Rice Salad with Soppressata and Mozzarella

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This summery rice salad is practically begging to be taken to a picnic. Studded with cheese, olives, fennel, peas, and soppressata, it’s salty and savory and and makes a perfect side dish in warm weather. This dish has strong Italian vibes but I used basmati rice instead of the more typical arborio because hello, I’m Persian.

Rice salad with soppressata and mozzarella

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups basmati rice (10 ounces)

1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups cubed mozzarella cheese (5 ounces)

4 ounces thinly sliced soppressata, 
sliced into 1/2-inch strips

1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved 

1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and very thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup parsley leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

salt
pepper

1. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the rice over moderate heat until al dente, about 15 minutes. Just before draining, add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Drain the rice and peas well and add to a large bowl. Drizzle the vinegar over the rice and peas, toss, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.


2. Add the cheese, soppressata, olives, fennel, green onions and parsley to the rice and peas and toss. Drizzle with the olive oil and more vinegar, if desired. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve at room temperature.

Miso Banana Bread

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Welcome to your new favorite banana bread recipe. Contrary to what you might be thinking, no, you can’t taste the miso in the final product here. Instead, it’s like someone took banana bread and amped up the taste, resulting in this deeply flavorful, showstopping treat. I’ve adapted this recipe from the original in Food & Wine, and my version is on regular rotation this days in casa yogurtsoda.

Miso banana bread

Ingredients:

5 overripe bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white miso
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. In a bowl, using 
a fork, mash 4 of the bananas until chunky. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, then beat in 
the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas; the batter will look curdled. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Scrape into the prepared pan.

3. Slice the remaining banana lengthwise and arrange the halves on top of the batter side by side, cut side up. Bake for 
1 hour and 20 minutes. Let the bread cool for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Garlic Thai Fried Rice

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If I told you this simple, humble plate of only five ingredients is one of the best fried rice dishes I’ve ever had, would you believe me?

I served this alongside grilled chicken but the rice stole the show. With only garlic, green onions, and fish sauce as seasonings, this dish is an umami bomb. The secret lies in duck fat instead of the standard peanut oil. You can buy jarred duck fat at some specialty grocers and it’s worth seeking out as it imparts a subtle meatiness and heft to an otherwise simple dish. It’s not traditional, but I had some in the fridge and wanted to add an extra layer of flavor to the rice. Chicken schmaltz will do just fine as well.

Garlic Thai fried rice

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons duck fat
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cold cooked jasmine rice
2 or 3 green onions, trimmed, slivered lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch lengths
3 teaspoons fish sauce

1. Heat a wok over high heat and add the duck fat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until slightly golden, about 20 seconds. Add the rice, breaking it up as you toss it. With a spatula, keep moving the rice around the wok, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the green onions and fish sauce and stir-fry for another minute. Serve warm.

Chicken Soup with Sticky Rice

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‘Tis the season for rainy days, for heavy coats, for wanting nothing more than to curl up with a bowl of warm soup and binge-watch Game of Thrones. Winter is coming, y’all.

My favorite thing about this time of year is cold-weather cooking; namely, soups! Especially this one: an easy-to-make but complex-tasting chicken soup redolent with Vietnamese flavors of fish sauce, cilantro, and chiles. Make sure you add enough chicken broth: as the soup cools and settles, the sticky rice will thicken the soup.

Vietnamese sticky rice and chicken soup

Ingredients:

3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 5-inch piece dried kombu
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, crushed
4 star anise pods
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
3 cloves
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup glutinous (sticky) rice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion

1. Bring chicken, kombu, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, stock, and 2 cups water to a simmer in a large pot over moderate heat. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until chicken is tender. Transfer chicken to a plate.

2. Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve into another pot; discard solids. Return broth to large pot and add rice, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook until rice is very tender, about minutes. Shred chicken and return to pot; season soup with more fish sauce if needed.

3. Divide soup among bowls and garnish with green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and white onion.

Bee Hoon Soup

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Let’s get this out of the way: this recipe isn’t authentic bee hoon soup. It’s more like bee hoon soup for people who live in the Bay Area and can’t properly source ingredients to recreate what they ate in Singapore (aka myself).

Typically, bee hoon soup is redolent with fish heads (or fish balls or fish slices) and rice vermicelli. The broth and other ingredients may vary but there is always a healthy topping of fried shallots sitting a atop a flavorful broth. For my version, I used roe-filled fish balls not because they’re authentic but because they are delicious. Instead of adding pork to the stock, I substituted with chicken. It’s not quite the same bee hoon soup that I ate at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, but whatever unique touches you add to this soup, the result is still comfort in a bowl.

Bee hoon soup

Ingredients:

12 ounces dried rice vermicelli, soaked to soften
1/2 pound bean sprouts, washed and drained
1 small bunch choy sum or spinach, blanched, drained, and cut into 2-inch lengths
7 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
24 fish balls
1 or 2 fried fish cakes, sliced
salt
2 green onions, thinly sliced
crisp-fried shallots, to garnish
thinly sliced red chili and soy sauce, to garnish

1. Put the rice vermicelli in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer until al dente. Drain and divide the cooked vermicelli among 6 soup bowls. Add the bean sprouts and cooked vegetables to each portion and set aside.

2. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, add the fish balls, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the fish cake and simmer for another 2 minutes, until cooked through. Add salt to taste.

3. Put some of the soup, fish balls, and fish cakes in each bowl, then sprinkle with green onions and crisp-fried shallots. Serve hot with sauce bowls of sliced red chili in light soy sauce, if desired.