TGIF: Let There Be Cake

I'll be honest: sometimes I choose books by the cover and wine by the labels. More often than not, these decisions are actually pretty good.

Last night at a dinner at Brothers & Sisters, my friend Sangeetha and I chose The Next Vacation cake because both of us are looking forward to our respective vacations. This strawberry and cream cake was the perfect way to end our dinner: not too sweet with slight sour and salty notes and with strawberries from California.

TGIF friends. Wishing you a sweet weekend. 


Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers

Last week I checked out Ottolenghi's latest cookbook, Simple, from my library, and was intrigued by the Roasted Asparagus with Almonds, Capers, and Dill recipe. Because my oven was acting out, I don't keep butter on hand, and I had Parmesan left from another recipe, and a few lemons, I created my version of Ottolenghi's dish.

Ottolenghi Inspired Pan Sauteed Asparagus With Almonds And Capers

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
3 tablespoons capers
lemon zest
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper and saute until your desired level.
2. In a small skillet, heat the remaining oil and quickly saute capers.
3. In a platter, serve asparagus topped with almonds, capers, lemon zest, dill, and Parmesan. 

This dish is great served hot but also keep well as leftovers. It can be a great starter to the meal or as a side served with protein.


Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides

If you only have 30 minutes and need to get dinner on a table that's delicious, fun, and impressive, I give you Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides.

This idea came about after I randomly bought one pound of ground pork at my grocery store. After a quick Google search for ground pork recipes, I found Delish's Sweet 'n Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps and with a few edits turned it into a full meal.

Turn on the music and get cooking!

The key to making an entire meal in 30 minutes is to chop whatever needs to be cooked first, and then prep the rest of the ingredients while the others are cooking. 

Dinner in 30 Minutes: Sweet & Spicy Pork Lettuce Cups With 2 Vegetable Sides

Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for snow peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork
snow peas
1/4 cup hoisin sauce, more if desired
1 tablespoon sriracha, more if desired
Bibb lettuce
rice noodles
carrots, peeled
daikon, peeled
Russian sunflower oil
smoked almonds, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Start boiling a large pot of water on the stove.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add ginger and garlic and saute for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat without burning it. Add pork. Saute until the pork is no longer pink. This will take a while.
4. Meanwhile, coat snow peas with oil and season with salt an roast for about 15-25 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them to be.
5. Grate, or use a fancy peeler, carrots and daikon, drizzle with Russian sunflower oil, season with salt, and add cilantro.
6. Back to pork: add Hoisin and sriracha. Mix to combine. Heat through.
7. Cook rice noodles according to directions. 
8. Add rice noodles to the lettuce cups, top with pork mixture, cilantro and chopped almonds. 
9. Serve with carrot/daikon salad and roasted snow peas.

Leftovers are awesome for lunch next day!