Yellow Curry with Tofu & Brown Rice • Vegetable & Fruit Slaw • Sesame Levain Rolls • Cheesecake
I got Tony Bourdain’s cookbook from the library this week. He’s got a recipe in there for “fake-ass spicy peanut sauce.” Today’s soup is kinda “fake-ass,” but it also tastes really good, even though authenticity has flown out the window. It’s not too far off, though—normally, this would be a thicker stew served over rice, so having it be a brothier concoction with rice already in it isn’t too much of a stretch, right? The orange cubes of butternut squash and bright green peas are so pretty, and the broth is so fragrant and flavorful that I drank a mugful all by itself yesterday for lunch.
The salad is also packed with color and flavor. Look at those gorgeous watermelon radishes! and the pineapple! all on a background of light green cabbage and dark green celery. The dressing is my sister Jennifer’s favorite, a gutsy combination of lime juice, shallots, and fish sauce, balanced with brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Quite often, winter comfort food can mean rich, melty gratins and casseroles (I’m a fan!), but this kind of bright, fresh, wake-up-your-tastebuds food is also pretty comforting. If I’m not going to go on a tropical vacation, I can at least pretend (and eat) like I’m sitting on a beach on the Andaman Sea.
For dessert we’ve got cheesecake. I used gingersnaps instead of graham crackers, and that note of ginger is the only flavor that could vaguely be said to fit the Southeast Asian-inspired theme of this meal. We’re not having cheesecake because cheesecake goes with curry; we’re having cheesecake because I really felt like eating cheesecake. I could have topped it with tropical fruit to make it “fit,” but that wasn’t what I wanted to eat.
My Proustian ideal of cheesecake is the frozen Sara Lee cheesecake of my childhood, the one with the sour cream topping. (Holy moly, I loved that stuff when I was little. And frozen Sara Lee pound cake. Oh my god, so delicious. I think the cheesecake is one of those childhood favorites that wouldn’t taste as good now that I’m an adult, but I know for sure that I still like Sara Lee pound cake.) So, sour cream topping is what I made, although it’s mostly homemade crème fraîche, mixed with some Greek yogurt for thickness. And there’s the taste of my childhood right there, but a new and improved version.