                                                      Like many, I'm hoping the tuna empenada and the fried corn recipe appear (I think I got the general idea from seeing Fred cook it, but it's always nice to be sure.)

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: JojoA

                                                        Here you go.
                                                        Tuna Empanadas

                                                        This dough is almost straight out of the Jimtown Store Cookbook (with a few small spice changes). I threw together the filling using flavors I like. At Jimtown they make these with a variety of fillings (smoked salmon with crème fraiche, veg chili, chicken with chipotle, pumpkin) you could make up your own filling using just about anything.

                                                        I took one 8 oz. jar of Ortiz tuna packed in oil and added mashed, canned chickpeas (about 1/3 cup before mashing) lots of fresh, chopped parsley, about 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemons that I made last Christmas to give as gifts, and several good healthy squirts of harissa paste from the tube. (Le Cabanon brand) I added salt & pepper to taste and a bit more olive oil to keep it moist and that’s it.

                                                        The dipping sauce was drained Straus full fat yogurt with chopped green onions and a little sprinkle of homemade Moroccan spice mix.

                                                        The dough is easy to make and work with and has a ton of butter. Here it is.

                                                        1 ½ cups unbleached, all purpose flour
                                                        ½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
                                                        About ½ -3/4 teaspoon each freshly toasted and ground cumin and coriander
                                                        1 teaspoon bittersweet Spanish paprika
                                                        pinch of salt
                                                        1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into ½ inch pieces
                                                        6 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into ½ inch pieces

                                                        Combine the flour, cornmeal, spices and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Scatter the butter and cream cheese over the flour. Process until the dough comes together in a ball. Stop so as to not overwork, but you don’t have to worry about overworking like you do with a flaky pie crust. It’s very forgiving dough.

                                                        Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Divide in half, flatten into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove the discs from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before you are ready to roll it out.

                                                        Roll out thinly (very thinly. I thought mine were too thick) on a floured surface and cut with a 2 ½ inch in diameter biscuit or cookie cutter. Fill with about ½ teaspoon of filling. Brush a little beaten egg white onto the edges to help seal. Fold the turnovers and seal with the tines of a fork. Poke the top of each empanada with a fork. Chill in a single layer on a sheet pan for 30 minutes before baking. Or, you may freeze and transfer to freezer bags to keep for up to 1 month and bake off a few (from frozen) as needed. To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes, reversing pan halfway through the cooking time. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

                                                        Enjoy! It would be fun to see what other fillings people come up with for these, so please share.

                                                        1. re: veebee

                                                          Thank you veebee! :) I'll definitely take your advice and try some new fillings

                                                        2. Thanks to everyone for the compliments on my carrot pudding! Here's the recipe, which I've adapted from Diana Kennedy's "The Cuisines of Mexico":

                                                          Budín de Zanahoria (Carrot Pudding)

                                                          Serves 6 (the one I brought to the picnic was actually the smallest version I've actually ever made, multiplied by 4 - usually I multiply this dish by 7, keeping all measurements in proportion, and it works fine)

                                                          Have ready:

                                                          A buttered Pyrex dish (I've used metal with no ill effects)
                                                          A baking sheet, placed on a shelf two-thirds of the way down in the oven
                                                          A sauce made by combining 2 cups fresh orange juice with 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

                                                          A food mill
                                                          2 pounds boiled carrots
                                                          6 ounces unsalted butter
                                                          A mixer
                                                          3 eggs, separated
                                                          1/2 cup granulated sugar
                                                          6 ounces rice flour, sifted (I've always used all-purpose white flour)
                                                          1 teaspoon salt
                                                          1/4 pound Chihuahua cheese, grated (since I cook for a 40-person house, I've always used cheap mozzarella and it comes out fine, but I'm sure legit queso fresco is better by far)
                                                          1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I accidentally left this out in the one I brought to the picnic, but I think it's better to leave it in)

                                                          Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
                                                          Pass the carrots through the medium disc of the food mill.
                                                          Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
                                                          Setting the egg whites aside, beat the yolks until they're thick. Add the sugar and continue beating until it is well incorporated. Beat in the flour alternately with the butter.
                                                          Stir in the carrots, salt and cheese, mix well, and lastly add the baking powder.
                                                          Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold them into the mixture.
                                                          Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Place it on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the over temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for about 55 minutes. The budín should be soft and spongy to the touch - the top and sides nicely browned, but the inside moist.
                                                          Serve immediately, with the orange and walnut sauce to accompany it.

                                                          Kennedy advises that when making this dish with carrots, rather than the standard peas, you should serve it with coarse salt and thick sour cream, but I've always ignored her and just served it with the orange walnut sauce.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: David Boyk

                                                            How about a recipe for the sauce?

                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                              Wasn't that the 2 cups OJ and 3/4 chopped walnuts mentioned in the original posting?

                                                            2. re: David Boyk

                                                              The carrot pudding recipe intrigues me. A few questions...

                                                              The boiled carrots have to be passed through a food mill. I don't have a food mill and don't want to buy one just for this recipe. (I'm assuming I have to boil the carrots until they are very soft).

                                                              Can I put the boiled carrots in a blender or a food processor instead? Or will the consistency be different? From reading the recipe, it seems that the carrots have to be mush.


                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                Yeah, that's fine. Anything to mash 'em up - with the one I took to the pudding, I actually put them in a giant industrial mixer and just let it beat them up for 10 minutes. It's fine to have chunks maybe rice-sized, but not much bigger.

                                                                1. re: David Boyk

                                                                  Thanks for the response. I'm going to try this in the next few months. I'm still in summer mode and this screams winter to me (I'm in the Northeast).

                                                              2. re: David Boyk

                                                                Thanks for the recipe, David! Really enjoyed this dish and never would have guessed it was a DK recipe. It looked and tasted so homey and American to me, perfect for a Thanksgiving table. For those who didn't taste this and are skeptical about boiled carrots, this dish tasted like a less sweet, more fluffy version of a sweet potato casserole. Am thinking sweet potatoes could be subbed in and the sugar reduced accordingly. Plaintains would be nice too.

                                                                I didn't notice the sauce, so ate it plain and thought it was delicious on its own. Since I'd prefer to not have a sauce on the side, have you ever incorporated orange zest into the mashed carrots and sprinkled walnuts on top towards end of baking? What specific cheese did you use for your picnic version? Thanks again.

                                                                PS. How is it that you cook for a household of 40 people on a regular basis??! Frat boys?

                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                  Thanks! I really liked your chicken, too. I used some crummy commercial mozzarella - not di bufala or anything, just a big ol' plastic-wrapped brick. I'm sure it would be more characterful if you used Chihuahua, but also probably tangier and more specifically Mexican-tasting. I've never tried doing what you suggest with the zest, but I think it would be delicious, and make it into an even more Thanksgiving-ey dish.

                                                                  I live in a co-op, which is like a frat house in size but unlike it in the sense that everyone is a nerd. It's nice, because we have cool stainless-steel industrial gear like griddles and jumbo mixers, but last year, when I was cooking alone, it was pretty hard to get a whole meal ready in 5 hours.

                                                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                    Given the original recipe and without the sauce, the carrot pudding made sense as a side dish. With the sauce and the modified recipe, I could almost see this as a dessert.

                                                                    With your suggestion of putting orange zest into the pudding and topping with walnuts, this would be a great dessert too.

                                                                  2. re: David Boyk

                                                                    I find the commonly available Chihuahua cheeses (e.g., the ubiquitous El Mexicano / Marquez Brothers brand) rather poor. I think a good quality substitute--a strong jack, mozzarella, or very mild cheddar--would be better than using that stuff.

                                                                    1. re: David Boyk

                                                                      I tasted this pudding at the 2007 chowhound picnic and really enjoyed it. I decided to make it today to bring to a potluck, and it came out great.

                                                                      I basically followed the recipe above - used Monterrey cheese, regular all-purpose flour, pureed the carrots in my cuisinart)

                                                                      After the pudding came out of the oven, I sprinkled on a small amount of paprika and an even smaller amount of cinnamon. Instead of making the walnut/orange sauce, I decided to make a guava-lemon glaze which worked really well.

                                                                      I used two medium guavas - i was lucky to find really ripe, sweet guavas at a store in the Mission in SF - I realize this isn't easy in most parts of the US though....peeled it, cut it into cubes, and blended it with juice of two meyer lemons. Then attempted to strain out the seeds, but didn't try very hard. Then I put it in a pot w/ some granulated sugar, some confectioners sugar and some tapioca starch (I was out of corn starch). I cooked it until it boiled briefly, then let it cool. Once it was cool, I spread it over the pudding, where it partially solidified into a sticky glaze.

                                                                      I thought this sweet/sour glaze worked well with this dish.

                                                                      It was a big hit, and I'll definitely be making this recipe again. Thanks to everyone who made this at the various picnics!

                                                                      Dave MP

                                                                    2. I am having a hard time writing the recipe for this dish. Sorry all my recipes are in my head. It is easy, but not the first few times. Also it is best cooked on a high output gas stove. I have not been able to make this dishe on a electric stove. I know Dave Boyd want it but are there others who want it?

                                                                      The cooking of rice in the wok raw is tricky. Not enough oil the rice sticks, too much it is oily. It is trail and error. You will know the right amounts after a few trys.

                                                                      I will be happy to post it, but this is a dish you have too learn watching it being done not reading a recipe. If the my fellow hounds want it, I will post it on Friday and then if you all have question you post it on another topic on this board.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: yimster

                                                                        I think you should invite all interested parties over to your house for a demonstration. Or perhaps we can rent out one of the teaching kitchens around town, and charge admission.

                                                                        1. re: heidipie

                                                                          My kitchen is not good for watching. It is a working kitchen not a teaching kitchen. So we need someone with a island work station to step up. I am proofing the final recipe. It will be up on Friday.

                                                                          I think little hediepie was so cute. I saw the look on her face when she taste the rice. She just popped up and ran over give me a low five and ran back to the food. Before tasting the rice she want nothing to do with me.

                                                                          1. re: yimster

                                                                            Sticky Rice Filling for Stuffed Boneless Chicken

                                                                            This dish can stand on it own but is much better when served in a stuffed boneless chicken. Not to be funny I do not have the writing skill to right out how to give a recipe for deboning a chicken. My son has always said if you could write like you cook you could write the great Chinese/Amrerican novel.

                                                                            If you have questions start a new post so that we do not overload this post. My son after five or six times cooking this dish has started to get the oil, garlic and heat down. So it is do able after a few trys. But do not give up of the frist time. For those who had this at the pinice I have done this many many times. Once you have the balance right it is easy if you are well to do the prep work of cut up all the ingredients to the right size.

                                                                            2lbs of raw short grain sweet rice (long and medium will not work)
                                                                            2 oz of BBQ pork, minced
                                                                            2 oz of lop chong minced Chinese sausage
                                                                            1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms minced after soaking
                                                                            2 oz fresh king oyster mushrooms, minced
                                                                            2 oz dried shrimp, chopped unless you get the small ones
                                                                            1 oz dried scallops (use more if you can afford this, about $30 a pound) pull apart, the scallops are whole so pull them apart so they will speard out better
                                                                            canned chicken broth as much as needed at least one can
                                                                            12oz can of winter bamboo shoots, minced
                                                                            about 10 fresh water chestnuts, minced
                                                                            2 oz frozen carrot
                                                                            2 oz frozen peas
                                                                            You can use as many or as few ingredients you want.
                                                                            Soak the mushrooms, shrimp and scallops in cold water for about two hours to restore.
                                                                            Reserve the soaking water for later.

                                                                            Wash the sweet rice and change the water until it runs clear. Add the reserved soaking water to the rice. Fill to the top with canned chicken broth.
                                                                            Place the rice covered in the refrigerator overnight.
                                                                            Saute garlic with mushrooms, scallops, shrimp, lop chong, BBQ pork, water chestnut, bamboo shoots, except for carrots and peas until they have softened and caramelized. Saute in oil and garlic. Place all the cooked ingredients in a large bowl and save until next day in the refrigerator covered.
                                                                            Cooking the mushrooms add a couple of tablespoons of
                                                                            either Chinese rice wine or sherry to the mixture this
                                                                            will add favor to the mushrooms. The wine will increase the flavor of the mushrooms.
                                                                            When you start to cook the rice, you first take out the rice
                                                                            from the container and reserve the soaking liquid/broth.
                                                                            Now it is important that you have enough heat to “dry
                                                                            cook” the rice. So cook the rice in batches. This
                                                                            is the hardest part of this dish. You have to use enough
                                                                            oil to keep the rice from sticking to the wok but not
                                                                            too much to make it too oily. The oil coats the each the
                                                                            grains of rice to help prevent them from sticking. When
                                                                            stir frying, the rice should be able to slip and slide
                                                                            in the wok. This will take time to do properly. The rice should be
                                                                            loose enough so that you can flip it in the air it will comes apart before catching in the wok.
                                                                            Heat a wok or high-sided skillet over high heat. Add
                                                                            oil to the hot wok. When the oil starts to smoke, add a tablespoon of garlic. After the garlic is
                                                                            cooked and changes color to an off white, add in the
                                                                            rice (the amount will have to be determined by your
                                                                            stove). My burner is 18,500 BTUs and I can do about ¾ pound of soaked rice. Stir fry the rice with the use of a Chinese metal wok spoon. Add more broth as needed as
                                                                            you stir fry the rice (note too much broth will make it soft and grains of rice will stick together). When the rice starts changing color from white to a cooked color off white you add a little dark soy for color and the BBQ pork, mushrooms, lop chong, shrimp and scallop but not the vegetables. After the rice is almost cooked, then add the frozen vegetables (defrosted if you are not stuffing a de-boned chicken if stuffing a chicken then just add the frozen vegetables). Combine and set aside and repeat the process. Rinse the wok after each time cooking the rice. Burnt garlic will leave a bitter

                                                                            This was a recipe from my Mother’s kitchen but I am able to make large batches of this since I have a strong burner and I am bigger and handle a heavier wok .

                                                                            This will give you enough rice to fill two chickens.
                                                                            Of course that depends on the size of the chickens.

                                                                            1. re: yimster

                                                                              you are amazing, and I am in awe of the SF chowhound picnic
                                                                              greetings from nyc!

                                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                                Help me out with some input. I not great in writing recipes so I have a question for you. Do you think you would be willing to try this recipe?

                                                                                In chow event I have benn asked about making some things but I pass on giving out the information due my lack of skill in writing out the process.

                                                                                I can copy by taste most Aisan dishes but writing is no fun for me.

                                                                                1. re: yimster

                                                                                  If I can figure out how to bone a chicken, yes!
                                                                                  I love to write/rewrite recipes...although I don't actually like to follow them to the letter. I am more of a cook by feel and loose inspiration, which is part of what I love about your style.

                                                                      2. Any chance that Kim Cooper would be willing to share the secret of that salad?

                                                                        1. m
                                                                          Melanie Wong

                                                                          This recipe is based on the version in Deborah Madison's Greens Cookbook. Some of you may not have tried it at the picnic because I was so engrossed in the wine service, I forgot to put it on the table until very late in the game.

                                                                          Sesame Ramen Salad

                                                                          If you want to prepare part of this ahead of time, the eggplant, cloud ear fungus, and snow peas can be prepped the night before.

                                                                          Wash a couple tablespoons of cloud ear fungus well to remove grit, hydrate overnight, then cut into thin strips and set aside.

                                                                          Roast 1 pound of small Chinese eggplants (approx. 4) -- pierce all round with a fork, bake in preheated 400 degree F. oven until soft and starting to wrinkle, about 20 minutes. Turn over midway to cook evenly. Halve lengthwise, allow to cool, then use a spoon to scrape the flesh away from the skin. Tear the soft flesh into strips. Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, one minced garlic clove, and the cloud ear fungus. Toss gently with half the dressing.

                                                                          Remove strings from one-half pound snow peas. Blanch to set color, then drain and refresh with cold water. Dry with paper towels, or allow to dry in the refrigerator overnight. Slice into thin diagonal strips.

                                                                          Peel, then finely julienne one large carrot. If you run out of time (as I did), grate coarsely instead.

                                                                          7 T. sesame oil 1/
                                                                          7 T. soy sauce 2/
                                                                          3 T. Chinkiang black rice vinegar
                                                                          4 T. sugar
                                                                          2 1/2 t. salt
                                                                          1 T. red chili oil
                                                                          Dash of ground white pepper
                                                                          1 bunch green onion or scallions, sliced diagonally into thin cross sections including some of the green shoots
                                                                          3 T. cilantro leaves, chopped

                                                                          Stir the marinade ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved. When I doubled this recipe for the picnic, I reduced the amount of salt and sugar slightly, but I think it would have tasted better at full strength with the measurements here.

                                                                          1 lb. fresh extra thin Chinese egg noodles 3/

                                                                          Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, separate and fluff up the noodles until they are all loose. Cut off and discard any matted parts, it's very important to the texture that the noodles be loose. Tear handfuls of the noodles a few times into shorter lengths to make them easier to serve and eat.

                                                                          Add the noodles to the boiling water, give them a stir with chopsticks to separate. The fine noodles will be done in less than a minute, which may be less than the time it takes the water to return to a boil. You want them to be just barely cooked to retain their bounce and not get mushy as they soak up moisture in the dressing. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Toss them vigorously in a colander to get rid of excess water. Place them in a mixing bowl, add remainder of dressing and toss.

                                                                          Whole cilantro leaves
                                                                          3 T. sesame seeds, toasted in a skillet until fragrant and golden

                                                                          To serve:
                                                                          When ready to serve, mound the noodles on a large platter. Arrange the eggplant mix, carrots, and snow peas on top in three sections to show off the different colors. Garnish with sesame seeds and whole cilantro leaves. Toss to combine.

                                                                          Footnotes for product brands used:
                                                                          1/ Kadoya sesame oil
                                                                          2/ Pearl River Bridge light superior soy sauce
                                                                          3/ New Hong Kong Noodle Company fresh egg noodle (extra thin mein)

                                                                          Link: http://chowingwiththehounds.com/picni...