"The more pasisonate the cook, the better the flavors" -Charles M. Carroll

Friday, April 26, 2013

DIY: Asian Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is very easy to make with regular ingredients from your grocery store. After one bite this will become your new party go-to-recipe.

Asian Pasta Salad
Lou Crandall, Savory Catering
Makes 8-10 servings

2 cans (30 oz total) mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups chicken breasts
1 bag (16 oz) bowtie pasta
1 bag (6 oz) Craisins
1/2 cup fresh chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch green onions, chopped on the diagonal
1/4 cup raw (untoasted) sesame seeds
6 oz honey roasted peanuts
1 1/2 bags (15 oz) fresh baby spinach OR cooked edamame

3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
6 TBLS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup sesame oil (not sesame-flavored oil)

Drain Mandarin oranges, set aside.
Put raw chicken breasts onto a sheet pan, uncovered, and roast in oven at 450 degrees until an internal temperature of 145 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. Remove from oven, cover tightly with foil and allow to rest for 15 mins.
Put ice and water in a large bowl and set aside. Cook pasta according to package until al dente. Immediately immerse pasta in the ice-water bath after cooking to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, mix together the teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the sesame oil to combine and emulsify with the other ingredients. Set aside.
When the chicken has finished resting, uncover and slice into large cubes. Cool to at least 40 degrees in the fridge.
Combine all ingredients except spinach (edamame can be combine at this time), peanuts, and dressing. Store in fridge until service, adding the other ingredients.

It is very important to immerse the bowtie pasta in cold water after cooking. This stops the cooking process. Bowtie pasta is quite fragile after being cooked.
If salad is not being served the same day, then refrigerate all ingredients until ready to use. This can be prepped up to 2 days if nothing is combined.
Add spinach last so it doesn't become limp and soggy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fall in Love with Pasta Salad

Let's face it, we've all tasted some UN-appetizing pasta salad in our time, maybe even been the culprit in making it! Perhaps some of us are disenchanted by too many lack luster, ugly, mushy pasta salads. (I definitely used to fit in this category)

That ends now.

Chef Lou makes various delectable pasta salads sure to change your mind and make you hungry for more. One of these new breeds of pasta salad is our Asian Pasta Salad.

Asian Pasta Salad

The salad has bowtie pasta, craisins, mandarin oranges, honey roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, chicken bits and spinach.

We've served this as a side for a corporate lunch, at a banquet, and just recently as an appetizer!

We add fresh spinach last to keep it fresh and crunchy. We also blanch our pasta as soon as it finishes cooking to keep it from getting mushy and broken up.

When serving it as an appetizer we change a couple of things:
  • We change the bowtie pasta to ditalini pasta
  • Add some bright green edamame and use less spinach
  • For plating we add crunchy rice sticks and black sesame seeds.
  • Serve it on an Asian spoon

Each spoon is individually arranged with rice sticks and a diagonally-cut scallion

Then for the buffet we either serve it on a tray or on our cupcake stand. It sure is one great tasting appetizer!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Maifun, or Rice Sticks

Maifun, or rice sticks is a Chinese culinary item. It can be boiled for a noodle-like texture or fried.

Recently Chef Lou made up a wonderful lettuce wrap recipe. It had ground pork with just a touch of spice. This makes for a great dinner or as a fun hors d'oeuvre. To adorn the lettuce wrap we fried some rice sticks...

Even though the video doesn't have sound you can still enjoy it

The rice sticks fry in only a few seconds!

This one package made this entire pile of fried rice sticks!

You can buy rice sticks in the ethnic or Asian food section of your grocery store or at specialty Asian food stores. Branch out a little bit and serve some rice sticks at dinner time!