Sunday, March 18, 2012

Soba Noodle Stir-Fry with Spicy Almond Butter Sauce

I flagged this recipe months ago and set it aside for when I had the itch to make something new and had a good group to cook for.  The opportunity came up last week and I’m glad it did as this one is pretty kick-ass.  Admittedly, I didn’t actually use soba noodles when I made it but that is only because they weren’t available at the grocery store I went to (seriously, why do I ever stray from the uber-reliable Giant in McLean, VA???).  I have since bought some soba noodles and definitely plan to re-do this recipe the way it was meant to be made.  My substitution was rice noodles (pad thai noodles) and they worked out really well, but I think the flavor of the soba would make it even better.  I doubled the recipe and 5 of us chowed on two servings each, finishing off the dish – a definite keeper.  I made a lot of little changes which I’ll note in the recipe below.  Who’s in for round 2?!

Recipe courtesy Brown Eyed Baker (

8 oz. buckwheat soba noodles (subbed rice noodles)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in thin strips
1 cup shredded cabbage (for a shortcut, used the bagged pre-shredded stuff for coleslaw)
1 cup broccoli florets (use fresh not frozen)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsps. fresh ginger, minced (omitted and used some ginger powder on the chicken I added)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup almond slivers (toast these in dry pan for better flavor and a little extra crunch)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes (omitted and added ground cayenne pepper to sauce instead)
Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in thin strips (my addition – needed more protein – see notes in instructions)

3 Tbsp. almond butter (may need one extra for better consistency)
3 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce


If adding chicken, sauté in a large skillet (when doubling this recipe I used 3 chicken breasts) with some olive oil, S&P, garlic powder and several shakes of ground ginger), cook just until done and set aside.  Wipe out skillet and use for vegetables.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt.  Cook soba noodles just until al dente, rinse, drain and set aside.

In the skillet with a splash of olive oil, sauté the broccoli and red pepper for about 2-3 min then add shredded cabbage and cook a few minutes more.  Add the garlic and scallions (and ginger if using fresh) and cook for a couple more minutes until desired crispness.  Reduce heat to low, add noodles, chicken and slivered almonds then mix everything together.  Pour sauce over and toss to coat, warm through.  Serve immediately.

Oh and we also had this – yum!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Amisfield Winery - Central Otago, New Zealand

Some friends and I recently took a trip to New Zealand.  We live scattered across the world and so decided that NZ was the perfect spot to converge for a much needed vacation.  We were right.  If you haven't been, go. If you have been, go back.  And when you're there, eat at Amisfield Wine Company.

We went for dinner and it was "chef's choice", which I absolutely love.  You know you're going to get something great when the chef gets to be creative.  After we ran through our slew of dietary restrictions (just one for me...shellfish allergy - argh!), the food and wine started flowing, because of course we did the wine pairing with it.  Here are some pics of our dishes, all of which were delicious.  We left full, tipsy and ready for a night on the town...Queenstown that is.  Winnie's anyone??  And by the way, New Zealand is the most dietary-restriction-friendly place I have ever been.  All you gluten-free people (do what?!) should buy your plane ticket now.

Gravlax with Capers and Arugula

Fried Polenta with Chipotle sauce

Fresh Figs with Arugula and Parmesan

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes with Beet Puree

Wedges!  Couldn't go a day without...

Grilled Lamb with Roasted Eggplant Puree

Roasted Chicken with Baby Zucchini and Harissa

Brownie Sundae with Warm Fudge Sauce

Raspberry Granita

And a couple more shots of the surroundings....

Fountain/Fireplace in the back

View from our table