Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spicy Noodles with Chopped Peanuts

I have been making this dish since it was first published in Bon Appetit Magazine...back in July 2007! On the little over 10-year anniversary, I decided to finally "blog it." I have served this dish hot, cold, and at room temperature, It has served as a side dish, main dish with added grilled chicken, shrimp and/or tofu, or part of a salad bar luncheon. I have added different vegetables depending on what is in season, and what looks good at the farmer's market (blanched sugar snap peas and shredded cabbage and carrots are particularly good.) Trust me, this is a flexible dish and, as long as you don't overcook the noodles, hard to mess up.

Regular readers know that I almost always take a published recipe and then tweak it quite a bit to make it my own. Today's dish is an exception as it is pretty perfect as is. Other than switching up the vegetables sometimes as discussed in the previous paragraph, my only change is that now spicy Asian sesame oil is widely available. So I use 3-4 tablespoons of that instead of the plain oil and hot chili oil. But both options work. I also prefer a thicker noodle so use bucatini pasta instead of the egg noodles or angel hair pasta. And if I cannot find Thai basil (I live in a small town) I use the easier-to-source Italian basil in the winter...otherwise I grow my own.

Spicy Noodles with Chopped Peanuts
(from Bon Appetit, July 2007)

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles or fresh angel hair pasta
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves

  1. Heat peanut oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients; whisk to blend.
  2. If using the Chinese noodles, place them in a colander over the sink. Separate noodles with fingers and shake to remove excess starch. Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. (If using pasta noodles, cook according to package directions but remove as soon as al dente. Do not overcook.)  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with sauce. Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles. Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour. Stir in peanuts and Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. 
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  4. PS, I couldn't leave this post without mentioning the devastating fires this past week in Napa and Sonoma Counties. As of today, 41 people have died, and 5500 have lost their homes. I know many of the now homeless, along with numerous friends and loved ones who have evacuated, some cannot come home yet because the air quality is so bad. Wine Country will survive and, as horrible as it is right now, the truth is that the majority of the wineries, shops, and restaurants are perfectly fine. We need to give them a month to get back on their feet and then support them by visiting! If you cannot go to Napa or Sonoma, please buy and drink their wines! They are depending on our business as part of the recovery. Thank you! #napastrong #sonomastrong
  5. best,
  6. diane

    I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Peach & Blackberry Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

I'm back....and I brought cake!

It has been over a year since my last post. I really missed you guys. The past year has been crazy. I spent nine months as the Acting Executive Director of our local animal shelter and worked 70 hour work weeks during that time. It was supposed to be a two-three month assignment but went three times as long. Then, just as the new director was hired, I fell in love with a very shy, scared, formally abused dog that I just had to adopt. (Of course, I fell in love with every dog and cat in the shelter, but this one ripped my heart out.)

The boys watching me get ready. Jax is one the right.

So I have spent most of the summer working to develop a bond with our newest dog (Jax.) It has been a long and sometimes painful process. He is terrified of men, and I am working with the shelter's trainer to establish trust between Jax and my husband. Very slow going, so please keep this sweet boy in your thoughts. The best thing for all of us is to live our lives as normally as possible so he gets used to being part of a family...I am blogging today while both dogs sleep at my side...and my husband watches football. Pure happiness.

Yesterday was Saturday, and there was a hint of Fall's crispness in the air. Our local farmers' market carried beautiful peaches and the sweetest blackberries I have ever tasted. Nothing to do but bake a cake, right? I am always happy when cooking or baking so having the time to hang out in the kitchen for the day was a gift. Cake, homemade pasta, homemade pesto sauce, salad from ingredients grown in our garden...perfect day.

I have baked all of my life but, after moving to Taos, New Mexico with our 7000 ft elevation, I was lost. I didn't know how to make my tried and true recipes work with our higher altitude and needed help from numerous online sources and cookbooks. This cake is an adaptation from one of my favorite bloggers, Mountain Mama Cooks. Her recipes are tailored for cooking in the mountains. I tend to pick something from her blog as a starting point and either make it exactly as is...or try some slight tweaking. I used her Apple-Spice Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Frosting and substituted peaches and blackberries for some of the apple. Delicious. *** BTW, this one is not a high-altitude recipe so it should work for anyone at sea level. AND, I did not need to make any adjustments so higher elevation friends...you are in luck too. Enjoy!

Peach & Blackberry Cake with Brown Butter Glaze
(adapted from the Mountain Mama Cooks blog)


2 cups white, unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups diced fresh peaches
1 pint blackberries
1 Granny Smith apple1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 12-cup bundt pan. Set aside
In a medium size bowl, sift together unbleached flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; set aside. 
In a small bowl toss peaches, blackberries, apple, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar; set aside.
In a large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat together both sugars and oil. Add one egg at a time incorporating each one thoroughly. Mix in vanilla extract and apple cider. Slowly stir in flour mixture into wet batter stirring just to combine. Fold in fruit and any juices that have accumulated. 
Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven on the middle rack for 55-60 minutes or until cake is done. (Mine took exactly 55 minutes.) Test using a cakes tester or thin chopstick. Cake is done when tester comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes before turning out of pan. While cake cools, prepare glaze.
For the Glaze:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons milk

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until light brown in color, 8-10 minutes. (It took me 7 minutes. Maybe my heat was higher?) Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a bowl. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons milk; stir until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add the remaining tablespoon milk, a little at a time, until consistency is spreadable. Let cool 5 minutes. Then use immediately and pour over warm cake. Frosting will harden as cake cools.

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Additional peach recipes you may enjoy:

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.