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Make Pad Thai from Jarritos Tamarind Soda!

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Two conundrums we've all come across at some point: missing essential ingredient for a dish that you love but don't make often enough, & trouble finishing a 2-liter soda before it goes flat. Here's to killing two birds with one stone!There is no real substitute for tamarind. Trying to make Pad Thai without tamarind is sorta like trying to make lemon tart without lemon. It's a fruit with a signature tang and its own special flavor. Tamarind pods are both tricky to find and tricky to handle. My local Whole Foods and Wegmans carry them - often sold in boxes much bigger than needed. They also can't be used straight out of the box. You'll need to soak the pods in hot water, dig your hand in and squeeze everything into a pulp, strain that through a mesh sieve, and cook it down into a paste. Worth the trouble if you make Thai food weekly, but not the easiest fix for sudden cravings. Tamarind Soda, unlike the fruit that it's made from, is ubiquitous and inexpen…

Fried Olives!

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Fried. Olives. This dish requires no further selling than its name. I used to squander so much of my work-study paycheck at this snooty campus restaurant just for their fried olives. Zero regret to this day. And they didn't even use the good stuff! You can take a small jar of plain store brand pimento stuffed manzanilla olives, strain, coat in bread crumb and fry for half a minute. It'll cost you ~$2 in ingredients and maybe 5 minutes of time. Think of it, I really should regret those spending a little. For an upgrade, I'm stuffing my favorite olive bar ingredients together: castelvetrano olives & peppadew peppers! Castelvetrano are my 'gateway' olives. As someone who took a long time to 'acquire' a taste for olives, castelvetrano was love at first try. They're mild, subtle, yet buttery & olive-y at the same time. The bright green color are just so pleasant to look at. In contrast with the green olives, in more than just the colors, peppadew is …

Amarena Cinnamon Black Forest Cake Roll

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Chocolate cake is a bit like pizza sauce, not hard to make tasty, but hard to make special. This is my take on black forest. This is a soft sponge that doesn't require whipping eggs. The chocolate isn't overpowering. The cake itself should have just a hint of tartness, and a hint of what's-that spice. Your friends won't quite know exactly what's in it, but they'll know it's good and it's not like the other chocolate cakes they've had.
This recipe is inspired by the question - what can I do with yogurt flavors I don't love? We all know someone that doesn't love vanilla yogurt. I happen to have some cinnamon vanilla Chobani from my Costco variety pack when the question came up. I have since tested the same recipe on strawberry, raspberry, and cherry yogurt. All work very well in a chocolate cake! Just one more thing you can do with any 5oz cup of yogurt - make a healthy light dessert!

Ingredients:

dry ingredients:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1tb…

Tomato Tarte Tatin - Make an Already Simple Classic Even Faster!

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This is a faster way to make Tarte a la Moutarde (French Tomato and Mustard Pie). By using the tarte tatin method, you can reduce the cooking time by applying direct heat to the tomatoes, and skipping the par baking step altogether. Most importantly, it allows me to use extra tomatoes (my favorite part of the whole dish), without having to worry about soggy crust. 

I'm making mine with Campari tomatoes. They are sweet and flavorful, but not sinfully expensive. I don't have the heart to cook those beautiful heirloom tomatoes. It feels like cooking sashimi cut fish. halved tomatoes retains juice well. Tomato juice will be mostly trapped between tomato skin and layer of melted Parmesan cheese. You'll have a wonderfully moist and flavorful tart that's still perfectly puffed.

Ingredients:
6~8 campari tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp herbs de province
1 tsp fresh basil
1 sheet puff pastry or pie dough.

Instruction:

Salade Nicoise - Eat Healthy, Happily!

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I'm sharing my version of salade nicoise. This hearty summer dish originates from the French city of Nice. Modern renditions commonly includes cooked eggs, green bean, potatoes, olives, all the good stuff you can think of. I'm making mine with a quick seared tuna steak, and some not-quite hard boiled eggs.

This looks like a lot of ingredients, but each one takes little time to prep, and with a little multi-threading, you can easily complete this in under 15 minutes. 

Obligatory disclaimer: this is not exactly traditional; will fail purity test. But it makes for a very enjoyable summertime meal. The briny olives and creamy eggs complements the tuna perfectly. The starchiness from the potatoes, freshness of the green bean, and little bite from the shallot, just all work so well together.

This is one healthy dinner that won't leave you feel remotely deprived!

Ingredients:

for the dressing:
1 shallot, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp fresh grou…

10-minute Saag Aloo (Indian-Style Spanich & Potato Curry)

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This is my take on this Indian restaurant favorite. A vibrant green vegetable curry, so flavorful even a carnivore would love it. If you follow my channel or blog you might've guessed, this is yet another, quick shortcut recipe. Get some frozen naan or roti ready and dinner will be ready in 10 minutes!

Usual disclaimer: this is far from authentic, & no offense intended. I've made gnocchi with instant mashed potato mix, and soup dumpling with gelatin & pasta press. This is another one of those quick, easy, hacky fix for lazy foodies in quarantine. I'm microwaving the potato, wilting the spinach, and using jalapeno instead of whatever proper pepper I should've used but don't have easy access to.

Ingredients:
4 cups spinach
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 green chili pepper, chopped (I'm using jalapeno)
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp corriander powder
1/2 …

Tofu Dango, As Seen in Anime!

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We've all seen these in anime! Dangos are chewy rice balls on skewers. They can be sweet or savory, and prepped with a variety of ingredients. Some use a combination of short grain rice flour & sticky rice flour, some use hot water & kneading, all to achieve a good balance of texture. They should be soft but hold shape, chewy but not too sticky, bouncy and slightly al dente.

A shortcut to making these with minimum experience and effort is to use equal weight silken tofu and mochiko. It won't quite be the stuff you get at a Kyoto tea house, but will yield a pleasant, balanced result, without hand-kneading a steaming hot dough and trying not to get burned.

The dangos themselves are not strongly flavored. They rely on sauces & toppings for flavor. Sort of like fresh homemade pasta - taste great even with the simplest seasoning, but if you don't put anything at all on it, it won't be nearly as enjoyable on its own (think unsalted pasta). If you have access to …