Thursday, July 30, 2009
When I was little, Dad called me Miss Piggy. I think there was something about her, um, "pleasantly plump" build, and her playful pride that reminded Dad of lil' ol' me. Somewhere around the age of 11, I lost that pride, and became painfully self-conscious, lacking a vat of self-esteem (a battle I still struggle through today I'm afraid). The pleasantly plump thing stuck around... the pride went out the window. Ugh! Ah, for a pubescant switch-a-roo!
Anyway, I digress. I have always had a soft spot for Miss Piggy. There's something about the way her snout moves, her fierce semi-obsessive love for Kermie, her ability to drop-kick anyone that gets in her way...
But, believe it or not, I had never seen the Muppet Movie. The one created in the year of my birth! And so we just HAD to get a bunch of friends together to go watch an outdoor screening of the Muppet Movie at Hollywood Forever, a famous LA cemetary where luminaries of old glam Hollywood (Cecil B. Demille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks...) have been laid to rest. No, honestly, it's not creepy! The event is managed by Cinespia, and they show movies all summer long. So. cool.
I decided to make a big batch of peanut noodles to bring to the picnic -- a great option because it feeds a ton of people for just a few dollars. It's also great at any temperature, particularly when they're cold, which is great for a hot, summery day. And, with a bunch of raw veggies, and a crisp salty-sweet cucumber salad, you don't have to feel guilty about scarfing down noodles covered in peanut butter. I must say that I worked on this peanut sauce recipe over and over, until I managed to get one that packs a wallop; most recipes I've tried yield a sallow, wimpy sauce that gets even wimpier once you pour it over the noodles. This one is bold, fierce and unapologetic -- kinda like a certain porky heroine I love dearly.
Thanks to Bren for shooting everything so lovingly, and to every one of my friends who made it out. A special thankyou to those who tried to get in, but were turned away at the door, because the cemetary was filled to capacity. Sorry guys!
Peanut Noodles for Miss Piggy
With "pickled" cucumber salad and pan-fried sesame chicken
For cucumber salad:
1 large cucumber, sliced thin on a mandoline or by hand
For the chicken
2 chicken breasts (pounded thin)
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sriracha hot sauce
1 tbsp honey
For the peanut sauce:
1 cup chunky peanut butter (not the natural kind)
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 tbsp ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sriracha
1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
1 tsp sesame oil (plus more drizzling)
1 cup hot strong black tea
2 red bell peppers, sliced thinly
1 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
Juice from 1 lime
1lb thin spaghetti
1) The night before: Mix chicken marinade ingredients. Toss chicken in the marinade and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
2) The next day, set a big pot of water to boil. For cucumber salad: Sprinkle a little sugar and salt over the cucumbers. Drizzle with a little rice vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. Let it sit in the fridge while you prep the rest of it.
3) Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat, swirling a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in the pan. When it's shimmering, add the chicken breasts, and don't move them. Let them cook about 5 minutes, then flip and turn the heat down. Cook until thermometer registers 160 degrees. (If this takes too long, throw a lid on the pan for a couple of minutes. They should cook faster this way).
3) Drop spaghetti into boiling water, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Meanwhile, throw peanut butter, sesame seeds (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish), ginger, garlic, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sriracha, brown sugar/honey, sesame oil, cliantro and tea into a big food processor. Whiz 'em up until the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4) Toss veggies with a little sauce in a separate bowl. Drain cooked pasta, and then drizzle with a little sesame oil. Toss with a pair of tongs. This will help keep the pasta from sticking.
5) Slice chicken thinly. In a big bowl, toss pasta, veggies, reserved sesame seeds, freshly squeezed lime juice and sauce together. Serve with chicken and cucumber salad on the side, alongside with a full serving of the Muppet Movie!
at 12:41 PM