Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thousand Island Dressing:

Time To Get Retro! (And Not Ironically)

One of my earliest memories in life was standing next to the apartment building I lived in with my folks many, many years ago in da' hood. I had a very small pocketful of Hot Wheel cars. I was happily playing by myself, building little roads in the dirt that I could "vrooom" my cars through. Before long, another little boy came appeared who also had some Hot Wheels. We played there together for what I remember to be ages. We were having such a grand time playing with our cars. Eventually he asked me how old I was. I remember holding up three fingers and expressing, quite enthusiastically, "I'm fwee!!". Please believe me. It wasn't shtick. I wasn't doing it to be cute. The harsh reality was that it was due to my pure inability, at the time, to negotiate proper tongue/lip movements coupled with my limited understanding of the English language. Give me a break, after all, I was only fwee.

I recall that we played for quite some time afterwards. In fact, we had become quite good friends. Inseparable, as it were. Well at least until later that day when he went back to wherever it was he came from. I never saw him again. Kinda sad actually but such is life. Funny how such an oddball and insignificant memory can stick with you for so many years.

It was a much simpler time back then. And so was the food. Your choices were not nearly as plentiful as they are now. It was a time when a salad was just a salad. There were no options. We didn't have arugula, endive, and radicchio. It was iceberg only, dude. And we liked it! Crap, I sound like an old geezer. My apologies. 

Now here I am, decades later, sitting at my computer writing about the wonders of iceberg lettuce. There's something about the crunchiness of it that I adore. It's refreshing. It's tangible. It's satisfying. Arugula? It's bitter. Fragile. Cowardly. It can't even hold it's own weight. It's so...pusillanimous (Google it). I bet iceberg used to beat arugula up in the school yard. It's better suited for a light vinaigrette made of olive oil and splash of lemon. Don't get me wrong, that's all well and good. But a good Thousand Island dressing would kill it dead just looking at it. 

Let me tell you, I find humor in the fact that I don't know anyone these days that would have a dinner party and serve their guests iceberg lettuce with big hunks of carrot, tomato, and onion in it. And, what's even funnier is that I don't know anyone who would serve that kind of salad with Thousand Island dressing. I mean really, it's just so.....uncivilized. 

There was a restaurant in my town that shall remain unnamed within this blog post. It closed down a number of years ago. There was a separate bar where you could go drink and then there was the adjoining dining room. We used to go in there for the happy hour once in a while because it did have a decent happy hour. And there were, admittedly, infrequent times when we would go eat dinner as well. There wasn't a window in the place. It was dark like a cave. The interior was like walking straight into the 1970's. Many years ago, it was considered a really nice place to go eat. And, to their credit, it was good. Dated, but good. Then one day, poof, it was closed. No warning, just gone.

Over the several years I'd been going to that place, I noticed one thing. The menu NEVER changed and the clientele NEVER changed either. As the years rolled by, their customers' hair got bluer and bluer and bluer, until it just couldn't get any bluer. And then they died. Then guess what happened. The place didn't have any more customers. There was no adaptation. No re-birth. No metamorphosis. They were in an evolutionary time-warp. And eventually, like the bluest of blue-hairs, it died too. Such is life.

One of my fondest memories of the place was the super old school salad bar. That's right. Iceberg only, dude! Big hunks of carrots, tomato, and onion. And, you guessed it, Thousand Island dressing. Where the modern diner shunned it, I embraced it. And not "ironically" either. But, alas, I just couldn't make up for the scores of long-since-gone blue hairs. I tried. But I failed.  

I reckon that someday, many, many years from now, my favorite restaurant will go out of business shortly after my soon to be beautiful head of gray hair (not blue) has been lain to rest, hopefully in some sort of fiery Viking style funeral. And my wife's blue hair (not gray) gets bluer as the days walk on by. But, again, such is life.....

In the meantime, if you are ever invited to my house for dinner. Don't be surprised if you get a bowl of iceberg only (dude), with a glop of Thousand Island on top. O.G. style. The upside? It'll be Thousand Island dressing, homemade with love.

There are occasions when I come across recipes that need no adjustments. This is one of those occasions. This dressing was found here

Thousand Island Dressing


  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup of prepared or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tsp sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 hard boiled egg, finely chopped (see note below)
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste


1. Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. 

2. Refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors meld. 

Makes About 1 1/2 cups

Note: This recipe should keep for about 5-7 days if stored refrigerated in an airtight container. If you want to make it last 2 weeks, leave the egg out. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Yellow Curry Peanut Noodles:

Asian (Con)Fusion

I have loved making this is dish for quite some time. My wife is NOT a fan of curry and even she digs it. I think that's mostly because the peanut butter is the lead character in this story. The curry is the co-star. And man do they work well together. 

Ever since I discovered curry, I've kinda been obsessed with it. I haven't found a curry of any particular type or from any particular country that I haven't liked. Not saying it doesn't exist and not saying I've tried them all, because I haven't. Which is cool with me because it just means I have more took forward too. I'm just saying I haven't found it yet. And that's cool with me too.

This recipe, to me, screams Thai. And it probably is now that I've had my way with it. But even prior to that, before I massacred it with love, I would still call it Thai. However, I visited several sites that had similar recipes and, even though nobody has given any history of it, they all seem to claim it's Chinese. That being said, let it be heard here and now, that my official contention is that this is a Thai dish. Okay, well maybe not actually Thai. Let's say, Thai influenced. Or even more accurately, Americanized Thai / Italian fusion (only because I serve it over linguine noodles). I suppose in the long run, it doesn't really matter

Now I don't want to add to the confusion here but this recipe usually calls for red curry paste. However, on one occasion, I didn't have red curry paste on hand so I used the yellow curry I did have and I actually liked it more. 

I kicked around the idea of writing this blog with red curry in the title because that's what you'd typically find in this dish. But then I thought screw that man! This is my blog and my recipe. I have 100% creative freedom here! So yellow curry it is my friends. Now and forever. Unless of course, all I have on hand is red curry. Then it's the other. Really, it's fantastic either way. I just happen to prefer it with the yellow curry so if I have them both on hand, which I usually do, it always gonna be the yellow. 

Okay, one more wonderful wrench in the machine. I wanted this dish to be served as a main. A hot pasta dish served with salad on the side. As with all the other recipes I found, it's usually served cold or at room temperature. What can I say? A guy wants what a guy wants. And I wanted a warm dish.   

Although this dish is completely different in the end, it was definitely influenced by this recipe found on Appetite For China. Props are certainly due. 

Yellow Curry Peanut Noodles


  • 1 lb dried linguine
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 4 Tbsp yellow (or red) curry paste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges 


1. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium sauce pan over a medium heat, combine peanut butter, curry paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk, lime juice, sugar, pepper flakes, and salt. Stir constantly until the mixture come to a simmer.

3. Lower the heat and continue to simmer, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. It's important you stir constantly, otherwise the sauce can scorch onto the pan. 

4. Put the drained noodles into a large bowl and stir in enough of the sauce the coat the noodles. You may not need all of the sauce as you don't want the noodles swimming in the sauce, just coated.

5. Serve and garnish with the cilantro, peanuts, lime wedges and additional pepper flakes if you like more of a bite.  

Serves: 4-6

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Charred Corn Salad with Basil, Onion, and Peppers:

Bringing My Grill Back

Corn.....What can I say about corn? Not a lot, unfortunately. I was trying to come up with something humorous to write but nothing really stuck out as funny. In fact, all my jokes were a bit too corny.....So I decided to abandon the "funny" angle. And not a moment too soon.

Instead, I decided to write about something that I miss about being a carnivore. Meat? Nope. I'm over it. I'm much happier with my vegetarianism. I relish it, really. That being said, the thing I miss about being a carnivore is the good ol' barbecue. Specifically, the atmosphere. The camaraderie. The dudes standing around the grill, sucking down cold ones, not saying anything particularly deep, burping and watching stuff burn on the grill while the girls sip wine spritzers in the shade and dish about cousin Sarah, the black sheep of the family, who, if you didn't already hear, is addicted to pain pills and bad boys. Ladies..stop that! Sarah may be a bit crazy but she's not an addict. (Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental)

Not really sure why I have avoided my barbecue this last year and half. I just did. Not that it was difficult, I just didn't really know what to do with it. Which is a bummer because I have this kick-ass professional series gas grill (don't judge) with 5 burners pumping out 60,000 BTU's of heat. She's sat on my back patio in a state of arrested decay. Kind of a limbo for grills. I've even considered letting the ivy overtake her like some sort of leafy coral reef. Reclaimed by Mother Nature. 

However, I recently had some family over for the 4th of July. The ivy was cut away as Mother Nature got to see how defiant her child really was. And the grill was fired up so the family could grill their grillables. In the midst of it all, I stood there and watched my old friend in her new found glory doing what she always did so well. She delighted the family as if she'd never been gone. And to them, she'd hadn't. It was me that she'd become estranged. 

That's when it struck me. This is bullshit! It's time to get back behind the grill. It's time to enjoy that patio time with the outside speakers playing my jams while I grill my own sort of grillables. And when the dudes aren't looking, have me a 32 ounce plastic cup of wine spritzer. Okay, maybe Sarah needs to get off the junk after all. It was all Billy Sr.'s fault anyway. And did you know that Billy Jr. isn't even his?........But I digress. (See disclaimer at the end of paragraph two)

It is with great pleasure (to myself) that I announce my return to the grill has commenced. Coincidentally, I might add, with baby steps. No forethought, it's just the way the proverbial ball has opted to bounce. 

My baby step comes in the form of a side dish. But let me tell you, although this is a side dish, I almost ate the whole thing by myself in one sitting after I made it. There's a small Tupperware container of it left in the fridge but I suspect it'll be gone in about 10 minutes. This recipe is based loosely upon the version found in Bon Appetit. Hope you dig it. 

Charred Corn Salad with Basil, Onions and Peppers


  • 6 ears of corn, husked
  • 5 Tbsp olive olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, finely diced 
  • 1/2 cup, loosely packed fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


1. Heat your grill to a medium high heat. Rub corn with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. 

2. Grill corn, turning frequently, until corn is charred and cooked through. 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Remove the corn from the grill and set aside for a half hour to cool completely. 

4. Once the corn has cooled, cut the kernels from the cob into a large bowl. 

5. In a colander, rinse the onion under cold water for about 10 to 20 seconds. This mellows it's effect on the dish. Drain well. 

6. To the bowl of corn, mix in the onion, the remaining 3 Tbsp of oil, bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, basil, lime juice, and thyme. 

7. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.


This dish can be served at room temperature or cold. It's fantastic it either way.