Hot and Hot Tomato Salad – Just skip this review and make this dish immediately

Ok, you can read the review if you want, but I will make it quick so you can head to the farmer’s market ASAP. Here’s what Cooking Light’s Vanessa T. Pruett has to say about this dish: Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Hot and Hot Fish Club’s signature summer staple is adapted here, combining crisp fried whole baby okra and delicate lady peas served over fresh heirloom tomato slices and topped with smoky bacon and a creamy herbed dressing. “With fried, okra, fresh peas, and tomatoes, this would be hard to beat as the perfect summer meal,” praises Test Kitchen Director, Vanessa T. Pruett.
Agreed and then some. There’s a reason this Hot and Hot Tomato Salad recipe was chosen as the Cooking Light staff favorite for the month of August. First of all, there’s a hamhock mixed with peas and onions. I do love me some hamhock in anything, collard greens, beans, cereal, you name it. I couldn’t find lady peas so I went with frozen peas – not farmer’s market I know but hey they were still delicious. We did find some gorgeous red and yellow heirloom tomatoes which are always to die for in any dish. For the fried okra, I grew up eating my Mom’s version as a kid and I’ve never found a better way to make it than she does. So, I followed my Mom’s method for fried okra and, of course, it turned out perfect. The dressing complemented the entire salad perfectly and let’s not forget there is BACON on this bad boy to make it the perfect salad. All I have to say is go make this right now and if you do, please let me know your thoughts. Here is our version! It aint as purdy but it sure did taste good.

Bacon-Tomato Butter. The End.

By now it’s no secret that I’ve got a crush on Cooking Light. Their recipes are innovative, full of flavor and best of all they are healthy or at least attempt to reduce not-so-good for you items like calories, fat and sodium. Now, Bacon-Tomato Butter does not seem like it would be the healthiest option in the history of Cooking Light but goodness I’m a glad that someone put these ingredients together.

Originally, this bacon-licious recipe goes with Mahi Mahi but I wanted it on top of a medium rare, coffee and spice rubbed steak, like the Chile-Espresso Rubbed Steaks they have featured here. To make this a total steak and potatoes night, I made the Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Dijon recipe, except I used baby reds instead of fingerlings because HEB hates me and didn’t have any.

The Bacon-Tomato Butter was simply delicious and super, super easy to put together. Bacon, garlic, smoked paprika and butter? Who knew?! I’m also a sucker for coffee-rubbed anything and the spice blend they use on the steaks with coffee or espresso, oregano, cumin, garlic salt and chile powder was spicy and delicious. Combine the steaks with the bacon-tomato butter and yep, you’ve got to give me a minute to pull myself together.

The ingredient list for the potatoes is short and simple but these turned out fantastic. One thing we decided to do was add in a smidge of honey to bring out a sweet note in the sauce before coating entirely. Sounds odd, tasted delicious – trust us. If you’ve got a meat-and-potatoes person in your home this is definitely the dish to try tonight. We now have a crush on you too Bacon-Tomato Butter Coffee Rubbed Steak goodness.

Thai Curried Noodles with Pork and Basil

Last week I got home and was totally mouthbreathing. After a long, hectic day I had the foggiest on what to cook; I was at a loss lambs! Thankfully, Food & Wine has their handy, dandy color-coded system that breaks recipes down into categories including Fast, Staff Favorite and If You Are Totally Mouthbreathing. Yeah that last one not so much but you know I would go to those recipes stat if they were labeled that way!

David scanned the magazine and voila! found the Thai Curried Noodles with Pork and Basil recipe. Not only did it sound delicious but it was labeled as Fast – meaning 45 minutes or less – and a Staff Favorite. It was also convenient because I had many of the ingredients on hand…see you never know when you might just need Thai red curry paste.

This was incredibly easy to assemble and what I enjoyed while putting it together was the layering of flavors as you went. The lemon grass, ginger and sugar mixture when thrown in the skillet perfumed the house!

WE LOVED THIS. I see why this was a staff favorite for sure. It was easy breezy, had fantastic, well-rounded flavor and was quite unique for a weeknight meal. For an added bonus, you have leftovers for days and trust me it’s one of those dishes that just gets better as it sits and does its thing. I couldn’t find the recipe online so here you go!

Thai Curried Noodles with Pork and Basil
Food & Wine
August 2010

Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks (I bought these already done at the store)
2 large lemongrass stalks, tender inner bulbs only, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 ground pork
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chile sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
10 ounces, fresh thin egg noodles, preferably Chinese
1/2 up chopped basil, preferably Thai
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots to a plate. Reserve the carrot cooking water.

2. In a mini food processor, puree the lemongrass with the ginger and sugar.

3. In a large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until golden brown. Add the lemongrass mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the ground pork and cook, breaking up the meat, until no pink remains, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and reduce the heat to moderate. Stir in red curry paste, Sriracha and lime juice and turn off heat.

4. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the noodles until al dente; drain well. Add the noddles, carrots and carrot cooking water to the skillet and toss over moderate heat until the noodles are thoroughly coated. Add the basil, season with salt and pepper and serve.*

*Tester’s note: We added more Sriracha at the end as it gave it a bolder, spicier flavor.


No offense to Uchiko, Chef Tyson Cole’s new sibling restaurant of the Austin hot-spot Uchi, but everytime I say the restaurant name I think of this clip from Peter Pan. Yes, I’m five years old and why people invite me anywhere I have no idea.

Cool Lights at Uchiko

Yet, I was invited to a soft-launch opening by the ladies at Cultivate PR to come and experience Uchiko before it opened. Since I do love me some Uchi I jumped at the chance to get to go. Right off North Lamar between 42nd and 43rd, the exterior of the restaurant is reminiscent of a Japanese style farm-house with modern touches. We walked in and the place was PACKED. It has a great bar, smallish, private rooms in the back of the restaurant and a great room where the sushi bar is located. We parked ourselves at the sushi bar and got started on our grazing plan.

Salivating at Uchiko’s Sushi Bar

The menu was very interesting and a little more limited than Uchi’s but they did have one thing on the menu that was a must: Pork Belly. J’adore pork belly like it’s my job and I have to say Tyson Cole’s is one of the best I have ever had at Uchi. So, obviously the Bacon Sen which is berk­shire pork belly, fried green apple puree and brussel sprout kimchee, was a given. David also wanted the “sear it yourself” wagyu beef that you cook on a hot rock with kaffir lime and sel gris.


Wagyu Beef

 Now, what to do next? We had the fortunate opportunity to sit by a chef from the restaurant on his day off and asked what was the one thing we could not leave without trying. He said definitely the pork belly – well yes – and the fried chicken. We looked at him with confusion and then he pointed it out on the menu…Yakitori which is brined half cornish game hen with chayote and peanut. We also chose the Cobia Crudo which is Carribean kingfish with jalapeno and cucumber and the Akime Te with big eye tuna, watermelon, mitsuba and coriander to at least get some sushi since we were at Uchiko.

Akime Ten

Cobia Crudo


For dessert there were a lot of enticing options but the one that was screaming at us “pick me! pick me!” was the Fried Milk, can you blame us for choosing this one? The Fried Milk consists of well fried milk and choco­late milk, toasted milk, iced milk sherbet. Lots of milk eh? But totally worth it!

Fried Milk (!)

Everything, and I repeat everything, was absolutely fresh, delicious, inventive and enjoyable. The tuna and wagyu were fantastic but compared to the cobia, pork belly and yakitori they kind of faded into the background of our food experience. I agree with the chef we met, go for the great sushi experience and the pork belly and fried chicken and I would add the fried milk (and then put yourself on a diet for two weeks). Get to Uchiko stat Austinites, you will not be disappointed.