[april]If you’re a food enthusiast like me and even if you’re not but you have been anywhere in the lifestyle news spectrum lately – like the second hour of the Today Show – you most likely have heard the lectures on family dining including that from a new book The Family Dinner. And if you’re subsumed with entertainment like the Los Angeleno side of me and even if you’re not but have been anywhere in the entertainment news spectrum – like the first hour of the Today Show – then you know that the author, Laurie David, aside from being an accomplished writer, producer and hero-worthy environmentalist, was married to Larry David creator and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm. In this case, spouse is only worth noting to better envision her family dinner setting and challenge after divorce that set the stage for the book.

It’s a challenge, but my family foursome eats together for most breakfasts and dinners. Sure, there’s shouting, there’s teasing, there’s name calling, there are dirty looks – and that’s just the parents. We eat and then that hunger-born anger magically turns to laughter, dialogue, manners, and harmony. Beyond just sitting together and eating, David offered two interesting ideas for encouraging table camaraderie. First, she suggests using a lazy Susan for sharing, and in my house, for ten year olds to launch Nerf bullets. Also, she advises that we serve foods that require some shared preparation at the table.

A family favorite, Vietnamese spring rolls, provided a good test run of this concept. I prepped the ingredients earlier in the day, but left assembly to the family at the table. This is an ideal do-ahead on nights when you don’t know what time the family will gather. The time you will spend cooking at night is the time it takes you to walk from the refrigerator to the table. You will have pawned off setting the table and pouring beverages to another family member.

Some chopping will have been done – I prepped cucumbers, onions, radishes, carrots, limes, and cilantro.

Some cooking will have been done. I cooked rice noodles, roasted shrimp, and made spicy peanut sauce thanks to the mother of my dreams.

Then came assembly time. Rice paper, so you know, is fairly easy to work with, but cheap and forgiving if you botch it a few times.

You dip it in hot water to let it soften – fill, wrap….

….and crunch.[recipe]

vietnamese spring rolls & family dinners

Preptime – 25 minutes                       Serves 4

1 cucumber – julienned

2 carrots – julienned

3 radishes – julienned

1/8 red onion – thinly sliced and separated

1 lime – cut into 8 wedges each

1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped

1 pound raw shrimp

1/2 package rice noodles

1 package rice paper

bibb lettuce leaves (optional for low carb wrap)

spicy peanut sauce (recipe below)

Roast shrimp: pat dry, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and lie flat on sheet pan – roast for 6 minutes at 400° – let cool.

Cook rice noodles according to package directions.

Assemble ingredients on a platter and place on the table or lazy Susan.  Also, bring warm bowl of water to the table for dipping in the rice paper.  Serve with peanut sauce.

CooksOptions: adjust vegetables and ingredients to you family’s liking. Substitute chicken for shrimp.

Ina Garten’s Spicy Peanut Sauce

INA’s WAY – delicious

1 T olive oil

1 T dark sesame oil

2/3 c small-diced red onion (1 small onion)

1 1/2 t minced garlic (2 cloves)

1 1/2 t minced fresh ginger root

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

2 T good red wine vinegar

1/4 c light brown sugar, packed

2 T soy sauce

1/2 c smooth peanut butter

1/4 c ketchup

2 T dry sherry

1 1/2 t freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

CRUNCHTIME WAY – pretty tasty, but faster and made with items that you likely have on-hand.

1 T olive oil

2/3 c small-diced red onion (1 small onion)

1 1/2 t minced garlic (2 cloves)

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

2 T red wine vinegar

1/4 c light brown sugar, packed

2 T soy sauce

1/2 c smooth peanut butter

1/4 c ketchup

1 1/2 t freshly squeezed lime juice (optional)

Cook the olive oil, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip.

recipes provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com and peanut sauce inspired by Ina Garten’s satay sauce

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4 Comments

  1. anjelina says Dec 29th 2010 4:47 am

    the presentation of Springrolls looks amazing.

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