Side Dishes Recipes

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Duchess Potatoes (Pommes Duchesse) Recipe

The name may sound fancy, but pomme duchesse are simply baked mashed potato balls. As a kid, I think it was my favorite side dish. It's crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and just oozes potato-ey goodness. 

Not only is it a perfect dish for formal events, but it dresses down as well. Halloween is on its way, and the girls and I have been planning to make some edible ghosts for a Halloween party the girls are attending. Mashed potatoes seemed like the obvious choice. Since I had some pommes duchesse mixture on hand, we decided to test our decorating skills today. I piped the pommes duchesse mixture into several cones. The girls added eyes by using mustard seeds and cumin seeds for the eyebrows. The result is ghoulishly delicious. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Halloween ghost potatoes


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Banana Flower Salad (Goi Bap Chuoi Chay) Recipe

In case you were wondering, banana flowers really are the flowers of the banana plant. They are also known as banana blossoms or banana hearts. The taste is reminiscent of artichoke hearts. They are consumed throughout Southeast Asia and also in India as well. In fact, I bought the banana flowers I used in this dish from an Indian market.

Gỏi bắp chuối chay literally means vegetarian banana flower salad in Vietnamese. It's a popular dish in the Buddhist community where many recipes, due to dietary restrictions requiring vegetarianism, are made to simulate meat. Banana flower salad is thought to imitate the flavor of gỏi gà, Vietnamese chicken salad. Other recipes use ingredients such as tofu skin or fried soy gluten that are chewy and resemble the stringy texture of meat.

This is a dish that is not only exotic but tasty as well. You might not make it every day, but it's definitely something you should try.


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Roasted Buckwheat with Sauteed Vegetables (Kasha) Recipe

Roasted buckwheat (kasha) is a staple starch in Eastern Europe. I serve it once in a while in place of rice or potatoes. I especially make it for the vegetarians in the house to provide a little variety to their diet. Buckwheat is very healthy, and has a nutty flavor and lentil-like texture.

This preparation in particular is reminiscent of a daal recipe that is served dry as opposed to soupy. If you've never had buckwheat before, it's certainly worth a try!


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Vietnamese Spinach and Shrimp Soup (Canh Mong Toi) Recipe

Canh tôm rau mồng tơi, literally a soup made with tôm, or shrimp and mồng tơi, or spinach, is usually served as a side dish along with steamed jasmine rice and a dish of meat. 

Rau mồng tơi is a tender and sweet leafy vegetable that is unknown in Western cuisine. In Vietnam, it is a staple of lower income people. In fact, there is a saying using this leaf, "Nghèo rớt mồng tơi!", which approximately translates to "dirt poor". Like rau muống, another Vietnamese leafy vegetable, it is quite expensive in America. I've probably said it in the past: immigrants crave the foods of their childhood and are willing to pay more for the memories. And this soup fits the bill.


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Wild Rice and Orzo Salad with Maple Vinaigrette Recipe

This dish is really three recipes in one. I combined my wild rice, kidney bean salad and orzo pasta salad recipes together to make a light and healthy meal. The maple vinaigrette helps tie everything together.

I usually make orzo pasta salad for parties and picnics, but we've been having a heat wave here and we all felt like eating something cool. The addition of kidney beans for protein and wild rice for fiber makes the dish more of a complete meal. If you have some leftover roast chicken, you can dice or shred it and add it to the salad as well.


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