I made a quick run to Costco to buy bulk food for a friend, who is hosting a large party tomorrow in Tahoe. Angela is in up there in Tahoe at a writers’ workshop and I will be driving there first thing in the morning to attend some of the panels. Instead of succumbing to the temptations of buying oily chips and the sugary drinks for the road trip, I prepared the most delicious sandwiches using the multigrain bread with seeds that was freshly out of the oven from Costco. I used home made fresh pesto simply because it is the easiest thing to do and it tastes so much better than what you can buy from a store. For lunch today, I made an open faced version of the sandwich that reminded me of the ones I had in Budapest last summer when I was filming Marco Polo. But the resemblance stops when it comes to flavor and texture. My smoked salmon pesto sandwich is so delicious and healthy that you should definitely try it. Or if you are a vegetarian, try my favorite vegetarian open sandwiches by clicking here.
Open Sandwich with Smoked Salmon, Fresh Pesto and Pickled Onion
Fresh multigrain bread from Costco or any other bread of choice
Wild Alaskan smoked salmon
Fresh pesto, click here for recipe
Pickled onion, click here for recipe
Olive oil spray
Spray the sliced bread with a little olive oil and toast it until crust is crunchy. Spread the bread with pesto, layer with cucumber slices and then salmon. Top with smoked salmon and sprinkle with pine nuts.
There was a large pile of unopened mail waiting for me at home upon my return from China a week ago. It took me a few days to sort them all out. It’s quite a chore, but sometimes there are pleasant surprises within the pile. A couple of days ago, I opened a package and found a bottle of Pic’s Really Good Crunchy Peanut Butter and a bottle of dry roasted peanuts from New Zealand. Our whole family have been enjoying the peanut butter in the past couple of days. We love the pure and intense peanut flavor in this very simple and delicious peanut butter with only two ingredients – peanuts and sea salt. I have written in previous blogs about my love for peanuts, be it peanut chocolate fudge or peanut chocolate ice cream pie or noodles with Asian peanut sauce. There is definitely a peanut loving gene in my body.
I made a spicy Thai peanut dip for the okra that I found in the farmer’s market. I blanched the okra in boiling water for less than a minute. I then rinsed it in cold water and drained it. Within 10 minutes there was a simple, satisfying low carb meal on the table. You can use the dip for any number of vegetables of your choice: carrots, celery, turnip, cucumber… You can even use it as a sauce for noodles.
Spicy Thai Peanut Dip
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used Pic’s Really Good Crunchy Peanut Butter)
1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon xylitol or sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha (depending on how spicy you want the dip to be)
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (optional)
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil (optional)
Chopped green onion, crushed peanuts and chili peppers for garnish
Using a big spoon or your fingers, mix all the ingredients together. Garnish with chopped green onion and chili flakers.
Audrey and I spent 5 weeks in China where we worked on a Chinese comedy about the art of traditional Chinese cooking. I played a character by the name of Tom, which in Chinese sounds like Mother of Soup汤母, and Audrey played the young version of my character in the flashback. We stayed in a hot spring resort in the boondocks of Xing Yang by the Yellow River. Everyday, the production brought us two three-tiered lunch boxes with staples such as stir fried tomato with eggs, bell pepper with shredded pork, braised eggplant or mutton radish soup. After two weeks, Audrey groaned whenever those shiny tin boxes were delivered to us and she craved for caprese salad and pizza. When I had a day off, we drove for an hour to the nearest large city of Zheng Zhou in search of them. We found pizza in a shopping mall, but no one there had heard of caprese salad.
Naturally that was the first thing we ate when we came home. And we have been enjoying it almost every other day. A little deprivation does wonders to renew your appreciation of something you took for granted. I have been jet lagged and there is so much to catch up around the house after a long absence. This caprese salad is not only delicious, it is also the easiest meal to make. The trick is to buy the best quality tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with the best quality balsamic cream or glaze and olive oil.
Cherry tomatoes (halved)
Fresh baby mozzarella balls (halved)
Fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic Glaze or balsamic cream
Salt and pepper
Half the cherry tomatoes and the mozzarella balls. sprinkle with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.