Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad

This is one of my favorite dishes ever, and since moving away from Los Angeles in 2006, one I’ve had to learn how to make on my own. See, when we lived in LA, we’d just jet on over to this place around the corner called Le Saigon and order “two #8s and a 13” and blissfully indulge. And yes, there are some Vietnamese places here in TX, but so far none of them have lived up to our Le Saigon standards. What can I say, we were spoiled. So one day I decided to scour the net for THE recipe.

Lo and behold, I found one! It took some doctoring, but it turns out, I can make it and it’s dang tasty! To make it taste like it does at Le Saigon, I used less fish sauce and garlic in the Nuac Cham, cooked the noodles a bit longer, and added more lettuce, cilantro, and cucumber.

Recently, I got the Best International Recipe Cookbook and discovered that they also have a recipe for Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad, so I thought I’d give it a go tonight.

The verdict is in: When making a Vietnamese dish, it’s probably best to actually trust the recipe from a Vietnamese person and not the recipe from a bow-tie wearing round-eye. This one was FAR too limey for my taste, the fish sauce to garlic ratio was kind of off, and the brown sugar in the marinade was a bit cloying.

Of course, according to Cook’s Illustrated, their recipe is perfect in every way, is better than that of any Asian person, and I’m not allowed under any circumstance to modify it. Just ask them! This blog has turned me off of them completely, and I will never buy another of their books or magazines. I always thought Chris Kimball was a pompous prick, and that just confirms it for me.

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 1:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken with White Wine Sauce

Ruths Bookmarkded Recipes

Ruth's Bookmarkded Recipes

Oh. My. GOD! Sooooooo good. SOOOOOOO good! I don’t even have enough “O”s for how good this is. This is going into our “make this as often as possible” rotation. This is also a “bookmarked recipe”. I got the idea from Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments and decided to go through my bookmarks instead of doing something we’ve had before.

Things I did differently: I only added salt prior to adding filling; next time I won’t add any because the bacon added enough salt for us. I used thighs instead of breasts (we prefer thighs in this household). I used a whole small onion instead of a half of a medium. I served it with rice.

Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken with White Wine Sauce

  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 4 ounces crimini mushrooms, cleaned, destemmed, and small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 (10-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Heat oven to 350˚F, and arrange a rack in the middle. Heat a large, ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and browned, about 6 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  2. Return pan with bacon drippings to medium-high heat and add onion. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and herbs, and season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare chicken breasts.
  3. Cut each breast in half horizontally. Place breasts on a cutting board in a resealable plastic bag or between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or the bottom of a pan, pound chicken pieces to an even thickness, about 1/4 inch thick. Season chicken all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Lay chicken breasts on a cutting board so the narrow end faces you. Stir reserved bacon into mushroom mixture and place 1/4 of the mixture halfway up each chicken piece. Fold the bottom piece of chicken up over the filling to enclose it, then roll into a tight cylinder. Use toothpicks to secure the rolls and repeat with remaining chicken and filling.
  5. Heat the large ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once oil shimmers, place chicken in pan seam-side down and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over then transfer pan to oven and cook until filling is warm and interior of chicken is white but still juicy, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken to a clean plate and cover with foil. Place pan over medium-high heat, add remaining 1/2 cup wine and broth, and scrape up any brown bits stuck on bottom of pan (be careful, handle will be very hot). Cook over medium-high heat until alcohol is cooked off and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and serve.

I apologize for not taking a picture of it, but the smell made us SO HUNGRY we had to eat it immediately!

Published in: on July 22, 2008 at 12:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

We love us some chocolate chip cookies here at the GrossCool household.  I tend to make them somewhat regularly (mainly so that I can eat the dough).  I’ve been using the same recipe for years; it’s tried and true, the dough is nummy, and it’s a really really good cookie.  It’s the one from Cook’s Illustrated, and unfortunately it’s not on their website.  If you have a copy of their book The Best Recipe, it’s the one from that.  Go make it immediately if not sooner.

It’s so good, in fact, that I was hesitant to try a new recipe.  But then Grossman sent me an article from the NYTimes about chocolate chip cookies, and I was intrigued.  I had to try the recipe, just to compare.  And compare we did.

The results are in.  The NYTimes cookie is a really chocolatey, decadent cookie.  The taste of the cookie part is more complex than that of the other recipe, and the added salt really brings out the chocolate flavor.  However, the recipe takes a lot longer and there are many added steps; I’m not entirely convinced that it’s worth all of the extra measures.  The original cookie from Cook’s Illustrated is good enough for our everyday purposes, but I might be inclined to make the fiddly one for special occasions.

Published in: on July 18, 2008 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tomato Risotto

This is a staple here at the GrossCool household; I’ve been making it for about five years now. I used to make it more when we lived in LA, but since we moved here I haven’t been able to find a good sausage to add to it so I tend to only make it every month or so, if that. I think I’ve finally found a winner though, so this will be added back into our regular rotation.

This is the original recipe, but I don’t make it in the microwave. Instead, I use a large saucepan or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. I keep the same times for the most part, except after I add the tomatoes and broth I let it simmer for about 8-9 minutes and then throw in sliced, pre-cooked Italian sausage, or sometimes shrimp if I have some on hand.

Tomato Risotto

Microwave Gourmet
Barbara Kafka
William Morrow and Co., Inc. | January 1998

Servings: Serves 3 as a first course, 6 as a side dish.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion (about 1/4 pound)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, pureed with juice
1 1/4 cups homemade or canned chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
coarse salt (optional)

1. Heat butter and oil in a 10-inch quiche dish or 11″ x 8 1/2″ x 2″ dish, uncovered, at 100% for 2 minutes

2. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook, uncovered, at 100% for 4 minues. Add rice and stir to coat. Cook for 4 minutes more.

3. Add tomatoes and broth. Cook, uncovered, at 100% for 9 minutes. Stir well and cook for 9 minutes more, 14 mintues for a thoroughly creamy risotto.

4. Remove from oven. Stir in pepper and cheese, add salt to taste, if desired, and serve hot.

Published in: on July 17, 2008 at 12:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Smothered Pork Medallions

Tonight was Smothered Pork Medallions from The Dinner Station.  Okay, so it’s not *really* cooking from scratch.  But I had to go to DS, assemble it, and then slice the pork and cook it tonight; it totally counts.  Anyway, here’s the description of the dish:  Pork medallions are cut from the tenderloin and then simmered in a sauce of onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, and spices.  Like almost everything we’ve had from DS, it was really tasty.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 12:27 am  Comments (1)  
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Rice Salad with Skirt Steak

This was a winning recipe from one of the Quick Fire challenges last season on Top Chef.  Grossman told me that he wanted to eat more salads, and I’m not exactly a fan of salads, so I thought I’d give this one a go.  I’ve made it about 4 or 5 times now.  The one tonight wasn’t as good as the others; the steak was almost too rare.  I usually add bell peppers, mushrooms, and either bleu or goat cheese if I have it on hand.  I also add another yolk, because I love the yolky goodness.  Finally, I use spinach, not those fiddly little microgreens.


Skirt Steak:
1 lb skirt steak
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Rice Salad:
Uncle Ben’s 90 second veggie rice
Small package cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 bunch mache
1/2 bunch arugula

Cilantro to taste
2 egg yolks
Drizzle of rice vinegar
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Drizzle of canola oil


Skirt Steak:
Season skirt steak with salt and pepper then grill with olive oil to desired doneness.

Rice Salad:
Microwave rice and let cool to warm. In a bowl, add cherry tomatoes, red onion, mache and arugula.

Blend cilantro, yolks, rice vinegar, salt and sugar with canola oil.

To Plate: olive
Dress salad and add rice. Add sliced steak.

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cooking is fun!

Especially when you’re doing it with a glass of wine in hand.

This blog is to chronicle my cooking adventures, and hopefully to encourage me to cook more often.  I plan on sharing the recipes that I try, reviews of meals, and links to better blogs than my own.

Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 5:12 pm  Comments (1)