Side Dish Recipes

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Roasted Creamer Potatoes Recipe

Roasted Creamer Potatoes

07.21.10 by Jackie

Creamer potatoes are potatoes that are harvested while they're still young. I recently bought these apricot-sized potatoes at the farmers' market. They were so cute, I couldn't resist!

I roasted them whole with skins on and rubbed them in butter flavored with oregano flowers from our garden. The potatoes have a crisp-skin on the outside, while the inside is tender and moist. If you can't find creamer potatoes, you can use Yukons that have been cut into quarters, but it's not the same as having each bite wrapped in crispy potato skin. Mmmmmm.


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Vietnamese Vegetables with Ginger (Rau Muong Xao Gung) Recipe

Vietnamese cuisine boasts many dishes that highlight fresh ingredients in a healthy manner. Rau muống xào với gừng (Vietnamese pea tendrils sautéed in ginger) is an excellent example of this.  The dish is incredibly simple; the pea tendrils are blanched and then flavored with ginger and a little turmeric for color. I made it recently for my uncle who was visiting us and is a practicing Buddhist, which is why the recipe does not call for onions, shallots or garlic. Don’t worry though; the dish is only light on calories, not flavor.

As a child, our typical Vietnamese family meals were composed of individual bowls of rice, meat, seafood or tofu, a bowl of canh (a clear broth soup), a vegetable side dish and a dipping sauce. I always looked forward to a bowl of rau muống, served with a soy sauce and ginger dipping sauce called mắm gừng. If you have trouble getting your family to eat their greens, give this dish a try. It worked on me!


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Pan Fried King Bananas Recipe

Pan Fried King Bananas

07.13.10 by Jackie

Chuối ngự are Vietnamese bananas that look similar to small plantains. They have a starchy texture and a subtle sweetness. If you look for this particular banana in Asian markets, they're called King, Raja or emperor bananas.

King bananas can be prepared in a lot of ways. Today, I twice cooked them. First, I parboiled them, then I pan-fried the bananas in oil until golden brown. They make great appetizers if you top them with cheese and other condiments, or they also make a wonderful side dish. In this case, I paired them with baked fish.


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Grilled Tomatoes (Simple Barbecue Recipe)  Recipe

This tomato recipe is simple but so flavorful. I always make it when we barbecue. Unfortunately, this year was horrible for the tomatoes from our garden. Lulu planted two dozen tomato plants. I was so ecstatic about getting sweet, juicy tomatoes, but the gophers killed all our plants. If you have a cure for a gopher infestation, please send me a message. Anyway, since we didn’t have enough from our garden, I bought plum tomatoes from the farmers' market for our 4th of July barbecue.

Grilling tomatoes only requires skewers, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. To make it more flavorful, I thread the tomatoes onto oregano sprigs. Once the tomatoes are cooked, I drizzle them with shallot vinaigrette. They're best when they're still warm. Yum!


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How to Cook Basmati Rice Recipe

How to Cook Basmati Rice

04.15.10 by Jackie

Ah, basmati rice. I don't think there is a food that better represents the similarities and differences of Indian Subcontinent and East Asian cultures. Rice is the staple starch in both of these Asian regions, but the preparation couldn't be more different. In the Far East, sticky jasmine rice is typically prepared with every meal. Chopsticks are the utensil of choice, which helps explain the popularity of rice that can stay clumped together on the journey from the bowl to the mouth.

By contrast, the quality of cooked basmati rice is judged primarily by how separate the grains remain. Traditionally, people of the subcontinent eat with their hands, and the various dals and kormas do a great job of creating cohesion.

Preparing basmati rice at home is not nearly as challenging as it may seem, but as is the case with many simple dishes, precision and care are required. Like pasta, if it's cooked past "al dente", basmati rice will become mushy.

I didn't have much experience with basmati rice until I got married. After more than five years, I have not only learned how to make it, I have come to love it. In our home, we make both sticky Asian jasmine rice and Indian basmati rice everyday to satisfy the different palates. We typically eat it with dal, but the girls love to have basmati rice with a little butter and sumac. Sumac is a common Middle Eastern spice and has a deep reddish, purple color. You can see it sprinkled over the rice in the photos.

If you don't have well cooked basmati rice on a regular basis, you don't know what you're missing. I know that for a long time I didn't!


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