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Boredom: Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie!

What do you do when you’re bored?

Here’s what I do:

  • Instagram until I get to the last Instagram post I remember
  • Facebook until I get to the last Facebook post I remember OR until I get to the kind of posts that are like these that I find so annoying:
    • Dan, babe, you are the most perfect, special, amazing human being and I can’t imagine my life without you. I would literally die if I didn’t wake up inside your loving arms every day, babe. Our wedding day was the best day of my life and every other day has been the best day too and every future day is the best day of my future life. I eat drink and breathe you babe. XOXOXOXOXOXOX Amy
      • Geez, Amy. There are a lot of feelings and thoughts and emotions there (and very few commas). Maybe put some of those those in a card to Dan. He’d probably appreciate it in a way that I would not.
  • Clean
    • JK I NEVER DO THAT WHEN I’M BORED
  • Netflix
  • Make a pie

I didn’t have much to do one recent Saturday and I had all my chores done (I am very cool!). I had nowhere to be, a full fridge and a full pantry. Huh. Ok. WEIRD.

The next day was Easter. I was planning a meal at home by myself (again, I am VERY cool). I had nothing planned for dessert. It seemed perfectly appropriate to make a whole pie for one person.

For me, the most challenging and most rewarding baking projects have been pies. I am always proud of what I accomplished. But, I always can find something I would have done differently or could have done better. There’s always room to grow.

If you’re moderately experienced baker and you want to take your pie baking to the next level, please do yourself a favor and get the Four & Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. Their innovative twists on classic flavors satisfy me on a deep, soulful level.

On that lazy Saturday, where time and space no longer mattered, I decided on the Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie. Why that pie? Well, I love coconut cream pie. Plus, I had most of the ingredients for the pistachio coconut cream pie at home. Sometimes, the decisions are made for you.

This pie is worth the effort that is required to make it. Is it horribly, terribly difficult to make? No, not exactly. But it’s also not easy; it’s labor intensive. You will need a couple of hours. You will need a bit of patience and a bit of chutzpah. I was particularly nervous when I was making my custard, as the only other time I made one I scrambled the eggs when I added the hot milk. Not remotely tasty.

This pie, however, turned out to be quite delicious.

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The pistachio adds an subtle earthiness, and since I used the salted pistachios I had on hand, a pleasant saltiness to balance the sweetness of the cream and sugar in the pie. The area that I’m going to try to work to improve next time is the crust. It was quite loose and crumbly, I think largely due to the fact that my shredded coconut was very dry. But the flavor was spot on. And bonus, it’s gluten-free and no-bake. So lah di dah!

The moral of this story is when you get a little bored, delicious things can happen. Put your phone down and make a pie.

Dan and Amy will probably thank you. Publicly. In an Facebook post.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie is available at their Pie Shop in Brooklyn and on countless other menus in New York.

PIE SHOP
439 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone (718) 499 2917
MONDAY – FRIDAY 8am – 8pm
SATURDAY 9am – 8pm, SUNDAY 10am – 7pm

Buy their book here.

Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Crust:

Makes one 9-inch pie crust

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ kosher salt

In a dry medium-size skillet, toast the pistachios over a medium heat until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes; shake the pan or stir frequently to prevent burning. Pour into a shallow dish and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the coconut in the same skillet over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly golden and fragrant. When finished, immediately add to the pistachios.

Once cool, pour the toasted pistachios and coconut plus the sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the pistachios are finely chopped and the mixture looks homogenous, scraping down if necessary; the crumbs will stick together slightly when ready.

Pour the crumbs into an ungreased, preferably metal 9-inch pie pan. Spread evenly over the bottom; then create a circle about 1 inch in to separate the crumbs for the sides from the crumbs for the bottom. Start pressing the outer ring of crumbs evenly up the sides and into the corner (where the side meets the bottom) of the pan. Press the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottoms to meet the sides; use a flat-bottomed cup to smooth out bumps. Freeze until solid at least 10 minutes, before filling.

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks, whisked
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups coconut milk | I used full fat. Because fat is flavor.
  • 2- to 3-inch strip lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Chop the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment until chopped into medium to find pieces. Add the chopped nuts to a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the whole milk. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, remove the pan from the heat, and cover. Set aside to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, have the whisked egg yolks ready in a large bowl. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, granulated sugar, and salt. Whisk in the coconut milk and add the strip of lime zest. Strain the pistachios from the milk, then add the milk to the saucepan and whisk until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture boils, cook for about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Slowly and carefully stream one-third of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the yolks from cooking. Stream in the remaining hot milk, and then return the mixture to the saucepan.

Have a large bowl ready for cooling and a fine-mesh sieve to strain the mixture through. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just returns to a boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain through the sieve, using a spatula to push the mixture through and to scrape the filling clinging to the bottom of the sieve. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

Sir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next. Stir in the lime juice. Pour into the prepared crust and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating on medium-low speed just until the cream holds stiff peaks. Remove the plastic wrap from the surface of the filling and spread the cream over the pie. Slice and serve.

The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days.

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A Letter to Taylor: No Fail Soup Recipes

My dearest, darling Taylor,

You are so very good at so many things. I know this because we went to college together and were in the same sorority (yes, y’all, Kappa Deltas are ballin’). You write a touching, yet hilarious, blog about motherhood and witty articles in actual publications. And, oh yeah, you’re mom to an adorable little nugget.
Taylor and Wee Connor

Come on. Is there anything cuter?

Look at his delight at the pho. This boy loves soup!

Look at his delight at the pho. This boy loves soup!

Wee Connor loves vegetables and hates bananas. I love Wee Connor.

Wee Connor loves vegetables and hates bananas. I love Wee Connor.

But apparently, dear Taylor, you are not the best at making soup.
IMG_7877
I haven’t tasted your soup. I fear you may be hard on yourself. Cause surely if you can make a human, you can make a soup, right? To be fair, I don’t exactly know how you make humans. It’s in a stock pot, right?
Winter is coming and without soup, you may die in Chicago. So, I’ve got three recipes for easy soup handpicked for you. I could say they’re foolproof, but you ain’t no fool. Friendproof? Eh, I’m still working on that one.
AOT,
Bethany
PS. If anyone else is eavesdropping with their eyeballs, aka eyvesdropping, these recipes will probably not work for you. These will literally only work for Taylor.
This is my Gramma’s recipe for her vegetable beef soup. No Grammas were harmed in the making of this soup. The most time consuming thing is the vegetable choppery. This is soup from an Indiana woman, so you know it’s going to keep you guys warm in the wintertimes. Plus, bonus: it’s delicious.
Say what you will about Rachael Ray (I hate when she calls it EVOO. There I said it.) But some of her recipes are really great. This is one of my favorites. It’s a simple, quick, stick-to-your ribs kind of soup. Plus, it’s easy to double and freezes well for up to 2 weeks.
Don’t be daunted by stock makery. I made the stock, but I had time to make some stock. I think there are places where you can easily take shortcuts. Buy a rotisserie chicken and use that. Buy boxed/canned stock instead of making your own. Would it be better to make your own at home? Eh, maybe. But ain’t nobody got time for that.
For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

For the Chicken Stock:
  • 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Yield: 2 quarts

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Sunday Supper: The Dog and Pig Show

I love the films of Edgar Wright.

Not exactly food blog related, but stick with me.

Hey! That shot has ketchup in it!

I love the films of Edgar Wright. In Hot Fuzz, his homage to the tropes of cop movies, there is this recurring joke that keeps happening. (You know….cause it’s recurring.) This bumbling reporter is interviewing a bumbling cop on the scene of a grizzly murder and instead of asking him anything related to the murder, he asks, “What is your perfect Sunday?”

It’s small, silly moment, but it made me think about my perfect Sunday.

Sundays can be tough. I’m prone to the Sunday blues. It’s hard to break up with the weekend and get back on the weekly grind.

But my perfect Sunday looks a lot like last Sunday did. Brunch, a little cleaning (it must be done), a nap (again, it must be done), an Edgar Wright movie, and a bitchin’ dinner.

I’m not sure how I found The Dog and Pig Show. Probably from some shameless Instagram stalking. Their carry-out shop in Church Hill is on point. It is beautifully designed with a gorgeous menu, drawing equally from Southern and Asian influences. Like shrimp and grits with bacon butter, kimchi and roe. Or pimento grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato jam, bacon and avocado. And the baked goods. Heavenly.

When I found out they did monthly Sunday Suppers, I had to go. So I could eat all the things and chase the blues away.

The dinner was held at the owner’s home, which was absolutely lovely. As was the company. I always get nervous in a situation where I’m meeting a group of strangers and I’m going to have to sit with them for a whole evening. What if we have nothing to talk about? What if we literally cannot find anything in common to discuss? Are we just going to sit and stare at each other and say, “So……………………………………………………………….hot out there.”

But, it’s never the case. This was a really diverse, fun group of people and we all had something pretty fundamental in common: a love of food. And thankfully, there was plenty of that to go around.

The Sunday Suppers are booked through the end of the summer. But let’s face it, maybe you have the Monday Malaise. Or the Tuesday Troubles. Or the Wednesday Worries. Or the Thursday Thadness. Or the Friday Fears. Or the Saturday Sadness.

YES. OK. CALM DOWN. I was reaching a bit on Thursday.

Get yourself to The Dog and Pig Show any day of the week. It will cure what ails you.

Basil Gimlet. Plus, my red Toms!

Basil Gimlet. Plus, my red Toms!

Roast Duck and Scallop spring roll with spicy pickled cucumbers. I did not have the scallop because I am allergic, but I'm sure it would've been great.

Roast Duck spring roll with spicy pickled cucumbers. Non-allergy havers had a version with roast duck and scallops. 

Build Your Own Ramen. Sweet and Spicy and just lovely.

Build Your Own Ramen. Sweet and Spicy and just lovely.

Bruleed peach with white chocolate wasabi cream and molasses crumble

Bruleed peach with white chocolate wasabi cream -and molasses crumble. The textures were INSANE.

The Dog and Pig Show is at 314 N. 25th Street in Richmond, VA. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 11a-7p and Saturday 9a-3p.

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Breaktheist: Yogurt Taste Test

I’m a breaktheist.

I don’t believe in any one breakfast. I do believe that breakfast exists, though. Perhaps I am breaknogstic.

Yeah…that doesn’t sound as good.

I’ve been on a real yogurt kick lately. This was after a serious granola kick, an avocado toast kick, and a granola bar kick. You’d think I was a Rockette. #dadjoke

But what yogurt to eat? There are so many choices. So, when I was at the Fresh Market last week and decided to buy 5 yogurt brands that I’ve never tried before and test them out for you.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

(One time, I said something silly to a friend and then said, “you’re welcome.” And his reply was “I did not say thank you.” Couldn’t be mad at it.)

I tried some yogurt so you didn’t have to. Say your prayers, people, and forgive me. My stream of consciousness is below.

It was really hard to keep the yogurts from rolling away. #realtalk

It was really hard to keep the yogurts from rolling away during this picture.

OhMyYog! with Gingered Pear

  • Well, “OhMyYog!” is not a thing that people say.
  • Rich and creamy. Has a unique flavor. Better than the basic fruit in your ushe yogurt.
  • 3 layers? I really can’t tell. Just seems like two.
  • This reminds me of the old fruit on the bottom Breyers yogurt but better.
  • Try again? Yeah, I’d try it again. But I shan’t ever say “OhMyYog!”
Seriously, no one says that.

Seriously, no one says that.

So Delicious Dairy Free Yogurt in Vanilla

  • Not at all appealing visually.
  • “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!”
  • Super sweet, with a weird after taste. Nope. Can’t eat this. Nope.
  • Abandoned yogurt-ship after 4 bites. Went to a delicious, delicious Noosa I had in the fridge.
  • Try again? Never say never. But never.
What. Is. This.

What. Is. This.

Blue Hill in Butternut Squash

  • Saw this yogurt on Ana Gasteyer’s Instagram. We’re basically best friends.
  • It smells sort of like Thanksgiving. I’m sort of excited. Sort of scared. I feel like Jessie Spano.
  • It tastes good. A bit tart in the finish. It walks the line between sweet and savory.
  • It’s kind of weird. I sort of gagged on the first spoonful, thus bringing to life the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” It’s so weird to have butternut squash in this super creamy, dairy vehicle. But, it kind of tasted good. I’m conflicted.
  • Try again? Yeah, maybe. Maybe. Maybe in a savory application.

Petite Creme in Cherry

  • It’s low fat yogurt, made with nonfat milk. Is it going to be wimpy?
  • Yeahhhhh. It’s sort of wimpy. It’s light, it’s creamy. But I’m not sated. It feels like snack yogurt. But it’s good.
  • Try again? Sure, why not.

The Epic Seed, Greek Yogurt with Chia Seeds in Peach

  • I am the most apprehensive about this one, but…I really rather like it. WHO KNEW! I’d never had chia seeds before.
  • The texture of these fruity seedy things reminds me of fish roe. Snappy with a bit of a bite, but the flavor is the opposite of fishy. Light and fruity. Great textural and flavor complement to the Greek yogurt.
  • Try again? Chyea. This one has been a revelation.
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Cookie Snobbery: Momofuku Milkbar Cookie Mixes

My name is Bethany Novak. And I am a snob.

No, not a snob for everything. I mean, I love my butler just as much as I love my housemaids. But they are NOT to look at me in the eyes.

Truth is, I am a cookie snob. I typically find that packaged cookie mixes are sub-par.

I know, I know. Fire up the stakes. Let’s burn the witch.

I was walking through Target on Saturday morning, wearing my Toronto Blue Jays hat, and playing a game where I make up player names in case someone ever asked me who my favorite player is. My latest one is Mark St. Clair. He was a 3rd baseman in the 90s. Had a .400 batting average. He is not real.

Anyway, I was walking up and down the aisles of Target without a list, which is really dangerous. You can spend a lot of money in there. But when you wander unencumbered by a list, hidden in the shadows of your Blue Jays hat, you make phenomenal discoveries. I stumbled upon Momofuku Milk Bar cookie mixes.

If you do not know Momofuku Milk Bar, you do now. It’s the bakery part of the Momofuku family of restaurants, which is based in NYC, and it’s delightful. It’s incredibly whimsical and yet nostalgic, but also so simple. Flavors straight out of childhood (or straight out of a smoky hotbox).

I’m a bit too familiar with the Milk Bar website for my own good. I bought some cookies and truffles as Christmas gifts this year. But I didn’t realize they sold these mixes at Target.

I started with the Compost Cookie, one of their signature flavors. Like other Target versions of haute brands, this product is a bit cheaper than you would get it on the Milk Bar site ($6.99 vs. $16.00). But you actually get a bit more cookie for your buck. A package from Target makes a dozen. The box from the Milk Bar site makes 9. Curious.

But what is not compromised in the slightest is the flavor. I’ve had the cookies from the bakery and they taste identical to the ones that I made in my kitchen this weekend. So, I stand corrected. Some cookie mixes can live up to the real thing. Mea culpa.

Compost Cookie, a tableau

Compost Cookie, a tableau

My friend Natalie saw my Instagram post about the mixes on Saturday and requested “a review with photos and lots of adjectives.” So without further ado, this is for you, Natalie. And anyone else who managed to make it through all the “jokes” to the point of the post.

Ok, adjectives. Um. Well. Yikes. Ok. These cookies are good. Err, no. They’re delicious.

No, those are fluff words that mean squat. Has watching Alton Brown taught me nothing??!

These cookies are perplexing. You shouldn’t want to like them but you do. They shouldn’t make sense but they do. They’re sweet. They’re super sweet. Chocolate chips and butterscotch chips combined put it almost over the edge. But then you come across the potato chips and the pretzels, which give a much-needed punch of salt. It’s a well-balanced cookie.

Mix it up

Mix it up

It’s also a cookie that is has great texture, almost like a granola bar. The crunchy pretz, the flaky chip, the thick oats. For all the stuff that is in it, it is packed full of flavor, but finishes really light. The cookies bake up soft in the middle, but caramelized on the edges.

Christina Tosi, you sexy bitch.

I’m not mad at it. 

This would be the cookie your grandma would make if you got your grandma kinda high. And everybody would love them. Regular grandma. High grandma. Kids. Adults.

Even the recovering snobs among us.

Momofuku Mixes are available at many but not all Target stores and on Target.com.

Check out Momofuku Milk Bar for their whole line of products. They ship pies, cakes, cookies, trufflies, mixes, cookbooks, etc. Word on the street is that the truffles are the tits.

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Summer Salad That Isn’t Pizza: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

I’ve been on a real salad kick lately. Mostly because I’d been working on my #pizzadiet (that’s pizza all day errday forever). I realized that while delicious, it’s not actually really that good for you. WHO KNEW?

I made one of my go-to favorites, the Zesty Taco Salad, earlier in the week.  But then I saw my buddies at Food52 post this link to the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and I knew I had to make it.

Just to be clear, I’m not actually buddies with the people at Food52. But, I pretend we’re friends since I follow them on Instagram and Facebook and love almost everything they do. Frankly, I’m better friends with them than some people I’m actually friends with on FB.

Anywho. This salad was so enticing that my friend Emily and I ran into each other at the store shopping for supplies (“I’m looking for napa cabbage.” “I’M looking for napa cabbage.” “Wait, what are you making…?”) After going to two stores to find the previously aforementioned napa cabbage, we both finally were able to make dinner. And to quote Emily again, it was pretty damn delicious.

If you have everything on hand, this is not only pretty damn delicious, but it’s a quick meal to assemble. It’s a meal that can be put together in the time it takes to boil water. Author’s note: this will happen much more quickly if you do not watch the pot.

This salad tastes like summer. It’s fresh and crisp, and with the dressing, sweet and spicy. There’s a ton of textures at play here, too. Rice noodles with just a bit of bite, crunchy cucumbers and cabbage, and plump shrimps.

In the nude

In the nude

Is it as good as pizza?

….no, cause what is. (RIP #pizzadiet)

But, it’s a pretty damn delicious meal.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad from Food52 Serves 2 to 3

The dressing

  • tablespoons fish sauce
  • tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons water, to taste
  • 1medium clove garlic, minced
  • fresh Thai (or bird’s eye) chile, minced | I couldn’t find one, so I used a serrano chile. Worked well! 
The salad

  • ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
  • 3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
  • medium carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • handful chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
  • ounces cooked meat or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and the chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like more sweetness, add more brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Remember that you’re going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn’t knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for 3 days to a week.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.
Divide the noodles between two or three good-sized bowls, depending on the number of diners, and top with the vegetables, herbs, and meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well, and eat. (Alternatively, you can present this salad family-style: Toss the vegetables, herbs, and noodles in a mixing bowl and then mound them on a serving platter. Arrange the meat over the noodles, and top with peanuts. Each diner can scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.)
Read to Go [sic]

Read to Go [sic]

 

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